NOTES FROM A TIDEPOOL : Mindfulness & Compassion

SAN FRANCISCO – Dr Lewis Thomas once compared the scientific community to a tidepool. Science progresses when a naturalist explores the entire pool, perimeter, depths, and nooks and crannies, and discerns particular groupings and connections amongst the various lifeforms – the organisms, in this analogy, standing for scientists and also their research papers. Such spirit of advance was the nature of MINDFULNESS & COMPASSION : The Art & Science of Contemplative Practice. As quietly as the fog rolling in, and as… Read more

A Zen Monk’s Letter to Adam Lanza

Dear Reader ————— What if you wrote a letter to Adam Lanza : what might you say ? Here’s one, from a young man who grew up at 22 Lake Road, Newtown, Connecticut. Born Douglas Bachman, he’s now a Buddhist monk, named Phap Luu, teaching applied ethics and the art of mindful living to students and school teachers. He lives in Plum Village Monastery, in Thenac, France.     Dear Adam, Let me start by saying that I wish for you… Read more

Step Into the Clouds

Juggling bricks? The Practice: Step into the cloud. Why? I had a lightbulb moment recently: I was feeling stressed about all the stuff I had to do (you probably know the feeling). After this went on for a while, I stepped back and kind of watched my mind, and could see that I was thinking of these various tasks as things, like big rocks that were rolling down a hill toward me and which needed to be handled, lifted, moved,… Read more

Hold Wants Lightly

What do you want? The Practice: Hold wants lightly. Why? Getting caught up in wanting – wanting both to get what’s pleasant and to avoid what’s unpleasant – is a major source of suffering and harm for oneself and others. First, a lot of what we want to get comes with a big price tag – such as that second cupcake, constant stimulation via TV and websites, lashing out in anger, intoxication, over-working, or manipulating others to get approval or… Read more

OPEN LETTER : Taking a Stand Against Islamaphobia

BOSTON / LOS ANGELES — This Open Letter comes to us via Joshua Eaton, a journalist writing about Buddhism, religion and politics, poverty, and the American South. He is also a Tibetan translator. Also, Rev. Danny Fisher, a professor and Coordinator of the Buddhist Chaplaincy Department at University of the West (and no stranger to Patheos) collaborated on it in key ways. The letter’s motivated by recent news reports, as well as a long-standing, deep-rooted sense of social justice. This… Read more

Drop Tart Tone

Feeling a little sour? The Practice: Drop tart tone. Why? Tone matters. I remember times I felt frazzled or aggravated and then said something with an edge to it that just wasn’t necessary or useful. Sometimes it was the words themselves: such as absolutes like “never” or always,” or over-the-top phrases like “you’re such a flake” or “that was stupid.” More often it was the intonation in my voice, a harsh vibe or look, interrupting, or a certain intensity in… Read more

Lower the Pressure

Is it truly urgent? The Practice: Lower the pressure. Why? Things come at us with so much urgency and demand these days. Phones ring, texts buzz, emails pile up, new balls have to be juggled, work days lengthen and move into evenings and weekends, traffic gets denser, financial demands feel like a knife at the neck, ads and news clamor for attention, push push push PUSH. On top of these external pressures, we deal with internal ones as well. These… Read more

See Beings Not Bodies

What happens when you look at someone? The Practice: See beings, not bodies. Why? When we encounter someone, usually the mind automatically slots the person into a category: man, woman, your friend Tom, the kid next door, etc. Watch this happen in your own mind as you meet or talk with a co-worker, salesclerk, or family member. In effect, the mind summarizes and simplifies tons of details into a single thing – a human thing to be sure, but one with… Read more

Receive Generosity

Do you accept the gift? The Practice: Receive generosity. Why? Life gives to each one of us in so many ways. For starters, there’s the bounty of the senses – including chocolate chip cookies, jasmine, sunsets, wind singing through pine trees, and just getting your back scratched. What does life give you? Consider the kindness of friends and family, made more tangible during a holiday season, but of course continuing throughout the year. Or the giving of the people whose… Read more

Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

What’s the most important thing? The Practice: Keep your eyes on the prize. Why? Have you heard this saying? The most important thing is to remember the most important thing. What are the most important things to you? In your life as a whole? During a particular interaction with someone? Right this minute? The most important things often get pushed to the sidelines. Urgent crowds out important. Modern life is full of distracting clamor, from text messages and emails to… Read more


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