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A Formal Feeling Comes

“After great pain, a formal feeling comes,” writes Emily Dickinson.  “The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs.” After a great shock or loss or change, a stillness comes. We sit still and receive life without leaning forward to grasp at it or commenting on it—think of the way a king or queen receives visitors. We have […]

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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 […]

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Refiner’s Fire

Hearts can change.  Given enough time and the right conditions, even the most battle-hardened heart can learn to take off the armor, stop contracting into a fist, dare to be soft and exposed.  This process of opening can take a long, long time–a big piece of lifetime or even many lifetimes according to the Buddhists. […]