Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This Fleeting Moment

A sensation appears, and liking or disliking begins.

This fleeting moment, if we are unaware of it, is repeated and intensified into craving and aversion, becoming a strong emotion that eventually overpowers the conscious mind.

We become caught up in the emotion, and all our better judgment is swept aside. The result is that we find ourselves engaged in unwholesome speech and action, harming ourselves and others. We create misery for ourselves, suffering now and in the future, because of one moment of blind reaction.

But if we are aware at the point where the process of reaction begins--that is, if we are aware of the sensation--we can choose not to allow any reaction to occur or to intensify. . . in those moments the mind is free. Perhaps at first these may be only a few moments in a meditation period, and the rest of the time the mind remains submerged in the old habit of reaction to sensations, the old round of craving, aversion, and misery.

But with repeated practice those few brief moments will become seconds, will become minutes, until finally the old habit of reaction is broken, and the mind remains continuously at peace. This is how suffering can be stopped.
-- from Tricycle magazine's Daily Dharma, June 26, 2007

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Ella the Master Communicator

Sometimes toddlers don't talk. While other children around them are trying out new words and simple sentences, they remain silent.

Personally, I don't think that matters much to the kids who aren't talking. But it worries the adults who love them and who anxiously want to see them grow.

Ella is a two-year-old girl who has been diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech, in which the brain's "talk" command signals get garbled on their way to the muscles in the mouth, palate, and tongue.

But Ella is nonetheless eloquent in her own right. She's learning American Sign Language and is undergoing speech rehab and other forms of therapy. In the meantime, all you need is a few moments in her presence to hear her language of love...and sharing. She does it with hugs, smiles, dancing.

And a reverent bow.

To read more about Ella, check out this commentary I wrote for UPI and published by the Apraxia-Kids.org website -- for their May 2007 newsletter.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Emptiness is Really Full of Substance

Emptiness is filled with good stuff.

The Buddhists are always talking about the wonder of "emptiness." This is a central tenet in their belief system -- and it means that all things in the universe -- a person, a place, an event, an idea -- are without their own, distinct identities. The substance of whatever it is -- animate or inanimate -- has been influenced and created by eons of previous causes. People, objects share common matter. Ideas, philosophies are made up of a world of shared thought -- undying through the ages.

But what implications does emptiness have for the world? What's the reward for taking this philosophy to heart?

Well, for one, if we all share the same elements physically -- and our minds are enriched by a living pool of thought that's continually finding new ways to express itself -- what's the point of dividing ourselves with distinctions and judgments. And hey, some of those identities we give ourselves and others are pretty harsh; aren't they?

Sound interesting? For more, check out my United Press International interview with the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, a very cool spiritual leader of the Shambhala tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. (One reason why he's cool is because he meditates while he runs.)