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Intention

Why do you sit? Why are you drawn to the spiritual path? It can be interesting sometimes to ask this question when you sit–not pushing for an answer but making space for it, the way you would listen closely to a very shy or quiet person. Asking this question can be very useful as we…

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Remembering a Noble Friend

The Buddha said that noble (spiritual) friends are the whole of the path. The other evening, John Fowle, a noble friend, slipped away from this world, and now I understand what the Buddha meant.  As a teacher said (actually roared) to me many years ago, “We don’t share what we know; we share what we…

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Finding the Path

Among the tasks or “yogi jobs” a participant can volunteer for during silent retreats at the Insight Meditation Society, a Buddhist meditation center in rural Massachusetts, the most resonant in every sense is that of bell ringer. Before dawn and before every meditation session during the day, the bell ringers walk around the grounds and…

Painting of Dante's Hell by Sandro Botticelli, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Getting Unstuck

In Dante’s Inferno, Satan, denizen of the deepest hell, is found frozen in a block of ice, utterly unable to move. As anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking or eating junk food only to pick up that cigarette or that bag of crunchy or gooey things in a burst of wild rebellion can…

Sunrise on a Mountain Range

A Way Out of Hell

The impermanence of life causes suffering, but permanence is hell. When I was young, I had a recurring nightmare in which I was trapped in a grid or maze.  I was not alone in the maze. Other people, including friends, were visible and in shouting distance, but we couldn’t move to really face one another. …

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The Power of Stillness

This afternoon, I stood very still on the blue stone floor of my front porch, looking out the screen door at flowers and green and trees. Everything looked so still in the golden afternoon light, yet so much has changed—some of the flowers and even the slabs of blue stone I stood on were not…