When I clacked in the title of this post: Three Roads Converge, I thought I’d tie in three threads that have been thrumming through my life as of late. But then as I started thinking more about it, I realized that it’s more like 5 of 6 threads that have woven themselves together in the past week, prompting my call to pen this post.
On Monday, I had a meeting with an OI (Order of Interbeing) pre-aspirant friend of mine, where we decided to start a practice of working closely with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings together, which serve as the foundation of our Buddhist tradition. I shared with her that prior to my having been ordained into the Order – back in 2007 – I took it upon myself to work with each one of the trainings for the span of one-week. I read one training every day for 7 days and then would go onto the next one, equating to a 14-week practice. After reading each training, I would then journal about my thoughts/practice/experience with the training. This practice was very nourishing for me and allowed me the opportunity to look and work deeply with each training, one at a time.
Since she liked this idea and was interested in doing it, I extended the offer of having her and I do it together. Our plan is to focus on one training every 2-weeks, so that when next we meet, which will be once a month, we’ll share with each other our journal entries and what came up for us, centered around two of the trainings.
Since this was week #1, here’s the first of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings that I’ve been working with this past week, and will continue practicing with through the next week:
The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.
To read all 14, please click here.
Browsing through our local Book Exchange store a few months ago I came upon this book (pictured above). Not being an avid reader I didn’t actually get to reading it until recently. But with my new morning routine, since coming back from my recent one-month retreat at Deer Park Monastery, I’ve been waking up early, reading, and then practicing sitting meditation. I’m almost finished with this book entitled, A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life by Lama Marut. And while I’ve not connected with everything in this book I have very much enjoyed it and would recommend it to others.
Lama Marut’s book is filled with humor, insight, real world correlations, big fancy type words I had to look up the definitions for, and a laid back approach, and did I mention humor? On the back of the book cover it explains Lama Marut as “an ordained Buddhist monk, a university professor, a surfer, and a motorcycle enthusiast.” And while pictures of motorcycles grace the front cover of the book and are peppered throughout the chapters, there is no real connection that I can ascertain between them and the content he writes about. So, in case you were wondering, this book does not, as the cover may imply, have anything to do with motorcycles. I think it is Lama Marut’s clever way of drawing us rogue spiritual types in to pick up the book :) And apparently, in my case at least, it worked!
One of the One Thousand Buddhas
The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, MT is beautifully surrounded by mountain ranges and big skies – and many many buddha statues. I had the opportunity to visit the garden a few days ago in the morning, a time of day I’ve never experienced there before. It was about 25 degrees outside and the statues were thinly coated with a dusting of frost. The garden is the unfolding vision of EWAM, practicing the teachings of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (to learn more about EWAM and the garden go to http://www.ewam.org). According to their website: the purpose of the garden is to to bring about positive transformation within those who visit, in response to the negativity that abounds in the world today.
What I most appreciate about the garden is the location. Traveling through the tribal lands of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation you turn on White Coyote Road after passing through the small town of Alree. With a population of 636 and local store Hummingbird Toys & Treats, who’s sign tells passersby about their 57 varieties of black licorice, one would not expect that just a few short minutes down the road. past a few hay barns, horse corrals and farmsteads that a large, ornate and delicately painted statue of the Great Mother Yum Chenmo would rise from the fields.
All one thousand buddha statues were hand-cast and are currently being placed on the 8 spokes of the dharma wheel surrounding Yum Chenmo. The wall lining the outer circle is topped with one thousand stupas, representations of the enlightened mind, each enshrining an image of the female deity,Tara. Coming from a Zen based tradition I have different practices than Tibetan teachings, so while I may not understand all of the various meanings of the garden I can connect on the level of peace and compassion that is being cultivated there. The garden has a lot of good medicine to offer.
The other morning myself and some friends did some silent walking meditation around the garden. Each of us took our own path and mine led me to discovering how wonderfully the morning sun shone differently on each row of buddha statues. When my eyes lowered to meet the flower and plant beds I was captivated by the particles of frost that danced over the leaves and petals still holding onto their stems.
The bright blue skies, crisp chill of the autumn morning, white beaming statues of the buddha and magnificent covering of frost more than made up for my reluctancy to get out of bed at 7:00am :)
(Click to enlarge)