What You Gain Through Loss

Birthday reflection: No Birth, No Death

There is a Buddhist saying, ” In the material world the beginning of life is easy and the end is hard. In the spiritual life, the beginning of life is hard and the end of life is easy.”

Speaking as someone closer to the end than the beginning since I had my 67 birthday yesterday, I find this to be true. I never could make the material reality work out for me, but now that I have fully entered my spiritual life, everything fits, everything works.


The Challenge

With the good news of finding a publisher for my book comes a big opportunity to practice the dharma. How can I enjoy this good fortune, even “success” without it reinforcing my idea of a “self”? How do I keep this in perspective when it feels like it is the source of my happiness?

As you all know, my blog started out because I knew that non-attachment was my ticket to freedom. I wanted happiness that was not dependent on success or “love” or material goods. The greatest, lasting joy is freedom from “needing” recognition, admiration. All of that comes and goes. Everything changes and ends up being “not enough.” It is the nature of the ego and of our conditioning to never be quite satisfied and to always strive for more, more, more.

I will have to do some serious investigation of my motives and my attachments as I start this new identify of “published writer.” I know I will increase my suffering if I get attached to that identity. To build a stronger ego that thinks “Now I am worthwhile. Now I can be happy because I will be valued.”

If my published work can help someone that will be my greatest joy. That is the joy that lasts, knowing I can help.

Great News

Dear followers and friends of the blog,

Yesterday I found out that I have a publisher for my book which is based on much of this blog. I started writing it four years ago and during the past year put it into manuscript form, sent it off and then worked on not being attached to the outcome (not easy!). The publisher and I will not start working on it until this spring or summer, so it will appear next year sometime.

You all have been part of this journey and I thank you for supporting my writing, and my effort to become more awake. Thank you!


May I be…

This is my wish:

May I be scripture for those inspired by words:
A koan, a rhapsody, a proverb, a psalm.
For those who question, an unbiased ear;
For those who believe, a holder of the faith.

– Pamela Gayle White, “Bedside Bodhisattva”

Constant Company is Not the Way Either

“If you make human company too important you will not discover your true Self. Relationships not based in truth are never entirely reliable and are rarely enduring.
Taking time to discover yourself is the best use of time.
Prioritize this.
One should not excessively seek partners or friends, one should seek to know and be oneself. As you begin to awaken to the Truth, you start noticing how well life flows by itself and how well you are cared for. Life supports the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual needs of the one who is open to self-discovery. Trust opens your eyes to the recognition of this. Surrender allows you to merge in your own eternal being.”

~ Mooji

Monte Sahaja, November 2012

The Heart’s Compass

This, from Jack Kornfield

In times of difficulty it is this repeated setting of our heart’s compass that determines the result. Whether in a family disagreement or community conflict, before we speak and act, we can become aware of our deepest intention. Even the simplest words can have a vastly different effect depending on our intention. The phrase “What do you mean?” can sound accusing and judgmental or considerate and humble. Our hearts are like seismographs, picking up the tremors of intent.

Notice how this works in conversation. Do we speak from a subtle sense of control or self-righteousness, or do we really wish to listen, to learn? If we set our minds toward freedom, our good intentions will help us to let go of what blocks our openness. If we set our hearts toward compassion, we will reaffirm our love in spite of whatever difficulties we face.

Instead of inflaming a bad situation, we can seek ways of touching the good in another. Without denying pain and injustice, we can also look for the secret beauty of others. Our spiritual practice can be this simple: to see with eyes of compassion and act with our wisest intention. This often has a surprising effect. Nelson Mandela put it this way: “Thinking too well of people often allows them to behave better than they otherwise would.”

Do no doubt the transformation that can be born out of such conscious attention. When Ananda, attendant and close friend of the Buddha, met a young outcaste woman at a village well, he politely asked her for water to drink, but she was ashamed and refused him, lest her untouchability contaminate his holiness. Ananda replied, “I ask not for caste but for water.” Her life was transformed by this simple kindness, and she joyously and lovingly followed Ananda to the monastery. There the Buddha blessed her and bid her to take up the kindness Ananda had shown her and, by keeping that simple intention, to “let the actions of your life shine like the jewels of royalty.”

It is in such small things that we fulfill the lessons of the heart. It is from our intentions that our life grows. It is in opening to one another that our path is made whole.

This excerpt is taken from the book, “After the Ecstasy, the LaundryYARPP

Lighten Your LIfe

I have always had a problem with envy of those who have more than me. I suffer from the idea that comfort equals happiness. All the while I was wishing I could medicate myself like the wealthy do with more and more comforts. I still struggle with this false notion, this “drug.” Below, Ram Dass speaks eloquently about this.


As you observe the patterns of your thoughts during meditation, notice which areas of your life keep cropping up as distracting thoughts and pulling on you. You will easily see what you must clean out of your closet in order to proceed more smoothly. For example, if you have heavy debts, and thoughts about these debts intrude when you meditate, rather than accrue more and more debts as our society urges, you will find yourself wanting to lessen them. As you simplify things like your finances, you see more clearly the way the laws of cause and effect work in your life. You will want to get your life lighter and clearer, so that there are fewer expectations upon you from all quarters. Later, when your meditative center is strong, you can carry many responsibilities without clinging to thoughts about them.

Each time you lighten your life, you are less at the whim of thought forms, both your own and others’. It’s as if you have built a world based on the thoughts of who you seem to be. As you meditate you become aware that these models are merely thoughts, not really who you are at all. Each time you give up an attachment to a thought form, your world becomes that much lighter and clearer.

Meditation affects your life and your life shapes your meditation. It goes both ways. Less busyness in life brings greater richness in meditation. This richness makes you content with less of the trimmings of outer life. As this process continues, less is more.


– Ram Dass

No Coming, No Going

Thich Nhat Hanh is Gravely Ill

Today I got this notice:

Dear friends,

We have received word that Thich Nhat Hanh is currently in a coma at a hospital near Plum Village. He is still alive, and this may or may not be his time of transition.

Plum Village has asked his students around the world to perform meditation and chanting tonight to send healing and loving energies to him. I invite the sangha to come sit and chant with me tonight in our meditation hall in Tampa at 7:30 PM. For those unable to attend or not in the Tampa Bay area, please join us in your homes.

In the Dharma, Fred


In honor of my teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, I opened up the book “no death, no fear” to a random page and here is what it says:


When Paul Tillich said, ‘God is the ground of being,’ that being should not be confounded with the being that is opposed to non-being. You are invited to look deeply into the notion of being in order to be free from it.

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