Over this past weekend, I finished watching a talk by Brother Phap Hai, which he gave at Deer Park Monastery on June 21st, 2018. I watch a fair amount of Dharma talks online and I found this one in particular to be very powerful. If you’d like to check it out, click here. Side note: if you’re like me and it’s helpful to watch talks in segments, there are good stopping/pausing points in this talk at 17.40 and 31.05 (the total run time is 54.55).
From Brother Phap Hai’s talk:
“The fundamental insight of Buddhism is that if we look deeply into our lives, into our situation, with appropriate attention, then the path reveals itself naturally.”
Seven Treasures of the Heart
as offered by the Buddha in the Dhana Sutta
2. Mindfulness trainings
(You know you’re a writer when you take a picture of the notes you’re scribbling down while at a writer’s conference because you think your pen looks hella sexy.)
I’ve had so much great input as of late, from a variety of sources, and have collected a smattering of quotes I’ve penned on whatever papered surface was in my midst. I wasn’t sure what I would do with these quotes, I was simply inspired to pen them down. In the interest of not containing these quotes on paper where only my eyes will glance upon them, I’ve decided to fashion this post and release them into the wild, where they belong.
Quotes from panelists during the Writing at Work conference, which took place at the University of Montana campus on Friday:
“You need to be ready to be rejected over and over and over. If one rejection email is going to crush you, you shouldn’t be a writer.”
“I can’t get too close to my hometown of Cut Bank, Montana – it’s population, elevation, and wind velocity are all the same number: 3,800.”
“Stick with your voice, we’re more capable than we think” and “Put in the time, even when you don’t want to.” – Pete Fromm
“Create occasions you have to rise to.”
“Find the joy in the work” and “I only learn things when I suck at it.” – Sarah Aswell (local comedian and comic writer)
“There’s often a crisis that precipitates inspiration.” – Editor of Beargrass Publications
“No woman writer thinks they have permission to write.”
Random quotes from random sources of inspiration (from songs to films; from books to videos on youtube; from articles to twitter posts):
Happy Random Acts of Kindness Day!
Random Acts Of Kindness Day was first created in Denver, Colorado and formally recognized by President Clinton in 1995.
The idea behind this holiday is to make the world a better place by spreading a little light around.
So, here’s a little light :)
I recently signed up to participate in a local poetry slam that takes place this coming weekend. It’s an annual slam that happens around this time each year, as part of the Montana Book Festival. This will be my fifth slam. Doing these poetry slams is the most nerve racking thing I do with my time all year. But I sign up for two reasons: 1. It’s good practice for me in getting outside of my comfort zone. The more I practice, the easier it gets. 2. It’s good for me to practice shining my light of creativity and love for spoken word. I’ve taken it on as a diligent practice to step out of my fear of shining brightly – a fear I came to realize I had a couple of years ago while on a retreat at Deer Park Monastery.
(Quote to the right by Marianne Williamson)
A few days ago I was at the Good Food Store, our local organic market. When I was in the checkout line the cashier, having remembered me from when she saw me in my first slam in the fall of 2014, said, “Oh, I saw that the poetry slam is coming up soon. Did you sign up?” I then proceeded to tell her about how I did sign up and that I was feeling pretty nervous about it, since it’s at a more popular venue this year and will probably be pretty packed. She was surprised that I was nervous and even more so to learn that the one she had seen me in two years ago had been my first slam. “You didn’t look nervous at all!” she remarked. I replied with a smile and said, “Yeah, it’s one of those don’t judge a book by its cover things.” She nodded and agreed and then quoted something a friend of hers had told her: Don’t judge someone’s outside by your inside. And after a pause, to let those words sink and settle in, I thought to myself: Good phrase!
It was then my turn to be surprised when she mentioned having remembered something I said from my first piece in the slam she saw me in all the way back in 2014, which had to do with busyness being a choice. She really appreciated that and said it was a good message. For someone to remember a quickly spoken few words I uttered on stage two years ago seems quite remarkable.
Similar encounters have happened to me a handful of times over the past couple of years: people I don’t know coming up to me and commenting about the slams they’ve seen me in and offering their appreciation of my pieces, each becoming equally surprised to find out that I am super nervous up on stage and that it’s a relatively new craft for me. I’ve written on this topic a few times before but it never ceases to amaze me about the strength and power of our perceptions and how often we are totally mistaken. Please don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of gratitude for those folks who’ve come up to me and offered their kind words, it’s a great and unexpected support – and I love that I live in a town where this sort of thing happens! It’s just funny how quickly we can judge a book by its cover, or a person’s outside by our inside. I am continually reminded to ask myself the question Thich Nhat Hanh poses as a practice tool: Am I sure? And it’s still amazing to me how often the answer is no.
Last week during our meditation group as we were reading through our current book, One City, A Declaration of Interdependence by Ethan Nichtern, we read a passage that mentioned the quote in the above picture: If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention. He went on to say:
“Anger contains a great deal of wisdom, especially the wisdom to know what is wrong, both within us and around us. Anger is also the necessary inspirational fuel for changing any negative situation into a more positive one…Anger is what gets us off our asses and drives us toward transformative action…It can even be helpful to get angry at our own shortcomings if we can do it without falling into that bottomless crater of guilt and inadequacy…Like any power source, it can be deadly if not handled properly, and helpful if used skillfully.”
It gave me pause to hear some of these words spoken aloud during our reading time. “Hmmm…” I thought to myself, “I’m not sure I entirely agree with ol’ Ethan here.” I’m also not sure I agree with the above quote. While I understand what it’s getting at I’m not so sure that outrage is what’s required or should be sought after in regards to being faced with pervasive world issues, such as: poverty, war, injustice, violence, and so on. I’m not so sure that awareness should be equated to “an act of wanton (done, shown or used) cruelty or violence” (as outrage is defined by dictionary.com). And I’m fairly certain that anger is not, in fact, necessary in regards to changing something negative into something positive, as Ethan suggests.