Courage To Heal

For the last few years, I’ve been honored to participate in Unity of Missoula’s Day of Prayer interfaith service. The service is tonight and I will be speaking on behalf of our Buddhist sanghas, as part of our spiritual leadership team.

A short snippet about Unity:

Unity Worldwide Ministries is a worldwide network of ministries, ministers, licensed teachers and individuals providing practical teachings to help people live healthy, prosperous and meaningful lives. Unity is a positive path for spiritual living. We teach the effective daily application of the principles of Truth taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ.

Here’s what I plan on saying, based on Unity’s theme this year, which is: Courage to Heal and their affirmation of: I am a healing presence.

Prior to watching the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor just last night, I had planned on talking about the unification of mind and body in the present moment, and how dispersing our energy into thoughts about the past or worries about the future greatly reduces our ability to be a healing presence in the world. But at 9:00pm last night, after I watched this remarkable documentary, I decided to go in a different direction.

I’d like to start with a 1-minute exercise that Fred Rogers liked to do with people – I’d like us all to reflect on someone who has helped us along the way. So let us take 1-minute right now to do this in silence.

(One minute of silence, followed by a sound of the bell)

We all have people who have helped us along the way. People who, as Fred was shown saying at the end of the film during a commencement speech, have: “smiled us into smiling, talked us into talking, sang us into singing, or loved us into loving.”

To help is to heal. To help is to love. And each of us has the capacity to foster a healing presence in the world. It’s imperative to the well being of humanity that we not shrink away from or underestimate our ancestral bestowment, which is the power to help, heal, and love: ourselves, our friends and family, our co-workers, our neighbors, all beings who cross our path, and the earth.

Every morning, I start my day with 30 minutes of silent sitting meditation, followed by a gratitude practice that I’ve come up with on my own, using certain elements of our Buddhist tradition, which includes 3 prostrations to the earth, down on the ground, and one final standing bow. With the first prostration I say the same thing each morning: I bow down to the earth in gratitude for this one precious life. With the 2nd and 3rd prostrations, I offer rotating gratitudes of whatever is alive for me that day. And with the final standing bow, I conclude with: In gratitude for this one more opportunity to live today, may I be useful, may I be kind.

This way of starting my day helps to angle me in the direction of my highest intention, which is to be a healing, supportive, loving presence throughout the day to all those I will cross paths with. And in order for this calling to be sustained into the future, I need to cultivate and strengthen the seeds of gratitude, ease, and joy every day.

My hope for all of us is that we find ways in which to continue to water these same seeds for ourselves, so the we can shine our light forward, helping to illuminate the beauty, goodness, and splendors that exist within and around us. And when we do this, it will naturally usher others to join us in the work of transformation and healing.

Nuts & Bolts of Well Being


Bike parts for making bike art at Missoula’s annual Festival of Cycles, September 14th, 2013

This past Thursday I was asked to speak at an interfaith service at our local Unity Church for the 20th Annual Unity World Day of Prayer.  This year’s theme was: “Living Well: Nurturing Mind, Body, and Spirit,” and
the affirmation was: “My positive thoughts, words, and actions create a healthy life—mind, body, and spirit.”

I represented the Buddhist faith and was among a handful of congregation leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, and Native American communities, along with a few others, who were there to offer a prayer or some words in line with the theme of well being.  It was my second year participating in this service and I enjoyed it very much.  Connecting faiths and sharing together is a beautiful expression of coming together as brothers and sisters.

This is the passage I read from the Plum Village Chanting and Recitation Book:

We come back to live in the wonderful present, to plant our heart’s garden with good seeds, and to make strong foundations of understanding and love.  We vow to train ourselves in mindfulness and concentration, practicing to look and understand deeply, to be able to see the nature of all that is, and so to be free of the bonds of birth and death.  We learn to speak lovingly, to be affectionate, to care for others whether it is early morn or late afternoon, to bring the roots of joy to many places, helping people to abandon sorrow, to respond with deep gratitude to the kindness of parents, teachers, and friends.  With deep faith we light up the incense of our heart.  We ask the Lord of Compassion to be our protector on the wonderful path of practice.  We vow to practice diligently, cultivating the fruits of this path.

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