simple but not easy

“Learn a little bit, then think, then meditate and acknowledge your conclusions.

Through that you can heal yourself.”

Gelek Rimpoche

Wisdom from one of my favorite teachers.

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in his presence again

I leave tomorrow for Ann Arbor, Michigan where His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give a teaching. I will see him again in July when he visits Madison, Wisconsin.

Last year I wrote about the first time I saw him in Madison, which was an incredible experience. to be in his presence is simply amazing. as soon as he appeared on stage I felt my heart chakra open and I broke down in tears — not tears of sadness, but tears of joy, happiness. I expect that I will do that again.

Christian fundamentalists demonstrated against His Holiness last year in Madison. This year the Chinese will be demonstrating — from the Jewel Heart website:

“A Statement by Gelek Rimpoche, April 15th

I am aware that a group of Chinese Students have applied for permission from the University to stage a demonstration during this weekend’s teaching at Crisler Arena. We support all non-violent expression of free speech and expect anyone attending the teaching to respect that right of expression without confrontation. We do not anticipate these demonstrations to interfere with any of our programs.”

To listen to excerpts from Gelek Rimpoche’s teachings on the events in Tibet, compassion, and more, click below:

The Dalai Lama has said how the events in Tibet have upset him:

“As pro-China demonstrators waved signs in downtown Rochester on Wednesday, the Dalai Lama admitted to having feelings of helplessness in recent weeks. “Since March, last month, my mind is much disturbed,”….

When asked about how he keeps his composure amid recent troubles, the Dalai Lama said he never loses compassion for people, choosing instead to focus on the negative emotions that cause their actions.

“I take their afflictions to task,” he said.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate added that he has coped with recent difficulties by practicing tonglen, a meditation technique in which a meditator mentally takes on the suffering of other people and sends out warm feelings in an effort to alleviate that suffering.

When facing disturbances in life, the Dalai Lama said, it’s important to keep a basic mental attitude of calm and inner strength.”

The Dalai Lama has always said that he is a simple monk. so for him to say that his mind is disturbed comforts me. it comforts me to know that even the Dalai Lama feels helpless sometimes, as I do. each of us can take a lesson from His Holiness about compassion, and next time when I have my own doubts about myself, whether I am “good enough” for this Path, I won’t beat myself up (so much….)

I will endeavor to keep His Holiness’ words about compassion in mind when I see the Chinese flag waved in protest of the Dalai Lama. I admit that it will be very difficult (pictures of Tibetans shot dead by Chinese armed police), but I will recite the prayer that I use to end my classes:

may all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness

may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering

may all beings never be parted from freedom’s true joy

may all beings dwell in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion

I will write about his teaching when I return.






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the times they are a-changing

Y’all won’t be reading very many cathartic musings and rants because a week from today I am headed to Northern California for Spirit Rock’s Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training. I will be gone for 10 glorious days.

I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am to be accepted into this program because it is truly a ground-breaking, leading-edge training, something that I have searched for for a long time — well, ever since I started teaching. According to the latest Tricycle magazine,

“the 18 month long training is designed to ground participants in the deeper, meditative dimensions of yoga as set out in Patanjali’s classical yoga system, through the integration of asana and pranayama with mindfulness meditation techniques…. The program’s integrated approach harks back to the way yoga was practiced thousands of years ago.

The teachers for this retreat — and what’s cool is that there are different yoga and Buddhist teachers for each retreat — are Jack Kornfield, Anna Douglas, Phillip Moffit, Mark Coleman, Stephen Cope, Janice Gates, Anne Cushman, and Tias Little.

The retreats follow a structure similar to a vipassana retreat, with regular periods of seated and walking meditation and yoga interwoven with dharma talks, yoga talks, workshops, Q & A sessions, and individual interviews with both yoga and vipassana teachers. Awesome!

Between retreats there are readings and practice assignments and we are assigned a “dharma buddy”, somebody in my geographic area.

So no blogging for me. It will be good to detach from the outside world, or at least detach as much as possible. It will almost be like going to India because when I am in India, I rarely read newspapers — maybe the international version of the New York Times occassionally — and I especially don’t want to read about the United States. When I was in India the first time, I completely missed Hurricane Katrina. and you know what? it felt good.

So try it some time, detaching from the constant barrage of negativity and the “live in fear” mantras that this culture is bombarded with 24/7/365. you will feel a difference, believe me.

And when I return I will tell the story of how I left the yoga studio where I have been teaching the last few years. Let’s just say that I had the guts to stand up and be honest about a situation that was based on delusions and lies and I got shot down in flames for it. Since Friday I have been honored and humbled by students who told me that they consider me their “spiritual teacher” — when most days I consider myself a fraud, merely an ant at the bottom of the yoga hill.

So this retreat at Spirit Rock can’t come soon enough because I feel disappointed, betrayed, and totally emotionally fried by the entire studio experience. if that sounds melodramatic, oh well, it’s the way I feel. I don’t live my life in delusions or lies. not anymore. and any life (or yoga studio) that is built on those two things will crumble soon enough, it’s only a matter of time.

But as they say, a door closes and another one opens. I talked today to a studio owner who sounds wonderful and we are getting together after my return. Plus I will learn a healing modality in November that my gut tells me is going to be an important part of my Path. As a reiki master I always intuited that there was something more out there, something much deeper and more profound. An akashic record reader told me that “reiki is too mundane for you.” And Ma India is only 86 days away.

I will leave you with the words of my teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, about how to deal with someone who upsets you:

You should try to realize that the person who is upsetting you is not doing it willingly. They are under the control of their own self-grasping ego and driven by delusion toward harmful actions. In that sense, their actions are like that of a drunkard or madman. With that understanding, ask yourself if it is worth getting angry with a madman or a drunkard. There is no reason to hate such a person, who is suffering under the control of their negative emotions.

Go with the flow, Sama, just go with the flow. Detach from the outcome and all is coming.

While I’m gone, please go over to the sidebar and look at “Compassion in Action” — please click one or all of the charity buttons to donate…it doesn’t cost you anything but about 10 seconds of your time.

salaam aleikum