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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

compassion Archives

“and if I love myself enough, loving you won’t be so rough”

The quote comes from an old ’70s song; I forget the artist (sorry!). I always liked the sentiment — it’s so very hard to love anyone else if you can’t stand your own self. And trusting yourself? Even harder. How […]

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the Beatitudes, Buddhism, and living a good life

A discussion on my FB page began w/ my heartfelt anger at recent attempts (many successful) to discriminate against gay & trangender men & women. An old friend & former colleague pointed out that most Christians (at least here in […]

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oh RATS, or, rescue and repatriation and compassion

This is Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat. It’s the same rat many lab rats are bred from, and it’s SMART. Also, not so nice to have as a wild resident. As in: living in your laundry room. Even if […]

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the little things we do can be BIG to someone else

Today was a Starbucks day. I realise that Starbucks isn’t everyone’s fave. It’s not local (but it employs a LOT of locals!), and it’s not trendy. Still, I like Starbucks. They’re always (well, almost always) nice to me, and I […]

some periods you just breathe through…

At times like this, I don’t know what I’d do w/out tonglen. When I’m grieving for a loved one’s unhappiness, or breathing through my own, I remember: all over the world there is suffering. I know – how hokey is that? […]

month of Thanksgiving #6 (short but sweet)

Today was/ continues to be one of those blah days when good things happen, but you don’t always see them at first. Or, you don’t even have the energy to acknowledge them (how sad is  THAT?). So my gratitude is […]

generousity

My horoscope this week (and yes — I do read it!) says I should be generous w/ friends & family. Give! it says. Both gifts & compassion. How fun is that! So — I bought my sister a trinket as […]

our own best friends

Here’s the thing, folks: who is your best friend? Who do you trust? Who has your back? And who — within broad limits — will you forgive almost anything? If you yourself aren’t on that list, welcome to adulthood. And […]

my mother’s heart and #Ferguson

This is my wonderful family. These are my infinitely fallible and perfect sons, my perfect daughter-in-law (known in my writings as DIL), my beloved. And this is a story about empathy. Both of my sons look — to anyone outside […]

30 Days of Love: cleaning out drawers and lightening the load

I love to cook. And I love tools. Ergo, I have a LOT of cooking stuff. Cram-jammed drawers full. The same goes for coffee paraphenalia, tea accessories, and various things I no longer even recognise. Not good. I have to […]

30 Days of Love: blending faiths

In keeping with the 30 Days of Love project, I’m thinking about how it works with my own beliefs, with Buddhism, specifically. As many faith traditions do, they intersect in many productive ways. Engaged Buddhism fits well with the theme […]

Remembering Nelson Mandela, and his shifting place in American history

The world will miss Nelson  Mandela. A man who saw that forgiveness was as large a part of revolution as upheaveal. A man who brought good to a nation riven by wrong. A man who was not afraid to love […]

bad choices & (broken) beginner’s heart

There is a slice of meringue pie in the fridge. Calling to me. It may well speak some formerly unknown language that sounds now a bit like mother tongue. I shouldn’t eat it, but it’s not such a big deal. […]

rescuing bees, even one by one

Yesterday I did my part for Save the Bees: I rescued one bee. Just one, at no risk to anything other than my sense of propriety (whatever that is!). Sitting at a two-top by a window, waiting for my sister […]

the blame game, compromise, and windows

Yesterday I overdosed on politics. I read blog after article after news piece after FB post. Ugh. I was left more than slightly nauseous, and wondering how American politics came to such an ugly place. Of course I have my […]

self-love and the Golden Rule -

Most religions have a version of the Golden Rule: love others as you love yourself. Treat others as you would be treated. Do unto others as you would be done by. Here’s the catch: It means ZIP if you don’t […]

nieces, & soulless bastards ~

The Virginia gubernatorial candidate from the Republican party says my niece has no soul. My lovely niece, who is intellectually brilliant, wise and funny, and as kind and good as dawn. Because her partner is another woman — another lovely, […]

my own sangha ~

I don’t have a true sangha – that community of Buddhist believers who  journey with you along your spiritual path. I have fellow travelers, certainly, and I’d like to think my approach to belief is eclectic enough that my ersatz […]

race in America, and the dilemma of forgiveness ~

I’ve never cared for Paula Deen. Didn’t watch her on TV more than once or twice. Didn’t buy her cookbooks. Don’t even care for her kind of cooking, these days. I also think that people need to NOT use the […]

wonder, and loving strangers (even mean ones??) ~

My grandson — one month old, today! — cries when I hold him. A LOT of the time. It’s embarrassing. Not to mention depressing. I do NOT have this grandmother thing down. Tonight my son & DIL are out to […]

motes and logs: or, what we don’t see…

On the plane coming home from a weekend writer’s conference, I sat next to a very nice woman from Austin. She was unbelievably lovely, soft-spoken with a sweet Southern drawl. We talked, as passengers in tiny seats sharing breathing space […]

intimate murder & political opportunism ~

My sister is very lucky. She has been in two abusive domestic relationships, and she survived each. Once, when she ran across the street to my grandmother’s, crying & half-dressed, my great-aunt Bonnie attacked her pursuer with a broom: this […]

one week into Lent ~

It’s a bit more than a week since Lent began. But the vaguely lighter feeling that modest sacrifice generates is still warm. And I don’t feel particularly ‘without.’ Perhaps I should have picked something more important… In the past, I’ve […]

for love of boys: a letter from a friend & colleague ~

A friend sent me a note after my previous post. Her husband, she said, had grown up in a family  that substituted isolation and alienation for love, hard ‘discipline’ (most of us would call it verbal abuse) for compassion, and religious […]

tragedy, great sorrow, and the breath ~

I have nothing to say after a tragedy of this magnitude. My heart hurts — I have to catch my breath, thinking of sending a child or children off to school, and never seeing them again… My mind races: what […]

America hates teachers: the new normal…?

I’m fashed, my Aunt Bonnie would say. From the French ‘fâcher,’ to make angry, or offend. It’s an old Southern term — probably been around since French settlements. It isn’t just ‘to get mad,’ however — at least not the […]

anger, patience, and putting out fires ~

This is me mad. I’m only half kidding: I have a terrible social temper. Meaning, what gets me mad is social injustice, and/or the will to ignore it. There’s one problem: I’m always the one defining the term… Anger is […]

grief, tragedy, & holding each other in the light ~

Sometimes, the heart is incapable of filling futher. It can’t even break, it’s so full. The Quakers, when things are very hard, hold you in the light. And for each of us, ‘the light’ may be different. But this week, […]

mother love, schadenfreude, & beginner’s heart ~

It’s no secret that I love my students.  And even now, when not one of them sits in circle in a classroom w/ me, they remain ‘my students.’ A kind of extended family — almost like nieces & nephews, if […]

Cross-eyed angry or wrathful compassion?

I struggle with anger. At least 2-3 times daily I blow up. I should clarify that statement.  I don’t become angry on my own behalf: I’m okay when people don’t like me, or think I’m too poetic, too crazy, too […]

when paths part: a contemplation on beginner’s heart ~

One of my students just unfriended me on Facebook. First, however, she sent me a lengthy email, hurt & angry that my posts reflect poorly on her political party, and her political hero. I fully accept responsibility there — as […]

boxes & wet ink ~

Sometimes, when things really cut deep, I try to compartmentalise. I want to be the oyster: coat pain and irritation w/ something soothing, wall it off. I wish the boxes produced pearls… Other times, everything bleeds together. A bit like […]

the price of reflection ~

I’m not so good at taking my own advice, she said, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know what’s right. Guilt. That’s what 5 minutes of reflection costs. Well, maybe that’s the price of temper… And the reflection is just… […]

evolution & blind faith ~

On my bus trip to work, I visited w/ the young woman next to me. She told me her husband was in the Guard, when I asked about her backpack. She shared the work she does to help pay for […]

mind poisons, anger, & desire ~

Anger. Greed. Delusion. Ignorance. Attachment. Aversion. The three root Buddhist mind poisons. The first time I heard them, I knew immediately which one was mine. (Anger, just in case you’re wondering — this will come as no surprise to friends, […]

teaching, politics, & Buddhism ~

I couldn’t tell you which came first: my concern for folks on the margins, my belief that we’re all connected (a kind of nascent Buddhism), or my didactic teacher-self. I remember teaching my 2-year-old younger sister to ‘read’ by having […]

Happy Kwanzaa!

It’s the 5th day of Kwanzaa, the day of purpose, if I’m not mistaken. I love the seven principles of Kwanzaa: Umoja (Unity), Kujichagulia (Self-Determination), Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility), Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics), Nia (Purpose), Kuumba (Creativity) and Imani (Faith). […]

what I learned today ~

For my students, writing a personal narrative — even armoured w/ attendant scholarship — is walking on verrrry thin ice. Their toes curl up, I suspect. They go oh-so-slooowly, each word a careful footstep forward. Each sentence almost too much […]

the Buddhas in the front row ~

True confessions: I actually don’t have rows in my classroom. We sit in an old-fashioned circle, and I don’t let the students put the chairs back after class. ‘Everyone,’ I tell them, ‘should sit in circles. You can see each […]

go home!

There’s an article on the Tricycle website about ‘original nature,’ and the Buddhist saying ‘return to your original state.’ I like to think the admonition is more like ‘Go home!’ Because that’s what it is, our original nature — whatever […]

‘doubts and loves’ ~

I ran into an old poem-friend today — Yehudi Amichai’s “The Place of Right & Wrong.” I’m thinking about the images — how ‘the place where are right/ is hard and trampled/ like a yard.’ But doubts? ‘doubts and loves/ […]

sportsmanship, homeruns, and infinite good ~

This is one of the more moving videos I’ve seen. It’s about a player who hits a homerun, an injury, and the big-heartedness of a very special couple of opposing team players. This is beginner’s heart in action. And here’s […]

‘God is Not a Christian’ & other universals ~

I’ve written about this quote (his book‘s title) from Biship Tutu before. But in the mania ‘remembering’ the horrible nightmare that is the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, it’s good to hear. Unlike some, I see nothing good that has […]

mermaids, furries and other dreamers ~

No, it’s not a real cat. It’s also not, according to the owner, merely a costume. It’s a fursona. A human being who has taken on the identity — at least sometimes — of a furry. I only learned quite […]

‘Mom, you’re sooo depressing’ ~

On the phone the other evening, my beloved younger son told me that while he reads my posts on Facebook, I am sooo depressing. (And yes, there was drawn-out emphasis on the so. :)) It’s true. I post news stories […]

stringing a harp… or, can anger be righteous?

Anger is my mind poison. In Buddhism, there are three — greed, anger, & delusion. Once you hear of them, you pretty much know which is yours. Although often I have to work against a kind of negative cocktail effect […]

Dan, the couple in the car beside me, and seeing with new eyes ~

On my way to pick up groceries for a family-full weekend, I pulled up to a stop light. As is my usual habit, I watched the people around me (I’m a die-hard people-watcher :)). In the car next to me […]

weddings and dreams ~

Our family doctor’s son married in June. I wouldn’t know this, but he was talking weddings to my husband after our return from our son’s wedding. And what Dr. X said seemed rather sad, to me. Digression — are doctor/patient […]

falling on your butt & other vacation mishaps ~

I’m on vacation. And when I’m on vacation, I wear comfy shoes. Not that I wear killer stilettos at any time. But on vacation? I wear my favourite New Balance slip-ons. Because I can :). The other day we went […]

lost journals, Alzheimer’s and hope ~

I lost my journal yesterday. Now, in the spectrum of griefs, on a day when almost 100 people lost their lives in Norway, this is a very tiny blip. It’s just paper, w/ some words and drawings and pasted-in ephemera. […]

invitations ~

For those who wonder — this post has nothing to do w/ my son’s upcoming wedding :). For which I’m currently far from Oklahoma home, in Oregon. Nope, the blog is all the fault of my horoscope. And yep: I […]

from the outside ~

My life has always felt more like chaos theory than organised geometry. I seem, far more often than I’d like, to be a pinball careening off of surfaces already constructed than an arrow unleashed by some omniscient archer :). But […]

the Christian left, words of faith and love and hypocrisy ~

A short while ago, a Facebook page called ‘The Christian Left’ asked its members to help support a FB ad. There was an innocuous ad: Are you a Christian? Are you a Liberal or a Progressive too? Do you feel […]

beginner’s heart and piggies, all the way home ~

I have a complicated relationship w/ vegetarianism. I’ve been vegetarian at several times during my life, sometimes for as long as a year or more. But my best beloved is a die-hard meat eater (Lady GaGa is lucky there wasn’t […]

becoming an elder ~

I have grand-nieces. And a grand-nephew. They are, of course, amazing children. Funny, beautiful, smart and terribly entertaining (emphasis sometimes on the ‘terribly’ :)). Last weekend they came for tea. We sat down to the table, where plates of small […]

two years after ~

When I tell people — sometimes even close friends — that I miss my father-in-law at least as much as my own father, they react in two ways:  Some flat don’t believe me. Others want to know why, as if […]

‘A Wedding at Cana’ ~

Here’s a lovely poem from poet Tom Sleigh, a wonderful poet who writes about war, its impacts and the terrible beauty of the human heart. I especially like this one, ‘A Wedding at Cana, Lebanon, 2007.’

‘meet and talk and listen’ ~ His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a funny guy. He can even find humour in his unpopularity w/ the Chinese (“I give them a little bit of trouble… People who create trouble for you… give you opportunity to practice tolerance,” he said […]

Beginner’s Heart and the Army ~

So what is beginner’s heart? I actually Googled the term. Not many results apply. I came up with it like I do poem titles ~ it seemed like a good idea, and like it would lead me somewhere. It’s how […]

blogging, hubris & tea ~

It’s an act of extreme hubris to begin a blog — it says that what we think and feel and do in our unexceptional life is worth noting. And of course it is, to those who love us. But I’ve […]

The Dalai Lama, bin Laden and forgiveness ~

Lately I’ve been losing sleep (really) over the rhetoric on the news about bin Laden’s death. People are rejoicing, and somehow, that seems wrong to me. Although I understand it when it’s New Yorkers — after all, their city was […]

Previous Posts

in praise of fathers, or, Happy Birthday, Daddy
Today is my father's birthday. He would be so old: 98. He's been gone more than 20 years, and I still miss him. In my memory, this is how I always see him -- ...

posted 8:42:11pm Apr. 23, 2015 | read full post »

anticipation
Sometimes I think what I love best about vacations is the anticipation. The planning, the tour guides, cruising websites, learning all I ...

posted 5:15:55pm Apr. 21, 2015 | read full post »

poetry as mentor
So by now everyone knows it's National Poetry Month. And ...

posted 3:37:56pm Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

what poets do
I'm always trying to explain to people 'why poetry?' But today I found a poem that says it far better than I can, and by one of my favourite poets ~ Lawrence ...

posted 12:22:13pm Apr. 16, 2015 | read full post »

day 15 of National Poetry Month
Yes, it's tax day. But it's also the mid-point of National Poetry Month! Whoohoo! Today, I thought I'd share with you some gems -- haiku. It's a form ...

posted 6:57:23pm Apr. 15, 2015 | read full post »

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