Looking At Our Habits Of Mind

Recently I was struck by the words of Tulku Thondup Rinpoche in an interview from the New Dimensions’ archive. He said that the only thing we take with us when we die are our habits of mind. I’ve heard this before, in fact I’ve heard it from various masters for more than thirty years. Yet this time the words had a visceral impact on my mind and body. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that I’m getting older and feeling my mortality in more immediate terms. Maybe it was because I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the concepts of
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What Is The Color Of Your Palette

Alan Clements speaking with Michael Toms about the quote from St. Frances of Assisi, “There are beautiful and wild forms within us.” Heard on program #3433 “The World Dharma of Freedom and Non-Violence.” Clements: It is interesting you bring that quote up. I learned meditation by seeing the beauty in myself. This is something that is very little known about the Burmese meditative tradition. The word meditation I learned from my teachers, Sayadaw U Pandita and Mahasi Sayada in Burma, was co-joined with the word Bhavana, the Buddhist poly word which literally means the beautification of consciousness. For example using
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No Longer A Time For Isolation

Almost every day I hear from a friend who’s feeling overwhelmed by the pace at which life is coming at them. So many of us are struggling to find ways to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the immensity of what is required to keep our emotional and physical bodies above water. My saving grace is to remember to circulate not isolate. It’s essential to get out of the house and rub shoulders with life even as we are being seduced by the perfume of mainstream media that bewitches us into becoming paranoid and paralyzed with its continuous loop of disasters, downturns,
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A Most Gentle Passing

Denys Cope, author of Dying: A Natural Passage, has said, “My dream is that everyone be able to find the support that allows the fear of dying to be replaced by a richer, more positive experience which embraces the gifts that are available during this extraordinary time.” I’m struck by this statement because my own dear aunt, 91 year old matriarch of our family, has recently passed away. She instructed the family that no extraordinary means be taken to prolong her life after a car accident and she requested that she be taken home. Surrounded by loving family she passed
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Cave Mantra For 2012

As many of you know, I participate in several “friends of the heart” circles.  I have my women’s circle that has been meeting for almost 30 years and my circle of men and women who have been meeting for nearly as long.  I’m one of 23 conveners of the Millionth Circle which has just celebrated its 10th anniversary.  This circle meets in several different ways.  Once a year we enjoy a “deepening,” sitting together for 3-4 days. We also meet in smaller groups, either at the U.N. session on the Commission on the Status of Women that takes place in February and March each year. We also celebrate other
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Learning to Receive

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is to accept and ask for help. I've had a lifetime to prefect self-sufficiency and going it alone. Care taking others, figuring out systems for them, and taking on tasks to ease their way, is a piece of cake for me. This strategy has helped me develop many talents, and learn new ways of doing things. That's the good news. However, there is a down side to this constant giving: the muscle that, asks for and receives help, has atrophied. Even so, there is some hope for me yet. Lately, some events have forced me to start exercising this less used muscle, and it is because of some small things, and then some very big things.
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Sticks and Stones

This year I celebrated International Women’s Day with several friends by attending “Women and the World,” a performance art event, that benefited the Center for Domestic Peace, of Marin Abused Women’s Services. The benefit was sponsored in collaboration with the United Nations Association’s San Francisco, Marin, and Sonoma chapters. The evening included a performance of Playback Theater by the Social Therapy Production Company, formerly known as Black Rose Film and Theatre Arts. Directed by Deborah French Frisher, MPA, RDT. This improvisational theatre is a spontaneous enactment of personal experience that builds connection by honoring drama and the universality of our stories
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Cutting One Another Some Slack

Imagine you are asked to watch a short video in which six people-three in white shirts and three in black shirts-pass basketballs around. While you watch, you must keep a silent count of the number of passes made by the people in white shirts. At some point, a gorilla strolls into the middle of the action, faces the camera and thumps its chest, and then leaves, spending nine seconds on screen. Would you see the gorilla? An experiment at Harvard University several years ago found that half of the people who watched the video and counted the passes missed the
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