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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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I went to the second weekend in Phoenix with Geshe Michael teaching Lam Rim. He is the most charming, skillful, genuine being in the universe. The teaching was like a love-in you could take your mom to. Perfect. I see now how important it is for me, and I would argue for the other care takers as well, to leave DMU for a while every now and then. Perspective is vital as is doing your job with joyful effort.
Phoenix confuses me. I think it is the worst sort of city I've ever been to but there is some kind of continuity and order to it that is strangely comforting. I don't know. I have to see more of it and meet the people there.
Back at DMU the retreatants are getting ready to get out of another one month deep retreat. This means we can take packages in to them. Getting too much mail during deep retreat can be really distracting, I am told. Things seem quiet and good in the valley and calm in the camp ground. There was some kind of tension there in the last few months. I think the stress of the winter and new people and a new phase of DMU created the tension. It's difficult to make a small community work smoothly at times. The friction is good for inner work, I will say.
Lord, I'm so tired I can't think. More to come from the high desert.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Sangha

I went to Geshe Michael's teachings in Phoenix last weekend and will go again this weekend. The content of what he said was profound and beautiful but that's not what I want to talk about here. I want to talk about the people that were there. In particular, my friends.
The word Sangha has a couple of meanings in the lineage I am in. On one level it means the ordained monks and nuns in the lineage. It can also mean your fellow dharma practioners. The people who are moved by the same vision and practice that you have. I am here to say that they are indeed crucial to my path. The Sangha is for sure one of the Three Jewels. They are rare and totally precious. I need them so badly. I had forgotten. I came back from Phoenix far more awake and happy then I have been in many months. It's as if, by their mere presence, they picked me up, filled my tank, and put me back on the road.
The Sangha that I have here at DMU also looks more precious with my refueled eyes. I thank Nicole for feeding my cat while I was gone, in particular. All the caretakers that stuck around while several of us went to Phoenix, I thank you as well.
If I ever have kids or if a kid ever sees me as someone to ask questions of or listen to, I would tell them this; "Find the thing you love to do. Find other people who love to do that thing as well. Then stick to them like glue for the rest of your life." Follow them from state to state or country to country. Move in with them or close to them. Put them on your weekly calendar and don't forget to call them. It may be just one person. If it's just the two of you, share your love with the larger world and find those others who are sitting at home wondering what it is that's missing. They are out there right now waiting for you.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Blues

What is it that I want out of my practice? I know there are those that say to give up the wanting. To Hades with them. I want things. I want to have the fire of life and happiness and wisdom suffusing my heart. I want the things I do to be of help to others. I once had a friend who replaced "I want" in her language out of protest. She said that inherent in "I want" is a lack of something. She used something like "I am" or "I create". I haven't checked back in with her to see how it was going on that front. I like the concept though.
I have to thank my friend Angie P. Many months ago she gave me something with the three sphere's fully engaged. She said, "Matty, I want to give you this while fully understanding the emptiness of the three spheres." She then said aloud that the giver, the thing given, and the person given to are all completely empty of any nature of their own. Because this is true she then dedicated the act of giving to a higher cause. I forget just what. Regardless, it stuck with me. I've done it twice in the last couple of days. I realize that in the four years of intense dharma study with, for me, the best Lama's in all the worlds combined, I haven't given with the three spheres really engaged. I can't recall anyway. This is the second such small/large realization I've had in this vein in the last three months. The last three months of Suck. Yes, they sucked. It's better now. I should say the months were fine, it was my head and heart that sucked. I've realized that I haven't put the full force of my understanding of emptiness behind my dedications. Perhaps it just wasn't there, the understanding. But in the midst of lonely Bowie, friends all gone, Lama's all gone, work practically all gone, I finally had nothing else to take refuge in. I had to take refuge in emptiness, or try to. These dedications are saving my life. To actually feel that it is true that things have no nature of their own is a rare thing, I think. I'm not saying I have it. I've come closer to it in the last few months then I ever had during terms and conditions at Diamond Mountain. But to think that it took my Lamas three years of teaching the same thing over and over again to me to get it into my heart so it could come out a few times now makes them all the more precious to me.
The mind is a formidable enemy. My laziness and broken hearted-ness have derailed my practice since the Great Retreat began. Before I could blame exhaustion from building cabins in the retreat valley. It was a good excuse for almost two years. I fight daily to live up to the vision my teachers have of me. I know at the very root of my being that they truly do believe in me. It was communicated in a pure and unmistakable way. I saw it in their patience. I saw it in their eyes, so clear I didn't want to believe it, too much. I heard it in their words. Sometimes they spoke to me as gentle and caring as my mother, or as fierce. I felt it when they held my hands. I felt it when they stayed up till two in the morning just to teach me when they were already tired. I wish you could feel it. Every movement and word of the Lama is like a special gift to you. The things they touch become precious. Their love is so pure, it at once raised the bar for what Love is and opened my eyes to the people in my life who really Love me. Like my parents. Something about familiarity and family led me to take them for granted.
I don't know how I planted the seeds to see these people in my life. I know that since the moment their physical presence left my day to day I have struggled. I am surprised at how hard hearted and angry I have become. I am not as kind to others as I could be. I purposely do not let them in or reach out to them. I used the word broken hearted earlier. This phrase just came to me a couple of days ago. I display classic symptoms. "I will never love again" I say as I stare out the window at the rain. I throw my accordion to the street below. The letters are cast into the river. The cigarette burns into the night.
I am pulling myself out of this scenario. It's good to write about it here. Writing has always helped me think. If you have someone in your life, a lover, a teacher, friend, parent, or Lama do something for them as soon as you can. Your life can change in an instant. You don't know how long you have with them. Go outside and pick up my accordion. Play them a song. Sing them lines from my letters, the words that the water didn't erase. Dance for them with your broken heart. Make your life an alter to Love and then give it away.