May We All Have Beautiful Continuations

hold me while i'm warm

hold me while i’m warm

You are like a candle. Imagine you are sending light out all around you. All your words, thoughts and actions are going in many directions. If you say something kind, your kind words go in many directions, and you yourself go with them. We are …transforming and continuing in a different form at every moment. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

With summer’s heat it was wonderful to experience impermanence this week in the form of clouds & rain. Cool, pleasant temperatures along with unexpected moisture and gorgeous sunrise colors; a blissful moment. If you asked the cloud, “where did you come from?”, the cloud would wisely say, “I did not come from anywhere. When conditions are sufficient, I manifest. And when conditions are no longer sufficient, I stop manifesting.” The cloud is a wise teacher who can help us understand the nature of non-self and interconnectedness. The cloud is aware that it cannot truly die. It turns into rain, or perhaps hail or snow. Knowing that it does not become nothing, the cloud is happy recognizing its continuation is in a new form. On and on throughout time, sun, vaporizes oceans, lakes and other bodies of water. Temperatures, pressures, winds and geography provide conditions for clouds to appear. And we humans have our conditions and continuations, our selves and non-selves just as does all of nature.

cloudy conditions

cloudy conditions

During this summer’s 21 day retreat in Plum Village, France, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh spoke on the theme, “what happens when we die.” During which he asked poets and musicians to share their inspiration on these deep teachings of fearlessness and interbeing. After much meditation, reflection and polishing, my humble reponse is below.  I hope you like this tune entitled, Beautiful Continuations (lyrics below). Gratitude to Jo-ann and Charlie for your sweet violin and arrangement.

Unborn, & undying, I am
flowers and mankind the same.
We’re made of seed, sun, soil and rain.
So simple that even a young child can understand;
conditions are just right
now here I am.

Gratefully swimming this river of time.
Aware I’m more than this body
a liberating insight.

Please hold this hand, my friend
while still warm to the touch.
Remember I loved you so much.

In the west sun sets
while in the east it dawns.
Night and day play hide and seek
dancing on & on.

May footsteps of what I say and do
tread light as bygones
& May my karma be a beautiful continuation.

May birds always sing
May air & water always be clean
& May we all have beautiful continuations.

© 7/2014 D. M. Nelson

images from the music video, below

Drought scape

With inner peace as the guide and criterion for all our actions, we transform our way of living into one genuinely capable of bringing lasting peace into a troubled world. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Ancestors of the rainy North & South
thank you for understanding
that we must let go of your gift
of valuing the aesthetic
of green grass & other thirsty landscaping
even in, what are, natural deserts.

I’ve loved walking barefoot in the grass
also, playing Frisbee and having picnics.
I’ve faithfully watered, mowed, raked
trimmed, edged, and cared for the yard.

But I’m hearing the concerns of descendants
who will not know such abundance
of water and other resources.
Less rain now falls with climate changes.
They ask why was so much water used
when precious reservoirs ran dry?

Today I read that, despite the calls for conservation
with the drought, more water is being used
in California this year, than last.
I muster a smile knowing that many understand
that what we do now affects the future well-being
of all living things.
That many are putting their understanding
into action by replacing water-intensive landscaping
with xeriscaping  and native plants.

May all beings have adequate clean, fresh water
now and 7 generations into the future.

Seeing Happiness

Dwelling in the present moment, we can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves ~Thich Nhat Hanh

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

“Are you blind?” I asked the young man sitting next to me in the park. I had offered empathetic listening as he explained at length how there’s nothing to do here and that’s why this town is boring. If only he could get a ride an hour to the nearest city there would be fun things to do so he wouldn’t be bored. He replied that he had two good eyes.

I told him of my moon watching meditation last night.
How the golden hues of sunset were still setting the hills ablaze
with a golden glow as this super full moon rose up behind them
in plain view for all to see.

Oranges, yellows, greens, browns whites,
blacks, blues, magentas, among others
in the shapes of rolling hills, oaks, pines, moon
clouds, lake, waves, rocks, geese, ducks.
Such an amazing display of colors and shapes.
A true miracle to behold
to let touch my heart through
perception & my eye’s consciousness.

Such a miracle to see, at all.
Offering more than enough conditions for me to be happy.

super moon

super moon

I shared with him about diabetic patients I used to care for.
How, over time, many lost their vision
due to the corrosive effects of too much glucose
running through eye’s blood vessels.
And how they became so sad and unhappy
when they could no longer see well, or at all.

I asked if there is anything he really likes to look at
and he told me how pretty his girlfriend is.
After a few more comments to each other
he went off to be with his special friend
where he was going to look at her with new eyes
and tell her how special she is to him.

I am happy that he decided to open his eyes
to beauty present before him
and let go of the idea of being bored.


Right or Wrong Mindfulness

continuing in time & space

continuing in time & space

Right Mindfulness is a way, not an instrument or tool, or a means for achieving an end ~ Most Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

wild sunflower

wild sunflower ~d nelson

Smrti or mindfulness is an integral part of the Buddha’s 2600 year old Noble Eightfold Path. When practiced in conjunction with the insight of interbeing, or interconnection of all things, it helps individuals and the collective move away from ill-being towards well-being. With right mindfulness we recognize what is happening within and without, and use proper attention to cultivate compassion, joy and non-harming towards all beings. When practiced separate from the noble path, mindfulness has the potential of doing good, as well as harm to ourselves and the planet. While secular mindfulness is popularly defined as “non-judgmental present moment awareness”, we might meditate on whether it’s truly possible for mind consciousness to see through the eyes of non-discrimination. Experience informs me that perceptions and thoughts are colored by world views and behaving as a separate self. Mindfulness-based practice, inherited from the Buddhist tradition, is being employed in psychology to reduce a variety of mental and physical conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and in the prevention of relapse in depression and drug addiction.

With right mindfulness, experienced teachers are able to offer a living example to help students water joyful, positive seeds within themselves, to find happiness in the moment and relieve their hurts. Classrooms filled with calm, peaceful students show curiosity about the wonders of life, including themselves and others, and find joy in the being together, as well as the learning. It’s also possible, that as a by-product of their ease and happiness, they will do well in their projects and exams.

As mindfulness-based trainings are being requested by, and offered to, military soldiers and business leaders, we can reflect on the question of whether this is right mindfulness or not? If awareness of how to better kill the enemy or exploit the resources of our precious planet for profit are the aim of mindfulness practice, then it cannot be called right mindfulness according to Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. However, if military leaders and soldiers are taught to respect the preciousness of life, including the lives of so-called enemies, avoiding killing and destroying, then it has the element of right view. When business leaders and companies practice mindfulness to cultivate happiness and harmony as the aim of the business, and stop focusing on being number one at any cost or making as much profit as possible, which generally creates suffering for people, animals and nature, then it can be called right mindfulness. The noble eightfold path is walked step by step, breath by breath. Arriving in the present moment with each step, mindfulness is recognized as a journey, not a destination. Mindfulness, concentration and insight have the power to change the situation and make sure that we all have beautiful continuations.

Shedding My Skin

madrone 1

madrone 1

“An oak tree is an oak tree. That is all it has to do. If an oak tree is less than an oak tree, then we are all in trouble.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Who has met one
as fearless as a madrone tree?
Perhaps in this lifetime
one of us
will be so resilient
as to twist up
towards the sun,
bending around competing trees
which may block their view.
And to be capable
of shedding their bark
right around the summer solstice
the longest days of the year,
to get extra energy
of photosynthesis from their trunks.
Imagine having such a sense of safety
to become extra vulnerable as the outer layer of protection peels away.

As I continue on a mindful meditation retreat
this amazing tree has been a focus of my meditation.
At moments I can feel open,
almost open enough
to shed my skin.
But then hesitation
and doubt arises.
Why is it so difficult to open up?

Perhaps you are able to shed your skin
of protection, your bark, your armor
and reveal your true self to others,
even if just one other
in order to fulfil your potential
of true mutual understanding,
harmony & love.


Cookie of Childhood

blooms within & without

blooms within & without ~ d nelson

how sweet
how special
that crunchy treat was.
it could take all day
it seemed
before each bite
each crumb
continued on
as a memory
and in my tummy!

I’m taking a brief break from a 3 week retreat
to share a dear song written to Thich Nhat Hanh
is honor of his childhood cookie memory.

This cookie of childhood piece kindles
the young 5 year old cookie monster
still alive and well
inside of me.
Hope you like it

Heart of the World

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake.
Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” ~ Thích Nhất Hạnh
above the water

above the water

So this sister says to me,
with her heart heavy and eyes sad,
that the big company
plans to drill holes
and inject toxic chemicals
at super high pressure into the ground
corrupting the water supply
& fracturing underground rock
while extracting natural gas.

So we sat together
the drought
here in earthquake country.
Our collective insight is that water
is too sacred to poison
any more.
Helping protect the children
of the future
must be done, now.

a redwood

a redwood ~ d nelson

So I sat down and wrote this song entitled “heart of the world”. The lyrics and recording is below

May we live in harmony with the world so that a future is possible
It’s simple seeing myself
connected to everything else, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart
heart of the world beating inside me

It’s simple to openly care
protecting life-giving water and air, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart,
heart of the world beating inside me

It’s simple living with grace
preserving surroundings for all children to embrace, yes it is

the forests and mountains, rivers and seas
shout out show us the love!

It’s simple to love animals & birds
to be truly present, to touch the earth, yes it is
letting my eyes be windows, windows to the heart
heart of the world beating inside me

May we live in harmony with the world so that a future is possible!

Hope you like it!

I’ll be on a retreat in nature, in trees and along a creek.
Will share my experience with blogging friends when I return on-line.