Mar 28, 2009

see you in the dark

Today, Saturday, March 28, lights out from 8:30 to 9:30pm., and we'll be together again.

The light of our mindfulness will shine, and it shall be not Plum Village, but "Plum World"...

To learn more please refer to:

Mar 25, 2009

both sides, now

this post is dedicated to my dear friends Matthias Hammerl, my best dj, and Arnold Novak, dear Dharma brother -- this song has never been as beautiful as when in Plum Village Arnold sang it and Ed played it on the guitar, never so simple and sweet -- the version to be heard here is by Joni Mitchell herself, recorded a few years ago.
Thank you for the love, joy and support -- Happy Continuation!

to watch the video of this version, please go to:

photo: ocean moon ©lakewentworth; to see more:

Mar 22, 2009

may I be a bed for all who wish to rest

May I be a protector for those without one,
A guide for all travelers on the way;
May I be a bridge, a boat and a ship
For all who wish to cross (the water).

May I be an island for those who seek one,
And a lamp for those desiring light,
May I be a bed for all who wish to rest
And a slave for all who want a slave.

May I be a wishing jewel, a magic vase,
Powerful mantras and great medicine,
May I become a wish-fulfilling tree
And a cow of plenty for the world.

Just like space
And the great elements such as earth,
May I always support the lives
Of all the boundless creatures.

And until they pass away from pain,
May I also be the source of life
For all the realms of varied beings
That reach unto the ends of space.


excerpt from Chapter III – Full Acceptance of the Awakening of the Mind, in A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, translated by Stephen Batchelor, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, 1979/2007

Mar 18, 2009


If we have been trying for years to attach our hose to this or that faucet, and each time have discovered that it wasn’t enough, there will come a moment of profound discouragement. We begin to sense that the problem is not our failure to connect with something out there, but that nothing external can ever satisfy the thirst. This is when we are more likely to begin a serious practice. This can be an awful moment – to realize that nothing is ever going to satisfy. Perhaps we have a good job, a good relationship or family, yet we’re still thirsty – and it dawns on us that nothing really can fulfill our demands. We may even realize that changing our life – rearranging the furniture – isn’t going to work, either. That moment of despair is in fact a blessing, the real beginning.


Christians call this realization the “dark night of the soul”. We’ve worn out everything we can do, and we don’t see what to do next. And so we suffer. Though it feels miserable at the time, that suffering is the turning point. Practice brings us to such fruitful suffering, and helps us stay with it. When we do, at some point the suffering begins to transform itself, an the water begins to flow. In order for that to happen, however, all of our pretty dreams about life and practice have to go, including the belief that good practice – or indeed, anything at all – should make us happy. The promise that is never kept is based on belief systems, personally centered thoughts that keep us stuck and thirsty. We have thousands of them. It’s impossible to eliminate them all; we don’t live long enough for that. Practice does not require that we get rid of them, but simply that we see through them and recognize them as empty, as invalid.


It’s useful to review our belief systems in this way, because there’s always one that we don’t see. In each belief system we hide a promise. As for Zen practice: the only promise we count upon is that when we make up to our lives, we’ll be freer persons. If we wake up to the way we see life and deal with it, we will slowly be freer – not necessarily happier or better, but freer.

Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special – Living Zen (HarperCollins, 1993)

Mar 14, 2009

our fellow-servant

This transient flower,
if we bring all our heart
in contemplating it
is our fellow-servant
in Buddha’s abode

Jien (Jichin-daikasho, 1155-1225), A Hundred Poems on the Essential Texts of the Lotus Sutra, as translated into English by Jean-Noel Robert

photo ©Chikache; to see more from this wonderful set of photos please refer to:

Mar 11, 2009

the key is to wake up

It is as if we had looked around to find out what would be the greatest wealth that we could possibly possess in order to lead a decent, good, completely fulfilling, energetic, inspired life, and found it all right here.

Being satisfied with what we already have is a magical golden key to being alive in a full, unrestricted, and inspired way. One of the major obstacles to what is traditionally called enlightenment is resentment, feeling cheated, holding a grudge about who you are, where you are, what you are. This is why we talk so much about making friends with ourselves, because, for some reason or other, we don’t feel that kind of satisfaction in a full and complete way. Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have. Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, and therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our basic wonderfulness. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing. The key is to wake up, to become more alert, more inquisitive and curious about ourselves.

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape (Shambala Publications, Boston/London, 2001)

Illustration: Wake up! ©Ed Boxall, to see more from this artist please refer to:

Mar 7, 2009

do not pretend

Master Linji, Teaching 7

The master came into the Dharma Hall and said, “Someone is standing on a towering peak alone. There is no path from the peak. Someone else is standing at the crossroads but cannot advance. Of these two, who will come first and who after? Do not pretend to be Vimalakirti or play the role of the great master Fu. Farewell.”

Commentary on this teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh:

We’ve all been in this situation. It’s very dangerous when there’s no place to advance or retreat. We might feel as if we’re going to die. There is no way out and we’re frozen. How do we survive? The Master warns us not to be like Master Fu or Vimalakirti, two very eloquent lay Buddhist practitioners. He warns us no to try and talk or think our way out of our predicament.

So how do we escape? We can’t. all we can do in the situation is surrender and be in the moment completely without trying to pretend we know the way out. In this contradiction, we find the truth. Once we surrender to the situation, we see the path. Where before we were caught, now we are liberated.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Nothing to do, Nowhere to go - Waking up to who you are, Parallax Press, 2007

Illustration: painting by Caspar David Friedrich - Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1817-18, Oil on canvas, 94,8 x 74,8 cm,
Kunsthalle, Hamburg; to see more paintings by Caspar David Friedrich please check:

Mar 5, 2009

the more he loves

He is with his love the way a child is with his ball in front of a wall. He throws his utterance, the ball of radiant utterance, the I-love-you rolled up on itself; he throws it against a wall that is separated from him by the distance of all the days he has left to live. Then he waits for the ball to bounce back. He throws thousands of balls. None of them ever comes back. He continues, always smiling: the game is its own reward, love is its own answer.

Well, yes, he does say a bit more. He says: I love you and I am sorry to love you so little, to love you so badly, to not know how to love you. The closer he gets to the light, the more he discovers himself full of shadows. The more he loves, the more he recognizes himself as unworthy of loving. The fact is, there is no progress in love, no perfection that one might someday attain. No love is adult, mature, and reasonable. In relation to love there are only children – there is only a spirit of childhood that is abandon, carefreeness, a spirit of letting go of spirit. Age adds up. Experience accumulates. Reason constructs. The spirit of childhood is always new, always starts afresh at the beginning of the world, with the first steps of love. The man of reason is an accumulated man, a heaped-up man, a constructed man. The man of childhood is the contrary of a man added on to himself: a man subtracted from himself, continually reborn in every birth of everything. He is an imbecile playing ball. Or a saint talking to his God. Or both at the same time.

Christian Bobin
, The secret of Saint Francis of Assisi (Shambala Publications, 1997)