The Sat-Chit-Ananda of Buddha-Dharma-Sangha

We have a threefold philosophy to our writing immersion retreats. With our retreats, the focus is on fulfillment moreso than success, which necessitates an introspective effort rather than an outward-looking template.
In brief, the threefold philosophy is:

  • Attention, presence, awareness and focus — By showing up fully to the here-and-now, what is before you is entirely sufficient and blissful.
  • Holistic well-being — Body and mind are one. The postures of hatha yoga extend into daily life. Attend evenly to all parts of a thing and each stage of a process.
  • Giving your creative gift — Wild nature exists as an offering, ever-rich and abundant and freely bestowed. Aligned with one’s unique calling and higher purpose, one lives in harmony through the creative act.

It occurred to me recently that these concepts, which came to me one day years ago as I was bench pressing on our porch in Las Cruces, are indeed still useful and applicable, though they may be little more than a different way of expressing what already exists in the three jewels of Buddhism:

  • Buddha — the enlightened witness of being/becoming
  • Dharma — individual actions of self-fulfilling harmony
  • Sangha — the connection of individuals within the one

For me this is helpful to contemplate. I hope that it is for you as well.

Small-Scale Environmental Soul-utions

Be the change you want to see in the world – Ghandi

Neither Accepting Nor Rejecting the Way Things Are

It’s not always possible to measure the positive or negative impacts of a person’s actions. What seems obviously right or obviously wrong may possibly come to serve as part of a solution, or possibly part of another challenge. Small-in-scope actions are beautiful and significant expressions of a person’s beliefs and can have a tremendous effect, even if only on a small scale.

All it takes is a shift of perspective to be at peace with the way things are. Things need to change, but this change must be fueled by good things like love and peace and a healthy, passionate striving for truth. Fighting for global green, local, and environmental movements should stem naturally from a person’s healthy heart, and the act of fighting the good fight ought to lead to greater feelings of fulfillment. I think this happens when there is an underlying peace with the generalities of the world, and a strategic stance taken on the things that must change.

People who strive for any great change encounter lots of difficulty. With going green as well as anything else, it’s imperative that we control what we focus on. We can’t change the past and we can’t change everything, but there is always a way to improve. We can change ourselves so that we work every day to clarify the information out there and by putting our best ideas to work to secure a better future. We each can take huge steps to become part of the solution.

Statistics

Bill McKibben was on Letterman.

Letterman seemed at first genuinely interested, engaged, and spoke with great candor. Bill McKibben, as always, thundered with pertinent information: Take action now. Political and large-scale movements are more important than obsessing over what kind of light bulb you use.

After the break, Dave in part helped make Bill’s argument and in part made it seem hopeless.

I’m paraphrasing, but Dave said something to the effect that if everyone started riding bicycles tomorrow and stopped emitting any carbon into the atmosphere, it would still mean a 60-year period of very harsh climactic conditions for the earth. It’s crucial to have this kind of information available, but it is sickening to spend too much time dwelling on it. He is saying to look how bad the situation is, and once you see, you’ll finally realize how involved you should be. The shame is that when the information makes things look that hopeless, is can suck the inspiration right out of some people. Maybe.

Composting

Down in the bottom of the compost pile, there’s this miraculous transformation: sweet-smelling earth. When I spread compost onto our garden and leave it for awhile, then I peek beneath the surface, the earth is teeming with life. It smells sweet, there are worms and the occasional mushroom. The whole process is phenomenal to witness, but it happens on such a small scale. But it makes a world of difference to those specific micro-organisms that make the soil perfumed, for the worms that make the earth aerated and spongy, and for the plants that do so very well. In turn, it matters for us in part because of the harvest we can get. But mostly, it matters because of all the little things along the way. Those of you who garden know exactly what I’m talking about.

 

Writing Your Artist or Writer Statement

The purpose of writing an artist statement is to manifest more clarity and to better motivate and focus you. This is a remarkable writing exercise inspired by Steve Pavlina’s life purpose writing exercise

  1. On the top of a piece of paper write in big letters: Artist Statement
  2. Begin to write on the subject of your craft. For example, if you are a painter, you would begin writing wherever you think to write first. First thought, best thought. Let this writing process take a considerable amount of time. Commit to writing without interruption for however long it takes until you have arrived at an artist statement that moves you deeply. Allow yourself to search as you write. If you’d like, have a heartfelt conversation with yourself and record it on the page. Do not worry if you do not know where you’re headed.
  3. Periodically, as you write, return to the centering phrase of a definition, such as: painting is, or painting is about
  4. Periodically, as you write, return to a value statement, such as painting is best when, a painting is most valuable because of its
  5. Periodically, as you search and write, put yourself in the perspective of process. What does it feel like when you’re at your best? What are you saying to yourself? What do you believe? Why are you standing/sitting to work at your craft?

Write until you write a statement that truly, deeply moves you. You may cry, you may feel so inspired your heart will want to flood the room with light. Something will happen and you’ll feel it.

  • When you have this phrase, expand it into a paragraph.

For example, if I arrived at the phrase: poetry is the navigation of the pleasure of beauty and truth, what else will I need to say in order to make that phrase feel complete and comprehensible to someone who does not know me? I would need to expand on the ideas hidden within that phrase. When I say navigation, I am speaking from a belief that poetry is akin to song, so I will need to talk about that some. When I mention the word navigation, I will need to develop that metaphor so that the reader understands I see language as a kind of landscape. When I mention pleasure, I want to clarify the kind of pleasure, that I see poetry as a mode of writing that enacts feelings and enlivens existence. And so on.