Be The Cause of Your Life

“It’s your life – but only if you make it so. The standards by which you live must be your own standards, your own values, your own convictions in regard to what is right and wrong, what is true and false, what is important and what is trivial. When you adopt the standards and the values of someone else . . . you surrender your own integrity. You become, to the extent of your surrender, less of a human being.” – Eleanor Roosevelt I work with a lot of writers, mostly creative nonfiction writers who want to share personal experiences … Continue reading

Don’t Cling to the Raft

“To call something ‘a fundamental principle of Buddhism’ is only correct if, first, it is a principle that aims at the quenching of dukkha (pain, misery, suffering) and, second, it has a logic that one can see for oneself without having to believe others.”–Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree Last night, the eve before this new year, I wondered why I vacillate in my commitment to my spiritual practices. How is it after so many years of study and practice I get caught up in some concern or behavior that results in more suffering? How after been given so many spiritual teachings that, at … Continue reading

Wire Your Brain to Compassion & Wisdom

Here is a simple but powerful meditation that helps unravel our negative habitual and reactive postures. This simple meditation helps “hardwire us to wisdom and compassion.” The effort only takes a few minutes a day. This trains your mind while imprinting the memory of love on the psychophysical level. Research has shown us how the brain is pliable and responsive to such mind-training. This meditation gives your brain a positive memory to retrieve when life’s circumstances trigger a pain story. This simple practice assists in the undoing of negative belief systems (and assumptions) that are hardwired into us. Our brains are wired to take care … Continue reading

How Einstein Did It: Idea to Discovery

These two capacities—to analyze and to remain focused— are essential to seeing yourself as you really are. –His Holiness the Dalai Lama, “How to See Yourself as You Really Are” Einstein is often quoted when it comes to analytical meditation because this type of concentration is believed to have led to his theory of relativity and other discoveries. Inquiry meditation has the potentiality of transforming our minds and lives in truly profound and lasting ways. This is a core practice of a meaning maker as it helps us discover truth and meaning for ourself while still borrowing from the wisdom … Continue reading

What Now?

“Awe is What Moves Us Forward.”  Joseph Campbell When there is no more awe, no more wondering what could be next or what is possible, we may give up on life. I don’t know if this is what Robin Williams experienced. I have witnessed others so deep in their own darkness or depression they can’t see anything in front of them. This makes it hard to keep moving forward, to keep living. We have to have something to move toward. What helps you keep the awe alive? Many Buddhist teachers refer to this awe as a sacred curiosity. Last night … Continue reading

Promise Me This

  This is the third piece in the Venerable Geshe Lhundup Sopa’s introductory teachings, the “lessons before the lessons.” We are still on the verse taken from Nagarjuna, Letters to a Friend.     “Whosoever was negligent previously But later became attentive and careful, Shines forth like the moon freed from clouds, Just like Nanda, Angulimala, Ajustastru, and Udayana.”                                            –Nagarjuna, Letters to a Friend, Verse 14 (Leslie Kawanura)  After his teaching, I offer up a commentary, some spiritual journaling prompts, … Continue reading

A Skeptic Awakening at the Foot of One Sage, 2.

This is the next piece in the Venerable Geshe Lhundub Sopa’s introductory teachings, the “lessons before the lessons.” We are still on the verse taken from Nagarjuna, Letters to a Friend. After his teaching, I offer up a commentary, along with some exercises.  Whosoever was negligent previously But later became attentive and careful, Shines forth like the moon freed from clouds, Just like Nanda, Angulimala, Ajustastru, and Udayana  —Nagarjuna, Letters to a Friend, Verse 14 (Leslie Kawanura)   Making Use of Your Basic Intelligence Most of us have the opportunity for liberation because, unlike all other sentient beings, we humans have … Continue reading

A Skeptic Awakening at the Foot of One Sage

I consider myself a willing skeptic at the feet of many sages and yoginis. I am willing to explore and to reach for meaning while being given spiritual instruction. During various teachings, rituals and empowerments that I attended over the years at Deer Park in Oregon Wisconsin, I was deeply inspired by the Venerable Geshe Lhundub Sopa’s introductory teachings. I admit that these “lessons before the lessons” often held more meaning for me than the primary teachings. I was able then, and now, to use these teachings in a more practiced way, integrating them into my daily life. After hearing … Continue reading

Perseverance with an attitude.

Every kind of manifestation relies on our sticking with it, with our finishing what we started. Through our perseverance we achieve creative and spiritual states we would otherwise not experience. In fact, a lack of joyful effort, of sticking with “it” results in suffering and unhappiness. Our perseverance is all we have in the face of distractions, resistance and disappointment. Evidence points to perseverance being central to feelings of lasting satisfaction. Those who persevere with their commitments are happier and more satisfied, and more financially sound. When we are not joyfully participating in our creative and spiritual life, we are likely under … Continue reading