Mindfulness and compassion

One of the central insights from Jesus’ teachings was forgiveness, and the central insight of forgiveness is its power to liberate us. To forgive is to let go, to release the anger and resentment that poisons the mind.

Metta is a basic quality of awareness itself

 

 

I was recently listening to Joseph Goldstein’s teachings on Mindfulness (Abiding in Mindfulness), and he said that “metta [loving-kindness] is a basic quality of awareness itself.” For me, the implication is that the Buddhist emphasis on mental awareness combined with the Christian emphasis on love and charity compliment each other, and perhaps are, in fact, simply different nuances of a luminous mind and an open, liberated heart.

It is a bright afternoon: what am I going to do? I am going to work with my mind and with my pen, while the sky is clear and while the soft white clouds are small and sharply defined in it. I am not going to bury myself in books and note taking. I am not going to lose myself in this jungle and come out drunk and bewildered, feeling that bewilderment is a sign that I have done something. I am not going to write as one driven by compulsions but freely, because I am a writer, because for me to write is to think and to live and also in some degree even to pray. ~ Thomas Merton, The Intimate Merton, September 27, 1958

How does love work when we are called to fight?

As you can probably imagine, I’m having a hard time getting back to novel-writing. The hours pass quickly as I read article after article, click share, post thoughts, reply to thoughts, and delete or edit some of those #Ishouldhaveknownbetter replies . So, in lieu of working on my novel, I’m turning to this blog to process. What I mean, specifically, is that at this historic moment of terrible transition, I’m reflecting on my own mind and spirit. Realistically, we will have to fight to beat back the forces of evil or to hold them at bay, and the next few years will likely be violent and chaotic. They will bring out our demons and all the skeletons in the closet of our national history.

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The Trump Card

As a kid I remember singing a song about being in the Lord’s army. It was a fun song, probably one of my favorites. It was an action song, I think that was the appeal when I was such a young kid. There were these dynamic movements that had all of us Sunday School kids marching like we were in an infantry, spying on the enemy, and taking aim and firing a gun. That was a long time ago. Tomorrow I go on a meditation retreat. It’s a far cry from the Lord’s army or Donald Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric that flirts so coyly with the idea of a holy war against Islam. I am, quite literally, going to sit on my ass for ten days.  Read more

Taste and see

That’s me in the photo, about two years ago. It was the last time I completed an extended meditation retreat. A few months before the retreat, I was sitting in my office, in the village of Sinoni, a few miles from the city of Arusha in Tanzania. I was volunteering as the Finance Manager for a non-profit, and I had discovered that for a little over $300, I could fly to India and back. I couldn’t pass that up. Read more

Being grateful, maybe just for the hell of it

Understanding what it means to be thankful has proved a more difficult task than I would have thought, and I’ve thought a good bit about it over the years. I mean really, I have, I’ve thought about it a good deal more than you might think I might have thought. Being thankful is a pesky problem, actually. Read more

Leanness into their souls

I’m spending the winter in the Santa Cruz Mountains, south of the big San Francisco Bay area. I hide in the big redwoods. I hide from the city.

I went on a walk in the redwoods just yesterday. It’s easily one of my favorite activities, and good trails aren’t far. The trees are enormous, rising maybe a hundred feet or more, I’d say, towering above, making me feel a similar smallness that I experience when I look up at high rise buildings in the city. I often find myself smiling, the best kind of smile, spontaneous and unconscious, when my neck is craned, straining to take it all in, the spires ascending and forming a wild and sacred cathedral. Read more

Gone like the shadow

We all live with fairly intense blindspots. It is, perhaps, one of those facts about human nature that can be funny, frustrating, and even infuriating. And as our stories tend to go, no one quite seems to know our blindspots like friends, families, and most especially partners, spouses, and boy/girl friends. In a perfect world, our blinspots would be pointed out to us, we would say, “Ah, thanks!” then make a few adjustments to our personality, tweak our persectives, and give ourselves a spiritual tune-up, so to speak. Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Read more

Beginner’s Pen

I’ve redesigned my blog, simplified it a good deal. I’ve always been excited about the Internet, and I realized the other day I’ve been blogging and whatnot for something like more than 15 years now. The first time I really plugged myself into the World Wide Web was while I was working my second corporate gig, a job that had a boat load of inspiration for a satirical writer of comedies like Dilbert or The Office. Read more

A wind that passeth away

For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. ~ Psalm 78:39

At the moment, I’ve not got the patience to count all the miles that I traveled on my road trip from McCarthy, Alaska to where I am now, the Bay area in northern California. I had purchased a conversion van, intent on seeing more of Alaska, to see sites I’ve not yet seen and to hopefully gather material for my winter writing, a novel set in Alaska.

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On discovering the same things

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This is a Thomas Merton quote from The Intimate Merton, a collection of Merton’s journal entries. ‘Tis certainly true for me that a good deal of my learning and grown is merely deepening my insight into the same experiences and teachings that I’ve known for years. Yet so often I am still delighted to “learn” them, as though it were truly new and novel — and perhaps in a sense, it is!