Month: June 2016

How to Turn Each Moment Into Spiritual Practice

By Anyen Rinpoche and Allison Choying Zangmo ~~~ The term lojung (Tib. mind training) has been made popular by the idea of using slogans to kindle mindfulness about our state of mind and behavior. However, according to the traditional Tibetan Buddhist teachings, lojung is a much broader topic than slogans that can be put to use in our daily life. Lojung is a term that encapsulates the entirety of the 84,000 teachings given by the Buddha Shakyamuni—since the point of the Buddhist teachings is to train, tame and master the mind. As was said by the great lojung master Shantideva, author of Way of a Bodhisattva, “There is no reason to make effort at taming anything other than taming the mind.” It seems pertinent to ask why the Buddha gave so many different teachings, rather than one set of teachings that could be followed by everyone. Buddhism doesn’t take a “one size fits all” approach. It is inherently flexible and adaptable. Its many permutations ensure that it can be applied by a variety of people who …

Relax and Wake Up! Buddhist Teachers Reflect on the Wisdom of the Emotions

By James Schnebly with Jenny Bondurant & Kay Peterson ~~~ Our emotions can lock us in habitual struggle with ourselves and our relationships, yet they are also doorways to our intrinsic wisdom. Out of this understanding, helpful practices have emerged within the tradition of Buddhist tantra.  These practices are based on the understanding that emotional energy falls into five archetypal patterns, or buddha families, which contain different perspectives and relationship styles that can manifest in either a confused or sane way. Jenny Bondurant and Kay Peterson have been working with these teachings and practices for decades, and now lead retreats which provide others with the opportunity to explore the energy of their own emotions, and learn the skills needed to  befriend and welcome all states of mind, just as they are. Recently, I spoke with Jenny and Kay about how their personal relationships to the five buddha families and a bit about the upcoming retreat they’ll be leading at Shambhala Mountain Center.  They had much to say about how engaging with these teachings and practices allow us …

What does it mean to be in a secure-functioning relationship? And why should it matter to me?

By Stan Tatkin and Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin ~~~ Secure functioning refers to an interpersonal system based on principles of true mutuality, collaboration, justice, fairness, and sensitivity. It means that you and your partner are in a foxhole together, protecting each other from the outside world… and from each other. Secure functioning assumes you and your partner have different minds, with different interests, drives, and histories. Secure-functioning partners are fully interdependent in the sense that each happily accepts the other as a burden, and both agree they are in each other’s care. In this kind of two-person system, you and your partner form a couple bubble, which you can think of as a protective boundary that protects your resources and sense of ongoing safety and security. Think of a couple bubble as an ecosystem or terrarium that provides you and your partner with the sustenance you need to carry out your daily tasks, deal with fears and anxiety, handle difficult situations and people, and undergo personal growth. In a secure-functioning relationship, you and your partner assure each …

Summer Solstice, Explained by a Contemplative Astronomer

By Andrea Schweitzer, PhD ~~~ This year, summer will officially begin on June 20th at 4:34 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time, which is the summer solstice. This is the day with the most hours of sunlight during the whole year, in the Northern Hemisphere. The opposite will happen in the Southern Hemisphere, which will have the longest night of the year and their winter solstice. The mid-points in between the solstices are the equinoxes, which occur in spring and fall when the hours of day and night are equal, and when the Sun is overhead at the equator. All this happens because the Earth is tilted on its axis (by 23.5 degrees with respect to our orbit around the Sun). So when we’re on one side of our orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped so that the Sun is higher in the sky. The Sun’s rays arrive at a more favorable angle for warming — thus heating the Northern Hemisphere for summer. In ancient cultures, the solstices and equinoxes were considered auspicious times of the year. The …

A Weekend in Space

Last summer I had the pleasure of participating in SMC’s Contemplative Astronomy program: Big Sky, Big Mind, led by astronomer Andrea Schweitzer, Ph.d , and Jim Tolstrup, Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center and former SMC Land Steward. The program was an engaging variety of practical lessons about our universe, (ranging from night sky constellation viewing to kinesthetic astronomy, in which we examined the spatial relationships of our solar system and the earth’s rotation using inflatable planets), and spiritual explorations of our relationship to the stars, as individuals and as a culture — through nighttime meditation, discussions, and a presentation by Jim on ancient Lakota star knowledge. As a space nerd myself, proudly sporting my NASA t-shirt, I was ecstatic to be part of this program. It significantly expanded my understanding of the glorious night sky but also deepened my sense of connection to the magic of our existence on this planet, by exploring how the pull of the sun’s gravity on Earth affects our daily life and perception of seasons, time, and direction …

Floral Notes and Bardo: To the Wheel

At a picnic table the other night, hearing about how some students of Trungpa gave up on their art because of internal conflict between devotion and self-expression. And this conflict lives on in mentor(s) of mine. Something about how we may be reifying ego, solidifying samsara, by expressing mind… if we are not a buddha. I was rolling with rebellion, and feeling so lonely, after that conversation. At home, I flipped open to a talk Ginsberg gave at the first Naropa Institute summer: “We’re all enlightened. Fuck that bullshit enlightenment. There is no enlightenment. If we’re going to start waiting to be enlightened to write poetry…” I felt at ease because Uncle Allen was devoted to the whole thing, all of it: guru and poesy alike. I feel his tender hand on my shoulder. I’m bewildered in our collective gaze. I’m dropping consonants out of nowhere into blue soup — home to birds. I know dew drops on: tip of tongue, to be given atop iris petals to friendly faeries, family. And to tell of …