Because You Are Awesome And I Miss You.

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I am so grateful and tickled and touched by all of your love and support and kindness. The amount of people who have reached out to say hello and congratulations and all sorts of nice things is incredibly moving. Wonderful people from so many times and places in my life have popped up to say a good word or throw down a Facebook like, and it just reminds me how lucky I am to know such fine folks. It’s encouraging to be bringing a new life into a community, spread out as we all may be, of caring people.

I admit though, it is pretty irksome at times that modern technology allows us to feel as though all the amazing folks we have ever known are right at our fingertips, but at the same time, the rhythm of life and the rules of the time-space continuum prevent us from actually keeping up with all the good people. I mean, I Facebook stalk you all when I can, and I totally rejoice in your awesome adventure photos, hilarious work anecdotes, tasty food pictures, and various other tidbits that give me a sense of where you are and what matters in your life. But it’s so not the same as just hanging out. I wish to pieces I could sit down for coffee (no, tea, no, juice, maybe, water…in my current prego state), or go on a hike, or make dinner for each and every one of you.

I am curious to know where your life has taken you. What are you doing; where you do you live; who do you love? What’s your current obsession, your next big plan? Is life an up, a down, a sideways, lately? Nothing would make me happier than to get word of you. If you leave a comment or send a message with a bit of news on life, I promise to write back. The time-space continuum can go kick rocks—I promise.

Introducing…

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Okay, so I’ve been holding out on you.

This is Little Bean. He will be joining us in early December. I don’t anticipate that we will put that on his birth certificate, but until the whole family agrees on something definitive, I like having something to call him other than “tiny, magical being who makes me extremely nauseous.”

So yes, I am about three-and-a-half months pregnant. And very excited. Also very impatiently waiting for the early pregnancy boat-travel symptoms to wear off.

I don’t know what to say, you guys! I anticipated writing a very long and thought-provoking thing about the reflection that goes into having a child in conjunction with commitments to the Dharma. It’s an interesting subject with so many angles. And yet, I can’t seem to sit down and be academic about it all because I keep glancing at this photo of this person who I am getting to know right as he’s entering this life, and I sort of just get dazed.

I also thought about writing a clever, semi-snarky article about all the essential pregnancy foods that don’t exist in France. You’d think a country known for its cuisine would be more on top of it, but I guess the demands are so personal and specific that I can’t really take them to task for it. While getting all my culinary/nutritional gripes down on paper still does sound like a whole lot of fun, I am currently having the same basic mental reaction.

I kind of just want to keep pointing at my tummy and being like, “Guys. There’s somebody in there!”

What does it mean?

There are so many reasons to have a kid or not. You get x-amount fewer hours a day to devote to all the rest–meditation, study, volunteering, personal projects, your partner, sleep. You become a slave to a being who, for most of its existence, could pretty much care less about all you’ve given to feed, clothe, educate, and entertain it. If you have particular time-consuming plans like long-term retreat, you deliberately delay them a good twenty years, and with full knowledge that all your friends and study buddies may go off together while you’re busy with somebody’s angsty adolescence.

And at the same time. You get to experience the unconditional love that naive new beings feel for their parents. You get to experience the unconditional love that being the parent of a naive new being gives rise to in cynical, old beings. You get the joy of bringing a being into the excellent conditions of a human life connected to the Dharma and the challenge of being as generous and kind to that being as possible. You get a watertight, irrefutable excuse to watch animated movies, eat Goldfish (if you live in a country where they actually exist, sniff), go to the fair, and decorate the house for every holiday ever.

Basically, as far as I can tell, there is no math for deciding to have a child or not.

I think it’s quite simple in the end. We wanted to have a kid. Like any choice on the path, there is no objective algorithm that determines whether or not it will take you in the right direction. All of the reasons that we can cite are just our reasons. Now, there’s somebody in there. And so we just get to do our best to give him the best conditions possible to make use of his precious human life while continuing to work on doing the same ourselves.

And, of course, go on being giddy about the whole thing. Because well, on a relative level, some choices are still more exciting than others, and this one rates pretty damn high.

In The New Year

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I dedicated the first day of the new year to…building a Lego ferris wheel. Like, nearly all of the first day, if we include meals and hot chocolate pauses for weary minds and weary eyes. I’m tempted to say that being a kid was simpler in my day. Toys did not involve six hours of minuscule toil with three sets of hands just to get them running. Then again, in my day, Legos were just a fancy way of making your own mismatched, multicolored castles and did not involve spinning parts, the possibility of becoming motorized, or ice cream stands (Lego ice cream!)

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And despite the complaints from my neck and back for being hunched over looking at teeny, tiny bits of colored plastic for most of a day, it was a pretty awesome family activity. The little one was quite pleased with her Christmas haul, and I, for my part, was pleased to start the New Year constructing something joyful all together.

Later on in the New Year, we moved from one manual activity to another. After I gave Ema a crocheted scarf (complete with bobbles) for the holidays, she got inspired to try the craft herself, so we spent an evening working out chain stitches and discovering together how a right-handed person can teach a left-handed person to crochet. I have a lot more sympathy now for the travails of the lefty community. Everything is backwards to them.

It’s wild to me to see both how children can be molded by what we bring into their field of vision and also the ways in which they come into this world with their own ways of being questions to work out and all we can do is try to field useful answers at the right moment.

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This morning at Dhagpo, we began the third annual winter study retreat, a month-long intensive teaching on a foundational Buddhist text. This year we are in phase two of the Abhidharmakosha, a text written in the 4th century by the Indian scholar Vasubandhu, which discusses all knowable phenomena, and particularly those which guide us toward liberation and those with keep us anchored in cyclic existence.

Technically speaking, all things connected with the emotions of aversion, attachment, and ignorance keep us firmly planted with our feet in the muck of Samsara. And yet somehow, in the messy world that is the modern day, I often come back to a story of a practitioner who, each evening, made a pile of white stones and black stones to count his positive and negative actions for the day, slowly working his way toward just one pile…white stones of course.

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Despite all my attachment for those I care about and all I wish to accomplish in this life, plus the frustration that arises when things don’t go my way, they’re source of more white stones than black at the day’s end. Jigme Rinpoche often says that emotions are not negative in nature; it depends what direction we take them in. If our desire and attachment lead us to practice, then they are useful.

Who knows what the side-effects of my attachments may be, but since I’m far from calling it quits on ordinary life and high-tailing it out to a cave with a handful of nettles and barley grains, this is where I am. And it’s fitting I think, to put the nature of reality as described by the Buddha and his disciples on one side, and ya know, real life, on the other. Because in this day and age, this is what we have to fit together on the path.

Family Practice

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Happy Boxing Day! Merry post-Christmas and Hanukkah. Joyful early New Year.

I spent the holiday with my love, and it was good. Our munchkin was with her mom, but we’ll do presents and the regular extravaganza when she comes back this way on Monday. It’s funny, everything still feels new to me…the whole deal with family life, where I wake up every morning and re-notice with surprise, “Oh, I’m not alone. There’s somebody/ies here next to me who care that I’m here who want to take care of me and want me to take care of them too.”

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I think it’s good for me, family life. Good for my pride. I no longer get to be the master of everything. We never really are in this life, but it’s an illusion I kept up when I lived alone. It hurts sometimes now, sticking my nose in my own self-centeredness, seeing how accustomed I am to making my choices and deciding my priorities precisely based on what I want, when I want, and how I have the habit of being patient and available exactly when I feel like it and not particularly the rest of the time.

There’s a sort of kindness necessary when facing these things, the ways in which we are not as awesome as we imagine ourselves when there’s no one there to reveal otherwise. I think this is part of the true value of people who love us. They lead us to care about them so much that we are willing to admit when we are at fault. And then they are gentle with us when we don’t know how to be gentle with ourselves, upon facing the fault in question.

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On a related note, it’s amazing what can happen when you put two such people in one place. Having been on my own the last few years, coupled with the fact of my parents still-kind-of-recent divorce and the various transitions that followed, my concept of family has gone through a rough transformation. It’s become something unstable rather than stabilizing, and often something imagined or remembered more often than experienced. Last month, though, I had the good fortune to get a revamp on the goodness of what family means.

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My mom came to visit and of course, she and my love met for the first time while she was here. For me, it was a little bit like worlds colliding. At the same time, it was weirdly natural. Maybe this is the connection that comes from caring about a same person, or maybe I just have the incredible luck to have a mom and a partner who click. Suffice to say, to my intense relief and even a bit to my surprise, they got on swimmingly.

I didn’t think they’d detest each other or anything, but I didn’t expect their meeting to create the all-inclusive warm fuzziness that it wound up making. This is the ephemeral but ever-wonderful feeling of family. It was like being a kid again, where I just felt safe and snuggly all the time. I guess that is the power of multiple people who love you in one place. I suppose I know by now that we can’t rely on such things or expect them to last, but holy crap. It was awesome. I hope everyone gets to feel like that sometimes. Especially during the holidays.

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In other notes, during my mom’s visit, we went to Auvergne, to visit the monastery for the coming-out of retreat for those who have just finished three-year retreat. A handful of courageous men and women come back to the rest of the world, either to continue where they left off, with the skills and knowledge acquired during their retreat, or to visit family and organize business before returning to the retreat centers for another three-year cycle of practice.

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This is Cedric, my love, sitting at his place in the temple, the same seat he took every day during one of his two long-term retreats. He gave my mom and I a fully guided tour of all the different centers. We joked about me making wishes for the center I’d like to wind up in one day, though of course I’ll go wherever Karmapa tells me to, if/when the time comes. My mom mentioned her relief upon discovering actual rooms inside actual buildings rather than somber stone chambers carved into the rock.

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Sometimes this life feels like a dream. I try to remind myself that it is. That even a long life passes in the blink of an eye when you reach its end. That the dreams we make for this life have their value so long as they keep us moving toward wakefulness. That the stresses we add are no more than dust in the wind; it’s enough to blink and they’ll wash away, so long as we don’t rub our eyes and scratch our poor hopeful eyeballs. That a life of practice is a sacred thing, and that it is through vigilance of our mind that we respect it.

And so, Happy Holidays y’all, from this foggy corner of my mind…er, the Dordogne. xx

Cats In Trees, Moons, Leaky Ceilings, And Choices

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This is a picture of a cat in a tree, taken by my love at twilight yesterday, in a friend’s garden.

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This is me on a swingset, same twilight, same garden.

Last week marked the beginning of downtime at Dhagpo. The period of the year when paperwork gets done, when it’s not a crisis to come down with a cold, and when you can take a day at home (occasionally, if truly needed) and only venture out to pick up the kid in the evening from a friend’s house and snap a couple kitten shots in the process.

Life isn’t a pressure cooker like it is in the summer time. It’s more like endives braising on the simmer burner; the heat rises slowly so you almost don’t notice, but every once in a while a bittersweet smell floats through the room. It’s the time of year when all the work you haven’t done because you were busy running around taking care of urgent things comes back to the surface. When all the inconsistencies and ambiguities that the overbooked-ness of summer allows for start to suddenly seem a lot more uncomfortable, simply because you have the space to notice them.

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The full moon (taken with a flash, thus the disco-Kandisky effect) probably doesn’t help. Sometimes it seems like everyone is asking for clarity and nobody knows how to furnish it. Me first, of course.

I started my morning with the discovery of a two-meter long fissure in the Lama House ceiling, from which a parade of water drops was permeating the dining room table, the seat cushions, the carpet, the old parquet floor. Fortunately, the source of the leak is easily fixable (a broken part in a toilet reservoir); remains to be seen if the same is true of the ceiling (this is my makeshift leak solution–post chair and carpet removal).

photo 4I had planned this morning as a comm department day–for tying up loose ends of old articles on Dhagpo’s blog and getting on schedule with new ones. Suffice to say the ceiling took the lead in the list of priorities. In the meantime, got some news about developments in the comm department. It’s funny, or maybe not that funny, how somebody just asking for a clear description of what I can and cannot do feels like an ultimatum (especially when it comes in the form of a mile-long official e-mail). I kind of just want to say, “I’m trying to do everything that needs to be done, but sometimes the ceiling starts to leak, or the sheets needs to be rematched, or my team, who have patiently gone four months without a regular monthly meeting, sends me a polite e-mail proposing we all have tea.”

And I have to ask myself why it feels like an ultimatum. We’re volunteers after all; we’re here because we choose to be and not because some one makes us or pays us or threatens our kids. Maybe it’s just the other person’s stress seeping through the computer screen in their typed-out words. Or maybe it’s me, realizing I’ve spent nine months investing in an idea and projecting an idea of what I can do that doesn’t match up with what I can actually do. Or what I want to do, after all. Or also what seems right to do. In any case, ain’t nothing worse than a good dose of self-awareness.

So I’m trying to get clear and get calm and get on board with the changes. Be gentle and patient and not whine too much. It’s just that the ceiling is leaking. And I stepped in the puddle, so now my socks are wet. And it’s the full moon and I feel like a cat in tree who got herself up but isn’t sure how to get down or even how far down she needs to go.

It’s not, um, very comfortable. But I think it’s probably the best place to be. The moments when you’re stuck, and all you can do is look, are also the moments when you maybe start to see something clearly. So if you need me, I’ll be busy working my way around this tree.

Meow.

The Rhythm of Reflection

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Today we went for a walk in the woods. Something I used to do all the time when I lived near the mountains in the US, and something I’ve done only rarely since moving to France. I mean, I live in the woods, so I guess I technically walk in the woods just going from place to place, but going for an actual hike is a rare occurrence. It’s a Sunday thing, to fill up mind and body with green freshness before the week starts.

Tomorrow regular Dhagpo life starts again. The last two weeks have been a different kind of rhythm, two different kinds of rhythm, actually. The first week, we spent in retreat, studying a teaching Karmapa gave here this summer and practicing together throughout the day. The center was closed and we were focused on the meaning of what we do; it felt like a proper vacation in that for a whole week, I just got to relax: enjoy my friends, enjoy meditation, enjoy the teachings…chill out. We closed it out with big group dinner (including this pear cake with butterscotch frosting), and then, the second week came.

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Hours of meetings a day to define what our department is about, how it contributes to communicating Dhagpo’s values and cultivating resources for the center’s activity, and what other department it would be good to work with in order to further these missions. It’s rich business, this reflection, but holy smokes it’s exhausting.

Of course the whole idea was to start with a basis in the meaning of our efforts here and then bring that into the practical sphere. And it worked; our discussions came back much more often to how our activity demands and teachings patience and to the importance of connecting the hard parts with what it can develop for the community, rather than resting simply in the sphere of goals and difficulties. That said, in terms of my own responsibilities, I couldn’t help but see all the things I feel I’m supposed to accomplish face-to-face with all the potential and actual obstacles. The desire to devise a system and lock down a perfect solution is visceral. Finding a balance between different activities in different departments, the different needs of different volunteers as well as other departments, the grey areas in Dhagpo’s structure…I just want to find a way to make it all work smoothly and reliably right now, or better yet, yesterday.

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But as life frequently reminds us, a theoretical solution often does not solve an actual problem. Karmapa told us that something “only becomes a problem when we try to solve it fast or over and over again.” And that, I think, is the real lesson. When we wish for our challenges and stresses to be other than they are, they magnify to take up all the space in our minds and we become trapped by them, in them. And if we just let go of the idea that we need to fix it now and stay cool with the work at hand instead, while of course maintaining a clear view of our objectives, harmony between all the different elements comes on its own.

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This is what I keep telling myself. And yet, those moments when my Google cal has so many overlaps that it defies the time-space continuum–I have trouble remembering. And when this or that person comes to say that this or that thing really should be done differently when I’ve worn myself out trying just simply to get it done, I have trouble remembering. And when I look at life reeling out before and feel like it might always be this fight between my own expectations and the way people and things work, I wonder just what is possible.

But hey, it’s not for nothing we have guides. Karmapa says we “shouldn’t over-the-top worry,” but “just follow our daily responsibilites.” Okey dokey, here goes. So, back to the salt mines, doing my best to remember that “if you keep practicing […] automatically there’s harmony.”

Things Unfold: Paris, The Pyrenees, Other Pieces

So, it’s been a month.

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Did a few things.

My Papa came to town. We went to Paris. Visited the latest Frank Gehry building.

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Visited the oldest art store in town.

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Ate a lot of pastry. (This is the nicest picture, but if I put them all…you’d be impressed by how much sugar we managed to consume in three days, and that’s not counting hot chocolate consumption).

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We worked our way south, chateau by chateau, bigger and bigger: Beauregard, Cheverny, Chambord.

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There may have been bicycling involved, but the helmet/neon vest pictures are too incriminating to be posted online. You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

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Excess, even beautiful excess, always makes me grateful for simplicity. I run a house with eight guest rooms. I shudder in sympathy for the person responsible for cleaning this place.

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All eight guest rooms filled up at the end of September. After Papa made it safely back to the States, Dhagpo rhythm picked up for a final summer shabang. The famous/infamous Lama Ole Nydahl came to town. He’s a walking polemic, and I’ll abstain from commenting on politics and just say he’s warm and personable face-to-face, at least in my experience. To be fair, my interaction is generally limited to offering duck confit and fresh fig tarts rather than arguing about religious rights, and yet, it’s not every important person who is kind to those that serve them. Beyond that, we each have to find a teacher that we understand and respect, and that is a personal business.

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Right on the heels of the busy weekend, we gave ourselves a weekend off. It was mon amour’s birthday and we took ourselves to the mountains with a small troupe of friends.

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It’s been a while since I’ve asked so much of my body, and partway up the 3,000 foot ascent, I wondered why we find it necessary to risk our lives accomplishing such feats. We were smart enough not to try for the peak with the wind and fog and ice, but even so, the wilderness is pretty much a risk by nature (oyvay, pun not intended but un-ignorable). And yet, once I got to the top, I felt the same affirmation as always: I’d do it again.

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The world is vast and we are priveleged to have the luxury to consider its beauty, to have the security and stability in our lives to take such risks. Sometimes I forget that, just how much of a luxury my liberty is. Sometimes it helps to exercize it, to go climb a mountain and remember what privelege allows us. It helps me come back grateful and perhaps more ready to work with the other priveleges I can fall into taking for granted.

This week and next are community time at Dhagpo, a week of practice and study retreat followed by a week of organizational meetings. Both can be trying; both tend to show me my limits–of patience, of concentration, of wakefulness. And both are a privelege of enormous proportions: to have access to the Dharma and to have the opportunity to take part in Dharma activity. Whatever the ascent, we have to climb the mountain.

After The Summer

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À la rentrée. This, this is the hopeful refrain of the moment. When the new year starts. Dhagpo’s program functions like the school year, with an autumn through spring schedule, then pretty epic summer school. For volunteers, summer is the busiest time of year, and vacation is a week in June to recharge and a week in September to fall on your face. Then we come back and the resident curriculum restarts and housekeeping things like annual budgets and structural meetings happen. In theory, it’s a little bit calmer.

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In short, summer is over. Aside from one bigger-than-usual course at the end of September, we can all let out the breath we’ve been holding the last three months. Now that this moment has arrived, I don’t so much know what to do with it.

I mean, show up here and say hi for the first time in a while. I miss you guys. I miss the process that goes into making this place alive. I have a few excuses about why I haven’t been around, some better than others and one pretty good one. I lent my camera to the photo/video department for official reporting, and that sort of cramped my style. I cooked a lot and made a ton of cake, but it pretty much all went straight to the table and when it didn’t by the time I had a moment to consider writing about it I had a hard time mustering up the motivation to type out a whole damn recipe and on top of that say anything other than, “It tasted really good.” So there’s that.

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And as for life, as for all those juicy reflections of practice and activity and what it is I’m trying to do here as and those certain things I think we’re all trying to do here as human people…well, between Karmapa’s visit and, um, another thing, my whole sense of perspective has been so thoroughly knocked out of its usual, comfortable orbit that I haven’t really want to put words on it all just yet.

But okay, I feel like I owe you guys an explanation, and also life is life and sometimes you just have to tell it like it is even when it makes you feel a bit queasy and cheesy and worried about the future. What happened is…I fell in love.

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Now, I know that this is normal and happens to pretty much everybody and thus requires pretty much no explanation, but, but, I’m still so surprised about the whole thing and feeling around for the right words that I have the sense that I am supposed to say something. But what can a person say about such a phenomenon? It is only in the experience that we remember what this strange mystery is. That goes for me anyway.

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For my part, I was all set. I hadn’t been single for that long, but you know, long enough to get used to it. Three years alone for a relatively solitary person in a community with a strong tradition of monasticism can yield a certain stoicism about the matter. My official approach was that sharing my life with some one sounded nice, but I was a) not totally convinced I’d be willing to give up my autonomy if such a some one should appear and b) rather skeptical that said some one actually would arrive or was even to be found.

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I know it’s incredible, the self-absorption one can develop in solitude, but on the other hand, I was just trying to be pragmatic about the matter. The pool of applicants was relatively small. An attractive, single, straight male who is intelligent, knows how to laugh and how to be serious and get shit done, who likes art and food and nature—who has dedicated his life to the Dharma, to the lineage, and to the activity of our guides and teachers. Who is not put off by the fact that I’m planning to go into retreat for at least three years of our life together and that this point is not up for debate, only causes and conditions. And also who I can live with. And who can manage to live with me.

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You can understand why I was skeptical, I think. I mean, I was pretty sure I had met all the possible options. It’s not a super huge community, after all, and though I was far from seeking a mate, a girl can’t help but notice when the rare single-man-below-retirement-age crosses her path. And considering the specificity of my criteria, some ravishing person walking in off the street would never qualify for the post. Not only do I want some one who knows what his life is about, but it’s got to be the same thing as mine. In a world with a population of over seven billion, Dharma practitioners to begin with and Karma Kagyü Buddhists to boot aren’t that abundant at the end of the day. And it’s not just about the lineage, but the commitment and understanding in regards to the teachings. We can grapple with it and live it and express it in different ways, but when push comes to shove, there has to be some agreement on the sense. So, all that considered…hopes not so high.

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Well, sometimes life surprises you. And you get tasked with renovating a kitchen with some one you’d met briefly in the past, who you first knew as some one’s partner, but who isn’t any more, as the father of a tiny person you’d become friends with over the years, who still is that, who has a reputation for his temper, but who is softer and more thoughtful than you’d imagined in actuality. Who always asks if he can make tea before filling the electric kettle, who always offers you a mug, who always washes and dries and puts away his own before leaving the kitchen.

Who tells you in the beginning he doesn’t want to pull you away from a direction in which you are meant to go. Who tells you later on that he’ll wait the three years for you whenever they come. Who reminds you at the right moments that one of his deepest wishes for you is that of the transmission he himself had the merit to receive earlier on in this life. Who has a picture of your heart teacher hanging above his hearth.

Who takes you to the Sunday market with the same joy and stillness that he sings the evening prayer with you. Who makes space in the closet and tells you to take your time. Who knows how to cook and clean and garden, to do handiwork and do paperwork. Who quotes Shantideva to you when you’re anxious and who makes very loving fun of you when you’re all fired up. Who’s that mix of all the normal life things some part of you has always wanted and also the understanding that none of it matters if we don’t put it to use to benefit others and develop towards enlightenment.

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It’s scary you know? Being in love. I’d forgotten that feeling of heart-stopping when you realize everything you have to lose. But maybe there’s a kind of restfulness in knowing that in any case, I’m going to lose it all, and what matters is to make it count, to put all of this joy and blessing to work to carry us up the rungs of understanding to something, someday, that goes beyond ourselves. It’s hard work too—this business of being in love. Coming back to patience and listening and continuously choosing to let go of that autonomy you willingly put aside for the benefit sharing your life with some one (or some ones, for sometimes your some one comes with a smaller some one and a canine as bonuses).

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I guess that’s about what I can say on the matter. It’s a day-to-day affair. It’s practice, on the path, just like everything else and somehow unlike anything else. It’s kind of entwined with everything right now, so I’ve been mostly just focusing on figuring it out…well, and enjoying the hell out of it. I make no promises on regularity of posting here for the moment, but know that I’m around, thinking of you guys, working on a new rhythm and figuring out how to put all the pieces together with love and joy and the wish that it all goes for the good.

What We Receive

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This is a doodle I did in the translation cabin today. It was my first time doing an official simultaneous translation, for the Interreligious Meeting between Jigme Rinpoche and Archbishop Le Gall of Toulouse. Since Rinpoche speaks in English, I had downtime in between translating the archbishop, for which I was grateful because, on account of all the Bible quotes and references to concepts I have mostly not encountered (consecrated virgins anyone…?), the translation required a good deal of focus and some ingenuity to go along with it.

Though I’ve been translating written material pretty much since I arrived at Dhagpo, up till now there hasn’t been a particular need for a native English speaker to do oral translation. But as the center welcomes more anglophones, and particularly native or germanic anglophones, it seems there’s a growing demand. I don’t know how it will all sync up with the rest of my responsibilities, but generally speaking…I’m pretty tickled by the idea of doing more of this. Having an activity for the center that also brings me in contact with the teachings is a wish I’ve had for a long time, since my current main activity often involves being elsewhere during teachings (making lunch and going to morning teachings don’t fit so well together).

And I’m grateful to have begun this new adventure on this particular weekend. The exchange between Rinpoche and Archbishop Le Gall took place as part of Dhagpo’s 40th anniversary and also in connection with Jigme Rinpoche’s summer course, with a special focus on gratitude for the master teachers and the transmission they have ensured. We collectively received instructions and permission to practice the Guru Yoga of the 16th Karmapa and the empowerment of the 15th Karmapa, which go together. Rinpoche reminded us yet again of how blessing is a connection with the qualities of the bodhisattvas. We receive blessing when we commit, with confidence, to practice and the path, and thus open ourselves to its effect.

It’s methodical and, in this way, reassuring, to me at least. Being able to open a new door in supporting the transmission of these teachings during these days so pregnant with gratitude and so entwined with history is as good a symbolic as a girl could ask for.

Emaho! (…a term which comes from certain Tibetan prayers and is generally translated as “Oh wonder!” It’s a kind of exaltation of joy and compassion that rolls off the tongue easily such that it becomes a frequent exclamation in times like these…times of gratitude, times of change.)