Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Love For Others

There is a source of perfect love and grace within us all, and until we find that foundation for ourselves, loving others will always drain us.  This could be perceived as a negative assessment of love, and could discourage you from sharing love with others- but this is entirely not the case.  In fact, it is the exact opposite.

We go about our lives; we have good days and bad.  On the good days we may smile to the man who bags our groceries, and on the bad we may not make eye contact with a friend or drive too fast to work.  We believe that these moments, which make an impression on us, are either harmonious or stressful.  The decision is rooted in our perception, and it affects how we digest these experiences.
But the real truth lies beneath our conception of the feelings we create for ourselves.  The origin of everything- every laugh, every smile, every tragedy, every loss- is a fountain of infinite enchantment, always present and always waiting for us.  The secret lies in the moment we decide for ourselves that every single thing we do or say or feel about others has its source in love and grace.  Until that moment, we cannot actually give the true source of love and grace- only a component of that love.  An energetic cousin.  This is the factor that drains us, because it has not come from that infinite source.
This does not mean that you should not give your love to others.  It means that the only thing you truly can give is love.  That any other way is draining.  I understand that to surrender to this concept, at first, may not seem natural.  We have been conditioned to believe that life is hard, that bad things can happen to good people, that happiness is rooted in particular monetary or sexual situations.  But maybe try it for a day.  Take the leap.  Tell yourself that you love yourself, that the reason anything has happened to you is love and watch the events of your life begin to change.  The entirety of the world will unfold before your eyes and it is beautiful.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Love For Oneself

It has taken me a long while to come to the realization that I love my body.  That no matter the state of my mental or physical self, I will always strive to make it better.

            I truly do believe that people are born with differing capacities for self-love, that their constitutions at birth are determined for them by a divine combination of environment and genetics.  And while this matter is outside of our understanding at the time, we will always have the ability to take what we have and shape our constitution for betterment, even going as far as constructing a new archetype with an aptitude for unlimited love.  Joyful-loving-kindness, our primordial and intended nature, transcends any and all boundaries currently established by beliefs held on neural or physiological plasticity.
            There is a fine line between analytics and criticality; both are qualities that allow us to discern a situation and judge how to appropriately act or react.  But this astute discrimination has now extended itself to a mentality that no longer provides for our favor in the realm of self-love.  What I mean by this is that we have to be able to be critical.  We have to be able to go about our day and read people’s body language, digest maybe what their wearing, how they hold themselves, or what they say and react appropriately.  Perception is not only a quality important for our lives socially, for our communication skills, or for our advancement in the world of 10,000 things, but it is a skill fundamental and necessary in this regard.  But instead of using this attribute for the sole purpose of betterment, we now critique other people nonsensically- maybe we think the shoes they are wearing are ugly, or they have a stupid looking face, or their haircut is unattractive.  If you find yourself having any of these sorts of thoughts, most likely you are making the same sort of judgments to yourself.  Maybe you find yourself looking in the mirror and feeling as if you’re fat, or you wish you had bigger biceps so you tell yourself that you’re going to go to the gym and cut out carbs, and eventually you get to the point where you create rules for yourself about what you can eat and how often you have to exercise.  All of these restrictions only emphasize the cycle of self-loathing that begins with a simple glance in the mirror and a subsequent thought.  But the point here is that until you decide for yourself that you love your body no matter how you came into this world, you will never have the awareness to recognize your constitution or tap into the potential for unlimited love available to us.
Having love for yourself is not an egotistical sort of love.  It should not be confused with admiration.  Love is a state of mind we reach when we discover the beauty of our bodies, marvel at the beauty of others, and lose the desire to have expectations for how we or anybody else should be.  When we find love for ourselves we find harmony in this dance.  We go about our day, we act without judgment, we take it all in.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


We have all these opportunities throughout the day to get angry.  Each and every time we have the choice to either let the anger become us or let it pass through us.

            It is an odd thing to think about anger as a choice- that going for any emotion in fact- but a transformation in the body occurs when an emotion takes hold.  But, there is an initial process where, if we catch it, we can consciously decide whether to let the anger reside in us for a while or observe it passing through.  If we do let the emotion take hold of us, the body reacts chemically.  Perhaps we tighten our muscles in a certain area of the body, our heart rate increases, or there is a flush of adrenaline- in all of these cases we are reacting.
            The most challenging situation once an emotion has engaged us is releasing the anger.  A good question to ask yourself is, “Does this emotion benefit anyone?  Is this anger currently helping me?”  There is an adaptogenic explanation behind each and every cellular reaction in our body.  The “fight or flight” response of adrenaline and norepinephrine is one of the most commonly referred to sympathetic nervous system reactions that occurs when the body is under stress.  Ten thousand years ago this was an extremely valued physical reaction to prime the system to run from serious threats such as tigers or an invading tribe, but in today’s social climate, it is a response initiated more frequently.  It has become a learned response.  Maybe we get angry while driving to work, we have our cup of coffee and spill some on our shirt and that upsets us, maybe our boss is being unkind- the list goes on and on.  But what we don’t think about happening is that when we call on our body to release particular hormones under stressful conditions, we are neglecting other important systems.  Our body becomes flush with glucose and fat for heightened muscle function, digestion becomes neglected, we have narrowed vision and loss of hearing- all of these actions are occurring to best aid us for the immediate situation.  However we are affected later on becomes background noise to get us through the present moment.
            Sometimes it is best to take a breath, or other times to try and take a step away from the anger.  When we can separate ourselves distinctly from the emotion we can observe the anger entering our body and then leaving.  Too often we only notice an emotion being incited, sometimes it is best to take note of the emotion leaving, simply by saying “gone” or taking note that the emotion has left.  This can make the transition away from the anger more swift, and consciously we have decided that we are not angry any more.  The body and the mind remember this.  It shortens the duration we have been angry, but most importantly the anger doesn’t make a lasting impression on us.  If we do not notice the anger leaving, we do not have a distinct time duration for which we are angry, and the body can remain tense for whatever or however long.
Anger is one of the most consuming and detrimental of emotions, along with fear and hopelessness: The Big Three.  But perhaps the best antidote is laughter.  Ask yourself, “In regards to what is currently making me angry, does it really even matter?  Isn’t it funny that this made me angry?  Maybe this time I won’t let it bother me.”  And have a laugh.  Then we notice that the anger is gone.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Kathi's Healing


What does healing truly mean??  The essence and interpretation of healing has different implications for everyone.  Healing comes in many forms, some need to heal emotionally some need to heal physically and  often the two go hand in hand.  All human beings need to heal in one form or another, so what is the meaning of this?

 Healing is a necessary "progression" of the soul.  It is a journey that we as human beings have to take on in order to evolve.   An individuals struggle with pain (physical or emotional) is necessary in order to mend.  Because of this,  healing brings us a freedom that no other exposure, can match.    Our struggles bring us a wisdom and understanding that could not be taught in any other form.  Our soul is on a path.  The path is a metaphor for our life's experiences that help us to grow and expand.  These experiences unfold and can be used as a means of self discovery, gradually helping us to become conscious of ourselves.  

"Every situation,
properly perceived,
becomes an opportunity to heal."
A Course in Miracles

We are surrounded by many different methods to aid us in the healing process, there is something for everyone.  Sound, crystals, religion, spirituality, doctors, medications, meditations, healers, psychics, books, tapes, support groups, vacations…these are all a few tools that are meant in one form or another to heal a human body or "spirit".  We seem to get the necessity of this, yet we are not taught anything about it, it is something that each of us must discover in our own time and in our own way.   The course of our own healing must be highly individualized.  No two human beings have the same body or the same life experiences.  True healing is self-healing.

""No one saves us but ourselves.
No one can and no one may.
We ourselves must walk the path."

Whether it is emotional or physical, all healing begins the your heart.   By starting in your heart and loving yourself you will heal yourself.  By loving yourself you give yourself self worth and in turn will shine a light upon your brother….what a difference this can make.
"In every community there is work to be done.
In every nation there are wounds to heal.
In every heart there is the power to do it."
Marianne Williamson

If I love myself, I love you,
If I love you, I love myself."

With your desire to be healed you heal others, what an amazing world we live in!



In order to heal, the desire to heal must evaporate entirely.

            At first, this idea may seem counterintuitive.  You could argue that to move forward with anything, whether it is healing or a job promotion, that you must have desire, that every developing action is induced by the drive to do so.  And, yes, desire must exist, but there is good desire and bad desire.  The discrepancy resides in our interpretation of the word and how it is implemented.
            Even if you place your intention on healing, on actualizing a perfectly healthy self somewhere in the future, that perfectly healthy self will never exist because you are creating a reality that does not and will never provide the conditions for a perfect self.  The simple act of wanting to heal creates a manifest self that is currently, and presently, not healed.  There is no distinction between believing that you can heal or believing that you can’t, in either case the answer/result lies somewhere outside yourself in the future or somewhere else- that you are not presently perfect and healed.  The only difference is that the latter case constructs a certainty in which you presently do not have the capacity to do so.
            Being perfectly healthy is about having a healthy soul, that is, coming to an understanding that no matter the state of your physical body, that everything is as it should be.  When we disengage from desire, we surrender and accept our current state.  It is through this process that we better feel the present moment, and no longer react to the emotions that relentlessly flood our system from day to day.  Desire is rooted in a need.  Desire rooted in a need has its source in being unsettled.  Being unsettled goes hand in hand with searching.  When one no longer searches, one awakens.  This is the foundation for acceptance.
            Perfect health is a state of being where the soul no longer searches.  The concept “everything happens for a reason” holds under the theory of predestination, whereas, coming to an understanding that everything is as it should be, is a separate state entirely.  Things and events are placed before us, not because they’ve already been decided, but because we choose not to let them alter us from our primordial state of natural and unconditional love.  When we come to this understanding, truly, down to our bones, we will heal because we already have.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

When I wake
It is no fault of mine
That flowers, in full petal bloom
Drift upon the sky to meet the stars

When I wake

There are no dreams but the great one
The great divide
The great unrest

We can only for so long

Tip toe across the glass
And let our mind play games
     with an illusion

And then the worries fade

And the trees stop swaying
And I float to heaven as a God

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

1st Verse

As dawn breaks, a special silence comes-
            When the eye of the world returns
            When the eye of the world begins again

There is no way to describe the beginning,
            Nor is there really ever an again

The mystery
The untold eternity
We place our faith in a volcanic realm

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Debate over the Legacy and Beginnings

The Buddha did not leave a static structure of belief that we can affirm and be done with.  His teaching is an ongoing path.  Some believe that portions of the Pali Canon and the Agamas contain the actual substance of the historical teachings, while others believe that the Pali canon and the Agamas pre-date the Mahayana sutras.
(An agama is a Sanskrit and Pali for “sacred work” or “scripture.”  There are five agamas, which together compose the Sutra Pitaka.  Different recensions of each of the five agamas parallel the first five collections (nikayas) of the Sutta Pitaka of the Theravada school’s Pali canon.  The Sutra Pitaka can refer to either: the Mahayana sutras, the agamas of various extinct schools of Buddhism, or the section of the Theravada Buddhist Pali Canon as I just mentioned.)
There is disagreement amongst various schools of Buddhism over more complex aspects of what the Buddha is believed to have taught, and also over some of the disciplinary rules for monks (“Vinaya”).  The teachings of the Buddha, or Buddhadharma, can be divided into two broad categories: “Dharma” or doctrine (earlier I referred to this as universal law), and “Vinaya”, or discipline.
            The earliest Buddhist schools into which the sangha, or monastic community (also known as the Order of Bhikkus or Mendicant Monks), initially split were due to differences concerning the proper observance of vinaya and doctrinal discrepancies- perpetuated by the geographical separation of monks as well.  These were ideological splits regarding the “real” meaning of the teachings in the Sutta Pitaka, that later became embedded in works such as the Abhidhammas and commentaries.  The Sangha provides the outer framework and the favorable conditions for all those who earnestly desire to devote their life entirely to the realization of the highest goal of deliverance.  It is of timeless significance wherever religious development reaches maturity.
            The Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, are referred to as the Three Jewels, which also form the Threefold Refuge.  These are the three things that Buddhists take refuge in, and look toward for guidance.  Buddha, depending on one’s interpretation, can mean the historical Buddha, or the Buddha nature; Dharma are the teachings of the Buddha; and the Sangha, as I just discussed, is the community of practicing Buddhists.  Taking refuge in the Three Jewls, and the simple act of reciting a formula, is generally considered to make someone officially a Buddhist.  The Pali chant goes as such:

Buddham saranam gacchami
Dhammam saranam gacchami
San gham saranam gacchami

I go for refuge to the Buddha
I go for refuge to the Dhamma
I go for refuge to the Sangha

The Mahayana version differs slightly from the Theravada:
I take refuge in the Buddha, wishing for all sentient beings to understand the great Way profoundly and make the greatest resolve
I take refuge in the Dharma, wishing for all sentient beings to delve deeply into the Sutra Pitaka causing their wisdom to be as broad as the sea
I take refuge in the Sangha, wishing all sentient beings to lead the congregation in harmony, entirely without obstruction

It is through the simple act of reciting this formula three times that one declares onself a Buddhist. (At the second and third repetition the word Dutiyampi or Tatiyampi- for the second/third time- are added before each sentence)
Buddhist scriptures are divided into three pitakas or “baskets.”  The largest and most important of these is the Sutra Pitaka or “basket of discourses,” which consists mostly of talks by the Buddha or one of his disciples.  The Dhammapada, though not considered a sutra, is included in this collection.  The other two collections are the Vinaya Pitaka or “basket of discipline,” and the Abhidharma Pitaka or “basket of metaphysics,” which touch on the philosophy propelling the Buddha’s teachings.
            Initially preserved orally, and not until 29 BCE- approximately four hundred and fifty four years after the death of Siddhartha Guatama (Shakyamuni)- was the complete extant early Buddhist cannon written down.  The oldest version of this canon to have survived is in Pali, a vernacular descendant of Sanskrit (Buddhist terms appearing in Sanskrit instead of Pali- e.g. dharma rather than dhamma, sutra rather than sutta).  So the sutras, or discourses, preserved in the Buddhist Pali canon were largely aimed at the monks and nuns of the Buddhist order.  But the Dhammapada was meant for everyone.  I leave you off with the first two verses to graze and ponder-

“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.  Suffering follows an evil thought as the wheels of a cart follow the oxen that draw it.”

“Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.  Joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

An Introduction to a Path and Mahayana

In the Sufi Master Rumi’s Table Talk, there is this fierce and pointed passage:

“The master said there is one thing in this world which must never be forgotten.  If you were to forget everything else, but were not to forget this, there would be no cause to worry, while if you remembered, performed and attended to everything else, but forgot that one thing, you would in fact have done nothing whatsoever.  It is as if a king had sent you to a country to carry out one special, specific task.  You go to the country and you perform a hundred other tasks, but if you have not performed the task you were sent for, it is as if you have performed nothing at all.  So man has come into this world for a particular task, and that is his purpose.  If he doesn’t perform it, he will have done nothing.”

Regardless of what spiritual journey you are currently undertaking, the main message that Rumi sought to convey is that we are here on this earth for one purpose, and one purpose only- and that is to achieve union with our fundamental, enlightened nature.  Rumi’s passage can be interpreted in a number of ways, but what came to my mind today was the Mahayana goal of spiritual development: to achieve the enlightenment of Buddhahood in order to help all other sentient beings attain this state.  This is known as the bodhisattva path.
            True spirituality also is to be aware that if we are interdependent with everything and everyone else, even our smallest, least significant thought, word, and action have real consequences throughout the universe.  The whole universe, in regards to subatomic interaction, is nothing but change, activity, and process- a totality of flux that is the ground of all things.  All of our thoughts, our intentions, actions, dreams, desires- energetically- have a force; a continual dance of creation and annihilation, of mass changing into energy and energy changing into mass.  This is emptiness; this is impermanence.  Whatever we do or say or think has an effect on ourselves directly- biologically, physiologically- and on everyone else.
             Although there is no definitive Mahayana canon, some have traditionally considered the earliest Mahayana sutras to include the very first versions of the Prajnaparamita series (Sanskrit: “The Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom”)- a central concept in Mahayana Buddhism, and essential to understanding the principles of the Bodhisattva Path.  Mahayana scriptures are largely preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and in Sanskrit manuscripts.  The prajnaparamita sutras, the Heart Sutra and the Diamond Sutra are considered most fundamental to the Mahayana traditions.  Without getting into any of the Mahayana sutras, I’ll make a wide-sweeping oversimplification about the Dharma (universal or natural law): The Dharma is the Teaching of Deliverance in it’s entirety, as discovered, realized and proclaimed by the Buddha.  It is a no-nonsense, all encompassing practical guide for transforming your life; a teaching of Enlightenment based on the clear comprehension of actuality.  The Dharma offers a realistic system of ethics, a shrewd analysis of life, philosophy, and practical methods of mind training.  This will set you on your way to changing your thoughts and changing your life.  I will get more in depth in later posts.
Great importance is placed on lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, on the unbroken chain of transmission from master to master (comprises the teachings of the three vehicles of Buddhism: the Foundational Vehicle, Mahayana, and Vajrayana).  That is not to say that just because you don’t have a master, you can’t be a practicing Buddhist.  It should not be understated, of course, the importance of having a master, or even how destructive it can be jumping around from lineage to lineage without any sustained continuity or dedication.  My point is, at least, that these teachings are there for everyone, Buddhist or non-Buddhist.  Lineage serves as a crucial safeguard: It maintains the authenticity and purity of the teaching.  Nearly all the great spiritual masters of all traditions agree that the essential thing is to master one way, one path to the truth, by following one tradition with all you heart and mind to the end of the spiritual journey, while remaining open and respectful to the insights of all others.  All I hope to provide is some insight into another world, into another spectrum of consciousness that people of all religious backgrounds can relate to.  Buddhas, masters, and prophets which emanate the truth can exist anywhere- in any experience, a smile, an angry person you encounter on the street- the key is to remember your spiritual practice, to let it guide you unwaveringly, so that eventually the inner teacher, who has always been with us, manifests in the form of the “outer teacher”- and we solidify the bodhicitta mind of enlightenment- the altruistic intention to become enlightened for the sake of all sentient beings.
                         Aztecan Rooftops of Tranquility and Full Moons

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Mind as a Field to be Sowed

Quote from the 6th verse of Vasubandhu’s Twenty and Thirty Verses:

“The quality of our life
depends on the quality
of the seeds
that lie deep in our consciousness.”

The initial process of trying to wrap your head around the varying Buddhist schools of thought and scripture can be daunting.  In regards to all Buddhist philosophy, every sentient being who has a mind and consciousness has the potential to become a Buddha.  This subtle consciousness is called Buddhaseed or sugatahridaya.  This is the basis of Buddhism in general and Mahayana Buddhism in particular.  Two major branches of Buddhism are recognized: Theravada (Hinayana) (“The School of the Elders”) and Mahayana (“The Great Vehicle”).  The Mahayana is further divided into Paramitayana and Vajrayana, which are also known as Sutrayana and Tantrayana respectively.  For all Mahayana schools, the emphasis is on altruism, or bodhicitta, the desire to achieve Buddhahood in order to serve or help other sentient beings.  The difference between them is the speed with which this goal can be accomplished.  All these Buddhist traditions originated in India and were transmitted to Tibet, where they were preserved and practiced.
            In regards to scripture, Mahayana recognizes a loosely bound collection of sutras and texts.  So, for the sake of keeping things simple in this first post, we’re going to focus on the fundamental principles of Mahayana doctrine: the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
Our ultimate aim, our ultimate purpose in the world is to find happiness.  It is an emotion upon which we base many of our actions, many of our thoughts, in the hope of achieving that state.  But where happiness is concerned, you can focus on either happiness of the moment, or on happiness that transcends lifetimes.  This brings us to the Four Noble Truths, which essentially states that suffering exists, and there is a path to liberation from suffering.  This is what the Eight Verses are about.  They teach us how to deal with our negative emotions and subsequently improve our mind.  This leads us to Right Effort.

There are four practices associated with Right Effort, part of the Noble Eightfold Path that the Buddha taught as the path to liberation:
·      Prevent the unwholesome seeds that have not yet manifested from manifesting (“unwholesome means not conducive to liberation)
·      To help the unwholesome seeds that have already arisen in our mind consciousness to return to store consciousness
·      To find ways to water the wholesome seeds in our store consciousness that have not yet arisen, to help them manifest in our mind consciousness
·      Maintain as long as we can the mental formations that have already arisen from wholesome seeds on the level of our mind consciousness

It is so so very important that we remain mindful and water the seeds of happiness, love, and all positive seeds throughout our day.  Our happiness and the happiness of others depends on it.