Category Archives: Deer Park

Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But I’m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.


When It’s Hot As Hell, Lets Cool It

dog paddlin’ to cool hot paws ~ d nelson

I have been in Hell, many kinds of Hell, and I have also noticed that even in Hell compassion is possible. With the practice of mindfulness meditation, you may very well prevent Hell manifesting. And if Hell has manifested, you have ways to transform Hell into something that is much more pleasant. When you get angry, Hell is born. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Friends,
lets breathe in to calm & care for our bodies
lets breathe out to cool & care for the earth.

cooling Washington run-off

Stepping out last week after a pleasant nap
my paws got fried on the backyard pavement.
I’m grateful to only have small burns to heal
as 30 percent of the world’s population is now exposed,
in this new climate, to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more.
As air heats up, it becomes less dense, which effects, among other things, airplanes.
Many flights are canceled or delayed because some planes can’t safely lift off in extreme heat.

Breathe in, hot
Breathe out, cool
A meditation I began 30 years ago when I left the cool
of Berkeley, and grad school, for the work & heat
of the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.
I remember thinking, why did I have to arrive
to record-setting heat waves in Phoenix?
Records have continued to fall (or is that rise)
to this day. That’s just how it is.

earth’s gift of clean water

I have aches & pains in my body
which get soothed by total relaxation.
Breathing can relax, as can gentle walks,
gentle cycles, sitting & lying down.
A natural healing remedy.

July is getting hotter, NASA

How wonderful to have support
from calm, kind friends & loved ones,
along with cool breezes, waters, or even ice.
Feel the burning chill-out, cool, calm.
As the planet heats up
so are us earthlings.
Twitter tales of anger
seem to appear daily,
not just on the news,
but on the streets of my community.
I appreciate friends’ reminders
to seek refuge in cool & calm.

I’m picturing a calligraphy
on the front of my favorite meditation hall
which had the symbols, vo su,
which translates to “busylessness”.
We can do that for ourselves,
be less busy, less distracted,
for our loved ones, as  a random
act of kindness for all beings.

Breathe in, hot
Breathe out, cool.
Nothing else.
Well, perhaps watching the beauty
of earth & sky around us.
Watching the river flow.
Hearing our heart beat.

Thank you for not even exerting energy
on my behalf, to comment on this post.
Please conserve your precious  energy, dear one.
Later we will all dance together this summer
in our calm, cool stillness.
Dancing joyously in our hearts
without raising our temperature,
or the earth’s, a fraction of a degree.

Community & Friendship’s Delight

delighted sitting Buddhas ~d nelson

Dear WordPress Community, and Friends on the path,

So easily mind goes here, then goes there.
The mind can go in a thousand directions
including thinking that it’s alone.
But, with mindfulness, concentration & insight
we can remember the path upon which we’re stepping.
On this path are also countless beings supporting us,
at this moment, some of them are of the human-type.

delightfully recycling, together in Deer Park

I’m reminded of so many elders and others
who are isolated and feeling lonely right now.
They wish so much to be with other human beings.
I’ve had these feelings arise, myself
and I’m only almost an elder.
Perhaps you’ve longed for human companionship, also.

delightful flower

I’m offering a bow of gratitude for all the friends who came
joyfully together on retreat with me recently.
It felt very comforting, connected and safe to be vulnerable being
with those I’ve known for years, but see infrequently.
I feel so fortunate to have had conditions which introduced me to teachings
of understanding & love, the mindfulness community and many friendships.
I recognize that not everyone has had such favorable conditions.

interbeing rock delight

A diverse collection of friends took a moment to share in a beautiful portrait of what community is about, each in their own words. Community as relationships with others; sometimes neighbors, sometimes spiritual or like-minded friends, sometimes far away, or even scattered across the blogosphere.
I’m touched by their personal expressions of how crucial community is
to our most basic well-being and feelings of connection.
Their intention is to help others feel welcomed and welcoming into a community.
Some of us may feel encouraged to let go of feeling alone
& build or strengthen our own “community”.

collective energy of mindfulness

This 7 minute collage of many voices, entitled Community & Friendship’s Delight can be viewed on-line at:  (There’s even a rare glimpse of me towards the end)   🙂

Hundreds More Smiles

One standing a little left
the other just a little to the right,
Teacher & Student both near
yet, somehow far apart.

Hundreds of smiles,
along with the fate of humanity
await this reconciliation.

Oh, to embody wisdom teachings
borne from ancient ancestor’s desires to transcend
life’s minor pains & major devastations, varying as
scrapes, aching shoulders, misunderstandings; even anger & terrorism,
to dwell contentedly among fellow flowers in this vibrant garden.
Peaceful, well-being can clearly be
seen at bottom of pool’s shallow end.
We can play there with our water fins & waders
as we build up endurance for the deeper, darker end,
– a worthy, attainable aspiration.

Sitting Between Steps, Thich Nhat Hanh & students ~d nelson, flickr. Taken during a walking meditation rest at Prajna Temple (Bhat Nah), March 2007.

While healing one or more lifetimes of misunderstandings & hurt
in a short while is too much to ask for,
it is most possible to find near pain-free, happy relief
by stopping in this moment, yes, this one,
fully aware of breathing going on,
then rejoicing for that gentle pause
with a gratuitous, big smile!
At that moment
the teacher within
& the wise teachers, without
come together, to also
rejoice, smiling.

You’re warmly invited, my friend
to witness Hundreds More Smiles
of those who recently attended
& benefited from a mindfulness retreat
entitled, “Breathe, It’ll Be OK.” held at Deer Park, California.
Genuine expressions of real happiness & refuge
attained with supportive friends
who offered their true presence.
May it water your own smile’s seed of happiness
& bring a few moments of inner peace!

Gratitude to my friend Elizabeth who plays her piano so beautifully
& the Heart & Soul chorus for offering backing vocals
on my song, “Thank You, Dear Teacher.”

Conscious, mindful  breaths, along with peaceful steps & genuine smiles can clearly bring us ease and reduce anxieties & fear. These actions of peace in ourselves, and peace in the world are also for children far into the future.

“We say we want to strike against terror, we want to destroy terrorism, but do we even know where to find it? Can we locate it with a radar? Can the army find terrorism using its night goggles and heat sensors?

Misunderstanding, fear, anger, and hatred are the roots of terrorism. They cannot be located by the military. Bombs and missiles cannot reach them, let alone destroy them, for terrorism lies in the hearts of human beings. To uproot terror, we need to begin by looking at our own hearts. We don’t need to destroy each other, either physically or psychologically. Only by calming our minds and looking deeply inside ourselves will we develop the insight to identify the roots of terrorism. With compassion and communication, terrorism can be uprooted and transformed into love.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

smiles-124 ~d nelson

smiles-124 ~d nelson


Breathe, It’ll Be OK!

How can I know anything about the past or the future, when the light of the Beloved shines only Now. ~Jalal-al-Din Rumi

we're here friends, welcome! ~d nelson

we’re here friends, welcome! ~d nelson

While in the sanctuary of retreat
it may be easier to relax,
to breathe, it’ll be OK.
to the mountain top,
we’re on on this
quickly spinning ball, together, right?
Let us harmoniously hold on, dear one.

oak grove sitting meditation

oak grove sitting meditation

Sitting quietly on the ground
supported by ancient oak’s roots
& ground below our fragile bodies.
Fewer words now needed
when colorful images
are imprinted on open minds.
Notice how when we quiet & still
certainty seems even more fleeting?
nothing is under control!

dharma rain in ocean of peace hall

dharma rain in ocean of peace hall

Listening to words of wisdom
by senior teachers who have
& still walk the walk
as well as talk the talk
gently directs consciousness
towards tender kindness,
compassion, healing, peace & freedom.

Sr. Chan Khong accepts Peace award for Thay

Sr. Chan Khong accepts Peace award for Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh)

How wonderful to put the cell phone & media to sleep
& be awakened joyfully by the presence of friends
& ancestors – human, animal, plant & mineral
which smile to this attention.
Can we glimpse how
we are all leaves on one tree?

There’s a retreat that happens at Deer Park
as well as other sacred spiritual centers.
There’s also a retreat which continues on
inside our hearts & minds
as long as our peaceful breath & mindful living practice
is humbly nurtured in our home & work environments.

Upon happily returning home
finding a shed broken into
and bicycles stolen, I breathe.
May they be ridden in peace.
Now I’ll turn on some soothing Kronos Quartet
to help support my mantra,
breathe, it’ll be OK.
Each moment of this life
is precious.

“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Building Clarity Hamlet

chanting compassion

chanting compassion ~d nelson

Gratitude for the compassionate ways
of the sisters at Deer Park Meditation Center/Monastery.
They teach the ways of understanding and love,
living in harmony with nature.
They are there as friends to all
who present themselves;
whether people
or minerals.

sister's new dwelling

sister’s new dwelling

For the past 14 years they’ve lived
in small bath houses (next to the unused swimming pool),
without insulation
cold in the winter
hot in the summer.
Still they walk peacefully
and smile to all.

Finally a new, eco-earth friendly
straw-bale nunnery is being built for them
thanks to the generous donations of time and money.
This short video above offers a brief impression.


More info about the efforts to complete
the building of Clarity Hamlet at


Can There Be Peace Without War?

“No” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

57 steps swept

57 steps swept ~d nelson

During Thich Nhat Hanh’s recent California talks, this question stuck out. The Zen Master’s reply offers us another way of deeply understanding “inter-being”. Most dharma teachings refer to the word emptiness, as a door to our liberation. Meaning, all phenomena are empty of a separate self or existence, while simultaneously,  all things are full of non-self ingredients. The word, Inter-being is Thay’s contribution to help us clarify the true nature of everything. If we look at a flower with the eyes of interbeing, we see the soil, rain, seed, sunshine, time and so on, of which the flower manifest. Take away any ingredient and the flower is not there. So we can say that the flower inter-be’s with us and the rest of the universe. Thus, this nature of interbeing exists with me, you and everything else;  including pairs of opposites we perceive with our dualistic ways of thinking: left and right, ill-being and well-being, and war and peace. If we take away one side of any of these pairs of opposites, the other side is also no longer there. There can be no left without the right.

IMG_7090War, or conflict, is always there, and not just when bombs are falling and guns are firing. Inside of us there is constant states of dissatisfaction. We desire this, we want that, while we don’t want the other. This mud of dissatisfaction is always there in some form. It comes up at expected and unexpected moments. But if we use our mindfulness or non-judgmental, present moment awareness to recognize that energies of conflict have arisen, we can help put those energies at ease. Using the elements of inner conflict to help change the situation rather than ignoring them or letting them linger and becoming a bigger war. By recognizing our moments of well-being, of thinking, speaking, feeling and being at peace, we are better able to appreciate the pleasant effects of peace, thus do what we can to keep peace within. Turning unpleasant thoughts and feelings into gratitude and happiness. Intentionally implementing the phrase, “no mud, no lotus.” Perhaps you have noticed both war and peace co-existing inside, at the same time.

Just today I experienced going from inner states of peace to war. It was a quiet, blue fall morning with only sounds of an occasional acorn dropping onto the roof while I sat meditating. Instantly the relative quiet was transformed into loud bursts from a gas leaf blower being used across the street. I could feel agitation and wanting that sound to go away. Then wanting that person to go away. How could he make so much noise on this beautiful day? What gives him the right to make so much noise and disturb me and perhaps other neighbors? A memory of being a drummer in a rock and roll band while in high school appeared out from nowhere. We would play current Creedence Clearwater songs loudly and proudly in the garage, until the inevitable visit from the police who responded to neighbor’s complaint’s. I believe they complained about the sound level and not how badly we played. Breathing in, I’m aware of agitation, breathing out I calm my body and mind. After some breaths and calming, then I knew what to do this morning. I grabbed my earplugs and instantly this conflict inside was eased. Even though the blower sound remained, it did so about 35 db less. A smile returned to my face. This peace treaty took about two minutes to sign within my heart.

Brother CQ & Phap Lac enjoy the cleaning

During the rest of the time I sat, an image came back to me of a woman who slowly swept leaves and debris from the 57 steps near the dining hall at Deer Park Meditation Center. For over an hour she focused her attention to the task, slowly, quietly and peacefully. She conveyed peacefulness with her movements and broom. I felt peaceful experiencing her quiet efforts. I recognize that somehow loud, motorized sounds can bring me to a state of inner conflict. Perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoyed Nordic skiing and snowshoes to snowmobiles, a canoe and kayak to a motorboat or jet ski, and even walking or biking and not driving. They seem to be more peaceful ways of co-existing, within myself and the world around me. Recognizing that war can break out at any time, I am doing my best to breathe and walk with peace.

Wishing fellow veterans of war and peace a joyful holiday and successful peace treaty negotiations.

Should there ever be a desire for a pleasant holiday where the practice of mindfulness, peace and love is nurtured, consider Deer Park, near San Diego. Here are the monastics brothers joyfully singing their parody tribute to a popular tune.