Black Caps*

Their canes are left over from last year, in spring new ones emerge, both catch my clothes when I get close. They leaf out and eventually flower, then the berries start to form: tiny whitish-green at first, then some pink as they grow, eventually turning red, and now maturing into deep luscious purple-black.

Black is beautiful, black is tasty, black is part of the palette of our woods and fields.

What a tired, stale mentality to want everything to be one color, one flavor, one opinion.

[* Black caps are the black raspberries growing wild here. Yet another gift of nature, nurturing us in this vale.]

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On Line Retreat May 16-22 (Covid-19.5)

“Safer at Home” in Covid-19 times is an opportunity for meditative retreat. “Distancing” becomes space for inner work and “isolation” becomes spiritual solitude, as encouraged in the Buddha’s teachings. Santikaro’s scheduled retreats in March, May, and June have been adapted to Home & Online Retreats via Zoom. Upcoming on-line retreats can be found here.

May 16-22 is a 7 day retreat with the theme of “Exploring the Diversity of Meditation,” originally planned for Cloud Mountain. If you are staying home these days, and you would like to practice within sangha and with guidance, please consider joining us. Details can be found here.

Zoom, like most big online tech companies, has drawbacks. When using Zoom, Facebook, Amazon, and the like, please practice good internet hygiene, as in the second half of this article.

May you and all your loved ones be safe and well, with kindness and wisdom.

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New Leadership (Covid-19.4)

Wise words from Amita Schmidt, a dear friend:

You might wonder after a pandemic, “Who is going to lead?” A president? The millennials?  Wise elders? Philanthropists? Corporations? Criminals?

Instead of “who,” wonder “what?” What in me is going to lead? Fear? Worry? Selfing? Pushing? Controlling? Thoughts? Emotions?

This is a time for new leadership.  Lead with your inner stability.  Lead with your quiet, empty, aware nature. Lead with stillness, wisdom, and connectivity.  Lead with the absence of “you.”

The Buddha insisted, “I have stopped, why don’t you?”

And Psalm 46:10 invites, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Stop. Listen. Experiment with social distancing from the streaming device between your ears. Wash your hands of the insatiable push to do more.

Simply stop, be still, and effortlessly rest in the core of your inner being. Each day, surrender to your inner being, and listen. It will tell you everything you need to know.

Follow the quiet, away from fear. Follow the simplicity, away from complexity. Your mind will lead you into a maze of illusion. Remember your unborn nature. When you come out of quarantine, leave the matrix of “I” behind. Then, only awareness remains. Awareness is always leading, not you.

Expect no one to lead. Let your steadfast inner stillness lead.

 Visit Amita’s website here

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New Audio (Covid-19.3)

During a recent Home-Online retreat with friends of Dharma Zephyr (Nevada) certain talks spoke directly to important aspects of our Covid-19 situation. Perhaps you’ll hear something of practical benefit. You can access through Kevala Retreat’s new Audio Library.

Subscribers to this Blog may not have received emails recently. I hope to have fixed that glitch. If this is the first email you’ve gotten from us in a while, the glitch is why.

Be well, be wise, be kind.

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Dhammic Safe Harbor (Covid-19.2)

“Retreating to safe harbor” is a theme Ajahn Buddhad?sa employed to caution against mindless progress. Careening forward out of habit is never wise. There are many times when we must pause and take stock. He borrowed the term from Southern Thai culture: toi lang kao klong, literally “back up into the river.” Klong, in the South, are both human dug canals, as in the rest of Thailand, and the rivers that descend from the mountainous spine of the peninsula to make their brief runs to the Gulf of Siam. The fisherfolk where he grew up would bring their boats up into the local Klong Pum Riang when storms were brewing. Here, there was more protection from strong winds and wave surges.

There are times to venture forth for earning a living, learning about the world, seeking Dhamma training, and otherwise engaging with the outside world. And there are also times for seeking refuge from storms such as social strife, widespread immorality, wars, and pandemics. Wisdom discerns when it is time to toi lang kao klong.

Like the breathing there is a natural rhythm and balance between our outer activities and inner spiritual work. Students of Buddhism heed this need and take the opportunities that life presents for periods of quiet, solitude, and contemplation, whether 30 minutes in a busy day, a weekly wan phra (sabbath), or days of retreat. With the Covid-19 strictures that health officials are recommending and governments are enforcing, we can make this a voluntary toi lang kao klong. This is wiser than chaffing at the restrictions.

In this physical, social, and economic world there is no ultimate safety. For that we turn to nibb?na, the ultimate refuge. The Three Refuges of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha guide us to such safety, if we truly take refuge in them. We toi lang kao klong to seek the inspiration and guidance of Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha and cultivate the noble path of freedom from suffering.

Spiritually, we retreat into the safe harbor of our practice of ethics, meditation, and insight. Dhamma practice is not meant to be easy and it will challenge us deeply, even shake us at the core, but it never harms us. Rather, it frees us from the mistaken beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that actually harm us.

May each of us retreat into our safe harbors and help our sanghas, communities, and societies begin to understand Dhammic Safe Harbor.

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