Freedom of Routine


I used to think it would be terribly status quo to do the same thing day in and day out – some present day torture resulting in a robotic, sad life void of meaning and vigor.  But now, with aging eyes and dharmic direction, I see great freedom and joy in creating a daily rhythm, ordinary and relatively unchanging.  Of course, our motivation must be well applied and properly set (otherwise a routine can become dry and numbing).

I’ve been thinking about my own simple daily routines lately and how they offer me nourishment and support throughout the day.  My alarm is set to wake me up at 5:03am (yep, not 5:00, 5:03) Monday through Saturday (Sundays are my days to sleep in).  Oftentimes, however, I wake up before my alarm goes off.  After I get up I make some tea and drink slowly as I read by book light in the living room for 20-30 minutes (currently I am reading a book called Meeting Faith, Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun).   I then set a timer, sing the morning chant (you can give a listen to my recording here, and practice sitting meditation for 20 minutes in the quiet stillness of the darkened early morning.  I finish my sitting meditation with three prostrations to the earth, in which I offer a different gratitude with each one, followed by one final standing bow in which I say to myself:

“In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today, may I be useful, may I be kind.”

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Spring Time

A picture my friend Luke Johnson took in Hawaii in February

A picture my friend Luke Johnson took in Hawaii in February


Thin curved branches topped with new golden mustard shoots

announce spring’s reappearance,

splendid as mountain’s dawn ricocheting on pine bristled rocky spines

echoing to the valley floor spread below –

Breathing in I am alighted by the warmth of the sun

Breathing out I smile to the beauty of nature enveloping me –

And is not everything nature really?

Yes, the earth and sky and waters of course,

the fruits of their labor, their rich colors and sweet fragrance,

but also the glistening web of wires strung from pole to pole coursing with

electricity and information,

brick and mortar buildings,

asphalt and gravel,

big rigs, smoke stacks, metal grain bins, and water treatment plants –

Nothing can be separated from nature,

nothing discarded in the name of connection –

Everything we have created

has come from, and will go back to,

this one sacred and most amazing planet

Judging a Book by its Cover


Lately I’ve been thinking about the propensity we have to judge a book by its cover.  I would venture to say that all of us do it to some extent.  And while we don’t appreciate when we ourselves are judged unfairly we tend to naturally get caught up in the cycle of judging others just the same.  An over occupation with how others see us (self-conciousness) is a direct result of how our own inner critic is forever comparing ourselves against everyone else.  How we see and treat ourselves often translates to how we see and treat others.

It’s a somewhat natural process to judge someone by the way they look and behave and it’s not always a bad thing.  At times our instincts may even be correct.  However, a majority of the time we have little or no idea who someone else is simply by seeing, meeting, or even spending time with them.

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Buddha Garden



Yesterday my stepson Jaden and I went to visit the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT on our way up north to spend the day in Polson on the Flathead Lake.  So, I thought I’d share some pics from the garden.  It’s such a lovely spot.  And the mixture of colors yesterday, from the white dusting of snow, greening valley fields, and gray-blue skies, were just wonderful.

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On Comparison

idaho lake

A pic my son took on Monday in Sandpoint, ID

I was reluctant for a good long while to have our sangha join the facebook community.  But now that we have and its been going for a while I’m glad we did.  Its been a nice community building tool and I really enjoy finding and creating pictures, quotes, helpful articles, and writing short practice snippets to post.  On my sangha’s facebook page ( this morning I posted this and wanted to share it here on my blog as well – it’s the start of something I’ve been thinking about lately and will look to expand on in the near future as my thoughts continue to solidify:

Comparing our experience with that of another and judging who’s upset is worse only serves to further water our seeds of suffering. In thinking that our life is harder and more fraught with difficulty than someone else’s adds additional weight for us to carry around.

We can use our skills of mindfulness to engage with the present moment in such a way that we release ourselves from the bonds of what Thich Nhat Hanh calls: the inferiority complex, the superiority complex, and the equality complex.

Let us not get caught in unnecessary comparison and judgement.  Let us learn ways to simply Be Here Now.