Category Archives: spirituality

Gathering at the Table

Originally posted Jan 26, 2013

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

Four Friends @ the Table ~d nelson

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On our path towards heart’s dream, journey’s value, at least, equals its terminus. These words came to me while sitting quietly the other day, reflecting on a couple of activities attended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With a mindful foundation based in joy, non-violence and equanimity, the past, present and future can offer me necessary insight for trying to do the right thing. Simultaneously, I can embrace beauty surrounding and supporting my existence, recognize that I and others have privileges, freedoms and opportunities previously unavailable, and realize that we must stay peacefully diligent to fulfill our highest potential, for liberty and justice for all. Zen multi-tasking.

Lincoln, the currently popular movie, is testament to our continued interest and ties to a troubled past. We’ve come a long way in the USA from legal slavery and overt “Jim Crow”, by recognizing injustice and passing equal rights legislation. African-Americans and other “minorities” are commonly neighbors, doctors, teachers, and professionals which I daily interact with now, and during my public health career. Women have more career opportunities, and not just in housework and child rearing. We even have a bi-racial President, starting his second term. But from a quiet place inside I honestly realize that this society is not close to being “post racial”, and that we all would benefit from restorative justice in our hearts, minds, as well as in our communities.

gathered & remembered on ancestor’s table

At their “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” presentation, Tom DeWolf and Sharon Morgan shared about their personal, and quite emotional journey towards racial reconciliation. For years they researched genealogies, visited public records, civic sites, graves and places where human beings were imprisoned, then bought and sold as property. Uncovering dark truths within our living, collective wounds. Guilt is the glue that holds together the walls and barriers to understanding, forgiveness and freedom. Healing in the knowing. Bringing light to darkness. Looking deeply we can see that people in involuntary servitude and slavery built & are the underpinnings of economies in the Western world. Their website offers further learning tools, http://gatheratthetable.net/ .

Reading other’s inspiring words & blogs gives me hope. This blogosphere accumulates endless outpourings of care for self and each other. Expressions offered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or handicap. Our deepest desire for a happy, healthy “now” for all. For a future to be possible. Webster defines empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

“I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” -Dr ML King. Although I was young, I remember seeing Dr. King and others marching for civil rights on TV. My grade school teacher was in tears telling the class that the 38-year-old Dr. King was shot and killed. Because of his actions and those of so many others we are all more free than before. Yet, with eyes and heart open we know that economic, health, and education disparities based on race live on this day. I see consequences of these disparities in newspapers and professional journal articles. We all suffer with fear, anger, confusion, illiteracy, or hunger in our house, or our neighbor’s. Violent crime rates are rising. Panic buying of assault weapons. Poverty causes crime. Hunger causes crime. The roots of poverty and despair related to past injustices call out for our collective heart’s intervention, using the wisdom of non-discrimination. This is compassionate meditation in action.

gathering before the earth

“You have the courage to do it [speak out] because you have compassion, because compassion is a powerful energy. With compassion you can die for other people, like the mother who can die for her child. You have the courage to say it because you are not afraid of losing anything, because you know that understanding and love is the foundation of happiness. But if you have fear of losing your status, your position, you will not have the courage to do it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book, “Fear”.

May I continue waking up recognizing the gift of each moment, while looking with the eyes of compassion on all beings. May you be well, and feel happy and safe, alone or with others. Together we make this moment wonderful, and thus create the potential for a wonderful future, free of discrimination.

ps: You’re welcome to enjoy my chant for feeling safe

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Getting Up on the Bright Side of the Bed

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side

beautiful Tortoise on the bright side ~d nelson

Dear Ones, with the agony & joy of having no internet service at home all week, I’m re-posting this piece originally posted on May 10, 2013.

Slowly I rolled over and got up on the bright side of the bed this afternoon, well actually, the massage table. So wonderfully relaxed in this body. While the humble Chinese man’s experienced hands found and worked acupressure points, I followed the in and out breaths with a smile. Breathing in, feeling pressure along the shoulder-blade. Breathing out, letting go of tension there. “Such a joy”, said my body, in its unspoken language. And what could be better, asks the mind. Perhaps soaking, relaxingly, in really hot water, it replies.

Meditation generally keeps my thoughts and feelings at ease. Stretching and yoga releases physical tightness. But having help to work out the kinks, undo the knots, flush out the lactic acid is quite a luxury. I’m feeling grateful for the conditions that allow for such a healing offering to the body at an affordable price. It can also be a beautiful gift to the one next to you.

When getting off the table I remembered a song I wrote back in 2000 to celebrate coming out of a painful and dark period. I was fortunate to record it with some Hopi School 4th graders. And it became a modest hit on KUYI Hopi radio, in part due to the Hopi translation of the chorus. I recall the translation is getting up facing the direction of light. Years later a music video of the Bright Side of the Bed featuring the original recording was produced and can be seen below with some beautiful young sisters from Amsterdam. It is easy getting up on the bright side of the massage table. May you get up on the bright side of the bed every morning.

We’re Summer Slowly Ripening

Love is a fruit in season at all times,
and within reach of every hand. ~ Mother Teresa

slowly ripen-10

slowly ripening blackberry ~d nelson

That old farmer, oh
& his great-grandmother
hand-picked those heirloom seeds
so that now, right here & now,
the fruits of his/her labor
would nourish you.

slowly ripen peaches

slowly ripen peaches

Amazing seeds enriched by miraculous
gifts of rain, sun, soil & more
along with needed TLC.
In these summer times,
with patience, slowly ripening.

Should good fortune be with them
they will offer their goodness
for the nourishment of others;
whether they be 2, 4, 6, or 8-legged,
as well as winged ones & the earth.

Could it be, that we,
ourselves, are any different
in our ripening, dear ones?
After being nurtured & fertilized
with noble spiritual teachings,
passages in the good book, or books,
meditation, prayers, contemplation
& time with teachers, friends
on retreat or in solitude,
we interconnect to truth, the source, the creator,
the pure land, the kingdom.
Henceforth, skipping off
with hands & hearts happy,
singing along with voices in the sky.
Offering our wholesome goodness
to ourselves or, perhaps, multitudes.

An offering of sweet incense for beautiful continuations
of slowly ripening aspirations
& practices of love in everyday life.
May mastery of your full potential be realized,
abiding with calm acceptance,  with each
moment’s success and/or failure.

fallen fruit ~d nelson

fallen fruit ~d nelson

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

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 http://plumvillage.org/ .

 

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.

 

Consider Whirled Peas

 

Silent Sunday

Let the pebbles speak! Their words manifest on this post.

rock insight 3

rock insight 3

whats going on!

whats going on!

Meditative Walk in Beauty!

Are you paying attention to me, Feet say to Mind.
Mind abruptly stops its chatter momentarily to say
I know you are there. Of course I know.
Feet respond that they would like to feel mind’s presence.
Mind says there are many important things
for me to think, to remember, to plan.
You are so clever, thinking highly of yourself
and the endless seductive ideas that pop
on and off of your screen, says Feet.
Please offer me your full attention
and together we will walk in freedom,
free from illusions and ignorance,
free to truly love and feel loved
free to fully embrace and enjoy
the miracle of walking in beauty
on this precious planet
at this very wonderful moment.

Helped by mindful breath’s calming
Mind smiles while letting go of its thinking
and experiences the miracle
of being alive
walking with Feet.

being present for the gift

being present for the gift ~d nelson

Walking Meditation

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn
that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.
Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.
from: Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh

walking together in beauty

walking together in beauty

 

 

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