Spiritual Practice

"To see the preciousness of all things, we must bring our full attention to life. Spiritual practice can bring us to this awareness without the aid of a trip into space."
A Path with Heart

The Art of Making Mistakes Wakefully

"Every spiritual life entails a succession of difficulties because every ordinary life also involves a succession of difficulties, what the Buddha described as the inevitable sufferings of existence. In a spiritually informed life, however, these inevitable difficulties can be the source of our awakening, of deepening wisdom, patience, balance, and compassion. Without this perspective, we simply bear our sufferings like an ox or a foot soldier under a heavy load.

"Like the young maiden in the fairy tale 'Rumpelstiltskin' who is locked in a room full of straw, we often do not realize that the straw all around us is gold in disguise. The basic principle of spiritual life is that our problems become the very place to discover wisdom and love.

"With even a little spiritual practice we have already discovered the need for healing, for stopping the war, for training ourselves to be present. Now as we become more conscious, we can see yet more clearly the inevitable contradictions of life, the pain and the struggles, the joys and the beauty, the inevitable suffering, the longing, the everchanging play of joys and sorrows that make up human experience.

"As we follow a genuine path of practice, our sufferings may seem to increase because we no longer hide from them or from ourselves. When we do not follow the old habits of fantasy and escape, we are left facing the actual problems and contradictions of life.
"A genuine spiritual path does not avoid difficulties or mistakes but leads us to the art of making mistakes wakefully, bringing them to the transformative power of our heart."
A Path with Heart

True Peace

"True peace comes with the discovery that we can respect the seasons of life with a spacious and undefended heart. In it we learn to trust, to rest in the truth of the way things are, to willingly accept the measure of joy and sorrow we are given."
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

No Goals in the Spiritual Life

"It is easy to get caught in the notion that there is a goal, a state, a special place to reach in spiritual life. Accounts of extraordinary experiences can create ideas of how our own lives should be, and lead us to compare ourselves with others. In Tibet one famous yogi had lived for years practicing ardently in a mountain but supported by the villagers below. Then one festival day he heard that all his supporters were going to visit him. The yogi carefully swept his hut, polished the offering bowls on the altar, made a special offering, and cleaned his robes. Then he sat back and waited, but an unease came over him. Who was he trying to be? Finally he got up, scooped up several handfuls of dirt, and threw them back onto the altar. Those handfuls of dirt were said to be his highest spiritual offering."
After the Ecstasy, the Laundry


"Forgiveness does not mean that we have to continue to relate to those who have done us harm.

"In some cases the best practice may be to end our connection, to never speak to or be with a harmful person again. Sometimes in the process of forgiveness a person who hurt or betrayed us may wish to make amends, but even this does not require us to put ourselves in the way of further harm."
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace

A Meditation on Reconciliation

"In Buddhist monasteries when conflict arises, the monks and nuns are encouraged to undertake a formal practice of reconciliation. They begin with a simple intention: No matter what the hurt within us, we can seek to be reconciled. Even if we cannot or should not speak to the other, we can find the courage to hold reconciliation and goodwill in our own heart. We can do our part toward the healing of the world.

"To recite the intention of reconciliation is to willingly plant a seed of reconciliation and love in our heart. As we repeat each phrase, we turn our intention to the possibility of restoring harmony where suffering has set us apart. We begin to build a bridge of tenderness to those who have been separated by pain and fear."
The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace