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A 19 year old young man said something startling to me the other day. Reflecting on his meditation practice and his life, quoting from something he recently read, he reached the following conclusion:
One pays with oneself.
Think about that.
As his listener, I felt a rush of pure joy, the kind one feels when one’s heart recognizes truth.
It makes sesnse, doesn’t it, that the cost of crossing the bridge into spiritual waters would require nothing less than oneself, what Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche refers to as one’s “me-ness?”
Unfortunately, “me” goes where angels fear to tread.
Yup, a rush of inspiration lasts only so long. When the rubber hits the gravel road, I’ve worked all day, it’s 6pm, and I haven’t meditated, the naked truth no longer quite cuts it for “me.”. I’d rather pay for a foot rub, or at least get a shower and watch some CNN. You?
Don’t you think most egos, (well, mine at least,) don’t like the cushion? I mean, after the initial romance, aren’t we kind of dying to get off of it?
The Dzoghen Ponlop Rinpoche draws an interesting analogy:
~ * ~
‘For many of us, our meditation cushion is like a really nice acquaintance. Like someone we see, say in Starbucks, each morning or each week… We are really glad to see this friend at the latte bar as we start the day. To smile and wave hello and then goodbye until tomorrow. It’s a very nice, very pleasant and comforting experience. We think we might even like to get to know our friend someday. Maybe have lunch, if we aren’t too busy…. But somehow, someday never quite comes, isn’t it? um… maybe, forget the lunch. Why disrupt something so nice? It could become like work, an obligation. What if we won’t like them later? What if she or he won’t like us? This could be painful and a general pain in the ass. We might even avoid Starbucks altogether and have to look elsewhere for our latte. That would be no fun at all. Better to keep it at a pleasant distance. … oh…, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about myself.”
~ * ~
As a buddhist, I often contemplate how, at the hour of my death , will I have wanted to have spent my life? I will have wanted to travel that road, gravel and all.
How will I ever make that happen? By lovingly limiting “me,” and taking heed of the wisdom of my 19 year old friend.
I’ve been around the block as far as spirituality. Perhaps it began when I was a kid and my parents told me that God was Nature. That brought this intangible, way-beyond-me thing right down to earth and in front of my senses. Bird songs, tall trees, and the smell of spring’s thaw were all right here. God didn’t feel far away and untouchable, God felt present & easy to reach.
As I grew I began to long for “proof”. I wanted to know viscerally that there was more to life than just the physical. And anyway…what did that mean…God is Nature? I can see nature…why can’t I see God?
High school science classes coincided with the era of Ouiji boards, ESP (Extra Sensory Perception) & The Great Kreskin. At 17 I reasoned: of course ESP, ie. psychic phenomenon, was real. It’s simple physics. If we are all molecules moving around and not solid as we seem, then of course the thoughts from my mind can travel into your mind & we can accomplish mental telepathy. That’s just logical. I’d lie if I said my friends were excited to know, or even understood, what I had concluded. I let the revelation fall away.
It would be decades later that, still seeking proof of a metaphysical reality, I took a weekend workshop in energy healing. I thought I was going to learn to see auras, but instead I would be positively shattered as old ideas of myself & the nature of reality came crashing down in a blaze of healing energy. It would be the launching of a painful, but valuable, journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.
I studied various forms of hands-on-healing, became a Reiki Master, learned meditation, practiced chanting, composed sacred music, learned hypnosis, gathered at the full moon, worked at a new age shop where I absorbed the energy of crystals and the knowledge of healers, ascended masters, channelers, gurus, avatars, and more. I became convinced by my first-hand experience that there was definitely a metaphysical reality and it was accessible to everyone, everywhere, all the time simply for the effort of tapping inward and drawing upon its vast resources.
Having access to powerful truths is a wonderful start, but actually accessing them consistently is the real work. It requires an acceptance of the truths as well…truth, and then acquiring the muscle to turn toward them even in the face of endless forces pulling every other way.
That’s where meditation comes in. It helps build the spiritual muscle required to turn (and stay turned) toward something beyond what can be seen or felt with our physical apparatus. Paradoxically, we close our eyes & turn inward, going deeply into the physical body, in order to transcend the physical and touch the metaphysical. I guess in the end, God is Nature and we are part of nature. If we can attune to our deepest nature we may indeed touch God.
-Lisa Jane Lipkin, contributor
Lisa Jane Lipkin is a piano based singer-songwriter who recently released her third CD called “Flying on Instruments”. www.lisajanelipkin.com This is Lisa’s second contribution to our blog.
The Bright Field
By R. S. Thomas
(1913 – 2000)
I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
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I saw this performed this evening on the Kennedy Center Awards. It seems like the perfect first song of what could really be a
Happy New Year!
2 0 1 2
Here Comes the Sun, James Taylor & Yo Yo Ma
That’s all I’m thinking for this year and transitional time in our history as humanity. It’s certainly an interesting point. In some ways, it can be frightening. Will society collapse? Will our money be worthless? Are we living in the midst of a crumbling empire? The answer to these questions hasn’t arrived yet. I do know this. Massive change that a lot of us as humanity have been waiting for our whole lives for is upon us. The system as we know it simply can’t exist anymore. This form of predatory capitalism that the west has been practicing for so long is on its deathbed. There are people in the streets all across the country voicing their discontent.
I can hear all of you who have lived through the 60’s right now telling me…”not so fast there young guy. We lived through that. We marched. We stopped an immoral and unjust war. We tried to change things, and the reality of the situation is a peaceful utopia is impossible. So just go to school, and get a job” And I can get that mentality. I’ve had it at points in my life when I’ve seen past protests. Most protests we are used to seeing are more like large gatherings of like-minded folks pushing some sort of special agenda. However, Occupy Wall Street is something entirely different and don’t expect it to go away anytime soon.
I will tell you this. I’m really excited to see how the media is going to keep trying to discredit the movement. They’ve been trying to in vain since that cop took it upon himself to go on a pepper spraying spree back in September. We’ve already seen them try to paint all the protesters with that dirty hippie brush. I hate to break it to those empty headed talking heads on television feeding us the news, but there are not THAT many hippies all over the world. It’s been interesting to watch that, no matter how hard they try to laugh off the movement as nothing serious, it just intensifies. I think our leaders have underestimated us. I think I personally have been guilty of underestimating the intelligence and compassion that exists in this country. I’m pretty sure if I would have told you at this time last year that there would be a massive protest movement in the United States you’d look at me like I just told you Jesus was at my house stealing cable. I love the fact that every single day I’m at work and dealing with the public. It seems that people are more awake and aware than ever. For too long in this country we’ve been fat, happy, and content. We really didn’t care what our government was doing, or the CEO’s of banks or anything really for than matter. Just as long as we had our X-boxes, Ipads, and Doritos well, then we’d be happy. Well, now our moment is upon us.
I feel 2012 is going to be exciting, interesting and challenging. It feels like I’ve been preparing my whole life for the changes that are coming. I’m sure there will be a few rough patches here and there, but I feel in the end, humanity is going to make a choice. Are we going to live in a more cooperative world where we finally learn to share the resources of the planet with one another, or are we going to continue to let our leaders hoard all of the resources while we kill each other off for the scraps. I think we’ll find out in the coming years. In the meantime, now would be a good time to start praying, meditating, and getting your mind right. Also, don’t forget to enjoy the spectacle of it all 😉
I love you all
Join us this Sunday for a Dharma teaching and meditation on The Wisdom of Adversity and how to look deeper into the common experience of not getting what we want.
Jeff Rubin, a student of the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche and the Sakyong Mipham, Rinpoche, has been a meditation instructor, dharma teacher and Shambhala Training director for over 30 years. He is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Sky Lake Lodge, a Shambhala contemplative center located in Rosendale, NY. This is Jeff’s 4th visit to Sacred!Centre where he has also given Unconditional Healing workshops and a Dharma teaching entitled “Sudden Glimpse.”
The Wisdom of Adversity
Not Getting What We Want May Be Just What We Need
with Jeff Rubin
November 13th, 2011
Sacred!Centre–Meditation & Community for The Global Good
$50 requested donation.
No one will be turned away due to financial hardship.
To Register & for further details call or email
Tea, refreshments and sharing will follow the
meditation & teaching.
This is a letter from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship inviting everyone in the world to occupy the present moment together this Sunday, October 16th, 2011.
Scroll down to see the the letter below.
A dear friend of Sacred!Centre aspires to “Bet on the truth and let go of the outcome.”
… which perhaps Thich Nhat Hanh exemplifes best…
Here at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship we are deeply moved by what is going on at Occupy Wall St. and around the country. We are excited by the message of interconnectedness in this movement–the influence of money in politics is blocking not one, but the many interconnected social justice and environmental goals that BPF works for. We also applaud the commitment to nonviolence of Occupy Wall Street and the many solidarity Occupy events. We are inspired to bring our practice and our perspective to this movement, together with our friends and allies.
We invite you to join us in a Public Meditation to “Be Present” at Occupy Wall Street this Sunday, October 16th. You can join us at one of the locations listed below, at the Occupy event in your own city, or