Dedicating the Merit of our Practice

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(Read the original on elephant journal)

The other day, I stood alone in the temple in front of an altar full of a stunningly beautiful and potent mandala of crystals, Tibetan singing bowls, and Buddhas.

As I breathed with my palms together in prayer in front of my heart and wished that the journey my family and I are about to embark upon be safe, peaceful, and joyous, for one brief second my mind was clear and radiant.

I realized that this wish for myself and the two beings closest to me (my husband and daughter) was simultaneously a wish for all beings without exception. The pure and simple aspiration, “May the journey of all beings be safe, peaceful, healthy, and happy” welled up from that indescribable source that lies within each of us and is ever surrounding us all.

Dedicating the merit is fundamental to all meditation. It is absolutely essential and not to be overlooked. Here is an example of a dedication of merit you can recite at the end of your practice:

May the earth be wholesome everywhere
The world blessed with prosperity
May the poor and destitute find wealth
And the stooping animals be freed

May every being ailing with illness
Find relief at once from suffering
May all the sickness that afflict the living
Be instantly and permanently healed

May those who go in dread, have no more fear,
May captives be unchained and set free,
And may the weak now become strong,
May living beings help each other in kindness.

May travelers upon the road,
Find happiness no matter where they go,
And may they gain, without hardship,
The goals on which their hearts are set.

From the songs of birds and the sighing of trees,
From the shafts of light and from the sky itself,
May living beings, each and every one,
Perceive the constant sound of Dharma.

~ Shantideva

Love is a Field.

I open the door.

I see a sauna, empty space, hot air. Steam.

I step inside. I am going on a trip within.

I sit. I am alone and not alone.

The aromas of lavender, white sage, and eucalyptus spiral around me in wisps of smoke.

Sweat pours from my pores. I am here. There is nowhere else to go.

I wonder about going on a dark retreat for a few days. What would happen?

What would I see in the pitch black?

What voices, what wind chimes would I hear?

I drink the tea. I eat the mushroom.

My consciousness expands and contracts, beating like my heart, filling and emptying like my lungs.

Whirling in wondrous ways.

I am not sweating anymore, I am flying. I can go anywhere.

I open the door to the treehouse. Here lies the meditation shrine room. Inside, a great thangka sparkles from the wall. White Tara smiles down upon us. There are 10 Tibetan bowls of various sizes. Huge crystals beam their clear light at my heart–center. There are Buddhas and more Buddhas. There is Jesus and Ganesh. There are my parents, grandparents, ancestors, my brothers and sisters, and friends. There are my kitties and dogs and even beloved childhood hamsters.

There is my partner. There is our daughter, and her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter. There are gorgeous bouquets of tropical flowers, growing impossibly out of the stones on the ground. There is music—all my favorite songs.

There is love in the room. Love, patience, peace, and presence. There is gratitude for every person, animal, thing, and feeling in the space.

Love is a field, not a form.

The doorway to love is never closed. The master key is within our heart.

There is joy here and sorrow, and everything is alright—even when it’s not.

“Let’s not commit to a future together.

The future is so unknown, and we are so fluid, and tired of pretending 

that we know.

Our thoughts and feelings are ever-changing, uncontrollable, like a wild ocean of love.

~ Jeff Foster

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8 Simple Heart Opening Tips

Anahata chakra, the heart center, is the fourth energy point, located at the center of the seven main chakras in yogic philosophy. It unites the three lower chakras with the three upper points.

Anahata means “unstruck” in Sanskrit. Its color is green, its element is air, and its sense is touch. The core issues at this point are related to love, friendship, kindness, generosity, gratitude, and compassion. The challenges here include ill will, envy, jealousy, selfishness, greed, and pity. Grief is the experience of love lost, the inevitable shadow side of the heart.

At present, pretty much every single one of us on the planet could benefit from opening and healing our heart chakra. May these suggestions be of benefit.

1. Love your parents.

The Buddha’s teachings are quite clear on this point:

“Even if one should carry about one’s mother on one shoulder and one’s father on the other, and so doing should live a hundred years…Moreover, if one should set them up as supreme rulers, having absolute rule over the wide earth abounding in the seven treasures—not even by this could one repay one’s parents. And why! Bhikkhus, parents do a lot for their children: they bring them up, provide them with food, introduce them to the world. ~ Anguttara Nikaya

For some, love for our parents comes naturally. We can easily send them metta (loving-kindness), wishing that they may be safe, happy, healthy, peaceful, and free. If you do not feel this immense love for your mother and father, work with forgiveness. Being able to truly love and care for these special beings is a foundation of healing for our wounded hearts.

2. Cherish the temple of your body.

Self-care is quite the buzz word of late. In the rush of life, caring about others, about work, about politics, about attainment of possessions and status can overshadow the essential importance of authentically loving ourselves. Loving the self means being mindful of what we are putting into our bodies and minds. It also means loving our shape and size in this moment and knowing our skin and our faces are beautiful, unique, and worthy of our love.

3. Do what you love; love what you do.

It’s a cliche for a reason—when we act from the heart and do the work that our heart feels most passionate about, we are happiest and most productive. Of course, what we love naturally changes and fluctuates over time.

A personal example: During my 10-year career as a schoolteacher, I felt great love for my students and loved sharing my knowledge of the world, language, and literature with them. Over the years, that love faded away and was replaced by anger at the oppressive system of traditional classrooms. I no longer loved what I did, so I found something else to do—something that feeds my love for writing, yoga, and helping others. The evolution is ever in process. Check in with your heart each day, do what you love, and let your inner light shine forth!

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Where is the Middle Way?

 

What we have here is a lack of union.

Extremes have become ultra polarized to the point of absurdity
The polar ice caps melting can’t be denied
Science isn’t a matter of belief
humanity is KILLING OUR MOTHER EARTH

The government isn’t meant to be a two-party system and politics shouldn’t be what is has become: corporation ruled corrupt GREED

Martin Luther King, Jr said: “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” YET WE MUST CHOOSE LOVE OVER HATE

This is a dangerous time. Watch your step. Mind the gap. But, please. KEEP WORKING FOR THE GOOD

Are you on the edge? The left or the right? Can you see outside your narrow, conditioned point of view? No. TAKE A GIANT LEAP BACK

Be moderate. Take the Middle Path: ever the goal, ever the practice. Discovery of balance, presence, awareness. I must choose love over hate. I must recognize both goddess and god and remember that all of live is simply energy moving within and without us and all beings, whether we call it divine or buddhanature or the holyspirit, or not

This is a potent time. GIVE LOVE. BE LOVE. BREATHE LOVE.