Thursday, December 31, 2009


the panic starts to sink in as I realize it's just us.

I sit on a bench as the light slips away and I watch the panic run around the playground, out of control. I'm not intervening, not interfering, just watching to make sure it's OK. sitting on the park bench of loving-kindness, watching the panic tire itself out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

it can be done, and we can do it

The journey of working with fear takes place slowly and repeatedly as you go along the path. You may have many reruns: big reruns and then smaller reruns. Each time you experience fear, you reexperience and reconnect with the whole idea of genuineness, further and more completely. Fear will definitely arise in your life. Therefore, it's crucial to understand how to combat that fear by going further into it and then coming out. None of us should regard ourselves as being trapped. From this point of view, we are free. We can do what we want to do. That is one of the key attitudes we should adopt. Even if you experience great fear, you can go in and out of it. That can be done. That is taking an imperial attitude: it can be done, and we can do it. That sense of freedom and fearlessness is very important. If you understand this, then you won't dwell on your fear.
chogyam trunpa

Monday, December 28, 2009

the mind can be happy devoid of ice cream

"It is fine to take pleasure, to enjoy good food and to listen to beautiful music. Becoming curious about how we suffer doesn't mean we can no longer enjoy eating ice cream. But once we begin to understand the bewilderment of our untrained mind, we won't look to the ice cream and say, 'That's happiness.' We'll realize the mind can be happy devoid of ice cream. We'll realize that the mind is happy and content by nature."
sakyong mipham

Sunday, December 27, 2009

simply shamata

getting back to basic goodness.

everything has it.

even me. when you remove all the overlays, the filters, the delusions, the unskillful ways in which I look at myself, I am bright and shiney and, yes, deserving of the love of myself and others, just because I exist.

I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all beings.

the meaning of belief is the topic of another post.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

pain personified

The pain, in person, is me at 13 or 14, sitting in one of the recessed doorways of the building on the corner of Walden and Poplar streets. There were three doorways: one was a bar. I don't think the other two led to anything. The pain is curled up, knees pulled up to chest as tightly as possible, head down on knees, arms wrapped around legs -- bare legs, bare arms, she wears shorts and a T-shirt. I never see her face. she keeps it down. she doesn't speak. she has bruises, and there's blood, but she doesn't let me look at the wounds. she doesn't want to be touched -- she flinches == but she won't run away, no matter what you do.

I sit next to her, close but not touching. I love you, I say. no response. I don't know why you might need to be forgiven, I say, but I forgive you. and I'm sorry, so sorry, for whatever landed you here, mute and bloody in a cold doorway that's open to the world. come, I say, let me take you away, but you shake your head ever so slightly. run, I say, go somewhere anywhere, but I know you can't move, can't talk can't get away. so I stay and sit with you, and I am you and we shake from cold and fear and we try to talk but words don't form. I would listen, I say, I will hear you but I know that you have no words, that you can't explain it or express it, and I'll sit with you for hours in therapists' chairs looking for words and finding none. we take deep in-breaths, but let the air out slowly and guardedly without a sound, without a sigh. no relief, just space for the next breath.

Friday, December 25, 2009

demonology 102

my sadness demon is a cat. she slinks in and winds herself around my ankles, unnoticed at first. she sneaks in, gets me to pick her up and cuddle her, then attacks, leaving me with bloody scratches. she's tricky. she wants to be calmed, to be held, to be handled gently, wordlessly. this would be a demon to lay in the cradle of loving-kindness but she doesn't want to be put down.

tolerant open loving and compassionate

"As ordinary sentient beings, we'll never completely rid ourselves of egoistic thoughts and desires; it's more a question of making an honest assessment of our qualities and gradually reducing our self obsessive tendencies. If we can appraise our attitudes as more open, tolerant, loving and compassionate toward ourselves and others, we don't have to question the effectiveness of our mind training practices."

--Traleg Kyabgon from The Practice of Lojong

Thursday, December 24, 2009

demonology 101

I met my anxiety demon on my first night at karme choling. I had expected to arrive, register, be sent to a room and told when and where to appear for dinner and evening meditation. but there was no one at the desk when I got there -- just a piece of paper with my name and directions to the guest house, where I was staying. nothing on times, places, or meals. I stoof there for a few minutes wondering what to do and looking, I'm sure, like I needed to tell someone that Timmy was in the well. Looking, I'm sure, the way I used to look as a kid when total strangers would tell me to cheer up. Finally a man in a suit came out of one door and explained that it was some celebration of something to do with the sakyong and everyone was watching some address, but there was a celebratory dinner at 6 and meditation started at 7 a.m. I drove off to find the guest house. the directions were imprecise in that way that New England directions can be imprecise -- I can't remember them exactly, but there was a sign and a road, on the left and the right, and one was in the wrong place; often there's another sign or another road in the right positions up ahead, so I kept going down a two-lane road with no place to turn around once I realized I was wrong. Finding the house took longer than it should have. My room was lovely and large, but there were two beds, both made up and with towels on them. would I have a roommate? I went back and forth between beds. I being by the wall, but the bed itself was soft and saggy, so I took the other one. but that had no light or table. and so on and on. and once settled, I didn't know what to do. go back to eat? but everyone is dressed up, based on the man in the suit, and all I have are jeans and T-shirts. everything had gone wrong so far, and my ability to accept whatever came along crumbled. I sat on the bed and panicked. and then I removed myself from the panic/anxiety, and invited her to sit down with me. I assured her that it would be OK. her name is wanda, and she is much like chloe from the early seasons of "24" -- awkward and aspberger-y, saying whatever comes to mind without thinking of the effects. we calmed down, and went back to karme choling for dinner and told everyone we met that we were lost and confused. and we got information about what to expect, which calmed the anxiety demon down and told me what I needed to know to get ready for the dathun to start.

instructions 1.0.

listen to that voice. Listen to that hurt. Hold it. Take care of it. Meet pain, even your own with loving understanding. Give those voices a period of being heard. Not the whole day... But a period. Say "I know...I know you're there... I know you are hurting. I hear're being heard."

I"m not yet able to separate from the pain enough to take care of it. I can do that with anxiety, and it works if I remember it. I can do it with sadness if I catch it early enough. The pain, though, is so overwhelming that I can't separate from it enough to meet it with tea and scones or anything else. Anxiety likes tea and scones; she likes an arm around her shoulder. sadness likes to be held and petted (she's a cat). pain .... just takes over.