Compassionate Acceptance is Like Being in Love

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Practicing compassionate acceptance

is like being in love

and seeing the face of the beloved

in every moment

as if for the first time.

Cheri Huber

Zen Teacher, Cheri Huber, reminds us that every time we practice compassionate acceptance we open our hearts and fall in love with the person before us.  Compassion is not a sacrifice we make for the other, it is a celebration of our interdependence and the love that expands our world.

We often recoil in fear, afraid to reach out, and imagine the “other” may intrude on our space.  We forget that compassion does not oblige us, but rather enhances our liveliness and depth of experience.

Compassionate acceptance begins with ourselves.  Notice how you may treat yourself as “other”, speaking down to yourself as if you were another person.  Collapse the inner divide by taking a breath and letting go of the internal chatter….again and again.  This is an act of radical acceptance and love.

In your outer life challenge yourself to engage in the world freshly, even in the smallest of ways. Appreciate your housemate’s contributions to your life, learn about opportunities in your community to contribute to a cause or open a book that enriches your understanding of people who are suffering or in need.

Children naturally open to world with curiosity and caring, accepting sorrow as well as delight.  As adults, we need to actively remember that this compassionate acceptance is our fundamental nature and an opportunity to connect deeply in “every moment as if for the first time.”

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Falling into Grace: TedxBoulder on Presence and Compassion

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.

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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.

Love in any Language is a Blessing

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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.

Judith Simmer-Brown

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.

 

Guanyin in China: Inclusive and Connected

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Spirituality is the movement from our prison of self-blame and self-preoccupation to an inclusive and open engagement with all of life.  In many ways a spiritual path is essentially about connection – a deep connection to our own inherent capacity for wisdom and love no matter what, a connection to a bigger picture of life no matter what.        ~Sharon Salzberg

This image of Guanyin, taken at Fayu temple on the island of Putuoshan, captures her amid many historic and mythological figures of China.  It captures the spiritual importance Chinese Buddhists place on her role as the Bodhisattva of Compassion and her relationship to the vast pantheon of spiritual personalities.

The diorama was placed on the backside of the altar and she was “mobbed” by worshippers as they circumambulated the temple.  I had to wait for an opportunity to capture her photo as individuals bowed and made offerings at the statue’s feet.

In the photo below, in Shanghai, we discovered another diorama featuring Guanyin placed similarly in the Jade Temple.  It was a day to honor ancestors and again we encountered large crowds making offering to Guanyin and Buddha.

We never encountered another Westerner in the days we spent visiting temples and gathering images of Guanyin in China.  In some ways we were invisible yet connected, everyone intent in their devotion to the divine.

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GUANYIN: THE EMBODIMENT OF LIBERATION AND LOVE

Free talk/slides: Fri, Feb  21,  7 pm, Paramita Campus, 3285 30th St., Boulder, CO 

Focusing on the qualities of selflessness central to Guanyin, we will explore her incarnation as the Chinese folk legend Miao-shan, and compare her to the Handless Maiden in the western fairy tale.  These stories ask soul-searching questions:  What is sacrifice? What is unconditional love?  How is the feminine liberated from patriarchal dictates?

TEMPLES OF SOUTH AND EAST ASIA: DISCOVERING THE SUBLIME IN A PHOTO

Free talk/slides: Tues, Mar 11, 7 pm, Changes in Latitude, 2525 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder

Join Deborah Bowman in a search of the transcendent at temple sites in Asia.  Enjoy the draw of both famous and obscure sites at times of silence or among throngs at colorful festivals.   Come now to enjoy a feast of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or learn tips for great shots at exquisite gardens or inside darkened temples.

Deborah Bowman, Ph.D., is a photographer, psychologist & professor at Naropa University.

Generosity on this Path of Love

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Chinese Statue at Wat Arun, Bangkok

Together on this path of love, we can try to make a small difference in someone’s life.  What else is there to do?

Sister Chan Khong

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I’m in China this month studying and practicing at Putuoshan, an island dedicated to Guanyin since the last millennium.  My husband and I received generous scholarships from a Chinese and American organization and are grateful for the opportunity to share our experience when we return.

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My Heart is the Color of Blossoms

Japanese dolls

Japanese dolls

I’ll be changing into

My summer robes today

But my heart is

Still stained with

The color of spring blossoms.

Rengetsu

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Free video of Boulder Bookstore talk, April 2013

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book

Concentration: Returning the Market Place

Bangkok Floating Market 1

Bangkok Floating Market 1

My mind has three qualities: concentration, equanimity and loving kindness.  That’s it.

Dipa Ma

In a famous Zen proverb, one returns to the market place after the work of enlightenment. One brings the skills he or she has developed back into the world.  These women at the floating market south of Bangkok reminded me of this proverb.  Tourists are brought in hordes to this place yet the people marketing their wares go about their business with a calm and concentration that is notable.  It may not be enlightenment but I witnessed something we do not observe in many parts of the world; a people at peace with the bustle about them.

I went to photograph the floating market several years ago during a trip to Bangkok and was first horrified by the insane tourist “scene.”  It was only when I got inside the crammed water course that I began to notice the remarkable individuals in their boats and by the riverside.  What a delight  trying to capture their dignified essence!  I was lucky they were happy to ignore another curiosity seeker with her clicking camera.

Bangkok Floating Market

Bangkok Floating Market

Bangkok Floating Market 2

Bangkok Floating Market 2

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The Female Buddha book

The Female Buddha book

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