InsightLA Blog

After teaching a retreat in Barre, MA, Jack and I went to hear teachings by the Dalai Lama in New York last week. We walked past food trucks selling thukpa (noodle stew) and momo’s (steamed dumplings), people drumming and chanting, into the Javits Center, where thousands of Tibetan families wearing their finest colorful chubas (traditional dress) of silky beautiful fabrics, monastics clad in dark red and gold, and a sprinkling of Westerners all gathered to celebrate his 80th birthday. The Dalai Lama spoke about what leads to liberation: freeing ourselves from self-centric views. Over and over, he emphasized the need to train in this: “What is the one thing, that if you have it, all the other virtues are in the palm of your hand? Compassion, the perfection of altruism.” So much suffering arises from flawed perceptions of the world, especially from seeing the world self-ishly, through the lens of I, me, mine. We need a deeper understanding of the nature of reality so we can perceive accurately. “Inquire,” he said clearly, “Delve into the nature of mind, explore reality!”  Looking around the globe, what’s needed is so clear. How can we help? Along with compassionate altruism, we cultivate the wisdom of equanimity. [...]
Mon, Jul 20, 2015
InsightLA Blog
Recently a good friend of InsightLA gave us a gift of $100,000. Doesn’t it make you happy to hear about someone being this generous? We rejoice in his generosity and his ability to make such a wonderful gift. This gift is in honor of my 70th birthday (I’d said I didn’t want any more things but for friends to donate to InsightLA). The donor said specifically that he wants to inspire a wave of giving to flow through our community, as each of us gives according to our means and ability to sustain our place of practice. Is there something you like or appreciate about InsightLA? Do you enjoy our Speaker Series, teachers, retreats, classes, or sitting groups? Have you learned to be a little bit more mindful, compassionate, insightful, wise?  You already sustain our community through practice, volunteering, program fees and donations. Yet there is so much more we dream of doing – and can, when the resources are here. We all know the light-hearted feeling that comes with letting go of our inner or outer, material ‘stuff’. Dana, or giving, is meant to bring us joy and freedom.  Every gift counts, like a credit card bill in reverse!  According to [...]
Tue, Jul 07, 2015
InsightLA Blog
A tragedy occurred while we were teaching in Singapore, the act of terrorism that killed 9 Black people praying in their church. It was on the front page of all the Asian newspapers! Can you imagine not being able to meditate safely in our center, in our communities of refuge and celebration? How can mindfulness help? When we’re mindful, we can see that “race” is just a concept – albeit a deeply ingrained one. There is no cell, gene, telomere that can distinguish the Singaporean from the African American from the Chinese American from the Jewish American or the Hispanic and Latino American. “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied together into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Breathe these words in. ‘Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly’. Who said this? The Buddha? Thich Nhat Hanh? Or Martin Luther King? Great leaders see clearly how interconnected and interdependent we are, that we inter-be in all our joys and sorrows. Today, you may be rejoicing that the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Today, you may be grieving institutionalized bias and violence blighting [...]
Tue, Jun 30, 2015
InsightLA Blog
Today dawns bright and cloudy in Singapore. The clouds shield the island city from the hot equatorial sun, and the humid breeze is soft and warm. Immense skyscrapers dot the skyline of this ultramodern city where the first-ever Wisdom 2.0 conference in Asia, attended by 500 people from 26 countries, has ended. Now Jack and I teach a daylong at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (KMSPKS), the largest Buddhist temple here, with a Hall of Great Strength, a Pagoda of 10,000 Buddhas, and a Hall of No Form, which boasts a giant Buddha and holds 2000 people. It’s fitting that we teach in the Hall of Great Compassion, dedicated to Kuan Yin, for this whole week we’ve received so much kindness and caring from Singaporeans. We taught and listened to teachings about compassionate leadership during the conference. And I’ve been heartened by Pope Francis’s encyclical about climate change. Several of this little island’s most enticing tourist spots, including a biome to preserve cloud forest flora, are built on land reclaimed from the South China Sea. Thriving Singapore’s very existence is threatened by rising sea levels. Elizabeth Rice called my attention to an essay written by Bhikkhu Bodhi* joining hands with [...]
Mon, Jun 22, 2015
InsightLA Blog
“We look with uncertainty beyond the old seeking of clear-cut answers to a softer, more permeable aliveness which is every moment at the brink of death; for something new is being born in us if we but let it. We stand at a new doorway, awaiting that which comes… daring to be human creatures, vulnerable to the beauty of existence.” – Anne Hillman My cousin Myra sent me a video of their three dogs whom I haven’t seen for six months. Henry is no longer a cuddly little puppy; Oscar has matured and grown to love him, and elder Jack is much thinner; friendly and frail, he lies still, observing Henry and Oscar play. They are a tableau of life — playing, nosing around, and inevitably, changing. Growing older, and finally, old. When I tell people I turn 70 this month, the spontaneous reaction is usually a surprised, “Oh! I didn’t know you were that OLD!” It’s a funny mirror held up to my own sense of being young thanks to the blessing of good health and energy. Then the question: “How does it feel?” The felt sense is exactly the same – moment by moment, life unfolding in the form of this birdsong, this rug under my feet, this stillness, these fingers [...]
Mon, Jun 15, 2015
InsightLA Blog