Most Generous Gift is Walking With & Scratching Me

“You can judge the character of a man by the way he treats animals” ~Abraham Lincoln.

wanna lick? ~d nelson

wanna lick? ~d nelson

When released from this chain-link cage
I promise to be good, I do, I do
and not pull or bark much
as you give me reason to live.
I’ll gift unconditional loving kindness
as we walk outside; spacious and free.



Never mind much as I
chew on your shoe &
jump on you – let’s play!
I adore touch, affection
and scratches behind the ears,
just like you.
Oh, is the biscuit in your pocket?

care for me

care for me

Watch out as I get the leash
wrapped around your leg,
and cut in front of you,
then lick you, so you laugh
while getting back up
off of the ground.

Next, I’ll sniff grass, flowers and,
well…, you don’t want to know what!
Poo here, pee there
and everywhere we go,
anytime, as I’m not
a fair weather-only walker.

Humbly accept this doggy
attitude of gratitude,
tail wagging offering of love,
for volunteering to be here,
offering true presence
walking with & loving
us rescued, protected, shelter dogs.
We forgive those who
dumped & abandoned us.

yes, i'm excited to go out

yes, I’m excited to go out

My scent on clothes will linger
sweetly reminding you
to return and walk me again, soon.
Someday you or another
shall adopt me
& I truly go home.
Staying at the shelter too long
is not so healthy, as I hear barked
– it could mean getting put to sleep, forever.
Animal lives matter!

“I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self-contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.” ~ Walt Whitman

Chant Heart’s Love

show me your true colors ~ d nelson

show me your true colors ~ d nelson

Singing humbly
with gratitude and praise
for parents, teachers & ancestors
who have shown me the way
in this life.

May I sing
like a bird
with all my heart,
even if it sounds
like a squawk,
owning my song.

peacock feathers

peacock feathers

Below is a quote by Thich Nhat Hanh about chanting. May we keep him in our hearts as he continues on his path of well-being while recovering in the hospital. (Official announcements at .
Below that is a chant, an old prayer, by Jai Uttal, Shri Ram Jai Ram. This piece was recorded for my children radio show, “Shooting Stars” over 10 years ago as an introduction to chanting. Hope you enjoy this short, sweet piece!

“There is a story I would like to tell you about a woman who practices the invocation of the Buddha Amitabha’s name. She is very tough, and she practices the invocation three times daily, using a wooden drum and a bell, reciting, “Namo Amitabha Buddha” for one hour each time. When she arrives at one thousand times, she invites the bell to sound. (In Vietnamese, we don’t say “strike” or “hit” a bell.) Although she has been doing this for ten years, her personality has not changed. She is still quite mean, shouting at people all the time.

A friend wanted to teach her a lesson, so one afternoon when she had just lit the incense, invited the bell to sound three times, and was beginning to recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha,” he came to her door, and said, “Mrs. Nguyen, Mrs. Nguyen!” She found it very annoying because this was her time of practice, but he just stood at the front gate shouting her name. She said to herself, “I have to struggle against my anger, so I will ignore that,” and she went on, “Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha.”

The gentleman continued to shout her name, and her anger became more and more oppressive. She struggled against it, wondering, “Should I stop my recitation and go and give him a piece of my mind?” But she continued chanting, and she struggled very hard. Fire mounted in her, but she still tried to chant “Namo Amitabha Buddha.” The gentleman knew it, and he continued to shout, “Mrs. Nguyen! Mrs. Nguyen!”

She could not bear it any longer. She threw away the bell and the drum. She slammed the door, went out to the gate and said, “Why, why do you behave like that? Why do you call my name hundreds of times like that?” The gentleman smiled at her and said, “I just called your name for ten minutes, and you are so angry. You have been calling the Buddha’s name for ten years. Think how angry he must be!” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh, Being Peace

Earth & Sky Leaning Upon Each Other

bird on a wire ~d nelson

bird on a wire ~d nelson

With conditions just right
our birds’ consciousness
touches suchness, nirvana,
the true nature of all phenomenon.
Observer and observed,
creation and creator,
suffering and compassion,
fear and safeness,
left and right
co-arising simultaneously;
just as earth & sky
lean upon each other
for their existence.

With insight of interbeing
our bird
is truly

sky'd redwoods

sky’d redwoods

Reality, as it is, is called suchness. Suchness means, ‘it is like that.’ You cannot describe it in terms of notions, especially notions of birth and death, being and non-being, coming and going. No word, no idea, no notion can describe reality: the reality of a table, the reality of a flower, the reality of a house, the reality of a living being. To meditate means to be invited on a journey of looking deeply in order to touch our true nature and to recognize that nothing is lost. Because of this we can overcome fear. The ultimate is the foundation of our being, the ground of being…….” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

autumn earth & sky

autumn earth & sky

Neither Staying nor Leaving

appearing separate

Joyfully walking the ‘hood
bright eyes engaging
any people
or nature
that would.

Keeping heads up
leaves smiled back.
But many people would not,
Perhaps in a complex
they are caught.

As meditators capable of seeing deeply
into the nature of things,
we recognize that all is
manifest from star-dust and energy.
If asked,
even leaves reveal this.
Yet glimpsing of today’s news
reveals endless messages
of separateness.

We’ve experienced
how feeling inferior,
superior or the same
often causes pain
in ourselves and others.
That these complexes
create cunning barriers,
to brotherhood, sisterhood
& our true nature
of interbeing
with all
on this beautiful
spinning, spaceball.

How peaceful
and harmoniously
leaves flutter, then lie together.
Wonderful and beautiful teachers.

difference & sameness

difference & sameness

We are all
the leaves of one tree.
The time has come
for all
to live as one.
We are all the leaves of one tree. ~Plum Village meditation practice song.


Drains to Creek

“On the moon, now, there is no flower, no oak tree, no cloud. On our planet we have all these things. Every time I go out for walking meditation, I feel so happy to step on the oak leaves, to see the tiny stream by my hermitage. Everything is so beautiful. We can see that in the entire universe there is not another planet so beautiful. We are so lucky. Every day, though, we live on this planet, but we don’t realize how lucky we are. I wonder if the fish in the pond can see that beauty, the bird flying in the beautiful empty space, the deer in the field browsing. Do they know? But we, we know. Human beings, before, we were apes. We walked with four limbs. Then, at a certain moment, we stood up. Instead of having an ape’s name, we then had the name “Homo erectus”. We could use our two limbs in order to do things. Eventually we became “Homo sapiens”, humans who know. When we are mindful, we can call ourselves “Homo conscius.” We enjoy the manifestation of all these gifts in nature. This is mindfulness: being aware of what is going on. When we get in touch with what is beautiful, we transform the anguish in us into joy, happiness, and love.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

drains to creek

drains to creek

See the leaves!
Do they fit and fuss
as their paths
returning to the soil
to again transform
into their elemental state
are blocked?

Deep down we all know
they will find a way,
even if it takes thousands of years.
Taking refuge in their mother nature
is their solace.
Likely they will not
behave as victims
of the concrete and other unnatural barriers
in their way,
or feel sad.

Today I aspire to live
in my heart, body and mind
with the sageness of leaves
which have quietly fallen
with grace.

To Teacher, with Love

We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness and strength so we can help transform the situation. ~Thich Nhat Hanh


thay-smiles, upon arrival at his root temple, Tue Hue, in VietNam, 2007 ~d nelson

Breathing in a calm breath I pass on the news that on November 11th 2014 Thay (endearing Vietnamese term for “teacher”), Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, experienced a severe brain hemorrhage, and for a period, falling into coma. According to Plum Village Monastery, Thay is receiving 24 hour intensive care from specialist doctors, nurses and from his monastic disciples. At present, Thay is still very responsive and shows every indication of being aware of the presence of those around him. He is able to move his feet, hands and eyes. There are signs that a full recovery may be possible. It has been asked that, besides compassionate prayers and meditations, the best way to support his recovery is to diligently continue practicing our mindfulness, concentration and insight, to cultivate freshness & solidity. The pioneer of the Engaged Buddhism movement was due to join Pope Francis and other world faith leaders for a historic summit at the Vatican this December 2nd, hosted by the Global Freedom Network, to take action against modern slavery and human trafficking.  His current status is posted at .


August 2009 I posted “Happy 4 me & U” about the publication of “Mindful Living Every Day”, available on Parallax Press. Many have commented how it has supported their mindfulness practice at home by helping friends and family understand these teachings and practices of love. In tribute to my teacher, my movie, for a short time, can be seen below.  May it support your aspiration of living with the energy of mindfulness, for the benefit of yourself and all beings.


Autumn’s Holding On

There is no birth, there is no death; there is no coming, there is no going;
there is no same, there is no different;  there is no permanent self, there is no annihilation.
We only think there is. ~THICH NHAT HANH, No Death, No Fear

Red Oak & Green Pine dance with clouded blue sky

Red Oak & Green Pine dance with clouded blue sky

Now we’re in autumn’s time
of maturity & fragility.

Trunks strong, well-rooted
while leaves vibrantly transform
from energy & oxygen production,
returning their essence
to the soil
as they have done
countless times.

Losing my mother
losing our mother
recognizing her gift
in greens, reds and golds
a bell of mindfulness
ringing gratitude and sadness
as she returns her form
to the earth.

Knowing that my time
to be vibrant
in this human form
to dance in the wind
one last time
is not too far in the future.
Less than one hundred years from now,
I’m almost sure.

Until then,
with mindful awareness
I will breathe in happiness
and smile calmly
the best I can
for the gift of this moment
and impending winter.