Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I lost my iPod, my buddy who helps me get through the boredom of the treadmill and the train.

My iPod has my favorite tunes -- organized by every decade I've lived through and sub-categorized in various ways that, in my warped way of thinking, would only make sense to me.

But perhaps my iPod's been the audio equivalent to rose-colored glasses. Perhaps I've been using it to filter my 24/7. Maybe I've missed observations, opportunities, friends...by being plugged in.

Lent seems like the appropriate time to go without my personal soundtrack for life -- at least for the time being.
For more thoughts on this, please read my latest "Waking Up" column on UPI.

Do you have an iPod or other MP3 player? What do you like to use it for?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tasting Bliss

Found this wonderful teaching on a blog by William Harryman, and I thought that I'd share it. It's from the book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships -- by John Welwood.

I feel that these words speak to the heart and meaning of the Buddhist Tonglen meditation practice, which encourages us to be with our suffering, rather than run from it.

"...there is no way to avoid loss and separation from what we love. We cannot avoid coming back again and again to the experience of being alone. No one can finally get inside our skin and share our experience -- the nuances that we alone feel, the changes that we alone are going through, the death that we alone must die. Nonetheless, loss, separation, and this fundamental aloneness are important teachers, for they force us to take up residence in the only real home we have -- the naked presence of the heart, which no external loss can destroy.

"Standing in this, our true ground, is the ultimate healing balm for the ache of separation and the wound of love. "You must fall in love with the one inside your heart," says the teacher Poonja. "Then you will see that it has always been there, but that you have wanted something else. To taste bliss, forget all other tastes and taste the wine served within." The warmth and openness at our core is the most intimate beloved who is always present, and into whose arms we can let go at last."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Great Wisdom in Short Sentences

      • The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
      • The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
Perhaps it's the ice that is covering my wee house -- courtesy of a massive snow storm that flew up the East Coast over the past few days. Perhaps that is why today I feel sharper, more focused on words and their meanings. Then again, maybe it's only my love of brevity that attracts me to the economy of wisdom of the above one-liners I found on the Mindful Living blog.

They are quotes from Atisha, an 11th century monk who turned his back on a life of luxury (like the Buddha) to become a master of the teachings of Mahayana, Hinayana and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Reading up on this guy, I found it interesting that, even after great training and studying and becoming a monk, he still yearned for the fastest and most direct means of attaining perfect enlightenment. How delightfully human! Could that be the reason for his simple--yet profound--sayings?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

On this day in 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room cabin in the American wilderness.

From that humble beginning, he became U.S. president -- the highest office in the land. "Father Abraham," as African Americans of the time called him, emancipated slaves forever from this soil and kept the nation united. A tremendous legacy for one man.

Below is a quote from his famous dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery in November, 1863. Wise words that I hope will once again come true for us.

"...that this nation, under God shall have a new birth of freedom; and that the government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth." -- A. Lincoln, Gettysburg address

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Being the "barrenest pasture lying fallow"

Raised in America, I've been well-schooled in the "goodness" of money -- that it can make me and others happy.

But I've been lucky. Christian parents and a good education have made me aware of the dangers of swallowing this hook-line-and-sinker. Money's a tool to be used; it's not a value on which to base your life.

Today, I found this 150 year-old diary entry by Henry David Thoreau -- the conscience of America. He talks about his frustrations living as a spartan amid the materialism of the mid-nineteenth century. And, most touchingly, he considers the spiritual rewards that come from appreciating the simple, unencumbered life.

"...In the society of many men, or in the midst of what is called success, I find my life of no account, and my spirits rapidly fall. I would rather be the barrenest pasture lying fallow then cursed with the compliments of kings, than be the sulphurous and accursed desert where Babylon once stood. But when I have only a rustling oak leaf, or the faint metallic cheep of a tree sparrow, for variety in my winter walk, my life becomes continent [content?] and sweet as the kernel of a nut. I would rather hear a single shrub oak leaf at the end of a wintry glade rustle of its own accord at my approach, than receive a shipload of stars and garters from the strange kings and peoples of the earth."

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Prophet Lives in New York City

New Yorkers know Wesley Autrey by a terrible decision he made recently: He pitched himself off a subway platform and into the path of a train -- to save someone who'd fallen on the tracks.

Autrey's actions make him a prophet of compassion. That's what you are when you consider others part of yourself. The "I" and "you" are a whole -- not separate.

For the full story, see my February 5th "Waking Up" column on UPI.com.