Individuals have within themselves vast resources for self understanding and for altering their self concepts, basic attitudes, and self directed behavior; these resources can be tapped if a definable climate of facilitative psychological attitudes can be provided.   ~ Carl Rogers

I am acquainted with a mind filled with multiple crosscurrents of unfinished thoughts, stifled emotions, and passing moods. There is also a growing recognition that at times I am overwhelmed by discursive thoughts that are formed by habitual ways of thinking, led by my own various prejudices, impacted by personal preferences or aversions, colored by laziness or selfishness, and intensified by faulty or superficial observations. Sometimes I awaken to myself to find that while engaged in a behavior, my mind has entered a dreamlike state, and therefore events and conversations are vague and fragmentary.  Sometimes I acknowledge this process or attribute it to boredom, anxiety, doubt, impatience, exhaustion, misjudgments, and self-salient triggers.

Protecting oneself, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself . . . And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation.

And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion.” But self-protection is not selfish protection. It is self-control, ethical and spiritual self-development.  ~ The Buddha

springcreekbnwreflections2web

Every healing intervention is motivated by suffering and hope – be it of the individual, family, friends, or a community agency.  The value within suffering is that it contains a message of incongruence that awakens the motivation to heal. William James wrote that life is the manifestation of behaviors that attempt to avoid, overcome, or remove that which is seen to block us from that which we desire.

The personal story is a narrative of our unique sense of identity.  We create our identities through the stories we weave onto a tapestry that is formed against the background of our family mythologies. We pull threads from of an assemblage of recalled details from our pasts and weaved them into images that cast us in whatever role corresponds with our current situations, feelings, thoughts, or actions. The colored threads of this tapestry are often re-embroidered to reflect the creative and dynamic process of our perspectives as we shift in, out, and between various roles, feeling states, and cognitions.  As we reflect on our self-created images we are in turn affected by them; therefore, there is an unconscious re-weaving of our tapestries.

 Our self-stories as well as our family mythologies create and maintain our identities and thus influence how we anticipate experiences, act, and subsequently interpret our situation.  Becoming aware of the tapestry and images we are creating frees us to review patterned behaviors, reframe our story through different colored concepts, and to release rigid interpretations.

landscape 1

Within … a supportive and non-judgmental environment, each is invited into a process of bare attention that is non-coercive as they uncover the seeds of their suffering and thus begin to strengthen their recovery with renewed energy.  It is after a meeting during the quiet of one’s alone time that each attendee begins a process of dismissing what is personally invalid, questioning harmful behavioral patterns, or replacing painful concepts with constructive meanings.  They, through their own individual reflection, take what is helpful for them at the moment and let the rest flow away.

contemplativephoto-peace

Through this process of externalization, validation, and reformation an individual is being invited to become other to herself as if she were the audience in a movie theatre watching her life story being retold on a screen.  Consequently, a new relationship with the self is formed that lessens the suffering that comes out of subjective rigidity, alienation of self as “the only one”, and attachment to shame and guilt.

Excerpts: Koeford, B., A Meditative Journey with Saldage

Initial posting September, 2016

for you who

rarely visit,

though you have already arrived,

may the early evening storm

not blow so hard!

                                ~Ryokan*

DSC_6858bckofford 2015

*cited:

Sky Above, Great Wind

K Tanahashi

initially posted on September 1, 2015

Our heroes must be summoned from within. It’s up to us to put them to work and to learn how to save ourselves. 

sunset

“People …like the idea of someone with special powers watching over us, ready to intervene in a crisis and keep us safe from dark forces. The Buddha…spoke of ‘the two bright qualities [that] protect the world’ (dve sukka dhamma lokam palenti—Anguttara Nikaya 2.9). These are Hiri, or conscience, and Ottappa, our respect for others. …

“Today, …the greatest dangers we face now erupt from within our own hearts: human greed, hatred, and delusion, the arch villains that cause so many real-world problems. Greed, the powerful impulse to snatch whatever it can, will take even life itself from the defenseless. Hatred drives us to do unspeakable things to those we view as other. And delusion, so willingly embraced, smothers any insight that might arise about the danger we’re in or the harm we may do. The twin guardians are the crucial allies we have to foil their plots.

“The first hero, Hiri, can be thought of as conscience or self-respect. She… flies into our mental world at the moment when we are considering doing something that we know deep down to be wrong. Hiri is our personal sense of ethical integrity, our moral compass, our intuitive understanding of what is right and wrong, what’s appropriate and what isn’t. She is not a severe critic but a soft, caring voice whispering in our ear and guiding us through our lives with courage and compassion. She saves us from the demons lurking within and stands beside us when we say, ‘No, that is just not right. I will not do it (or say it or think it).’

“Her intrepid ally Ottappa is the elemental force of caring for others and respecting their concerns. It appears on the scene when we’re tempted to do something that is against the laws of propriety, is outside the social norm, or would be condemned by the people we respect. Ottappa draws its strength from the fact that we are social creatures who belong to a family or community, and that our actions are rooted in and accountable to a larger collective order.

“…The Buddha said [Hiri and Ottappa] guard the world, protecting it from getting broken by the onslaught of the worst parts of ourselves. Without them people could act like beasts, ravaging even their own mothers. We all know what atrocities human beings are capable of. For so many victims, Hiri and Ottappa do not always show up in time, held at bay by their nemeses, Ahiri (lack of conscience) and Anottappa (lack of respect). These two anti-heroes are present every time a harmful, cruel, or ignorant deed is done, blocking out the benevolent effects of conscience and respect.

“Fortunately Hiri and Ottappa have other friends, including Sati, or mindfulness, who goes first into every fray and summons the team into action. Sati is conscious awareness of what is happening right now, and Ahiri and Anottappa can only function when such awareness is absent. When people do harm to themselves and others, they are often not aware of what they are doing. They are conscious enough to act, but not conscious enough to be aware of the quality of their actions or of their consequences. Whenever a person musters even a degree of mindfulness, conscience and respect arrive there too, helping them do, say, and think what is helpful rather than what is harmful…”

cited: Andrew Olendzik, Guardians of the World Tricycle, Fall 2017

Nikon D750 f/8 1/50s 145mm 400 ISO

edited in Capture One 20 and Photoshop

Stay at Home Order … day 30 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

shadow

everything is connected by causality … and if nothing else, Covid-19 is waking us up to the fact that we are all connected

Brian Boucher, CNN These ancient images of the Buddha are more timely than you think

if one comes across a person who has been shot by an arrow, one does not spend time wondering about where the arrow came from, or the caste of the individual who shot it, or analyzing what type of wood the shaft is made of, or the manner in which the arrowhead was fashioned.  Rather, one should focus on immediately pulling out the arrow.

~ The Buddha

spring

Life is short; it must not be spend in endless metaphysical speculations which will not be able to bring us the Truth.

Andres Hedman, Consciousness from a Broad Perspective
sunset april 23, 2020

“The Buddha’s teachings can be read on many levels … at a fundamental level, all the storytelling was a way of conveying ethical values. One of them is the peaceful coexistence of all life forms, which is very germane today. We’ve wandered dangerously far from that principle in the era of climate change. Referring to the seated Buddha sculpture in San Francisco, which is inscribed with the message that all things are connected by causality (in contrast with the deterministic belief that our fate is out of our hands)… What [the Awakened One] saw when he woke up is that things don’t happen by chance, that everything is connected by causality … and if nothing else, Covid-19 is waking us up to the fact that we are all connected.”

Brian Boucher, CNN These ancient images of the Buddha are more timely than you think

All images created with a Nikon D750

sunset april 23, 2020: f/5.6 1/500 42mm 400 ISO

basketball court: f/5.8 1/800 100mm 400 ISO

spring blossoms: f/5.6 1/160s 300mm 400 ISO

Stay at Home Order … day 19 plus 14 seclusion retreat days

snakealope…the emptiness of non-existent or an existence dependent upon the union of a tree log and a set of horns?

five types of emptiness:

  • The emptiness of what did not exist before, pre-existence.
    • the lack of yogurt in milk
  • The emptiness of what does not exist upon being destroyed, post-existence
    • the lack of milk in yogurt
  • The emptiness of the utterly non-existent, non-existence
    • the lack of horns on a rabbit’s head*
  • The emptiness of one not existing in the other, exclusion
    • the emptiness of an ox in a horse
  • The emptiness of entityness,** separate self existence
    • non-inherent existence of all phenomena

*The jackalope is a mythical animal of North American folklore (a fearsome critter) described as a jackrabbit with antelope horns. The word jackalope is a portmanteau of jackrabbit and antelope. … The Wyoming Legislature has considered bills to make the jackalope the state’s official mythological creature. For additional information regarding Wyoming’s jackalope, visit Jackalopes of Wyoming – Myth or Reality?

**Entityness is meant to suggest something that is capable of independent existence.

The emptiness of entityness is like the nonexistence of a human in a cairn that is mistaken from a distance to be a human.

To reflect upon the human body, sensations, sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, thinking, and consciousness one finds each of these are dependent upon contact; for example, ears, bird’s song, and hearing consciousness.

Recommended readings:

D S Lopez, Jr. The Heart Sutra Explained

Red Pine, The Heart Sutra

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Other Shore

The Seven Remembrances of a Changing Planet

The causes and conditions which support life on Earth are of the nature to change. There may be no way for me to escape the consequences of a changing global climate.

The vegetation of Earth is of the nature to die. There may be no way for me to escape the death of crops, forests, and wild ecosystems.

The animals and insects of Earth are of a nature to become extinct. There may be no way for me to escape the sixth mass extinction of water, land, underground, and air beings.

The seeds of racial and social justice, which are planted to nourish me, other beings, and Earth, may not germinate. There may be no way for me to escape hatred, cruelty, and injustice.

Civilizations of Earth are of a nature to die. There may be no way for me to escape the collapse of societal cooperation, communication, and stable food production.

My unbroken wholeness, which exists independent of causes and conditions, is my true gift to the world. My ethical actions, rooted in love and self-restraint, are expressions of gratitude toward Mother Earth.

Earth, precious jewel of the cosmos, who transcends notions of birth and death, who is not limited by signs of vegetation, animals, justice, and civilizations, is continuing her long journey of beginning anew.

cited: Earth Holder Community

cited: Can you Hear Mother Earth

“Many of us have forgotten that we are one with the Earth. The Earth is not a separate entity from us. We are part of the Earth, and the Earth is part of us. The Earth is not a resource for us to exploit at our will. The Earth is us; we are intimately interconnected with the Earth, just as we inter-are with all other species on Earth, too. Our spiritual ancestors have taught us about the law of interdependent co-arising: this is because that is. We are here because the Earth is here. All species are our brothers and sisters; we are all children of the Earth.

Nikon D750 f/5.6 1/400s 300mm 200 ISO

“When we see our deep interbeing with the Earth and with all species, we will see what to do—and what to stop doing—to help the situation. We will have the clarity and compassion we need to help change the situation, so that a future can be possible for us all.

“…Mother Earth has been crying out for so long. She has never stopped giving us whatever we needed: food, water and shelter, allowing us to flourish in her abundance, never asking for anything in return. …”

~Sister Chan Khong “Can You Hear Mother Earth?” July 2016 Plum Village

UN Secretary-General at UN Climate Change Conference

Death of a loved one disturbs the relationships that sustain a person’s sense of ‘identity’ and the high level of binding and cathexis concentrated on the person who is lost is suddenly disrupted . . . there is a close link between the doctrines of egolessness and suffering.

De Silva, Padmasiri. An Introduction to Buddhist Psychology. Landam, MD, 2000.
Poudre Canyon… f/7.1 1/200s 28mm 4500 ISO

Through this lens of Buddhist thought, I begin to feel a crumbling of a child’s self with an understanding of how my father’s absolute and final absence from our lives disrupted the multiple relationships between my father, mother, sister, and me.  Besides the sudden severing of the identity I was forming via my father, the connecting emotional threads between those of us that were left, although still intact, were unknowingly stretched and pulled by our own individual fears of egolessness.

My father’s death left my mother, a young woman deaf from infancy, with two daughters and pregnant with her first son.  I do not recall whose idea it was to wander outside the house early that morning as my mother slept.  I can, however, imagine my young self following my older sister as if an invisible thread that tied us together tugged me along as she, with her five-year-old world view, undertook an emotional duty to find our father.  Did we believe we could find him fly fishing in the creek that ran alongside the house? Or was there something about the water that enticed us into abandoning our search?  I can recall to this day the cessation of anxiety and arising rapture that coincided with my surrender to the inevitable. Two young men, I am told, rescued us both from this search for our father.

Koeford, BC. A Meditative Journey with Saldage Homesickness for a place, a time, a person that cannot be