An Informal Contemplation on Healing
by Lama Rod Owens
You’ve got to learn to leave the table when love’s no longer being served.
Are you sure, sweetheart, that you want to be well?…Just so’s you’re sure, sweetheart, and ready to be healed, cause wholeness is no trifling matter. A lot of weight when you’re well.
—Toni Cade Bambara, “The Salt Eaters”
When people ask me how I’m doing, I feel a little confused and pause for a moment. In my mind I want to talk about this deep sense of heaviness and despair that feels like mourning with and for the world. I want to say that a part of me doesn’t feel good enough, that this was a feeling I was born into, trained in, and encouraged to accept–that I do not remember experience before this. Read more
by Tenzin Palmo
Many years ago, His Holiness the Dalai Lama came to the remote Lahaul Valley in India where I was living. He was there for about one week, giving Dharma talks and empowerments. After one of his talks, which had lasted for several hours, I turned to one of the Lahauli women and asked, “Do you know what he was talking about?”
She said, “I didn’t catch much. But I understood that if we have a good heart, that’s excellent.” And that is basically it, isn’t it? But let’s explore just what we mean by a good heart. Read more
by Austin Channing Brown
Christians talk about love a lot. It’s one of our favorite words, especially when the topic is race.
If we could just learn to love one another …
Love trumps hate . . .
Love someone different from you today . . .
But I have found this love to be largely inconsequential. More often than not, my experience has been that whiteness sees love as a prize it is owed, rather than a moral obligation it must demonstrate. Love, for whiteness, dissolves into a demand for grace, for niceness, for endless patience—to keep everyone feeling comfortable while hearts are being changed. In this way, so-called love dodges any responsibility for action and waits for the great catalytic moment that finally spurs accountability. Read more
In Zen practice, the journey of awakening is placed within the metaphor of ascending the mountain and returning to the marketplace with bliss bestowing hands. While enlightenment was the culmination of Siddhartha’s search, it was also the beginning of another journey. His insight still had to be honed, tested, and communicated to the people around him. He didn’t ascend to heaven, or float away in nibbanic bliss, or have a jeweled crown placed on his head to be adored forevermore. This is a childish view, which some people attempt to live, manipulating the world and others to accommodate their spiritual narcissism and inflation, usually with dubious results. After awakening, even in small ways, we have the challenging task of living and demonstrating our understanding within the world. This includes the world of relationship, money, livelihood, including what we say and do, and more important, the consciousness we do it from. The other side of insight and the clarity we hone in meditation is the rather messy business of human life. Read more
Technology and Morality in the Age of Climate Change, Overpopulation, and Biodiversity Loss
by Richard Heinberg
Technology has grown with us, side by side, since the dawn of human society. Each time that we’ve turned to technology to solve a problem or make us more comfortable, we’ve been granted a solution. But it turns out that all of the gifts technology has bestowed on us have come with costs. And now we are facing some of our biggest challenges: climate change, overpopulation, and biodiversity loss. Naturally, we’ve turned to our longtime friend and ally—technology—to get us out of this mess. But are we asking too much this time? Read more
by Hanif Abdurraqib
When people squint at my name on something in front of them and then ask where I’m from, I tell them “Columbus, Ohio.” When they look again and then, perhaps more urgently, ask where my parents are from, I tell them “New York,” smiling more slightly. Occasionally, I’ll get a person who asks where their parents were from, and I humor that as well. No one has ever gone beyond two generations before me, but I look forward to the day where it all plays out: me in line at the bank, or at a deli, someone attempting to trace my lineage to a place they feel makes sense. Me, eventually saying, “Well, I’d imagine Africa came into play at some point, but now I’m here, so who can say really?” Read more
by Pema Chodron
The paramita of enthusiasm works like a miracle ingredient that brings eagerness to all we do. What the bodhisattva commits to isn’t a trivial matter. Without enthusiasm, we might push too hard or give up altogether. As the Zen master Suzuki Roshi put it: “What we’re doing here is so important we had better not take it too seriously!” The key is finding this balance between “not too tight” and “not too loose,” not too zealous or too laid-back. Read more
by Toni Morrison
Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind but wise. Or was it an old man? A guru, perhaps. Or a griot soothing restless children. I have heard this story, or one exactly like it, in the lore of several cultures.
Once upon a time there was an old woman. Blind. Wise.
In the version I know the woman is the daughter of slaves, black, American, and lives alone in a small house outside of town. Her reputation for wisdom is without peer and without question. Among her people she is both the law and its transgression. The honor she is paid and the awe in which she is held reach beyond her neighborhood to places far away; to the city where the intelligence of rural prophets is the source of much amusement. Read more
by David Abram
The blades of my paddle slice the smooth skin of the water, first on one side and then on the other: klishhh…kloshhh…klooshhh…kloshhh… The rhythm matches the quiet pace of my breathing as I rock gently from side to side, gliding over the gleaming expanse of sky; the luminous vault overhead mirrored perfectly in the glassy surface. Tall, snowcapped mountains rise from the perimeter of this broad sea, and also seem to descend into it. In front of me, to the west, are the peaks of the Alexander Archipelago, the long cluster of islands off the southeast coast of Alaska; behind me are the glacier-hung peaks of the coast range. The liquid speech of the paddle sounds against the backdrop of a silence so vast it rings in my ears. The sky arcs over this world like the interior of a huge unstruck bell; the hanging sun is its tongue. Read more
by Eihei Dogen
The miracles I am speaking of are the daily activities of buddhas, which they do not neglect to practice. There are six miracles [freedom from the six-sense desires], one miracle, going beyond miracles, and unsurpassable miracles. Miracles are practiced three thousand times morning and eight hundred times in the evening. Miracles arise simultaneously with buddhas but are not known by buddhas. Miracles disappear with buddhas but do not overwhelm buddhas. Read more