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New class starting soon!

Picture 110

I’d like to announce a new class starting in January.

It’s called Selfless Self Help, and it’s taking place in West Newbury, Massachusetts. Let me know if you have any questions.



Upcoming Classes


I’d like to mention two upcoming classes. If you’re in the area, you should go!

One is in Rowley, this Monday. It’s at the Public Library, from 7-8 pm. This class will be the first of four on Mindfulness/Awareness. It’s also a fundraiser for the Library, all donations go to support the Library.

The other is one I’m really excited about. It’s a class called “Selfless Self-Help.” This will be in Amesbury, through Amesbury Adult Education. It will start November 5th and run for seven weeks. The class goes from 6:30 to 7:30 at night. If you’re interested in learning about compassion, or in developing a regular meditation practice, this class is for you. It will also touch on the nature of habits, and a number of shamanic elements.

Feel free to contact me about either. I hope to see some of you there!

To actually know yourself is to be the buddha

Méditation d'automne...!!!

Méditation d’automne…!!! (Photo credit: Denis Collette…!!!)


Oh my guru,

who exemplifies view, meditation, and action,

please grant your blessings

and let me achieve absorption in the realm of the nature of mind.


As far as view, meditation, action, and accomplishment,

keep these three points in mind:

all manifestations, even the universe itself is contained in mind.

The nature of mind is the realm of luminosity

beyond thought, beyond form.

Those are the key points of the view.


Wandering thoughts are liberated in the dharmakaya.

Awareness,  luminosity is always blissful.

Meditate in the style of nonaction and ease.

These are the key points of practice.


The ten virtues naturally grow

within uncontrived actions.

The ten unvirtuous acts are then purified.

Luminous emptiness is never disturbed

by remedies or correct behavior.

These are the key points of action.


There is no nirvana to attain.

There is no samsara to renounce.

To actually know yourself is to be the buddha.

These are the key points when it comes to accomplishment.


Simplify these three down to one.

This emptiness is the nature of being

which only an excellent guru can illustrate clearly.

You don’t have to do a lot.

If one notices co-emergent wisdom

the goal has been reached.

This talk is a precious jewel

for all practitioners of the dharma.


– Jetsun Milarepa


Dynamic tranquility: the Buddha in contemplation.

Dynamic tranquility: the Buddha in contemplation. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



New classes on the way! Other thoughts will probably be included!

As I keep chipping away at the Milarepa material, and posting that here, it will show up, here. Or churning away, as one teacher put it, comparing Milarepa’s words to milk, which must be churned, and can then be transformed into milk, butter, and cream. In any case, I plan to keep working on that.
It’s a big task, a lot of songs. It’s interesting to me how a task that big can seem both totally undoable (how could you ever complete all of them, it would take either a monumental one time effort, or just years of smaller continued efforts) and casually very doable- if a song or two a day takes years, then so be it. It takes years, and means not a whole lot of effort, at least short term.

Anyway, classes… This was probably not clear, since I didn’t mention it directly, but the classes offered right now are part of a curriculum, and one that will be changing over time, but a curriculum nonetheless.

This is to say that, yes, I am just a guy offering some classes on meditation and theory, but, then again, I actually have a vision, buzzword that’s often a little annoying, or a plan, maybe, for the kind of education I’m offering.

One pretty traditional setup in Tibetan Buddhism is the “three yana” structure. This is one thing I’m basing my classes on.

So, in order to keep this post to the point, and not too boring, I’ll draw this to a close. Classes are being offered, and you’re invited to attend! Of course, if you are somewhat interested but not sure, you could attend one, and then decide.

Again, there is a curriculum, and it is based on this three part structure of the “yanas.” The next post, which you can skip if you don’t want a detailed explanation of the curriculum and plan for courses, will go over what this structure means more or less, and how I’ll be implementing it.

Oh, it’s also the anniversary of the first turning of the wheel of the dharma, the first official teaching the Buddha gave. Happy turning of the wheel!


Milarepa … new moon eve

In the last one, Milarepa was supplicating, that is to say, he was calling to his teacher, his guru. His longing and devotion were clear.

(I apologize for the sometimes glib tone. If it’s out of a lack of respect for Milarepa in any sense, or the material, then that’s my mistake, and most definitely my arrogance. Also, note the role of the teacher here. This is typical of Tibetan traditions. It’s not the only way, although it’s the main way in Tibetan Buddhism. But my point there is: if you’re getting intrigued at all by the Buddhist path, please don’t freak out because there’s the whole guru/devotion thing. That’s something I believe in, or am working on, personally. BUT it’s not the only way. So if the emotionality or the hierarchical nature of the guru/student thing freak you out, don’t jump ship. They freak me out too sometimes.)

Okay, so Mila was supplicating his teacher. He felt lonely, and missed his sangha. Then, his teacher appeared in a cloud of rainbow light. I’m going to skip, for now, over most of the story/prose sections. Here, the main lesson that leaps to mind is: the teacher and disciple are not separate, or they’re not THAT separate. The separation can be bridged, or the already-bridgedness can be revealed. Anyway. On to the next.


Inspired by the vision of his teacher, Mila sang:

“When I see my teacher’s face

and hear him speak,

the energy of my heart is stirred,

the heart prana of this humble hermit.

When remembering my teacher’s dharma,

respect and reverence appear in my heart.

His blessings enter my being

and my kleshas are exorcised.

My heartfelt song, the one before,

you must surely have heard, teacher.

Somehow, though, I’m still stranded in darkness!

Please grant me your protection.”

(So, in spite of his teacher’s appearing right in front of him, Milarepa is not satisfied. He stills feels confused. He still suffers. What’s basically a miracle has arisen, and Mila still is not happy. So, one way to read this- even at a high level of “realization,” people still want more. They still suffer, crave, and fail to appreciate actual miracles happening right in front of them. Other ways to read this- Mila wants to continue the interaction. He longs for his teacher, and just saying “thanks, ok” at the appearance of the vision would mean the end of the interaction. He keeps it going, realizing the value of talking to and learning from his teacher. Another reading- he’s a little crazy about receiving blessings from his teacher. He longs, he fantasizes, he pines. This kind of spiritual emotionality is encouraged, odd as it seems to a lot of people.)

“Indomitable effort

is the best thing I can offer to my guru.

The best way to make him happy

is to bear the difficulties inherent in meditation.”

June moon tune


The April classes approach. Woooo

This means that also, soon the April classes will be gone. Then June/August classes.

Here are some thoughts on what those months will look like:

– Poetry of the Sages (poetry, language, and the spirit of the dharma)

– Practice intensives (daylong retreats, or longer)

– Basic meditation 2 (building on Meditation 101, we’ll extend the teachings on mindfulness, and work with a few “new” meditation techniques)

– Communication, space, mind (communication is one of those big buzzwords- what does it mean, how does this relate to energy, what’s the line between skillful communication, gentleness, and manipulation, what’s the line between skillful communication and magic?)

– Practicing with nature (meditation and dharma in the context of the natural world)

I’m getting enthusiastic thinking about it! Good stuff. If you’re interested, let me know. If you’re tentative, maybe don’t let me know, or maybe you could. If cost is an issue, as always, just “start a conversation” as a teacher friend of mine used to say. I’d rather have more people in a class, and a little less moolah than a small class with everyone “paid up.”

One more thought- Recycling! The way I see it, these groups could extend way beyond classes. If there’s interest, we could spend some time outside, walking around, cleaning up trash from an area. Why not?

Lots fermenting…


Deutsch: Bodhidharma

Deutsch: Bodhidharma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rowley talk

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness t...

Clinical research shows Buddhist mindfulness techniques can help alleviate anxiety , stress , and depression (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m giving a talk at the public library in Rowley, Mass. It’s on stress and mindfulness. It’s free!

It’s from 630-745. The more people who show up the better!

Let me know if you need directions to the library. Here’s the description:

Almost everyone today seems to be stressed out. Everyone seems busy,
and being so busy, it can be hard to relax. On one hand, work is not
optional. Having a full life can be very satisfying. On the other
hand, not only is stress unpleasant, it has clear health consequences.
Everyone seems to be stressed out, and it’s hard to know what the
solution might be.

In this talk, we will discuss how mindfulness, especially mindfulness
meditation, could be helpful. This is a technique drawn from Buddhism.
It may be useful to people from all backgrounds. Using the mind and
the body, we can work with the material our lives give us, and find
out more about stress, emotions, and reality.

Milarepa 2

“In Jowo Valley there is a temple with a stone seat.

Are you enthroned there, Marpa?

If you are, I’d be very joyful.

Although my devotion is limited, I long to see you.

Although my faith is limited, I want to see you.

The more I meditate the more I long for my guru.”


In this short excerpt, Milarepa is thinking about his teacher. He does feel some devotion, this is clear. He misses his teacher. He also takes himself to task for not feeling more devotion, more faith. In Tibetan Buddhism especially, devotion to a teacher is considered important and worthwhile, more than in some other schools. Listening to the VCTR talk last night, he mentioned that devotion could take many forms. That’s what I’ll end with. It’s really fascinating, especially for me (!) as someone struggling with what devotion means. Trungpa said that devotion could take many forms, including being frustrated (I think) or angry at your teacher. He was not suggesting that you should hate your teacher, but the point is, I think, that devotion is not a simple thing, and can’t be narrowed down neatly into one specific experience.

More notes from interactions


Milarepa (Photo credit: MarenYumi)



“It’s like the sun. The sun and the rays are not separate.”

“Yes! I have lots of recommendations for books you could read. You should read Milarepa, 100,000 songs of Milarepa… It’s like milk, pure milk. You can churn milk into cheese, into butter, into cream, but you have to churn it.”

“You don’t go to a restaurant and worry about if there is chemicals or poison in the food… you just eat the food… it’s the doubt..”

me- “So doubt is the problem.”

lama- “It’s a very big problem.”

“You should go out more [with your wife.] Don’t just stay home, boring boring. Go out. [Your marriage] has two legs. You can’t walk with only one leg. You have to use both legs to walk around.”

me- “When I try to generate bodhicitta, it’s easier for me to use music, then when I can feel it. Is that ok?”

“Yes, that’s ok for now.”



Pure Gold

There is a term in Vajrayana Buddhism, “kadak.” I think that’s it. It has been translated as “primordially pure,” “pure from the very beginning” or even “alpha pure.” That last one is a little odd, but there you have it. Translating the nondual language of the buddhas is not easy even for experienced translators (not to mention someone like me).


me: “I… don’t know if it’s working. I don’t feel like it’s a precious human life.”

lama: “It doesn’t matter what you feel. Gold is precious. It doesn’t matter what you feel about gold.”


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