True Nature

 ……To the swiftly flowing river, a clear light stream appears –

separate, distinct, unknowable

To the choppy waved lake, a still mirrored surface appears-

other, strange, unfamiliar

yet the clear light stream knows it is also a turbulently flowing river

and the still, calm lake is utterly familiar with wildly churning waves

each is embedded in the other

until there is no other to speak of………

K. Dechen

On a Crisp Autumn Morning

 ~through an Open Window~



As I meditate, a light rain falls from the gray clouds over head ~gentle sound ~  the wind blows through the raindrops flavoring it with a sharp coolness that flows across my face ~ gentle refreshment ~ this wind of compassion lifts my mind into awareness.

Moments later the rain ceases only the dripping of raindrops from the tree branches and gentle rustling of golden leaves falling from the trees remain ~  birds singing to one another ~ gentle melodies ~ lifting me from my meditation  I am filled with the wind of ~ gentle kindness ~ for all sentient beings.

The golden yellow leaves dance and twirl and spin

delighted to ride the wind as they fall to earth -embraced-

for it is the earth they shall become…..






Finding the Center of My Life


Each day has its own fragrance.  Pay close attention and you can notice it easily.  In this technological age, we need not lose our elemental appreciation of the natural world in which we live.  For example, on my BING google bar it displays the weather for today and the next few ones to follow.  I can see what the weather is going to be on Cape Cod or anywhere else I request.  I don’t have to load up a page with a plethora of advertisements.  It just sits innocuously on my Internet task bar.

The weather gives me a hint of the fragrance of the day.  “Cool with rain:”  I shall bring my umbrella.  Its September and the nights in the Berkshires have been cool, “35 degrees:”  we shall have to close the windows tonight.  “Cloudy, thunderstorms, 75 degrees:” wait a minute – that temperature hints the Indian Summer is here!  By some stroke of luck, on this particular day I don’t have to go into work.   Where are the clouds?  No hint of thunderstorms.  All the windows are open.

There is a tender breeze on the back porch.   It is a STOLEN day!   Get in the car and drive up to the lake in the forest, quick before the thunderheads roll in.   It is September but I drive up the mountain with the car’s skylight open.  The air blows my hair around as I head up to the mountain lake.

There is no one here but me, it seems.  Well, there is one canoe on the lake – a fisherman casting his line.  Otherwise no one else.  I hike around the loop and come to a secluded spot with a rock outcropping.  The rocky ledge projects itself out into the lake like a promontory of hardened land that dreams of being fluid.  The water of the lake is dotted with small villages of lily pads, green outgrowths floating on the surface.  Not a water lily in sight, perhaps too late in the season.

I can see down to the rocks below the water’s surface and at the same time I can see the reflection of the sky above in the mirrored surface of the lake.  Two perspectives.  I lay back on the rock and stare at the clouds that float by.  I did this often as a child.  Who bothers a kid laying in the grass just watching the sky?

The gentle breeze flows across my body with the scent of  decaying leaves, a sweet earthy smell.  The trees surrounding the lake are turning.  There is one on fire with red-orange leaves on the other side of the lake.  In a few weeks, the edges of the lake will be an inferno of bright colors. I feel the warmth of the rock beneath my body as I gaze at the flowing clouds in the sky. 

I am laying on land that is tucked away in the soft curves of the mountains surrounding the lake, a depression of land filled with the tears of the gods.  This is a pure land, perhaps the Pure Lands of the Buddhas themselves.  It is said that ordinary people can walk through such places and never realize the sacred ground on which they casually toss candy wrappers.

I say aloud for the Buddhas to hear:  “I love this being alive, you know.  I love breathing in this beauty and being here on Earth.”  It’s a challenge statement because life is quite difficult right now for most people I know.  I just don’t want the gods to think its not appreciated because the going is tough.  I make a vow to return often to this serene secluded lake in the sky.  I shall bring offerings of flowers and pebbles and perhaps even a small Buddha statue.  Toss them all into the lake so it remains guarded, appreciated and steadfast during times of struggle.

Peace is here at the edge of the lake, the peace of feeling perfectly at ease just for this moment.  The peace of knowing this place is me – we are one thing – this lake, this sky, these mountains and clouds.  Even the rock beneath me that secretly wishes it was the waters of the lake.

Time to go, to return to other tasks. Time to bring the peace within me to other endeavors.  As I stand up to leave the outcropping, I notice that a beautiful white water lily has suddenly bloomed in the midst of the lily pad island in the water.  I can’t believe it.  There was no flower there when I first laid down- I would have noticed. 

There it is, white and pristine, fresh and solitary.  A lotus from the Buddhas of the Lake.   A gift that in this moment I think is just for me. 

there is no end to beauty……if I breathe gently will I smell its fragrance?

Compassionate Understanding

We have the habit of repeating our behaviors over and over while desperately wishing we could change.  We are all familiar with moods, feelings, and emotions.  Some emotions take us by surprise and others are so familiar we barely notice we are having them.  Strong emotions have a sense of “carrying us away” and making us feel out of control.  This can be as joyous as falling in love or as devastating as the despair of losing a loved one. 

 As human beings we are capable of feeling a wide range of emotional reactions.  We can take many of these emotions in stride, but there are some that surge so powerfully we become overwhelmed.  Many of us regret actions we took when we felt a powerful emotion.  For example, anger and frustration may cause us to treat others cruelly or impatiently.  Later we may try to reconcile with those we have reacted to so impulsively.  We may be immobilized when we are flooded with joyfulness – trusting it so little; we act as though its cause never happened. 

Emotions are energy.  Regardless of the biochemical that shapes their forms or the events that precede their expression, these waves of feeling are vibrational energy.  This is a very important way to view physical sensations.  Energy flows through a circuit.  Your body is the circuit that gives ground to this energy.  What happens when you experience a surge of energy depends on which bio-chemical the vibration rides.   As you recognize the sensation – you tend to give it a name.  Perhaps anger!

 Most of us judge our emotions.  Sadness feels bad, we don’t want it. Joy feels great, let’s have more of it.  The energy of our life force has no qualitative measure; it can be mild, generous or intense. Yet it is merely information.   Transforming energy is a powerful skill that takes a lot of practice.  The good news is this: LIFE is always giving us opportunity to learn this skill.

Listen to or Download Compassionate Understanding Audio

Of Rabbits and Ravens

 I am sitting in meditation in the morning.  The sun has risen high above the ridgeline of the mountain.  The windows are open and a breeze filters through.  Suddenly I hear something that sounds like an animal screaming.   I look outside the window and see a large raven attacking baby bunnies as they are hopping across the street.  One makes his escape into the underbrush of the field.  The other runs back into the street, terrified.   The raven pursues grabbing at the bunny with its talons.  The bunny screams in terror. 

I run out into the yard, “hey… hey!”  I wave my arms.  I pick up a stone and fling it in the direction of the raven.  “Buzz off!” 

The raven flies into a near by tree to escape the throwing reach of the crazy human.  The bunny escapes to the underbrush.

Another Boddhisattva rescue!

Peace is the greatest freedom

We are held captive by our daily routines, unable to see the world as it truly is…  Our immersion into the appearances of things captivates us, so we cannot look past what appears to be going on.  Making a clear decision to step into a river of light and dropping all of our previous conceptions – opens us to freedom of thought, awareness, peace.   We begin to see and know the world as it truly is. 

Our lives are not as they appear to be.   Our thoughts emerge from the sparks of random life memories creating an artistic tableau from which we can create any number of apparent realities.   We are not very skilled at seeing the reality we are painting with those thoughts.  Memories of scarcity, emotional loss or pain invoke thoughts that illuminate the moment we are having. 

This moment, however it appears, is a luminous opportunity to be free of past thoughts, assessments, beliefs and yet – we do not skillfully seize it.  We repaint it with an older portrait.  It doesn’t matter whether it is the landscape of despair, loss and frustration or magnificent accomplishments, joy and success.    Its not this moment we are truly seeing.

Peace comes from not tagging the moment with any thought at all.  Thoughts are merely appearances.   When a thought arises, it is an opportunity to not participate with appearances.   Those random sparks of life experiences and memories are not really happening right now.  As thoughts surface, greet them.  Then let them pass through your clear mind on their way elsewhere.  The more you practice letting thoughts glide through your mind, the more peace you generate in the moment that is happening now.

What is this moment?  An fortuitous fragment of time offering freedom.  Do not try to hold it, it cannot be grasped.  Do not embed it as memory or it will return as an grand appearance or a thought.  Let this moment flow around you like a soft wind.  Don’t paint this moment with your thoughts for its true likeness will never surface again.

The peace that emerges from this awareness surpasses all understanding.  Another moment, just as precious and singular awaits.  Peace is truly the greatest freedom.

What remains when thoughts fall away?

Meditation is a little bit like stepping into a beautiful, serene pond.  We don’t know quite how far we will allow ourselves to enter.  We feel the stability of our feet in the sandy bottom, the calm coolness of the water as we venture further and deeper.  We hear the sounds of birds, we feel a gentle breeze on our face and the coolness of the pond.  We hear sounds around us, see clouds overhead. 

As we go deeper and deeper into the water, we allow ourselves to immerse deeper into our experience of the pond.  Any yet, as serene and as inviting as this experience is, we still hold onto our conscious experience of being in the pond.  We experience this pond in our minds as separate from ourselves.  It is an experience we believe we are having.

As we near the deeper edges of the pond, the water is now up to the level of our chests, our feet become even more sensitive to the sandy bottom.  We detect the drop off point.  Our toes tell us we are there; one step further and our feet will no longer be our supports.  Yet how easy to take that last step into the depths of the pond. 

Our feet rise as we lay back.  Floating on our backs, our experience changes subtly.  We close our eyes and become aware of the sensation of floating, floating.  Floating, rising gently, dipping slightly.  We float on the surface of the pond, as awareness floats on the surface of our conscious minds. 

 Thoughts dissolve away, no need for thoughts when our attention is on the sensation of floating.  There is no distinction between the water and our bodies.   A sound arises, what it is we are not inclined to say.  We feel we are no longer having an experience of the pond, we have become the experience itself.   No boundaries, no edges, no pond, no independent self.

Open eyes, sensation expands.  Close eyes, sensation enfolds.   Noises, smells, sounds blend into a fluid awareness.  As sounds arise we notice there is a beginning, a middle, and an end as the sounds fall away.  No desire to name it.

Awareness without conscious thought, who cares to hold onto anything?

What if we were truly happy?


All of the joy and pain we go through, all of our highs and lows, when realized, have no ground: they are our friends.  Don’t try to stop the pain, don’t try to be happy.  Be free of all hope and fear.  Samsara is not to be shunned.  It is basically good.

Gyalwa Gotsangpa’s Eight Cases of Goodness not to be Shunned.


 When we find ourselves struggling with stress, anxiety or tension, we believe things would be better for us if we could make such negative experiences go away.  This struggle and focus on letting go of negativity keeps our attention on the belief we are not happy.  Yet we have it turned around.   We are making stress, anxiety and tension so much bigger than it really is, even if such a viewpoint is supported by our observations and experiences! 

What if we began focusing on the peace than fills the spaces between our thoughts?   What if our efforts were focused on positivity? Why then our experience of stress, anxiety, and tension would surely diminish!  Would we not be happy then?

Sadly no.  We would find ourselves struggling to maintain those momentary eclipses of joy.  We would fixate on them.  We would berate our meditation skills for not being good enough to sustain our “liberation” from stress and negativity.  We would not be happy with our moments of bliss and joy. 

Let yourself become hopeless, let yourself become fearless.  Negativity, stress and struggle are the same thing as positivity, joy and peace.  They are both empty of existence, no need to fixate on diminishing one or increasing the other.

Realize that negativity and positivity are mirror images of the same reflection, added together: they cancel one another out.  When you are empty of the struggle to release the one and the striving for the other, you become truly happy.


Keep meditating,  and whatever shows up, keep letting it go!

Moths on the Mountain

My friend Claire has come for a weekend visit.  She travels alot.  I never know where her cell calls are coming from when she leaves a voice mail.   When I return her messages, she is generally in some other state than the one from which she originally called.  If she were Buddhist, I would call her a Dharma traveler.   But she really just travels for business rather than spiritual insight.  Luckily she is naturally spiritually insightful.

Well she has left and headed back to Cape Cod, her home ground.  Mine too before I came to the mountains.   As I transform my living room’s temporary setting as a bedroom back into its original form, I notice something fluttering by the back door.  A small moth is struggling at the window pane trying to fly out.  It is restrained by the glass.

I open the back door and guide the moth out into the fresh, early morning air.  And suddenly I am filled with the sense of gratitude.  I have just set a Boddhisattva free.  I smile and the sensation of compassion wells up within me. 

“Let all beings be free!”

The Way of the Mountain – Part Two



“For the mind that masters the view, the emptiness dawns.  In the content seen, not an atom exists.  A seer and seen, refined until they are gone.  This way of realizing the view, it works quite well.”       

 MILAREPA: “The Profound Definitive Meaning Sung on the Snowy Range”


When meditating a moment comes in which there is nothing to be seen, no thought to be had, no emotion to be felt.  Merely being.  What is this beingness? What fills this moment? No thing.  Who is doing the being?  No One.  Where did I go?  No where.  Only an empty mind remains.

Practice meditation until every thing drops away.  Now view that, why don’t you?

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