Farewell, Amigo

A friend died last Thursday.

He ended his own life. A friend I hadn’t seen in years, but a friend all the same. A teacher, a musician, a husband, a father. With a daughter close to the same age as my own: five. He was forty years old.

I received the sad news one morning last week. In a message from a mutual friend. It was the first thing that entered my mind that day, this tragic news, and at first it didn’t compute.

He took his life. He is the first friend I’ve known who has committed suicide. It doesn’t seem real, that this person who was so alive and intelligent and complicated and hilarious and all the other things he was, to be gone just like that. It almost doesn’t seem real because there is no mention of it on social media amidst any of our many mutual friends. We are respecting his family’s wishes. But it is true, damn it.

red rain flower

I wrote his wife, now widow, who is my friend too. Even though there are no words, I wrote her. I’m thinking of her and him and their daughter and sending them love and metta.

I cannot imagine what she is going through. Even though I’ve read books written by widows about the experience of living through and beyond their beloved’s death, whether sudden or prolonged, I simply cannot fathom the grief and pain.

The other night, my friend appeared in my dream. As we were embracing in a big bear hug, I broke down in sobs. But I felt comforted by him, not sad about his death. In the dream, he was not dead. I was crying about something else, and he was consoling me. Only today as I was walking to yoga did I realize, on some level, the dream level, that that was our goodbye.

Adios, dear friend. Thank you. We will miss you. May you be free.

This I Believe.

I believe in peace, love and goodness.

I believe in trees and bodies of water.

I believe in sunrise and sunset.

I believe in full moon and new moon.

I believe in green trees, vast blue sky, blue water and the brown earth,

the white light and the darkness.

I believe in the orange fire and the red embers.

In this, in nature, in you, in me, in we, I believe.

Cultivating Beginner’s Heart

may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it’s sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there’s never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile

–ee cummings


Ever since I stumbled upon Zen philosophy (back in the San Francisco Bay area circa 2003), I’ve been fascinated by the concept of “beginner’s mind.” I’ve attempted to maintain it myself, to varying degrees of success. It’s a daily, lifelong practice.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few,” teaches Suzuki Roshi in his classic, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.

Buddhists see the heart and the mind as one entity: the heart-mind. Westerners generally think the heart feels, and the mind knows.

Could we equally say, “Beginner’s heart”?

Take a deep breath. Arrive here in this moment even more fully. Let your heart-mind read and absorb these words.

“When we talk about understanding, surely it takes place only when the mind listens completely—the mind being your heart, your nerves, your ears—when you give your whole attention to it.” ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti

Can we blur the lines between mind and heart? The mind is the heart. The heart and mind are inseparable.

A beginner’s heart is open, curious—full of awe and wonder.

Beginner’s heart remembers that we are all ultimately the same.

Emerson lived with beginner’s heart:“That which draws us nearer our fellow man, is, that the deep Heart in one, answers the deep Heart in another—that we find we have (a common Nature)—one life which runs through all individuals, and which is indeed Divine.”

Keep reading!

Practice Loving Kindness with Metta Aspirations

11179971_10152784915271994_8682155515547017100_nSilently repeat any or all of the following (or your own aspirations) in your mind.

May I be safe.

May I feel secure and grounded. May I feel a sense of belonging to the Earth. May I know who I am.

May I be happy.

May I be joyful. May I be content. May I live with bliss.

May I be healthy.

May my body be strong. May my mind be balanced. May I exude well-being.

May I be peaceful.

May I be calm. May I be patient. May I be loving.

May I live with ease.

May I relax. May I let go. May I just be.

May I be free.

May I be free from suffering. May I be free to be me. May I be liberated.

May you be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free. (Visualize a loved one and repeat each phrase to them in your mind’s eye.)

May you be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free. (Visualize a neutral person whom you do not have strong feelings about and repeat each phrase to that person.)

May you be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free. (Visualize a difficult person, someone with whom you are having a conflict, or even an “enemy,” and say the phrases to them. This one may take a while before you can actually do it!)

May we be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free. (Repeat the wishes, visualizing yourself together with all your loved ones.)

May we be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free.

Visualize yourself and your wider community.

May you be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful and free.

Visualize the light of your metta reaching out to shine upon all beings on Earth.

The remaining aspirations are wishes for all beings, including ourselves.

May all beings be safe.

May all beings be happy.

May all beings be healthy.

May all beings be peaceful.

May all beings be free.

May all beings feel strong & supported.

May all beings be loved & cared for.

May all beings breathe & relax.

May all beings go with the flow.

May all beings express our unique power.

May all beings open our hearts.

May all beings listen.

May all beings imagine.

May all beings connect with our intuition.

May all beings connect with our divine nature.

May we all love.

May we all share.

May we all serve.

May we all unite in peace and harmony.