Heaven and Hell


I love this story by Pema Chödrön

“There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

Pema Chödrön, Awakening Loving Kindness

it starts with the mind

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a quote I love

10669994_755392747847463_2679013446912559287_nI’m always adjusting my lens, and at age 60, I switched to a new one with widened, improved views, finer focuses, and better clarity. Still learning to use it. And I’m not talking about my camera here, I’m talking about my views on life.

why bother?

images-26I ask myself again, why am I doing this? Then I give it some time, and I remember.


asking questions opens doors




my take on Buddhism

I don’t call myself a Buddhist, however I do embrace the essence of Buddhist teachings—I want help waking up, becoming aware, being mindful, empathetic, compassionate, kind and so-on and so-on. Buddhism to me is more a study of the mind and a way of training the mind.

Reasoning, analysis, contemplation, meditation—just some tools to help wake us up, to see life outside of Plato’s dream cave world, outside the box, outside our usual sphere of influence: our culture, our race, family, friends, relationships, gender, job, roles, age,  geographical location, neighborhood, education, beliefs, DNA—all those things that inherently settle down inside of us and make us who we are and that can create a mountain of biases.

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Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness… . [We] work with cultivating gentleness, innate precision, and the ability to let go of small-mindedness, learning how to be open to our thoughts and emotions, to all the people we meet in our world, how to open our minds and hearts.”

Pema Chödrön, The Wisdom of No Escape

religion is… .


I’ve grown to abhor religion, or maybe it’s just the extremist “one way is the only way” mentality of religious diehards that I abhor—the mentality that justifies spoiling it for everyone else.

I read about the hostile situation in North Korea, about ISIS in Iraq and Syria, about the age-old hostility between Russia and the Ukraine, between Israel and Palestine, and it saddens me, and the part about children being bombed in their sleep, and the part about people beheading other people—it really puts me to unrest.

Where’s the love? Within extremism the definition of love becomes ill-defined—it has to be to keep the walls up, the doors and windows shut.

When I busted out of a “one way is the only way” mental cage of thinking, a whole new world of vitality and hope opened up to me. It’s weird to say it, but it was like being born again. Everything fresh and new, free of judgment.

authenticity/ Brené Brown

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I love listening to Brené Brown, researcher on vulnerability and shame. She’s shared her research at Ted Talks, she’s written books, and produced audibles. She’s a great speaker—funny, humble, down to earth, insightful and clear. I’ve listened to her audible The Power of Vulnerability at least three times. From her work I find clarity and healing.

Plato’s dream cave world/ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Another of my favorite teachers is Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

His teachings on mindfulness ring true with me. Mindfulness more than anything else scooped me out of a very foggy place and gently placed me on higher, clearer ground. I believe it’s a solution to a lot of our problems. The quote below is worth every second of the read—Jon Kabat-Zinn paints a clear visual using very few words, and I totally get it, because I once lived inside of Plato’s dream cave world.



Jon Kabat-Zinn, Adventures in Mindfulness

figuring out what we want

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