Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

planning funerals (spoiler alert: not to hold for a while, hopefully) ~

I want this read at my funeral. Which I hope is many years in the future (my good news yesterday — no cancer! — certainly helps me believe that!).

I want it read because it’s what I’ve always believed, even as a small child. We really are stardust — which to me is so magic. Every piece of me — every sub-atomic particle — was once elsewhere. And will be again. The reason, I believe, that the breath is the focus of meditation practice is not only that it slows us, helps us be in this moment. I’ve done that a lot recently, breathing through pain & for others. It’s not even that it’s a ‘way in’ to our own hearts &  minds. For me — and I speak for no dogma or sangha here — it’s because breath connects every thing on this planet. And ultimately in the universe.


I’ve never understood why belief & science are cast as opponents in some contest. Science isn’t a belief system — it’s what helped us figure out the laws of mass, and energy, and how chlorophyll works. It helps us heal disease and save lives, purify water and harness the very wind. But, unlike belief, it’s never static. What was ‘so’ by the best science of a millenia ago is rarely still taken as scientific. New evidence comes to light. We stand on the shoulders of those before us to see farther, as Newton said. In faith, we believe. And our faith  may deepen, may weather. But it doesn’t get much new ‘evidence,’ as it were.


Perhaps because they are so different, they seem antithetical. But for me? This is what I thought as a very young child. That the bees I followed, flying from flower to flower, and the lizard I watched breathe blue throat in/ blue throat out, and the tree that bloomed for me late into a mad November…we were all in it together. Part of the same system. Only I didn’t have the words, then.

Nothing is made from nothing. We are what we eat, we say. And yes, we are. But we are also what we drink — water that has never left the planet, drawn from the aquifers below us, or pulled from lakes where large fish swim along muddy bottoms. And we are what we breathe — the pollen from date palm in Saudi Arabia, the gangrene of Civil War Battlefields, the lost ferns of the Paleozoic. It broke down into the stardust it was made from, and came into us. As did the sharp peaks that once capped the Appalachias, and the silt from the Nile, and the mourned soil from the barren Dust Bowl. It’s all still here.

So I want this read. Because to me, it’s as Buddhist as it gets. This is the web, guys. Not the World Wide Web, but the Universal, Ultimate Galactic, Infinite Is Just a Blink Web. And it’s us.

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