May 18th, 2011 - 79 Comments
Perhaps you’ve noticed I don’t write much about motherhood any more. Our children do an excellent job of being consistently, rather stubbornly, exactly who they are, and once we acknowledge that, our only job as mothers is to keep acknowledging it over and over. Or not. The not is what causes the difficulty.
Perhaps you’ve noticed I don’t write much about marriage any more. Our partners do an excellent job of being consistently, rather stubbornly, who we aren’t, and once we accept that, our job is to keep accepting it over and over. Or not. The not is what causes the difficulty.
At one time in my life, motherhood brought to me my most urgent and incomprehensible lessons. At other times, my marriage did. But by itself, over time, sure as day to night to day, in a continuous and miraculous transformation, a daughter becomes a mother and a woman becomes a wife. When that transition is complete, there’s not much to say about it, not much I can tell you, since you will have to make that passage on your own. Or not.
What is most interesting to me now is another transition, perhaps the last for me, and the greatest of all. It is the transition from the student to the teacher. In whatever form it takes, whatever time it travels, this is the longest lesson we undertake, because it is the lesson in how we live, how we give, how we grow, and how we know. read more
March 8th, 2011 - 142 Comments
I’m giving away this Buddha.
The more you sense the rareness and value of your own life, the more you realize that how you use it, how you manifest it, is all your responsibility. We face such a big task, so naturally we sit down for a while. – Kobun Chino Otogawa
I ran into this quote the other day and it was like, Well, hello! Nice to meet ya! Because sometimes in my dinky little corner of the Buddhist world I feel like I’m the only one with any amount of faith. Faith in what, you ask? Well, faith in life. Faith in practice. Faith in teachers. And faith in the way that has saved my life. So I thought it was about time to share something more than my syrupy sentiments, something more than preachy how-tos and why-dontchas. It’s time for me to pull out the big guns and give away Buddha. The Buddha you see right here as a matter of fact. Free, free, free!
I’ve got Buddhas galore around here, and more on their way, I’m sure. But this little one is special because I bought it for myself to put on my home altar. It’s a teeny thing, just 5 inches of carved wood, from China, and whether it’s antique or not it’s definitely distressed, which is itself a commentary on so-called Western Buddhism and our long-suffering world. You have to bring it into the light to see the rich gold and vivid red beneath the patina. You have to see it in person to sense the rareness and value. It’s the perfect reminder to do the only thing the Buddha instructed us to do – naturally sit down for a while.
Leave a comment here by next Monday, March 14, and give yourself a shot at a Buddha you can see, feel, hold, and bring to life in your own home. I’ll announce the winner next Tuesday.
The winner is commenter number 106 – Jessy.
Beginner’s Mind One-Day Meditation Retreat Sunday, March 13
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March 1st, 2010 - 16 Comments
Give us this day our daily bread.
When I was a little girl and recited that line of the Lord’s Prayer, I always took notice. Suddenly, my religion had given me something I could see, touch and taste. Something I experienced everyday, scuffed with butter and dabbed with jelly. The other things I’d learned to say in church were in a dusty, lost language. For a moment at least, my Wonder Bread filled me with wonder, a gift descended from the invisible heights of heaven.
I was not wrong, as a child. Children do not err or misperceive. Bread is all this and more. It was only later, my sight dimmed by cynicism and self-absorption, when I began to search for more than my daily bread. I began to do what all of us do, and urge one another to do: go someplace else. Dream, lust, wish, follow, journey, uncover, trudge, and wallow. Overlook the bread, and find your bliss. It must be somewhere, the fulfillment we seek, hidden in something bigger than a breadbox.
It seems to me we spend nearly the whole of our lives overlooking the obvious: debasing the ordinary and idealizing the unattainable. I’m damn tired of it, aren’t you? Why don’t you sit down and have a slice of bread? Have a pair of pants and shoes, a blanket, a sky, a blue jay, the back of an envelope. Have your work, and just do it. Have a neighbor, and say hello. Have a night’s rest, and a day after. Have a smile, a cough, a burp. Blow your nose. Pay your bills. Fold the towels and match the socks. read more
November 25th, 2009 - 5 Comments
I caught a story in yesterday’s paper that you shouldn’t miss. It’s not uncommon for one little story in the newspaper to sum up the wretched whole of human tragedy but this story was in a category by itself. A 13-year-old autistic boy, running from rebuke at school and evading punishment at home, stowed away in plain sight on a subway where he rode nonstop for 11 days without being noticed.
It wasn’t hard to be invisible, he told police. “Nobody really cares about the world and about people.” He is a rare jewel among human beings: he can see things as they are. Read more about his journey here.
I feel as if I have been missing for some time. Not so good about reading your blogs or writing my own. Not as open-eyed or even-keeled as I might have been. I’ve been immersed in the late stages of the publication process: the manuscript submission, the diagnostic revisions, and now the slice-and-dice of copy edits. No one who is striving for that mythical, magical realm called “Being Published” will ever believe what it is really like: how much it extracts from you, and yet how little it changes things. It’s like abdominal surgery. Over the course of the procedure, all 28 feet of your intestines are shoved aside, and in some cases, taken out and piled up on the table beside your body. Then your bowels are put back and you’re sewn into the semblance of something new. For a short while you feel the effects, but before long everything is just as it was before. You’re not younger, better looking, or rich. You might even been poor. You don’t believe me, but you can read more about it here.
Today I said goodbye to my husband and daughter as they travel east to celebrate the holiday with my in-laws. Aside from the year my father died, this is the first Thanksgiving we haven’t been together. I will attend Rohatsu sesshin, a Zen meditation retreat that commemorates the Buddha’s enlightenment. It is time for me to excuse myself from the family table and do what the Buddha did, to be like the boy I told you about at the top of this post: a rare jewel who can see things as they are. You can read more about the story of Buddha here.
Next week several guest bloggers will appear in my stead. I thank them for spilling their guts, and I hope you’ll stick around and read more about them here.
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