Rivers Flow Below Our Feet

Go as a River ~Thich Nhat Hanh

frog woman rock rapid ~d nelson

frog woman rock rapid ~d nelson

Nearly forever this rushing river
has carved its winding route
from California mountains to the sea.

Freely offering her playfully fresh, life-sustaining water
to all living beings; animal, plant and human
who presented themselves before her current.

fish monitor floaters ~d nelson

fish monitor floaters ~d nelson

Up until these modern times
wild salmon swam upstream to spawn,
sustaining many beings which flourished in this ecosystem.

Over-fishing, dams & destruction of habitat
has rubbed out the once vast salmon population.
So-called Aggregate (mining) companies have claimed river rocks,
taking them for free, dredging & altering river’s course.

Even during drought, dam’s releases
are demanded by the vineyards, orchards & others
prospering along the river,
who pay nothing for this water.

Walking through my town or on
San Francisco bay area streets, sidewalks or bridges
I feel the rushing river below my feet
which was crushed into concrete.

calmly rushing river

calmly rushing river

In traffic’s roar I hear a drum beat
faintly expressing salmon’s vow
to again return when conditions allow
many, many years from now.


Fall Flowers’ Deep Listening

Listen, listen

Fall's freshness ~d nelson

Fall’s freshness ~d nelson

What does your blooming
inner flower hear
being softly whispered
by these dainty
Fall roses, dear one?

Homes Don’t Just Grow On Trees

You are part of the universe; you are made of stars. When you look at your loved one, you see that he is also made of stars and carries eternity inside. Looking in this way, we naturally feel reverence. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

a home's bloom ~d nelson

a home’s bloom ~d nelson

Sitting & breathing in quiet amazement
contemplating just a few
of the countless forces
of nature that came together
so that my safe refuge,
a house, can manifest!

home with a view

home with a view

From the known universe’s frozen vastness
this small planet orbits a star,
one of 300 billion in this galaxy, alone,
gets warmed & energized by our life-giving sun!
Our solar system has come so far
in its 5 billion year existence.
Just how incredibly amazing is that?



A fragile atmosphere protects earth,
held in place by gravity’s gentle pull,
making weather possible as we
rotate at 23.5 degrees, creating seasons
so that growth of vegetation & trees
can, from mere seeds, come together in beautiful ways.
Just how amazing are trees?

Breathing in I know that much
of the oxygen-rich air in my lungs
is produced by trees.
And then they offer the fruit
of their existence to become lumber
which provides me shelter!

Providing a most basic safety need
yet, my house is vulnerable & could burn.
Do I have the conditions of resilience necessary
to rebuild & renew again
like exampled by a tree?
It’s amazing just to have such a thought!

home where all r welcome ~d nelson

home where all r welcome ~d nelson

So all those conditions of universe,
sun, seeds, weather, trees, workers
and much more have created
a house, miraculously!
Offering my gratitude,
expressed as love,
to you, to all,
truly makes this home.

Cycling Park’s Centennial Beauty

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts. ~John Muir; the Unpublished Journals

Yosemite Valley's Tunnel View ~ d nelson

Yosemite Valley’s Tunnel View ~ d nelson

In gratitude to John Muir, Father of the National Park Service
on the park service’s 100th birthday.
I’m cycling along a few of his footsteps
through the jewel valley, known as Yosemite.

Each picture, thousands of words,
what more can I possibly say?
Thank you to ancestors who
cared for this sacred space.
Thank you to those who now manage
and protect this well-loved park from harm.
Lots more about Yosemite here.

Peddling past immense expanses of granite grays,
& forest browns & greens,
following along the Merced River,
touching the vibrant cycles
of life, & of beginningless
birth & death, I smile!

Pollution, defilement, squalor are words that never would have been created had man lived conformably to Nature. Birds, insects, bears die as cleanly and are disposed of as beautifully as flies. The woods are full of dead and dying trees, yet needed for their beauty to complete the beauty of the living…. How beautiful is all Death! ~John Muir; the Unpublished Journals

Holding Mother Earth While She Sweats!

The Earth is not just the environment.
The Earth is us.
Everything depends on whether we have this insight or not.
~Thich Nhat Hanh, from Love Letter to the Earth

The object of our meditation is the Earth.
Smoke is on my eastern horizon,
from a California town burning
close to where another
town burned last summer.
July, 2016 was the warmest month observed, globally
in our period of records dating back to 1880.

What does this mean,
what can I do to feel necessary,
& not add more carbon
to our global green house?
July, 2016 was the warmest month observed, globally
in our period of records dating back to 1880.

Taking out frosty ice cubes
from the freezer into a water-glass
imagining my manta working;
breathing in hot, breathing out cool.
July, 2016 was the warmest month observed, globally
in our period of records dating back to 1880.

That it seems distressing
makes me want to tune it out.
Yet, others are loosing their housing
to fires around here, floods, elsewhere.
July, 2016 was the warmest month observed, globally
in our period of records dating back to 1880.

Mindful living necessitates accepting
what is really happening,
for whatever reason it’s happening.
On retreat, taking refuge with others
to stay, calm & compassionate.
The object of our meditation is the Earth.
July, 2016 was the warmest month observed, globally
in our period of records dating back to 1880.

May all find insight enjoying
this Earth Holder’s Retreat entitled,
For A Future to Be Possible.
These talks, I produced a couple of months back
are filled with cooling wisdom
for these ever-warming days.
Seems certain that whatever happens
with our changing climate,
we’re in this together.

in memory of Young Brother

in memory of Young Brother, Phap De (May 8, 1935 – August 4, 2016)

Fang & Chomp’s Olympian Alps Adventure

“From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax and be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

we're getting close to the alps falls ~d nelson

we’re getting close to the falls, lets nap before going back to camp! ~d nelson


Tired of barking at traffic exhaust
& neighbor kids skateboarding by,
we convinced master to take us
hiking high in the Trinity Alps.
We have master in training!

alps storm clearing ~d nelson

alps storm clearing ~d nelson

Our wild doggy nature enlivened
by sensations presented in outdoor’s vastness,
offering ease to scale a high elevation course,
in rain & shine.
We have master trained!

One paw after the other
makes doggy walking meditation
pleasant across, up & down
granite, earth & plant paths
on our slow & steady, last-place pace.
We have master in training!

So much beauty colorfully displayed
above, below & before us.
Nothing but wags all around
and not a high-pitched cell phone
signal anywhere in sight.
We have master in training!

Trees are our friends
providing shade & warmth.
When asked if we’d like to hike
above the timberline, looking up
we saw the snow and said ‘no way.’
We have master in training!

Cool refreshing waters
alleviated our furry body’s heat.
Wasn’t expecting the rushing creek crossing, though.
Enjoyed the soothing dip during afternoon’s sun.
We have master in training!

Went looking for some of the many waterfalls.
Some easier to find & get to.
Whether we needed it or not
we got a helping hand up the slope.
We have master in training!

Easy to remember how cared for we are.
Fresh filtered water in our bottles.
Warm campfire, roasted kibble on a stick
then in our portable bowls.
We have master in training!

alps deer

alps deer

Hearing, then seeing other
four-legged welcoming us
to their wilderness made us
feel un-afraid, happy,  humble
& grateful to be alive.
We have master in training!

Listening to our body’s needs
is easy without city-life distractions.
Our bodies said, ‘sleep baby, sleep’.
Whether on the doggy bow-wow bag
or on walking poles, we rested, as needed.
We have master in training!

Master loves us & we love master.
Together we make a fine, supportive pack.
Now do doggies do-do in the woods?
The answer to that ancient koan,
along with many others may simply be,
be prepared!
We have master trained!

Judge Me, Yes Please


sunflowers ~d nelson

Offering true
presence for you,
standing straight
stem to petals.



With your true presence’ glance
we are not two,
there is no other,
in this fresh
new moment.



Experiencing this
moment together
is the miracle.
Why want more?

sunflowers in plum village

sunflowers in plum village, france ~d nelson

I’ve heard of those
clever human minds,
able to reach glorious
brilliance & insight.



Yet, also darkly caught
in endless
running towards and/or away
from desires & fears.
Thinking, judging, thinking
is what it does, yes?
Seems an inconceivable busyness
demanding all time & attention.



I’ll understand if you don’t have
time for me now, maybe never.
Summer passes quickly
into autumn’s glory days.
Spring’s renewal is both
alluring & uncertain.



Whether you say “we’re beautiful”
or that we remind your heart of
an unfulfilled wedding vow
or that we will look better
delivered as a bundle
of dead sunflowers,
we will still be unconditionally
present for you, now.


sunflowers-8 ~d nelson

How would you deal with Osama bin Laden?, Anne Simpkinson asked Thich Nhat Hanh in 2002. “The first thing I would do is listen. I would try to understand why he had acted in that cruel way. I would try to understand all of the sufferings that had led him to violence. . . . I would need several friends with me, who are strong in the practice of deep listening, listening without reacting, without judging and blaming. In this way, an atmosphere of support would be created for this person and those connected so that they could share completely, trust that they are really being heard.”