Thunder showers this afternoon in the desert – a spatter of coolness on the shoulders of meditators walking mindfully across the sandy earth. You can see from this photo of a fruiting Joshua Tree how ecstatic the plants were. Cactus buds visibly softened and opened in welcome, and the earth released a ravishing perfume.
A similar softening and opening is occurring in the hearts and minds of 144 meditators — including about three dozen InsightLA Sangha members — who are here on retreat for 9 days with Trudy and me and a dynamite team of teachers led by Jack Kornfield (Howie Cohn, Wes Nisker, Spring Washam, Noah Levine). Trudy gave a delightful and profound Dharma talk tonight about how loving awareness gives us room to respond to reality with spontaneity and gentleness. As she spoke, we could hear distant explosions from the bombing range at 29 Palms through the open doors of the meditation hall. If we can feel the moment fully, Trudy said, our response arises from our wisdom mind rather than anger, greed, or ignorance. One retreatant was so touched by the talk that she left Trudy a note affectionately adopting her.
It’s been a year since I’ve visited Southern [...]
Sometimes we get really caught in our stories and our reactivity – about ourselves, about each other, about life – the mind is an endlessly imaginative storyteller! Yet with mindfulness we can free the mind and heart from entanglement in stories. Just as the mind strings together two breaths as one, moments appear to follow one another linked together. And yet, when we are still, each breath, each sound, each sensation arises and passes away, is born, lives a moment and vanishes….each experience appears and disappears on its own without leaving a trace — except that the mind must make meaning so we can make sense and “function” — the mind links similar experiences together and voila — a narrative is born!
When we are calm and clear, we can see that each moment, each experience is unique…one difficult experience with someone we love or depend on, is just that — a difficult interaction, a mistake, a blaming or lack of appreciation. But we all have a history! Either with one another, or with others from our childhood or past. One way of understanding the Buddha’s insistence that his students leave home, is that we simply learn to leave our familiar [...]
Last night was the April full moon — in the Native American tradition it’s called the Full Pink Moon, named for the abundance of creeping Phlox groundcover or moss pink, one of the earliest wildflowers found at this time of year. And sometimes it’s called the Full Egg Moon or Full Sprouting Grass Moon in honor of the growth, change and fertility of Spring.
One of our InsightLA community, Jonathan Rotenberg, sent this message from Boston, where spring is beginning to blossom:
“While it has been heartbreaking, stressful, and exhausting, at the same time there has been a remarkable grace, wisdom, kindness, and gentleness that seems to permeate everyone and everything here. It has been such a tender, heart-opening experience. I haven’t seen even a hint of anger, divisiveness or unskillfulness. It feels like people, neighbors, and community have stepped into their true greatness.”
Next month will be the Full Flower Moon, sometimes called the Corn Planting Moon, Milk Moon, or Mother’s Moon. for it comes when temperatures are warm enough for safely bearing young, and late frosts are mostly past. At InsightLA, we will celebrate Vesak on May 25th, marking the birth and death of the Buddha. We celebrate the practice of loving [...]