Deborah Bowman, Ph.D., is a psychologist, photographer, author and Professor at Naropa University where she founded the Transpersonal Counseling Psychology Program and the Wilderness Therapy program. For 27 years she has worked as a Gestalt and Jungian psychotherapist Boulder, CO. Buddhist practice and passion for Guanyin guided her travels in Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan, China, Myanmar and Cambodia. She is the author of The Luminous Buddha: Image and Word, When Your Spouse Comes Out: A Straight Mate’s Recovery Guide and soon to be published The Female Buddha: Discovering the Heart of Liberation and Love.
In telling the gripping story of her near-fatal ice climbing fall, Deborah names the blind-spots in awareness that cause many of us self harm. She goes on to describe how wisdom and compassion can be gleaned from our mistakes through the grace of presence, gratitude and letting go.
Announcing a rare opportunity to journey to China next September to visit sites sacred to the Goddess of Compassion, Guanyin. We will travel together as a small group of pilgrims and practice mindfulness to enhance our receptivity, wisdom and compassion.
The image above is from the Dazu grottos where we will see many beautiful statues and reliefs carved into caves and cliff sites. These sacred images from the 7th – 13 centuries are well preserved and still have their original paint. We will also visit Anyue, Qingcheng and the island of Putuoshan, dedicated to Guanyin since the 9th century.
For more information on this pilgrimage, lead by Deborah Bowman and sponsored by True Nature Journeys, click this link: Sacred China.
For those of you looking for an armchair experience and lots of photos of these rare site, stay tuned to this blog in the coming months!
“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving.”
These dancers are practicing a sequence of a dance routine at Colorado University. I used this photo from a class I took on photography to illustrate an idea of letting go in a TedxBoulder talk I gave last week. Here is a brief quote from the talk:
We need examine our failings and our fears and then let them go. May all of us, you and I, be a bucket full of lessons, overflowing with wisdom and love.
Christina’s quote seems to also illustrate the freedom, interconnectedness and celebration of the dancer in trusting the process of letting go!
The link to my Tedx talk should be available soon. I can’t wait to send it to you!
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?