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February, 2014

A Prayer for Brooke Olson

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Brooke Olson, age 16, died from a car accident on February 27th, 2014. I personally didn’t know Brooke even though we attended the same school, but the local community has been shaken by this tragic news. The following is a metta (loving-kindness) prayer for Brooke’s family and the community:

May the family members of Brooke be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth and affection.
May they be protected from harm, and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May they enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.

May all beings be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth and affection.
May they be protected from harm, and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May all beings enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.

A Memorial for Linda Lewis

Linda and Traci 2010

Linda Lewis (right) featured with her friend Traci

RMI’s dear courageous Linda Lewis died Wednesday morning, February 12, 2014.  Linda, one of the most mindfully present person we have ever known, lived the Dharma moment by moment through five years of cancer treatment and the discomfort of physical pain most of the time.

Her conscious practice of dying involved both a legal and ethical will as well as arranging loving care for not only her last days but her beloved dog, Layla.  These and other practices around mindful dying set Linda apart from others.  Never hesitant to clarify what she wanted, Linda was fearless in her open discussion of what she was going through without any drama or over-attachment to her story.  Not that she minimized her dying process; she just didn’t lose sight or the heart for the bigger picture of life and death.

Remarkably, Linda still acknowledged and showed concern for the living, asking how our lives were and wishing us freedom from struggle even though she struggled endless moments of pain.

An inspiration of mindful graciousness and a true Bodhisattva, we at RMI honor Linda’s life and death and will miss her sweet smile and tender strength.

With boundless Metta,

Rocky Mountain Insight Sangha

The Second Noble Truth

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In Zen

when I first read

the answer is to stop striving

I thought it meant

Stop striving

for Enlightenment

I didn’t realize

It meant everything.

-Dr Lucinda Green

 

Dear Noble Sangha,

The second Noble Truth is our practice theme for February. The Second Noble Truth is about the cause of suffering: Tanha. Tanha means thirst or craving and is the root of suffering. Tanha is the desire to hold onto pleasant experiences and to avoid unpleasant experiences. In regards to Tanha and neutral experiences, at least in my experience, sometimes Tanha craves them and sometimes Tanha wishes to replace them with something more interesting. We could simply say:

Tanha is craving for things to be other than they are.

There are three types of Tanha that the Buddha identified:

1) Sense-craving (kamma-tanha)

2) Craving to be (bhava-tanaha)

3) Craving not to be (vibhava-tanha)

Sense craving is often called sensuality and refers to craving for worldly and sensory pleasures. This could be craving for physical sensations like the taste of chocolate or more subtle experiences like worldly wealth and power. The craving to be is our ego-clinging: we crave to exist as separate, independent, permanent entities (even though no such thing exists). Our ego craves to become something, to establish its kingdom, and to protect its acquisitions. Craving not to be is the thirst for escaping life, escaping experiences we don’t like, and even escaping existence completely. This is the yearning to not experience something, with the extreme being the desire to be dead or nonexistent.

How do we work with our craving? As always in practice, we begin by noticing it. We look directly at Tanha and see it for what it is: This is Tanha. This is thirst. This is craving. We look at it and get to know it. What causes Tanha to arise? When is it strongest? What is its root? Once we have seen Tanha with mindfulness we can apply an element of the path. We can remember any one of the 3 marks of conditioned existence: dukkha, impermanence, or no-self. We can summon some metta for ourselves and for the suffering Tanha creates for us. We can cultivate calm by just coming to the breath and not reacting to Tanha.

All of these techniques, the entire Buddhist path, come down to this essential teaching in Dr. Green’s words:

Drop the wanting.

We invite you to notice Tanha in your life and to do your best to “Drop the wanting.”

Peace

Ben Mikolaj

Associate Spiritual Director

Rocky Mountain Insight

  • February 15th, 2014
  • Posted in Dharma Talk
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