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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…

Pickpocket Sutra

  Last time, I wrote about practice as a way of return, of recollection, of remembering—coming down out of our thoughts and memories and dreams to experience of being in a living, breathing body here and now.   I wrote about how this movement of return can feel like a last resort, something we turn to…

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The Art of Returning

Dear Noble Friends, I’ve been away a long time.  Now it feels good and right to come home.  Late yesterday afternoon, a group of us gathered to practice mindfulness meditation and do a bit of yoga and talk in a beautiful yoga studio in Tarrytown (Yogashivaya.com).  The yoga studio was filled with the golden natural…

Three Marks

Space aliens, robots, and clones don’t have belly buttons—this is a common trope and test of otherness on TV and in the movies.  Yet I remember finding this devastatingly clever when I first encountered it on TV as a child.  You could be perfectly human in every way, but if you lack this one tiny, seemingly insignificant detail, and you are revealed to be not of this world.   It felt like an important lesson: little facts that are easily overlooked can turn out to be crucial.  Did Adam and Eve have navels?  How could they?  Yet what did it mean…

The Sunlight of Awareness

“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty, “ taught Mother Teresa.  “Loneliness is the most terrible poverty.” Every year in Japan, the ancestors are remembered and hungry ghosts are fed in a ritual called Oban.  I once experienced a Western Soto Zen version of this practice, including among the hungry ghosts all those beings that society rejects and those parts of ourselves that we forget or abandon or try to hide. But how are we to feed the hungry ghosts? Early Buddhist tradition describes the use of spells and also service to the living. …

Life Preserver

I dreamed I was being carried along by life like a leaf on a stream.  In the dream I was wearing the royal blue dress I wore at my daughter’s wedding in England last November, which seemed strange because moments before I was holding my daughter’s tiny hand as we walked down steep brownstone steps in Brooklyn.  As I floated by someone standing on the shore told me my hair looked good and that was nice but hardly enough to make a life. Here’s the kicker:  I woke up realizing that I hadn’t been dreaming and that I actually am—that…