Monthly Archives: March 2020


Sharon Salzburg says that “when we look at others, we see ourselves as well; when we look within ourselves, we discover all beings and all things in the universe.  Every event, every entity, every mind-state, every experience we have is born out of a web of interconnectedness.”

Dana is also generosity of spirit. Generosity of spirit allows us to see how alike we are and that indeed, we are all connected. Our compassion and loving-kindness come to the fore-front of our minds and hearts. We begin to want to be of benefit to others; to want to open our hearts; to want to be accepting, loving, supportive and generous because it feels so good to give. The more we give the more our heart opens and fills us with joy. Generosity seems to grow itself in our hearts and in the hearts of those we give to.  The very act of giving someone our entire attention and interest is so very powerful.  We don’t have to give advice or a solution to their problems, just the act of listening, and caring is enough.  When we are completely interested in the thoughts and feelings of another, they feel valued and important; they feel loved and supported. Isn’t this what we all really want in our relationships? This kind of generosity empowers others with the courage to be genuinely themselves.


Thich Nhat Hanh says that every time a negative energy is embraced by the energy of mindfulness, it will lose a little bit of its strength as it returns as a seed to the lower level of consciousness. “The same thing is true for all other mental formations: your fear, your anguish, your anxiety, and your despair. They exist in us in the form of seeds, and every time one of the seeds is watered, it becomes a zone of energy on the upper level of our consciousness. If you don’t know how to take care of it, it will cause damage, it will push us to do or to say things that will damage us and damage the people we love. Therefore, generating the energy of mindfulness, to recognize it, to embrace it, to take care of it, is the practice. And the practice should be done in a very tender, non-violent way.”                                                                                                      

Today sit with the breath and the sensations in the body, include the emotions as they arise.  When you notice your thoughts release them, saying “thinking” and return to the breath.  Sit as long as you are able with openness and mindfulness.

“Contemplate the great kindness of everyone.”

“We purify the mind of craving by practicing generosity.  Desire, greed, is a centripetal longing in which we seek to draw everything inward toward ourselves.  Giving is a basic reorientation of that attitude into one of opening, one of offering.  Generosity is not merely the overt action of giving somebody something material: it can also be giving of care, of protection, of kindness, and of love.  Generosity is not just interpersonal; it is also an inward state, a generosity of the spirit that extends to ourselves as well as to others.” ~ Sharon Salzberg

The Sutras tell us that we owe our gratitude to all beings, and especially to our parents, the head of our government – called the sovereign – and the three jewels – the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha. The Buddha-dharma teaches the ideal of altruism, and that we are only able to practice altruism because other beings exist.  Also, if it were not for other living beings, bodhisattvas could not fulfill their vow to liberate them. The 13th loJong slogan is “Be Grateful to Everyone.”  Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said, “A more literal translation of this slogan is “Contemplate the great kindness of everyone.”  Without them we have nothing. Other beings are the grist for the mill of this life for us.  We rub up against each other and see our shortcomings, our strengths, and everything in between.  We need all the obstacles and troubles and encouragement and mentoring and pushing and prodding we get from other people.  They are our greatest teachers. So we give to them out of gratitude: a “thank you” for all the help that we are given.


Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that we “need to know how to stop repressing, so that the mental formations of desires, fear, indignation and so on, have an opportunity to arise, be recognized, transformed. Producing mindfulness through the daily practice of meditation will help us recognize embrace, and transform our feelings of suffering.”

Today sit with the breath and the sensations in the body include the emotions as they arise with respect and tenderness.   Five minutes, or 20 or 60 or 3 breaths. Bring an openness to the practice, free from judgment and expectation.  Be mindful and at ease.

"The fruit of sharing gifts"

“If beings knew, as I know, the fruit of sharing gifts, they would not enjoy their use without sharing them, nor would the taint of stinginess obsess the heart and stay there. Even if it were their last bit, their last morsel of food, they would not enjoy its use without sharing it, if there were anyone to receive it.”  Buddha. Itivuttaka 18

Dana is the gift of unconditional love; the equanimity of generosity. We give with sincerity because there is a need; because it feels so good to benefit another in some way. The Buddha taught that there are many different ways to practice dana.  First, there is giving of material goods: food, clothing, money, housing or any other tangible thing that might help.  Giving without attachment in anyway.  Sometimes this is difficult because we don’t feel that we have anything that we can share or a way to help. But, there are some wonderful stories of sincere giving that show us that no matter what we give, if we do it with sincerity it has great merit.  In the Ashoka Sutra there is the story of King Ashoka whose kingdom became so poor that he had nothing left to give to the monastery he supported, so gave them half of what he had left – his crabapple. The monks made it into flour, and baked a cake that everyone shared.

We could also give a person a job or teach them a trade.  This has truly lasting benefit. The saying is that you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day. But, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. 


Today watch the body as you sit. Notice what arises. There are so many sensations: itching, aching, tingling, cramping, ease, comfort. Whatever arises, just notice. You can name the sensation if you want to, but just notice or label without judgment or criticism. It is a neutral observation. If the sensation is too difficult to sit with, then move the body to a different position, but do it with intention and mindfulness. Notice the sensation, where it is located, what will help and then move. In this way, the movement is not just a reaction, but rather a deliberate action.

Sit in this way with the breath and the sensations in the body.  Sit for 10 minutes, or 20 or 60 or 3 breaths. Again, it won’t be necessarily comfortable … or maybe it will. But, just give it a try today.

A Path of Love

“If I were really asked to define myself, I wouldn’t start with race; I wouldn’t start with blackness; I wouldn’t start with gender; I wouldn’t start with feminism. I would start with stripping down to what fundamentally informs my life, which is that I’m a seeker on the path. I think of feminism, and I think of anti-racist struggles as part of it. But where I stand spiritually is, steadfastly, on a path about love.” Bell Hooks

…a path about love.  This was the point I think for The Buddha. His was a path of love. His years of hardship and deprivation were about love of other sentient beings; his wish to relieve us all of our suffering – all beings for all time. He said, “I teach one thing and one thing only, suffering and the end of suffering.” He had the idea that if he could find the answer for himself that he could give it to everyone and that we could all be free.  He continually taught that the path to greater happiness is not the self-centered thought, but the other-centered thought. Not in a co-dependent way but in an altruistic way. The question is not “How can I take care of you?” but rather “How can I be of benefit to you?” Even our meditation practice is for the benefit of all sentient beings. Our wish is to relieve all beings of their suffering. So, with our open heart of love, we sit and breathe.  We attempt to clear away all the layers of delusion that separate us from our basic goodness so that we sense, or have an awareness of, our connection to all beings. The merit that we accumulate from our sitting practice and our dharma study can be sent out to all beings and given to them to help raise their awareness of their suffering and how to end it. Our thought is for the other. Even our wish for enlightenment is for the benefit of all other beings. 

This is the path of the Bodhisattva, one whose purpose is the liberation of all sentient beings. As Jack Kornfield said, this is a path with heart. We hear about the practice, and the dharma, and something within us stirs. We know innately that it is true; that we are responsible for one another.  Being totally self-absorbed and self-interested becomes a meaningless existence.  We know there is another way to live, a way that will give purpose to our lives.  We do community service, volunteer somewhere, give money – all so that we can feel like we’re contributing somehow.  These are things the Buddha encouraged. As a matter of fact is it the first thing he taught his followers – not meditation, but generosity: giving, dana.


Bring your attention to the breath. Feel the breath in the body. Watch it move in and out. How do the lungs feel as they expand and contract with the breath. Can you feel your ribs moving; your clothes moving against your skin as the chest rises and falls? These are all noticed. The awareness is placed on them with a light attention. No conversation is necessary; we are just being attentive to something that is normally overlooked because it happens automatically.

Sit in this way for a while, five minutes, or 20 or 60 or 3 breaths. It may not be comfortable (or maybe it will). But, just give it a try today.