These faces and bright hearts are what make me want to keep coming back here.
Special Thanks to my fearless host and tour director for so much hard work to make this all possible.
New and old friends at a beautiful and very soulful nunnery in Yilan where I had a small four day rest from teaching.
Night markets, so many smells and sights
Endless thanks to all of these friends for the inspiration and lively debates and discussions over the past 7 weeks!
Quiet morning at Memorial Hall in Taipei. A rare clear day during this rainy season.
A lively night as we discuss ways of working with difficult emotions at beautiful Prema Yoga in Brooklyn.
So happy to be back in beautiful and wild Taiwan
Lun Shan laying the ground rules for my first class on the three flavors of mindfulness
OK I didn't quite keep up with this photo blog for this year as we found ourselves with our hands full buying and refurbishing Skull Valley Lavender Farm. A small collection of pictures below and more at sofiacommunity.com
When asked what the best entry point was for someone wanting to fully grasp the profundity of the Buddhas teachings the Dalai Lama answered 'the two truths'. I was excited to read this because it confirmed something that occurred to me after years of studying Buddhist philosophy and years of retreat; in the two truths debate we have one of the most relevant and useful tools in all of Buddhist philosophy for modern people.
One perfect entry point for understanding the two truths is the great sage Nagarjuna's (2nd Century) seminal text the Mulamadhyamakakarika. Revisiting this difficult and beautiful text I am reminded that every moment spent struggling with it is time well spent.
Without a strong understanding of the nuances of the two truths debate we have seen many teachers and practitioners go astray. Perhaps more than anything else it is the profound subtleties of the two truths debate that keeps our minds sharp and pliable and our hearts gentle and open.
And after days in the books and on the cushion sometimes its good to take a day off. Ann and I go visit the local swimming hole near our new home for a picnic and some cliff jumping.
An inspiring week with the parishioners of St. Michael's Episcopal Church and the yogis at Bhava Yoga in Brattleboro, VT.
Meetings with Rev. Jacqui Lewis and her husband Rev. John Janka on the future of Sofia Monastery. Much thanks to them for their time and insight and for a literally uplifting sunday morning service at Middle Church in NYC.
Two days of teachings and birthday celebrations with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in NYC! An explication of Kamalashila's Bhavankrama as well as the 5th Dalai Lamas White Tara Long Life Sadhana.
Paying respect to Bhikku Bodhi's home monastery, the impressive Chuang Yen Monastery.
Sitting by the creek with legendary poet and musician Ed Sanders as he critics some of my writing and we talk about poetry, Robert Kennedy, Manson, psychopathology and John Keats ideas about negative capability. A baby doe comes to explore with her mother.
It's been a very demanding schedule again here in beautiful Taiwan but being around so many friends has made each day a treasure.
Talks on meditation, lojong practices, anxiety, working with difficult situations, yoga classes and more. Here's a group of hard core students who, despite busy lives, are courageously delving head first with me into a 30 hour course on the mechanics and subtle workings of karma. (We're 1/2 way through!)
So grateful to be fully swimming in the works of Master Vasubandhu (4th C.E.) these days in beautiful Hualien, Taiwan. There is a story about him that he would hold small Dharma classes during the day to pay the rent on a small house and then at night he would compile the whole days lecture into a single verse. After some 600+ verses he had his seminal Abhidharmakosha.
There is that brief dilated moment, in an earthquake, between the percept and the concept, when everything in the body seems unhinged. The thought arises "hmmm something feels not right". Then I heard the water in the toilet sloshing around and it dawned on me what was happening. Two more smaller ones followed later in the day.
Old and new friends together for a class on how to use the 12th century master Dorje Sangye's lojong techniques to work with anxiety. Later in the day an asana workshop on working with the symbolism of the Shiva Nataraja image. Tomorrow breaks a new record with stops in three cities, via busses, cars and high speed trains.