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Monthly Archives: June 2013



This morning, before an early swim in the ocean, my husband and I read this passage as a beginning of our celebration of our 19th wedding anniversary:

Understanding the Mind by Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 226
“Habit energies are the basis of internal knots.  This is like when we put flower petals into tea in order to flavor it.  If we are in a good environment, we get the ‘perfume’ of the good environment.  If we are in an unwholesome environment, we get the ‘perfume’ of an unwholesome environment.  Any action of body, speech or mind can be the result of a habit energy.  Some habit energies have taken thousands of years to form.  Our heritage is not only what we have done in the past, but what we are doing in the present.  Every word we speak and every act we perform will determine how we are.  We know that if we want to come to a place of happiness and light, we must develop good habits.  The best habit is the practice of mindfulness.  If we live with a Sangha that practices mindfulness, we will get the perfume of mindfulness.”

    This was a perfect reading for our wedding anniversary today.  We have truly formed a family, our own little sangha, in the last 24 years we have been together.  We have received the teachings of Thay and tried to practice mindfulness together and with others in a wider sangha.  With the help and support of friends along our spiritual path, we have discovered ancestral knots of fear, anger, resentment and self-hatred within ourselves and helped one another transform them into faith, peace, non-judgement and love of self and others.  Perfectly? No.  Understanding that these knots took thousands of years to form, relieves us of the expectation of fully transforming them in one lifetime.  We smile at the opportunities to continue to untie knots, to perfume our lives with mindful people, the beauty of the ocean and the rising supermoon.  What a privilege to have been born human, to be able to form the habit of love for ourselves, our ancestors and future generations – right here, right now, in this beautiful moment.

sunset -retreatjpg My friend Elizabeth died yesterday morning at 4:00am. Another friend called me to say she woke at that time, that she felt her friend saying goodbye to her. Her husband sent a beautiful announcement out on the website. I was sad all day after I heard, feeling the need to reach out to others who knew her. She was a quiet person, quietly doing what she knew to be God’s will – an immigration lawyer who helped thousands of people, raising two sons, one challenged, having her aging missionary parents live in her basement,a loving husband, church member. I liked her a lot, liked that she didn’t sugar coat how hard it was to go through this, to leave everyone she loved, to let go of her work. But she did. We all do. If we don’t let go, we are “dragged” as they say! We have to let go, to accept the impermanence of everything, all relationships, all the beauty and transitoriness of flowers, clouds, sunlight, babies, ultimately of life itself.

Somewhere deep in my heart I do believe, and experienced in ’94 when I almost died, that the “other side” is good, more free of the physical suffering, the delusions, the struggles. And there are billions of people who have gone through what we all face. It’s the “not knowing” what’s ahead, the many pictures of the dead, cold bodies we leave, the pain in those left behind that we know. But we don’t know for sure what we face….I want to say “personally,” but Buddhism is helping me understand that that is the ultimate “letting go,” of SELF, of our notion of separate, individual being. That I will no longer be the ME that I have come to know so deeply, to love, to hold onto and protect, to work so hard to understand her history, her relationships, her mission in life, her work, her loves? But that is the source of our suffering the Buddha says, to cling to the notion of the separate SELF that continues even after death.

So, do we become truly “ONE” with all others, with the sun, the moon, the stars, with unimaginable beauty, goodness and delights that we have tasted only in a limited way, seen “as through a glass darkly” on earth? Or is that the notion I grew up with in my Christian days, looking forward to a “heaven” that would be so different from life on earth.

Can we start to do that NOW, in this moment through meditation, letting go, loving as deeply as possible, mindfulness, being in this moment in which is all of human history, all goodness, all life, all beauty, all great art. LIVE NOW! Try to make each moment as wide and deep and rich and beautiful as possible – not only for “ourselves” but for all the people, the earth, the beings we touch today. Celebrate my niece’s wedding today. Lead a great, healing Day of Mindfulness at Blueberry Gardens tomorrow! YES
YES, says my heart. YES!

LIFE is NOW! HERE and NOW! My friend lives on in my heart NOW! My sadness and joy are one, in the here, in the NOW.