A discussion of many diverse topics within the realm of Alternative Medicine and Healthy Living, some of which include: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, Eastern Nutrition, Pulse Diagnosis, Psychology and Bodymind Medicine, Aromatherapy, Philosophy, Spirituality, Buddhism, Meditation and Family.
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The YSL is off to an ambitious start; which makes sense as everything in my life is ambitious to some degree: busy acupuncture practice, thriving family with three children; PhD program; etc.
So, what did I actually accomplish:
1. I have committed to watching a minimum of one hour of my PhD dvd lectures while taking detailed notes at least 2 nights per week after the kids go to sleep. I have been able to achieve this thus far and have been doing so 4 nights per week.
2. I have committed to a more diligent practice of Chen taijiquan. I have continued to take weekly classes, driving into NYC every Sunday morning. And each night (more like 5 nights per week) I spend approximately 1/2 hour practicing my forms after studying. It's been a great way to unwind from the less than perfect posture of watching dvds on a laptop computer.
3. More time with family: I have made a concerted effort to spend more uninterrupted time with my kids (without checking the phone, emails, etc.). I have spent Tues and Fri afternoons with the family as I finish with patients early on those days. I have taken the kids bowling, away for the weekend and have taken my son out of his kindergarten wrap around program to spend more time with him. (We are also in the process of organizing a plan to homeschool. Yes, more ambitious. I'm sure this will spur some more blogposts soon.) My lunch break has been more playtime than worktime.
4. While I have not been able to take any additional classes in Tibetan medicine as my translator is not available and Rinpoche is travelling, I have been continuing my Medicine Buddha practice.
5. As January deals with learning, I also read The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. An excellent book (which also ties in my tai ji practice). See it here.
6. Publishing articles and video lectures: No additional publishing this month, however, I am starting to work on the next article which has a mid Feb deadline. The video lecture will gain some momentum in mid March after my vacation to Costa Rica and trip to Gainesville.
7. In the midst of all this, January has been a month of tremendous reflection on how I want to live my life, how I want to raise my children, where I want to live, and how to propel myself in that direction. The discussions go on daily in my household as I try to practice more of what I preach. One of my biggest lessons this month is that change must come.
So, all in all, it's been a good month. A good start with a long road ahead.
Wednesday 30th of January 2008 11:12:57 PM | Comments
To be healthy requires that we experience a balance between yin and yang, and have a smooth flow of qi and blood throughout our bodies. This is best maintained by living a moderate lifestyle in accord with the energies of nature. As summer is not afraid to end and transmute into fall, so we too must be willing to let go and change where appropriate. Part of my path as a Buddhist and practitioner of Chinese medicine is to recognize when I fall prey to attachment towards particular behaviors, thoughts, emotions, etc. Likewise, I must point these issues out as they become relevant to my patients in the course of their healing.
While watching my dvd lectures from my teacher, Jeffrey Yuen, he discusses how so often patients come to see practitioners to rid themselves of their symptoms, but never see the connection to their lifestyles. Most look forward to getting back to their lives pain -free, cancer-free, or free of whatever ailments are plaguing them. But we must instruct our patients that their lifestyles are the problem. To do otherwise, we are simply treating the branch, the manifestation.
To heal, we need to change. We need to be brave enough to change our lives in a way that is conducive to health. On a spiritual level, this means non-attachment. It means cultivating a way of life that transmutes our physicality towards spirituality. The goal of qi gong, for example, is to alchemically transmute our jing (essence) to qi, then from qi to shen to expand our consciousness and experience emptiness, the non-duality of all things.
On a physical level, healing requires significant lifestyle modifications. Dietary changes (avoiding cold, damp, greasy, fried, preservatives, chemicals, refined sugars, etc. and eating for health, not pleasure, eating live whole foods, etc. (see the Resources page on my website for a really good introduction to Eastern nutrition), habitual patterns of movement (ie, sitting all day at a desk leaning over our keyboard which kills the qi in our chest), and perhaps most importantly our habituated emotional responses. If we are living lives of quiet desperation, unhappy in our marriage or work, unhappy with how we look or feel, we must make radical changes to secure our health. If we are having difficulty containing our anger, if we are experiencing depression, we must seek out their roots.
Dealing with roots of our habituated responses is incredibly powerful and the entire subject of humanistic psychology as detailed in Dr. Hammer's Dragon Rises, Red Bird Flies is very well laid out. Learning how one's behaviors, rooted in early life, shape our health across the entire bodymind spectrum, and gaining the tools to make the appropriate changes can spark a profound healing.
So, as we have decided this is the 'year of sagely living' we must strive towards this ideal by rooting out our behaviors that are synonymous with imbalance, and replacing them with habits that foster health and well-being.
Friday 04th of January 2008 10:33:45 AM | Comments
The mark of the superior physician has traditionally been a high degree of cultivation. Eastern medicines have long held the scholar-warrior-physician as the benchmark for all doctors to aspire to. In this day and age, the scholar-physicians are few and far between. But there are a growing number of practitioners of Chinese medicine who seek to strive towards this ideal and see the importance of resurrecting this tradition.
The "Year of Sagely Living" is the brainchild of my good friend Brandt (Abdallah) Stickley (see Even Unto China) and Eric Grey (see Deepest Health) and I am fortunate to be involved in this at its inception. The idea is that over the course of the next year (beginning today) we make the commitment to cultivate the skills (academic, clinical, spiritual, etc.) of the superior physician. A syllabus of sorts has been created (see below) that will help guide the process. January 1st marks the beginning of scholarship and study. Each month will have a unique theme based on a synergy with the energies of each season and time of year. Excerpted below is the syllabus from Deepest Health.
While all these categories are areas that many of us are already cultivating to various degrees, the syllabus will allow a renewed commitment and strengthened focus on a monthly basis. Each of us involved will also share our experiences online on our respective blogs.
January - Gall Bladder, Zi 子 (Rat): Scholarship/Study: This category will contain practices to develop us into true scholars in the Confucian/neo-Confucian tradition. Why this pairing? The seasonal energy is still in winter, a contemplative mood prevails, but the Yang is rising. Similar to this, we can see scholarly pursuits as ACTIVE passivity. One generally sits still, but one’s mind is hard at work.
February - Liver, Chou 丑 (Ox): Strategy/Business: This category will contain practices in the realm of business development and strategic planning in the professional world. Why this pairing? The Liver is the general of the body, so has a natural affinity for this kind of activity.
March - Lung, Yin 寅 (Tiger)- Activity/Rest: This category will contain practices having to do with appropriate cycles of rest and activity in daily life - for instance, appropriate waking times throughout the seasons. Why this pairing? This earthly branch and the essence of the Lung Zang is all about peaceful tension between opposites, like the time of the year associated with both. Further, being mindful of our need for balance between rest and activity is great preparation for the often overactive spring/summer energy.
April - Large Intestine, Mao 卯 (Rabbit) - Care of the planet/consumption: This category will contain practices that develop us into compassionate and sane consumers, while helping to develop our deep relationship with the natural world. Why this pairing? April is a time when we can see the beauty of nature all around us, so is a great time to contemplate our dependence on it and responsibility towards it. Also, the negative side of LI/Rabbit is a tendency to run rough-shod over the needs and wants of others, these practices will seek to counterbalance this.
May - Stomach, Chen 晨 (Dragon): Physical cultivation: This category will contain practices that help us to shape our physical bodies into ideal vehicles for the transmission of healing energy. Why this pairing? The natural world has exploded into full splendor and the weather in the Northern hemisphere will be warm enough in most places to warrant moving around outside. The ST is an Earth organ and is related to the flesh of the body, which we will be building with these practices. Think also of the dragon and its association with martial arts and other physical cultivation practices.
June - Spleen, Si 巳 (Snake)- Food choices - This category works in tandem with the previous one to help maintain the physical form of the body in an optimal way. Why this pairing? June is actually a great time to do fasting or other food restriction activities because most of us don’t feel any great desire to eat excessively in the summer heat. Further, reducing the burden on digestion will help us to focus on absorbing the pure Yang energy so abundantly available in June.
July - Heart, Wu 午 (Horse) - Community building/charity - This category speaks to our need to be an integral and contributing member of a number of communities. It also involves the practice of compassion in a world where inequality is the norm. Why this pairing? The summer is a wonderful time to participate in community-oriented projects! Also, the Heart and Fire (the Heart’s element) are about intimacy, about connection to Spirit — both of which are well represented in the idea behind this category.
August - Small Intestine, Wei 未 (Sheep)- Ethical Behavior - This category will include practices not covered in other categories that have some ethical dimension. These practices are likely to be very individual and defined by a person’s background, spiritual/religious practice and culture. For example, practicing “Right Speech” through abstinence from cursing. Why this pairing? The Fu (hollow, Yang) organs are said to transmit the essence of their associated Zang (solid, Yin) organs. SI exemplifies this relationship in its devotion to sacrifice as a way to manifest the Heart’s mandate of connection to Spirit in the purest sense. Also because many of the “ethical behavior” practices we discussed are somewhat prohibitive, it resonates with the descent into metal energy that the earthly branch Wei represents.
September - Bladder, Shen 申 (Monkey)- Arts/Aesthetics: This category involves the use of our creative faculties - particularly as they pertain to the arts associated with Chinese medicine, such as calligraphy. Why this pairing? These activities are Yin within Yang - they are still, yet active - like scholarship. More importantly is the symbolism of 申. One of the meanings of this character is to stretch, and the oracle bones show it as two hands pulling something in opposite directions. We might think about this as the intercourse between Heaven and Earth, the Human Being in the middle being the substrate that is stretched between those two poles. I think Art facilitates this threefold communication.
October - Kidney, You 酉 (Rooster/owl): Chinese medicine specific skills: This category includes the refinement of Chinese medicine related skills, such as hand techniques in acupuncture. For those not in the field, you might look into developing skills that will help you in your work. Why this pairing? The Kidney is often said to be the root of all skill and expertise. Also, with the cool calm energy of autumn, one can become focused enough to substantially increase specific skills.
November - Pericardium, Xu 戌: Relationships: This category will involve practices that help us develop more mature and meaningful relationships with others. Why this pairing? Pericardium is frequently said to mediate intimate relationships. One interesting symbolic note is the association of the earthly branch Xu, which means - essentially - weapon. This speaks on many levels to me. For instance, we must be careful to avoid violence in relationships, on whatever level. Also, relationships are a bit like handling weapons — if you’re not careful and mindful, it can come back to bite you. Finally, the late fall and winter are good times for relationship oriented activity, given that most of us desire to stay at home with family and friends as the weather cools.
December - Triple Burner, Hai 亥: Spiritual cultivation: Although we will be looking at spiritual dimensions of all kinds of activity throughout the year, this month we will give it special attention. These practices will probably be quite individual, but there may be some shared goals - such as having a daily meditation practice. Why this pairing? I’ve always learned about TB as being the mysterious “in between,” the mover between worlds, the ultimate stillness. What a metaphor for spiritual practice!
Tuesday 01st of January 2008 05:08:33 PM | Comments
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete. Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind. and always remember: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. By George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
and always remember:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
By George Carlin
Wednesday 07th of November 2007 03:59:05 PM | Comments
Because it lacks consciousness, I must admit that a word cannot praise me. Undoubtedly, the cause of my delight is that another is delighted with me.
But what does it matter to me whether another's delight is in me or someone else? His alone is the pleasure of that delight. Not even a trifling part of it is mine.
From "365 Buddha: Daily Meditations," edited by Jeff Schmidt. Reprinted by arrangement with Tarcher/Putnam, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
Friday 02nd of November 2007 11:15:40 AM | Comments
On Friday night, I hosted Lama Lobsang who lectured on Tibetan medicine. One of the more notable things I wanted to share from that talk was the following statement:
If you can get a disease, you can cure a disease. We just need to know the cause.And while he did acknowledge certain "karmic diseases" that have no cure, most diseases were curable. He said that was the only logical way to understand the ability of someone to get sick. If one can get sick, one can get un-sick. Knowing the cause of the disease is the most difficult part. In fact, he stated that in many instances we will never know the real cause; that it is hidden, as in karmic diseases. But placing the emphasis on diagnosis is the real key to understanding the causes (or coming as close to the cause as one can), and then healing the person from that disease. He gave the analogy of knowing what country a person is from by looking at their face and features, but not being able to know the exact town or street address or the specific details. The more details you can uncover, the better your success at treating the disease.
Sunday 07th of October 2007 08:57:36 AM | Comments
What would your life be like if you could live each moment in the moment without judging it based upon your past experiences or projecting it into the future? Experiencing things as they truly are with no bias or duality or theoretical constructs......
Thursday 06th of September 2007 10:15:52 PM | Comments
This is a response I wrote to a comment from a post in June on the Effects of Lifestyle. As comments from older posts are not as accessible, I thought I'd re-post it here. It was essentially a question on how to motivate oneself to make change in one's life:
Your question is significant and, of course, hard to answer. I can only discuss what motivates me and how I approach this subject, understanding that there are many roads to travel.
My first step is to come to the conclusion that I am not as healthy as I'd like to be. If you believe that you are healthy and feel great and can't benefit from changing your habits, then it is hard to make the change.
Secondly, you need to be confident that what you have learned about healthy living and eating, etc. can make the improvements you are seeking.
You see, it's not about sacrifices. We are not looking to deprive ourselves. We are looking to nourish ourselves. The difference is huge. One needs a shift in perspective. People think, oh, the ice cream tastes good, it makes me feel good, etc. and not having it feels like deprivation. A different perspective would suggest, what is the long-term (or even short-term, not immediate) effect of what I am doing? Knowledge would tell us that the ice cream which is filled with refined sugar, chemicals, empty calories, etc. is restricting our circulation in the stomach and intestines, draining out our adrenals, creating a mucus lining in out gut that prevents assimilation of vitamins and nutrients necessary for our well-being, etc. When I think of it that way, I don't feel deprived. I feel empowered.
Understanding the tremendous difference between pleasure and happiness is crucial. Yeah, ice cream tastes good to many, but it also leads to suffering/illness/imbalance in the future. Is it worth it?
These are the kinds of questions to ask oneself to help motivate change. But, yes, you are right. Change isn't easy. It's really difficult. And the best way to do it is to make small changes daily and commit to the process for one's own sake.
I hope this helps. Maybe it's too vague? Let me know. I'd love to continue the discussion.
Thursday 19th of July 2007 07:59:48 PM | Comments
Often in medicine, the tendency is to view illness as antagonistic. But, like everything else, a simple shift in perspective can point one in a whole new direction. If one thinks of their illness as part of themselves rather than something separate, one can view their illness as a way of getting to know oneself better. The Type A personality who has a heart attack may have an opportunity to slow down and "smell the roses;" the father who suddenly loses his job gets to spend time with his children; the cancer patient who comes to terms with her mortality and can fully appreciate the time that she has left, are just a few examples. I have had patients who later became very thankful for their illnesses and the lessons that they learned from them.
Illnesses, symptoms, etc. are a chance for us to purify ourselves; purify our negative karma, change faulty beliefs, let go of pain, sorrow, anger, etc. that no longer serves us. We need to view our symptoms as something that is trying to teach us something. Our job is to figure it out. We can't squash it with pain medication, or antibiotics, or chemotherapy. We need to face it head-on. To be a warrior and fight through the suffering to get to the other side. Be on a quest for truth, simplicity and finding one's inner nature.
And above all, don't be afraid to change. If you see your imbalances as rooted in your thought patterns, your past actions and your behaviors, without changing one can never heal. Your symptoms are your opportunity to make the necessary changes and adjustments. Failure to adapt and change breeds illness. Awareness is the first step.
Monday 16th of July 2007 11:08:14 PM | Comments
I wanted to inform everyone of the above-referenced monastery and medical school/clinic that Rinpoche has asked me to create on His behalf. I am in the process of forming a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in this name. This is a project that I am hoping will keep Rinpoche here in NJ for a good part of each year. He has expressed to me that He would like to spend the majority of His time here, and this monastery/school/clinic is the first step in ensuring this happens. Upon Rinpoche's request, the location of the monastery will be my home and office for the time being. When Rinpoche returns from Tibet in October, He will be bringing back all the silks and throne materials to make everything formal and official!
As with all ventures of this nature, help from as many interested parties is welcomed and necessary. The areas of help include:
1. Initial Fundraising: to set this monastery up properly and professionally we need to raise approximately $1,000 for the incorporation fees, filing of 501(c)(3) status, lawyer fees, articles of incorporation and bylaw drafting.
2. Website: I have begun putting up a temporary website. The address is http://rangnangogminling
3. On-going Fundraising: to keep the business running, there are a number of on-going fees, including: (a) website maintenance, hosting, design; (b) state and federal corporation and registration fees; (c) raising monies for the eventuality of a separate location (ownership, rental, etc.); (d) funding the workshops, lectures and other Buddhist teachings that will take place at the monastery, etc.
4. Executive Board: We will need to appoint/elect an executive board, so those of you who are interested in being an on-going part of this venture, please contact me.
I am very much determined to have this completed by the time Rinpoche returns from Tibet in October. Thus, time is of the essence!
To make a donation, or to help in any way, please contact me as soon as possible.
Thank you to everyone for their anticipated support. And PLEASE pass this information on to everyone that you know who may be interested in this project and all members of the sangha (as I do not have email addresses for most of them). We will need as much support as possible.
Sunday 08th of July 2007 10:49:47 PM | Comments
There is no more important determinant of one's health than the state of mind. Of course, genetics, constitution, lifestyle habits, etc. have a large impact, but the power of our minds has the most pivotal of roles. In Chinese medicine we differentiate causes of disease into multiple categories: (1) internal: emotions and state of mind (including, anger, fear, grief, overthinking, etc.); (2) external: climactic factors (wind, cold, damp, heat/fire, etc.); and (3) miscellaneous (which is not meant to minimize its importance): habits, trauma, toxins, etc.
Of these three categories, the emotions make up the largest percentage of the etiology of disease. Controlling one's emotions, therefore, would seem to have a tremendous impact on our health and the prevention of disease (or treatment thereof). Listening yesterday (again) to a series of lectures that Taoist priest Jeffrey Yuen gave on cancer and Chinese medicine, I couldn't help but notice the correlation between what Jeffrey states and Dharmakirti's psychological law (see previous post). Essentially, Jeffrey was mentioning how the diagnosis of cancer is viewed as a death sentence by most of us and that it is, in fact, how one handles this diagnosis that has tremendous influence on whether or not someone will heal. So often, people get so overwhelmed by the fear of death that they are constantly focused on death. This reinforcement perpetuates negative states of mind and set a vicious cycle in which the disease grows stronger and the patient's health deteriorates (mentally and physically). Jeffrey even goes to say that cancer support groups are for the most part detrimental in that they give credence and power to this deadly disease. He advocates for support groups which foster hope and the desire to heal.
As always, our minds have the greatest power and potential to either bring us towards happiness and health or towards undesirable states of mind and illness. It all depends on how much attention we give positive thoughts and emotions or negative thoughts and states of mind. On a website I visited recently, I read the following tale:
One evening an old Martial Arts Master told his young students about a “Great Battle of life and death” that goes on inside all Human Beings.
The wise man said, "The battle is between "Two Dragons" … They are battling for dominance inside us all.
One is Dark, it represents Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.
The other is Light, it represents Good. It is joy, love, peace, hope, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, serenity, compassion and faith."
The students thought about it for a while and then asked the Master: "Which Dragon wins?"
The old wise man simply replied, "The one you feed."
Friday 06th of July 2007 09:57:12 PM | Comments
HH The Dalai Lama's book The Universe in a Single Atom: the convergence of science and spirituality has a wealth of interesting discussions on the nature of consciousness, the origin of the universe, and on scientific exploration in general into the truth of reality. A relevant passage to achieving happiness mentions Dharmakirti's "psychological law" which posits psychological states and emotions as a field of opposing forces in constant flux. One family of emotion may consist of hate, anger and hostility, while the other consists of love, compassion and empathy. The argument is that if any one side of this polarity gains strength, the other weakens. Thus, the goal is to practice and reinforce the desired states of mind, effectively weakening the undesirable and transforming one's thoughts and emotions. Just as turning on a light dispels darkness, cultivating love and compassion can eliminate hate and anger over time with dedicated practice and intention.
Thursday 05th of July 2007 09:22:43 PM | Comments
Today Benjamin turns 5 years old! The best 5 years I could have imagined. It's amazing how fast it is flying by.
Wednesday 13th of June 2007 08:35:43 AM | Comments
A few quotes that struck me today......
"If one believes in only what modern nihilists can see, one cannot believe that there is anything beyond ordinary existence. With this view, there cannot be any religion with a spiritual foundation. If one only wants to believe what ordinary nihilists believe, one cannot be spiritual, because being spiritual means believing in what is sacred and beyond the ordinary."
"Defined simply, nihilism is disbelief in anything beyond what is perceived by ordinary, shortsighted senses, and spirituality is belief in what is beyond these senses, which is the basis that sustains all religions.......If one were to believe only in material reality, there would be no immaterial object of faith as a basis for belief, and therefore no spiritual path to follow or result of enlightenment to attain."
"If there is no belief in spiritual appearances, then one cannot create positive phenomena, because no matter what religion is followed, positive phenomena originally come from believing in spirituality......All the divine messages of the Koran, the Vedas, the Bible, and the Buddhist scriptures, as well as celestial appearances of heavens, gods, and purelands, cannot be canceled just because they are not perceived with obscured senses."
Excerpted from: A Cascading Waterfall of Nectar, by Thinley Norbu
Tuesday 29th of May 2007 09:37:59 PM | Comments
Ever have something happen to you that you couldn't control, or have a loved one sick with no means to stop their suffering? This feeling of powerlessness while so often seen as a source of tremendous suffering to us, can be turned around (so I am told :-)) to provoke a deep sense of freedom. Once we accept that we have no control over our lives, we can start to quiet our expectations and simply bask in the in appreciation for what we have and how lucky we are. Even in the midst of our suffering, we can see things from a different perspective. And we can be there for others more fully to help them gain a different perspective as well.
Thursday 24th of May 2007 03:24:24 PM | Comments
Rinpoche is reconstructing a monastery and medical clinic in Tibet. As it is a large project, anyone wishing to contribute is welcomed. You can access the site here with descriptions of the plans as well as other information. In the future, we also plan on having a school and clinic for Rinpoche here in NJ!
(The pictures of the ceremonial objects from the Medicine Buddha empowerment on this page took place at my home.)
Thursday 24th of May 2007 03:06:21 PM | Comments
I was struck today by a patient whom I have treated for a couple of years and whom I respect as a very intelligent, caring, loving person and friend who came in feeling acute anxiety, panic and fear over a (mis)belief that perhaps she was not a capable and adequate mother. So many of us struggle with profound insecurities, whether it be in our personal, social or professional lives, and these beliefs begin to shape the way we feel about ourselves, interact with others and ultimately create our reality.
And while it is human nature to question ourselves, to suffer from jealousy, anger, ignorance based upon our karmic imprints, I did want to write this post if only to remind myself and this friend of our unstained Buddha-nature hiding behind all of our delusions. These insecurities and "bad" feelings must be recognized for what they truly are: false beliefs forced upon us by our deluded minds from habituated thoughts. Recognizing this is the first step in breaking this unconscious habituation and thus obtaining freedom from these insecurities.
Tuesday 08th of May 2007 09:12:02 PM | Comments
Monday 21st of May 2007 08:22:16 PM | Comments
It seems appropriate (at least to me) to contemplate death on a regular basis, and especially at significant times in one's life. After all, we know two things are certain; we will all die, and we are not sure when. So, even while the excitement of the imminent birth of my child grows, being aware of my mortality is always in the picture.
And it seems fitting that this past week I have had the pleasure once again to host Lama Doctor Tsewang Ngodrup Rinpoche, this time for a three part teaching on the Bardo, the intermediate stages of consciousness (some of which deal with our experiences with death and in the afterlife). A main thrust of these teachings, in similar fashion to most of Buddhism, is to do virtuous deeds, to collect merit and good karma as it is only one's karmic imprints that follow the consciousness once it has been separated from the body. Good karmic imprints propel one towards better future lives and the chance at achieving enlightenment for the good of all sentient beings.
Of course, being comfortable with the idea of death is difficult, and here I must admit that at the current time I am not. But, I do find it helpful to think that the more good I do, the more patients I care for and try to heal, the more good karma I collect, the more love I feel and share with my family and friends, the better my chances are of securing future happiness.
So, then, when is a good time to die? I suppose, once one feels secure in the amount of merit and good karma collected.....
Friday 04th of May 2007 09:19:26 PM | Comments
I just came across this story and thought I'd share it.
Tuesday 24th of April 2007 09:03:01 PM | Comments
Wondering what others think about fate and destiny. To me it's a very interesting concept. What are we meant to do, to become. So often these concepts are used interchangeably. I think of fate as something we have become resigned to. Destiny is more of what we are meant to achieve and become. What we are here for. Both seem to be out of our "control" in the sense that we either achieve our destiny by recognizing it, accepting it (surrendering), and then living up to our potential, or we either fail to recognize, accept or achieve it (fate).
I am open to others thoughts on this.
Wednesday 18th of April 2007 09:33:41 AM | Comments