Awakened Woman: The freedom of letting go

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The awakened woman emerges from the chrysalis of her own inner resources.  She is established in freedom, she manifests her freedom in the celebration of her interconnectedness with all of life.

Christina Feldman

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!

Deborah

Anita Hill is a Bodhisattva: Quote and Book Review

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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.

Buddha, Birds and Freedom: Photos from Burma

For those whom there is no hoarding,

Who have fully understood the nature of food,

And whose pasture is freedom

That is empty, that has no sign,

Their course is as hard to trace

As that of birds in the sky.

The Buddha ~ The Dhammapada


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The quote by the Buddha refers to the quality of freedom experienced by the enlightened, leaving no trace like a bird in the sky.  Empty of any “baggage”, the sages freedom is without the things we hoard and the desires that drive our clinging to the material world.  We can understand this metaphor to also refer to all hoarding; of our past wounds, of our future expectations and ultimately, our sense of self.  Freedom is liberation of the heart and mind, an experience aptly described by the flight of a bird in the clean, bright, open blue sky.

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Two years ago we had the delight to visit Shwedagon temple in Rangoon with many  outdoor altars and many golden Buddhas.  Pilgrims left plates of rice offerings and the crows kept the offerings fresh by waiting on top of a Buddha’s head and regularly cleaning the plates.  I found the juxtaposition of the many Buddhas and   crows delightful.  At home when reviewing my photos I found more crows in the shots than I remembered! Can you find them too?

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When looking for images to offer for the holiday season I found myself drawn to these photographs and wanted to offer something playful and rich.  May you delight in this season of renewal and freedom.

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Still on sale through Amazon!  Last day to ship for Christmas!

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Tara: The Spirituality of Wrath

Wrathful Tara

Wrathful Tara

When we begin to accept that our anger and grief are as valid sources of learning as our quietness and detachment, we begin to accept ourselves, to heal our selves and to transform ourselves.

Christina Feldman

In the Tibetan tradition of Buddhism Tara is a beloved figure of compassion.  Her wrathful energy is understood to serve others and to cut through to truth.  In this form she is a protector and uses her energy wisely.

Tara is one of the few female figures of divinity that shows a full range of expression.  The figure above is from the Tara Mandala in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  She is one of 21 Tara figures, each one with a specific expression and meaning.  Her hand is in a teaching  mudra and a Vajra emanates from her arm.  The Vajra is a symbol of discriminating awareness and represents a thunderbolt.

Tara’s wisdom is expressed through the clarity and strength of a thunderbolt.  Imagine a mother tiger protecting her young, ready to pounce if necessary.  Her kindness is as powerful and direct.  She teaches us to appreciate our emotions and channel our passions as devotion to others.

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Click on the link below to view my talk on The Female Buddha at Boulder Bookstore, 2013:

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http://www.thefemalebuddha.com

Light of Consciousness: Journal of Spiritual Awakening

Light of Consciousness Magazine

Light of Consciousness Magazine

This wonderful magazine, Light of Consciousness, has a five page article, including seven photos, that I wrote on Visions of The Female Buddha.  Please check it out!

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Learning to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important.  The reason it’s important is that, fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we’re discovering.  We’re discovering the universe.

Pema Chodron.

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Tranquility and Insight in the New Year

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Two things will lead you to supreme understanding. What are those two? Tranquility and insight.

If you develop tranquillity, what benefit can you expect? Your mind will develop. The benefit of a developed mind is that you are no longer a slave to your impulses.

If you develop insight, what benefit will it bring? You will find wisdom. and the point of developing wisdom is that it brings you freedom from the blindness of ignorance.

A mind held bound by unconsidered impulse and ignorance can never develop true understanding.  But by way of tranquillity and insight the mind will find freedom.

–  The Buddha

Pouring water over the Buddha’s body is an act of devotion and new beginnings.  At Shwedagon temple in Yangon my husband joins hundreds of worshippers in this ritual of purification and commitment to the Buddhist path of tranquility and wisdom.  The moment was serene and full of delight.

Often the practice of bathing the Buddha is done on the day celebrated for his birth, enlightenment and death.  Below a woman baths the baby Buddha at the Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul.

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Both these photos were taken on trips to collect images for my books, The Female Buddha (with quotes by women teachers) and The Luminous Buddha (with quotes by the Buddha).  Please click on these links to find out more!

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The Female Buddha

“The Female Buddha is beautiful and inspiring. The photos and the quotations both remind us of our own inner capacity for love and freedom.”

                             Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness 

Just had to show off.  Here’s the cover of my new book coming out this December. Let me know what you think!

see more at www.thefemalebuddha.com

and www.luminousbuddha.com

           

A Nun of Cambodia: Keeping Buddhism Alive at Angkor Wat

nun, mother and childWho has gone past being a someone, a this or a that,

That one is free from fear and is blissful.

                                                                                            The Buddha

When we visited the great temple site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia several years ago this beautiful nun was offering incense sticks to worshippers.  Nuns keep all the Buddhist holy sites at temples fresh and instruct foreigners how to make offerings with incense.  We happened to arrive on the day the country was celebrating freedom from Pol Pot and many Cambodians were making offerings and seeking religious ceremonies for family members they lost in the genocide.  The nuns have taken over these responsibilities because almost all the monks were wiped out in the mass murders.

We were greatly surprised by the warmth and natural cheerfulness of the Cambodian people and were happy to join in the celebrations on this day.  Capturing the photo of this generous nun and the mother and child behind her was a highlight of my experience.

For more photos and inspirational words go to www.thefemalebuddha.com

and www.luminousbuddha.com