A few years ago at dawn one Summer morning, a friend and I pedaled to the top of Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. This is possible and pretty easy because Australia is the world’s oldest continent and Kosciuszko (7,310 feet or 2,228 metres tall and named by Polish explorer Strzelecki in 1840) has been weathered over millennia into a place more rounded than its younger, steeper and craggier equivalents elsewhere on the earth. But that’s by the by.
The thing is that when we got there not only were we alone at the highest point on the world’s biggest island but up there it was absolutely, utterly, wonderfully silent.
No wind and no wind through leaves (no bushes or trees), no chirruping insects or croaking frogs, no twittering birds or lowing of cows, no distant bark of a dog on the breeze, no traffic, no lawnmowers, no voices. Nothing -- just glorious silence. Absolute silence is a thing most of us rarely get to experience and when you do it can be profound.
Isn’t it strange how silence – if you care to listen -- feels full rather than empty; pregnant with possibility rather than absent of meaning?
Sit quietly for a moment or two. Now ask yourself: “Who am I?”
If you are anything like me, what happens next a bunch of thoughts arise such as a list of qualities (e.g. Talkative, honest, irascible…) or relationships (Blogger, Husband, Meditation Instructor…) or perhaps we might start thinking paradoxically that “I am not my thoughts.” But almost all the time our response to the question is to think about who we are, rather than actually experience who we are.
In this video, Sogyal Rinpoche suggests an alternative to the habitual self-identification with our thoughts and emotions. Normally, it is as if the thoughts about who we are or what we are experiencing are in fact who we are.
My suggestion is that before you watch this video, take a few moments to meditate, calm the mind and allow yourself to come into the present moment. Then hit the play button. You might find that not only do you hear what Rinpoche is saying, but you can even get an experiential taste of what he is pointing us towards.
Here is the entire video, 111 minutes worth, of Sogyal Rinpoche's public teaching at AWAKE 2012 in Amsterdam.
Robert Thurman talks about how important it is not to just leave your practice behind as you leave the cushion.
When my son was about 11 years old, he carted his Harry Potter book out to the backyard, spread out a blanket and announced, "I love my life."
I felt like I'd struck gold, hit pay dirt and won the lottery. What more do we want for our kids than to see them enjoying life's simple pleasures? In a world that is constantly pushing us to buy more, have more, do more and be more, it can be difficult to raise kids who feel content and grateful.
Here are some thoughts about how to raise children to enjoy and appreciate what they have.
I am currently at a retreat in Lerab Ling, where we had a visit by an amazing lama from Sikkim: Yangthang Rinpoche. One of the most penetrating teachings he gave was about renunciation. Now that may sound really scary or irrelevant for modern life, but in fact I felt it was exactly about how to be a real practitioner of meditation in today's complex and busy world. The teaching gave me a lot of things to think about, which inspired me to write this blog, as a means of reflection.
By popular request, here is the entire video, 111 minutes worth, of Sogyal Rinpoche's teaching at AWAKE 2012 in Amsterdam. It's great, don't miss it. And if you were there, see it again.
We just finished the 2nd annual What Meditation Really Is retreat at Lerab Ling, France. Here is what one of the participants, Drew from Ireland, wrote about it:
On this retreat there have been many moments of beauty, learning, breakthrough, breakdown, pain (both physical and emotional), truth and realization. But really, it all comes down to the teaching, “Water, if you don’t stir it, will become clear; the mind, left unaltered, will find its own natural peace.’ When I first came, I had many questions. Some I asked, many I kept to myself. All were usually answered fairly quickly.