Labor Day

Today is the last day of my summer vacation. Fittingly, this is the day set aside to celebrate the achievements of Labor unions (40 hour weeks, child labor laws, etc). Tomorrow I will return to work, refreshed and grateful for the time I had this summer.

The last few months have been filled with writing and creativity. The writer residency at Artcroft provided me a space to begin a new project. I also received some valuable feedback from Gordon Warnock that helped me to re-examine an older work. And last week I went to Chicago to read at the Reconstruction Room, a reading curated by my good friend, Luis Valadez. I was able to visit an old friend and make new ones. I couldn’t ask for a better conclusion to my summer break.

I resolve to sustain my creativity, even as I return to work. While I may not be writing as much as I wrote this summer, I will continue to write. I have a deadline in October to finish one project, and several […]

Artcroft, here I come

Tomorrow I am flying to Kentucky. On July 1st I begin a creative residency at Artcroft in Carlisle, KY. This is an incredible opportunity for which I am incredibly grateful. Not only does this residency provide a supportive environment for me to write, but affirms my writing practice. The good people at Artcroft believe in me, believe I am a writer and value my creative endeavour. I feel very happy about this new adventure.

My project for the month long residency is a novel. Writing a long work is uniquely challenging. I’ve done it once before in 2006 when I began writing my MFA thesis. Up until that point I had written short stories only, and writing a novel was an invaluable learning process. The most important thing I learned was that I could do it. I could write everyday on an extended narrative.

The last couple of months I’ve been applying some of the lessons I learned from that project. Outlines help me. I’ve outlined the first two parts and left the conclusion open. […]

Modern Art as Buddhist Practice

I’ve been listening to a lecture series recently that has me inspired/excited about writing. The speaker is Joan DePaoli, author of Transparent Thread. Her talk is Buddhist Art as Buddhist Practice, but I think it would more aptly be called Modern Art as Buddhist Practice.

The first two lectures give an overview of 2500 years of dharma art history. When the Buddha was alive he told his followers not to make any art with his image. For the first few hundred years his instructions were followed and Buddhist art were primarily meditation sites, like stupas. Then things changed and people started to make statues of the Buddha. DePaoli discusses this change and other changes as Buddhism spread into various cultures.

This discussion was interesting and informative. But in the third and fourth lecture, she begins talking about western art. […]

Fancy Broccoli

Since I’ve been working as a house painter I’ve been able to listen to hours of interesting podcasts daily, everything from lectures on the Brothers Karamazov to fanboys talking about comic books.

Last week while listening to wzen.org I came across a new podcast that is worth sharing. The Fancy Broccoli Show combines music and discussion of prison reform. So far I listened to the Ron Hayes interview from 2007. I was very moved by his story, dedication, and wisdom.

One of the important things Mr. Hayes is working on concerns PTSD among people in US prisons. He talks about the link between PTSD and drug use (aka self-medication). And near the end he reads some of his own poetry.

[…]

Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain

podcast of David Lynch at UC Berkely

In this hour and forty-minute podcast, filmmaker David Lynch answers questions from the audience and talks about meditation. Many of the questions concern Lynch’s film making. While I am not a big David-Lynch-fan (I missed the whole Twin Peaks craze), I did think Blue Velvet was cool and appreciate him as a skilled story-teller. Before listening to this talk, I had no idea that Lynch practiced mediation regular and says that many of his creative ideas come directly out of his mediation practice.

The meditation that Lynch has been doing for 30+ years is transcendental meditation, which he says expands his consciousness and grows his intuition. […]

Shambhala Diversity?

I’ve started on my paper for the level 5 shambhala training. The trainings take place at the Shambhala Center in Boulder, CO. And in the meditation hall there is a banner hanging above the shrine with the Stroke of ASHE, a symbol that Chögyam Trungpa created which means confidence beyond ego ?. It is also the symbol given to persons who complete the graduate courses in Shambhala Training. Over the past few weeks I’ve been seeing people all over the place wearing this symbol. I feel drawn to it and am considering continuing with the trainings once I leave Boulder Naropa. During the trainings there were some things said by different Directors that I didn’t fully agree with, that my experience didn’t agree with. But the meditation instruction and essence of the teachings were very helpful and did agree with my own experience. I’d like to find a sangha with the Shambhala community but I’m concerned with the lack of racial and ethnic diversity I’ve encountered. I know there is a center in Lexington and […]

Buddhist Geeks & Shambhala Training III

Three Boulder Naropa students have gotten together to start their own blog/podcast. It’s less than two months old but seems pretty cool. If you’re interested check it out: Buddhist Geeks. I’m working on my paper for Shambhala Training V and so have been going back over my past Shambhala papers. I noticed that I stopped posting my responses up here after level II. So now I’m playing catch up. Here are two of my responses from level III: What was the difference between the conventional notion of renunciation and the Shambhala notion of renunciation? The conventional notion of renunciation is about giving up worldly pleasures to focus on spiritual life. For example, monks and nuns may renounce worldly possessions, sexual relations, or even personal identity, as these things are believed to be obstacles on the spiritual path. This idea of renunciation is connected with asceticism and arises from a belief that the world is a bad place that needs to be avoided. In Shambhala, the notion of renunciation is about opening to others, being gentle […]

Hanging with the D.L.

Yesterday I went to see H.H. Dalai Lama in Denver. This is the second time I’ve seen him. The first was at Central Park in NYC.

The place was packed. Leaving Boulder we caught all the traffic. I joked with Doris, What if all these people are going to see the Dalai Lama, too? ? And guess what? They were!

The vibe was different than NYC, maybe provincial is the word I’m looking for. Most people were wearing their Sunday best and it had a very churchy feel to it. When I say churchy what I mean is that sort of bourgeoisie way many Americans divide themselves along racial and class lines every Sunday.

But what the man had to say was cool. He was very funny. […]

Fear and Fearlessness

I’m on Spring Break this week and am trying to catch up on reading and other work. I finished Precarious Life: The Power of Mourning and Violence by Judith Butler and Angry Black White Boy by Adam Mansbach.

And I’m working on the rest of my Shambhala Training II assignment. Here’s my answer to the question on fear and fearlessness:

In Sacred Path of the Warrior Chogyam Trungpa writes that when you look directly into you fear, you feel sadness behind it. What does this have to do with fearlessness?

The feeling of fear arises from our anticipation of a loss. For example, we may be afraid of losing our job, or the love of our families, or the respect of our community, or even […]

Synchronizing Mind and Body

I am working on my assignment for Shambhala Training II. I have to write one page answers to five questions. The first question is:

What does it mean for mind and body to be synchronized? Give an example. What does this have to do with meditation practice?

I reread the chapter of Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa called Synchronizing Mind and Body. Here’s my answer:

Synchronizing mind and body is the way a human being uses his sense perceptions correctly and effectively. Synchronizing the mind and body also implies working with the universe, being connected through our bodies (senses) with the world.

The two stage process of synchronization begins with […]