In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My dog has cancer

Dear Sangha Friends,
Our dear dog Sara has advanced cancer, but she is still acting like herself: eating with gusto, resting with less gusto, staring at us to tell us she wants to go for a walk.
Surgery isn't a possibility, and chemo probably wouldn't help, so she is on palliative care at home with us.
There was no prognosis, but it seems like it may be a matter of weeks.
Please make prayers.
Thank you.
R & M

P.S. Today is Tara Day. I am planning to attend the puja, in part to make requests for Sara to Mother Tara.

Friday, November 6, 2015

ModBu & You

I was wondering how others combined their daily lives with Kadampa Buddhism.
If you want to reply to me, I could post the compilation here.
It also seems like a good subject for Sangha conversations.

OK, I'll start.
* Washing dishes, mentally reciting Vajrasattva's mantra and thinking that I am also purifying my mind. It's a form of cherishing others too, because R appreciates it when I take care of them.
* Weeding the yard, imagining I'm pulling up my delusions, and I try to get at the root of both; pruning, I try to think about cutting back the thorn bush of my delusions so that I can get at the root.
Occasionally when doing yardwork, listening to teachings on my iPod, and I plan to do that more often.
Also listening teachings when walking around the neighborhood.
* Driving I recite Dorje Shugden mantras to protect especially pedestrians and bicyclists as well as motor vehicles.
Also giving food bars to those asking for help at a highway on- or off-ramp). If I'm out of those bars, I dig for change or at least smile and wave, trying to remember to wish them real freedom and happiness. I like to combine those actions with something I heard that James G did when making a small donation or such: "Just as I am giving this [item] to you now, to create a connection, in the future may I can give you Dharma teachings."
* Resting on the couch practicing either taking (such as the sufferings of a particular homeless person or family I've seen recently, often one of the Real Change vendors I know) or, when I'm even more tired, rejoicing (which I like to spell reJOYcing) in things like a kindness I've read about in the news that day.
* At the chemo center or hospital, feeling compassion for all the suffering there, especially for those without a spiritual practice, and strengthening my resolve to release them. Then I try to expand the scope of beings, not forgetting the hungry ghosts or the gods. It's stronger when I can think of specific types, such as famous but envious movie stars.

I really like the idea of finding more and more ways to practice Dharma in all parts of my life, with the aim of making every moment meaningful.

One of the many features of our tradition I love is how practical it is, in so many ways. (If I had more time and energy, I'd list some, but you'll need to do that for yourself until I get around to it.) That practicality is the main thing I emphasize when someone asks me how Kadampa Buddhism is different from other schools. Gen-la Dekyong wisely advised the Seattle Sangha not to compare ours to other versions, but simply to talk about its distinctive good qualities.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Vajrasattva in My Life

I had the great good fortune to attend Fall Festival in France. It was so good I don’t think even French has a word for it – it was beyond magnifique, suprême, extraordinaire …
The empowerment felt deeply powerful (again words fall short), the teachings so very profound. We learned to purify not just negativities, obstructions and downfalls, but also ordinary appearances and conceptions! For the memory-impaired like me, those last two get grouped under obstructions.

But one of the key points that keeps returning is, “I need to purify.” That means me, myself, the person known as “Mimi,” (the name itself reminding me who we’re talking about).

In the last teaching at Fall Fest, we were given specific examples of how we can integrate purification into our daily life, one of the hallmarks of Kadampa Buddhism’s practicality.

You probably know that the options for dealing with negative karma are either to clear them out with purification practice, or to face their results, suffering in one of its multitude of forms. If you don’t get angry when there’s some adversity, mild or major, those ripened potentials will be purified. However,  habitually we get disturbed, irritated, annoyed, rageful … which just repeats the process. 

Sunday at the Temple I had a mild but dramatic experience of an eruption of my negative karma.
* To imagine what happened, pretend that you’re a female human, who of course comes with a female plumbing system (which my mom always cited as proof that God was a man).
Fill up a gallon jug at least halfway with water, although to really get the effect it should be a more impure substance. Thankfully I’m not talking about the other end of the plumbing system.
Head to a bathroom with the jug and start to get into position to release the liquid in your system, represented by the jug.
Before you’ve completely lowered your lower garment, start pouring the jug into your garment and around the toilet. A few moments later, more of the water will go where you intend, but a lot of it will have soaked those clothes. Continue pouring until the jug is empty.

My mind was calm, undoubtedly boosted by the weekend’s teachings, but also disappointed that I couldn’t attend Offering to the Spiritual Guide at the Temple, on Je Tsongkhapa Day, as planned, instead heading home to take a shower (which I think can be transformed into a purification practice if you use the four powers).

For perspective, it’s not that I haven’t experienced some mild, ongoing urinary incontinence, as apparently isn’t unusual for a woman my age (now 52, going on 82), probably exacerbated by cancer/chemo. But this was definitely “over the top.”

Update: As planned, I re-started chemo on Friday (delayed by the trip to France that my oncologist kindly supported). I’m back to the same drug I was on when my doctor stopped treatment in mid-June so that my body, especially my brain, could recover a bit from all the surgery, radiation and chemo I’ve had over 6+ years – on and off treatment but mostly on. That drug, “Gemzar,” mainly had fatigue as a side effect and was effective at reducing my tumors, so I am hopeful that will continue.

Yesterday I got the results of my cancer marker, which has leaped to the triple digits – not as bad as the quadruple digits at diagnosis, but far above the middle double digits I’ve had for years. Prayers appreciated.

* Pee S. Don’t try this at home.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The end of ...

At the Rocky Mt Retreat, Kadam Lucy read us this well known quotation about impermanence by Gungtang Rinpoche:

The end of collection is dispersion.
The end of rising is falling.
The end of meeting is parting.
The end of birth is death.
After that session, when we were headed to lunch, some of us came up with a few variations:
The end of drinking is peeing.
The end of eating is defecating.
Sorry if that's too crude for you, but it is true. It might help cut through an attachment to food and/or drink, or help in developing renunciation.

Today, I found myself thinking:
The end of cleaning is ...
Well, it seems there is no end of cleaning : )
Or you could say the end of cleaning is "more cleaning."

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Downtown Denver Center!

P.S. Speaking of Kadampa Meditation Center Colorado, there will be a kind of opening of their new location, in the heart of Denver, in October sometime. Check it out!

Rocky Mt Mahamudra Retreat

And HUM!

Hard to describe how rich & deep the retreat was in mere words.
"Out of this world" keeps coming up as an approximation. It was a retreat to a much better world, in my mind.
Having spent such a peaceful time there on retreat, it continues to make me want to be at my heart, to make it my home, to dwell there. And to hang out with my Guru there.
So many blessings, wisdom blessings, that gave me many small insights. Those tiny sprouts of realizations were handed to  me - I did nothing except set up the conditions where they could be revealed, and listened to the supreme Mahamudra teachings and perfect meditation guidance of Kadam Lucy, a true Meditation Master. She highlighted a few meditations on clarity, which in the past I found hard to understand; experiences of it are even better than knowledge. I continually felt the power of a group meditating together.

To find out what it was like, you really must try it yourself.
For years, I've liked the idea that the Buddhas keep sending us postcards saying, "Wish you were here," as we do when we're on an especially lovely vacation. Meaning, for example, you can't describe how tantalizing, creative and sublime the food you've tasted has been - friends can only get an idea of it by trying it themselves.

This is the 2nd year R & I have been able to do the long-weekend KMC Colorado Mahamudra Retreat at Pingree Park. A photo is worth how many words? They at least convey another dimension.


For more photos, see the nice slideshow on PP's website.

The good news is that KMC CO has already reserved the same venue for next year, at the end of August. It sold out this year, so don't hold off registering.

And the food was good ; )

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Working on Another Comeback

I am still on a break from chemo, having had a "stable" brain MRI a couple of weeks ago. Over the last 2 months off chemo, I've noticed improvements in my brain, such as better memory (a small notebook helps with that too). I also have more mental energy to be able to work on more than one project a day (whoo hoo - amazing, huh?). After a bigger day, I know I'll need to take off the next one. I continue to hope & pray that this improvement continues, until at some point I'll be back on chemo. Probably that will be the same chemo I was on, which didn't have too many side effects, but did add to the cumulative effects of chemo over 6+ years. That chemo, called Gemzar, was helping, but it didn't put me in remission - I'm only off chemo because my oncologist recognized I needed a break. I expect that when I'm on chemo again, in the next month or two or three, it will cause a bit more "brain damage", as one of my MDs called it. But my brain will be starting from a higher place.