Dharma Doodles, Real Words, And Blueberry Chèvre Salad

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Pre-study session whiteboard doodles. “When we take to the road, we don’t know where we will wind up in the end.” Walking the Buddhist path, the goal is to wind up enlightened. In order to do that, I have to understand where I am now, as this allows me to choose the road that leads from here to there. My life is a constant ping-pong between developing an understanding of what enlightenment means and developing an understanding of myself. I wanna connect the right dots, you know?

Yesterday my friend Katya and I presented a segment of The Jewel Ornament of Liberation in the main hall of the Institute.  Gampopa wrote the text in the eleventh century, and it describes the path to enlightenment in logical, step-by-step detail. Gampopa wrote it based on his own experience of realizing enlightement. Thus, what he described was not an abstract philosophical treatise, but something more along the lines of his field notes. “Go left at Bodhi tree to find spiritual master. Pause for homage to Three Jewels.”

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I, as it happens, have not attained enlightenment. Presenting this text put me face-to-face with my actual experience of the world in relation to the experience I aspire to embody. I can say the words. I did my best to say them clearly and with a touch of humor to keep things lively. I can grasp that old age is painful and death is frightening. I can even cogitate that we will all experience these difficulties and thus, we are all in this together. Better to care for each other than go it alone, in other words. But I don’t know it in my bones, not really.

You want to know what surprised me the most about presenting a teaching for which I have the utmost respect and which I feel ill-prepared to truly transmit? Rather than dragging me down, the enormity of the gulf between my understanding and my aspiration became an anchor. Crossing this gap is why I am here. If I want to get where I am going, I have to start somewhere. And the only place I can start is where I am. So here we go.

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I’ll choke on a French word or two, talk a little too fast, and my answer to most questions will be that I don’t know, because I don’t, and that’s perfect.

In the meantime, people keep having birthdays, so I highly recommend this pineapple upside-down cake from Epicurious. And for my birthday, some one gave me organic dried blueberries, which turned into a Perigord-inspired (minus the duck confit, but I guess you could add that if you had the fancy) salad of endive, walnut, aged goat cheese, fresh pear and dried blueberries. Tossed with walnut oil, lemon juice, and a smattering of fresh parsley, it proves both that I live in an awesome region and that I am capable of making food other than cake. I encourage you to give it a go. If you also live in a place where you can find local walnuts and goat cheese, A+.

How To Fall In Love, With Beings And Coconut Caramel Walnut Blondies

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“Commit acts of kindness from heart and mind. Then you will fall in love with all beings.”

Quote of the day from Khenpo Tenzin.

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Kindness is for ourselves as much as for others. If there is no permanent self, we are no more or less deserving of our own love. We must love ourselves as we aspire to love all beings.

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Somewhere between self-cherishing and self-chastising, there is kindness, falling in love with oneself as we fall in love with all beings.

I made blondies this weekend. We all needed a little sweetness to carry us through the depths of so much philosophy and reflection. This is a good recipe for falling in love. It is mind-meltingly delicious. Decadent, yes–sometimes we need to be enveloped in decadence to receive love. Sometimes loving oneself is the greatest form of decadence, the leisure that allows us to then love others.

This is all the good things of American baked goods of my childhood. Gooey, caramel-y, chewy-moist, brown-sugar sweet. It’s the tricked-out cousin of a chocolate chip cookie, with more depth and sensuousness on account of the nuts. It’s the follow-up classic to last week’s avant garde, and it’s ohsogood. There may have screams and moans at the dinner table when these went down. Just sayin.

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