Offering Magazine http://offeringmagazine.org An Online Dharma Journal Thu, 24 Sep 2015 22:15:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Four Immeasurables by Anne Klein http://offeringmagazine.org/four-immeasurables-anne-klein/ http://offeringmagazine.org/four-immeasurables-anne-klein/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 10:40:41 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=437 ANNE KLEIN Buddhism teaches that there is no such thing as the self as we think we know it: a separate, bounded self, strictly cordoned off from what is “other.” When we are freed from the reactive patterns sprung from the boundaries we live by—good and bad; love and hate—we are not the self we […]

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ANNE KLEIN

Buddhism teaches that there is no such thing as the self as we think we know it: a separate, bounded self, strictly cordoned off from what is “other.” When we are freed from the reactive patterns sprung from the boundaries we live by—good and bad; love and hate—we are not the self we were before. And when the boundaries themselves dissolve, self as we understand it disappears.

Nyingma_Jigme_Lingpa

Jigme Lingpa

Buddhist tradition offers two central paths to disestablish our overwrought, constricting sense of self: enlightened love (bodhicitta) and enlightening wisdom (jnana). The four boundless qualities, enumerated in the early canon’s Mettanisamsa Sutta (SN 46.54) as the “four Brahma dwellings,” further both of them. These four boundless qualities, which literally have “no measure” (apramana), are equanimity (upekkha), love (metta), compassion (karuna), and joy (mudita). By dissolving the boundaries that constrain us, these four qualities expand our capacity for experience.

By practicing the four boundless states, we avoid the fate of T. S. Eliot’s poor Alfred Prufrock, who lamented, “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.” The ease of equanimity, the full-heartedness of love, the tenderness of compassion, the radiance of joy—these are things we don’t want in meager doses. Let us consider them one by one, with an emphasis on equanimity, as it provides the foundation for the other three.

The 4th-century Indian Buddhist philosopher Asanga speaks of two types of equanimity: a meditator’s own equanimity toward all beings and his or her wish that those beings develop equanimity. The former is limitless because equanimity can develop without end. The latter is limitless because beings are limitless. Longchen Rabjam (Longchenpa), the master Nyingma philosopher and practitioner of Dzogchen who wrote in 14th-century Tibet, taught both. A practitioner’s equanimity toward others, he writes, comes from recognizing that everyone seeks happiness.

Tsongkhapa, the revered founder of the Tibetan Gelug order, writing in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, defined equanimity as freedom from powerful reactions, positive or negative, to another person or an event—the ability to be even-minded toward everyone, no matter how they behave. Longchenpa and the 18th-century Nyingma treasure revealer Jigme Lingpa identify equanimity as the portal to two of the five Buddha wisdoms, the special knowing that characterizes fully developed Buddhahood. An antidote to pride, equanimity opens us to the first Buddha wisdom, the wisdom of sameness: this primordial knowing recognizes that everything is suffused by the same true nature—empty, stainless, and unchanging. Equanimity also relaxes the hard hold we have on things. As grasping eases, ignorance itself is undone. Now the practice of equanimity becomes a portal to the second Buddha wisdom, wisdom of the expansive reality known as the stainless real or basic space (dharmadhatu), the true home of everything, which Longchenpa equates with buddhanature.

 

In the Theravada tradition, the four Brahma dwellings are practices of concentration that culminate in equanimity, which is found only at the fourth level of concentration (jhana), when the mind has moved past the conceptualizing of the lower concentrations. In Mahayana, the four qualities are part of bodhicitta training and begin with equanimity. Just as one must flatten hilly ground to create a stable base for building, so, Tsongkhapa writes, is it vital to even out the mind’s attachment to some persons and disdain for others. Then love and compassion can develop without bias, standing tall and sturdy. Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa also instruct the beginner to start with equanimity. (The more seasoned practitioner is encouraged to order the four states in accordance with his or her experience.)

With equanimity as their base, the next three boundless states deepen our connection with others. Boundless love, in contrast to clinging and attachment, is the wish for everyone everywhere to have happiness and its causes. It banishes hatred. Love sees everything without distortion, and eventually transforms into the third Buddha wisdom, mirror-like wisdom, which sees everything clearly, just the way it is.

Boundless compassion, which is distinct from being overwhelmed by emotion, is the wish that everyone everywhere be free of pain and its causes. It banishes desire. Tsongkhapa teaches that compassion becomes wisdom when it recognizes the empty nature of those who are suffering. The understanding of cause and effect, according to Jigme Lingpa, gives rise to the all-discerning wisdom that effortlessly knows the details of everything. “Compassion is nothing but the glow and display of emptiness,” says Kangyur Rinpoche in his commentary on Jigme Lingpa’s Treasury of Precious Qualities.

Boundless joy, not to be mistaken for frenzied exultation, is delight in others’ happiness. It banishes jealousy and stabilizes our capacity for engagement. As such, it is a portal to the only remaining Buddha wisdom, the all-accomplishing wisdom that transforms intention into action.

Each boundless quality supports the balance of equanimity. Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa point out that meditation on love prevents the mind from getting stuck on any of the four states. If love-meditation deviates and furthers attachment, compassion frees us from this suffering. If meditation on compassion is deficient, leading us to feel mired in despair at others’ suffering, we turn attention to joy. If practicing joy incites an agitated yen for more joy, we focus on the great equanimity free of all attachment.

Recognition of our own harmful patterns and our wish to be free from them makes the prospect of cultivating any of these states at once alluring and daunting—daunting because our patterns, harmful though they may be, are at present thoroughly conflated with our sense of who we are. Cultivating each boundless state involves integrating body, mind, emotions, and energies to protect against unhealthy and distorted unbounded states—for example, allowing ourselves to be treated inappropriately by confusing defenselessness for the boundless states that are the goal of these practices. Effective practice proceeds slowly and with care. Gradually, our patterns lose their constricting power, and we live more expansively than before.

With practice—lots of practice!—of the four boundless states, our effort resolves into ease, the self-other divide resolves into wholeness, and ideas resolve into direct experience. The deep ease that practice makes possible furthers our capacity for clarity. What relaxes, ultimately, is the deeply entrenched sense of “being me,” the error that gives rise to all other errors. Freedom from the reactivity created by pride, ignorance, hatred, desire, and jealousy endows an ease of intimacy with our own feelings as well as those of others, and we can live our own stories even while engaging with theirs. No longer dividing the world into good and bad, love and hate, we not only have more freedom and ease in daily life; we also gain access to the wisdom of our real nature.

Anne C. Klein (Rigzin Drolma) is a professor of religious studies at Rice University and a founding director and resident teacher of Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Temple Center and Dawn Mountain Research Institute.

This article has been reprinted from Tricycle with the permission of the author.

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Two Poems by Sangye Dondrup http://offeringmagazine.org/two-poems-sangye-dondrup/ http://offeringmagazine.org/two-poems-sangye-dondrup/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:44:41 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=447 SANGYE DONDRUP     SPONTANEOUS VAJRA SONG The object of refuge is awareness itself; How amazing and inconceivable it is. How deluded it is to not notice it For its luster is never obscured. The view of wisdom is awareness itself; How empty and open, how pure it is. Let go of grasping at bodies and […]

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SANGYE DONDRUP

 

 

SPONTANEOUS VAJRA SONG

The object of refuge is awareness itself;
How amazing and inconceivable it is.
How deluded it is to not notice it
For its luster is never obscured.

The view of wisdom is awareness itself;
How empty and open, how pure it is.
Let go of grasping at bodies and lives
And even let go of awareness.

The method of practice is awareness itself;
How unoriginated, how effortless it is.
There is nothing to do, just let it be
And practice being ok with everything.

The sign of practice is awareness itself;
Never lost, yet seemingly regained it is.
When revealed, it’s boundlessly brilliant
And naturally manifests Buddhahood.

The nature of enlightenment is awareness itself;
Overflowing with blessings, how magnificent it is.
At death, you will not dissolve into darkness,
You will dissolve into light.

 

NON-MEDITATION ADVISE

When practice becomes non-practice,
Then non-practice becomes practice.

When meditation becomes non-meditation,
Then non-meditation becomes meditation.

When liberation becomes non-liberation,
Then non-liberation becomes liberation.

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My People by Carol Hoy http://offeringmagazine.org/carol-hoy-people/ http://offeringmagazine.org/carol-hoy-people/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:44:20 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=445 CAROL HOY QUESTION: Where do your people come from? ANSWER: My people come from a sense of “not knowing” which is open to discovery. They present themselves in surprising ways directly and spontaneously out of the medium and from my actions with the medium. I like them best when they are not preconceived but simply arise […]

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CAROL HOY

QUESTION: Where do your people come from?

ANSWER: My people come from a sense of “not knowing” which is open to discovery. They present themselves in surprising ways directly and spontaneously out of the medium and from my actions with the medium. I like them best when they are not preconceived but simply arise during the process of working with color and form through paint, wax,  and other mixed media. They can be delightful, mysterious, challenging, terrifying, inspiring, all aspects of my own mind. They serve as a mirror. What I finally discover via their appearance in my life is interdependence, fearlessness and love.

-Carol Hoy

11/15/2014

Forest Sage

“Forest Sage” (2012) 19.5 × 6.5 × 10″ encaustic and mixed media

Oracle in my Chest

“The Oracle in My Chest” (2012) 27 × 10 × 10″ encaustic and mixed media

Rishi Mask

“Rishi Mask” (2012) 27 × 9.5 × 8″ encaustic and mixed media on wood

“Windhorse Rider” (2012) 27.25 × 10.5 × 21" encaustic and mixed media

“Windhorse Rider” (2012) 27.25 × 10.5 × 21″ encaustic and mixed media

Click Thumbnail Below to See Full Image

Sleeping with Cats The Seer Dr. Bo Concern for Blue Planet The Cartographer's Dream Shaman In Her Cave The Arborist Baby Boy The Rain Maker The Bather Baby Creature of Darkness Map Maker The Fish Caller The Speaker The Cat Lover Her Dance The Gardener House Protector "Mer" The Escape Artist "Aria" The Map Maker The Storyteller Ancestor Walk Cat Saves Drowning Man The Wind Shape Shifter The Painter En Plein Air

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Handwritten Prayers: The Art of Lynn Hays http://offeringmagazine.org/art-lynn-hays-handwritten-prayers/ http://offeringmagazine.org/art-lynn-hays-handwritten-prayers/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:43:15 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=443 LYNN HAYS All the marks in my paintings are my handwritten prayers… For a long time the prayers were barely written, hinted at in the occasional decipherable letters & the palette was darkly neutral. I wrote my prayers, painted trompe l’oeil bones & spheres. Then I left behind everything except prayers. Muttered always as I […]

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LYNN HAYS

Lynn-cropAll the marks in my paintings are my handwritten prayers… For a long time the prayers were barely written, hinted at in the occasional decipherable letters & the palette was darkly neutral. I wrote my prayers, painted trompe l’oeil bones & spheres. Then I left behind everything except prayers. Muttered always as I work….written endlessly, layered, buried, illegible except as scribble…..not even language.

No longer relying on a recognizable object of bone or sphere I moved into only color. That led me to light. To trying to capture light in colors & shades & the vaguest of forms. Capture light like a fly in amber. That emptiness…. a peek into the luminous ground!

As I began to write them more fully, they became layered beyond legibility & the palette became more colorful & brighter…the pieces as formless as possible. As my prayers got brighter & bigger, the work got better. The prayers…sometimes with shapes carved into the mass of layers of words in shades of the brightest of colors…carried me thro the making of the paintings.

KapalaNow I’ve dropped even the written words…as if I’ve stepped inside the prayers…I’m painting the echoes of all those years of prayers.

Here the air is thick with them. The electric colors I am so increasingly & irresistibly drawn to seem to contain light. Intense colors of chartreuse, yellow, gold, saffron, rust, red, pink, blue. Colors with shades subdued or shady or sunlit bright. Peeking thro a crack, parting a veil…seeking the light & knowing it is my own mind which cannot see what is everywhere! The colors seem to hold the light of elements. The light of living organisms. The light of our world. Looking at the island around me, thinking in the words of prayers, recognizing the dreamlike world we live in, the rainbow light that leaks out of everything……it all seems to be light! We are made of stardust.

Lunis LullabyMy practice informs my painting. Over time the dharma has infused my daily life …so musing on the non-dual is ever on my mind. As my practice deepens it carries & supports my painting. As I write my prayers & make my aspirations day after day on canvases, the scope grows also… outgrows my small life, my tiny world, my reclusive self & with one foot in the microscopic world of xylem & phloem of life & the other foot grounding me as I stare at the cosmos of nebulae & constellations, my paintings become a reflection of my heart’s wanderings…..

PilgrimageI am fascinated at the way these encaustics lend themselves to chasing that light. Their depth & luminous quality allows me to capture – a moment, an inhalation, an exhalation, the gap between, a still moment between notes, reflection on water, an endless sky of clouds & rainbows, fire, inside plants, under water… Chasing the ineffable with such ephemeral materials – the combination is a compelling way to satisfy my creative urge.

Beyond your BeckoningThere is a freedom with the recognition of how impermanent the painting is as it travels thro the steps to become a finished piece. So many chances to lose it. So fortunate to bring it fully formed….the child I give birth to over & over…then release out into the world, secretly, quietly carrying my prayers.

The freedom comes in part because the process itself has the potential to reveal amazing jeweled aspects of a piece as I go. Putting pigment on knowing much of it will come off as I continue. The happy accidents create or solve problems along the way. The relics left….part of the journey….often the most interesting. I welcome & rely on this happening…& live in gratitude for it.

Fireflies in SamsaraThere are days followed by days when although I show up it seems I do no thing. But then one day I make a mark or remove a mark or begin a new piece or retrieve an old one & the work begins again.

Putting pigment on, a day or so later, taking most of it off…I wonder why, but can only follow where it takes me. What seemed like a good move one day doesn’t always stand the overnight test. It is difficult to know when pieces are done…when I’ve done all I can or should do. Step back.   Then do the finishing touches & hang it up & move on.

IMG_3243

IMG_3241

IMG_3251

IMG_3245It is only when a painting is finished & hanging on my wall, moved around over time to make room for others, or being headed for a show….then I see things I never thought of or noticed. I see the influence of my surroundings, the sea, water, cliffs, beaches, sky, forest & gardens, distant mountain ranges & more water & sky.

Birdsong madness…unraveling nests in space…wind rainstorms & hurricanes.

I see the memories of the trips of the mind & heart & the souvenirs.

The physical surroundings, the inner landscape both physical & emotional, the teachings all merge seamlessly.

It’s all there in my paintings.

Now it is 70 years of living in the strokes that make these paintings. Extreme emotions & sensual delights mixed with physical misery & decomposing…such is the life of a being.

IMG_3253

IMG_3239The whispering of dakinis as they say mantras, prayer flags muttering with the wind, water rushing over prayers carved into rocks, frozen whispers, the sound of dirt, inside green growing plants….these are the places my paintings are taking me now. It is ecstatic. The northwest mystic landscape,  inner & outer, is mysterious. Beckoning thro mist & deep ink green forests to waters edge & beyond…it feeds my creative heart. My practice walks with me into the studio & holds my brush while I’m there…my lamas abide there as well…so in the end…..these paintings are my offerings, my songs of gratitude to my lamas & for the dharma.

all that happens between & below gift from the east inside perfect golden storm

IMG_6617If I begin thinking about my painting or my paintings the thoughts jumble about….link up with each other not unlike the internet…not always reasonably, randomly, or happily. But at the end of my finally untangled skein of thoughts & thinking I come back to the present. Non-duality. Interconnectedness. Interdependence. Samsara. Practice. Prayer. That translates into: stop daydreaming & get back to work!

That freedom of time liberates my activity on the canvas. The willingness to engage endlessly in the back & forth – the foxtrot & tango of painting: a step ahead, a step back – repeat until painting is finished….no matter how long it takes.

There’s no way to skip stages…knowing that, I relax.

Click Thumbnail Below to See Full Image

Kapala Bone Portal bones of rebirth magnetizing lunis lullaby untitled pilgrimage suffused sea sand sky indigo cloud sphere IMG_3231 IMG_3226 green sea black lava fullness of her prayers murmuration of prayer swallowing darkness unraveling into the arms of night beyond your beckoning fireflies in samsara all that happens between & below gift from the east inside perfect golden storm IMG_6617

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Haibun by Mimi Maduro: A poem after Offering by Carol Hoy by Mimi Maduro http://offeringmagazine.org/haibun-mimi-maduro-poem-offering-carol-hoy/ http://offeringmagazine.org/haibun-mimi-maduro-poem-offering-carol-hoy/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:42:44 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=441 MIMI MADURO HAIBUN   after the painting “Offering” by Carol Hoy*     When I drew my bucket up, up, up from the well pebbles, clay, and soot sloshed in the water and began to settle.  Peering into the bucket I saw a shiny stone on the bottom, long and oval, lying flat against the […]

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MIMI MADURO

Offering-Issue-1

HAIBUN

 

after the painting Offering” by Carol Hoy*

 

 

When I drew my bucket up, up, up from the well

pebbles, clay, and soot sloshed in the water

and began to settle.  Peering into the bucket I saw

a shiny stone on the bottom, long and oval, lying flat

against the metal.  Markings appeared lifting a shape

from the stone’s surface:  a long, hunched nose, red lips,

and beseeching wild eyes that gazed back into mine.

This seeing revealed both the true and the familiar.

As we held our gaze the water stilled and I too,

stilled; a ripening.  Then we traded places.

 

 

setting off to sea

in a red boat

offering me to myself

 

 

 

–Mimi M. Maduro

January 1, 2015

 

 

* Bedazzled by Carol Hoy’s painting, “Offering,” in the premier issue, I wrote this ekphrastic poem. An ekphrastic poem is one that is inspired by a piece of art.  A haibun is a form combining prose and poetry that originated with the Japanese poet, Basho (1644-1694).

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Meet the Sangha: A Conversation with Beth Lee-Herbert on Practice, Retreat, Life and Distraction http://offeringmagazine.org/meet-sangha-conversation-beth-lee-herbert-practice-retreat-life-distraction/ http://offeringmagazine.org/meet-sangha-conversation-beth-lee-herbert-practice-retreat-life-distraction/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:41:12 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=439 Interview with BETH LEE-HERBERT by NINA SHILLING Nina—Beth, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview for our magazine.  I know through the grapevine that you completed a three-year retreat at Tara Mandala a couple of years ago.  I’ve been eager to find out from you how that came about and anything […]

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Interview with BETH LEE-HERBERT by NINA SHILLINGBeth

Nina—Beth, I want to thank you for agreeing to do this interview for our magazine.  I know through the grapevine that you completed a three-year retreat at Tara Mandala a couple of years ago.  I’ve been eager to find out from you how that came about and anything you’d like to share about the experience.  I’ve also been curious how your life has been evolving since then.

Beth—Actually, I stumbled into doing the three-year retreat.  I didn’t mean to do it.  When Rinpoche was here last I told him that I wanted to do a year-long retreat and he gave me big encouragement to do that.  I began what I had intended to be a year-long retreat in February 2009. Jampa Dorje (formerly Richard Denner) had begun a three-year retreat under Rinpoche about a month before I began. Rinpoche had given him instruction for his first year of retreat and said that when he returned the following year he would give him further guidance. Of course, that was the last year Rinpoche was able to come. At the same time Tulku Sangngak Rinpoche began teaching the Dzinpa Rangdrol cycle at Tara Mandala, so we both just jumped into that. The Dzinpa Rangdrol is a terma cycle of Do Khyentse closely linked to the Longchen Nyingthig. Tulku Sangngak Rinpoche was willing to teach us the whole cycle, and it gave me the purpose I needed to stay in retreat. It was kind of by mistake.  I hadn’t intended to spend three years in retreat! Actually, though, the tsa lung and Dzogchen practices of the Longchen Nyingthig and the Dzinpa Rangdrol are quite similar. Do Khyentse was the direct reincarnation of Jigme Lingpa, and there’s that whole Tibetan tradition of plagiarism being the highest compliment.

Nina—Beth, it strikes me as funny and incomprehensible that you say that you fell into your three years of retreat by mistake!

Beth—Yes it was completely a mistake.  I remember in the summer of 2005 when Rinpoche came to Tara Mandala, we did a sang to bless the land where the cabins for three-year retreat would be built.  I remember people being all excited about it and wanting to do three-year. I remember thinking that this had absolutely nothing to do with me, as there was no way that I would do long retreat.  There was zero possibility of that happening. Three and a half years later I was starting my retreat on that very spot.  My retreat hut was a five minute walk from the place Rinpoche had blessed.

Nina—(laughter) Wow.

Beth—It really made me believe in past lives.  I could see that it must have been karma from then, because doing that retreat wasn’t anything that I had intended in this life.  It was as though it had a momentum of its own.

Nina—That’s amazing.  Somehow I can’t imagine just falling into doing a three year retreat. But as you describe how it unfolded I do get a sense of what you mean. Since three year retreat is such an intensive structure, I’ve always wondered how it is for people when they get out and find themselves back in the world, how they are able to integrate the two experiences.

Beth—I’m still figuring it out, especially around work and practice.  I find it challenging dealing with my patterns around work, how I can get super-focused and diligent and not stay relaxed about my work.  Some days are better than others.  Retreat can be very challenging because you’re on your own and facing all the stuff that comes up with no way to distract yourself from it.  On the other hand, being out of retreat has its own kind of challenges.  For me the test is working on the computer and not getting lost in distraction, in that numb void of the internet.  It’s like a perpetual state of distraction.  They are like opposite worlds, one that brings you closer to yourself, and the other that tries to suck you further away.

In three-year retreat your whole life becomes retreat, your normal everyday life is only practice.  It’s a completely different paradigm than practicing in the world.  Integrating has been a long, slow process.  It’s harder to be in retreat because there is no escape, but it’s so frustrating to be back in the world and seeing the mind get so caught up and distracted.  Sometimes it seems endless.  Our culture is anti-Dharmic, creating things that are purposefully addictive to try to suck us into wasting our time, to base our happiness on what is external to ourselves.

Actually all spiritual practice is very challenging.  If you truly are changing, it’s really hard.

Nina—What ways have you found to integrate these two different kinds of worlds?

Beth—I’ve been trying to go back and forth between Dharma retreat and life.  Also, I like to keep my practice fresh and progressing, so getting new teachings, different perspectives on the same thing. And also just going with what comes up – working with whatever happens as the practice.

In the world, creative expression brings me close to Dharma—both creating and being exposed to other people’s creations.  Artistic and creative expression feel really close to Dharma somehow.

Nina—What in the arts does that for you?

Beth—I was a dancer before getting involved with the Dharma.  There are moments when you are so in your body, in the music, the movement.  You’re completely there.  It feels very much like Dharma practice.  Or a beautiful painting—it takes you to a transcendent place, similar to the Dharma.  It takes you out of your ordinary mind.  The blah, blah, blah can’t stick.

Nina—Actually, the idea for putting together this magazine came to me during a retreat. I imagined how rich and unifying it would be for us to share our journeys and our creative work with each other.  It occurred to me while Rinpoche was still coming back here every year.

Beth—I’m so grateful that you’ve put together this magazine.  It was wonderful to see it! In the past, Rinpoche came regularly and the mandala kept being pulled together every year. It’s so crucial for us now that we do not have that opportunity to find new ways to stick together as a Sangha.  It takes a lot of creative means and requires that we are the ones who manifest it.

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Poems by Lois Silverstein http://offeringmagazine.org/poems-lois-silverstein/ http://offeringmagazine.org/poems-lois-silverstein/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:40:01 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=435 LOIS SILVERSTEIN     THE SEED OF ME traveling the universe, along endless trails of garden stars and caverns of fir, through the warm tunnels of the body of my mother, and slime trails of the body of my father, unraveling arms, legs, head, heart, in the great span, genesis of heart and light for […]

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LOIS SILVERSTEIN

 

 

THE SEED OF ME

traveling the universe,
along endless trails of garden stars and caverns of fir,
through the warm tunnels of the body of my mother,
and slime trails of the body of my father,
unraveling arms, legs, head, heart, in the great span,

genesis of heart and light for a moment in matter fixed,
smacked by the hand of the universe,
dispersing us one after the other into canals of light,
lighting all around,

which is no more than the flying world is,
whose journey is no more than this instant
shattering and floating into the jelly
flowing endlessly,
a white incandescence bumping through dark,
inscribing I AM somewhere and then falling
into the steady stream
three or four million times —
I was a camel driver once
a camel
an oracle
a star
a speck of dust
a leaf in an ancient forest destroyed by fire
the fire —
which is with stars falling in and out
moving beyond the avenue of any heart
or sacrament or belief,
passenger in the many-passaged tunnel,
door in a sky streaming beyond any sky,
and even this myth which I add to all others in oblation,
my father your tree planted in my mother ground
leads me to shed my leaves again:
There is no time.

 

HOSANNAH SPEAKS

The beginning may not be at the beginning,
not at the beginning of the day or of the season or of the year.
It may not even be at the beginning of life.
The beginning may come anytime,
when we are sleeping, or walking, or chopping wood, or brushing a fly
from our ear.
The beginning may come when we make love or stare out of the window
at the snow falling.
It may come at night when we wake and wander through our rooms.
The beginning may have come long before we thought of what it was, this thing,
the beginning.
And so we need to listen,
listen with our ear to the ground,
listen until it gets clear enough,loud enough,
strong enough, close enough,
until it hangs so heavy that we cannot do anything
but hold it,
touch it,
smell it,
taste it,
that we cannot help but begin.
Begin, yes, beginning.
Listen.

 

BRIGHT SAILOR

Let me ride space with you.
Let me wander the great ball of sky
and grow inside the vast cone
wide, white and shining
(see how bright see how wide wider are together
hosannahs ringing everywhere).
Unwrap me.
Unfold and slide me through canals of light,
this infinity and the ones beyond.
Break me.
Let my tiny fragments pour into the universe
fine as sand
(Oh you take me where I want to go).
Grant peace as we make this passage
(endlessly going as we are)
Infinitely

 

RESOLVE

Ride the white horse
down the sable canyon.
Plant no flag.
Reach for nothing.
This is no way station,
there is no leader,
no map.
Only after millions of kalpas,
the heart may come alive,
housed in gold.

 

LOVELIGHT IN THE MORNING

We are the filaments;
do you know the fire?
Why rush away as if it were night
and a hard wind?
Out in the trees we stand it.
This house is like a hat:
Lift it off:
oceans, islands,
gardens of delicate birds,
maidenhair
like robes and crowns.

 

 

lois_2Lois Silverstein has been practicing Buddhism for 30 + years and understands it as both source and refuge, to guide her life. Lois writes poems and stories, novels and plays, as other ways to explore reality ‘as it is.’ She lives in Berkeley, does counseling for people who want to explore their own creativity and the depths of life as they experience it.

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Music by Emil Borgir http://offeringmagazine.org/music-emil-borgir/ http://offeringmagazine.org/music-emil-borgir/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:39:21 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=433 EMIL BORGIR     “I Am You-MP3″ from Acoustic Soul by Acoustic Soul.   “Rage Of The Sun” from Acoustic Soul by Acoustic Soul.    

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EMIL BORGIR

 

 

“I Am You-MP3″ from Acoustic Soul by Acoustic Soul.

 

“Rage Of The Sun” from Acoustic Soul by Acoustic Soul.

 

 

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Sojin: the Practice of Giving Life by Tai Vautier http://offeringmagazine.org/sojin-practice-giving-life/ http://offeringmagazine.org/sojin-practice-giving-life/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:36:03 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=431 TAI VAUTIER Sojin is a Tibetan word and means ‘to give life’. This is the name we gave our small animal liberation organization which came into existence under the guidance of Adzom Rinpoche. One of our main goals as a sangha based network is to raise funds so that we can help purchase animals that […]

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TAI VAUTIER

IMG_0239Sojin is a Tibetan word and means ‘to give life’. This is the name we gave our small animal liberation organization which came into existence under the guidance of Adzom Rinpoche. One of our main goals as a sangha based network is to raise funds so that we can help purchase animals that are destined for slaughter.  As a part of this effort we hope to have enough funds to make a sizeable donation each year to Jetsuma and Rinpoche’s great annual liberation of yaks and other animals from certain death. Inseparable from this is our target of bringing awareness to the plight of animals in the world.

From a very young age I’ve really had a great love of animals.  I would bring home all kinds of wounded creatures and try to nurse them back to health. Perhaps this is why Rinpoche seems to have targeted me to lead this organization.  I don’t know. When he last taught in Houston he asked me several times to oversee Sojin.  But it wasn’t my idea originally. Brooke Kemmerer initiated the coming together of this group and got several of us committed to participating and then brought the group before Rinpoche. I felt it was a worthy venture so I joined in. After our first meeting with Rinpoche he asked that I make sure Sojin becomes a reality. I probably was not aware of the importance he placed on this effort, so at his first request I answered, “Maybe.”!  He asked me a second time during Semtri and I responded, “I’ll think about it.” Finally, on his last day of teachings he stood up and before leaving the hall in front of everyone looked me straight in the eye and insisted, “You do this!” At that moment I really understood the importance of this organization and have been working on it ever since.

IMG_0515Over the last few years I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into making this organization a reality. Rinpoche was very clear that he wanted this organization to help rescue animals destined to be slaughtered, and secondly, that our sangha not eat meat. He told me personally that these two aspects are equally important and that if we aren’t immediately able to rescue animals at least we should absolutely refrain from eating them.

Since our little Sojin group came together in 2009 we have liberated thousands of small animals including crickets, worms, fish, crabs and shrimp. Rinpoche suggested we free as many animals as possible and that little animals are easy and important to free. Crickets can be purchased from pet stores and freed into fields.  It is easy to purchase worms from tackle stores and place them in healthy soil. On our website we discuss humane ways of freeing native species back into safe and harmless environments. This is important because it keeps us from inadvertently causing harm in our efforts to free animals. Rinpoche also talked about his wish for students to see slaughter houses and for us to really educate ourselves about the cruelty involved in eating store-bought meat.

Right now as part of Sojin one of the most important things we can do is to refrain from eating animal life. Rinpoche has repeatedly begged his Western students to take this practice very seriously. He has discussed at great length, that in terms of feelings, the only difference between animal life and human life is that humans have a more articulate language to express their experience. But other than this, in terms of the feelings themselves, we all share the same experience of cold, heat, thirst, loneliness, sadness, depression, fear and longing. Mother animals mourn for their babies when they are taken from them and babies get overwhelmed and scared when separated from their mothers, just as humans do.

The importance of not eating animals goes one step further when we take into account the intense cruelty that is practiced in factory farming. When I did research on slaughter houses, I found that these practices are beyond barbaric. These animals not only live in cages too small to move, but they are kicked, spit on, yelled at, physically tortured and emotionally abused their whole life long before they are ruthlessly slaughtered. This is sadly the reality inside many slaughter houses throughout the world. China is now passing off dolphin meat, dog meat and cat meat as beef. The world’s consumption and demand for meat is so intense that giant factory farms thousands of miles away are churning out hundreds of thousands of animals lives every day. By eating meat we directly help turn this wheel of suffering, and by not eating meat we step off that wheel.

IMG_0514Often facts about vegetarianism are skewed by the “food table” we learn in school. A great movie to watch that breaks down the myth of the “food table” is Forks over Knives. This film gives proof of the negative effects of having too much meat and dairy in our diet. (Did you know a  gorilla can grow big and strong from just eating greens. And that broccoli bite for bite has more protein than beef!)  Of course for us as humans, being a vegetarian includes many more options than just greens and broccoli.  If done properly, being a vegetarian can give you more than enough energy and increase the length of your life—and the lives of our four legged brothers and sisters, as the Dalai Lama would say! This is obviously good for everyone!

On the Sojin website I have the “Three Paths to Vegetarianism.” I guess this is my Gelukpa upbringing coming out! So the first path is gradual and gentle, reading the letter of a fellow sangha member, in this case our dear Nina Shilling, as she describes a practical way to transition from being a carnivore to a very healthy vegetarian. The second path is more forceful, watching Forks over Knives, an incredibly educational movie about the disastrous effects industry meat and dairy has on our health. The last path is like the instant path, for the brave and not easily swayed, a link to a slaughter house video showing the horrific abuse animals endure living in such places.  (These kinds of videos keep getting banned from YouTube so they are not easy to find.  We try to provide a link when we can but often these links get discontinued and don’t work.) Click here for one such video.  These are the exact tools I used to become a vegetarian.

Lastly, and most inspiring, once we refrain from eating our fellow travelers there are many things we can do to uplift them. Lama Zopa Rinpoche, with whom I grew up, has so many easy practices that help animals. The FPMT website has a wealth of resources for practices that benefit animals. On the Sojin site, www.sojin.org, are several links to these practices that can easily be done to help animals and the planet. One of my favorites is this one HERE.  So I encourage you to check out the different tools and suggestions on Sojin’s website!

Soon the Sojin site will have a donate button on the website’s “how to practice Sojin” page that is linked to our non-profit bank account. These funds will be allocated towards life release projects. In the near future we also will be offering hoodies and t-shirts that will not only help raise money for this project but also communicate a beautiful message to help advocate for animal life. We are in the process of designing these products and hope to have them available soon at our website.  In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to send a donation by check or money order to Sojin at 683 5th St., Lake Oswego, Oregon 97034!

Thank you,
Tai Vautier
Director of Sojin

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A Conversation with Surabhi Splain on Her Children’s Book, The Lotus Born for the Young at Heart http://offeringmagazine.org/conversation-surabhi-splain-childrens-book-lotus-born-young-heart/ http://offeringmagazine.org/conversation-surabhi-splain-childrens-book-lotus-born-young-heart/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:33:50 +0000 http://offeringmagazine.org/?p=429 Nina: Hi, Surabhi.  I’m glad we are getting a chance to speak with each other. When you sent me the watercolor illustrations for the book that you’re working on, I knew I had to interview you and find out where all this inspiration came from. I knew that you were writing a children’s book about […]

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SurabhiNina: Hi, Surabhi.  I’m glad we are getting a chance to speak with each other. When you sent me the watercolor illustrations for the book that you’re working on, I knew I had to interview you and find out where all this inspiration came from. I knew that you were writing a children’s book about the life of Guru Rinpoche. I’ve really been looking forward to this opportunity to talk with you about how that ever came about.

Surabhi:  I’m really happy too because it will help me to go back to my latest draft of my book. I usually give it a two-month incubation period, and then I go back and I revise it again. This is perfect timing for me.

Nina: Good.

Surabhi: Guru Rinpoche is manifesting in our dear teacher.  When I first got the inner message from Guru Rinpoche to write about his life it was perhaps 2004.

Nina: How did it come about?

Surabhi: During our evening practice, there was a thunderstorm. Linhai, the leader of our Sangha, had two little boys.  They ran downstairs interrupting our meditation to let us know they were really upset about the thunder and the lightning. We did what we could to calm them down and then we went right back to our practice. The next morning, during my meditation, Guru Rinpoche said, “You never even mentioned to the little boys that I control the elements and I control the lightning and the thunder. For this infraction, you will have to write a book for children about my life. “  I realized that I had missed the opportunity to give them a lesson about the power of Guru Rinpoche.

Nina: For real?

Surabhi: Yes. The feeling of inspiration to write a story of his life for children stayed with me so powerfully that I kept thinking, how is this going to happen?  Little by little, the threads started coming together.

Nina: I’m just delighted and amused and really amazed that this because I knew that I wanted to ask you how you ever thought to write this book, and it seems like didn’t. You never had to think to write it.

Surabhi: Exactly. It really just happened to me. When I get such intuitions as these, they become indelible and I can’t not listen. I realize now in hindsight, I actually have written 60 pages of a book and illustrated more than half of it.  It was not easy, to be frank with you, the inspiration didn’t always flow as I was writing it. It was really like just putting one foot in front of the other.  Occasionally I would say to Guru Rinpoche, “Where are you now that I am doing this work? Why are you abandoning me now? Why make me sweat ninety-nine and nine-tenths percent?

011 Ch 5 Pema in Graveyard

Nina: From the look of the pictures, it certainly doesn’t look like he abandoned you.

Surabhi: Yes, initially, I did a lot of research – reading every existing biography of  Guru Rinpoche that I could get my hands on.  After that my imagination took over to create imaginary characters to help tell the story.  As you know, I was inwardly directed to take a trip to Tibet and walk where Guru Rinpoche walked in Samye and in the mountain caves where he meditated.

Nina: Right. We have that in our first issue your story about Tibet.

Surabhi: Exactly.

Nina: It’s fabulous.

Surabhi: When I returned from Tibet at end of the summer, I continued my final research for several months.  I read every possible book on his life and realized there were contradictions. During that next summer I got permission from His Holiness Shenphen Dawa to do a personal retreat on Dudjom Rinpoche’s land for the purpose of going through all those versions and intuitively selecting my own story line. While I did this, in my imagination, I became a little fairy who told his story from her perspective.  Keep in mind that as a kindergarten teacher in a Waldorf School, I was writing with really young children in mind.  The elemental world of fairies and gnomes is very much alive in my early childhood wing of the school.  So I told Guru Rinpoche’s story from the point of view of a fairy who witnessed his birth in Lake Dhanakosha and who followed him on all his adventures. That’s how I did it during the first draft. It shifted since then.

Nina: Where is it at now?

Surabhi: Now, the fairy is still there, but I tell the story in the third person.  In this way, there is much dialogue between characters to make it easier to get a feeling for Guru Rinpoche being a real person with his own personality interacting with the other characters.  I felt like it was right to shift it. I think I was working with the children, too. After I made my draft, I actually had the opportunity to tell the afternoon children the story in my own words during their rest time.

Nina: That’s really a great opportunity—getting their feedback.

Surabhi: Yes, the children became my spontaneous editors.

Nina: An important thing. That’s fabulous.

Surabhi: They gave me enough feedback for me to make many changes. By the end of the year, around June, the children loved the Guru Rinpoche character, whom I called Pema. “We love Pema so much but you haven’t finished the last chapter and school has ended. This is our last class. Tomorrow, you have to give us all our own copy of the book.  It has to be all done for us!”  I had my doubts that I could manifest a finished book by the next day. I said, “That’s not quite going to happen by tomorrow.”

Nina: Wow.

Surabhi: They said, “It has to.  All you have to do is ask Pema to help you and it will be done.”  I was just blown away when they said that. They believed in the magic of Pema so strongly, that it moved me almost to tears.  The only thing I had to do is ask Pema and he could magically have the book in their hands by the next morning.

Nina: I love that.

Surabhi: It was just so fresh.  One little boy had taken it to heart so much that when he was out in the playground, he would be Pema. I heard them arguing because they all were trying to take roles. He said, “No, I’m Pema because I love him.”  I was really inspired by the faith of these children.

My plan for last summer was to illustrate the book. I was invited to go to Lestor Raymoor’s Red Barn Museum in Kansas which was arranged by a dear artist friend.  My job was to be in a museum all afternoon where tourists could see me working and they could come in and ask me any questions.

One day, a woman who was a reporter for the local newspaper called up the museum to say she wanted to interview me about my children’s book on Guru Rinpoche.  She had been intrigued by a previous article by the museum about my artist residency, and she began her own research on Guru Rinpoche in preparation for the interview. When she came and then I realized that this was a wonderful opportunity to share with the people in Kansas about Guru Rinpoche…

Nina: About Guru Rinpoche’s life.

Surabhi: And Vajrayana Buddhism. That’s what happened. She did an amazing job of writing that article.

Nina: My goodness.

Surabhi: She told me a story about a children’s author who loved a story that his father told him as a child, but when he was older he wanted to read the book for himself.  To his surprise the book was stilted and boring, and he realized that it was only his father’s retelling that enlivened it.  He immediately set out to rewrite the book to make it as colorful as his father had.  This began his writing career.   She said that when she researched Guru Rinpoche’s life, she did not find any versions that children would be able to enjoy.  She looked at me and she said, “It sounds like there were many versions of Guru Rinpoche’s life but there are not many for children. Your love for Guru Rinpoche will manifest a book that will touch children’s hearts.”  She inspired me.

Nina: That is a really great story to hear. I’m inspired just hearing it. In terms of your book, where to now? What do you see as the next step in your writing of it. Did you finish that last chapter for your students?

Surabhi: One boy insisted that I give him a copy of the book, so I said, “When you come back from your summer vacation in India, ask your mom to call me up and the book will be done and I will bring you the copy of it. I will show you the water color illustrations that I’ve done by then.” I got a phone call at the end of the summer. He said, “Okay, I’m ready to see your book”. I said, “Okay, I’m ready, too.” I brought him a copy of that draft.

There were also two other children who are my editors also.  They’re amazing children of a member of our Dorje Phurbha sangha. I love them very dearly. The younger girl was in my nursery school class years ago and now, since then she has grown up. She’s now 10 years old. I wrote a chapter of Guru Rinpoche and Emperor Ashoka for her older brother.  I gave them the draft of the book, and their mother read it to them every night. They would give comments to the mother and then the mother would call me. One comment was that at the end of the book, when Pema leaves and he goes off to the Copper-Colored Mountain, why doesn’t he speak? Why doesn’t he say a few things before he goes off? The book should end with him speaking.

Based on the comment, I did revise the book but I am still not quite satisfied with that dialogue. It just needs some tweaking to make it more penetrating for the young reader at the end. I just have to work on that, but those two children actually gave me great input for the book.

Nina: What’s wonderful is that you have actually been using the inspiration and the feedback that you’ve been getting from children to help to create the book which I think is really the best. I think that’s really is a crucial audience to have review your work.

Surabhi: The book has a lot to do with the fact that Guru Rinpoche was born on a lotus on a lake with the world of the elementals all around him. That is the thread that goes all the way to the book because when he was invited to Tibet, it was in order to help control the elementals who were giving resistance to Buddhism. Guru Rinpoche was a master of the elemental world and had the ability to befriend and charm the elementals into becoming Dharmapalas.

That, to me, is the thread. In 2008 Anne gave a lecture at Rubin Museum where she gave a scholarly account mentioning that the Tibetan culture is one with the elemental world. I thought, Wow, that’s perfect. That really goes right along with the book. I will keep on doing this book. She gave me great inspiration to keep going with this thought even though she doesn’t realize that she helped me in this way.

Nina: Wow. Now that I hear all of this, I feel that I definitely have to read the book.

Surabhi: It would be so helpful for me if someone who loves Guru Rinpoche would read my book and give me a critique, as I need to continue refining the book.  Then I could be sure that the right elements are going to be retained. I have already been eliminating whole chapters of the book that I loved for the sake of making it more readable. I need to have a stronger storyline. Much as I love certain passages, they may have to go. You have to do that, right?

Nina: I know. That’s absolutely true. I’ve had to do that in the Dharma children’s book that I’m writing. I’ve canned whole characters because I felt like they were not going to the point. I’m hoping that in our next issue that after your book is published and so on that you’ll give permission for us to reprint some of it in a future issue of the  magazine.

Surabhi: That would be great.

Nina: I want to thank you so much for taking all of this time to talk about your book. I look forward to finally figuring out which picture I like the best. It’s really been hard to choose. It will accompany this interview. Thank you so much. May our conversations continue!

 

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