Contemplating Beginner’s Body– Aug. 2020

We often regard our body as a skin encapsulated organism of flesh and blood and sensation. Ironically, we seem to be mostly interested in it when it is malfunctioning, when it is demanding attention. We want pain or discomfort to go away. We want the cut to heal or the embarrassing leakage to stop. Yet when it is functioning well, we tend to ignore it, engaging instead with a world of mental constructs – a panoramic world of linked memories and future plans. In many cultures, philosophically, this mental world of mind is valued while the body, ‘brother donkey’ as St. Francis called it, plods along as an obligatory but rarely appreciated partner in living. This short but dense contemplative essay calls these attitudes into question. Click here to read the essay. 

Explanation, Assumption and Guru Yoga

Essentially, all explanations are attempts to understand the same thing; this ineffable, continuously cresting wave of spontaneous presence and immediacy, that is our life and living. In a sense, this ever-present flowing of experience can never be completely and exhaustively explained. It simply and primordially is. Each one of us is effortlessly born into it. Each morning we wake to it. Wherever we look . . . there it is and even the looking itself, is what it is. What is changing, through time and evolving culture, are the structurally determined generative mechanisms that we are willing and able to accept as explanations for this mystery. Through explanation we birth worlds.  Read the entire essay.

Naming the Unnameable

A versified essay on how we might name the unnamable – the complex multi-realmed dancing of body, speech and mind; inner and outer; self and other, that together are continuously birthing the living experience of our lives. Read the essay.

Essential Practice

In the natural flow of whatever is occurring, cultivate a continuity of profoundly nourishing ease. “Profoundly nourishing ease” – What does this mean? How is the universe functioning such that I call it profoundly nourishing ease? What does it actually mean to be easeful – to relax?
Read the full essay.

Living Buddha, Living Dharma, Living Sangha
or (alternately)
What’s the problem? What can I do? What can I realise? How can we help?

 (a modern Buddhist’s response to a Donald Trumpian world) Read the full essay

Taking Robes

The true religious life is not possessed by any school or tradition. It grows from reality itself. It is older than time and wiser than any wisdom teaching. In this spirit, here is a meditation on making and taking robes. Perhaps more than that, it is a meditation on natural awakening, ordination and divine ordinariness! Read the full essay

The Dharma of Illness and The Medicine of Wonderment

An exploration of attitudes to birth and death and illness and meaningful living, written in the wake of Tarchin receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer.  Read the full essay

A Life of Dharma

‘Dharma’ is a rich and bounteous concept. Common translations give us words or phrases such as truth, teaching (particularly spiritual teaching), natural law, law of nature, phenomena, process and ‘thing’. It’s difficult to grasp in all its dimensions – as is our life. What does it mean to ‘live a life of dharma’? To devote yourself to dharma? Living truth, living teaching, living natural law, living phenomena, living process, living thing. It takes an entire evolving staggeringly alive planet to bring forth just one innocent, vulnerable, freshly born human being. And yet . . . this was how each one of us began. Read the full essay

A Buddhist Understanding of Prayer

An inspiring journey of poetry and essay into various meanings of ‘prayer’. Prayer can be understood in many different ways, from petitions and cries for help, to deep wordless contemplation and at-one-ment in the mystery of Being. Read the full essay

The Four Immeasurables

A fresh look at the meditation on loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and serenity. In Buddhism these are known as the Four Brahma Viharas or Immeasurables or Boundless States. This article was originally written to support a one year retreat on the Brahma Viharas that we did at Wangapeka during the year 2000. It has been modified for Green Dharma Treasury. Read the full essay
Read the German translation by Peter Gerdes here

A Feeling for the Whole

We were recently watching an animation by Drew Berry which glimpses, in wonderful detail, the processes of replicating and transcribing DNA. It’s as if you had a microscope capable of magnifying ten million times. Seeing the rhythmic choreography of molecules dancing together their life stories, is breath taking. At one point the commentator says that this process is taking place, right now, in nearly every cell of your body! Read the full essay

Surfing and Dharma

Modern culture is addicted to achievement, perhaps surfing might suggest a different way of being. Read the full essay

Notes from a dharma farmer: Dharma and Health

Buddhadharma is sometimes translated as the teaching of awakening. We could also call it the way of healthy living. Any practice of buddhadharma today must involve opening our eyes to the causes of suffering and then taking steps to alleviate it. The Buddha spoke of clinging and ignorance as being major contributors to suffering. I find myself looking to the field or forest for an indication. Read the full essay

Reflections on Owning Land

There was a time when the land was experienced as alive and sentient. It was not property. It was not even environment. It birthed all beings and at the right time, received each and everyone, back into her fullness. It was both matrix and mystery and a source of wonder, reverence and awe. Today, in our culture of commerce, land has become property. It is seen as a commodity; something to be bought or sold, a resource to be used or abused or at best enjoyed. What happened? Read the full essay

Wrestling with Demons

I was asked a question about transforming negativities. As often happens when an interesting theme is raised in class, my largely unconscious thinking process continued in its mysterious workings, merging many streams of experience, and these thoughts about practices for working with demons emerged in the form of an essay. Read the full essay

This Day is for Living

“This Day is for Living” starts with a critique of unquestioning reliance on economic and technological solutions to the problems of living well. It then goes on to consider a day in the life of an awake, compassionate and enquiring human; a true bodhisattva. Read the full essay

A Story of Stories

A weaving of prose and poetry.  Story telling is not merely for entertainment.  We are constantly telling ourselves stories, interior verbalizings, daydreamings, enactments and re-enactments of situations that have happened and ones that might happen.  By and large, story telling is the way we humans make sense of relationships, the world and the universe we find ourselves in.
Suffering arises in not seeing we are caught in a story of our own making.  Suffering arises in not seeing our story is also the making of others.  It also arises when we believe the story should be fixed for all time and we struggle to keep it so and to get others to keep it so.

How many universes can dance in the story of your mind? Read the full essay

Education and Buddhadharma

The practice of buddhadharma and the process of meaningful education, are deeply related.  Buddhadharma is more commonly associated with Buddhism which, of course, is viewed by many as a religion.  Education is usually associated with secular schooling.  Yet each has something to contribute to the other.  I’d go so far to say that richly developed, each contains the other. Read the full essay

The Eight Offerings
a practice for cultivating flexibility and ‘give’

The eight offerings represent inner qualities of being that we aspire to cultivate and bring forth into the world through the various activities of our body, speech and mind. Although this process is often enacted in real and tangible ways – so many bowls of water and so many sticks of incense – this offering practice can become a yoga or a sadhana which has the power to profoundly transform the way we live. By cultivating the essential meaning hinted at by these eight symbols, we remind ourselves of what is truly valuable. Loosening the strings of attachment, and resting with increasing confidence in an inexhaustible flow of mutual shaping and support, we gradually recognise and appreciate the real wealth that is in all of us. Entering this vast flow of offering is the heart and vitality of true empowerment. It is naturally discoverable in any situation or circumstance.  Read the Full Essay

Truth, Power and Sharing the Merit

Sharing the merit is a buddhist practice, done at the completion of a session of meditation or a period of creative work in which one consciously shares the benefit of one’s explorations with all beings.  In its full grandeur, sharing the merit is a call to revolution – a call to recognize the great cycling of life and to participate richly and fully in this mystery we were born to. Read the Full Essay

Hints of Wisdom from Our Grandmother
–– a dancing matrix of here and now ––

Looking deeply into an apple can reveal the whole world. This is a short but pithy enquiry into here and now, perception and interdependency. Read the Full Essay

Prayer of Heartfelt Aspiration
– intimations of view, meditation and action –
a versified essay

A rich commentary on one of Tarchin’s poems, dealing with Suchness, Buddha nature, community and knowing. The essay blends science, poetry and classical Buddhist teaching. What is a person? What is community? What is health and healthy living? Read the Full Essay

Six Contemplations for Entering the Path of Living Dharma

Here are six major themes for contemplation that will support a profound shift in your attitudes to life. Together, they can bring one to the threshold of a Life of Living Dharma. Drawing on biology, ecology and holistic science, these could be thought of as modern equivalents of the Tibetan teachings on the “Four Thoughts to Turn the Mind Towards Dharma.” Read the Full Essay