The Miracle of Peace

If we have never been amazed by the fact that we exist, we are squandering the greatest fact of all. – Will Durant

I sit in loving awe. So wondrous. How did you and I meet?  How did we get here? If you were take a minute and think about this you might say we met through so and so – a friend perhaps. As a matter of convenience, it might be the polite thing to say, but what if we were to go further? What if we were to not just take a step back, but really zoom all the way out, and not just get a birds eye-view, and not just a telescopic view, but instead – a universal and holographic view of our place in this existence, this time and space.

How many causes and conditions led us to this moment? I mean let’s try and add it up for a minute. Where would we even start? Our ability to read – our shared language and understanding. Every breath you and I have ever taken. Our parents. Their parents. And their parents. All of evolutionary biology and chemistry. All of the food we have ever eaten. Every stitch of clothing you are wearing. All of the people involved in that. The crops. The earth, The water. The formation of planets, stars and galaxies. Space and time. A computer, a phone, a tablet. Light. The Sun. And even this understanding falls forever short of understanding the totality of all.

The reality begins to sink in. How many causes and conditions have led to this moment? This supposed chance meeting of you and I? Every moment of your life and every life. Was it ever really random at all?

Infinite causes and conditions have come together to make this moment possible – there is no escaping this overwhelming conclusion. That at the very least – up until this moment – reality could not be different than it is. What would the consequences be if you held this broad spacious view with increasing frequency, that it became a staple of your life, experiential knowledge and walking day-to-day wisdom? What would life look like if you woke to this large, vast and spacious view? How would you treat yourself, others, and the environment?

Life would look very different in many respects if you adopted the rational view that infinite causes and conditions have come together to make every moment possible. One effect would be that you would immediately stop blaming yourself for all that has gone wrong. And of course, from there you would never blame another. You would smile continuously at the grandeur of being. Taking responsibility would look very different too – where you would be more responsible to hold the view of infinite causes and conditions then to hold yourself or another responsible for events that have transpired. You would be much more understanding, you would be wise and most importantly – you would be peaceful.

Your present notion of holding yourself and other people accountable for their actions would be turned on its head. Your ego would be crushed and devastated, but your heart would be open.

To accept infinite causes and conditions in every moment would be the end of your frustration and anger because you would stop demanding that reality be different than it is. You would understand that reality in every moment is beyond your ability to fully comprehend and you would have a beautiful open and trusting heart full of wonder. You would be free.

Going forward you would focus on solutions when there is difficulty instead of narrowly focusing on problems and finding the culprit of your narrowly assigned responsibility. You would be endlessly forgiving. You would understand things are as they are. You would discover the inner peace of the deepest self-acceptance. You wouldn’t feel so alone once you realized that you were deeply inter-connected with everything. You would no longer have the anxiety of worrying terribly about the future because you would know that everything would come together just as it does. You would be able to exhale, to let go, to breathe it all in, and to rest.

Your stress would diminish and then dissolve if you discovered the timelessness of all. You would see that there is no true birth and death, that instead that all appearances come and go like time and tide. We are experiencing the waves of infinity rushing over and through us. Ego sees itself as an individuated birth and death, but nothing could be further from the truth. All things rise and fall, as is their nature. When a waves comes we don’t call it birth, and when it falls we do not call it death and so it is with us as we rise, crest and fall once more from moment to moment and life to life.

To accept infinite causes and conditions in every moment would be to accept that violence is the furthest thought away from accepting the universal thread of continuity. You would know that you could move peacefully from relationships – cherishing what was instead of needlessly focusing on the troubles or the end.

If you understood that infinite causes and conditions were interlaced and interwoven in every moment your health issues would be seen in a very different light. Your sadnesses and depression would be very different if you knew that truly at the deepest level your need for a profound love has already been met by the very virtue of you just being here, right now – that your life is held so very sweetly in the loving arms of limitless spacious presence. That you have come together at all is a miracle, a blessing, an act of loving generosity – a gift from forever – from both forever and a not so distant long ago.

May you awaken to your beauty, to your infinity. May you love and feel loved. May you see yourself in everything, and may everything see itself in you. I pray that you know that you cannot be separate, that you are a very necessary part of everything, May you find peace in your heart, and may you find peace in this world. That is all.

The picture is of the Heart Nebula from the constellation Cassiopeia. ❤️

Awakening Your Good Heart: How to Grow Love, Mercy, Empathy and Compassion

The  quality of mercy is not strain’d,

 It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

 Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:

 It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. – Shakespeare

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Let’s begin from from long ago…. let’s start with how we have come to understand one of the most beautiful qualities of the human experience – mercy.

The etymology of the ancient Latin word, ‘merces.’ This word was used by the Romans when paying for something – specifically wages or a reward.

The early Christians used the word as a response to the brutal subjection from the soldiers of the Roman Empire. For Christians, ‘merces,’ meant the spiritual reward one receives for doing a kindness in response to injustice and brutality.

The word came into early French as, ‘merci,’ with much the same meaning as was later passed on to our Modern English as the word, ‘mercy’. While mercy in English now has the meaning “kindness or pity shown to someone,” the word merci in French has lost much of that meaning and is chiefly used today to mean, “thank you .”

How to best understand the difference between pity and compassion?
Experientially let’s begin by going through some fairly typical struggles people go through when thinking of being of assistance to a friend, family member or stranger.
We see a homeless person at a red light or under a bridge asking for our help. We can ignore and act like they are not there. We can begin to red-light rationalize…what will do they ‘really,’ do with the money? And by the time the light turns it’s too late anyway. We can also give freely without concern as some of the many options.

A family member who asks for help – a friend, a brother, our child. Lend them money? Under what conditions?

A world disaster…refugees, an earthquake, a tsunami, starving children, an outbreak of disease, a country being ravaged by extremists…on what basis do we help with one disaster, but not the other? What about animals, or our planet? Where do we start, and where do we stop?
Should we think globally, but act locally? Perhaps only help people of the same religion as us? The same country? The same family? Only ourselves?

If only you want happiness and to stop suffering for yourself I’ll take it – that’s a good enough place to begin as you have just enough of the requisite seed of wisdom to transform from a normal self-cherishing person into a lovely and wise human being. That you do not want to suffer and that you want to be happy is all that we need as a starting point to grow your good heart.

In mindfulness practice we define compassion from the Sanskrit, ‘Karuna.’ Karuna is the wish for ourselves and others not to suffer. Sometimes we can go beyond this wish and turn it into action, but at the very least we start with the wish to not suffer for ourselves. The basic recognition is that you want to be happy and that you do not want to suffer.

Empathetically we can then realize that all other vertebrates or sentient beings are built exactly the same way. There is no one alive who we don’t share that commonality with. All discrimination and prejudice is completely based on missing this most obvious and essential point of the good heart.

The basic idea behind growing empathy is – once more – and let’s get it straight – that we all want to be happy and none of us want to suffer. That is our shared commonality regardless of age, race, religion, gender, country or sexual orientation.

As a first step toward understanding compassionate mercy let’s begin with the the truth of the inherent suffering of existence. There are situations that are common to all of us just by being born: we will face the common struggles of simply being alive. The common struggles that we will almost all face after birth are our initial development, gender roles, education, sexual concerns, employment, finances, relationships, getting sick, getting older, worries about the future, and finally the death of loved ones and ourselves.

This is a call for deep acceptance, meaning that this is the condition of life, there is no getting out of it. There’s no point in struggling so hard against these things, as many of them are simply the by products of being born. In other words we can begin here with compassion for ourselves, as many of the struggles and the pain that we face in life are simply the way things are. To a very large degree we will experience the pain of existence, and therefore there is no need to suffer for that. Deep acceptance with life please – there is no one to blame – not yourself, not another, not God – this is simply the way things are.

We can say that much of our suffering has to do with the denial of the reality that suffering is indeed an inherent or intrinsic part of existence. The more we live in denial of this the more we compound our suffering unnecessarily. Everyone dies, there are no exceptions to this – we have no idea when. That means our parents, our children, our friends, ourselves… There is absolutely no way of knowing who will go first. We suffer in direct proportion to the denial of this essential truth.

We also suffer in direct proportion to something else that is a basic fact of reality – that everything is constantly changing and we are not in control of that change. Try as we might, we are not in control – we lie to ourselves all too often. Infinite causes and conditions go into every moment, thus we are not in control of the way things are – only our relationship to the way things are.

Examine yourself, examine your life… Is it true? Do you and have you suffered for the denial of reality and rejecting change?

We both know the answer to this. This is the beginning of compassion for yourself and empathy for others. Look to see if you suffer unnecessarily by rejecting reality. I suggest not opposing reality at the risk of even further pain.

Love yourself just enough to accept these essential truths – that suffering is a central part of existence, and that everything changes. We are beginning to understand when we stop blaming ourselves and others for the reality of life. Blamelessness is the Deep Path toward a compassionate heart.

Finally we suffer from the myth of separation. The idea of separation is that we are over here and that others and the world are out there, outside – separate from ourselves. This myth of separation is particularly poisonous and toxic. The myth of separation is what allows us to look out for ourselves and not care for others or our environment. We are more than just deeply interconnected, it goes far deeper than that. Quite literally the world and other people and in fact all living things are not separate from yourself.

How to understand this potentially mystical comment? Imagine that you are a gun owner, but you had a gun for self protection. Imagine that late, in the dark hours of the middle of the night you hear the sound of glass breaking and footsteps in the living room. What do you do with your gun? Imagine that you arm yourself and open the door and turn on the light.

Before shooting this intruder, imagine that you suddenly recognize the intruder as your own addicted child, brother, or sister. Even your own parent. Do you pull the trigger? On what basis then can we harm someone else? This is completely based on the idea that the other person is not our own flesh and blood. That we are over here, and they, the enemy – are over there. On what basis do you make such a claim? And this is true for people of other religions, races, genders and religion. Why are you over here and assume they are over there?

It is on the basis that you believe that you reside within this collection of skin, flesh, bones, blood, thoughts and emotions and that other people reside in that other collection – out there – outside of you. It is so worth your time to sit down in contemplative meditative silence and begin to explore this supposition, this false assumption.

Go ahead and try… Strip away mentally part by part and see if you can find the ground, this belief that you have that there is a self existent person within this collective process that is simply just being. You identify too strongly with this collection of parts as though they are intrinsic and real – even though in the very best of scenarios that clearly is not going to be the case for much longer.

When you look down at your own skin or the skin of another, all you see is skin – not your skin and their skin – just skin. It’s so important that you fight the urge to think that there’s a ghost in this machine, that there’s a hidden mover, or a wizard behind the curtain… The more you look, the more you examine, the more you contemplate – the more you will see this is simply not true. Hurting other people is simply based on the false assumption that they are over there outside of you.

Once you begin to experientially understand – then your compassion will become limitless, you will understand that there is no person or world, that is out there separate from you. Their suffering is your suffering. Their happiness is your happiness – so there’s no need to have competition or jealousy with anyone. There will no longer will be the need to size people up anymore, to compare, to rate. All that will remain is your good heart and compassion for all that you touch and all that you see.

The alternative is pain, and it is largely unnecessary. Your are responsible for yourself and the world that you see. You are not separate.
When it comes to how well you treat others, simply ask yourself this question:
If you were in their shoes, needing assistance from someone like you – would you accept that assistance? If yes, How would you like to receive such assistance?
Would you like to receive assistance from someone who was rationalizing at a stoplight? Would you like to receive assistance from someone who pitied you? Would you like to receive assistance from someone who had an agenda, who was fighting with themselves, or just trying to make themselves feel better?

Would you like to receive assistance from someone who realized that you were not separate from them, that your suffering was also their suffering? That your happiness was also their happiness?

Here is a short meditation that you can try at home to help open your heart toward the possibility of acceptance and losing the myth of separation:
The practice of Giving and Receiving is done to develop our compassion and our ability to be present for our own suffering and the suffering of others.

It is also a practice of great kindness that opens up our whole being to the overwhelming presence of suffering and our strength and willingness to transform alienation into compassion through the energy of mercy and the cultivation of openness.

Giving and Receiving is one of the richest and bravest practices that we can do. In sharing this practice for more than twenty years now, I have been told again and again that this one practice has helped many people immeasurably in attending to their own fears around pain, suffering, dying, and loss and has given them a real basis for the joining of compassion and equanimity. This is one of the great meditation jewels that offers a way for us to cultivate our natural mercy.

We begin the practice with a heart that is truly committed to helping others and to working openly with our own situation. When we look deeply into how this can actually happen, we see that to help others, we must relate with kindness toward our own suffering, our rage, helplessness, and frustration, our doubt, bitterness and fear.

The practice of Giving and Receiving helps us to get in touch with the obstacles that prevent us from understanding and caring. Through our own experience with suffering and the development of an atmosphere of openness toward it, we can begin to accept and be with others and ourselves in a more open, kind and understanding way. Our own difficult personal experiences then become the bridge that leads us to compassion and not giving into fear.

Giving Fearlessly.

In order to give fearlessly, we must first learn to relate with our own suffering—our rage, helplessness, frustration, doubt, bitterness, and fear—instead of pushing it away.

Meditation: Giving and Receiving

To begin the practice, you can sit in meditation posture, relax in a chair, or lie down. Gently close your eyes and let your body and mind settle. Start with ten minutes of mindfulness of breathing.

You want to feel relaxed and open. You can say this prayer—or the prayer of your choice—to create a sense of spaciousness in which the giving and receiving can take place:
“Having recognized the futility of my selfishness and self-cherishing
And the great benefit of loving others,
May I bring all beings to joy.
May I send all my virtues and happiness to others through the strength of my good heart.
Begin by breathing in whatever you are feeling—fear, agitation, anger, resistance—and accepting it. On the exhalation breathe out well-being. Clear your mind by bringing awareness to what is agitating you and breathing it in, accepting it with kindness. Then, as you exhale, give yourself some spaciousness. Do this breath practice until you are calm and alert.

Next Work with the Texture of the Breath

When you feel settled, begin the second stage of the practice, which is establishing a rhythm of breathing. On your in-breath imagine that you are inhaling heavy, hot , smoky, black, air. On your out-breath visualize exhaling cool, light air. Continue with this pattern—breathing in heaviness and breathing out lightness—until it is familiar to you. The heaviness is suffering; the lightness is well-being.
Now imagine that you are breathing through all the pores of your body. On the in-breath heavy, hot air enters every pore. On the out-breath, cool light flows from every pore.

Dissolving the Steel Wall Around the Heart

Now visualize a steel wall around your heart. This steel wall is everything about you that is difficult for you to accept: your self-importance, selfishness, self-cherishing, self-pity. It is the band of fear that hardens your heart.

The practice invites you to dissolve this steel wall and open your heart to its natural nonjudgmental state of warmth, kindness, and spaciousness. You can do this by visualizing the steel wall breaking apart when the in-breath of suffering touches it. When the heart opens, the hot, heavy air vanishes into its vast space.
What arises is natural mercy. It is this quality of unarmored heart that allows you to be with suffering and at the same time to see beneath the suffering.

Awakening the Heart

The reason you are doing this practice is that you are suffering, others are suffering, and you wish with all your heart that all beings could be free from suffering. This wish needs to be specific, personal, and sincere. It helps to touch in with a being or an event that evokes this wish. Bring to your mind some being, dead or alive, with whom you feel a deep connection: a parent, child, pet, your grandmother, your dearest friend, your beloved teacher—someone who is suffering. You would do anything to help this one. Be with this one and feel what she is experiencing. Let your whole being turn toward her suffering and your wish that it might be relieved. See how vulnerable she is. Like a mother who will do anything to help her child, you will do anything to help your friend.

Visualize the suffering of your beloved as polluted, hot smoke and breathe it in through your whole body. The instant that the in-breath of suffering touches the steel wall of self-centeredness around your heart, the sheath breaks apart, and your heart opens to the suffering. The hot smoke instantly vanishes into the great space of your heart, and from this space spontaneously arises an out-breath of mercy and healing. Send a deep, cool, light, and spacious healing breath to your friend. Let the out-breath flow through every pore of your body.

Let this one’s suffering remind you of the many others who find themselves suffering in the same way. This friend is your connection to them. Breathe in their suffering. Let your heart break open. Send them healing with your out-breath.

Continue for a few minutes until you feel the wall of separation between yourself and others is gone or has been diminished.

Conclude the practice by dissolving the visualization and returning to mindfulness of breathing – just feeling in the most radically simple way possible the inhalation and exhalation that it is embodied with every breath in every precious moment.

Practice like this each day and you will begin to break the bad habit of suffering from the myth of separation. There is so much more, but this is a beginning.

May you give up and completely surrender your self-cherishing and self-interest. May you gain the quality of a limitless heart, gentleness and harmlessness toward all. May you learn to love yourself and others equally. May you discover limitless mercy and compassion. May you become realized. May you realize that you are not separate from the world you experience. May you never give up.❤

May we all be happy, may we all be well, may we all be safe, peaceful and at ease🌷❤🙏

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Becoming Beautiful Through Self Acceptance ❤️

The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it is taking place at all. The highest communication is deep self-acceptance. How do we know that we have not yet arrived at a deeper self-acceptance? This can first be recognized when we are having difficulty and not at peace with others. If there is someone in your life right now that you just can’t seem to get along with, it’s because there’s a part of yourself that you’re failing to see, understand and recognize.

Being silent about how you feel or what you feel is the beginning of emotional disturbance. This doesn’t mean to let it all out or wear your emotions on your sleeve either.

Let’s talk about what’s really on your mind. Your past mistakes are meant to guide you – not to define you. It’s vital to talk about them. Being vulnerable is not a weakness, you can trust in being transparent. It’s critical to make peace with your past so that it doesn’t disturb your present. Hiding away from yourself and not talking is not a way to protect yourself – only to hurt yourself further.

It’s not necessary to overthink things either, it’s alright and perfectly acceptable to not know all the answers. Slow down and pay attention to the life that is trying to weave its way into your present awareness

Try to retrain your mind to accept life as it is, rather than as you think it is supposed to be.

Becoming beautiful means beginning to accept yourself as you are – deeply so. One day you will realize that material things mean precious little, and all that truly matters is the well-being of the people in your life – including yourself.

It’s possible to be perfectly happy without that meaning that everything in your life is perfect. In fact, it’s not necessary to have achieved anything at all to still be someone very special.

May the space between where you are and where you want to be not scare you, but inspire you. Acceptance means to offer genuine presence to yourself in every moment, and paradoxically that is the beginning of changing into the person you aspire to become. The best self-acceptance is the love for yourself that makes you a better person, without having to change into to someone other than the self of your highest aspirations.

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The Wisdom of Generosity

Heartwarming Video on Generosity

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need. – Khalil Gibran

Soon after returning from monastic life in Asia, I took a job as the director of a hospice in the mountains of Colorado. A number of truths became quickly apparent when working with the dying, and other insights quietly surfaced:

Your remaining years and death will be graceful, peaceful and filled with hope if you have lived a charitable life; therefore a life of generosity is the greatest investment in your future happiness. For those who have spent their life giving all of themselves there is a grace in dying, an ease and a sublime willingness to let go – to release the grasping for this world and existence.

Conversely and proportionately the more an individual tries to covet and and maintain possessions and control others they grow older and die in painful proportion. The poorest days of my life were when I looked out for myself first. I thought if I could acquire or store enough wealth that I’d be less fearful, less doubtful and feel successful. I would be foolish to not notice that I stopped seeing myself as inadequate when I started living a life devoted to charity and sharing.

When you switch your attention from the subject to the object is when you will become successful in the highest sense. When you start giving to the world all in which you had previously hoped to receive is the day you will feel most whole, most complete.

I had always wished for someone to love me, to listen to me, to be understanding, to give of their time, and if needed – I would like to have known that someone would have been there materially.

The day I started giving everything I ever wanted – was the day I started receiving. Life has informed me that if I’m not expressing my generosity, than I am expressing my greed. Greed incapacitates your good heart and sensibility, generosity frees your smile, love, and wisdom.

Your hands were born open, and so was your heart. Somewhere along the line perhaps, something shifted.

The intention and quality of giving matters. I remember wanting to ask for help when I was younger. I felt humiliated; I was somehow lacking. I would sometimes steal to avoid the humiliation of being discovered that I did not have enough. This is known as poverty mentality. And it truly doesn’t matter how much you have, if you think you don’t have enough, there is no amount of money or possession in the world that will ever satisfy you. I remember this lesson when I offer assistance now, to remember to go out of my way to not have the other person feel humiliated.

Strive to let each person that you assist know that this is a temporary situation; that they’ll be strong enough soon to stand up, give back, and pay the kindness forward. I love to try and foster that sense of confidence in others.

When people give only because they have an excess of funds, that doesn’t make them generous, it just makes their previous miserliness more tolerable. The real value of a gift is not determined by its price, but by the amount of attachment overcome. Be prepared to be overwhelmed with happiness when you start giving from the heart. If you keep it up, you’ll likely discover that you’re happy virtually all of the time.

As long as you give without strings attached or outcome expectation you’ll be fine. That means don’t expect thanks or applause either. If you can give anonymously, that’s the best way. You are your own witness, so even if others think you’re miserly, that’s an even greater opportunity to test your true understanding. You can never be taken advantage of, or disturbed, unless you’re giving with attachment.

Some of the greatest lessons in generosity are also learned when the gift is used differently then directed. When there is pain in generosity it is invariably a sign that we’re still holding onto something – typically a combination of anger and self-importance.
Don’t forget that you’re not superior to the recipient, they are affording you an opportunity to be happy and lighten your load. Be generous and grateful for the chance to be helpful. Looking at the recipient as lower than ourselves even in the midst of apparent generosity, is just another example of class warfare in disguise – a beautiful gift in a poisoned wrapper.

Watch what happens when you give to someone who has nothing – that nothing just become their everything. Watch their face light up and then be happy for their happiness. You can change someone’s life by giving in some small way, as long as you give with all of your heart. In competition, be generous and always offer victory to the other. Let them have what they want, and help them to get it – then both of you will be happy. There are few greater joys then being happy for the happiness of another.

Try not to be capricious with your generosity: give equally regardless of someone’s wealth, privilege or standing. Give of yourself with equanimity: Perhaps the object will change, but give nonetheless. Time, an ear, a hug, advice, love, give as much as possible for the highest happiness. True generosity doesn’t discriminate.

At times perhaps it’s best to be patient instead of giving immediately; There may be a more significant and wiser way to be generous than the one that seems most apparent. It will take a higher level of realization to notice that you’ll enjoy all of your possessions even more when you give them away. To train yourself in generosity give away what you cherish most, item by item and discover the happiness unfolding in your heart. For those on the spiritual path, loving and maintaining material possessions is seen as a weakness in wisdom, a confusion to be overcome. Generosity enriches you, and there is no easier way to be poor, than by being selfish.

Why do some people see reality as dark and bleak while others see the same place as an opportunity for hope and possibility? The world you see is a reflection of your character and values. Your priorities are your character. A world seen as dark and impoverished is created by an attitude of self-cherishing and greed. A world of abundance is created by a heart and mind filled with love and generosity. May you be magnanimous, and may you give freely.

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Relationship Selection Process

Your selection process in choosing friends, intimate partners and others to have in your life will largely dictate and determine your emotional future. Anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt and other destructive emotions can largely be mediated by a wise selection process – what you will accept and not accept, tolerate and not tolerate.

If you enter the amusement park don’t blame anyone else. If you get on the roller coaster don’t blame another. Know what your selection process is, and stick to it – don’t waver. Most importantly be patient – the first few months in any relationship is not a reliable indicator of character; it takes time to have enough reliable data points to see the larger chart of someone’s integrity and personality.
Pay careful attention to how someone manages and deals with conflict. All relationships have sticking points.

Key things to watch for: Emotional Responsibility

  1.  No one blames you for how they feel
  2.  No demands
  3. No control. Most importantly observe someone’s ability to communicate, apologize, forgive and move on.

If it’s too late and you’re already on the ride, instead of continuing to punish yourself, it’s okay to leave. Always give yourself permission to move on to another adventure – each time a little wiser than before.

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A Short Prayer for Living and Dying 

This life is like a water bubble on a fast-moving stream; the truth is – it’s almost over. With your brief and limited time, live life to its depth, not to its limit.
Coming and going like falling waves – you have been known by many names and titles. Behind each one – a lengthy story, an unconvincing tale, a collapsing myth. Where are they now? These characters in your boat – they were drilling holes when you weren’t looking! Stop wasting time being entranced and taken with these identities and illusions. You’re far too concerned with temporary pleasures, reputation and gain that will all disappear without a moments notice.

Pay attention now so you don’t live in fear later. Prepare for death while you are alive – before it is thrust upon you. Don’t be foolish, this is not your only life. Everything continues, so don’t bet the wrong way. You will experience the results of your thoughts, speech and actions – so watch your conduct carefully while you are still here. Repair and amend your mistakes while you still have time.

The more you struggle to live, the greater the current, the greater the wake. Turn inward to find tranquil seas. You are moving closer to the truth with every passing tick, every moment, every beat, every breath. What you are seeking is not outside – all rivers lead inward. Sever your attachment to the fifty-one that cling. Stop struggling, resist swimming against the tide. Follow the stream – any of which will bring you home. Let go, nothing leaves without something better coming.Hurry and learn the skill of loosening the knots. Uncoil everything and you will find true acceptance.

The work of the eyes and the senses is almost done. Be naked and transparent – unveil your self to reveal yourself. Turn toward and acknowledge the inner sun – don’t hide or be fearful of the light. This is awareness. Bask in luminous brilliance.
Prepare for death as in life. Each time you sleep – cross the hypnagogue, but this time cross while awake, lucid, and conscious. The same process happens while dying. It’s time to let go now – you will soon come to know the truth about material things and possessions. Release this shimmering sea of outer reflections that seem like existence. Let your attachment to friends and loved ones go, be by yourself now.

You will thirst for water and your skin will dry out. You will alternate between feeling very light and very heavy. Heat will recede from your limbs and you will become cold. Your breath will become short, shallow and raspy. Your vision will become blurry. Close your eyes – turn toward what seem like sparks, fireflies, faint echoes, dancing colors and shifting lights. These are only the subtle display of the mind. Don’t become frightened or mesmerized. All will become dark. This is not the end, just the next beginning.

Then there will be an endless light. Rest peacefully in this motionless brilliance. This is timeless awareness. If you fail to recognize this a combination and swirl of frightening images, loved ones and unknown figures will begin to appear… Let these images come and go…don’t be drawn in. These are mere appearances – attach to none of them. Until you recognize the light of awareness – the cycle will continue, endlessly so. Awaken.🌷
Prepare for death as you would for life. Say your goodbyes and forgiveness’ now. Leave no anger in your heart. Visualize these instructions each day in preparation, and this will help you to live your life more fully and when the time comes – you will die peacefully and without regret.

Remember the instructions and may all be auspicious. 🙏

An instruction letter from my mountain hermitage. Dzogchen Valley, Kham, Eastern Tibet.

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Happiness and Poverty Mentality

  
Pure present moment joy. Once you leave Bangkok and travel northeast into the jungles and rice fields of Issan province this is what you’ll find: A way of life called, “sanook,” in Thai – it means to find the joy in whatever you do. 

When I left investment banking and became a Buddhist monk this was where the first forest temple (Wat) I lived in was – and the experience inalterably changed my life for the better. Living in Thailand shined a stark light on what has become an obvious and evident truth – that true joy comes from the inside – and exudes and shines its way out through expression, speech and action.

When I first arrived in this rural area near the Laotian border I thought everyone – all of these happy people were impoverished. It didn’t take long to discover that it was me who was lacking. Poor and desolate. That with all of this money, education and ambition that I was so incredibly vacant, so uninformed and pathetically poor – immersed in what I have come to understand and termed as, “poverty mentality”. Poverty mentality is in opposition to joy, it is falsely seen through the eyes of consumerism and materialism as something to cultivate and even admire. The attitude and stance that nothing is ever enough: To always want and need more – to never be satisfied. Insatiable craving and thirsting for more and more. In retrospect I don’t know how I didn’t see it. 
There is no real sanook in consumerism – just temporary and fleeting gratification from mundane pleasures that are mistaken for happiness, but far from well-being. There’s nothing wrong with material things as long as you know their actual worth: that all things actually have no inherent value beyond the conditioned mind that assigns and attributes a price to their perceived function.

The first day as a monk I begged (Buddhist monastic tradition) for food from a young woman with two infants who lived nearby in a small corrugated tin shanty. I’ll never know her name. She fed me in the rice field that I was walking through that day – she simply placed rice and vegetables in my bowl and offered prayers. There are fewer humbling experiences than begging for alms. How to accept food from someone who has less than you? Only to quickly realize she had so much more. Sitting outside on a thin rice mat smiling with her children and hands in prayer. She was so rich and so filled with the joy of generosity. 

I never felt so poor as that moment. In that time and space it occurred to me almost instantly that my ambitious values and constant craving were at odds with harmony, contentedness, peace and love – even for myself. Right there in the middle of that rice field thousands of miles from home my knees buckled and I wept and wept. That was the day I gave up, let go and truly started to give in. That was the day I found my good heart and began to discover the joy in the easy naked simplicity of just being. Sanook. 

May you be happy, may you be well, truly peaceful and at ease 🙏❤️🌷😊

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Present Moment Love

  
Perhaps our dreams are there to be broken, and our plans are there to crumble, and our tomorrows are there to dissolve into todays, and perhaps all of this is all a giant invitation to wake up from the dream of separation, to awaken from the mirage of control, and embrace whole-heartedly what is present. 
My life is a passing succession of events, just like yours. Only I have detached and see the passing show as a passing show….
Friends, appearances do not bind the mind, attachments bind the mind. Cut through your attachments…
You are not your name, where you are from your race, country, religion or gender…
You are not your thoughts or feelings…
Relax your attachments and your sorrows will become unmasked. Joy is all that will remain.

Cling to nothing. Stop fixating. Release your hopes, fears, expectations and worries. Relax into awareness without an object. 

Know the state of pure and total presence to be a very vast expanse, without center or border. All that remains when you let go is love – and that is the great secret. When this is realized you will burst into a beautiful spontaneous laughter❤️

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Nisargadatta Maharaj

Tilopa’s Instruction to Naropa 

Foster

Longchenpa

Myself

You Are So Valueble 

  
If you’re new to this, welcome! This is how we start our day as meditators and Buddhist practitioners. If you’re from another faith or without faith that won’t matter as this is a non-religious exercise in love for ourselves and humanity. This remembrance is a very sweet and special way to begin each morning: 
Briefly contemplate (think about) this subject for 2-3 minutes each day as the first step in your morning practice. For the next three days I’ll be posting on how to contemplate the remaining three practices – simply add one each day. These brief practices will positively change your life in a short amount of time. You are encouraged to sustain these contemplations everyday for the rest of your life. Let’s start with the first one now – the precious human birth.

Slow down, take a few deep breaths – really connect to your breathing. 
Begin by contemplating the opportunity you have been afforded by having a precious human birth: 
You are very fortunate. Your human existence is invaluable, for you are endowed with the freedom and conditions necessary for developing and practicing loving-kindness and compassion. You also have the ability to help yourself and others to stop suffering and contribute to the overall welfare of our world and every living being. You have the possibility of leaving this world each day a much better place than you found it. 
It’s of no use to intellectualize the preciousness of your human birth – instead – feel that having this human life is very special, that this is an incredible opportunity. Do you feel it? Can you feel your potential? It is so vital, so important to come back to this each day – to know your worth, to both know and to feel that you are very important, that you are very special and have extraordinary meaning. It is the same feeling a mother would have holding her only newborn child – beaming, hopeful, so full of life and promise. 
Appreciate and take stock in what you have. A body that works, sense faculties – your eyes, your ears, your nose, your tongue, you have an amazing ability to feel. You have your limbs, and a mind of vast and creative potential. Many people are not as fortunate as you, but at least they have their mind. And many people do not even have that. Many people do not even have full use of their limbs and sense faculties. Take stock and rejoice in what you do have. You are alive, and you are blessed. You do make a difference and can do even more…Please start your day like this, take the time to feel these things, how blessed you are, and to appreciate the sacredness of your life.
You are in a free country, you have freedom of speech, expression, and religion. You have the freedom to have property, to vote and receive an education. In our country so far, things are easy to come by – almost anything you could ever want is right at your fingertips. And it is also so easy to give back – so easy to share all that you have received. 
And before you fall asleep, do you feel, “Wow, I’m so fortunate I have enough food to eat, a bed, and I’m warm?” Perhaps, but far too often – no. Too often people feel the opposite about their lives. 
They demand, “I want more, I want things to be different, better.” Or…“I’m bad, worthless…I’ve been abandoned…I’m unlovable.” 
Generally this is because you’re caught by ego, which is never, ever satisfied. Ego always needs something, it wants something because it’s vacant and empty. Self-fulfillment is never fulfilling for very long. It’s painful to acknowledge just how many people are caught and ensnared here; More painful to admit that this has been ourselves. 
But honestly, your life is really very good. That’s what you need to consider about your precious human birth. Think about how much freedom you have because of this human birth, how good this circumstance is for practicing and relating to the world with wisdom, loving-kindness and compassion. 
You have food, warmth, safety, and you have teachers. In every session of meditation purposely reflect on this because the rest of our training is based on resting the mind. Contemplating on the preciousness of your birth will help you to feel safe and protected – safe enough to put your mind at ease and rest. 
It’s vital that you feel safe enough in your own worth and value so that you feel that it’s okay to give of yourself – to share and to be generous with whatever you have with others and without regret. 

You need to influence your emotional understanding about the preciousness of your life, and that influence comes through a conscious willingness to train your mind. 
You just have to think about it again and again until you feel it in your whole emotional system, until everything inside your body agrees that, “I know I have a precious and valuable human life. I feel how important this opportunity is!” 

Once you have conviction about the preciousness and importance of human existence, you’ll want to use it all of the time to the very best of your ability. As the Buddhist master Longchen Rabjam said, “We now have the independence to genuinely apply ourselves, so do not squander your life on pointless things.”

Start with being grateful. Begin each day by being GRATEFUL. Try to come up with three new things everyday – three heartfelt gratitudes. Write them down each day in a journal, your gratitude journal. Review your gratitudes each week and in no time you will start to know and feel your precious human birth.

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Listening Deeply

  
Listening Deeply

One of the easiest ways to disturb yourself is to care what others think and say about you. Freedom comes from being yourself without seeking permission, acceptance or validation from others. When others judge you they do not define you – they define themselves. People seem not to realize that their negative views of others and the world is a reflection of their own character. Conversely the beauty that others find in you is also a reflection of their heart and spirit. Often people speak negatively of others because they feel threatened by all that’s right. You can tell an awful lot about a person by what they choose to see in you. And not that we’re seeking it, but one of the nicest feelings is when someone appreciates everything about you that someone else took for granted.

The reality is you could be amazing, genuine and sincere and still be completely missed. Try and be at peace with people who don’t like or even run from you. Resist the temptation to fight back; energy flows where the attention goes and you have better uses for your positive resources. When you realize your value you’ll find it increasingly difficult to associate with people who don’t. When you’ve put so much work into changing for the better don’t forget to stop from time to time and love the person you’re becoming.
Give up on teaching anyone anything, and instead just encourage others to think for themselves – and to think deeply. Freely admit what you don’t know – which happens to be most everything. The wisest men are humbled by realizing that they actually know precious little. Try to speak and act from the heart without expectation of praise or applause. 
 It’s in your interest to give up on jealousy and competition and simply wish that everyone succeeds at finding happiness. With the right view and attitude you’ll discover that without exception life gives you whatever experience would be most beneficial for your evolution and development. You can never lose if you learn. 

May you be happy, well, safe, peaceful and at ease🌷

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