When I see you and how you are…

recite-31457--1793066917-1is0wf3Tara Brach shared this quote from Rumi in one of her recent meditations…

I must have been incredibly simple or drunk or insane to sneak into my own house and steal money, to climb over the fence and take my own vegetables. But no more. I’ve gotten free of that ignorant fist that was pinching and twisting my secret self.

The universe and the light of the stars come through me. I am the crescent moon put up over the gate to the festival.

via The Chronic Meditator: Rumi – "When I see you and how you are…".

Awakening Now


At this moment [which is all I have and all I am] this seems to me to be the most beautiful poem I have ever read:

Why wait for your awakening?

The moment your eyes are open, seize the day.

Would you hold back when the Beloved beckons?

Would you deliver your litany of sins like a child’s collection of sea shells, prized and labeled?

“No, I can’t step across the threshold,” you say, eyes downcast.

“I’m not worthy” I’m afraid, and my motives aren’t pure.

I’m not perfect, and surely I haven’t practiced nearly enough.

My meditation isn’t deep, and my prayers are sometimes insincere.

I still chew my fingernails, and the refrigerator isn’t clean.

“Do you value your reasons for staying small more than the light shining through the open door?

Forgive yourself.

Now is the only time you have to be whole.

Now is the sole moment that exists to live in the light of your true Self. Perfection is not a prerequisite for anything but pain.

Please, oh please, don’t continue to believe in your disbelief.

This is the day of your awakening.

Source: Awakening Now by Danna Faulds | The Moksha Devi

If this poem resonates with you as well, here are two Tara Brach meditations on self-compassion that I’d like to share with you. “All I plead with you is this” she says “make love of yourself perfect”…

Listen here:

Segment 1: 2011-03-23-Part-1-Healing-Power-of-Self-Compassion

Segment 2: 2011-03-30-Part-2-Healing-Power-of-Self-Compassion

Essence of Mindful Prayer

recite-32085-1286722747-fz1ur9Tara Brach writes;

When we are suffering and turn to prayer, no matter what the apparent reasons for our pain, the basic cause is always the same: we feel separate and alone.  Our reaching out is a way of relieving ourselves of this pain of isolation.  Yet the bodhisattva’s aspiration radically deepens the meaning of prayer by guiding us to also turn inward.  We discover the full purity and power of prayer by listening deeply to the suffering that gives rise to it. Like a great tree, such prayer sinks its roots into the dark depths in order to reach up fully to the light. This is what I call mindful prayer—opening wakefully to our suffering and allowing ourselves to reach out in our longing for connection.  Irish poet and priest John O’Donohue writes: “Prayer is the voice of longing; it reaches outwards and inwards to unearth our ancient belonging.” The more fully we touch our pain and longing, the more fully we are released into boundless, compassionate presence.

via Tara Brach – Essence of Mindful Prayer.

Living Whole-Heartedly

Tara Brach writes:

The happiest people I know have something in common: they are whole-hearted in how they engage in their lives…whole-hearted in relating with others, in work, in meditation, and in play. They have a capacity to give themselves thoroughly to the present moment.

Yet for many, it’s challenging to engage with this quality of presence. Take this personal ad  for example. It says:

Free to a good home, beautiful 6-month old male kitten, orange and caramel tabby, playful, friendly, very affectionate, ideal for family with kids.  OR handsome 32-year old husband, personable, funny, good job, but doesn’t like cats.  He or the cat goes.  Call Jennifer and decide which one you’d like.

How often do we find that in our relationships, rather than loving presence, we have an agenda for someone to change, to be different? How often do we find that our insecurities prevent us from being spontaneous, or whole-heartedly engaged with friends? You might think of one important relationship and ask yourself: “What is between me and feeling fully present when I’m with this person?” Notice the fears creeping in about falling short, the urge to get your needs met, the sense of “not enough time,” the wanting for your experience together to unfold a certain way!

This same conditioning plays out in all aspects of living, and it is well grounded in our evolutionary wiring. We need to manage things, to feel in control. We try to avoid disappointments, to prevent things from going wrong. 

via Tara Brach: Living Whole-Heartedly.

The Buddha and The Terrorist


Tara Brach quoted this in a meditation I was listening to today:

It is often said, accurately, that violence begets violence. There is a virus buried deep in all violence that is contagious, that inspires an equally brutal and mindless response. A terrorist blows up a bus, and an army comes out to settle the score. This exchange of violence and this contagion of terror have been handed down for eons from family to family and from nation to nation. It is a chain of terror made up of people gone amok with anger and those just as disturbed with their feelings of virture and righteous vengeance.

But there is good news. The Gospel of Jesus, the Dharma of Buddha, the Tao of Lao Tzu, and the tariqa, or way of love, in Sufism all teach that you can let go of your grip on this chain. You can be free of it. When obscene violence interrupts your life, you don’t have to respond with virtuous, justified, and reasonable force. You can choose not to be part of the destructive cycle, and that choice not to participate is a first step toward peace.

But to step outside the circle of terror you have to do something quite unreasonable. You have to forfeit vengeance and abandon all reasonable expectations that the majority of your community, friends, and family may take for granted. You will probably have to go it alone and trust your spiritual instincts. You may appear passive and weak. Only you know the inner courage needed to overcome habits of vengeance and punishment that are assumed to be right and virtuous.

via The Buddha and Madison | New Wood.

Do Not Be Ashamed


Tara Brach shared this poem with me:

You will be walking some night

in the comfortable dark of your yard

and suddenly a great light will shine

round about you, and behind you

will be a wall you never saw before.

It will be clear to you suddenly

that you were about to escape,

and that you are guilty: you misread

the complex instructions, you are not

a member, you lost your card

or never had one. And you will know

that they have been there all along,

their eyes on your letters and books,

their hands in your pockets,

their ears wired to your bed.

Though you have done nothing shameful,

they will want you to be ashamed.

They will want you to kneel and weep

and say you should have been like them.

And once you say you are ashamed,

reading the page they hold out to you,

then such light as you have made

in your history will leave you.

They will no longer need to pursue you.

You will pursue them, begging forgiveness.

They will not forgive you.

There is no power against them.

It is only candor that is aloof from them,

only an inward clarity, unashamed,

that they cannot reach. Be ready.

When their light has picked you out

and their questions are asked, say to them:

“I am not ashamed.” A sure horizon

will come around you. The heron will begin

his evening flight from the hilltop.

via “Do Not Be Ashamed” by Wendell Berry.

She did not share it with me directly, but rather through her series of meditation podcasts. This poem was wrapped in a meditation called Be All That You Are. You can listen to it here

Rare and Precious Joy

Tara Brach writes:

When I talk to people about how much they experience joy, most say, “Not so much.” Joy is not a frequent visitor, and when it does appear, it’s fleeting.

Joy arises when we are open to both the beauty and suffering inherent in living. Like a great sky that includes all different types of weather, joy is an expansive quality of presence. It says “Yes to life, no matter what!”  Yet it’s infrequency lets us know our more habitual posture: resisting what’s happening, saying “No” to the life that is here and now.  We tend to override our innate capacity for joy with our incessant inner dialogue, our chronic attempts to avoid unpleasantness and to hold on to pleasure. Rather than joy in the present moment, we are trying to get somewhere else, to experience something that is better, different.

The great French writer, André Gide, said:

“Know that joy is rarer, more difficult and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.”

via Tara Brach: Rare and Precious Joy.

What would life be like…

You can listen to one of Tara’s meditations on the topic here:

Is the best guru for you, you?

Tara Brach is my guru, however, in the end, Tom, it is up to me to apply her teaching. Perhaps I am my own guru…

The Inner Way


Why do you need a guru? If you fall down, then pick yourself up and continue to walk. ~Krishnamurti

I’ve been reading with interest the posts of my fellow Patheos blogger Ambaa, also known as the White Hindu, who does a fantastic job of opening a window into Hindu traditions and philosophy. She also writes a regular series titled “Find a Guru” where she introduces us to specific gurus, warts and all.

Like the warning that appears on any product with the potential to cause harm, Ambaa warns readers of the “Find a Guru” column to “exercise caution when selecting a teacher”. And I believe she does this for good reason. Time and time again, we read reports of gurus behaving badly. (Not that the Eastern philosophies have a monopoly on bad behavior.)

One recent case of a guru gone bad revolves around the renowned Zen…

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A Heart That Is Ready for Anything


One of my favorite teachers, Tara Brach, shares this in the Huffington Post:

When the Buddha was dying, he gave a final message to his beloved attendant Ananda, and to generations to come:

“Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge.”

In his last words, the Buddha was urging us to see this truth: Although you may search the world over trying to find it, your ultimate refuge is none other than your own being.

Continue reading “A Heart That Is Ready for Anything”

You Say, ‘Jesus Is the Only Way’!”

I might lose a friend or two over this post, but over the weekend, I read an article by Dr. Steve McSwain on the Huffington Post and it rocked my world! I curate it here:

To those who know me, it is no surprise that I was born with a WHY chromosome.

Because I was so fortunate as to travel the world during my teen years…those highly impressionable years…I’ve seen things, heard things, experienced things that became fertile soil to my many questions.

I was raised in a Southern Baptist pastor’s home. Everyone I knew was Christian. Most were Baptist. Even if you did not go to church, you regarded yourself as Christian and, very often, as Baptist, too. So, the nearest thing to me of a person of another “religion” was a Catholic.

Yet, on more than one occasion, I’ve stood with thousands of other actual Catholics in St. Peter’s Square in Rome…as they eagerly awaited a blessing from the Pope… and, as I watched with curiosity… wonder… questions.

Continue reading “You Say, ‘Jesus Is the Only Way’!””

Forgiving our way to freedom…

Another wonderful meditation by Tara Brach that I’d like to share with you:

Living with chronic blame or resentment is a trance that confines us to a limited fragment of what we are. This talk looks at the ways this trance is fueled and the process by which we release the armoring around our hearts.

A forgiving heart…

Tara Brach writes:

Self-aggression, whether it’s low key blame or deep condemnation, prevents us from intimacy with others and discovering the truth and wholeness of our Being. This talk explores how we can release self-blame, and free ourselves to access our natural warmth and creativity in responding to our world.

The freedom of yes…

How do we accept ourselves or others when our actions are causing harm? Does acceptance mean passivity? Does it undermine our efforts towards change? This talk responds to these questions with a simple, illuminating and challenging principle about genuine transformation: Acceptance is the prerequisite of true healing and awakening. Only when we’ve paused to recognize and allow this moment’s experience to be fully as it is, can we respond from our intelligence and compassion to prevent future suffering…

Intimacy with our inner life

Jung wrote that our suffering arises from the unseen, unfelt parts of our psyche. This talk explores ways we can establish a healing presence by recognizing and communicating with the parts of our being that we habitually ignore or judge…

Live The Meaning Of Namaste Every Day

Brigitte Meinders writes:

The word “Namaste” has become quite mainstream thanks to the explosive popularity of the yoga industry in recent years.  I’m sure you’ve said it before, and you probably have an idea of the general meaning of it. It’s a way for your soul to recognize and acknowledge the soul of another.

It would be amazing if more people took the time to really understand why we should ALL be saying Namaste to one another, and were able to shift their perspective a little bit to see other people for what they really are.

Think of yourself as a vessel filled with light. Light that changes colors depending on what angle you are looking at it, and those colors represent the many experiences you’ve had in your life. Your soul has become all of the sunsets you’ve watched, the ocean air you’ve breathed, the friends you’ve made, the love you’ve shared, the times that made you laugh and cry. You are all of your experiences.

Each and every person out there is the same way. The person in the car next to you, the cashier at the grocery store, your mailman, your friend, your spouse, even that annoying co-worker… they all carry with them that same ever-changing light, a spectrum of colors that uniquely defines them and their life experiences. They too have experienced love and pain, they have their history, their own things they hold dear, and have seen their own beautiful sights. No two are the same, yet we all have it inside us.

It’s so easy to see only the surface of a person and dismiss them for only what they are presenting to you in a given situation. But we’re all connected in that we carry around our entire life — each experience you have, each interaction, all of it is with you all the time. 

The next time you find yourself passing a person on the street, in a meeting, or talking with your friends, try to be aware of the enormity of what they’re actually carrying around with them. Practicing this makes the ability to forgive and accept much easier.

To me, Namaste means that I see you. I understand we’re both souls trying to make our way in this world, all part of some larger plan. I know that while the color of our lights may shine differently, we all share the same internal fire, and my soul bows to and acknowledges that in your soul.

via Live The Meaning Of Namaste Every Day.

Heavenly messengers…

Tara Brach talks with Frank Ostaseski, founder of Zen Hospice, on a contemplative approach to death and dying…

What is a blog?

What is a blog? It can be everything and it can be nothing. As the Bard said “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so”. During my blogging career, I estimate that I have created between 15 and 20,000 blog posts on every topic from A-to-Z — most of them, unfortunately, ineffective…

And this is only my business blog...
And this is only my business blog…

In this next phase of my business I’m attempting to become more mindful and intentional about what I’m doing online and why in this post is an attempt to unpack blogging from that perspective; more mindfulness and awareness of why we actually do social media and what we can expect from the effort.

What blogging isn’t…

A get rich quick scheme. If you are thinking that this was one of those articles I think you’ll be happier somewhere else on the Internet. But if you’re looking for deeper insight into what blogging is from perspective of mindfulness and intention and what it can do for you then please read on… Continue reading “What is a blog?”

The world in our heart…

Tara Brach talks about mindfulness in the digital world…

The entire meditation is worth listening to, but I was particularly interested in what Tara had to say about the internet…

Open heart, open mind…


I really enjoyed this talk from Tara Brach‘s meditation series featuring Tsoknyi Rinpoche; perhaps you will as well…

In case you are wondering, I am not a Buddhist — I am a recovering Catholic if you must know! It’s just that lately, the Uni-verse has been using people who are Buddhist to teach me. Keeping an open mind to the wisdom of their message has helped me to open my heart…

Waking Up from the Trance of Unworthiness: Part Two

I am so glad that Barb Markway does such a great job of sharing these transcriptions. It just so happens this one is about my favorite speaker and author, Tara Brach. Thank you, Barb…

The Self-Compassion Project

images-4I am loving this Sounds True audio/video series on self-acceptance. For those who learn better by reading, here is part two of a rough transcript of the session with Tara Brach, Ph.D. (I watched on one computer, paused it as I went, and dictated into my phone.) I am breaking it into two posts, as it got a little long. You can still listen to this interview online here. And if you didn’t read part one, you can do so here.

Tara’s first book Radical Acceptance helped me so much on a personal level, and I frequently recommended it to my clients over the years. Her newest book is called True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart. I have already read it once, and I highly recommend it.

In this episode, Tami Simon speaks with Tara Brach, PhD, clinical psychologist and founder of the…

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