Cultivating Seeds

It has only been one full week of our arrival to Heartwood Refuge. Today we sat in the Vajrayana Hall, all of what is quite different than the Ocean of Peace Meditation hall, without comparison just complete awareness.

This day we studied the Prajna Paramita Sutra

Emptiness of body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and conscious. We practiced using our sitting meditation, being in the spaciousness and the vastness of everything around, other than and in between our 5 skandhas. For a moment understanding the freedom, the liberation from all things. Free from inter generational trauma, free from identity, free from all worldly things, free From this or that. What an experience to be if even for a moment one with all things and separate from nothing? After this practice the pure emotion filled the room as most were in contemplation how the vibration of our consciousness had just shifted and how each of us were sure we walked away with a better understanding of a most complex sutra. Well, at least for the section that was today’s lesson.

The Heart Sutra is one of the most popular sutras in Mahayana Buddhism.

In Sanskrit, it’s called Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya, which means, “The Heart of the Perfection of Wisdom.”

It’s a combination of two Sanskrit words – prajñā “wisdom” with pāramitā “perfection.”

In Buddhism, Prajnaparamita means “the perfection of wisdom.” The perfect way to perceive reality.

The Heart Sutra is a written record of a conversation that took place between Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, and a disciple of the Buddha, Shariputra.  

Avalokiteshvara explains to Shariputra that all things are expressions of emptiness. Everything exists only as a part of everything else.

“Form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. That which is form is emptiness, that which is emptiness is form.”

“Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness; they do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease.”

“No ignorance and also no extinction of it, and so forth until no old age and death and also no extinction of them. No suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition, also no attainment with nothing to attain.”

Emptiness, or in Sanskrit, shunyata, is the concept of perceiving events, objects, and ideas without coloring them with the tint of our perception.

Both emptiness and mindfulness encourage us to separate ourselves from our stories the mind has falsely learned to be reality. The stories that validate and form our identity – ego, the “I”, separating us from the rest of the world. 

The Heart Sutra implies that separateness is actually an illusion. And that the individual identities we assign and are assigned are also an illusion. An illusion that is conditioned through all of our senses, by friends, family, society, experiences and yes even our dharma friends.

Well with just one day in a week, it’s fair to say that our new experience has already illumined our appreciation and gratitude for our foundation. May it continue to blossom! In good hands.


“I am Remembering”

You knock at the door of every cell in my body. The rhythms of your drums beat to the tune of my heart. This mass in my throat is bigger than I can bear. So close and yet so far. Coming home to myself I know you are there, without language, land, culture, food, music or religion. You are the very essence of me, looking deeply the nature of my true self is also displaced. With each unpeeled layer you heave, sway, surge, roll, pitch and yaw through my being like a cargo ship carrying chattel to the land of the free. Each affliction cast overboard to the sea.

this pain this hurt

tears leak from my eyes

i hear you calling me back

you say

i feel alone

i feel afraid

i feel betrayed

oh how I weep

stripped bare

in the stillness you move through me

the greatest fleet

a yearning I cannot fulfill

what is this desire this craving that I can no longer ignore

there is something

deep in the pits of my throat

how can i speak for you with hands over my mouth

you say

i am alone

i am afraid

i am betrayed

which of these dharma doors

will lead to you

True self on the ground undulating between

cultural assimilation

and spiritual bypass


When You are Living in the Middle of a Poem


The sound of hoofbeats leaving a monastery
where all is timed and measured.
You are that rider.
Someone who does not care very much about things
and results, illness and loss, you are the soul
the soul that is always traveling.
Mind gathers bait. Personality
carries a grudge. You weave cloth
like the moon leaving no trace on the road.
There is a learning community where the names of God
are talked about and memorized, and there is
another residence where meanings live.
You are on the way from here to there.
Your graceful manner gives color and fragrance
as creekwater animates the landscape it moves through.
The absolute unknowable appears as spring and disappears
in fall. Signs come, not the essence signified.
How long will you be a shepherd singlefiling us
in and out of the human barn. Will I ever see you
as you secretly are in silence?

New Beginnings are Ending only to Become New Again

Dear Beloved Community,

After living over 3 years at Deer Park Monastery it is with ambivalence that I must share that I have decided to leave the monastery. While I will still be practicing in the Plum Village Tradition I will seek refuge to receive studies for higher ordination. Though I will miss seeing many of you at the monastery my wish is to further my spiritual expression in new creative and engaged ways. So, I hope that means that I will have more opportunities to practice side by side with you in Sangha. As well as taking to our communities with right effort, sharing our practice of love and compassion in order to embrace and address the sufferings that impact us in our world, our society, ourselves and especially in our Dharma communities. I am bringing with me the gift of spiritual expression that at the core has turned me inside-out. I am coming home and leaving it at the same time. I re-enter to walk the world in a new way. Molting out of this this ever constant illusion. I walk with the courage of all of those before me. Rejoicing coming in to this larger dharma knowing we are on the path together coming from many directions. There is no one way. The way out is in and then out again and then……May I be fortunate enough to continue in this journey with you

Sister Clear Grace

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