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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.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


The rains finally came. We had a real monsoon storm up at DMU and down in Bowie a few days ago. It's not much but enough for the ocotillo to put on green leaves. They look fuzzy now. For those that don't know, ocotillo are like 8 to 10 foot whips with inch long spikes that grow in clusters out here. But the leaves give them a come hither look.
We got the new black out shades up in the commissary. It's much cooler in there now. The AC shouldn't have to work so hard. AC is a new thing to most of us up here. We do swamp coolers and fans. But the food was going bad due to the heat in that room. Ye lords of the environment, forgive us our trespasses. Over the last three years out here I have let go my strangle hold on most things I deemed 'environmentally friendly'. I had to do it in order to survive. I cannot drive two hours to Tucson for organic food. Yes, I will work with industrial chemicals if only you will give me a job. I even played with the idea of working for the copper mine in Safford. Would I do it? In the end I decided, no. But if I lived in Safford and was unemployed long enough, hell yes I would. I would say that if one is isolated and out of work long enough, there are many things one would do that, until that point, would never do in the past. This is one of the lessons for me serving the great retreat. Soon, I will start going to church, happily, because that's where you meet single ladies out here. I see them (no longer single) with their children during the day at Safeway in Willcox. I am there on the Internet looking for jobs. I hear them when they talk to their other lady friends. They are talking about church. Perhaps I will become the first Mormon buddhist. If there were a synagogue around here I would go there. I'm totally down with many aspects of reform Judaism. Then I'd be a MorJuBu. I digress. The retreaters are all tucked in and staring another month long deep retreat period. All is quiet. No fires. No ice. Wind is calm. No major floods yet. Most of their solar panels are working. The campground is very empty. Just three people living there now. We got the last of the broken straw bales out of the campground. Filled up one more dumpster with garbage from the teachings and even from the building of the cabins.
Last evening I walked out my front door in Bowie, looked at the sunset, and cried out is amazement. A shot of prana went up my spine. This rarely happens in the context of sunsets for me. But this one was a doozy. There was a vast highway of puffy cloud horizontal strips stretching away from me. They were colored a reddish gold that was shocking. Very concentrated. Since the rains came, the clouds have returned in a big way. Arizona has the market on clouds.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter

I went to Willcox to see the new Harry Potter Movie tonight. The final one (gasp). It was four dollar movie night. The theater is called the Rex Allen Theater, named after the man himself. I've never seen a Rex Allen movie but my parents did. I like the theater because it's run by a family and it feels like a family affair; kids and babies and such. They use real butter on the popcorn and pop it fresh. Most mega-plex's buy bags of pre-made popcorn and put it in the machine to make it look like it was popped there. This is what I was told at the Rex Allen. The movie was great. To me, it was all about love, and fear, fear and love. I thought about how I've been feeling that all the bells and whistles of this lineage of Buddhism I am in, are only that, bells and whistles. Props to keep you interested and engaged. They're great, don't get me wrong. They are needed for many people for many reasons. It's skillful means. I need them. But the heart of the lineage and of the path is love. You have to love everyone. You especially have to love your worst enemy, and he is inside you. Harry found this out tonight. Part of Voldemort's soul was living inside him. They were connected and Harry had to die himself in order to kill Voldemort, or at least a part of Voldemort. Harry had to be willing to die in order to be free of and to free the world of, their worst fear. Oh it was beautiful. Such a rich story. Such a skillful metaphor.
I remember something my teacher heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama say to a group of monks once. I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something like, 'Good looking, ugly, thin, fat, Love them all!' There is no way around it. We have to learn to love everyone. Especially the ones most difficult to love. They're the ones who can set us free. That's why it's so hard to wake up, to awaken. The key has been hidden in plain sight and it is the place we least want to go. We don't want to see that everyone IS me and that's why I have to love them. I don't want to see that. I don't want the little 'me' to die. I want to be different from other people. That's how I mostly act. I think, however, that there is a world of unimaginable clarity and freedom if one can see that there is not a difference. It can seem like magic, wand waving and all that. What would it be like to walk in the world without fear and in it's place with Love? I think it would be like really living.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The first Great Retreat Teaching

When the end came we thought we'd be ok. After all, there was still some money in the food stamp card. The bank account had enough in it to pay car insurance and cell phone bills for another month. A little left over to cover the minimum payment on the credit card. I won't be one of the lost ones, we said. I won't wonder what to do with myself, awash with confusion.

All we needed was time to prove us wrong. As it turned out, we were a lost one. Marooned in the desert that now looked very much like a desert and not the secret garden that it had been. The things that had blossomed there were still fresh in our memories. Words so beautiful they cannot be spoken again. Logic so clear that the heart swelled tears that had lay dormant for god only knows how long. Unknown desires arose, were satisfied, then receided. A map was laid out covered in red X's. The treasure was everywhere. The treasure is no where. The contradiction was perfectly understood and we laughed in the temple into the dark hours of morning. Sometimes we laughed all night and into the dawn.

Out of habit, our minds fought the new ideas. What kind fool cries at the feet of some good Logic? Look at what you've given up. You've lost your mind. What have you gained from it? You don't even know what you're parroting.

I usually try to speak only for myself. I say 'we' now only because I know a few others who feel as I do. We've spoken about it. We talk about how it has been for us since the terms ended and the Great Retreat began. It has been almost seven months now. Not long when held up to three years. I can say that for some of us it has been hard. Memories fade. Words have been forgotten. We still have the treasure map but it doesn't make sense anymore. The contradiction creates an uncomfortable tension that is not humorous or understood. The temple is quiet all night. The mirror ball hanging from the ceiling is covered in dust.

Now, I speak only for myself. I have not been doing to well these past seven months. As the first of the Great Retreat Teachings came near, I was already tired of it. About a week before the teachings started, I was helping out around DMU and as I pulled into one of the drive ways I said to myself, for the first time, I hate this place. Finally. To be honest I rejoiced a little at this new feeling. Thank god I am still feeling. It passed as quickly as it came but it left a mark. Something had to change.

I won't go into great detail here about the ten days of teachings that just occurred at Diamond Mountain. To talk about it too much, As Lady Ruth said, would diminish it too much. It would be impossible to communicate it anyway. Maybe Steinbeck could do it. It would still take him 200 pages. I will say that some magic went down. Rain came to the desert. Clouds reappeared in the skies. The word Love was spoken enough that it's spell was cast or was it that a darker spell was lifted? At the end, I found a long lost clarity. It came on so slowly that I can't point to a moment when it arrived. A natural forgiveness arose. It's alright to be who I am. I can start from here. This moment is good enough. It's a good place to be. Other people are more precious then gold. Love is more powerful then I imagined. As the volume gets turned up, you hear more of the song.