From Craving to Commitment

Back in the days when I was still in college and converting to Catholicism, I gathered the impression from my reading that I should deny all desires. Desire, or “craving” in Buddhist thought, was not only the root of all evil, it was evil itself. I dutifully disciplined myself to ignore anything I might like, and therefore desire. I was engaged in an experiment to see if squelching all desires would make me spiritual.

The answer was “No.” I didn’t become spiritual, but I did become stiff, wooden, unimaginative, and uncreative. Although my thinking mind was not impaired, my emotional capacity certainly was. My conclusion is that denying desire is turning off the flow of emotion and creativity.

Desire is necessary!

Desire is hardwired into our nature as human beings. The external objects of our desires will fade away and be replaced by others, but desire itself is always there. It is who we are. Desire, craving, is what motivates us in our life.

I thought I wanted to live in a nice, comfortable bubble. Good marriage, nice house, nice car, great children, vacations, everything “nice.”

Healing the Broken “I”

Have you ever seen a Chinese painting of a plum tree? I used to brush paint plum branches when I was learning how to apply ink to paper with a brush and come out with something beautiful.

The Chinese plum tree doesn’t grow in nice, smooth, flowing lines. The branches are full of sharp angles and unexpected twists and turns where, for some reason, the tree has changed its mind and decided to grow in a new direction. At each junction there is a knob, a swollen spot, which looks as if the tree was trying to heal a break, a botanical broken heart. One might think that the tree would be made ugly by these knots, but, instead, it is beautiful in its angularity and has inspired painters for centuries.

Take Off the Blinders!

“It is so dark here.” -It was my 16 year old son speaking to me…
We were standing in front of our modest 4-bedroom home in Manhattan Beach in sunny Southern California. Across the street the oleanders lining the old railway embankment were in full bloom, a brilliant hedge of bright pink and white extending all the way to downtown. The air was cool and mild, and a gentle breeze from the ocean, only six blocks away, brought the scent of salt air and roses. We were surrounded by blue sky… We were standing in paradise!

“Look around you,” I said, but he could not see the Beauty all around him. He was like a horse wearing blinders who could only see what was directly in front of his nose.

We “see” with more than our eyes. We see with our feelings. We see, hear, taste, touch and smell with so much more than our physical organs of perception.

How to Uncover Emotional Charges from the Past

When you open a window to your heart, you may be surprised at what you see inside.

A few days ago I was participating in a Kyudo (Japanese archery) seminar. In Kyudo the idea is not so much to hit the outer target, as it is to realize the inner target, the Soul. At dinner time I was sitting with my teacher, a wise and humble student of Zen Buddhism, and three other students, all of whom were former Catholics. After so much intense practice of Kyudo, we were all in a space where we could share our feelings with trust.

The conversation turned to why they had left the Church. For all three of the students, birth control had been an issue. I had also been a Catholic during my child-bearing years, but I had never told anyone why I left the Catholic Church.

Are You Running on Overwhelm?

“Overwhelm” is that state of confusion in which the mind tries to run in all directions at once, spurred on by the feeling that there are too many things to do and no time in which to complete anything. Like a flurry of hydrogen balloons, myriads of thoughts are floating in the air above and around you and those thoughts and ideas do not want to come down. Your energy is “blowin’ in the wind” along with all those balloons and you don’t feel you can focus on any one particular task.

But overwhelm itself is not the problem. It is a symptom of a problem. “If overwhelm is not the problem, then what is?” you may ask. “And how do I call in all the balloons and focus my energy to do any one thing?”

You Can Discover Your Secret Treasures

What does “Discover Your Secret Treasures” mean? And what is a “Secret Treasure” anyway? When I was a child, I always thought of a Treasure as something a pirate had hidden where it could only be found with a Treasure Map. The great adventure of life was to find the map and set out on a journey to discover the Treasure Chest.

Now I realize each person has a golden Treasure Chest within, in a special, secret place, and the map to find it is available if you know where to look.

Discover Your Secret Treasures has a map called “Energy Keys,” and when we use this map, it will take us to the Treasures buried deep in our Souls. Those Treasures are ours. We are the pirates who have buried them and lost the map only to find it again when we have a burning desire to live our treasures.