Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


The new year's been a cannon-burst of activity thus far. Yoga studio shenanigans all weekend, a solid day of cranking out mad writing on Monday (aided by some stellar bourbon, and pecan liqueur, and Kahlua...need I go on?), three pulsingly sweaty classes taught yesterday, and now a blessedly sunny and fresh morning for catching up.

(My garden's lush from all the rain. I'm waiting for buds on the apricot tree out the window. Any day now.)

In between times, I can't drag myself away from Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Buddhist theory is generally so reasonable, so measured; Tricycle's features always provide the thoughtful-yet-challenging wisdom I need to get through a deadline, or a class, or a dinner party. Wee bit in love.

So really, you should try to swing by on a regular basis, for their daily dharma talks, their blog updates, etc. But for now, just start with this conversation with Buddhist teacher Lewis Richmond. This musician, entrepreneur, and generally rad dude has a few things to say that might just rock your world, including this:
Without the misfortune of my illnesses I would not be able to teach in the way I do today, which includes advising and counseling people about illness and loss. So in a dharmic sense, my illnesses were also gifts. The encephalitis brought me to my knees; but in Buddhist practice, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I got to find out what is really important, whether we’re talking about Buddhist practice or life in general.

When you take everything away, what have you got? That was the situation I had to work with. Having had everything stripped away, I understand that Buddha-mind does not depend on our capacities. The engine of practice is always there going. I unlearned a lot.

Sometimes when I’m asked to describe the Buddhist teachings, I say this: Everything is connected; nothing lasts; you are not alone. This is really just a restatement of the traditional Three Marks of Existence: non-self, impermanence, and suffering. I don’t think I would have expressed the truth of suffering as “you are not alone” before my illnesses, but now I find that talking about it that way gets at something important. The fact that we all suffer means we are all in the same boat, and that’s what allows us to feel compassion.
Boldface is mine, there in the last paragraph, because, well, I find Richmond's paraphrasing of the Three Marks of Existence so damn beautiful, simply so, and useful and reassuring, too.

I find that the busier I am, the more my monkey mind's whirring with the non-stop list of things that need to be done and people who need to be called and emails that need to be responded to, the more important it is to take a few minutes to slow down and center with a piece or two like this. Bookmark Tricycle's site. Whether you identify as Buddhist or not really doesn't have anything to do with it. What matters is the teaching, the ways in which it reminds us to be reasonable, and present, and compassionate, and kind. 'Cause that kinda shit transcends religions. Period. Amen.

(Happy new year, beloveds. I'm glad you're here.)

The Authentic Life: A Conversation with Lewis Richmond (Tricycle)

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