I would love to kiss you, the price of kissing is your life. Now my loving is running after my life, shouting, what a bargain, let’s buy it!
This poem by Rumi, the 11th century mystic, is about an ego death, when we lose ourselves in love for all the right reasons; when it’s no longer about my life or your life, but loving life itself.
Yet sometimes we confuse this tremendous passion for how me imagine we are suppose to act. When passion is infused wisdom it is called compassion. When passion is confused with how “I should be good” it’ called idiot compassion…and I had a really bad case of it!
The Rumi poem and writing above are the first lines from a TedxBoulder talk I’m giving in on Sat, Sept. 27, 5-9. Please click on the link and come if you are in town. Otherwise it will be published about a week later on Youtube.
However, limitless equanimity, free of any prejudice at all, is not the same as an ultimate harmony where everything is finally smooth. It is more a matter of being fully engaged with whatever comes to our door. We could call it being completely alive.
This delightful sculpture, by Dale Chihuly, reminds me of being completely alive. If it came to my door I would imagine feeling completely alive with fear or uncontrollable laughter. Against the bright blue sky its orange tentacles seem to me like a sea creature or a tangle of crazy snakes on a red haired Medusa.
Pema Chodron suggests equanimity means we are ready for whatever comes to our door, Bozo the clown or a goddess that could turn us to stone. How do we graciously greet the vast diversity of life in all it’s shapes and colors and forms? Equanimity implies we see it equally and free of preconceived ideas.
How can we appreciate the wild display of life? See the harmony in the seeming squiggles and swirls? If you blow up this snapshot you will see a barn swallow flying high above Chihuly’s three dimensional glass form. Like a bird, how can we hold a perspective that is both far and close, wide-angle and telescopic?
If you have the opportunity, see Chihuly’s work currently at the Denver Botanical Gardens where I took these photos. It’s a safe space to wonder at the display of life entangled with life!
We must all understand that there is great merit in sacrificing for others and that by so doing we live the full life.
Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize Winner
Aung San Suu Kyi is considered a bodhisattva in her country. I would consider Anita a bodhisattva in the USA. Both have led full lives of compassionate giving. Below is my book review of Hill’s book from goodreads.
Anita Hill tells her story with courage and heart. Her incise arguments to every sexist and racist claim made against her had me riveted. Her stories were both moving and offered insight into several generations of an African-American family meeting degradation with strength and unrelenting dignity. The recent documentary film, Anita, is a great compliment to her writing and helps us understand the tenor of the Hill-Thomas hearing of 1991 by the power of it’s visual impact. We also have the opportunity to see the continuation of her impactful work against sexual harassment two decades after the event. Although the book was published in 1998, I found it vital in describing a historical event, Anita Hill speaking truth to power, that has changed the lives of women worldwide.
I took these photos at the Denver Botanical Gardens several years ago when there was a show of African Sculpture in the Gardens. This figure was one of my favorites. The top photo shows the mother and the bottom photo shows her two children leaning against her large figure.
The quote from Pema reminded me of her patience and eternal support for her children, something the stone sculpture seems to reinforce. And what patience demonstrated by the artist!
This poem by the 18th century Chinese nun, Ziyong, provided the anchor for the faculty commencement speech I gave this year the Naropa University. I spoke about the lessons I learned from a climbing accident I barely survived in 1979. It taught me to look for the wisdom in every moment! Please check it out by clicking on: 12 minute speech
P.S. I took this photo at Wat Arun in Bangkok. He reminds me of the joy of living.
Therefore, the practice of generosity is about creating space. We see our limits and we extend them continuously and consciously, joyfully, which creates an expansiveness and spaciousness of mind that’s deeply composed.
These are two of my favorite photographs of the sculptures at the Dushanbe Tea House in Boulder, Colorado. The light is constantly changing as are the lovely plants surrounding the figures of the seven beauties. They remind me of a spacious and joyous mind that is deeply composed and in the world.
…there is no single savior being awaited. Rather, the savior is spread out among us, emerging from each of us as we bring the fruits from our sacred garden into our daily lives. It is we who must save us.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Where there is injury, pardon; Where there is doubt, faith; Where there is despair, hope; Where there is darkness, light; And where there is sadness, joy.
~ Saint Francis
The Flower Bin in Longmont is a lovely place to take photos of garden statuary. Saint Francis, the Buddha and Zen maidens all rest serenely among fountains and colorful pots. What are you sowing in your garden this Spring?
When purified of self-centeredness, passion is expressed as devotion to others, caring skillfully and utterly about their welfare; it is also expressed as joy in living and appreciation of the unique beauty of each moment.
At Doi Suthep, a large and beautiful temple in northern Thailand, I took a photo of these bells hung around the complex by practitioners. From each bell hung a ringer in the shape of a leaf from the Bodhi tree where the Buddha first experienced enlightenment. Prayers and blessing are inscribed on the leaf by the individual who placed the bell.
The shape of the leaf reminds me of a heart and the heartfelt wishes of the person making his or her offering at the temple. Many are hung to commemorate a loved one and wish them well on their journey after death. Others are asking for relief from suffering for a family member or themselves. Some ask for the blessing of a healthy child or acceptance into a job or university. As the wind moves the bells and releases their music the wishes are sent on their mission.
Many Buddhist practitioners may make a once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Doi Suthep as it is considered a great Buddhist site. As I joined the many men and women circling the main stupa I felt a deep sense of reverence and joy shared by all.
Mindfulness enables us to cultivate a different quality of attention, one where we relate to what we see before us not just as an echo of the past or a foreshadowing of the future, but more as it is right now. Here too we find the power of kindness because we can connect to things as they are.
The Mekong River divides into nine channels known as the Nine Dragons at the delta in Vietnam. Life on the river must be attentive to detail as the river has many undercurrents and is constantly changing. Many people live on the boats they work on and appear relaxed yet ever aware of their environment. Sharon’s words of wisdom reminds me of the attitude of attention we observed when we spent the day in a boat exploring one of the dragons of the Mekong in south Vietnam.
We approach Kwan Yin as who we are. we welcome her into our real, everyday lives. We open ourselves to her as our individual minds and hearts can understand her. This is how it has always been with Kwan Yin. she offers her myriad forms to us and promises only as much as we are open to receive in and from ourselves. She enters and becomes us, we enter and become her.
These two images of Guanyin in Marble Mountain Cave in Vietnam struck me as two incarnations of the bodhisattva. One older and carved from wood, unique in its depiction of her eternal connection to the ground of being. The other statue light and feminine, like a breeze of fresh air. Their juxtaposition reminding me of the broad range her compassion and willingness to manifest as needed to relieve the suffering of the world. How has she entered and become us? How have we entered and become her?