Tagged Madame de Salzmann and Gurdjieff

Meryl Streep Sutra

On Saturday, I raced from a Buddhist monastery to see Meryl Streep in her landmark portrayal of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. How could I have guessed that these wildly disparate activities would go so well together?  I presented the scholar monk Bhikkhu Bodhi with copies of Parabola’s gorgeous new “Burning World” issue, which opens with a fresh translation of the Buddha’s Fire Sermon and a contemporary commentary by Ven. Bodhi.  I also stayed to hear his weekly lecture on the earliest Buddhist teachings.  This particular Saturday, he spoke about the traditional teachings on renunciation or letting go.…

Jane Eyre Sutta #2

What does it take to fully awaken, to open up and receive life– to really see and hear and life beyond the usual limitations imposed by our fearful little “I”?   What if all we want is to be able to concentrate a bit better on the task in front of us, to be able to listen more deeply and be a little bit less numb? Strange as it might seem, there is a clue given in the famous Victorian novel Jayne Eyre.  I’m thinking of the scene where young Jayne talks with saintly Helen Burns, her only friend in Lowood,…

Make-believe Animal

“Man is a make-believe animal,” wrote William Hazlitt.  “He is never so truly himself as when he is acting a part.” I am looking out at a white world through window framed with the uneven spikes of ice cycles.”What are these daggers I see before me?”   I’m moving from Hazlitt to Macbeth because of the daggers of ice hanging from everybody’s house, and because reports of a coming “monster storm” have taken such an ominous, apocalyptic turn.  People are talking about this latest evidence of the effects of climate change in the way they talked in the opening of the famous…

The Three Spirits

“We need to see that there is no ‘thinker,’ that this imagined ‘I’ which thinks ‘me’ and ‘mine’ is simply an illusion.” writes Jeanne de Salzmann in The Reality of Being.  “In order for us to receive truth, this must be dispelled, as well as all the other illusions of the thinking, including those behind our desires for pleasure or satisfaction. Only then can we see the real nature of our ambitions, struggles and sufferings.  Only then can we see through them and come to a state free of contradiction, a state of emptiness, in which we can experience love.”…

Back to Lascaux

In the current “Love” issue of Parabola, I interview David Rome, a senior fellow at the Garrison Institute who served as the personal secretary of the great Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche for nine years.   Rome even took down the poetry that Trungpa spontaneously dictated and worked with him to edit it.  This proved to be a perfect preparation for Rome’s later work with a meditative technique called “focusing,” which aims to guide people back to the “felt sense.”  Rome describes the felt sense as the usually subtle experience of being in a body in a particular situation–it is…

Back to the Jungle

Much has been written about how the film Avatar was made–how it took five years and thousands of people and $300 million.  Much has been written about how enchanting it looks.  Vatican Radio said “really never before have such surprising images been seen.”   L’Osservatore Romanos, the newspaper of the Holy See, commented:  “So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine emotions…” Others beside these Vatican sources commented on the pantheism of the story–a faith that equates God with nature–taking issue with the suggestion that communion with “Eywa,” the “All Mother” of Creation, the humming hub of energy that is the…