Saturday, October 10, 2015

Prayer for Tarthang Tulku

With the deepest possible respect and admiration, we here publish a prayer for the great Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche, on the occasion of his eightieth birthday. We do not know the author of this prayer; we are told the author is anonymous for a specific reason. The reason is, this prayer captures shared thoughts of the peerless founder of Nyingma in the West, a living manifestation of the Diamond Guru: Tarthang Tulku, in whom the confidence of all lineages reposes. May it be auspicious.

Most Precious One, Dharma Lord, and Guide,
Worlds rejoice on this the day of your birth.
Giving voice to our heartfelt love,
We utter in gratitude this prayer:

May this earth in which your mighty deeds have planted the firm roots of Dharma, live veins of precious gold penetrating the unyielding rock, ever support your lotus feet.

May the waters of the elixir of immortality flow bountifully into your heart, whose ocean-like great love sends waves of blessing to living beings, overflowing the high ramparts of self-cherishing.

May the fires of vigor and vitality course through your body, so that the blazing flame of your wisdom continues to illuminate the darkness of this time.

May winds of joyful ease effortlessly sustain your consummate deeds, which lighten the suffering of so many through the profound gift of Dharma.

May space itself ever resound with your praise -- you, whose virtuous actions pervade the farthest reaches of the sky.

Inspired by the majesty of your vision,
Cherished by your infinite love,
Protected by your wisdom,
Humbled by your trust in us:

We invoke the power of earth, air, fire, water, and space, calling upon the great Awakened Ones to protect your life, health, and vitality.

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Friday, October 02, 2015

Tarthang Tulku 80th Birthday Celebrations

During the entire month of October 2015, we will be observing the 80th birthday of the great Tarthang Tulku, a living manifestation of the Odiyan Master. The various celebrations and services will be as diverse as Rinpoche's numerous works around the world. We are earnestly inviting you to join in!

One such observance takes place on October 10th, which is usually held as his actual birthdate. The Nyingma Institute students, Nyingma community members, and friends will convene a chanting ceremony dedicated to Rinpoche's longevity. Although we don't have anything to do with institute, we are "friends," so any subsequent use of the word "we," should be understood as any and all people of good will.

Collectively we will commit to chant the Vajra Guru mantra continuously for twenty-four hours as an offering to Rinpoche on this, his eightieth birthday. Participants around the world will be chanting along with us for this offering.

We will call upon the Diamond Guru through his mantra to send the elixir of longevity to our precious teacher and to open wide our hearts to the presence of enduring wisdom and compassion in the world. It is our wish that a stream of the deepest love and healing pour forth from the chant, a rain of life-giving ambrosia that will sustain Rinpoche and his work for many years to come.

If you are anywhere near the Bay Area, or if you care to travel there, you'll be able to participate as a guest in residence for the event. Otherwise, to participate from any location in the world: you can live-stream the audio of the chant from the Main House Meditation Room through the Nyingma Institute website at A link to the event will be placed on the home page and will be activated during the chant. 

Rinpoche will be able to see the various countries and places participating, and he will be absolutely pleased if he sees many different participants.

If you will attend in person, please contact Nyingma-Institute at, or call 510-809-1000 for reservations. For an event of this magnitude, space will go quickly, so please make your contact now.

[As always, you can follow up on this post and make your views known by visiting our Facebook page.]

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Pray for the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who has been ordered by doctors to cancel his October tour of the United States, remains hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota, suffering from complete exhaustion. Forgetting everything else, we rush to pray for his long life, and swift recovery. Those of us who have taken vows with him, are now mindful of those vows. Long live the Dalai Lama!

[As always, you can follow up on this post and make your views known by visiting our Facebook page.]

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Tibetan Prophecy: One Decade Left

The singular work entitled The Light That Makes Things Clear: A Prophecy of Things to Come, was revealed by the late 'Jam-byangs mKhyen-brtse Chos-kyi bLo-gros (1896-1959), widely known and celebrated as the "Master of Masters." It was first translated into English in 1988, by Karma gSungrab rGya-mtsho, with the admonition that it be freely reproduced. We have elected to publish this work as received, with only slight editorial revision, as the translator prepared his version with the assistance of the late Khyentse Rinpoche's learned students, and other qualified commentators. Our revisions cover matters of English expression; not content, which is unchanged, and basic meaning is left intact.

This work takes the form of a dialogue involving Shakyamuni Buddha, Ananda, Avalokitesvara, and Maitreya concerning events commencing 2026, and lasting through 2032.


Homage to the Three Jewels. The Victorious One (Shakyamuni Buddha) once related this teaching applicable to a time when the evil period would arise. It is like a path because all sentient beings are connected to it. 

When the Victorious One was sitting under the bodhi tree and thinking of all sentient beings of the world, he saw that at the end of five - hundred years, an evil age would begin. As to the deeds and thoughts of all these beings, those with great merit would come into contact with this teaching while those with little merit would not. The pain from conflicting emotions would be great indeed. 

Because it seemed that humans living on the surface of the earth would be as if cut to pieces with swords due to this, the venerable Ananda pleaded with the Victorious One:

"Victorious One, because you consider things with great compassion, spare humankind this torment." 

And the Victorious One replied to the venerable Ananda: "I have this to say about it. While I was residing in the great expanse of space, I was thinking of and gazing on the beings of the world. So, listen! There is a teaching useful during the time when the - dark age arises. If one writes of it, propagates it, and practices the "Great Responsiveness Meditation" and recitation, impurities and obscurations will be quickly purified. If one sincerely makes offerings to this spiritual text with flowers and incense, all sentient beings will benefit. By propagating this text and writing about it, one will obtain a good existence throughout all of one's lives."

Then, near the base of a tree, there was a great lake. On its shores sat the Greatly Responsive One (Avalokitesvara) (in the form) he appears with and for others. While considering all beings in his responsiveness and compassion, he began to shed copious tears. Then the Victorious One said:

"Listen carefully, oh Greatly Responsive One! It is not necessary to shed tears, so heed my words well. During the month of the Tiger in the new year, I intend to go to many places. At that time during the evil age all sentient beings will be freed from the ocean of existence's miseries. All evil conduct will be abandoned and I will lead sentient beings away from evil states (they have fallen into). At that time, this spiritual text will be well known. Because of this text and by making it known, all sickness will end. If written about by one person, it will benefit one city. If proclaimed by one city, it will benefit all states. The merit of humankind will be increased and secondary evil influences averted. One will be free of hellish torments, and it will be of benefit for both this life and the next one. This path is desirable for all sentient beings of the six classes. For example, it is like taking a boat across a river or the ocean. This is truly a most beneficial text until Maitreya arrives in the world of humans. By writing of this teaching and spreading it to other areas, in one lifetime, in one embodiment, one's merit will increase limitlessly. The bloody ocean of life as a (vicious) circle will dry up.

First, because of the ten impure practices, sentient beings will come under the power of conflicting emotions. Oh, pity on these sentient beings! After this, an area (valley) in the human realm will be (as if) filled with blood. Three, when it comes to reaping your own merits you will be powerless to do so. Four, human suffering will become very great. Five, people won't be able to perceive the "path." Six, cities will become filled with carnivorous animals. Seven, the residences of politicians will become deserted. Eight, individuals will be unable to cope with one another. Nine, hungry ghosts will be seen wandering about the cities.

Things will be like this as a result of ten impure practices. One will not compliment or praise another person; there will only be praise of oneself and putting down others. There will basically be four social groups: the politicians, the rich, common people, and the well-educated. If all of these peoples have confidence in this text and devotion toward it, a good time period will result. 

"But," the Victorious One said, "If people have an irrational trust in it, they will follow one another and fall straight into the most intolerable of hells. The earth and heavens will be filled with the cries of those who have not heard this teaching. A time of epidemics will result. But as soon as one hears this spiritual message and then writes it down and distributes it, these epidemics will be brought under control. All famine that might exist will be pacified and people will achieve a good existence.

Furthermore, there are seven miseries that humans might suffer. First there is the misery like that of a denizen in hell. Second, the misery of hunger and thirst for a hungry ghost. Third, the misery of disputes and warfare as an anti-god might experience. Fourth, the frustration resulting from having no leisure, and constant hunger and want. Fifth, the misery of having erroneous views. Sixth, the misery of having a long life like a god, and seventh, the misery in potential existence when in the after-death state. This text is of benefit for these (situations), for if one trusts in it, one will achieve success in all that one may strive for. All diseases will be destroyed, and there will be a return to good times. If one is to ask how these will come about [it is like this]:

Out of deep space, in the Fire-Male-Horse year (2026), a large meteor will strike down on the shores of a large body of water. This spiritual text will appear when the meteor cracks open. Having appeared, it is very important, when teaching this document, that there are no secret or hidden meanings. There is but one, no secondary meaning. It has been put together for the benefit of all sentient beings. May all the torments of existence end!

After 500 years will be a time when the teachings of the Spiritually Awakened One will be on the decline and monks' ethics and general conduct will become corrupted. When evil thoughts will occupy the mind, and food supplies will be contaminated. A time when the ten unwholesome deeds will be practiced and practitioners of advanced spiritual techniques will recite only evil mantras, and the five poisons will overwhelm one's perceptions. It will be a time when body and speech acts will be perverted; teaching of spiritual values will deteriorate. A time when feathers will grow on mountains (sic!), and a person will travel about in wooden and metal vehicles. All of one's actions will merely contribute to evil happenings, a time of fearfulness when evil will manifest most definitely. This text will reverse the contributory evil causes of this time. By so much as seeing it, writing of it, proclaiming it, there is no doubt that these evil times will end. It is sufficient to see what is true and what is not true. And to say what one knows to be the truth. In those people who say it is untrue, from the tops of their heads to the bottom of their feet, signs that they will be seized by sickness will appear."

After the Victorious One had spoken these words, Avalokitesvara, Maitreya, Ananda, gods, anti-gods, humans, and spirits who live on odors, all rejoiced and offered great praise of his words. The Victorious One touched his right hand, marked with certain signs and characteristics, to the earth, and (by this act) conquered the dark forces of spiritual death, along with their retinue. I experienced an unbelievable happiness and joy and decided to (always) engage myself with this discriminative appreciation that goes beyond itself, that tames (beings) by pacifying all sickness and evil. Then the Spiritually Awakened One, the Victorious One, after remaining in meditative enstasis, uttered this summary of his discourses, as part of the teachings (as a whole). Again, Ananda asked of theVictorious One:

"Victorious One, since you have delivered this teaching, turn around the obstacles and evil conditions within existence. In the Earth-Male-Monkey year (2028) an epidemic will occur and its impact will be very profound. If all sentient beings do not think that this is true and have no confidence in this letter and are not able to propagate it, then the dark evil forces of spiritual death will be satisfied. If there is confidence and they do publish this, then great well-being will arise. Great benefit will come from this spiritual text. That's it! Great! That's for sure! May you always teach it! May most excellent good and wholesomeness arise! May capabilities and merits always increase! This has been taught by all of the Spiritually Awakened Ones. You yourself are energetic to this truth, of benefit to beings. At the end of a future time, the qualities of this will be beyond imagination. For the person who is confident in this, all desires will be fulfilled. Evil conditions and obstacles will be diverted. The person who is confident in the teachings of a spiritually awakened person should make offerings of flowers and incense."

Then Maitreya looked back from the expanse of space. He saw blood coming from the eyes of humans so he went to the Victorious One and asked:

"Victorious One, I pray that you give a teaching of great sustaining power as to what is to come, gathering the meaning in (only) a few words."

The Victorious One replied: "Very well, Maitreya. Listen to what I say. I choose this for the benefit of all sentient beings as well as Brahma, Indra, and so on. I will convey my words and their meaning for the sake of beings. It is certainly very positive to be energetically devoted to this. In the autumn of the Fire-Female-Horse year (2026), and in the year of the Earth-Male-Monkey (2028), all of those evil persons who have no confidence in this teaching will die. But, if one writes of it and propagates it, then one will live for a long time, without sickness, and merit will become very great. All the harmful forces of this evil time will quickly gather in the cities. They will run and hide themselves so that humans will not be able to see where they are. At that time, the power of this spiritual text will scatter those noxious demons and they will run away. So it is important to spread this text to all areas. One should not entertain any doubts and think that it is not true. The Spiritually Awakened One, incomparable teacher of gods and men, is the tamer of beings, sensitive to the world, gone into well-being, head of the spiritually aware 'family.'

Those persons who do not have any confidence in this teaching will experience a great earthquake in the year of the Fire-Horse (2026). When the evil times come in the Fire-Female-Sheep year (2027), there will be death due to overcrowding. Some will die on the road; some from heart (disease). In the year of the Earth-Male-Monkey (2028), there will be terrible floods. In the summer, death will come from famine-induced epidemics. At that time, demons will be all over the place. If one writes of and propagates this text, there will be no harm from obstructions or demons.

In the Earth-Female-Bird year (2029), there will be no harm. Nonetheless, it will be very important to guard one's discipline and not eat red meat. In the Iron-Male-Dog year (2030), all cities and surrounding areas will be filled with carnivorous animals such as tigers, bears, wild dogs, wolves, and the like. At that time it will be very important to write of and propagate this text as a method for liberating humans. In the Iron-Female-Pig year (2031), all sentient beings will lose self- control, and will be like paper blown about in the wind, or as if carried off in a flood. Then, those who lack belief in this text will die."

Then the Victorious One said to the Greatly Responsive One: "During the year of the Mouse (2032-?), a sound with spiritual qualities will be heard coming out of the depths of space. And, like the light of the sun and moon, because of the strength in the sustaining power of the Spiritually Awakened One, if one writes of and propagates this text which illuminates all of the four directions and eight points in between, then it will be of benefit until Maitreya comes. If one writes of and propagates this, one will obtain merit like a mountain (in size). In the palace at Potala, a transformative form of the Spiritually Awakened One's communication dwells, surrounded by a retinue of those in whom pure and total mind has taken over. All sentient beings, above and below, in all the ten directions, are placed in well-being. This well-being is intensified for the sake of all sentient beings on account of the compassionate intentions of the Greatly Responsive One for all humans. By thinking that this is untrue, or if one entertains doubts, a period of plagues will become widespread in the middle of summer. People will die from dawn to dusk. At that time, calculating from when the evil period of time increases, all the forest (ecosystems) will collapse. All the rocky mountains will crumble at their bases. One will not be able to bear the leveling (process) of the earth's (mountains). For every ten persons, only one will be left. If one thinks that this is not so, it is the word of the Victorious One. Oh, pity sentient beings!

'Jam-byangs mKhyen-brtse Chos-kyi bLo-gros (1896-1959)

In the Fire-Female-Sheep year (2027), and in the Earth-Male-Monkey year (2028), the evil "five hundred time" will emerge. This disruption will come from every direction and the - eight subdivisions as well. People will be defiled by quarrels and restlessness. This spiritual text will liberate one from these omens of the evil time merely if one has confidence in it, sees, writes about it, propagates it. Agitation will thereby be pacified. If one does this, limitless good will come about. May beings be free of all terror and fear! This spiritual work which has one, no secondary meaning, has been composed for the benefit of all sentient beings. This spiritual text will spread fully to all realms and all humans will be happy. May virtuous sentient beings be free of misery! If one is not energetic in making the text an object of sustained attention for five or six months, then a period of sickness and diseases will come. Some will die from fever; some from chills; some from stomach ailments; some from madness; some from skin diseases. Some from heart disease, others from liver disease. There is a remedy for these harms. When impermanence (begins to show its mark) in the body, if men and women tie this [mantra], which will protect them, to their bodies, this protecting mantra will free them from all plagues and the harms of demons, water spirits, and gods. [It is:]

E-ma-ho pen-no pen-no so-ha!

It should be worn on the right side of the body for a man and on the left for a woman.

If one does this, one will be freed from these diseases and plagues, and will have a good life. If one writes about, propagates and is confident in it, there is no doubt that one will be liberated from the bloody ocean of life's miseries. Oh, pity for all humans, everywhere! May all torments that come with an untimely death be completely pacified. May there be good - times, as before! May one obtain limitless merit! For all those beings who have no confidence in the spiritual text, as before, there will be no chance for them to believe, and so diseases will spring up everywhere in the cities. Even if there is nutritious food, one will not, at that time, be able to eat it."

Then the Greatly Responsive One, the Noble Avalokitesvara, in order to produce compassion in the hearts of sentient beings, spoke this portion of the teaching:

"I pray, Victorious One, that you empower this text. I pray that you empower it with your consecration."

Again, the Victorious One said:

"If one performs religious service to this text with devotion and confidence, then the whole evil time will stop. It would be beneficial for all disease and illness. May all humans who dwell on the surface of the earth obtain limitless merit. When they are liberated from all the unhappiness, epidemics, sickness, and unrest which are signs of the evil age, may they come to experience good times as before. On account of the positive nature in making a wish such as this, the qualities of the benefit if a person should do this, especially during the month of the Rabbit and of the Horse, is beyond imagining. If people come to write of and propagate this, they will come to possess a long life, free of illness, and will find happiness and well- being. Even if they write of one part of this, all noxious influences of the evil age will be pacified in their own time. What has occurred before will increase once again in the year of the Dragon. It will show itself, but will be unable to expand out into the realms of the world because of the evil time's arising. After that, in the Fire-Male Horse year (2026), this text will increase. 

This work is a technique for diverting the evil time. If one is not able to spread (its ideas) to all countries, ripening crops will be destroyed by three frosts, or hail. Secondly, the specter of famine will arise. And when disease with no apparent etiology occurs, there will be much suffering and unhappiness. But, if one writes of and propagates this, there is no doubt that one will be liberated from all this misery. Until Lord Maitreya arrives in this world, this text is the refuge for sentient beings. If one is confident and devoted to it, all obstacles and obscurations will be cleansed, and one will be purified. May there be most excellent good! May the jewels of necessity and wishing come into being! May all countries have good fortune! May the whole earth be made pleasing! When unrest, sickness, famine in all countries is pacified, may there be a most excellent rain for the crops, and may one spontaneously obtain one's wishes! May the glorious wealth of nations increase widely. May the turning of the wheel of spiritual teachings be steadfast, always!"

After the Victorious One had spoken, all the gods, Avalokitesvara, Maitreya, Ananda, anti- gods, humans, and the world including those who live on scents, rejoiced and praised the speech very much.

This completes the Lamp That Makes Things Clear, the Prophecy of Things to Come.

[original Tibetan may be found on our Facebook page]

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

You Say You Want A Revolution

After getting ready to practice for about fifty years, I decided to share a vision. 

I have learned it is wise to live on the model of what works, and forget about what grinds. Look around you. See all of the unnecessary follies, excursions, and repetitions, and just cut it out at the root in one, revolutionary stroke.

It is wise to stop resisting: clamoring for one more love, one more misery, one more beauty, one more addiction, forgetting that repeatedly doing the same thing, the same way, while expecting different results, is a widely recognized form of mental illness. 

The name of the illness is Oblivion. This is the illness of not knowing we are suffering; of not understanding the exact nature of suffering; of not knowing the very things we do to prevent suffering are, in fact, themselves causes of suffering.

We grasp at happiness with bitter desperation. We don't learn from our mistakes. Our desires blind us: they drive and deceive us. Our desires and the consequences of acting upon our desires consume our entire lives. We are cremated not once but twice each lifetime: first, we are roasted by our desires, then consumed on the funeral pyres.

People often speak about revolution. We are in the midst of a revolution. We are throwing off the old and beginning the new.

I think we need to get out of the way, and let the women warriors rise up. We can support this expansive, social change by acting in accord with requirements of the times. We are in the swirl of materialism versus spirituality, at the tipping point of greed, and we need to de-escalate, downsize, stand back, and stop consuming. In terms of our religious institutions, ordination for women appears to be a necessary step. In terms of our political institutions, women are a stabilizing presence.

We need to leave the cities, and go to small villages: restore them, renew them, wipe them clean of dust and let the treasures shine through. Instead of asking for more, we need to require less. We should be able to have what we need, and at the most basic level, this means we should at least have control of our own food and water.

Our houses and farms should be small, and our temples appropriate; but, our temples, our monasteries, our spiritual institutions, cannot become parasites on the community as a whole. We should serve the communities by living responsibly. We can be producers instead of parasites. 

As Buddhists we have a particular, historic responsibility to care for the environment. More and more of us need forego careers as technologists and head to simple careers serving the earth, waters, forests, and atmosphere. 

We also need to reach deeply inside education and change it from the bottom up.  There is nothing wrong with bringing morals and ethics into a child's studies from Grade School through High School. We also need to think in terms of re-sensitizing a generation of children who have been de-sensitized by the irresponsible, profit-driven mis-use of mass media. Our problems with violence will end.

Our problems with law enforcement will also end when we bring Buddhist sensibilities to the task. Policemen should live where they work, get out of the cars more often, and know the people they are policing. They cannot be allowed to degenerate into a despised sub-culture of the culture they purport to serve. The for-profit prison system should be abolished, and those presently incarcerated for offenses relating to a medicinal plant now legal in several states, should be released at once. 

In the same way, our problems with each other will end when we learn the name of the person living next door. When we stop and listen to them. When we take them into our hearts. The for-profit fear industry must be dismantled, as it leads to isolation, alienation, and a breakdown in compassionate communication. 

Let's drop the guns and pick up the guitars. Nothing wrong with marksmanship, but nothing beats music. Sports are great, but so is sculpture. Computer class is necessary but so is carpentry, and shop. If you learn how to propagate and cultivate plants, and build gardens, you can also become a skilled surgeon, at the same time. We need to put balance back into our lives. At the core of our society, balance, a sense of priority, and a sense of connection have been lost.

History as presently codified must be preserved at all costs, and books saved from physical destruction. Ours is the most dangerous time in history for the history of history, as history may be manufactured or re-manufactured at will. Historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, linguists, scholars of all sorts must safeguard their professions from the corruption that springs from greed.

Our living masters of the archaic arts and crafts must be venerated, and their knowledge passed on. Artists must be given their due. The old crafts cannot be allowed to die. This extends to the materials and tools needed to support such crafts, and direct subsidies for the craftsmen and artists' living and medical expenses. Precedents will be found in the treatment extended to scientists employed in the weapons industry. Our Revolution examines and demands parity with war-making machinery and oppression: we demand billions for the arts, and constructive sciences.

For every dollar spent on death, we demand a thousand be spent on life.

Let our utopias be ministered by poets instead of politicians, contemplatives instead of capitalists. "Government" is not the enemy and most certainly requires no overthrow. Government used to be populated by idealists with a call to serve. Let's find them and help them weed out the cynical exploitation of democratic government by non-democratic transnational corporate bodies.

The Revolution is one of compassion, and kindness: umbrella words that signal thousands upon thousands of possibilities to benefit life by living at ease with ourselves. "Compassion," and "kindness" can boil down to realization of our innately present understanding of shared humanity, devoid of selfish clinging. They arise naturally. They cannot be contrived. 

Moonlight has an extraordinary quality, both as metaphor, and by its singular temperature. As Buddhists we often use the example of the moon's reflection on the water. The moon's reflected light is itself reflected light: of a sunlight which burns the skin. Moonlight only burns the soul.

By moonlight, so bright, one sometimes thinks there is nothing to do but everything not to do. But, this way lies freedom!

By sun, light boils in a mirage: by night, the moon's light is a wide-open possibility for naturally arising drama and simplicity. 

So, then, I dream --

All over the land are narrow, moonlit roads to small villages, shuttered for the night. It is quiet, and the dogs do not bark.

Instead of flickering computer screens through the shutters, there is a glow of lamps on shrines. There is no throb of electricity, only wind through the trees, and a creature's odd cry. Prayer flags of all sizes, shapes, and dedications furl and unfurl: you can hear them. You can hear bells. Now and then, there are drums.

Near singular places, with promising signs, one finds modest farms and ranches, abandoned orchards, old mines: the shifting stagecraft of a rising and falling dream. 

There is your revolution. There is your life. There is your practice. There is the future of health, longevity, peace of mind, beneficial purpose, and meaningful Buddhist practice.

Out with the hammer and saw, the rake and barrow, walking in the field one stumbles on a piece of history. How many constructed ponds and shelters here before me? How many times will I dream this same dream? How many times will I move these same rocks? Who are the dreamers come before me?

What was their idea of beauty? What was their name for the Medicine Buddha? Could music make them well? Did music make them cry?

In our Revolution, one also thinks of Restoration: we think in terms of keeping that which is viable and discarding that which is not. Simple awareness holds out the promise of Repairing everything else. This occupies every crevice of our lives. This is the flood running through the dry washes, the trickle down the river, the sound when the stone finally hits the water in the bottom of a very deep well.

One by one now, people are beginning to search out these back roads. I see them in their caravans, large and small, on the way to encampments, traveling through old orchards come back to life. The ravens watch them from the rocks. Humminbirds and gentle creatures move to and fro, nourishing themselves in peace.

The world is changing. As members of the sangha, we can be some sort of ordinary refuge for one another.

At a spring, one places a vase, or a stupa, and restores a poisoned spirit. Down in the desert, we got together and planted some trees by the stupa. Across the way, a thousand-tree orchard blossomed, and a small Mahayana monastery appeared. A shrine came into being, and a Vajrayana chapel is rising. 

The revolution... is it really necessary? The revolution starts inside when you give up everything supporting that which you seek to overthrow. Why is this? Because, what you overthrow is your own projection. It begins and ends inside of you. All of this turmoil is self-created. If you don't want it, just stop it.

When you stop grasping, everything falls into place. You can be happy about that.

Things can return to normal. 

You can just go outside and listen to the bee mantras start up while the moon sets. You don't have to think about all that other nonsense stuff like who did what and when.

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Breaking: Karmapa Charged by Corrupt Indian Officials

From India come breaking press reports: the Himachal Pradesh High Court has suddenly "reversed" its earlier decision not to charge the Karmapa in a 2011 currency case, and now presses for criminal proceedings against him.

The decision comes in the wake of Karmapa's wildly successful tour of the United States. Indian officials believe they can now pressure him into paying out huge sums to avoid prosecution, reckoning that he raised millions abroad.

What the Karmapa does or does not "raise" is, of course, a ridiculous notion placed in their heads by dirty politics.

Please join us in requesting the American government, at its most effective level, to carefully monitor the attempted extortion of a Tibetan Buddhist leader with millions of followers in the United States.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Green Was My Valley

Last night, red light in the west gave instruction in highlights along the east side of the San Bernardino Mountains. 

I took this photograph standing in my front yard. You might say, "How beautiful." You might say, "How fortunate." You might say something about the photograph; but, if you do, you will miss the message.

Heaven itself called attention to the terrible damage done to Eastern California by absolutely unsupervised, unregulated, and irresponsible foreign mining corporations. 

This is taking place in lands surrounded by what are called "Desert Act" lands. In some cases, this mining has breached boundaries into national forest lands, in addition to Desert Act violations.

In the photograph, above, you can see that the entire eastern face of the San Bernardinos has been destroyed forever.

They blast up there, with dynamite. They work at night, so you can't see the full extent of the dust violations. Their trucks tear up the highways, and contribute to the danger of already dangerous roads. 

In the 1960s, we would get out the word. In the 1960s, we would get out the guitars. In the 1960s, we would get out. We would call attention to the situation with art, and music, and love. Picketing dancers. Flowers to the drivers of the dangerous trucks. Signs, and shouts; sit-in, and silliness.

So, how do y'all stop something like this now?

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Tara, look swiftly to the beings for whom elements appear in disarray
For all those touched by imbalances of wind, water, and earth
Inside, outside, all arising in the mind as suffering
Now is the time for your mercy to reach those who require mercy
Now is the time for a mother's solace to calm all disturbances
Tara, to your natural activity we add this prayer of perfect confidence
For the benefit of all sentient beings
May desired relief be experienced now!

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BREAKING: Multiple major earthquakes strike again

Multiple sources reporting major earthquakes in Nepal and Afghanistan, with almost unfathomable devastation throughout region.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Open Letter to Nepal

Dear Nepal:

The world is terribly sorry for your suffering. Already, the world responds to your prayers, as you begin a recovery process to be measured in decades.

You will receive more than $1 billion in direct foreign assistance. In addition to the disaster management funds, it is likely you will receive at least $1 billion more indirectly, for the purposes of disaster recovery.

You will receive millions of dollars more from people you have never met. Ordinary people, with good hearts, and charitable instincts.

That is just money. Who knows how much food, medicine, surgical equipment, earth-moving equipment ... the list goes on and on... who knows how much more you will receive in hard aid? Aid that will keep your nation together, at a time when it is torn apart.

Nepal, stop killing the animals in ritual sacrifice. You have brought the anger of the earth itself upon yourselves by barbaric blood-letting. Now, nature itself has answered you. Now, your blood has been taken in payment for the blood you have shed.

If you wish your own prayers answered, answer the prayers of the many beings you have slaughtered.

Nepal, just stop ritual killing. 

In the land blessed by the holiest of relics; in the land that gave birth to Buddha himself; in the land where there is great instability of all sorts -- in this land, where princes have gone mad, where the walls around palaces have now fallen, where foul corruption keeps the poor oppressed -- it is 2015 in this land that Tara herself graced beyond all measure, and still you believe it spiritually necessary to spill the blood of sentient beings?

Are you in the thrall of black magicians?

Nepal, you have forgotten Tara. Now, you scream and pray to what you have forgotten: do you even remember Tara's name? How you have treated the most humble sentient beings in your nation is an absolute spiritual disgrace. It is blind, and it bears the most terrible possible consequences.

You have already experienced some of those consequences. Can you learn from them? Can you allow this tragedy to give rise to compassion?

To stop the killing is a small act of compassion, as compared to the large acts of compassion from which you now benefit.

I beg you, please stop the ritual slaughter of innocent beings in the name of mankind. I am of mankind too, and you bring a stain upon all of us.


One Buddhist

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By clicking this link, you will be able to get 100% of your money into the hands of a network of monasteries, monks, and nuns, who will deliver aid direct to the people.

Immediately, and in the days to come, the need for food, medicine, and supplies will continue to grow. 

We need to act now.

Please, place your faith in the Three Jewels and your trust in Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche's mandala of organizations. They have a fifty year record of success in the region, and did not come into being overnight.

There are no administration, middleman, or graft costs. 100% of your money hits the ground running.

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Your Ordinary Mind

So, then -- a few words.

Nothing you can do, in the context of implementing spiritual instruction, is more important than ordinary relaxation.

Seems like a surprising, or incomplete statement, but this is something I want you to think about.

What I call "ordinary" comes after dissolving the tension of expectation that seems to trouble so many practitioners. Often, one is practicing "for" or "about" something. All sorts of back and forth reflection. Way, too much busy business. Nothing natural about this at all.

What is ordinary, is uncontrived. 


One day you are staring out a window. You are not thinking about anything at all. It is an effortless, unplanned pause in your life. There is silence, and stillness. Maybe, you could even get up and walk outside, no purpose in mind. The interlude would stay with you.

Then, suddenly, on an errant sun ray, all of the books, the lectures, the pujas blend with ear-whispered instruction, and a lotus blooms in unmolested silence, according to its nature.

Things come to a complete stop.

Maybe, it was a line you read. Maybe, it was something somebody said. Maybe, it was something your teacher told you. Maybe, it was all of these, disposed of at last.

That instant has nothing to do with Buddhism. You might even laugh. You are no longer doing something in order to do something.

There is considerable clarity.

So, that is what I mean by ordinary relaxation.

Any relaxation short of that is artificial.

So, that is one thing I want to say. The other thing I want to say is about beginning where you are right this minute.

Let's go back to you staring out a window.

This has to be accompanied by an immense, truly all-encompassing comfort with where you happen to be at the moment. Even this is a concrete jail cell, you can still have this. Or, maybe a hotel room somewhere, in a different kind of custody.

Being wholesomely in tune with where you find yourself therefore becomes a vital step toward the natural arising of ordinary relaxation.

The message in both cases is, "Stop." Stop striving, stop arguing with your own space, and give yourself enough time to let things naturally unfold.

Neither ordinary relaxation nor being adept with immediacy are "acquired" states of being in that once achieved, one suddenly occupies a continuous status. Normally, they are experienced in samples. In spontaneously arising slices.

In moments, and you know, every moment holds every possibility. 

Consider well, then, the very last moment of breath, and remember Padmasambhava.

May it be auspicious

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Nepal Earthquake: How to Help Right Now

The first question people ask is, "Where do I send money, and how do I make sure it will reach people in need?" The answer to this is simple. You rely on an organization with a track record in the region, operated with total transparency, under the direction of Kyabje Tarthang Rinpoche.

Please, if you want to make an immediate difference, click this link now.

These are the people who have already concluded legendary restoration projects. This is a registered NGO, with deep links in the region, and a scrupulous record for honesty.

Help now. Please.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Earthquake in Nepal Brings Buddhist World Together

Whatever was broken, we will fix. Whatever was destroyed, we will rebuild. We will care for the living and attend to the dead. As Buddhists, we will rise to this occasion, and give good account.

Buddhist organizations the world over are being asked to mobilize immediately. This is a catastrophic event touching the lives of millions.

Key steps to take are as follows:

(1) Establish and maintain reliable lines of communication.
(2) Coordinate what you are told by government agencies with what you are learning from local informants.
(3) Determine status of airport closure. Is there damage to runway? Will airport remain closed to all but military traffic? Will military assist NGO in region to place personnel? When are press flights allowed?
(4) Establish financial links so that hard money can reach the hands of your trusted person on the ground.
(5) Then, and only then, set about to insert your organization's troubleshooter from overseas.
(6) Learn who the lead press people are on the ground, and coordinate with them. You want something. They want something.
(7) Learn who else is doing what you are trying to do and help each other.
(8) Work according to a definite plan, with definite goals. Don't be sidetracked into "mission drift."
(9) Operate for the benefit of all beings.

Om Mani Padme Hum

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Nepal's Bhimsen Tower Collapsed, "100s" Feared Trapped

Kathmandu's famed Bhimsen Tower is completely down, and "hundreds" of people, perhaps as many as 400, are believed trapped beneath the rubble.

The earthquake struck at 11:11 a.m. on Saturday.

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Patan Durbar Square "Completely Destroyed"

Unprecedented destruction and loss of life follow a 7.9 earthquake near Kathmandu. Many sacred structures are down, many lives are touched. Buddhist organizations the world over are being asked to mobilize assistance immediately.

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BREAKING: Nepal Earthquake Destroys Region

A 7.9 earthquake centered 15 km from Kathmandu struck around noon Saturday, major news organizations are reporting. There has been considerable loss of life throughout the region, and many sacred structures have been utterly destroyed.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tree Practice

While Padmasambhava was engaged in high deserts enroute to Samye, another traveling magician was engraving his own solutions into a rock in the West Mojave.

An ancient American, who stopped at a rock not far from here. "American," as in north, central, and south: the Americas. 

When we fully explore the Americas, we will re-write world history. Those coca leaves in the mummified Pharoah's mouth didn't get there by accident. They were delivered there to deliberate purpose, on account of known effect. To ancient Egypt, from the ancient Americas. Clearly, the ancient American medicine men were exporters.

So, then --

We write today of Tree Practice. 

It came to me when I was looking at the picture carved in the rock.

From a wish to benefit others, whilst understanding that everything is fundamentally an illusion, we set forth our intention to engage in symbolic, ritual activity centered on Jambudvipa's trees.

What does that mean? For me, it means conducting interdependency analysis of the act of planting trees in the desert.

Contemplating the desert in what promises to be a long drought, the notion of new trees seems somehow counterintuitive. If trees are dying because of the drought, why are we planting new trees? Won't they die off like the other trees? Won't they unnecessarily consume dwindling water supplies? Most all of these questions are already answered when one shakes off the familiar desert stereotypes.

Deserts are not uniform. Rather, they consist of microclimates created from the earth element by wind and the element water. The microclimates can even display abrupt boundaries, such as rain falling on one side of a road but not the other. 

What these microclimates do have in common is the so-called empty jar effect. If you put a ceramic jar out on the ground, it will never fill up with water. The sum of evaporation and transpiration will always exceed surface water gain. Within the compass of that definition, you can include high deserts, low deserts, hot deserts, and cold deserts. 

Thus, as a desert dweller, I speak not of deserts but of "arid regions."

Certain trees are appropriate to the various microclimates of the world's arid regions. The microclimates have specific soils, temperatures, altitudes, and so forth. The trees appropriate to each place will intimately relate to all surrounding life. They will become the habitat for insects, birds, small mammals, and reptiles. 

Quite a challenge, when I look around. Needs to be examined in a sacred manner.

The pictured rock picture, above, is a few minutes away from here. In fact, it isn't far from the oldest living plant on the face of the planet earth! 

And what of "here?" Here is where wild, scorching winds are born. The Santa Ana winds. Southern California's murder wind, fire wind, passion wind. Here is the highest recorded temperature, the lowest recorded point; where you can ride from 85m below sea level to 1500m above sea level in an afternoon, where you can drown in a flash flood, or freeze to death in spring. A complex of arid valleys in the rain shadow of California's Pacific-facing mountains.

The trees dying in the drought are not the trees that are supposed to be here. 

Still, the life that trees support needs to be supported. If that be the case, it seems appropriate, a sane thing to do, to rearrange the set. Make it more authentic. Find out what sort of trees occur here, and support them.

Seems the right way to go about a drought in the desert is to plant native trees.

From a wish to benefit others, whilst understanding that everything is fundamentally an illusion, we set forth our intention to engage in virtuous conduct centered on Jambudvipa's trees.

When we take refuge in the Three Jewels, I and others are able to understand trees as a living instruction in the three bodies. 

In the midst of space:

From what is already perfect, nothing can be taken or given -- by planting trees, I neither add to nor take away from that perfection, nor is the activity itself anything other than sacred activity in accord with time and place.

Calling upon the elements: calling to all tree spirits of all directions, those free, those oath-bound, and all those other beings interested in the welfare of this mandala: see, here, this offering!  The earth, the nutrient, the water, the sky.

Joy, amidst the leaves, the flowers, the branches, the fruit, the shelter, the shade, the resting place, the home: the lessons we learn are limitless.

Let it please you. to the extent thoughts of enough or not enough are dispensed as enough.

Come here!  See this offering where the earth touches the sky.

See this! 

To the teachers before us in the form of trees, I offer all that supports your life. I beg you remain here in peace and harmony, and continue to sustain life on earth. May you be nourished by love and unaffected by mistaken views.

May understanding your sacred reality lead to recognition that all things are indistinguishable from the Guru's mind.

In space, where everything is possible, the aspiration accompanying this conduct will come to fruition in time, so let the time be now, and let the benefit be experienced by those beings in need of beneficial experience.

Those with the ability to travel between worlds have returned to this one from their travels.

Long ago, they brought back the news that among all worlds only ours has trees.

So, that is what we've been up to these days, out here in the long pause we've been given before heat rises. Trying our best to plant a few trees with all of you in mind.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Charles "Chuck" Belyea, 1947 - 2015: The Great Ming Liu

A personal friend and Vajra Brother, Chuck Belyea, known to a legion of followers as Ming Liu, died of cancer last night at Berkeley, California. Known as a master practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, divination, and astrology, upon his death let it be recorded he was also one of the world's finest magicians.

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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Light On the Panel

The old, analog, panel switches had lights like Cadillac tail lights, so you would know the switch was on.

The light's lens is faceted on the inside. They look like big, bullet-nosed jewels. The panels are anodized black, sans-serif letters and numbers are engraved, filled with white enamel, and the jewels stand in contrast like the polarized paralysis of stoplights at the end of a very long road.

They look like dials on combination locks, because this opera is by Sargent & Greenleaf: secret keys on a tiny piano mounted on a wall, and the curtain rises. Secrecy is the overture to deepest desire. Surveillance is its oracle. Music seems wild when nobody knows the score.

All kinds of meaninglessly urgent noise.

Behind the lights and switches lie complications as numberless as stars. Let the moon shine forever upon the enchanted lakes and rivers; may it give forth endless, flowing moons in every chop of the water brought about for the wind's own reasons. No number of moons will measure those complications.

Those complications are measured in emotions. Though numberless, they are finite. They are without essence. They cannot hurt us in the end.

Once, a long time ago, I watched, mesmerized at a blinking jewel as the panels slid away. Like Icarus did shed his wings, so did those dark panels jettison themselves into space. God damn but it hurts to hit that switch. It hurts in ways you need not bring yourself to fear, because the fear is already deep inside. Better learn to be hopeless. Better jump on death's lap.

Otherwise, why be a soldier? If you are a soldier, you have a soldier's duty to die.

So, wild soldier, jump out by moonlight, from high in sky,  and land alone somewhere you are bound to suffer.

Leave your uniform at home, and go as samsara's own saboteur.

Jump there not as a soldier, but as a spy.

Do it in the face of never, ever being comforted by so much as the silent peace of justice, gone to grave.

There are no monuments to bodhisattvas worth as much as the monument to bodhisattva's activity in which we are immersed every perfect moment of every perfect day.

Look down at everything, then look here. If you are afraid to jump, you come to me, and I will hold your hand in the air. While we fly, we will be laughing in triumph. 

There is no more confusion once we reach the sky.

If I have to let you go before we reach the ground, it is only because I wish to be there waiting for you, when you finally stop flying long enough to collapse the boundary of heaven and earth.

Clear wind in a high sky. What else is left a patient one to see?

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Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Feather In the Wind

One day I was called to Kensington, California, where Sixteenth Karmapa was giving audience at the home of Lama Kunga Rinpoche. Those of you who were there that day may recall I arrived in haste, casually dressed. 

The grand dakini named Shirabin was also there that day, waiting for me with another Rinpoche's golden robe. "Wear it!" she commanded. "Rinpoche said so!" So, I stood there like a perspiring penguin in a too-big robe, bantering with acquaintances. "Don't get a spot on that robe," scolded Shirabin. "He says he needs it right back to wear himself." 

I wrote about this years ago, in a work originally titled Licensed to Laugh: Licensed to Cry, later excerpted, and re-titled "In California, They Sue:"

Many years ago, I went to visit the XVIth Karmapa. My friends all argued that I should show proper respect, and dress up for the occasion in a gold brocade robe. Therefore, I dressed up for the occasion although I felt a little silly. My reasoning was, it should not be necessary to visit the Karmapa as this or that, because the Karmapa is a come-as-you-are proposition. 
Anyway, once I got there, somebody else said I should give him something. I did not have anything to give him because I thought he did not need anything. People insisted, so I scrambled around and I found a feather. I knew he liked birds, so when I came to see him, I gave him a feather. 
The Karmapa accepted the feather, and lightly traced a line on my forehead with the tip. He did not say anything to me on this occasion and I did not say anything to him. That was the whole of the exchange. 
We all left this venue and traveled to another venue where he was to give a lecture. On the way there, I was involved in an automobile accident, and I received a hairline fracture of the forehead that duplicated the line the Karmapa had traced. 
So, should I tell people that the Karmapa once beat me up with a feather and fractured my head?

Such are the ways of this magical world. What mists, dreams, and illusions. What a gear-hopping motion picture. 

Don't worry. It is all good. 

I was young then, and in a daze. It could be that years passed. It could have been a flash. Suddenly, I was old.

I had a dream one night when I was old. So very special, I awoke and immediately memorialized it as "Dream of the Golden Feather," originally published for my birthday:

In the wee, small hours of today -- which is already my birthday in some parts of the world -- I had a lucid dream. The details are numerous, but the essential point was two magnificent dakinis of old came and made offering gestures with their hands. They wished me to touch their hands, as is done in empowerments, so I did so. They thereupon presented me with a magnificent golden feather. This feather seemed to come from the forehead of one of them.
Under ordinary circumstances, I would never mention such a thing, but since it would seem these are not ordinary circumstances, I wanted to make this record. 
"When a single feather and a thousand worlds
Are equally this Space,
Who can say which contains which?
Who can find limits
To life's richness? "
Tarthang Rinpoche wrote that.

I yawned, went outside, and put up a prayer flag to the Medicine Buddha. Not an hour passed before I experienced a blow to the forehead that called for emergency evacuation.

Seemingly, I have a connection with the Karmapas that is powerfully and immediately beneficial, and has on numerous occasions contributed to my escape from serious injury. Above are not the only occasions I could speak of; there are others of a deeply personal nature. I do not know whether I should speak of them or not, so I let the doubt imply its own answer. Let others speak of these things what they will.

Leave it to say, he has come into my dreams, and into my visions: always when I need him the most. Does it surprise you to see the word, "need?" Please, study your own devotion. Make up your own definitions of "need." Every time I have ever called upon him, he has come in force. This occurs over a period of decades. There are numerous contemporary instances.

Time flies faster than eagles who drop the feathers we have found. Mistakes are made and tears do fall. The time flew away, high into the sky, and it stalled there in joy like a raven on the strong April winds.

Sunlight streamed through the mountains as I went to meet, for the first time in this life, the Seventeenth Karmapa. Down into the valley of flowers and fruit trees, I did swirl to see the one I have been addressing in my mind for centuries.

My robe this time showed no care, it was worn, and dirty: as undeserved as the golden robe wore by a self-conscious boy not yet twenty years of age, those years past in Kensington. This time, I had small gifts for him, but my hands shook so much from the unaccustomed exertion, I asked him to help me.

So, that is when we looked into one another's eyes again. I forgot how to do prostrations. I fell to the ground, dead stunned, because it was the unmistaken reincarnation of the Sixteenth Karmapa looking back at me.

So, then --

 If you held someone, even a long time ago... if you really held them with your heart, even it was only a moment, you could hold them after a thousand years in the dark and still know who you were holding. 

May all of you come to know what it means to be picked up by eternal eyes.

Feathers fall around you, and show you the way.

--with great faith, for the benefit of others--

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Just One Reminder

Fifty years ago this month, I find myself sobbing beside a swift-flowing river in the middle of the night. The sobs come from a sorrow so acute, it cuts the center of my stomach. I want to find my father, but I do not know where he has gone. 

He died without warning, and everything I knew to be the case, ceased to be the case. I think about chasing after him, without even knowing what that means. I take another step closer to the riverbank. I mean to throw myself in the water, where I reckon I will be drowned and eaten.

Will the chase be rewarded? I look into the dark sky and try to use it to sample the darkness imagined for death. I squeeze my eyes shut. I stop and think about what I was thinking before I stopped thinking. I have a gentle change of heart, and begin to reason with the darkness.

"What if," I ask the darkness, "instead of drowning in the river, I find some way to fix this so nobody else ever has to feel the way I am feeling right now?"

Ordinarily, it doesn't do any good to discuss one's innermost experiences. There is always the suspicion you are attempting to fascinate, or impress. People have various and sundry spiritual experiences of every variety and stripe. We cannot say one is more or less valid than another. They are as they are. With your patience, this is one of my own experiences. 

Grief makes the mind dance to dirge: a ballet on the knees. My legs were falling out from under me. Across the river, the darkness became like a small ball of light. This light grew gradually larger, until I saw it was emanating from a glowing person. One by one, I could see the various insects, birds, and animals step forward toward this person, and as they entered what was now a large sphere of light, they began glowing the same way. I even saw creatures come up from the river, and like a miracle, I saw them enter this light, taking on the same glow. For a moment, I thought it must be St. Francis, owing to the remarkably sudden collection of all sorts of beings, and their transformation as they entered the sphere.

Not long after,  I left home in response to that vision, seeking someone in particular. I was searching through the streets of a faraway city, and saw the above image through a window. It was a picture of the person beside the river!  Later that same afternoon, and through the medium of this image, I met the unmistaken one I set out to find. The living chase is rewarded in ways the death chase cannot find.

If you ever find yourself reasoning with darkness along this river of sorrow that flows through our lives, imagine all of the tears ever been cried for the reason you're crying now, and then live for the tears still to come. Shine through those tears; heal it all, with a simple thought of others who have suffered, or who will suffer, as you are suffering now. 

Sometimes, all it takes is just one reminder.

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