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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, January 16, 2012


I'm sitting in the Bowie community center using their internet connection. They have a couple of desk top computers for folks and a strong wi-fi signal. Some kids are watching a VHS of the Disney movie "Alladin". The kids love it. It is an engaging movie, I had forgotten. Gilbert Godfrey is the voice of the villain's parrot. Hysterical. Robin Williams as the Genie of the Lamp.
In the main room here is a banner covering one window that reads "The people who walk through this door are special". There is a door next to the banner but there is a two by six propped against the handle so that it cannot be opened nor walked through. Funny.
The weather is amazing today. Some rain in the morning and last night. You can smell the creosote strongly in the air when it rains. There was a rainbow when the clouds cleared up. The sky stayed deep purple over the mountains near DMU. You could see sheets of lighter blue rain rolling out there while the sun was bright over Bowie. It is really dramatic. The town itself seems very beautiful today, even with and especially because of it's run down parts, which are everywhere. I saw a little white house/shack that had used asphalt roof tile nailed to the trim near the ground as weather proofing. Then they laid broken concrete against the tiles to keep them in place. It probably cost the owner nothing. I think that is sort of beautiful. Everything passes Bowie by, economy, trains, the interstate, politics, visible government, everything. And because that is so rare, it is beautiful.
People you love are equally as rare and beautiful. I've been trying to keep them in mind all day long and feel grateful for them. Seeing how loneliness was my biggest problem out here, it's the perfect head space for me. I have to say, that after a few weeks of this, I do feel strangely happy. I'm having trouble feeling stress about not finding work and various other factors that I have historically used to feel bummed about. It's nice to let that all go for a good long time. Oh, I also saw a fake nail on the ground in a puddle that was half the color of the sky and half the color of pearl, which was the color of the clouds.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


"It may be the devil, it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody." Those lyrics are running over and over in my head. Bob Dylan, for one, sang it. It's his version I'm hearing. Why? Because I realized that I serve my cat. Yup, my cat. The primary living being I am living for is my cat. I remember hearing that H.H. the Dalai Lama said once that he was surprised to find out that so many western students of Buddhism had closer relationships to their animals then to their neighbors. I laughed when I heard that. I laughed because it's true. It's true because that's what I'm doing. I love it. Again, I become the thing I have ridiculed in the past. You got to love a path that keeps throwing your own hypocrisy back in your face. That's the only sort of path to love. If you buy your own B.S. then you'll buy any body's B.S. You'll start believing whatever your government tells you. Weather your good sense believes it or not. Why? Because if you desensitize yourself from recognizing B.S. in your self, when you hear other people doing it, it will sound too familiar for you to call it out for what it is. I know that's over simplified but it works for me. So make sure you do not surround yourself with "Yes Men". You need to have a joker in the deck. The royal court jester of old. The fool who is the only one who can insult the king to his face and live. You need that person in your life. You will not like them. That is the point, oh lord, oh kingly Dharma student. oh suffering human. It is because you are wise that you keep them around. They make you laugh, and others laugh. We laugh at ourselves which allows us to let go of whatever we were just clinging so tightly to. In that letting go comes a freedom. The moment of that freedom is pure potentiality. That's were you need to plant the best seed you can. That's where you'd plant all those great prayers you find in all the major religions. Prayers like "Bring me peace, oh Lord." or " May all God's children be safe and at peace." or "May all suffering beings reach the end of cyclic existence, Samsara." What ever your flavor is. This is a non-denominational blog. You need to do it when "You" are not in the way. Why? Because I'm not someone who believes that prayers really come true. That's right, I speak for myself. Sometimes I don't believe prayer or meditation works. By works I mean, brings and every one else in contact with me positive results." Selfish, eh? Yeah, I know. I want it to work. I want to cling at least to that one story. And I do cling to it. I believe that by practice I can become someone who is a, what could be called, a "spiritual person." If I were dominantly Christian I'd say that I want to be one who "walks close with the Lord." Those people who so much energy to help others and a good healthy attitude toward this life of suffering and beauty. I've met some like that. They're seeing a better movie then me, in one sense. I'll end it there. This post could get excessively long. It would be more fun if you were hanging out with me here. Then I'd have someone else around to serve beside my cat.
The retreaters come out of a six week deep retreat this Wednesday. Those are the periods where they don't leave the immediate vicinity of their homes. No long walks in the hills. They focus on their mediation and yoga practice in a more intense way in these deep retreat chunks. I believe they do and that is what really matters, for me. "Why Matthew, what ever do you mean by that? " If you were here hanging out with me, we could start a whole 'nother conversation about Service.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The New Year

This new year, 2012, marks the end of my one year care taking commitment. I didn't know how I'd feel, of course. Part of my nature is to not expect much or just be happy with whatever are the results of my efforts. So I was surprised by the positive changes I am experiencing at the start of this new year. Positive is kind of a flat word, actually.
I remember talking to one of my friends in the Fall. I told her that the last nine months were easily the worst in my life. I meant it. I had been more mentally afflicted, lonely, angry, poor, confused and jaded then I could ever remember being. The other day, I was walking around Bowie and I think I said to myself "Best year ever." In light of how I feel now, I have done some real spiritual revisionism. I think it is the combined three years of study and cabin construction combined with one year of service to the great retreat that laid the ground work for how I feel now. And how do I feel? It's hard to write about but I'll just wing it for a bit.
My world has expanded past it's previous boundaries. Through the example of my teachers I have seen what a truly healthy and happy person can be like in the world. It is not something impossible to achieve. The key to the whole thing really is development of love and compassion for others, as well as oneself. The approach isn't particularly the intellectual property of any religion, although most of them have that sort of training inherent within their scriptures. I've met people who come across it naturally as well. I have also received help from more people in the last year then at any other time in my life, excluding all the help my parents have given me since birth. Strangers have treated me like family.
I've seen the best and worst I can do and so there is a comfort with myself I haven't had before. To say I am comfortable with even my own hypocrisy is not exactly right but I can say that hypocrisy is no longer such a stranger at the diner table, neither is gratitude. I think that the depth to which I am over come with gratitude is most remarkable. It is such a beautiful and uplifting emotion. I really had not had much experience with it until this last year.
There's more that I will save for another time. As far as the retreat goes, we have been going in every other week for a while now and I'm sure it will become the norm. We'll deliver groceries every two weeks leaving them lots of time to get real quiet and concentrate. We continue to get many care packages for both the people in retreat and care takers. It has been very touching to see how much people care for us out here. The skies over Bowie and Willcox have been very special lately. Last night was the full moon and I was in Willcox around sunset. I was watching hundreds of geese honk and fly south west. Wave after wave of them in V formation. The mountains were purple, the sky was pastel orange and blue and yellow. The moon came over Dos Cabesas peak and stole the whole show. It was huge and pillars of light seemed to extend straight up and down from it. In that moment I wanted very much for the geese to live. To never be harmed by humans. They have enough to fight against in the natural world. To harm them or their disappearing habitat felt like an attempt to wipe out another human culture, like the native Americans or the Tibetans or the rain Forrest natives. Modern people have enough already. We have enough to buy, to eat. We have enough land to build on or plant on. We don't need anymore. We need to take care of the ones who have less and less each year. If they can't make it, it will just be a matter of time until we don't make it. This year the geese made it back to Willcox and the moon came out and the sky went wild with color and honking. There was a power there that cared not about us and made small all that we humans do in this world and at the same time invited us into it's rhythm. I don't know. It was overwhelming but it was real.