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The Diamond Mountain Blog

This is an unofficial blog of news and info from Diamond Mountain University and Retreat Center which was founded by Geshe Michael Roach and Lama Christie McNally in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the Dalai Lamas.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I always forget what a relief Spring is until it gets here. Finally it is warming up and the trees are in bloom. The Bermuda grass is growing and the cats of Bowie are making love in my back yard. Possibly because of the tress and Bermuda grass. Only myself and the school in Bowie have such lush Bermuda grass in this desert town. They are just crazy, I'm fulfilling a promise which was probably crazy. Regardless, water is flowing from the hose. I read once that Tucson and Phoenix have 50 years of water left. The area I'm in has that much time as well, I think. If it were up to me, the yard would be gravel and cactus. But it is not my house nor is it up to me. It is an aspect of service that galls me. In the future, I will pick my service a little more carefully. This is stupid to say, I know, but I say it anyway.

Up on the land things are very quiet. I think there are only seven people living in the campground. I was over there the other day picking up some trash that the wind had placed in thorny bushes and, though I was there for 35 min, did not see or hear anyone. Good place for meditation. For me, Diamond Mountain is a sanctuary but not a refuge. I use refuge in the sense of an unchanging place that will always be there for you in the way you need it. It has changed since the retreat started. There is no teaching term to prepare for. Thirty beautiful New Yorkers are not coming to camp for a month. The Acro Yogis are not coming to teach. Geshe Michael is not teaching Sacred Classics Translator class here. Alas, alas. It's true that we will have the Great Retreat Teachings in a few months. I cannot count on DMU for my purpose or social group any more. It was an amazing three years. Sometime I will have to try and communicate some part of it.

Each person that graduated from the Diamond Mountain Experience carries the seed to re-create the place. I can't think of a better way to spread Dharma or Worldview. I've only met the New York, Tucson and LA Sangha but they are representative of the groups that have grown around Geshe Michaels teacherings. There is a youthful, vital, fun, diverse, and grounded feel to the people in them. The Dharma knowledge also tends to be high. There also tends to be lots of cookies around. This pleases me. I am really looking forward to meeting the new group in Phoenix in a couple weeks. My man Evan is starting to teach ACI in Portland OR. All I can say is this; Word to your Mother. It begins again. Three Jewels Portland is coming and it's gonna be killah!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


    I finally finished the shingles and the wood stain on the shade structure over the walk-in cooler at Jamyang.  This was big as I was doing it in my spare time.  It looks great.  My man Johneo owned that structure, yo.  The man made his own trusses.  I hope that when Kat gets out of retreat and moves back into Jamyang house she is not horrified at the structure in her yard.  
    A group of us put in the next layer of Nicole's earth floor today.  She only has the thin top coat left.  It was a great group full of folks from Tucson.  Viet was also there.  He is the man.  He's got a wife and new baby and a trailer.  That's it and somehow he holds it together.  Okay, he's got a truck and a mother in law from heaven.  That helps.  
     A couple of weeks ago on Wednesday I had a small realization.  It was Tsam maintenance day.  I had to wait a while to catch a ride back down to Nicole's house to get some tools.  I didn't like that I wasted time running around for tools when I had so much to do for the retreatants and I was, of course, projecting this feeling over other parts of my life as is my habit.  So I was standing at Nicole's house waiting for one of the other caretakers to drive by and pick me up.  As I stood in the rode I started moving large rocks out of the road, as is my other habit.  If you've never been to DMU, the roads are gravel.  When they come and grade them, huge rocks are unearthed and piled at the sides.  Occasionally, they fall in the road and become potentially dangerous.  I was walking and tossing them into the bush doing little dedications like, "May there be no obstacles to any one's dreams" or "May the road to all meditative goals be clear."  Then I realized that in the back of my mind there has always been an "if".  I love dedicating actions to greater things, I do it a lot.  But in a subtle way I put an "If Karma and Emptiness are real" at the beginning.  It hit me that this would not do.  I picked up a rock and said, "No.  This IS the way to remove meditative obstacles."  I saw that if I continued living with a little "if" at the beginning of my dedications I would get iffy results.  It's so clear.  It is the strong emotion that makes or breaks a dedication.  You have to have some sort of faith backed up by logic backed up by the Lama back up by Love.  If what I've learned about karma and emptiness is true then tossing rocks in the desert is the way to reaching my meditative goals.  One of the ways.  I feel now that the certainty behind the dedicated action also speeds up the result.  I don't know why this should be true but I feel it is.  Maybe "speeds up" is not the thing to say about it.  It's more like that the dedication is so Now that it's beyond speed.  You go so fast you're in the moment.  You bring the dedication fully into your life the moment you say it with conviction.  It is an unshakeable act of truth.  

Monday, March 07, 2011

Wind Storm

 Today we had a big wind storm on the high desert.  Looking down into the valley from DMU, everything was obscured by white dust.  Columns of wild swirling whiteness moved slowly across the landscape.  Whatever top soil we have out here went air-born today.  It is touching down in Mexico as we speak.  The gate at Jamyang house was blown off it's hinges.  A large patch of shingles was blown off my roof.  A big metal dumpster was toppled.  As I drove home to Bowie, the orchard Ravens were clinging to the tops of the still nude pecan trees.  Some would let go and be swept up and over the road, beating their wings furiously then gliding fast with the wind.  There must be over three hundred Ravens in the orchard at any given moment.  I imagine they grow fat eating nuts but it is probably the things that live in the moisture around the trees that attracts them, or the moisture itself.  I slowed the car to look down the rows of trees.  The trees stretch in perfect lines for what looks like twenty acres or more.  A hallway of skeleton tress covered in Ravens.  The herald of the end of days. Edgar Allen Poe's retirement dream. Another normal day in Bowie.  I jest.  It's not that dark here.  Very dramatic but not that dark.  

    It's me who gets gloomy.  The dis-satisfaction that I lived with for most of my adult life that led me to the Dharma and my teachers lives with me still.  I thought I had buried it under the floorboards but I can still hear it's tell tale heart beating.  I'm lonely, yes, but it's not just that.  I don't know what it is.  I never have.  I can point to what it hardens into on the surface; a bad relationship, a bad job, poor finances, but that's not really it.  But I cannot yet touch it's face because I haven't really seen it.  And that pisses me off.  After a year and a half of the hardest labor of my life, dedicating daily, I want the results. Why hasn't it ripened?   I know we cannot choose the "when" of a karmic ripening.  And then I admit I do not at all pretend to understand karma or mental seeds or whatever you want to call it.   I do not understand and that pisses me off as well.  I am clearly full of piss.  I feel like I could tear down the house with my bear hands.  I do not want to bring this attitude into my care taking duties and muck up the joyful effort.  I want to burn through this ridiculous ignorance.  Not just ignorance of how things work but ignorance of self.  If I have to sit in this poverty ridden no-where land, by myself in the prime of my life, banging my head against the wall around my heart, in order to get some self knowledge, By God I'll DO IT!  And I'll serve the frak out of the retreat while I do it.  And I don't care what anyone says, I'll do it my way and come out shining like a fraking super nova eyes of Kali fire at the end of days!  FRAK!  You hear me!? You nameless faceless thing.  I'm coming for you.  

Thursday, March 03, 2011

We had a good day in the tsam today.  This was the first day after the month long deep retreat.  Nicole and I got a lot done on the water system.  We think that only one tank is not filling.  This is huge.  Next come the repairs inside the cabins themselves.  There are not many of these.  We did some other small repairs for people as well.  Things like mouse proofing some vents. While I was working on some pipes,  one retreater came out of the cabin, face covered by a big hat, and gave me a cookie in that special way a person who is dedicating something does.  I touched it to my head and ate it.  I went "mmmmmm"  I love the touching special things to my head thing.  I do it when I want to see the giver as special, or the thing given as special. Hopefully I'm thinking of both of them that way.  It's not always the case but I touch it to my head anyway.  

    We also got one the heat working in one retreaters cabin.  During the cold spell, when this persons heat went out, we were so overwhelmed with water line emergency that I didn't feel much along the lines of compassion.  A little, but it was dull.  I was dull.  I was cold and grumpy. But today, after getting heat back to this person I am very moved.  I'm so sorry it took so long, I want to say.  Maybe it's like a parent would feel if they couldn't help their child right away.  "I wanted to get it to you sooner, I'm so sorry. I was distracted."  I think that over time, this feeling will grow and become one of the great gifts for the care takers, for those who do not already have it. This encompassing desire to give people what they need.  The care takers keep reminding each other that one of our jobs is to try and protect the minds of the retreaters.  So if they say they need something that sounds strange or un-unnecessary, it's our job not to judge them or think that they don't need it.  They may be going batty and need some seemingly inconsequential thing to calm their mind and carry on with the inner work.  It's not for me to say as a care taker.  My job is to give.  It always come back to that.  To give to others.  Make sure you have your basic needs covered, of course, but give the rest to others.  Joy must be present in that, makes it more powerful.  I usually work in the retreat valley in a focused, pursed lipped, Manhattan speed cowboy sort of way.  I feel joy afterward.  I'd like to feel it while I'm serving.  It happens sometimes.    

  We have had some amazing skies out here lately.  During the cold snap, the clouds came down and covered Mt. Grahm's peak in grey blue.  This stretched all across the horizon.  There were clouds yesterday that looked like a melted puddle of marsh mellow that someone dragged a comb through.  When viewed with sun glasses you could see rainbows in the clouds. When I am down, when the food stamps get decreased, and the health insurance revoked, the house cold and cat complaining, I don't care about the sky.  But it is putting on such a mind blowing show that I recall it a week later when I'm not so bummed out thinking about "me".  I'm usually my favorite thing to think about.