Meditation Walk

I went to a very peaceful and informative meditation retreat at the Unitarian Universalist church today. The  2 ladies were very sweet, and had perfect voices for meditation! They seemed so at peace when they talked about the Buddhist teachings. I thought I was out of my element, at first, but slowly they opened up and we found out that they are also still fighting their thoughts just like everyone else. I’d never had women teachers for this type of practice before.

One of the meditation styles they showed us was a walking mediation. I’m somewhat familiar with walking in silence from an all day retreat at the Zen Center. This was different. They asked us to walk around in silence for 10 minutes. We could walk in the room, out in the church or, as I did, out in the church garden.

What a lovely day! I admit it was hard not to think surrounded by the huge trees and still green foliage underneath. I decided that one of my next photographic projects was to come back and find some of those simple joys I’d seen on my walk. Hopefully, I can keep that little promise I made myself – and the garden.


Fall is Here in Rochester, NY

Although today is 80 degrees. Seems like a cruel trick from Mother Nature. Our summer was cold and now Fall is hot! Thanks! I’ve posted my best Autumn photos. They were all taken with an SLR FILM camera, a few years back. I haven’t actually explored photographing fall with a digital camera yet. Too busy with work and kids these days. The trees are just starting to change here. Every time in the fall, I pass my 2 favorite spots on my commute, I wish I’d just gotten out and taken the damn picture already! Always in a hurry, never have time to get out and snap that shot. One spot is by an old red barn that has a huge tree that turns a gorgeous orange. I’d love to do a seasonal shot of that barn with the tree. The other shot is my look down the Erie Canal from the Ayrault Road bridge. I always make sure I look over there on my way to work every day. It’s my own “simple joy” that I treat myself to on an almost daily basis. My own little meditation on the run.


Vipassana quotes

Joy. – The intense bliss, pervading the whole being, which follows on the assurance of salvation won, is independent of the dogmas or beliefs of those who have felt the disenchantment, passed through the struggle, and won the victory. We have undoubted and most interesting examples among the adherents of the most antagonistic forms of Christian belief. And Moslem Sufis and Buddhist Arahats have had the same experience. There are preserved in the canon two collections of the Songs of the Elders, ascribed respectively to one hundred and seven men and seventy-three women who became Arahats in the life-time of the Buddha. They are, with a very few exceptions, paeans of joy and victory. They have, unfortunately, not been translated as yet into English [Editor: several translations do now exist]; but the spirit they breathe is shown in the following prose passage. [Taken from my Dialogues of the Buddha, vol. i. p. 84.] After pointing out that the Hindrances (Nivarana) – sensuality, ill-will, torpor of mind or body, worry, and wavering – affect a man like debt, disease, imprisonment, slavery, and anxiety – it goes on:-

‘When these five Hindrances have been put away within him, he looks upon himself as freed from debt, rid of disease, out of jail, a free man, and secure. And gladness springs up within him on his realising that, and joy arises to him thus gladdened, and so rejoicing all his frame becomes at ease, and being thus at ease he is pervaded with a sense of peace, and in that peace his heart is stayed.’

“… Our deeds follow us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are.”

Fellowship with the Lovely

Thus have I heard. Once the Exalted One was staying among the Sakyans at Sakkara, a Sakyan township.

Then the venerable Ananda came to the Exalted One, saluted Him, and sat down at one side. So seated, the venerable Ananda said this:

‘The half of the holy life, Lord, it is the friendship with what is lovely, association with what is lovely, intimacy with what is lovely.’

‘Say not so, Ananda! Say not so, Ananda! It is the whole, not the half of the holy life. Of a brother so blessed with fellowship with what is lovely we may expect this, – that he will develop the Noble Eightfold Path, that he will make much of the Noble Eightfold Path.

And how, Ananda, does a brother so blessed develop and make much of the Noble Eightfold Path?

Herein, Ananda, he develops right view, which is based on detachment, on passionlessness, on cessation ; which is concerned with readiness for giving up. He develops right aim, which is so based and concerned : likewise right speech, right action, right living, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation, which is based on detachment, on passionlessness, on cessation ; which is concerned with readiness for giving up.

That, Ananda, is how a brother blessed with friendship with what is lovely, association with what is lovely, intimacy with what is lovely, develops and makes much of the Noble Eightfold Path.

This is the Method, Ananda, by which you are to understand how the whole of this holy life consists in fellowship, association, intimacy with what is lovely. Truly, Ananda, beings liable to rebirth are liberated from rebirth ; beings liable to decay, liable to death, liable to grief, woe, lamentation, and despair are liberated therefrom because of my fellowship with what is lovely.

By the Method, Ananda, you are to understand that the whole of the holy life consists in fellowship with what is lovely, in association with what is lovely, in intimacy with what is lovely.’

(Excerpt from the Pali Canon: S.N. v. 2)

Back on the path to Enlightenment

Well… not really. After reading the Zen book, Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen’s Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye, I pretty much realized that there is no cosmic breakthrough. You just come to accept things the way they are. Everyone struggles so much to gain this or that, to be this or that… it’s so friggin’ exhausting! So, just like God — people are trying to look for something to take their pain away. Something else to strive for, to comfort them. There isn’t anyone or anything like that “out there.” It is all up to you — you and yourself — to drop all that crap you’ve piled up on yourself. (That reminds me of  The Junk Lady in Labyrinth — just piling all the old comfortable things on Sarah’s shoulders, just to hide form the truth of what she’d done.) I know, I know, this sounds so negative. But really, I’m not coming from a negative place. Life just is what it is. Trust me — I’m no devout Buddhist either. I’m interested in the dharma, but not dogma. I’m trying to get back to that place I was 5 or so years ago. That spiritual journey that many go on. I’m still looking, still learning.

Makeover shows

I love makeover shows. There. I’ve said it. Clean House, How Do I Look, What Not to Wear, among others. I love the fact that other people’s houses and closets, and wardrobes are waaay worse than mine! Actually, I probably like more about paring down your stuff than the schadenfreude. We don’t need so much stuff. I don’t need so much stuff in my life. If any of those hosts arrived at my house — I’d tell them — take it all! I’ve done it before. It’s amazing how much we can accumulate after a few years! I’m definitely, ready mentally, to pare down my clutter and re-make my life, I’m just not physically nor financially ready.

A book started it all

I was at a turning point in my life — unbeknownst to me. My mom & my Aunt Diane were reading these books about simplifying their lives. I was skeptical. I started reading SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE: 100 WAYS TO SLOW DOWN AND ENJOY THE THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER and I really couldn’t put it down. Now that was nearly 12 years ago and things have significantly changed since then! I dumped my long time boyfriend, moved out, finished school. I’m now married to a great like-minded guy who doesn’t mind that I’m a nut. And we got kids and cats and a house. Even my career has changed. Change can really be made with some simple steps.

Hello world!

Live simply, simply live. It came to me one day while sitting in a hot tent on even hotter blacktop one July. My mom & I were selling my photographs at the Brockport Arts Festival and, well business was slow. Lots of people were walking by having already spent their cold hard cash on a stick with some fabric glued to it. I remember the old Italian guy a few booths over yelling “Cappuccino! Espresso!”