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."

Monday, December 30, 2013

Gen-la Dekyong in Vacouver Jan 22-6

The Western Canada Dharma Celebration is next month in White Rock, B.C. Gen-la is also giving a public talk Thurs the 23rd at 7pm, and opening their Centre the day before that at 6pm.
Many of us from the Pacific NW are hoping to attend, and I expect there will be carpools if you need a ride from Seattle.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Busy Treating Side Effects

Just wanted you to know I am having a bunch of nuisance side effects that are familiar from previous rounds of chemo but take up a lot of my day, which is already shortened from ongoing fatigue.
If I don't post for a week or two, it's likely because I'm focused on treating the side effects and the side effects from treating the side effects. (My doctor thought the mouth infection was a side effect of the drug that in other ways prevents side effects - and has other beneficial qualities - although the infection can also be linked to my chemo drug. Samsaric medicine! Now that I am on a 4-week chemo schedule, rather than the 3 weeks out of 4 schedule I was on for a few years, I only take that drug for a week. One less thing to keep track of for the moment.)

If you are curious about my current days as a cancer patient, here are a few details.
For the Hand-Foot Syndrome, aka PPE (Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia), I'm supposed to ice my feet and hands 3x/day, and I am not supposed to walk or use my hands very much - which means I'm not supposed to do much typing!
Note that there is another hand-foot syndrome that's a side effect of a lot of chemos called "peripheral neuropathy," basically numbness, which can be serious. I've had that in a mild form on previous chemo drugs.

For the mouth infection (not a mouth sore, which is another potential side effect from this chemo, and which I did have a couple months ago), I am to ...
- gargle with warm salt water 4x/day
- gargle with a liquid medication 4x/day
- dissolve a pill under my tongue for half an hour 5x/day

Because my memory and brain have been affected by all the chemo, it takes some effort to keep track of all of this, and I use notes on paper.

Thankfully I don't have the ear infection or the bleeding nose that I had last round in addition to the mouth infection, so I don't need to take the antibiotic or apply the ointment.

What I am really grateful for, however, is Buddha, Dharma and Sangha - and that is you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Other Way to Purify

I think of this as coming from film noir when the cop says to the suspect, "We can do this the easy way or the hard way," but apparently that phrase is used all over the place ... including in this blog post, because that's the way I'm thinking about purification. The easier, pleasant way is to do Vajrasattva or 35 Confession Buddhas, or to dedicate any virtuous action with sincere regret to purifying our negative karma.
The harder way is to keep a happy mind while experiencing your negative karma ripening. If you get angry or annoyed or unhappy in some other way, you only create more bad karma.
So for the recent Vajrasattva Retreat at KMC WA, I did it the harder way. I had a lot of side effects of my chemo, including a mouth infection a (not the mouth sores I experienced in the past on this regimen) and an ear infection. I was expecting the same side effects I'd had previously on these drugs, but that isn't what happened. Surprise! It was also very samsaric that the treatments for the side effects spawned more side effects!
My day is already shorter than usual, because of the fatigue, and it seemed like I was spending 2/3 of it trying to take care of these effects. For example, taking this pill 5x/day, letting it dissolve in my mouth over 1/2 hour; that one 4x/day; this other one every 12 hours with food; plus this ointment 2x/day; gargling salt water, then gargling with this medicine and then not putting anything in my mouth for an hour or so ...). It took more than a week for things to start turning around.

As Geshe-la says in Meaningful to Behold (on page 238 of the current, 2007 edition):
"...once we realize that we always reap the fruit of our own actions, receiving good for good and evil for evil - we shall be able to remain inwardly peaceful and calm even in the most adverse circumstances. We can view the harm we receive with a sense of relief, seeing our pain as the repayment of a long-standing debt. This is certainly preferable to becoming angry and upset, which only incurs the future debt of more pain and anguish."
I find this analogy heartening because it feels so good to pay off a debt, and it helps me try to stay peaceful when I'm sick.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Another Benefit of Acceptance

We know that patient acceptance has many benefits, which we can read about in two of my favorite books, How to Solve Our Human Problems and Meaningful to Behold, among others. As Geshe-la says in How to Solve:
As long as we are in conflict with life's difficulties, thinking that things should be different from the way they are and blaming circumstances or other people for our unhappiness, we will never have the clarity or spaciousness of mind to see what is really binding us.

Not only does patience bring peace and joy and allow us a wider perspective that leads to wisdom. In my experience it also opens up space for the situation to shift. I'm remembering that I only found the neurosurgeon whose quick scheduling allowed me to go to Brazil Festival 2010 after I let go of the expectation I would make it; I did not, however, let go of the wish.
Yesterday a friend told a story about a similar huge shift. She's had a years-long complicated family challenge that kept spiraling downward. When she deeply accepted the situation, things started getting better for her whole family, even in medical and legal terms.
Another example was the one I described this week in the post Latest Health Update: I Am Good. It was only after I accepted seeing her colleague that I got an appointment with Dr V.

My rough mind has an image: a small truck on narrow street, like many R & I saw in Spain, heading downhill. There is literally no space to turn around until you get to a widening.
I also think of it as giving my Dharma Protector more space to work with, and certainly you can explain it in terms of karma, which after all is an explanation for everything. It's also an emptiness teaching, showing a direct relationship between your state of mind and what you experience.

In the past I would have spent more time contemplating this, to try to have a better analysis, but now I'm just throwing it out there. Would love to hear what you think.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Latest Health Update: I Am Good

That is, my body is good : ) Last week I came down with a cold: cough, sore throat, additional fatigue, general feeling of lousiness. Then it seemed to develop into a head cold, with that fuzzy-headed feeling. As time went on, though, I developed uncertainty about whether the stuff in my head might be something more serious. I also fell inexplicably, off a level curb onto the level street, as I was headed to my car. I came within a foot or two of bashing my head into my bumper, but fortunately that didn't happen. I was shaken up and puzzled. A fall can be a warning sign of a brain tumor, and I was having some other symptoms, including headaches, which I don't have very often. In fact, on Tuesday morning when I woke up, I had what felt like the same headache, in the same place, as the one that lead to the diagnosis of my brain metastasis. I'll admit I was scared: My joke was that "it was all in my head," hoping that meant it was psychosomatic rather than tumor. My worst fear in terms of cancer is something malign in my head that isn't treatable. I know my brain is part of my body, but am not confident I am a strong enough practitioner for my mind to overcome damage to my brain. It makes me think about the relationship between the brain and the mind.

Wednesday I got an MRI scan of brain , and Dr K called after 8 that evening to tell me to see my radiation oncology, Dr V, to interpret the results. I was initially relieved that there wasn't a tumor, but then realized it could be something worse, like the diffuse leptomeningeal disease the docs discovered in 2011 in my brain a few months after the tumor. Dr V's the one who gave me the targeted brain radiation (cyberknife) after my brain surgery in 2010 and designed the whole-brain radiation to treat the leptomeningeal stuff. She spent a lot of time with us, narrating various slides of my brain MRI, not just the most recent one, but the one before that, plus the ones in 2010 and 2011. Dr V also went over the written report word by word. Her expert conclusion was that my brain is fine. Nothing on any of the MRI to be concerned about. It was so reassuring.

Getting a same-day appointment with her is another story of an obstacle removed by my kind Protector Buddha. I really needed an appointment that day to find out what was going on, but when I called her office, I was told she wasn't in the office until Monday. She had a colleague I could see, however. I must have sounded disappointed, because then the scheduler said, "hold on a minute," and on return said, "Can you get out to Issaquah? She's working there today." You bet! Not only is Dr V highly regarded as a doctor (I think she oversaw the radiation treatments for my neurosurgon, Dr Foltz, who she said would go from a cyberknife treatment to the OR.), but she is a warm human being: She gave me a hug when she arrived and gave both of us hugs when she left.

Also had a CT of my abdomen, which is stable, showing just 2 very small tumors that keep getting smaller, in places that aren't dangerous. Also bloodwork was fine.

I still need to fill you in on installment 3, but also need to catch up with my life, such as figuring out the health-insurance thing.

By right now I gotta run ...

A Good Look at Samsara

When I had a recent health scare (story to come), I realized another way I want to deal with adversity: not just to welcome it, but to thank it for being there, showing honestly the face of samsara, rather than the mask, which fools me into thinking there's some real pleasure here. I don't want to hang out in this impure world. I don't want temporary pleasures to hook me into believing they're what's going to make my life happy.
It's fine to enjoy a tasty meal or a fabulous song, but the danger to is that we naturally get addicted to them, thinking more is even better, and pursue them to the exclusion of meditation, which does take a bit more effort, like walking uphill, rather than following the easy downward trail. 
Buddha taught the middle way, not the ascetic way. We learn ways of transforming what would otherwise be indulgences into something  meaningful.
For example, yesterday after I got the good report about my medical condition, R and I were enjoying some delicious spinach mo-mos (Tibetan dumplings), sitting at our dining table in the sun, and we had to remind each other not to be deceived.
Of course, we know we can offer that enjoyment to Guru Buddha at our heart, and that's become a regular practice, because it's so enjoyable. Isn't it great that joy is considered a power? It helps us sustain our spiritual life. I love hearing about ways to make it fun, like pretending you're just an actor, and the whole world is a set.
Send me your favorite way to make your practice fun, and I'll post the collection here.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Down with a Cold

Just to let you know I have a cough, sore throat, foggy head, fatigue ... so the next installment is likely to be delayed for a few more days.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Looking Back, Part 2

For the purposes of this post I’m going to refer to our heroine by her first initial, M, because if you pronounce  it in a certain incorrect way, it can sound like the verb “am,” to be. But how be she? How does she exist?
Her name can be useful. For example, many of your have heard the joke I often use when I introduce myself with my nickname, Mimi, because it sounds like someone pretty obsessessed with themselves: Pronounced as “me, me” and spelled with two I’s, it’s a reminder of self-cherishing. Gen-la Dekyong told me that when I realized the practice of Exchanging Self with Other, they would have to call me “you-you,” but for now the name is all too fitting.
It’s also funny that M’s so-called “real name,” given by her parents and recognized by the legal system, begins with the letters “mere,” so even her true name is a reminder that it is mere name – made up, a complete fiction, like everything about her and the rest of the world.

OK, continuing the tale of M’s cancer adventures, telling a story about how she be in a more conventional way.

In June she had her usual 3-month CT scan to see how the chemo was working, and the results were ambiguous: The doctors couldn’t say for sure if the couple of small spots still in her abdomen were tumors, or just some kind of benign scarring or remnant of some kind. (By the way, regular CTs remind me of Groundhog Day: If you see a shadow on the ground/scan, you get another 6 weeks of winter/3 months of chemo. Like G Day, the CT test isn’t foolproof.) Her body was feeling pretty good and M was very optimistic about her path to remission, maybe even being there already. Mostly she was continually grateful for having access to this promising drug and the chance to serve others by participating in a scientific study.
To get additional data about those spots, arrangements were made to get a PET scan in July. A PET’s a more expensive test that shows metabolic uptake, so it can distinguish tumors from other tissue, and insurance doesn’t like to pay for them, part of the reason for the month delay. My very experienced doctor also had a sense they were tumors and thought another month of chemo would clinch matters. Again I felt quite confident that it would show that any small malign bits were gone, and I’d be finished with chemo, at least for a while (this cancer tending to be chronic, until you really purify).

Then in late June, my beloved neurosurgeon died. Greg Foltz was the amazing doctor who did the brain surgery that allowed M to make it to the Brazil Festival at the last moment. Many of you have heard that story.

Here’s how it started, based on my post at the time, Gone to My Head:
“Yesterday afternoon I had a post-op visit with my oncologist, where mostly we talked about which chemo to do and when to start it. At the end I mentioned [almost as an aside, not thinking much of it] that every morning I wake up with a headache over my right eye, in the middle of my eyebrow, which goes away when I take 2 Tylenol. I rarely get headaches, so it was notable that I've had one every day for the last 2 weeks. He didn't think it was anything but recommended I get a CT scan just to be sure, but right away, late on a Friday afternoon. When the CT specialist read the scan, he sent me right back to my doctor, who had stayed late in his office after everyone else went home, because the CT showed that I had a metastatic tumor in my brain, which is very unusual for ovarian cancer - it tends to hang around the stomach. … My oncologist thinks I should cancel the trip to Brazil. ...”

That wonderful oncologist, Dr D, who picked up on such a small clue, was the one who also did my initial surgery in April, 2009. My primary doctor, who I love, thought so highly of him she said that if she had my symptoms, he would be her choice; not to go to anyone else; and even in this fairly urgent situation, if I had to wait for an appointment, it was worth being patient. Who are these people?
Important for you and your loved ones: Know that cancer can be deceptive. The amount of pain is often not an indication of a symptom’s seriousness. I know of too many people with terrible migraines, for example: excruciating pain, but not a tumor. Or of a friend of a friend who was never sick in his life; he had a mild pain in his back and was dead from cancer within the month. If something’s going on, get it checked out.

I switched oncologists from Dr D to my beloved Dr K when Dr D’s highly regarded referral neurologist wasn’t able to operate on me in time for me to go to Brazil. I tried finding another neurosurgeon but kept running into obstacles, such as the one I only learned after three conversations with his scheduler was out of town for a week.
 A friend (another one who repeatedly acts as an emanation) connected me with Dr K. I got an immediate appointment with him at the very end of the day, at the end of which, after hours, he phoned his friend Dr Foltz, who gave me a 9am appointment the following morning.
Dr F clearly explained the situation and patiently anwered my long list of questions. He said that he could operate on my head the next morning, which would give me the couple of days of recovery I needed to be fit to fly, but didn’t push me into it, saying I could back out at any time and not be preventing someone else from a needed operation. But there was no way I was going to back out. I had great confidence in him and his co-surgeon, a young woman who was technically a PA I think but a highly competent doctor herself, who he treated like his right arm, as well as the rest of the staff I’d encountered at the Brain Institute.
Besides, it was only brain surgery. That’s a little joke, but both neurosurgeons told me that if you insist on having a tumor in your head, that’s the place to have it, in the “spare tire” of the cerebellum, close to the edge where it's easy to get at. Also ask for an "encapsulated" tumor confined in its own borders.

I’ve had this kind of interesting mixed karma throughout this experience: not great to have cancer but if you’re going to have cancer, have it in this way, with emanations at every step. It’s been incredible.
Although I wouldn’t wish disease – or any kind of suffering – on anyone, I know a lot of patients who say cancer’s the best thing that ever happened to them. Another reason for this blog is to allay fear, by documenting a particular person's actual experience, because the prospect of cancer often represents for people the worst thing that could happen. Education helps. I like that my cancer center has a banner that says, “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” I certainly don’t mean to underplay how serious and difficult it can be, but there are all kinds of awful suffering in samara, and with Buddha’s teachings we have ways of “composting” them into fertilizer for growing the realizations that are going to permanently end those troubles.

At the follow-up a couple days after surgery, we asked many more questions about whether it was wise for me to travel all the way to South America, because some friends and family thought I was crazy to think about going. You do not want to get on a plane with a brain tumor – it will probably kill you – but I learned that once it’s been removed and your body has a few days to recover, it’s fine. The only conditions Dr F gave forced me to become a bit of a princess: Clean pillowcase every other night, wash hair with filtered water, to prevent an infection in the scar in a country that might not have the cleanest water. I have fond memories of my Sangha giving me a kind of salon treatment under the water filters outside on the Temple grounds.

I don’t have words for how incredible it was to make it to that Festival. At one point, when despite my efforts I couldn’t find a good doctor who would be able to operate in time, I did let go and acknowledge I most likely wasn’t going to make the trip, leaving it in Dorje Shugden’s hands. As I like to say, “He’s the best travel agent.” He did something similar with another Festival I didn’t think I’d make it to because of my health, Geshe-la’s 2009 Summer Festival. All accommodations within a space shuttle’s drive of Manjushri had been booked for a year it seemed, but our Protector got me a deluxe room at the very last minute. It was another sitation where I was calling around trying to find anyplace that would take me, and having another one of those Sangha emanations suggest a place.

It was shocking to lose Dr Foltz. You don’t expect your doctor to die before you, particularly if they’re younger, and he was about my age. It was a reminder of a Medicine Buddha teaching about how even conventional doctors, though potentially very beneficial for a particular malady, aren’t ultimate sources of refuge because even they get sick and die. M thought of him as a key part of her healing team, and knew that if anything suspicious every showed up in one of her routine brain MRIs, she would go back to him.
His death was a much bigger loss, not just for all his patients, but also his family (he left behind a wife and 2 kids), his colleagues, friends and community. Reading tributes to him, the word  “compassionate” came up repeatedly. He was a Julliard-trained concert pianist, but when a friend died of cancer, he switched to medicine, becoming a highly competent surgeon and researcher, as well as the head of the tumor board at my cancer center.
Here's a link to one of his obituaries.
I didn't intend to make these new posts into a cliff-hanger - I thought I could get us at least to that turning point in July - but this is all M can do for now. Stay tuned for the next installment

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Looking Back, Part 1

But first an apology …
I am sorry to have been remiss in updating this blog. Some friends would ask me to write something, and I kept meaning to, thinking I’d get to it soon. Most of us know how that goes, to some degree, but this was particularly bad. I’d especially like to apologize to those who were concerned about my health because they’re not in my area and don’t see me in person, and this blog was how they were following my condition. The last thing I wanted to do was worry anyone, when one purpose of writing this was to do the opposite.
It’s worse in this case, because part of me knows I should have just thrown up a quick post giving the shortest of updates, but I was sure I’d be able to do a better one if I just waited a day or two. (In general I’m not a perfectionist – and in my practice try to do the next best thing when I can’t do what’s ideal; but that is a subject for another post.)
Time sped ahead, as it tends to do, slipping quickly into the future, more even quickly than we realize. (Another reminder to get a move on, along the spiritual path, because time is short. As our class just heard from Shantideva, “This is no time to sleep, you fool!”)
I view my slowness in getting around to writing an update as a version of the secondary Bodhisattva downfall of not replying to others. Will keep trying to purify that: Good thing our annual Vajrasattva Retreat starts next Saturday!

In my defense I will say that because of the fatigue, my main side effect on chemo over these last few years, my days are shorter, and I often don’t get to the important things I want to do. Plus, since February any blogging energy I had went into the Portugal Travel Tips blog, which was easier for me to do because it was just putting together information, rather than trying to write more thoughtfully. Thinking has also been more difficult, another side effect of the chemo. For example, it would take me three times as long to write a dedication for Offering to the Spiritual Guide as it used to. Memory too takes a hit.
You’ve probably heard cancer patients talk about “chemo brain,” which I like to mispronounce as “chemo blame,” an all-purpose excuse for faults whether they’re really related to treatment or not. But I’m kidding, because the trick is to acknowledge there are these potential effects without letting yourself off the hook, as though you’re just along for the ride – the complete opposite of the Buddhist approach.
When last we heard from our heroine (and that is correct as lowercase, except in her imagination – but she is on her way to the enlightenment that will merit the uppercase “Heroine,” as are all of us Bodhisattvas; thank you for keeping me company and providing support along the way), she had miraculously qualified for a clinical trial that gave her access to an experimental drug. That probably isn’t technically correct: I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Buddhist use the word “miracle,” but maybe I can get away with “miraculous,” as in extraordinary, as in emanated by the Buddhas.

By the way, I’m back on Dex, the corticosteroid that has often accompanied me on these adventures. I’ve been on and off, and at varying dosages, this drug that helps alleviate side effects but also increases appetite – with subsequent weight gain – and causes insomnia, a tendency to obsessiveness (people are known to stay up all night cleaning), talkativeness, but also gives energy. When I meditate, the monkey mind is much stronger, so I have to use a tighter leash. 
It’s another one of those phenomena I get to see closer up being on different drugs, trying to balance an understanding of what’s happening without using it as an excuse to give in.
So, like everything in samsara, at best a mixed bag. But thought I’d warn you because my writing – obviously a reflection of my mind – is likely to go off on tangents, and have trouble getting back to the main road – if I don’t keep an eye on the map.
Where were we? Yes, recapping her Buddhist cancer adventure …
Last October she started on this treatment that combined 2 traditional chemo drugs that she knew well with a promising new drug that was said to be especially effective for her genetic profile. She learned about it when she had a tumor wander to her brain, which isn’t the usual scenario for her cancer but indicated that she probably had this mutation, and that there were some new drugs that worked especially well for those carriers. Another one of  those mixed bags: You don’t want a mutation that tends to cause cancer or one that tends to cause cancer to go to your brain, but if you do have it, there are drugs that work better for you than for other patients.
But I was told repeatedly by doctors and nurses that I almost certainly wouldn’t qualify for a clinical trial, the only way to have access to that drug, particularly an early-phase trial like this one, because all the chemo I’d already had or the brain metastasis would rule me out, pharmaceutical companies understandably wanting the most promising patients so that the drug can move forward to approval. So it amazed even my doctor that I qualified for the trial. Not at all ordinary.

Another aside: It’s kinda fun, and interesting to write in yourself in the 3rd person. I’ve never thought of this before in terms of writing, but it seems useful as another way of looking at the emptiness of our self. We commonly, instinctively, think of ourself in the 1st person, as me or I. So what happens when we put ourself into a character of she or he? It’s a bit like becoming That Mountain, looking back at This Mountain. You see yourself from the outside, as others might view you, but of course everyone’s view is different.
Notice how hard it is, because she keeps slipping into  writing in the “I” mode… Anyway, something else to think about it, that might deserve its own post at some point.
Speaking of characters, something else I’d like to write more about some time is playing around in meditation break with imagining myself as an actor, seeing the environment as a set, hearing others speak the lines I’ve written for them …. Simply projections, an unreality.

The clinical trial was going well, with the tumors shrinking and the side effects mild, until a turning point came in June. …

Sorry but I need to stop for now. In the past, I would have just saved this as a draft and made it better, but I am trying to follow my own advice here that often something is better than nothing.
Blogs are serial by nature, so maybe this serialization is fitting.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Doing the Opposite

Here's a wisdom nugget for opposing your self-cherishing from Gen Zopa of Victoria, via Gen Chöma, from last weekend's wonderful Post Fall Festival Retreat in Seattle she led: Whatever you want to do, do the opposite. Occasionally what you want to do and what is good for you will coincide, but usually this is challenging. I've been trying it out, and it's a good way for me to see my selfishness in action.
To lighten it a bit, here's a joke: During a retreat break, I wandered into the kitchen where some kind-hearted Sangha were making coffee. What's the opposite of the coffee you want? Um ... decaf??

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prayers for PaulA

Please pray for Paul, whose cancer has returned.
Most grateful,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Happy Buddha's Enlightenment Day!

A cause for great happiness! A powerful day for making prayers and doing good!
As it says on the webpage: "April 15th marks the anniversary of Buddha Shakyamuni demonstrating the attainment of enlightenment in 589 B.C.E. This is an extremely important day in the Buddhist calendar because our actions are 100,000 times more powerful than on other days. ..."
I rejoice in everyone's virtue who is taking precepts and especially those of you doing the challenging practice of fasting and purifying called Nyungnay, making many prostrations to the Buddha of Compassion, 1,000-Armed Avalokiteshvara. I prostrate to you.
Thank you, Buddha, for teaching us how to get rid of suffering and become completely happy.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Prayers for JohnP

Please make strong prayers for JohnP, one of our dear Sangha in Seattle. He has two forms of cancer but is keeping a very positive mind.
Thank you very much.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Portugal Festival Tips

I've created another blog that collects info from various sources, including Sangha, about things like safety & health tips, things to see, vegetarian restaurants, etc.
It has similar features as this one: labels to filter topics by interest, search and email signup.

Let me know if you have any suggestions about what else to cover.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Self-Cherishing as a Spy

Self-cherishing is like a spy in that we think it's working for us, when actually it's working for our worst enemy.
A spy is extremely deceptive, taking on an assumed identity.
Or a double-agent. As is a common plot in thrillers, there is suspicion that there's a mole within a spy agency, and the hero has to determine the truth. We are that hero. It's hard to detect a spy unless you do a lot of investigating, with "intelligence" (wisdom). Once you discover a spy, you want to root it out.

As Geshe-la says about self-grasping in Meaningful to Behold, in the section Delusions Bring Infinite Suffering:
If there is a group of people and one amongst them is subversive, when the other members realize who he is and what he is up to, they will waste no time in expelling him. Similarly, if we recognize the root delusion of self-grasping for that it is - our most dangerous enemy - we shall make every possible effort to eradicate it from our mind. It is not right to be complacent with such an enemy in our midst.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cherishing Others -> Less Grasping

Hello. Yes, it has been a while - but except for a week in January when I was sick, not because of any health problems - just been busy with other projects. There's no shortage of material. So I will wade back in again, with a short post.

This is probably perfectly obvious to all of you, and I knew it to a small degree, but the connection between cherishing others and grasping less struck me strongly last night. I was reflecting on how I'd spent my day and trying to assess what was beneficial, what was less so. There was a situation where I'd talked to a friend to gain wisdom about an area I didn't know much about, so that I could pass it along to another friend (as she knew I was going to do). Had there been tension in my mind? Unhappiness? Frustration? etc. I couldn't detect very much, and it occurred to me that I was more relaxed about it than I might have been if the conversation had been about me. Of course, there's still grasping - at my friends, at the situation, and so so. But because I'd largely taken myself out of the picture, there was less grasping.

What a relief! I look forward to experiencing more and more of that in the future, until I am completely released and then can release others.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Prayer Request for a Different Paul

Please keep Paul from Long Island in your prayers.

Great News about Paul A.

I am so happy to pass along this excellent news about Paul, the Resident Teacher in Edinburgh and the former cook for Tharpaland Retreat Centre. It's amazing!
Thank you all so much for your prayers. As you can see, they definitely work, sometimes very quickly.

"Some of you will already know but I thought you might like a synopsis of the results Paul got from the surgeon yesterday.  Basically it is the best news possible (though as you know with cancer it is many years before they give you the full all clear). The surgeon was very pleased. He stressed that the cancer had been very large at 5 cm, but that they had successfully removed it and hadn't found any nodules on his lungs. They did x-rays yesterday and his lungs are fully re-inflated and in their view everything is okay. They are not going to give him  chemotherapy. So that is that!!  As is normal he is to return for 3 monthly check ups for the next while.

Now he waits to hear from the doctor who is dealing with his brain tumour to find out what, if anything, more they intend to do. He is down to 2 mg of steroids a day. And he is slowly regaining some strength and energy. We are on midterm break right now but he has been teaching FP and GP in the centre and going out for regular walks."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Portugal Festival Website

In case you didn't see this, there 's a new website for the Fall Festival in Portugal with Geshe-la, which has lots of info about accommodations, etc. Deciding where you want to stay looks a bit complicated, so you may want to read it beforehand.

Note that registration opens Feb 25, but no time is specified yet.

Prayers for Ven Tharchin

A request from Tharpaland, and from me:

Gen Tharchin has had another fall last night and has broken his other hip. He is being well cared for in hospital and is having an operation tomorrow, Wednesday.

Please make strong prayers and dedications for a successful operation and for Gen Tharchin's full and speedy recovery.