September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion

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Emaciated Buddha figure, Spirit Rock

The ascetic Buddha

Back at the end of July, I was an assistant teacher on a nine-day retreat at Spirit Rock, together with a friend and fellow teacher-trainee, DaRa Williams.  One day, as we walked from the teacher housing to the meditation hall, I happened to notice a solitary Buddha figure set among some bushes on the hillside behind our cottages.  Unlike the other Buddhas at Spirit Rock, this one was tucked almost out of view.  There was no path to it, no clearing around it, and no place to sit nearby, but perhaps because of that, I felt compelled to go and take a closer look.

So I scrambled up a slight hill through the dry grass and discovered that the figure was what’s known as an “ascetic Buddha.”   These images depict a phase in the life of Siddhārtha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, before his Awakening, when he was practising extreme austerities such as sleeping on beds of nails, and eating very little food – hence the skeletal look in the image above.  Continue reading “September 2016 full moon – wisdom and (self) compassion”

January 2015 full moon – resolution and determination

“The days and nights are relentlessly passing; how well am I spending my time?” (A question that the Buddha advised practitioners to contemplate frequently) 2015.  Each year this changing-of-the-calendar-numbers seems to arrive a little more quickly.  Each year, it seems that somehow there is less TIME … and so at first reading, the above reflection can seem to reinforce a sense of time-poverty: having too much to do, and not enough … Continue reading January 2015 full moon – resolution and determination

July 2014 full moon – Hatred never ceases by hatred …

          Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law. quoted in “The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times” by Pema Chödrön 2001 Hatred never ends through hatred.  By non-hatred alone does it end.  This is an ancient truth. The Dhammapada: Teachings of the Buddha translated from … Continue reading July 2014 full moon – Hatred never ceases by hatred …

Brene Brown on shame, vulnerability and compassion

Australian echidna not enjoying having its photo taken Recently I’ve offered a couple of retreats and courses exploring the theme of “Transforming Poison into Medicine – working with the mind’s difficult energies.”   That phrase about “poison and medicine” was borrowed from a chapter in a book by Pema Chodron, an American nun in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition who has written many inspiring books about transmuting … Continue reading Brene Brown on shame, vulnerability and compassion

Welcoming the New Year

Greetings from snowy Massachusetts! I intended to write this post a few days ago, but I’ve been under the weather with a combination of jet lag, a head cold, AND a gastro bug. So I wasn’t exactly the life of the party on New Year’s Eve, but being forced to take time out has given me the chance to reflect on this transition from one … Continue reading Welcoming the New Year