Staying Present

I found a quote I really liked in the book I’m reading right now:

“…we often still find ourselves disengaged from our own clarity, moving along without thinking….”

That’s exactly it – I really can grok this – for me it’s like residing a half-step away from being present.

Perhaps with a “deeper breath” and a more mindful effort I can “let go” and ease down into this clarity more often.

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Hmm

Blargh. It’s been a long time since I blogged. Life has presented me with great challenges lately. An ailing parent. At least one child that may be heading for an Asperger’s diagnosis. The failing “secondary” economy in the area (we live in an area that caters to vacationers) has made things…interesting, as well. That’s definitely the word – interesting.

Anyway – a couple of recent discoveries: I loved James Ure’s post on Kafka, not so long ago. I always liked Kafka, but I don’t remember reading that first poem James includes. In any case, I found the post refreshing. ^_^ Also – I’m currently reading Light Comes Through by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. This is a highly readable, slim little volume. I’ll have a review soon.

Ayya Khema

Via both The Buddhist Blog and lotusinthemud I found a really interesting quote from Venerable Khema. (Check out the links for the quote – figured repeating it a third time was a bit redundant. 0.O) I wasn’t familiar with the Venerable so I did a little research. Resources I found:

A brief summary of her life, quoted directly from Wikipedia:

Ayya Khema (August 25, 1923November 2, 1997), a Buddhist teacher, was born as Ilse Ledermann in Berlin, Germany, to Jewish parents.

Khema dodged the Nazis during World War II, but was interned by the Japanese. She eventually moved to the United States. After travelling in Asia she decided to become a Buddhist nun in Sri Lanka in 1979. She was very active in providing opportunities for women to practice Buddhism, founding several centers around the world. In 1987 she co-ordinated the first ever International Conference of Buddhist Nuns.

Khema wrote over two dozen books in English and German. Her autobiography, I Give You My Life, is an adventure story sprinkled with nuggets of spiritual wisdom.

Among her many other accomplishments, Ayya Khema was the spiritual director of Buddha-Haus in Germany, founded with her guidance. (An English language version of their website can be found here.) Her ashes rest in a beautiful stupa there:

As you can tell (^_^), I’ve gathered a lot of online resources to read and listen to. So far I’d say her speaking and writing style are very accessible and interesting to lay-person-me. I’d be very interested to know if any of y’all have read her books, and what your opinion is, or perhaps even which one is your favorite, if you’ve read much by her.
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Image sources – Sangha: Munks [sic] and Nuns in the Buddhist Community by Friedrich Reg and the Buddha-Haus.

Random Pics from Date Night

The cat is away (well, in this case, the 3 kittens), so the mice have been at play – while the kiddos are with their grandparents this week, the other half and I have actually been getting in some grownup hang out time. Part of that was hanging at a mediocre chain bookstore after a movie. While da Man was checking out the Ubuntu, Unix and Debian books, I (of course) gravitated over to the anaemically stocked Buddhist selections. Here’s part of what I saw – hoped y’all might find these two pics amusing:


Nothing big here – just thought it was funny to be told that the sitting on the floor I was doing wasn’t necessary….

I sure hope someone out there understands why I find this one amusing – that magazine you see peeking out (the only “Buddhist brand” magazine this store carries, behind the title Nudes) is Shambhala Sun:

Finished

About a week ago, I finally finished Thây Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching. This is a tremendously useful read – I really think that this is definitely one time that the book lives up to the title.

When I was a kid I taught myself how to speed read – a tremendously useful skill, if you can keep your retention level up (I’m still at about 98%, thank goodness.). However, this is not a book that can be read trivially. I read this one SOOO slowly and carefully, going back over passages frequently.

I don’t know that this is the first book I’d give someone who expresses an interest in Buddhism to me, but it would be the first one I’d recommend to someone I knew to be *seriously* interested.

Chapter 25

So I’ve been taking my time with Chapter 25 of Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, “The Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising.” Dense stuff. I absolutely savour this book – it’s definitely one to read with great care and love. Undoubtedly it’s one to repeatedly reread, as opportunity arrives. But for right now, it’s slow, slow going. Lots to think about. For the most part I find Venerable Hanh’s writing very accessible. Of course, some of the topics he broaches in this book are incredibly deep, serious philosophical discussions, and the writing becomes appropriately dense at these points. Very humbling.