This Past Week: Quickening comes in threes

This past Tuesday Oct 10, while at work, we were told at the end of our daily meeting, that two of our supervisors had resigned, effective in two weeks. I was hired into this job I love doing, into the world of interpreting and translating in a hospital, by one of them.  I had not met the second supervisor until earlier this year, but she is also a sweet soul. I wondered if this the was equivalent somehow to two quickenings in terms of this piece.
Fast forward. As they were telling us at the meeting that they would both be leaving a wave of numbness rushed to protect me from feeling pain or anything else, and to hold me propped up as if from within. At first, for some seconds I thought that only one person would be  leaving. But, the heart that had been momentarily wrapped in the numbness, knew better. I stayed there watching the racing thoughts go through me like needles burning their way out… watching as small tears wanted to pour, and the pressure settled on my throat and upper chest. I stayed with it… I told my supervisor that I didn’t have to like the fact that she was leaving. She asked me if I could at least accept it. And that was easy to answer. It was a simple yes, simply because I want her to be happy, whole, with a sense of moving forward. I just sense that for her, staying is not the option that would allow her to be satisfied. The week kept moving…
On Thursday Oct 12, my paycheck for two weeks came for around 700 low-dollars, and one of my childhood friends called me to tell me that she is really ill. On that phone call, she also thanked me for the long friendship we’ve shared. In essence, she said goodbye to me.
I am not sure why, but my friends call shifted something in me. It was a knife parting, cutting through, a veil. I wanted to be near my friend but I could not. We live in different countries, and I could not afford the trip. In the midst of the sadness and fears I was experiencing, I understood, with the clarity of freshwater that lets you see deep within a lake or pond, that I want and need to be able to at least care for myself, undergo surgery, or treatments, or make a trip if it were needed to be by a friend’s side.
So, I decided to grow up: I would/will go back into teaching if necessary so that I can have a steady check and be covered by insurance, regardless of the fact that I would still much rather stay working as an interpreter/translator. I also decided to grow up and speak truth, be genuine with the director of my department. I would let her know directly that I wanted to help her rebuild, create something new, and I would tell her about what I bring to the table (without tooting my own horn, just my truth). And then, I would ask her if I should wait or if I should shift gears completely in order to teach again. I am happy to say that this conversation took place.
As a Dominican I grew up believing that hard things seem to always come in threes. So as soon as my phone conversation with my friend ended on Thursday, I wondered what the third thing would be in this triad. And for a while I thought it would have to be the low paycheck I received and the discomfort of being again in that place where money is an issue. But either I was wrong, or there are two triads going on for me at this moment. The latter does not seem likely, though it is not impossible either. The triads are usually signaled by 3 events or experiences that shatter parts of ego-monkey-brain, break my heart or do both.
BOTH. On Friday 13th another friend had invited me to a talk, and I decided to go. The friend that invited me was there, and I am thankful because it makes it easier for me to have the anchor of someone known. Childish. And yes, judgmental  but that is Monkey-Brain raising its head. I am shy and awkward in social and/or new situations.
In the midst of the awkwardness I was feeling, my eyes caught something that again called forth the protective wave of numb. And, I remember how I started telling myself in that instant that I had not seen anything, that I was inventing things. However, I also willed myself to look over and over again, in order to see. I was not prepared for what I saw. And I was thankful for being able to access the wave of numbness that allowed me to momentarily remain in place. In dissociating myself from pain, at least a part of me can remain and do what I need or want to do, and even enjoy it.
The space where the talk took place had a simple huge decorative cage, very similar to the huge cages (almost floor to ceiling) one of my friends has for the 15 to 20 odd birds she keeps indoors, inside the house. I remember staring at the structure when the first presenter began to talk, and wondering what it was. But since I could not conceive of a bird cage in that space, it did not register as such.  I could not see it, very much like the natives in the Americas could not see the conquerors’ ships in the horizon for they had no conceptual formation, no words in which to wrap said ships. I kept listening to the speaker, and letting my eyes move between her face, the flowers, the lights in the room, and the people in the room. And then her part of the presentation ended and we moved to another area where the next speaker had set her space.
I had a chance to sit close to my friend aware of the wave or wrap of numbness that still enveloped me. The wave describes what it feels like to be in the active process of becoming numb. The wrap describes what it is like to be aware of what’s going on around me and within me. It allows me to think what is numb and not feel it. It is as if the thoughts and my interacting with what is around me cover the pain/fear/sadness/joy, or whatever I could be feeling full force. And then, I saw it! I actually looked at the cage and recognized it for what it was. I saw it and for an instant I was mystified by my previous inability to see it from the other side.
As I felt bombarded from without by repetitions of what had originally disturbed me, and from within by the thoughts that poorly masked my feelings, I was at least able to stay with the parts of me that remained present and aware. What I had seen was simply tenderness. That’s all. It was a tenderness that I perhaps wanted for myself but seeing it, admitting that I wanted it, and feeling envy was too much to grok. So I stepped out mentally. Well, a part of me stepped out.
I am aware that I called forth the wave that became the wrap that allowed me to step out. I am grateful for that ability. And I am sad. I am sad not because of what I saw, since I also remember the sense of feeling joy that someone could feel that tenderness, and that it was reciprocated. I am sad, not because I faced the death of seeing the tenderness as “not for me”, “not mine”; nor because I saw envy rearing its ugly head again in my life. After all, envy is just klesha, and it’ll go back to where it originated.
These were small hues of the larger sense of sadness I felt/feel and the anger aimed at myself for knowing that for years I have carried and held myself captive in a personal cage of sorts. I sustained the cage(s) in which I have hidden most of my life. The sadness and the anger is due to understanding that from within my cage I forbade myself 1) to feel, 2) to show what I was truly or completely feeling to anybody, and 3) from trying to share feelings, or felt-thoughts verbally except with very few people. The sadness is that I never allowed for depth to truly touch me.
Looking Within. Since I became a Buddhist, dismantling what keeps me from truly loving and/or accepting myself and any-and-all others on my path has been my guide, and my path itself. I believe it is necessary to look at my cocoon, where I close up or call forth the wave/wrap of numbness and in so doing move towards expressing my true-feeling heart.
I am content in the knowledge that I see a difference in me since I started on this path. That I see growth, regardless of how small that growth feels or is. My karma and kleshas burn when I look into their seeming darkness. And because of this, I may choose to not be near the tenderness that so hurt me recently because I am not part of it, or because I cannot give it. And I may also choose to be gentle enough to not completely isolate from others or wall myself off, and to at least speak-write about my path instead of simply continue to feed a cocoon that would separate me from being present to my life.
Growth and Karma: In writing I can allow myself to feel the yucks of envy, sadness and anger, and thus the wrap that numbs is not as tight, and I can process parts of this week quite soon after the triggering events. However, I am not blind. This tendency to wall myself off, and to ward off touch from people I love is ancient. In my family of origin, in this lifespan, two messages were clearly seared between my ears: The first one was, I am hurting him/you for your own good, because I love you. And the second one was, you should not open your heart, nor love your friends or others outside of the family so easily, because they will hurt you. I honestly do not know how to not buy into these false messages because their roots run deep, and I am susceptible and easily caught in their web. So I lay down my shield, my walls, again and again, little by little. And I pray that I can learn to feel tenderness without fear and anger, and that I can learn to bestow it and accept it without recoiling.
With this piece I have briefly opened the eyes of my heart and its wings. And while I truly do not know where this will take me, I know that I am grateful for the teaching(s) that allow me to see the gem within my heart, and to those that teach me, though I don’t always like the lessons as I am learning them.  Burning heart. Sad heart. Common denominator: Heart.  May this writing be of benefit to others on their paths.


When thinking “thank you” brings out tears
Water washes away the sand…
Water washes away the dirt…
Waves stir the stars, sky above us and the wind…
Earth shakes, again shattering this heart…
Earth shakes
Earth shatters
Earth burns…
Air cools the fire from within
Air moves ashes and the dust
Rain clouds-thunderstorms now begin…
Written on Tuesday October 10, 2017


Friday August 25, 2017 Concón. In the Dominican Republic, where I grew up, we eat concón. It is the rice that gets stuck to the sides of the pot where it is being cooked. It is slightly burned and full of the flavors of whatever we have added. We think of this as something delicious (though, honestly, I never liked it. Perhaps it’s time to try it again…). And in order to obtain it, we use a spoon, or something of the sort, to scrape it from the pot. Some parts of the concón  are harder to peel off the pot, some parts are more burned onto the walls. Some part of it may not come off at all, we may not be able to eat them, and in those cases all we can do is soak the pot in soapy water so that the stuck rice softens to be washed. Some parts may need further scraping with that spoon. The image of that spoon being used to peel concón just came up as I was about to write this piece.
My search (I hope) is not ever about reinventing a new conceptualized me, a new set of concepts to create a wall around myself, so that I only allow the people that accept those new concepts in my circle. That would be recreating polarities between me and you, me and the less-holy other. My search is somewhat, but not only, about widening the circle of experiences and concepts I accept about myself; the search is about diminishing or reducing the circle of things that I hide under layers of shaming and embarrassment. That act of widening my understanding of relationships  friendship, sexuality and ways of being sexual, the plurality of gender identities, each gender identifier, intellectuality, culture basis for thought patterns and behavior, religious upbringings, is an act of willingly looking within in order to come across my own limitations and definers. I believe that within this decision to see through my self sustained limitations lies the possibility of widening the circle of people and situations that I can face without cowering in fear. But this is not necessarily easy to do. It is like my own personal concón.
I do not know why, but many things are happening around me, in my world(s), that are pushing me to direct my attention to areas that I had long neglected, thinking that I was “done” with them. I guess that when I am wrong, I am wrong. There is no rush, but I do have a sense of “urgency”. I know that if I do not continue, the blanket of my conceptual “comfort zone” will most probably reassert itself. That is the nature of habits. And on the other hand, I also know that the pushing is non other than ego-monkey-brain trying to take over so that it feels in charge and safe. If anything, THAT is the saving grace: that I can see monkey-brain’s attempts to not be scared. The fact that it is scared and attempting to control means that I am on the right path, that what I am doing is timely. But, and it is a big BUT, I need to bring gentleness into how I am going about this personal search, and about dealing with Monkey-brain, and I also need to bring a sense of true compassion-openness, not guilt feelings nor pitying ego from a sense of snug-superiority. The circle of what I can take in before setting off all sorts of internal alarms is widening, and so is my sense of “this feels right” (emphasis on feels).
As it is with the beginning of any personal or not personal (re)search, there can be a maelstrom of information. In this case, the maelstrom is compounded by the fact that I have chosen to look at beliefs and feelings held mostly at an unconscious level, and, when not hidden in my unconscious, kept at bay by a very tight web of should and shouldn’ts. Breathe. I cannot pretend anymore that I believe in the possibility of an enlightened society of any kind if I continue hiding from myself. I need to look at the concón of beliefs and frozen prejudices that I hold, in order access the vulnerability or fierce-open-space-compassion from where any wisdom may arise. Space. I am suspended by wings in seemingly liquid space, flowing-floating on the dot of not knowing where this will take me. All I know, is that I get to eat the pieces of concón that serve to welcome others into my circle, and that I get to drop the rest. No more war, just open shakiness.
Smile on my lips: my concón as well as my frozen beliefs and prejudices are not solid at all. Wings. And a constant request for guidance on the path.

Milking the Lesson

Milking the Lesson(s) is a term I started using many years ago. It describes something that I started noticing during my tour as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Hungary from 1990-92. But this is just the time period when I started noticing. I believe that it has always been there, at least in embryonic form. At that time, I was not Buddhist but I was aware enough to know that my particular situation was extremely stressful for me. During my bouts of insomnia during service events and interpretations would wake me up and then keep me awake as if I were reliving the events over and over again. Some people would call that the hell realm. During the day, I was busy living my life as a PCV while in the background I would hear the thoughts, and feel the emotions accompanying those thoughts… The thoughts had me and I knew it, but there was nothing I could do then, except be angry, and angrily surrender my sleep. If I had been in the army instead of the Peace Corps, I would label what was happening to me as PTSD.

Years passed. It was not until I returned to the US, and even later when I went out with PC again as a trainer that deeper interpretations or understandings of past events would seemingly emerge of their own accord. These understandings helped me see more clearly, and allowed me to interpret the events as the potential for deep-felt learning(s). And over the years, I began to trust. I now trust that whenever I am in the midst of situations that are too intense, and I feel on the verge of being overwhelmed, if I let things be, without trying to force myself to understand, or to fix them, they can and will perhaps teach me something deep.

Many years have passed since I served with the Corps, and now the lessons are some times milked without my having to wait so long. But please notice that I have said “some times”. There are no guarantees. It is in the light of Milking the Lesson(s) that the following understanding emerged.

A week or so ago there were making repairs to the gym where I go. Entire sections were blocked off; and there was paint, dust, sound, but the gym did not close its doors. Instead, classes and training sessions were offered in alternative smaller spaces in parts of the gym where repairs were finished or not needed. Two trainers and their respective trainees, as well as one or two individuals training on their own, were in a small training room with a fair amount of equipment along the walls, floors and ceiling. For me, this was a new space with new stuff. Since my trainer had stated that we would not do our usual training, I just allowed the session to happen as was necessary: moving around others and compensating on the spot for what was not available to us at the moment. At some point, the trainers talked but I don’t remember what their exchange was about. What I do remember is that I felt a shift, a difference that I can only describe as being in the space around me. The other trainer said something to my trainer, and punctuated or signaled the end of what he was saying with: “this is not about comfort”. I looked up at the person talking and I think he took my gesture to mean that I had gotten what he meant. He then smiled and added: “See? She’s got it. This is not about our comfort”. The trainer stressed the word our and with his hand signaled that he meant the trainers’ comfort. I guess I had indeed gotten his intention and I think I laughed with him. But there was more packed into what I got than what was perhaps intended by the trainer who spoke.

When I looked at him, his face looked different than usual: it seemed somewhat hardened, angled. I had never noticed this particular trainer stressed, or tired. For myself I can say that I was exhausted by a hard and dark week at work. I felt ugly, and judged myself accordingly: that I looked tired, not worth looking at or dealing with… Monkey-Brain was surfacing. I had gone to the gym, not to sweat my tiredness out, but more out of a sense of curiosity and of let’s see what happens, if something shifts for me today; let’s see how much can be held by my sense of spaciousness (which goes hand in hand with my spaciness).

I sensed that the word our conveyed: you are seeking your own comfort and not your trainee’s. This is not about us trainers… I sensed tiredness in the speaker’s face, and in his words perhaps even a sense of we just have to make due with what we have; whereas from the start of our session, I sensed that my trainer was saying let’s try to do this together with whatever is available to us. While both trainers seemed to be looking at the same props, they seemed to be dealing with the situation in the gym very differently… (And to be clear, I am not judging their attitudes.)

As their exchange was happening, I felt a tightening of the space around me, probably my own tightening; and then a wordless wave of OK, let’s keep on working with what we have, from my trainer. From my trainer I got the sense that he was simply trying to deal with things as they came, and that perhaps he was also attempting to ease other people’s minds. And from that there was a shift for/in me. My tiredness no longer mattered. My feeling ugly lifted and left space in its stead. And it was suddenly not about me. My comfort and discomfort became irrelevant and gave way to the need to hold or protect the space so that we could all be there, and so that the trainers could have a touch of intangible goodness or space in which they could work, feel and be with whatever they were experiencing. The lesson came when I sensed and perhaps decided that they too needed a break, and I would  give them what little I had. And the lesson emerged because I was able to listen within and outside of me without having to add anything. I am grateful for the teachings that allow me to reframe events and thoughts, and for the teachers willing to share the teachings. May this be of benefit.

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Thanksgiving 2015

Originally written on November 26, 2015.

There is a thread weaving through any and all of my experiences and though I may not always be aware of the thread, nor particularly happy about it when I am aware, it is nonetheless there. So, on a day like today, I wonder what to do about an aspect of my existence as a human being that is elusive at best, and as un-graspable as when a child tries to grasp air with his bare hands… And all I can come up with is a sense of deeply felt and quasi-arrogant gratitude.

I feel deeply grateful for having been born, for being alive. I am grateful for every breath I take, and for the whiffs of cologne, or incense, or all the scents of our world regardless of my opinions of them as pleasant or not. I am grateful for they are reminders of the fact that I am alive, that I have a beating heart, and that I can feel, breathe, see, hear, touch, taste and share the loneliness of never being quite able to make another human see or feel what I feel. But the art and the dance of this life is in the willingness to share, and be… So, I am grateful for this precious-fragile human birth.

Needless to say, not everything I have experienced in this life, nor contributed to, has been beautiful or benign. And therein lies the savage, wild, raw beauty of the human experience: if we are brave enough to let ourselves be touched by it; better yet, when I am brave enough to let it touch me and when I maybe look or touch back in return, then there is the possibility of being awake, soft-hard, sadly-joyful…in touch with the very moment in which I am, and with the vastness of time and space from where all moments and experiences arise…

I am here in this very precise moment totally present with heartfelt gratitude and with certainty that I have done this before, that I have felt this way before, and that this knowledge needs no confirmation. I know that for as long as there is consciousness encased in a human body, caught in this fleeting precious human birth, there are reverberations or ripples for each and every action charged with intention which I effect. And I know that this sense of ripples, like the rings that form around the spot where a stone thrown within water in a pond falls, this sense of ever expanding ripples, opens and travels and inevitably encounters those of other people. What I do has effects that touch others and carry over time… So I am grateful for the opportunity to be touched by others, and the ability to clarify not my each and every action, but the heart and intention from where I act and be; i.e. the ability to choose what to accept and reject so that the field or vast space where my heart-mind resides, interacts or plays with others remains clear.

The waves of gratitude for being alive are truthful waves… The waves speak of the constant changing of the cells in my body, of the movement of the different people that I may encounter on a daily basis, of the socio-political changes that I have seen in the world…of the wars, invasions, genocides, of the emergence of new faiths and world views… The waves speak of the human tendency to desperately want to freeze or fossilize any one of its experiences. I still do. With humbleness I recognize that this is just a part of being human, and something that may help soften me/us: seeing that change simply is; that it is inevitable; and seeing with an open hearted attitude, that in spite of instinctively knowing about the inevitability of change, we will still forget about it in our attempts to be happy by capturing or freezing those fleeting expressions of life. The truth carried by the waves of gratitude for being alive is simply this: change bound to life, is also bound to death. And opening to change, regardless of (my) being able to do so for very brief moments at a time, also brings with it the possibility of starting out from a softer space, of being awake, and of being present to my world.

And then there is this, this last wave of gratitude. I live in this merry-go-round like world where I have had the opportunity to visit and revisit past mistakes, relationships, good deeds, falling in-through-or-out-of love… All of it over and over again, as if to say: what will you do differently this time? Anything? And I am grateful because it is in the ups and downs of this merry–go-round that I have been given teachings that touch my heart and speak to a life worth living as long as I allow myself to feel and share the openness, as long as I am open enough to embody as much as the teachings as I can, so that others, in turn can be touched, softened, lit from within.

And so it is that in a moment of crystal clear awareness I can both feel and express my gratitude for the depth and power of the priceless teachings, for the presence of those who teach me whether or not they are called teachers, for the willingness to be taught, and for the circumstances dark and light, painful and loving that mark the path I share with you today. Because it all served to bring me here, ¡Gracias a la vida!

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New Year’s Eve 2014

December 31, 2014: A weird day… Let’s see…

Yesterday I wasn’t doing too good. I woke up in a bit of a funk, sadness, and of course, with a tinge of anger. I thought about my good ol’ friend, Samsara: Do I get sad around this time of the year just because of the force of habit? Looking back, last year I spent New Year’s Eve by myself in my apartment. I dressed up a little, put music on my computer and I danced. I also played guitar and sang, and I talked with some friends and/or family members. I connected with long distance friends on FB and Skype. I think I had a glass of wine, and that perhaps I even wrote. But I remember being upbeat, happy.

This year is somewhat different. My dogs are with me yet I’ve felt lonely. So today, when I woke up, the funk was still there, keeping me company I guess. I watched an episode of Doctor Who, and it helped. I have always loved stories with heroes and possibilities… I had wanted to bathe my dogs, and when a plan to get some freelance work today failed, it somehow felt “right” to bathe them, today, and one dog at a time. First, Hollins. I always need to use the furminator on him, a tool that helps remove a lot of his shedding. So I locked myself in the bathroom with him, and after furminating him, I helped him get in the tub. He was not too happy about it, but the promise of a treat kept him there until I finished towel drying him. After finishing with Hollins, it was Niki’s turn. She does not like being bathed either, but she will go in the tub on her own and look OFFENDED until I’m done. I took Allegra in order to do this without too much sneezing or itching, and it helped that after finishing with them I got in the tub and purified myself. I felt lighter. The funk did not feel as heavy.

I guess this is my own little tradition. I can start the year acknowledging 2014 on its way out, being clean and dancing or singing. Gerard had asked me if we could take the dogs out together for a walk. I said yes. They were very happy to see him, and to go to the park in spite of it being a very cold day. I had had music going on while I was bathing the dogs, and after Gerard left I turned it on again. It is dance music and music that touches my heart, with a little bit of nostalgia. I know I will dance at least a piece or two (if not more) tonight to celebrate the New Year. I might even call a couple of long distance friends back in the island, connect to FB, or drink some wine.

I had not wanted 2014 to end without my writing and sharing something of my heart, myself. This has been a somewhat difficult year: new job, deciding to declare bankruptcy, some health issues, friends that died, friends that have undergone major surgery, friends having babies… and I have the sense that 2015 will be a year of further opening for this heart/person. While I know that I can always close myself in fear, I also know that the dharma has helped open the wings of this heart, and so it is that I raise the soft voice and I pray:

Beloved Teacher,

Heart of all and mine,

Allow my life to be of service

And continue to rent the veils that keep me hardened.

Take my voice, my skin, what’s left of me

That I may learn new songs of light and joy.

May all beings be happy.

May we all be free from suffering

and the roots from which it grows.

May we rest in the space that can hold it all without naming it

as “mine”, “refused”, “ignore”.

May our actions spring from a heart that thinks

and a mind that feels,

both with and without thoughts.


Happy New Year!


Gratitude 2014

Earlier this morning I reached out to the sangha, because once again, I am under serious financial stress. I am being sued because of debts, and in order to file for bankruptcy I need to pay the lawyer’s fees. Knowing this, it is pretty awesome, I think, to feel the gratitude I feel tonight, in spite of those fears. And I would like to share about this deeply felt gratitude.

Today, I reached out in spite of ego-monkey-brain’s screaming that it is embarrassing to confess one’s needs, especially financial needs, to people outside one’s household. That is simply part of the very ancient programming, or habitual mind, that I carry. But becoming a Shambhalian Buddhist means that I get to listen to all those voices, and I get to cradle them in that cradle of loving-kindness, because they are afraid. And knowing this, I feel sad for the adults that so many years ago trained me to believe as they did, because they were afraid and embarrassed too. While I was forbidden to speak about our financial problems, they felt the brunt of the fears. I did not believe necessarily that being poor was a reason to not speak, ask for help, or be embarrassed, but I was bound by the shame I learned to feel, and the desire to not cause them pain.

However, times have changed and the winds of faith and Shambhala have cooled me enough that I can move in spite of my fears, and go against the screaming voice within me to follow the softer voice of sanity. Today that softer voice said that I needed to ask friends and sangha for help. And also today, shortly after I wrote, a sangha brother responded that he will help me with the fees. My heart sank and bounced up again partially in disbelief, and partially in awe and gratitude. A little later, I felt a second wave of relief when I realized that those who had responded to my message of need were not saying what my monkey-brain was saying: WHAT? YOU ARE ASKING FOR HELP, AGAIN? Instead they were kind, supportive, and caring; not punishing me as the loud voice in my head was doing.

The winds of faith and Shambhala have cooled me enough that I listened to the softer voice of sanity a second and a third time today. The voice whispered: go practice, and I did. I sat with White Tara, and I did my Ngondro. And while practicing, I saw that Monkey-Brain felt embarrassed to ask for help even from the lineage. I cried, the tears just rolled and I kept practicing because, what else was there to do? After I finished practicing I felt lighter. I remembered that tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I decided to write this note of gratitude.

The sense of gratitude I feel at this moment goes beyond the help and words I received today. I am relatively healthy. My niece has become a dental hygienist (still waiting for her license, so no job yet). My brother and his wife are doing well. I like my new workplace. I have found true friends in my new job. I have friends that I love and care about, and friends from childhood that I keep in touch with. I have friends from the larger sangha. And I have Shambhala, and the Austin sangha.

I am grateful to the Sakyong for choosing to remain as our beloved teacher. I am grateful to Chogyam Trungpa for the bravery to cross the Himalayas and come to the West to teach and bring the teachings. I am grateful to all my teachers in Shambhala and outside the context of Buddhism, because I know that it takes heart to stand in front of others with the intention to help them develop their potential as human beings. And finally, today I am thankful to the soft voice, for not giving up on me. I guess that soft voice is the voice of Basic Goodness. And I guess that Basic Goodness is that soft sanity that can also be immovable. But I am just guessing.

I wish you all, together with your friends and family, a very Happy Thanksgiving wherever you happen to be. Peace.

A Different Tuesday Meeting

From a Tuesday afternoon in November of 2013

Today was a day just like any other but it was also slightly different. It was another Tuesday, and where I work Tuesdays mean having faculty meetings at the end of our day: long faculty meetings. So we started our meeting around 3:10 in the afternoon and we ended around 4:40 pm, and this was not too different from the previous Tuesday.  I went in hoping that today’s meeting would end soon, but it ended late; however, the end had a totally different feeling this time. If you had asked me what feeling it was right there and then, I do not believe I could have named it, or even understand that I was feeling somehow different about this meeting. It was hours later that things dawned on me, and I am grateful for this little dawn, or awakening.

This is how it happened, or perhaps it’s just how I remember it. I drove home, and when I got here I did the dishes. Then I went to meditate, to practice. After practice I decided to take a warm bath because I felt sore, and just plain tired. While in the tub, I was reading a passage about the notion of “basic goodness” in one of the Sakyong’s book and it was then that clarity  hit me, very viscerally. I realized that what was really different this time about the meeting was my experiencing it as basic goodness, and to my surprise, not just as an individual’s basic goodness, but as that of society. 
It made me happy to recognize this feeling/experience, albeit late, and to feel surprised at the realization that this instance of experiencing basic goodness co-emerged or was happening at the very same time my cynicism about the meeting and public school in general was also present. In fact, I suspect that I could not have had or come to acknowledge this instance as an experience of Basic Goodness  if i had somehow tried to cut off or stop my regular dose of disbelief in the system. So I am thankful for this brief respite. May I and others have the opportunity to feel moments such as this.
[This experience of the basic goodness of society all started with a teacher…Will…the discussion he led expressing that he had high expectations for the humans that write our curriculum, and those that are writing our new roadmaps…And how his words moved me in a meeting where usually most of my disbelief, cynicism and defenses are active.]


I started 2014 wondering, like a child, where it would all take us; wondering about what invitations I’d receive from life; wondering how I could extend invitations to life to come in… So, it is in order to extend my own invitations to life that I decided to retroactively publish notes and reflections I did not have the time to publish closer to the time they were written. So, to life and all it brings!

Autumn Notes

Before fully writing on this page, I want to “place” or situate myself.

  • I am currently taking a class at the center: Basic Goodness: Who Am I? In this class we have been working with the notions of skandhas, ego, karma, meditation, embodiment, aggression, gentleness, and authentic presence, to name a few. This class has served as a sort of energetic “brillo pad” needed to reach my ability to relax albeit, briefly, from the strong noose of my beliefs and fears. Not particularly the theme of this entry so I’ll go on.
  • The school year started on August 26th. On September 20th, at 4 pm, the principal officially told me that I would have to move to another school in order to teach Bilingual Ed., and thus keep my stipend. I was relieved; the wait was over. I was also very sad; I loved the kids I had.
  • Monday Sept 23, my kids’ new teacher came and stayed with us for the whole day. Tuesday, she came back but needed to finish packing her room. On Wednesday Sept 25th, I called my new school and said that I would be coming for a visit, to see my room. This was the first time the principal at my new school had heard that there was a bilingual teacher coming to the school. They really looked surprised when I showed up that morning. On the 26th and 27th, we both packed as best we could. The principal at my original school did not allow us a sub nor to split the kids so we could finish setting up our rooms.
  • On the week starting September 30th, a truck from the district came to pick my things and take them to my new school. Since then I have been cleaning everything that was left in the room which had been used for some years as a holding area for kids in the mornings before breakfast, and as a storage closet for extra furniture or things teachers did not want in their rooms. I needed to clear some space. I consider myself lucky because I was given the entire week to clean up and set up, and also to visit my new kids while they were in class with their teacher: a classroom with only one adult and 25 Pre-K students. I start class this Monday the 7th.
  • Whereas I experienced the school I am coming from as getting progressively fast paced and pushy, my new school seems laid back to the extreme. I have no computers in my room, my badge still does not work, and while there are other things to talk or think about, this also is not what I want to share at this moment. Though I felt it necessary as a preamble.

There is an opening, an almost elemental parting of energies, an allowing things to come through. For instance, this weekend I felt autumn waltzing into my apartment. I reorganized many things that had been in disarray for a long time, and I have just been happy. I feel a sense of lightness, and relief. Yesterday, I was bubbly with the sensation of love for my niece Camila. While I was cleaning and listening to the Cranberries, I felt lucky to have had time to spend with her. And I felt proud of her, and her life. And I felt her absence, and I wanted to go out with her.

While experiencing all this joy, I also had the sense of knowing that I just have around 200 dollars to end the month; the sense of being anxious about starting tomorrow with my new classroom; the sense of really wanting the tools I have grown used to for teaching: a projector and a document camera; the sense of knowing that there are phone calls to make, credit to be asked for; the sense of knowing that the US government is shut down… But it all seemed workable.

This past Tuesday, while in class at the center, I was touched by an insight as we were being guided into meditation by one of our teachers. As we/I heard the words that prompted us/me to be aware of our bodily sensations, of our feelings and emotions, and of our thoughts I was briefly visited by a memory of my brother. From this memory of having seen him around a year and a half ago (though we did not talk during that visit), my imagination jumped to 1) his getting back to me and yelling at me again for having allowed my niece to stay with me in 2010, and 2) to my very visceral (albeit imaginary) defensive/aggressive/scared reactions to the words I imagined him saying, and that I imagined myself hearing…

And then, a moment of clarity: I understood that I had imagined all of this in the space created by meditation; and I felt sad. I felt sad 1) to see that in my heart/mind I am afraid of him, my brother, and 2) that in order to deal with this fear, not simply of him, but the fear of being afraid, I cower when I am around him and I resort to pushing him (even the thoughts of him) away. And I was sad to see how in order to feel the layers of fear, how to genuinely feel the aggression and the fears that led to it, I needed
time that evening; time spent being guided into meditation, time where I felt safe enough. I was sad because often we need time, but we don’t give it to ourselves, or we just don’t seem to find it. I felt a sad because, I believe I am one of the lucky ones that has found this small space-time called Shambhala, or Buddhism, or perhaps it is just called practice; but nonetheless, I am one of the lucky ones.

Aspiration-I wish others had this small window of time-space. I believe having this small respite, and the willingness to slow down and look, or feel, could avert wars, could avert abuse, could avert destroying our environment. But all I can do is wake up as much as I can, and take myself (sometimes seemingly kicking and screaming) to the places where I can see myself clearly: Sometimes, as a mess of very confused images and fears. Sometimes, as a very warm and funny person. Sometimes sad. Sometimes peaceful. That’s me. That’s how humans, all humans, any human seem to be. And what we need is time to connect to our true self, to the space where we can feel, be and fully experience how soft, and vulnerable we truly are.