Monthly Archives: April 2020


“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.” ~~Thich Nhat Hanh (The Miracle of Mindfulness)

Our mindfulness practice is the foundation of our life, so how is it going? Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on mindfulness are so simple and straightforward. Everything is sacred. We give our complete attention to whatever we are doing. This includes sitting meditation and the work we do and the way we behave in our relationships. When we bring our mindfulness to our work, it becomes an activity of love and attention rather than an obligation. When we bring mindfulness to our conversations, we bring love and respect and kindness. In all of our interactions with one another, we bring the sacredness of our practice to our relationships.


Mindfulness practice is just that, practice, so are you continuing to sit every day? Are you working with the breath, noticing the sensations in the body, experiencing the emotions, and releasing thoughts? We do it daily and allow ourselves to learn how to do it. And we are always practicing; expectations of perfection are released like every other thought.

“Generosity is revolutionary, counter-instinctual.”

“Generosity is revolutionary, counter-instinctual. Our survival instinct is to care only for ourselves and our loved ones. But we can transform our relationship to that survival instinct by constantly asking ourselves, “How can I use my life’s energy to benefit all living beings?”

~Noah Levine

The dharma say “give of this life to others.” Be generous in all things. Live this life in a generous way. Part of that is living honestly. Not pretending to be OK all the time. Allowing people to see life’s difficulties can be lived through in a way that brings greater understanding and openness. So much of the time in spiritual practice people pretend that they have no difficulties or if they do that they aren’t touched by them. But that isn’t the case. We all experience all emotions and sadness and pain and fear are a part of everyone’s life. If we allow it, they can act as catalysts to propel us further in our study and growth. As we live our lives honestly among our fellows we share what these experiences give us, and we begin to see that often what they give us is depth and understanding and compassion.

So, we are asked to be generous with ourselves: our time, attention, and love. Be generous with our material goods to the greatest extent that we can. Be generous in teaching the dharma, building the sangha, giving the teachings away to help relieve the suffering of all sentient beings. This is dana, the open-hearted gift of love.


We begin the practice of generosity in our sitting meditation. This includes the work we do and the way we behave in our relationships. When we bring generosity to our work, it becomes an activity of love and attention rather than an obligation. When we bring generosity to our conversations, just as we bring love and respect and kindness. Today, ask yourself this question by Noah Levine “How can I use my life’s energy to benefit all living beings?”

Generosity of spirit toward ourselves

“Accept the generosity that is the life that is lived as you.” Shikai Sensei

This is generosity of spirit toward ourselves, which is so necessary.  When we open our hearts with compassion and loving kindness to ourselves we begin to remove our ego from the center of our lives.  Our loving heart becomes the center of operations. Generosity allows us to stop being so hard on ourselves when we make a mistake, say the wrong thing, or even think the “wrong thing.” We can begin to understand how harmful our negative thinking and self-talk is to us. Our hearts soften toward ourselves.

Imagine that.

Sharon Salzberg wrote in her book Loving-kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Imagine that.

Imagine what it would be like to remember that you deserve your own love and affection.

Imagine what it would be like to give yourself the same tenderness you give your loved ones.

Imagine the way you could feel if your thought was, “It’s all right, Sweetheart. It’s just a mistake,” rather than what you usually say to yourself.

Imagine it.

And now, find a sweet name to call yourself. Something gentle and kind. Something to replace the thought that starts with “what’s wrong with you….” Keep that gentle name and gentle thought handy and practice it a lot. Call yourself by that name as much as you can. Watch what happens to your heart.


It’s so nice to have a guided meditation. Someone leading us through the process and telling us where to place our attention. But, we can guide our own meditation. We have the general instruction to return to the breath when we are distracted by something, so we can notice what we are hearing and return to the breath when the sound passes. You can gently note the “dripping, dripping, dripping,” of the faucet. No need to try to figure out whether you left the faucet running a little or if you need to call a plumber. Just note “dripping” and return to the breath when the sound no longer has your attention.  You can place your attention on what is happening in your body, when your leg begin to go to sleep you note “tingling, tingling, tingling” until it passes, and then return to the breath. You can sit with your feelings of sorrow, irritation, boredom, sexual desire, or anything that arises, and then return to the breath when the feeling passes. You release all thoughts, “Thinking, Sweetheart,” and notice what’s happened in your emotions and body because of the thoughts, but then of course, return to the breath.  The breath, calm and without bias, is always waiting for us to return.

Extend your mindfulness out from the cushion to the other things you do in your life. Be mindful in your work; in your relationships; while walking, talking, and playing. Bring mindfulness to every area of your life.

Consider the flame of a single lamp

The Buddha said, “When you see someone practicing the Way of giving, aid him joyously, and you will obtain vast and great blessings.” A shramana asked: “Is there an end to those blessings?” The Buddha said, “Consider the flame of a single lamp. Though a hundred thousand people come and light their own lamps from it so that they can cook their food and ward off the darkness, the first lamp remains the same as before. Blessings are like this, too.”

The blessings of the dharma are endless.  As we share the dharma with others, we are giving this priceless jewel, the gift of fearlessness. In doing so, we open all of consciousness to the Middle Way. The dharma allows us to see that we have choices in our lives. Indeed, life is all about the choices we make, and we can choose in everything. Maybe all we can choose is the attitude we will have or the intention, but that in itself is powerful. We can choose to use our own suffering – all if it, physical, emotional, spiritual – to benefit others in the practice of compassion and loving-kindness. We can choose to untangle the internal knots of ignorance, greed, hatred by using the teaching of understanding, love, and generosity. We don’t force the dharma onto others. We live the dharma and in being a living example of the teaching we teach them. There is no need to proselytize or try to convince anyone of how well the teaching works in our lives. Those who know us will see how well our spiritual practice works for us and lean towards it with us. The dharma is so easy to share because it works so well in our real lives. We could also give a person a job or teach them a trade.  This has truly lasting benefit. One of my dear friends taught me how to appraise commercial Real Estate when I moved to Colorado. Because of her, I began to earn a good living and to feel productive again.  Then another friend brought me over to environmental work and taught me that. Then, I went to work for another friend in her Real Estate law practice. In the last thirty-five years almost every job I have had has come to me though a friend’s generosity. 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. 


In the first verse of the Dhammapada, The Buddha said,  “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.” Because of this we bring awareness to our thoughts in meditation. We release them rather than falling into them, but we do this with awareness. We notice over and over what we think about. We see our obsessions, our habits, our fantasies. We notice how they affect us emotionally. We bring compassion and understanding to ourselves as we release these thoughts.

We are building a practice. Every day we sit and give a kind attention to the breath, the body, the emotions and the mind.  We give ourselves the gift of being with ourselves in an open and loving way for a few minutes. Continue to practice today for 20 minutes or 3 breaths.