LATELY, AND PREVIOUSLY

February 18, 2011

a field guide to getting along

‘Tis amazing how much anger starts leaching out when one is on one’s way to a ‘Buddhism and Anger’ Seminar. Snitty about how everyone was loading the dishwasher. Snotty about how I was always the one who had to get everyone moving in the morning. Before I could embarrass myself any more, I sheepishly turned to my beloved and began, “Do you think that maybe, because of where I am going this weekend, I’m a little bit…?” Before I could finish, he burst into laughter and hugged me. So did my girls. And then they hurried me off to the airport.

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Categories: A Field Guide To Getting Lost, Books, Poetry, Rebecca Solnit

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February 11, 2011

dreamy buddhist woman seeks

“I meet the woman of my dreams and she’s a Buddhist?!?”

Happy Valentine’s Day indeed. The man who spoke these words to me five years ago was actually born on February 14th. We were on our first veryofficialnicerestaurant date. We were very drawn to each other. To say that we had chemistry is serious understatement. To say that I should have just punted when he said the above is serious rationality. But, that is like saying we should all live perfectly balanced lives, spiritually unfolding like elegant slow-motion blossoms drenched in dewy sunlight while mystical didgeridoo music envelops us. Meanwhile, back in my actual life…

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Categories: Buddhism, The Episcopal Church

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February 5, 2011

sit. stay. then walk the dogs

A request from the audience! To discuss meditation a bit more, particularly my comment about meditating while walking my dogs. A disclaimer! Meditation is not my forte, I am in no way a teacher of it, and let’s just say you get what you pay for here. A gift! From a dear friend this week, who opened my eyes to religious historian Mircea Eliade’s distinction between sacred and profane time, which will really help us here today.

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Categories: Buddhism, Mircea Eliade, Philosophy

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January 28, 2011

horizontal God

I lay next to God all day yesterday. Her name is actually Kyrie. Which does mean God, in Greek. She is my younger daughter. So, ok, yeah, not that God. Still, she is as much a spark of the divine fire, as much an illimitable moment of immanent God, as the rest of us.

She was sick. Very feverish. And already, at just twelve years old, she told me the night before, “I’m fine, really. I can go to school. I need to. I’ve got two tests!” Is all of this drive, this hustle, this pressure in our lives immanent in us as well?

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Categories: Art, Buddhism, Mary Oliver, Poetry

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January 22, 2011

to each their l)a own

“Mom, what’s your favorite poem?” Larkin asked this question dutifully, though with a slight whiff of resignation as well. My daughter’s 6th grade English teacher had assigned them the task of asking their parents this, and of bringing it in. She knew, though her teacher did not, just how much she was getting into. I am into poetry the way her friends are into pop stars. Books of poetry litter nearly every surface in our home. I carry at least three poems in my wallet at any given time, where the “big” bills should go, because I consider poetry to be the most valuable of currency. But, the kid in front of me was only twelve. She had two tests to study for. I figured, “Go easy on the kid!” And, I was thrilled that only one poem was coming to mind anyway, a really really short one.

“Sure, Honey! It’s an E. E. Cummings poem, and it only has four words! Here, let me show you!” With endearing stoicism, she followed me to my office. I found the poem and printed it out in large font:

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Categories: Buddhism

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January 15, 2011

feel the felt, uncool the cool

And sometimes enlightenment just shows up on our doorstep.

Usually small, often lumpy or a little misshapen, very sweet and invariably a bit uncool, and almost always soft because of its many iterations through many hands and many hearts. Think Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Or that new little soul on the block who reallyreallyreally wants to be friends. Or, in my case, a sacred splat of felt.

My dogs barked. A new friend, unheard by my unhearing ears, departed. And I stayed at my computer, because I am writingwritingwritingwriting about my spiritual path, which I am realizing is my diffident way of admitting that I am seeking enlightenment…. which just sounds so presumptuous, doesn’t it?

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Categories: Art, Buddhism

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January 7, 2011

truly more better

Things that are Relevant…

Generosity

Kindness

Warmth

Laughter

Gratitude

Graciousness/Grace

Balance

Beauty

Six years ago, I scribbled that list. Then, from the word Beauty I drew a squiggly line down the page to the title of a second list, Things that are more Complex…

Honesty

Health

Freedom

Truth!!

Not one, but two exclamation points. Truth is always a tricky business, and a fraught one for those of us who have turned away from the religions of our families and tribes in search of something seemingly “more” true. Religious fans of the pronoun “the” attached to “truth” seem to either pity us more-ians as hopeless floaters in a bardo of spiritual relativity or denigrate us as somehow less spiritual because we are apparently less “sure” of our beliefs. What about seeing and sensing divinity IN ultimate unknowability? What about something that is not a “The,” but a forever unfolding, being the belief?

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Categories: Books, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

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December 10, 2010

cloudy with a chance of enlightenment

I had a dream I was in bed with the Dalai Lama. Not that kind of in bed. More like a cheerful slumber party, with a feeling of being very young, lighthearted and happy and just having fun together. We were giggling and bantering, playfully pulling fistfuls of a soft orange blanket up and under our chins. Then, I realized that his pet octopus was with us, languidly relaxing on my pillow just behind and over my head. It was starting to drape puckery tentacles over one ear, toward my face and around my neck. I stopped giggling.

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Categories: Buddhism

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December 3, 2010

target moving or moving target

“But, why?” When you are doing something that just lights you up and a new employee of Morgan Stanley asks this question, be peaceful in the faith and conviction that you are moving in a good direction.

I was effusively showing my old college buddy recent graphic studies and sketches I had been making based upon the incredible mathematical ratio known as the Golden Section. It is also called the Divine Proportion, and my introduction to it in a somewhat dusty, pedantic and oh-so-British tome from 1914 entitled The Curves of Life was my first glimpse into God in All Things. One of those old Royal Society types, Theodore Andrea Cook, had spent twenty years documenting how this mystical proportion and its concomitant spiral growth patterns underlie every form in nature. Leaves spiral around branches at the exact same ratio as sunflower seeds whirling in their meditative circles. Our own hearts beat with a rhythm proportionally the same as the spiral of every shell and the branching of every tree. I had been happily going pretty much nuts over all of this, throwing curves with my old compass and protractor on voluminous scraps of paper and then throwing paint and other messy marks on top. Sure, I was trying to make beautiful things. But, I realize now that what I was really doing was learning to be reverent in the presence of beauty, and learning that beauty is everywhere. My good friend admitted that it was all sort of cool, but really just wanted to know, “What are you trying to accomplish with this?”

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Categories: Books, The Curves of Life, Zen, Zen in the Art of Archery

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November 19, 2010

perfectly imperfect

Two Wednesdays ago, as I was looking for an image of Mu Qi’s “Six Persimmons” to attach to that week’s essay, I began typing “the six per…” into Safari’s search bar. The first suggested connection was “the six perfections.” The universe speaks in many ways. Like an embarrassed woman bumping into someone to whom you have owed a thank you note for a looong time, I recalled where I had first seen these words, how much they had taught me, and how little I had been attending to them of late. I had to admit that in the last several months, while I was initiating this blog about my spiritual path and practice, I had started to slide on actually practicing it. Oh Yeah! Spiritual practice! Something you DO! I DO have one, really! It’s around here, somewhere. On my desk, I think… right under those bills, that rough draft, these books. You know.

Six years ago, as I began the long walk across a soul’s ocean floor that is divorce, three books by American-born Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön were constant friends on my bedside table for four years thereafter—When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, and Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living. These very easy reads about very tough things first gave me oxygen, then the space for a deep breath with which to breathe it, and then a complete re-conception of our existence, our purpose, and our potential for happiness, enlightenment, whatever you want to call it… with clear and practical, if not always comfortable, instructions included!

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Categories: Buddhism, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

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the blog of Anne Elizabeth Wynn. Copyright © 2004–2010. All rights reserved.

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