Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Driving across southwest Texas, we kept seeing mirages of water on the road in front of us. A mirage is a peculiar trick. It looks like water across the road, but as you drive closer, it disappears.

The Buddha says

Form* is like a glob of foam; 
feeling, a bubble; 
perception, a mirage; 
mental fabrications, a banana tree**; consciousness, a magic trick.

However you observe them, 
appropriately examine them, 
they're empty, 
to whoever sees them appropriately.

Our self is a mirage. Like a rainbow, it seems to exist, but then it doesn't.

* the body
**a banana tree has no heartwood, no core

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Nutrition No One Uses

As i walked in to the Atlanta airport terminal this morning, we passed two giant-sized planters full of beautiful kale. An airport terminal is a busy place, people coming and going every minute, every few seconds. Thousands of people walk by this kale, yet no one harvests it. These nutritious kale leaves are purely decorative.

How often do i leave my good-for-me yoga mat sitting by itself in a corner? My meditation cushion languishes on a chair, ready and waiting to go outdoors and sit on the deck in the early, early morning. Weights, a hula hoop, a mini-trampoline, a trapeze--all this equipment waits for me, yet i keep walking by it. I know it's all good for me, yet..... 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

All Lives are Impermanent

Well, spring arrived a week ago, so to celebrate the season, i defrocked the Christmas wreath on the front door and sent the wreath itself to the compost pile. I'll find its "skeleton" in a couple of years--the thin steel metal ring with a slinky spiral of green wire wrapped around and around and around and....

The wreath still looked mostly fir-green, though the yew sprigs were more yellow than green, and the spruce sprigs were turning brown. This is how old age looks on us--a bit paler and frailer than we used to be. Not quite as "much" of us as there used to be.

Friday evening, i attended a Living Memorial service for a friend who is dying. She was the mother of our local Interfaith Initiative, and a representative from each of her favorite traditions spoke, chanted, or danced. A Sufi whirling dervish, the Jewish cantor with a spectacular voice, a pan-eurhythmy dance celebrating sunset, and i offered a Buddhist chant.

The season of my interfaith friend's life is passing away.
And so is mine.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Giving Brings Joy

Tomorrow we leave for a 2-week vacation. I've given away a dozen pots of blooming tulips. Now 3 amaryllis are budding, so it would be nice to find homestays for them so that someone else can enjoy their blooms while we are away.

Giving flowers is a form of generosity where it is so easy to feel the Buddha's words.

“Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression. 
  • We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous. 
  • We experience joy in the actual act of giving something. 
  • And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given.”
I've got joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cool Tulips

My pots of tulips that i forced in the garage over the winter are blooming. Every day, i put them outside on the front step for a day of early spring temperatures, a bit of breeze, and a sprinkle. Every evening as temperatures drop below freezing, i bring a dozen pots indoors to spend the night in my mud room, which is a bit cooler than the rest of the house.

My pots of tulips are like silent pets. All this in-and-out, back-and-forth makes the tulips last for 3 weeks instead of 1 week. They like to be cool, and when they're hot, they shrug off their petals like we shrug off our sweaters when we get too warm.

When you get hot under the collar, how do you cool down? Breathe. And notice you are breathing. Take a 1-minute mini-meditation break. Notice the mood of the mind.

We don't meditate in order to chill. We meditate in order to notice the stress in our lives. We meditate to notice suffering. We don't have to do anything about it. The "doing" will happen on its own once we become aware of the sources of our suffering--news, work, relationships. We probably need less of those particular stressors in our lives.

Take a closer look. Go outdoors for a mindful walk and enjoy the cool spring breezes.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Importance of Migrants

Hilary--friendly and curious
In our state, 3 men with Hispanic names have been arrested by ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement). These 3 men were working for the organization Migrant Justice.

The farmers in our state rely on migrant labor. At Town Meeting two weeks ago, one farmer stood up to remind us of the importance of migrants to his livelihood and to our state economy.  Since this farmer had a pig named Hilary a few years ago, i had assumed that told me something about his politics. (Hilary herself was so friendly and curious that i fell in love with her immediately.)

Regardless of politics, migrants are important in order for certain local foods to appear my table.

The Buddha himself was a wanderer, a homeless person, a migrant of a sort (though he did no physical labor nor did he earn any money).

Now is the time to practice right speech and speak up--kindly and gently. I have written postcards to ICE asking for the release of these 3 men.

During meditation, i express gratitude for the migrants who pick my neighbor's apples, the migrants who harvest oh-so-many fruits and vegetables. We need our migrant workers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Celebrating Spring Equinox

Susan sends a Spring Equinox postcard instead of a Christmas card. This year's postcard includes the poem The Coming of Spring by Francis Duggan.

The spring in gown of green came at midnight
and stole along the parkland in moonlight
and people of suburbia fast asleep
when Spring from tree to garden tree did creep.

The Spring came in at midnight in her green.
A welcome guest though she has not been seen.
In still of night she shuffled down the street,
and no one heard her pass on silent feet.

It's official: Winter is over. Gone. Impermanence rules.
Welcome Spring. You impermanent and changeable creature you.