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Into the Fire

All Hallow’s Eve is upon us, dear readers. Tomorrow is All Hallow’s or All Saints Day, and the following day All is Souls or (in Latin America) the Day of the Dead. A symbolically deep and rich time. It is also the time of the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain (an Irish source has the…

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Being With What Scares Us

“A life is just the history of what we give our attention to,” says a character at a funeral in the novel At Last by Edward St. Aubyn. Another character chides him for being so stark—we impact others without knowing it. Yet I know what he means, don’t you? As the days grow shorter, it’s…

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The Open Door

Mindfulness is paying attention to real time reality. This can seem like such a small thing—and it is. It is a state of attention that is as natural and soft and wordless as our peripheral vision. Yet mindfulness also means to remember… what? Mindfulness pulls us back to a greater living reality, reminding us that…

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Absence of Madness

When I write or speak of mindfulness (“Sati” in Pali) I emphasize the connotation of remembering—not in the usual sense of a memory of ideas or images, but in the sense of a direct and wordless return to the experience of being here and now. You might even say that I have been in love…

Pay Attention, for Goodness Sake

Life can be upsetting, friends. Loved ones can hurt us. Families especially can trigger us like detonation experts (this is not surprising since they installed the triggers). We can have the most loving intentions, feel mindful and present, and in a flash, given just the right word or gesture, it can be all gone. We glimpse ourselves lashing out, acting twelve years old. Was it even real? Those we take as spiritual guides can hurt us too, demolishing our trust in a practice and in our own possibilities with a remark that reveals their own limitation. Last Sunday, my friends…

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Rifle Sutra

Meditating (or meditative variants like being alone in nature or doing quiet work) can bring the deepest, sweetest feeling of coming home to our true lives. Yet paying attention to our experience can reveal some very strange things. Long ago during college years, I drove into the Adirondack in the middle of the winter with…