autumn with Thich Nhat Hanh


Here is the Pure Land,

The Pure Land is here.

I smile in mindfulness

and dwell in the present moment.

Buddha is the autumn leaf,

Dharma is the floating cloud,

Sangha is everywhere,

My true home is here.

Breathing in, the flowers bloom.

Breathing out, the bamboo sways.

My mind is free.

I enjoy every moment. 

~Thich Nhát Hanh, Zen Battles


tuesday photo challenge: signs

signs (1)

…a sign means something – stop, go, walk, etc. The sign thinks for you. It commands you. A symbol, on the other hand, represents an idea, a process, or a physical entity. But the important word here is represents. The symbol represents something else, something beyond what you are looking at–whereas the sign means only this… Where the sign thinks for you, the symbol asks you to do the thinking–abstract versus the literal.

~Junichiro Tanizaki

A sign painted on a building commanding the passerby to “stop” and “drink…”  Submitted in response to  Dutch goes the Photo’s challenge.

a label


a label transforms a “unknown” person into a preconceived concept

People want to identify and label you so they can place you somewhere they already have set in their mind. …

We have these labels in little piles in our mind and we take them out and stick them on things. That’s our habit. We like to be able to say, “This is an American. That is a Dutch person. This is a Mexican person.” We put the label on as if we know what we mean by Mexican, American, or Dutch. This is a Communist, this is a Republican, this is a capitalist. In fact, the label has no meaning. “This is a person I love, this is a person I hate.” When we put a label on, we can’t see the person. If someone labels you as a “terrorist,” he may shoot you. But if he sees that you are a human being who has his own suffering, who has children and a wife to look after, he won’t be able to shoot you. It’s only when he gives you a label that he can say, “You’re a terrorist; your presence isn’t needed in this world; if you weren’t in the world, it would be a more beautiful place.” It’s all a matter of putting a label on a person. And when you see the real human being, you can’t assign a label anymore. We give labels only in order to praise or to destroy. We have a great bagful of labels–we don’t even know where they came from. And when we stick them onto people, we cut ourselves off from those people, and we can no longer know who they really are.

~Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Battles

a new kind of empathy


After listening to the TED Talk, “Can a Divided America Heal”, I did a brief exploration of the three basic principles of moral psychology

  1. Generally we influenced by intuition and then use that which “feels right” to justify our moral judgments.
  2. The underlying motivation in moral reasoning and communication is directed more towards manipulation or persuasion than exploration of truth.
  3. Morality is a crucial element of tribalism which is the building block for the development of large, cooperative societies.

A bit of personal reflection opens a window of understanding of how I’m more often than not influence by what feels right and yes, the importance I place in intuition over reasoning.  Often a movement towards “spiritual” reasoning occurs after a period of solitude and contemplation.

There is also an awareness that I do enjoy the rhythmic power of football tribalism while being perplexed by a religious leader’s comment about limiting compassion to one’s own tribe.

Then finally…do I acknowledge the possibility of some hidden agenda to persuade you to join me in what feels right over someone else’s sense of right?  Ugh, I think I’ll close this window for a bit and open one that has us explore a new empathy.

…we have an existential threat on our hands..we need a new kind of empathy…if you want to escape from this [the anger and worry of the last year], read Buddha, read Jesus, read Marcus Aurelius. They have all kinds of great advice for how to drop the fear, reframe things, stop seeing the other people as your enemy. There’s a lot of guidance in ancient wisdom…(Jonathan Haidt)

Ancient wisdom guiding us to “a new kind of empathy.”  I believe that the on-the-ground community response to Harvey is a living example of an ancient empathy that has the potential to heal.

I invite you to listen to the TED talk below in which social psychologists Jonathan Haidt and TED Curator Chris Anderson explore the sharp divisions of today and then discuss how we may be able to move forward.   _()_

wednesday words


As I was reviewing images taken during a morning walk, this blurry photograph of children, gathered under a weeping willow to escape the summer heat, brought to mind the quote, “the eyes will not see that which breaks the heart.”   So with the quote in mind I did a bit of exploring within the Nik Collection, added a couple of layers, and then did a bit of dodging and burning.

Speaking of love, check out Gidget at Pixel Sisters Studio 

wpc: corner


The above image, “My Corner of of the World” submitted in response to Ben’s weekly photo challenge is a sharp contrast to the various reports that are coming out of Yemen, “The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis.”

The New York Times, reports:

“It’s a slow death…We’re just waiting for doom or a breakthrough from heaven…

“Repeated bombings have crippled bridges, hospitals and factories. Many doctors and civil servants have gone unpaid for more than a year. Malnutrition and poor sanitation have made the Middle Eastern country vulnerable to diseases that most of the world has confined to the history books.

“In just three months, cholera has killed nearly 2,000 people and infected more than a half million, one of the world’s largest outbreaks in the past 50 years

“The [coalition airstrikes have] killed and wounded civilians…bombings have also heavily damaged Yemen’s infrastructure, including a crucial seaport and important bridges as well as hospitals, sewage facilities and civilian factories. …[making] it harder for humanitarian organizations to bring in and distribute aid.

“The United States is also a major donor [of humanitarian aid], as well as a primary supplier of arms to the members of the Saudi-led coalition. Although the United States is not directly involved in the conflict, it has provided military support to the Saudi-led coalition, and Yemenis have often found the remnants of American-made munitions in the ruins left by deadly airstrikes.”

Al Jazeera, August 23, 2017 notes:

The military intervention in Yemen led by the Saudi Arabia’s military has proven to be a “strategic failure” that has killed more than 10,000 people and injure more than 40,000 to date. Yet, a full and official withdrawal is unlikely, “A retreat means defeat…”

All of this leaves me questioning the distractions of the never-ending, on-going political drama from the White House that blinds and deafens me to the unimaginable in Yemen, as well as to the emotional, physical, and relational injury to members of the American military, their families, and Afghanistan civilians in what has become a fading, if not forgotten war, in my corner of the world.