Thursday, September 23, 2010

September Daily Practice: Wisdom Practice (FINAL WEEK)

Dear Ones,

Today begins the last week of September, and so the last week of this particular Daily Practice of reciting and contemplating the Morning/Awakening Gatha and the Gatha on Impermanence. Of course, I hope many of you choose to continue this practice even after the month ends, but with October 1st, I'll be sending out a new Daily Practice I hope you'll join me in practicing next month.

SO, if you've been working with the gathas this month, this final week is a great time to share with our 'virtual sangha' any insights you may have had around this practice. Any questions, resistances, or a-ha moments?

I will share here that since the birth of our baby daughter on Saturday, the 18th, this practice has indeed taken on another nuance. I have another daughter who will be turning 36 next month, and with the arrival of her sister, the truth of impermanence, anicca, the 'constant' of change is more in my face than ever! AND, through this intimate engagement with impermanence, I find re-newed commitment to be as fully present to each moment as possible. Each little spit-up (including the projectile one right to my face as I was enrapt in gazing at Giovanna Maitri's round little face), each diaper change, each moment of contented cuddling. I refuse to fall asleep to this life and take any of it for granted. And this, thanks to Dharma practice.

Frank Jude


  1. PS: AND if you haven't been following the September Daily Practice, it's not too late to get a week or even a day or two in and share YOUR thoughts.

    And remember, if you come to this blog at any other time, you can pick up the practice at your leisure and still feel free to comment as you like....

  2. I downloaded the Mindfulness Bell on my Droid a couple of months ago. This month the sound of the bell reminds me to LISTEN, LISTEN to the lovely sound and I come home to the hear and now. It sounds once an hour, whenever, and always at a very opportune moment. The morning and evening gathas have elicited a beginning and closing for the day. My idea of prayer has become more creative and alive through working with gathas.

  3. Thanks for the note on joining any time. I just started following your blog and looked back on your posts and found the gathas. I have written then down and am happily joining the practice.

  4. Hey Bethanne! It's wonderful to see you here! I am delighted that you will be joining us!

    Hope all is well in Vancouver and still hope conditions will someday allow for us to spend some time together; it's been so long!

  5. Deep bow to this sangha,
    I began doing the gathas two weeks ago. I wrote them down. The very first morning I awoke and Don had already gone downstairs. Don, who had expressed anger the day before over something I had done. I could feel in the pit of my stomach a dread of his anger continuing toward me. I read the gatha out loud. When I read the last sentence about looking on all beings with the eyes of compassion, there was a shift in me. I felt a wave of compassion for Don and realized his suffering was do to his perceptions which are not the Truth but are his truth from which he was responding. I went downstairs with love in my heart. When we sat, Don looked at me and asked if I had anything to say. I am not sure what he was thinking I would say or what he wanted me to say, but I said simply, "Is there anything I can do that will help you feel better?" He immediately opened up and we talked and sweetness returned to our relationship. Later he told me that my question (my answer to his question) was the "right" answer. He felt I cared about him and was willing to listen. I was floored by how dramatically the little gatha had influenced the whole situation. It was like a little pebble dropped in the water and the ripples it sent out reached the opposite shore!

    Today, as I said my morning gatha, I paused after "I smile." I felt the change in the feeling tone of my whole body when I smiled. Everything softened, I felt more open, more alive, less dense even...heaviness melting away. I really just became completely present to this little gesture of a subtle smile, this smiling for no reason other than choosing to do so. I am choosing it all day today and seeing how that effects my day!

    I am smiling now, Frank Jude, because you and Monica are blessed with this baby and especially because I was with you at Kripalu one year ago when Monica miscarried. That was such an incredible teaching, watching you be present to that situation. I am so stuck with understanding impermanence and how it heightens the awareness of what is in the present moment. I also smile because you may be signing off with "poop" instead of poep these days! (what does poep sa mean anyway?)

    Babies bring love to all our hearts, blessings to you, Monica and sweet little Giovanna. She is a lucky little girl to have you as auspicious beginning to her life, indeed.

    hands on my heart, cybie

  6. Typed a full comment, and when I tried to post it, I lost it all. Ahhhhhhh! There is impermanence. No time to retype it all. I have to get on my flight.

  7. As usual, it takes a while to establish a habit, and I'm still working on the evening gatha. I love the morning gatha; the past few weeks, I have felt much more awareness suffusing my daily life, which surely is related in someway to the power of setting intention. The last line "May I look upon all beings with eyes of compassion" brings a softness to my heart and my eyes (although no powerful story as Cybie shares). I feel like the Compassionate Eyes of the Buddha I have seen in stone statues, blend and merge with my eyes; I feel softer, easier, more accepting. I have used this gatha in my yoga classes at the end of deep relaxation; every moment is like a new day, afterall. Thank you Frank Jude! I deeply appreciate this practice for my own growth, and for connection to your teaching, Frank Jude, and to our 'virtual' sangha. Sometimes, I think of others, most of whom I do not have a face to put with the name, also setting intention as I set intention.

  8. Cybie: Thank you SO much for sharing your experience. I was so moved by your story, feeling the softening and opening you describe that I felt moved to tears. But then, since Giovanna has arrived, tears are fairly easy to provoke! We may live in a desert, but there's no shortage of water here!

    Mattee: A smile changes everything! Thich Nhat Hanh says that if our Buddha statue doesn't have a smile, we should replace it with a flower until we find a statue that does!

    Philly: "Impermanence Surrounds Us!" I have to admit I was a bit relieved to hear that even YOU have computer glitches! You ARE one of us! :-)

    love to you all,
    poop sa :-)

  9. i have been loving reciting the gathas at the start and end of my days, it feels like so many possibilities have opened up, more of an ease and a sense of contentment, which travels with me as i ride the trains, i see so many beautiful people filled with love riding the trains and i feel at peace. i must confess last year i went on thay's retreat and i received the 5 mindfulness trainings. my dharma name is peaceful diligence of the heart, a friend of mine was given the name beautiful flower of the heart and i noticed that i felt kinda blue that i was 'stuck' with the name diligence and i felt like, "what i have to work harder than she does?" every night as i recite this gatha i smile and know how much i appreciate my name and how much i honor this diligence which we all have, this passion and love to be, in each moment, with each moment. the end of the day gatha stills me and fills me with such appreciation for all that i have, including everyone here!

    in school i am continuing my use of the mindfulness bell with my 4 years olds and i do daily asana and pranayama with them, which they love. next week i am going to introduce a simple gatha to them too!

    much love and yipeeeeeeeeeees to giovanna for all the love she is bringing to us!!

  10. I love this practice and will most certainly continue with it post-September. Upon waking, reciting the morning gatha has actually made it easy for me to get up. No matter what time of day, or how tired I am, a genuine smile is easily attainable. I find that the aim of my day is straighter, and is less easily overcome by habit and mindlessness. I get feelings of such softness and receptivity upon recitation, which is why I've actually started repeating the "morning" gatha during the daytime. I'e just changed a couple words so that they fit the timeline of the day.

    Initially, the evening gatha has been recited daily. After those two weeks I noticed a harshness in my reflection on how I'd acted during the day. It has been recited with much less frequency the last week and a half. I find that my conditioning in the area of harsh self-judgement precludes my wanting to read the gatha. Upon reflection at the end of the day, I'd say that I judge myself harshly. Negativism is strong in me the last week or so. Perhaps I can start to recite the "evening" gatha during the day as well, as a reminder of how I'm acting. As a reminder of where my motivations can go!

  11. "Ecksd," thanks for your comment. I doubt you are the only person who has had this 'harsh self-judgment' arise in response to the Evening Gatha. That, ironically, is one of the first important insights to arise for so many of us: just how critical we can be; how unkind and self-lacerating.

    Interestingly, Sara's comments about her Dharma Name and her taking the Five Mindfulness Trainings reminded me of how Thich Nhat Hanh would often say we don't take the trainings once we have become 'perfect.' We take them because we are NOT 'perfect!' We also take them not with the expectation of becoming 'perfect' but with the intention to keep learning from our life.

    I hope you will find the love and kindness within that will allow you to review your days, not with a judging mind, but with a curious mind. And with the intention to learn from whatever your actions have been. In a sense, if we do this, we 'redeem' even the most unskillful acts we may have committed!

    in maitri,
    poep sa

  12. Thanks to everyone, this sangha feels engaged and alive! Years ago, when I took the Landmark course they said you need an "existence system" to keep your intentions/commitments alive. One cannot keep the energy of intentions up without support from practices and/or other people. This discussion has brought me to more engagement with the practice and strengthened my commitment. I love Frank Jude's comment about taking the trainings with the intention to keep learning from life not expecting to become perfect. The practice helps to keep me awake to life, to this moment, to my ways of acting/being in the world, to possibility and choice.

    Like ecksd, I too, have started repeating the morning gatha during the day by changing it: waking up to this moment, I smile. Before me is a brand new moment....

    When I say that, I am reminded of how often I drag the past into the present moment. What if it truly were a brand new moment...that Don or anyone else I know had no history with me, I had no story about them...I would greet them with fresh eyes, with curiosity and wonder. I can see the possibility of relating to the life of the person, not to my story I have of them. Though I have not been able to really do that (especially with Don) I have attempted to do it on occasion and find I am much less reactive. That is my flaw that I am so aware of right now: my habitual ways of reacting (without consciousness!!!) which I can see more clearly when reciting the evening gatha. I actually caught myself yesterday and literally bit my tongue to stop myself. Even one time among the hundreds that I forget has been an encouragement. And I can see how the two gathas work to create and reinforce my intention and the other to bring to my awareness where I need to focus the practice of mindfulness.

    Thanks to all for helping to keep my intentions in existence.

    Namaste, cybie

  13. You're all such wonderful inspiration. Thanks for taking the tie from your day to reflect and post. We all grow as a result.

    Also, I'm ecksd, figured out how to edit my profile. Happy Sunday.

  14. It's time for the evening gatha but I thought I'd take a minute to share my thoughts on the aversion to reflecting on todays acts. I have found over the course of this month that at first I felt aversion and then like Frank said decided to learn from the reflection and not be so judgemental and then the reflection time evolved a bit more to thinking of moments in the day when I was "awake" and also moments when I purposefully committed acts of compassion. There are so many missed acts of compassion each and every day but using the evening gatha to reflect on the ones that I was able to act on is helping me to see more opportunities to share compassion.
    I've also experienced some of what Cybie spoke about ...attempting to break out of reactionary habits...this as a direct result of the evening gatha. And for me the reactionary habits are with the people I am closest too!
    The evening gatha has also helped immensly in being aware of and being more comfortable with impermanence.
    Must say that I am also very much enjoying reading everyone's posts. Very helpful. Thanks.