Wednesday, May 25, 2016


At the Corner Store - Alison Luterman

He was a new old man behind the counter, skinny, brown and eager.
He greeted me like a long-lost daughter,
as if we both came from the same world,
someplace warmer and more gracious than this cold city.

I was thirsty and alone. Sick at heart, grief-soiled
   and his face lit up as if I were his prodigal daughter 

coming back to the freezer bins in front of the register
which were still and always filled
with the same old Cable Car ice cream sandwiches and cheap frozen greens.
Back to the knobs of beef and packages of hotdogs,
these familiar shelves strung with potato chips and corn chips,
Stacked – up beer boxes and immortal Jim Beam.

I lumbered to the case and bought my precious bottled water
and he returned my change, beaming
as if I were the bright new buds on the just-bursting-open 
    cherry trees,
as if I were everything beautiful struggling to grow,
and he was blessing me as he handed me my dime

over the counter and the plastic tub of red licorice 

This old man who didn’t speak English
beamed out love to me in the iron week after my mother’s 
so that when I emerged from his store

    my whole cock-eyed life  -
    what a beautiful failure ! -
glowed gold like a sunset after rain.

   Frustrated city dogs were yelping in their yards,
mad with passion behind their chain-link fences,
   and in the driveway of a peeling-paint house
   a woman and a girl danced to contagious reggae.

Praise Allah!  Jah!  The Buddha!  Kwan Yin,
Jesus, Mary, and even jealous old Jehovah!

For eyes, hands
 of the divine, everywhere.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How did I miss this book?

I heard about this book on a Dharma Punx retreat: Awakening Through Love which came out in 2007. I went back and looked at my 141 posts I did in 2007 and found a lot of dead links I need to tighten up. The illusion is that the internet is impermanent. It is not.

The author is supposedly the Dharma heir to Lama Surya Das, John Markansky. He's a professor at Boston College.

The quote that got me to begin blogging about this book is as follows: "how can we make a world safer if we ourselves are not a stable port of safety." (p. 4)

It got me thinking about a book a supervisor suggested to me about couples therapy: The Intimate Enemy, which is out of print but you can find a $4 used copy on Amazon at the moment. (They say it's $.01 but there's $3.99 shipping and handling so the cheapest used book you can get on Amazon is $4).

I've been looking for a book on the brahma viharas ever since I went on my first week long retreat. I often say I'm trying to get back there. It blew my mind.

Putting brahma viharas into Amazon I found one 47 page introduction that costs $2.99 by an IT and media professor. Might check it out later. Also I found a page of talks on Free Buddhist Audio. Guess that is what I'll be falling asleep to for the next few weeks.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Coming June 14th

I always get a little excited when I read these words. I chant them in my pujas. This is a photograph from the book Radical Dharma. Amazon has it coming out June 14th. I found the sharing of experience about race, sexuality and America fascinating.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


I found this draft from a while ago: Oct. 28 2011

Learning about Satyagraha, the opera by Philip Glass, in preparation for attending it at the Met soon. I'm listening to it now.

Here's from Wikipedia:

"The title of the opera refers to Gandhi's concept of non-violent resistance to injustice, Satyagraha, and the text, from the Bhagavad Gita, is sung in the original Sanskrit."

Satyagraha means insistance on truth, a cool concept.

I can't believe it came out it premiered in '80. Feels very fresh to me.

From Glass' site, I learned:

The first two acts each contain three scenes; the last is one continuous scene. Each act is dominated by a single historic figure (non-singing role) overlooking the action from above: the Indian poet Ravindranath Tagore in Act I the Russian author Leo Tolstoy in Act II, the American Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr in Act III.

And that there's apparently a DVD.

my mala

I found this in my drafts for 2014

My partner gave me an awesome mala a while ago.

I've used the mala to do mantras.

My son did an Our Father on my mala the other day.

Rev. angel Kyodo Williams' Warrior-Spirit Prayer of Awakening

Rev. angel Kyodo Williams' Warrior-Spirit Prayer of Awakening:

May all beings be granted with the strength, determination and wisdom to extinguish anger and reject violence as a way.

May all suffering cease and may I seek, find and fully realize the love and compassion that already lives within me and allow them to inspire and permeate my every action.

May I exercise the precious gift of choice and the power to change that which makes me uniquely human and is the only true path to liberation.

My I swiftly reach complete, effortless freedom so that my fearless, unhindered action be a benefit to all.

May I lead the life of a warrior.

(From Radical Dharma p.93-94)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Radical Dharma

I have long noticed that the Dharma seems to be for white people. From posting lyrics to quotes from Ta-Nehisi Coastes to quotes from Thanassara. If we are to go to enlightenment with all, we need to invite all the voices to be heard. My lack of awareness is part of my spiritual bypassing. Brushing aside the racial discussion by saying "I'm color blind," is to invalidate people's experiences where people were not color blind. Whites are quick to disavow racism and blacks often comfort them in their anxiety. I think increasing the anxiety is needed. I have heard deeply disturbing stories. A cursory reading of AA literature will make one understand not everyone's circumstances are the same and the color of one's skin can change that equation.

Started reading this book: Radical Dharma. I have always hoped for a plurality of American voices in the Dharma world. I have not read William's book Being Black. Radical Dharma is an anthology of essays with Lama Rod Owens and Jasmine Syedullah.

In the blurbs on the first pages, Sharon Salzberg reports she doesn't agree with everything said in the book. I suppose I see it as a report of experience, so it's hard to say it's not true. I had a bit of a reaction to "White Dharma". It's hard to imagine following the breath as racist, but the white capitalist patriarchy we live in is a context to the breath so why not? Can I follow black Dharma? The answer to me is no, because that's not my experience. I can bypass less. I grow by learning about other's experience.

I'm not sure how "radical" the Dharma is in this book, to include black voices, but I am also reluctant to quibble with a person's word choices to express their experience. Maybe it gets radical further in. I think the Dharma is pretty radical on it's own. That Ms. Syedullah has gained racial consciousness in meditation seems like a good thing. These three authors fleshing out their thoughts seems a productive and useful contribution. I'm more inclined to think "long overdue".

Only 25 pages in, I like the phrase "homeleaving". It flows better than "going forth". I realized today that again the challenges of parenthood are challenging me to change and adapt.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Long Time No Blog


First off, I finished Great Faith, Great Wisdom. Excellent book. Didn't know what to say about it, so I guess I didn't blog. I could have blogged along the way. Many interesting ideas and history and ways of looking at practice. Been falling asleep to the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra every night.

Second I went to visit Zen Mountain Monastery. Did a little tour they were kind enough to take me on. It's quite an impressive facility. Had a really good feeling there. Interesting stories, and community, friendly.

Third I went on a Dharma Punx retreat at Garrison Institute. Also been listening to Josh Korda since falling asleep since then. The retreat was also led by Jessica Morey who started Inward Bound. I hope to send my sons on a retreat at some point.

Fourth, I got some time to read on retreat, and I have been gobbling up The Life of the Buddha by Bhikkhu Nanamoli. Did you know the Buddha could touch his ears with his tongue? The whole 32 marks thing doesn't make sense to me, but there was a lot that I really liked reading this book. Hope to finish it soon.

Finally I'm looking at my rupas, tankas and images of the Buddha a lot as I carry my baby around, and I say mantras to her. I also read