InsightLA Blog

When I asked Betsy Davis if I could share this goodbye, she told her beloved yoga teacher, Denise Kaufman, that she would be honored for all of you to know a bit of her journey. Betsy is an artist who radiates a light-hearted elegance of spirit. She’s dying of ALS, and has decided consciously and care-fully to end her life this Sunday. How different this is from suicide! Many of us, including myself, know the anguish of losing a family member or dear friend to suicide, leaving no time to intervene, to say goodbye, or complete anything. Wherever you stand among the myriad and divergent views about doctor-assisted dying, Betsy’s remarkable clarity and acceptance show us how —  even in times of extreme difficulty — we can be tenderly mindful and choose how we meet our fate….with love. My dear friends, I’m off. This Sunday I’m taking the big adventure into the unknown. I’m so fortunate to have the law on my side. Gov. Jerry Brown passed the End of Life Option Act this year to allow people with terminal illnesses a physician assisted death in California.  I want to thank each of you for our unique time together; the conversations, the dance parties, [...]
Sat, Jul 23, 2016
InsightLA Blog
Along with the tragedy of more lives lost in terror attacks, violent racism, homophobia, hate, I feel immense gratitude for the happiness and love in our lives.  It’s a miracle of mindfulness that joy and sorrow can peacefully co-exist in the same heart!  Miraculously, when we’re fully present, life keeps blossoming, even in the midst of heartache.  The poet Rilke explains “someone who is ready for everything, who doesn’t exclude any experience, even the most incomprehensible, will sound the depths of their own being.” Just as happiness is part of being alive, grief, despair, anger or fear are natural to us. Life can change on a dime; even the luckiest among us can suddenly face great suffering. Lovingkindness, metta, connects us with others in gladness. And when sadness comes, metta turns into compassion. All living beings wish to be happy. Knowing how much we all want our lives to unfold in a good way, we can let ourselves feel connected to all beings — humans, animals, plants, all those in existence. This is the gift of compassion. Compassion helps balance misery and misfortune with courage and grace. When we’re navigating the most difficult impasses we face, we can return to the breath, [...]
Mon, Jul 18, 2016
InsightLA Blog
I intended to write about freedom today, using Independence Day as a springboard. As I started to write, I kept feeling a nudge in my heart and a tug in my gut to expand my musings beyond the topic of liberation in general, to include the recent killings of two African-American men by police officers in Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights. And now, five Dallas police officers are dead from sniper attacks as revenge over despair about the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police officers. A man involved in the ambush was killed using an explosive delivered by a robot.  As I sat down to write, I realized I could not continue without reflecting upon my experience of shock, numbness, rage, and eventually tearful heartbreak. Not again. Not again! I tried to continue writing about freedom, but as is often the case in a world of polarities, I found that I couldn’t write about freedom without also reflecting on the ways that I, as an African-American don’t always feel free and that we as a country are not yet free even though this nation declared its “independence” 240 years ago. How do I tie together centuries old brutality against [...]
Fri, Jul 08, 2016
InsightLA Blog
Dear ones, We are delighted to share the happiness of our Hawaiian wedding day. We have known each other for 43 years, and come to love each other deeply. To start the special day, we joined Ram Dass for his weekly community beach swim. And invited Richard Marks our photographer to take these photos while we played in the waves in our sea-worthy wedding outfits. Later, before sunset, as soft Hawaiian breezes blew and the clouds turned rosy colors, we had a private ceremony (in dry clothes in Ram Dass’s Haiku garden…exchanging vows, leis and rings. In poetic language, Ram Dass married us to each other and to the Dharma, and offered his blessings to us, to our families, friends, and communities. Then he asked each of us, do you take Jack/Trudy as part of your sangha? We both answered wholeheartedly, “Yes!” All of you are now happily included. And here we are — newlyweds, starting our married life, fully blessed and grateful. We hope these photos add another smile to your day. Love, Trudy and Jack *Check out InsightLA’s Facebook page for more pictures from Trudy & Jack’s wedding. [...]
Fri, Jul 01, 2016
InsightLA Blog
In June, we celebrate LGBTQI pride — our visibility, our human dignity, our truth, and we celebrate love. Pride is a time when we come together for collective healing from deep wounds of generations of discrimination and violence. Sadly, that violence exploded last weekend in Orlando. As you awoke Sunday to the horror that took place earlier that morning, I woke up at Spirit Rock Meditation Center on the second day of their annual LGBTQI retreat, in silence with 70 queer brothers and sisters who came together to celebrate pride in a unique and beautiful way. Together, we took refuge: looking to the Buddha to see our potential as humans; looking to the Dharma to see the truth of our existence; and looking to our sangha – our community – for support on our path. The Buddha was one of the first to teach about equality. He said we are all interconnected and One. For me as a gay man, it makes sense that I’ve found safety in temples where his images surround me. On Wednesday, as the retreat was closing, the teachers, Anushka Fernadopulle and Pascal Auclair, told us with great care about Orlando. Spending time in silence can make [...]
Fri, Jun 17, 2016
InsightLA Blog