29 October 2007

another kick in the yoga butt

"Actually, Sama, if you understood the extraordinary gifts every single challenge in your life makes possible, even inevitable, you'd celebrate your challenges, new and old alike, as the omens that they are of new beginnings, spectacular change, and enhanced super-powers.

Perfect for where you are, huh?
The Universe

I get daily emails from the Universe...yes, really, THE Universe. You can get your own, too, just visit the Universe's website! The one above is what I received today and I consider it serendipitous considering what I've been experiencing lately.

My regular readers know that before I left for my retreat I left the yoga studio where I was teaching. I got tired of the owner walking into my classes drunk. I was going to blog about the whole situation but decided against it. I wrote about her alcoholism earlier this year after she walked in 20 minutes late to a workshop I was teaching, drunk and disturbing everyone with her loud sighs and sobs. I wrote how two other teachers and I attempted an intervention with her the next day, showing up at the end of her last class -- which she had taught, once again, drunk. Needless to say, the intervention failed miserably. However, I deleted that post. She had a few links to this blog and I felt that if she chanced upon that post (although of course no names were mentioned) it would hurt her terribly and I did not want to do that.

Fast forward to a month ago. She walked into another class, drunk, when my students were in savasana. I told the three other instructors who were involved in the original intervention, telling them in no uncertain terms how I felt, that I had had enough. I went to the studio two days later to talk to her about it after one of her classes when students are gone. I was met with more lies, accusations, and denials. That was it for me. Gone. Finished. Locked out.

Since that time I've been dealing with lots of rage about the situation. Not rage about her alcoholism, but about the lies, deceptions, and manipulations that the studio is built upon. Rage about being abandoned for telling the truth. Rage that out of all the teachers -- most of whom knew about her addiction before I did -- only one supported me and defended me to her. All the others kept their mouths shut, even two who were involved in the intervention. The phrase "yoga community" makes me gag right now. As all our emotions manifest themselves in our bodies, I felt my rage settle into my body.

I went to the retreat feeling as if my body was a toxic landfill. Thank goodness we meditated for hours every day because the meditation began to chip away at the sludge. Thank goodness we did metta -- loving-kindness -- meditation. But after my return I still felt as if I had been abused. And those of you who live with an addict in your life know what I'm talking about. Until they own their addiction, they have to protect at all costs their right to drink.

I AM feeling the rage less and less, bits and pieces are falling away every day, a pebble here, a boulder there. It is still there, but the fire is slowly dying out. And then I got this email from a friend, who is also one of my students:

"I received (a quote) in my email that made me think of you:

'I always say that there's a kind of implicit mindfulness and wisdom in metta practice. The very process of letting go of a distraction implies in some way seeing its transparency, not freaking out over it, not being angry about it, not getting involved with it, not identifying with it. You may not consciously say to yourself, "Oh, look, this moment is changing," but you can't let go of the distraction unless you are actually seeing that. You would be trying to push it away from anger rather than actually letting go. So to do the metta practice, you actually bring forth that level of wisdom.' -- Sharon Salzberg, in Spirit Rock Meditation Center Newsletter, 1997 from Everyday Mind.

It was no irony that the quote came from Spirit Rock, where I had just been.

He continued:

"I know that you are angry & not yourself.... please look at it as an opportunity. not to be trite, but from my outside position I feel like it happened for a reason. don't close down, don't push people away, don't let hubris take over, and don't dwell on it.

you were obviously meant to teach somewhere else. focus & figure it out. you have a lot to teach & my joints are not so juicy. and please keep on writing about your retreat - like the buddha who chose to stay & teach after attaining enlightenment. the worst thing that you could do is not share it & not help guide the rest of us."

As it has turned out, I will begin doing workshops (and maybe teach) at another studio. I already teach out of my house on Saturday mornings but I am adding one more night for the students who supported me and who don't want to return to the studio. As for writing about the retreat, my next post will be about the asana aspect.

Through all this I also found out who my true friends are for which I am eternally grateful. You know who you are.

28 October 2007

the official transportation of this blog

I always give credit where credit is due so I will admit that I stole this post from Fran.

She's right when she says that in the talk shows' credits they always have "transportation for guests provided by Fast Eddie's Limo Service..." or someone like that.

So I decided the official transportation of Linda's Yoga Journey is the always lovely AUTORICKSHAW!

Exactly two months from today I will be back home in Ma India in Chennai which is in Tamil Nadu in South India. One of the things I love about Chennai is the traffic -- yes, really! -- because I've realized that it operates on Chaos Theory. It took me about two days during my first trip to figure out how the chicken crosses an Indian road -- basically you walk into it, because if you hesitate, you'll really screw things up. Or you sneak into a crowd of people on a street corner and walk with them in relative safety in one fast moving glob of humanity, the idea being that if you're surrounded by people, chances are someone else will get hit by a bus. And if you are a really lucky, the bus will stop. Hopefully not on top of you.

The video below was shot in Hyderabad, but it's close enough to show you what Chennai's traffic is like. Actually it has less traffic than on a typical Chennai street. Watch it and you'll see lots of 'ricks...THE OFFICIAL TRANSPORT OF LINDA'S YOGA JOURNEY!

I've only been in one minor accident while riding in a 'rick, have run out of petrol once, and have only seen a few roll over, so don't worry -- we'll get you where you want to go...eventually. Just sit back and relax!

view from an autorickshaw, Chennai, 2005

26 October 2007

elvis does yoga!

Check out this video: Elvis-Yoga Is As Yoga Does

found at my newly discovered yoga blog, Souljerky.

nothing more needs to be said.

who is YogaDawg?

One of my favorite yoga sites is YogaDawg's and the Dawg honors me occasionally by popping in to read this blog. He commented on my $49.99 yoga certification post so I thought I'd give him a shout-out.

"Yoga Teacher Sub-classes:

The Clueless

These are new teachers who have graduated from one of the many teacher training courses that Yoga studios offer. The course will be for 4 weekends for a month. They will have taken this course and might have been practicing Yoga for a couple of years.

The Very Clueless

Same as above, but they have taken the Express version of the course that is held for two weekends in the month. You pray they have some Yoga under their belts.

The Extremely Clueless

Same as above but have taken the weekend teacher training course and probably exaggerate about how much Yoga they have done. Your only line of defense is to completely ignore them, do nothing they say to do. If you make the mistake of following their instruction be prepared to get injured.

TIP: It is always a good idea to make sure your health insurance is current before taking a Yoga class with the Extremely Clueless."

"Yoga Students

The $1,000 Classer

The $1,000 Classer is easily identified by their Yoga accoutrements. They usually fall within the Yuppie and BoBo (Bourgeois Bohemian) class. Their mat will be all natural and organic with a surface embedded with grasses from the plains of India, hairs from the Indian Rhino, peacock feathers and dropping from Monkey Temple in Jaipur, India (sanitized and de-odorized of course). This mat will be in a designer mat bag patterned with images of Yoga poses, seated Buddhas and symbols of Shakti and Shiva. They will be wearing designer name yoga clothes made from a mixture of organic hemp and flex. They will sport nifty yoga wristbands and even Yoga shoes.

The $1,000 Classer will be carrying a bottle of water whose bottle is a designer masterpiece. It will contain water melted from the polar ice cap drilled from a mile and a half deep. They will have had so much fun buying this stuff that they will also purchase a yearly, unlimited pass the first day of class. The $1,000 Classer will be secure in the knowledge that the pass will allow them to strut around for a year in their new yoga getup. They will be salivating at all the cool Yoga stuff they see in the Yoga shop within the studio. The $1,000 Classer, however, will end up only attending one class....

No one is spared from Dawg's scathing wit!

You rock, Dawg! There's a special place in a Buddhist Hell Realm for both of us! See ya there!

how to be a yoga teacher for $49.99

How do I get certified?

"The process of getting yourself certified is very simple. All you have to do is buy the ExpertRating Yoga Instructor Certification for $49.99. Log in to your ExpertRating account using your password. Go through the Yoga Instructor courseware (which could take you from 1 week to a month depending upon how hard you work) and take the certification exam at your convenience. You can take the exam within 1 year of buying the certification. The result of the exam appears as soon as it is completed, and your certificate is mailed immediately."

damn! I wish I would have known about this before! Would have saved me two trips to India and THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS!

This would be funny if it wasn't so freakin' sad.

25 October 2007

why there's blood on the Olympic rings

The Nangpa La Shootings

From Wikipedia:

"On September 30, 2006 75 Tibetan refugees, among them many young children, and their 2 guides were trying to enter Nepal illegally via the Himalayan Nangpa La pass (5,700m). Chinese Border Security soldiers opened fire on the group and killed Kelsang Namtso, a 17 year old nun, just before the pass. Kunsang Namgyal, a 23 year old man, was hit in the leg twice, then taken away by the Chinese borderpolice and is believed to have died later. The Chinese claimed that their soldiers fired in self defence. Only 41 survivors reached the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. Two weeks later they arrived at their destination in Dharamsala, India....

The following list of people were part of the original group and have been missing since the shooting. It is believed they are held by Chinese authorities. The names were forwarded by Students For A Free Tibet.

* Tenwang, age 7
* Lhakpa Tsering, age 8
* Dhondup Lhamo, age 9
* Dechen Dolma, age 10
* Wangchen, age 11
* Tsedon, age 12
* Sonam Wangdue, age 12
* Ming Shomo, age 13
* Lodoe Nyima, age 15
* Jamyang Tsetan, age 16
* Karma Tsetan, age 16
* Lodoe Namkha, age 16
* Karma, age 19
* Samten, age 19
* Sonam Palzom, age 20
* Dhondup Palden, age 21
* Kusang, age 22
* Lobsang Paljor, age 35"

Chinese officials have yet to release information about the detainees' whereabouts or well-being.

Look at the ages of these prisoners and think about what it would be like if your child was detained by soldiers after witnessing a woman being shot in the back.

And this is what happens when you try to do the right thing.

"Luis Benitez, who had grown increasingly disturbed by the silence, broke the news via an e-mail sent to an expedition news Web site. Luis, a mountain guide working for the commercial outfit Himalayan Experience, had watched the chilling event unfold days before. His began his e-mail with "The story not being told here in Tibet," and went on to describe the killing. Understandably, he asked his name not be used....

Benitez confided to fellow guide Paul Rogers that he was the one who broke the news. Rogers immediately informed their boss Russell Brice, owner of Himalayan Experience, of what Benitez had done.

Benitez claims Brice, Rogers and Henry Todd, a guide from another commercial outfit, angrily confronted him at base camp. Todd went so far as to make mafia-style threats....

Confronted with the choice of protecting business verses reporting human rights violations, they've chosen money. Ironically, the clients of these companies, who are generally very sympathetic to the culture of Tibet, are now unknowingly helping to destroy it.

In contrast, Benitez put his career on the line instead of selling his silence for blood money. Even if Benitez is allowed back into China, he's likely to be blacklisted by guiding companies, many of whom operate around the world. He has made some powerful enemies while trying to do the right thing."

The world was outraged over the events in Burma. Where is the outrage over Tibet?

24 October 2007

where is the outrage over Tibet?

(photo from ICT website)

Tibetan Monastery Surrounded by Military After Dalai Lama Award

"Tibetans in Tibet celebrated the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama last Wednesday despite a stepping up of security and severe restrictions on religious practice in Lhasa and areas of eastern Tibet.

One of the major monasteries in Lhasa, Drepung, is sealed off and surrounded by armed troops after police stopped an attempt by monks to peacefully mark the honor to the Dalai Lama last week. Another significant monastery in the city, Nechung, is also apparently closed. Tibetan sources report a buildup of armed police in the city, checkpoints on roads out of Lhasa, and an order to Lhasa citizens not to carry out any religious or celebratory activities."

This upsets me. My teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, was among the the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the 1959 Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet. I am in the process of sponsoring a monk from this monastery.

Where is the outrage? Why has Tibet been ignored all these years? What is happening in Burma has been happening in Tibet ever since the 1940s.

Tibet: The Story of a Tragedy

If you want to know the story about Tibet, take an hour to watch this video.


23 October 2007

let's not forget Burma

The troubles in Burma still continue. It was not just a blip on the radar screen.

This is a video of an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh speaking about Burma and engaged Buddhism.

In the meantime, we can all send our dirty underwear to Burmese embassies.

"Activists exasperated at the failure of diplomacy to apply pressure on Burma's military regime are resorting to a new means of protest against the regime's recent crackdown: sending female underwear to Burmese embassies.

Embassies in the UK, Thailand, Australia and Singapore have all been targeted by the "Panties for Peace" campaign, co-ordinated by an activist group based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

"Not only are they brutal, but they are also very superstitious. They believe that touching a woman's pants or sarong will make them lose their strength," Ms Pollack told Guardian Unlimited.

...The junta is famous for its abuse of women: it is well documented that they use rape as a weapon of war against ethnic minorities. This is a way for women around the world to express their outrage."

Sounds like a good way to get rid of those chakra panties that I've seen in yoga magazine ads.

22 October 2007

the retreat, part 1

Phillip Moffitt said it was an historic event. Jack Kornfield said that he has not been this excited since the Dalai Lama came to Spirit Rock. Stephen Cope compared us – the 90 yogis from around the world – to the original yogis, the sramanas, who in the 8th Century BC distanced themselves from the rituals of the Brahmin priests, taking to the forests and questioning the status quo.

I returned from the first 10 day retreat of the Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California inspired but also with a confirmation of what I have always felt about yoga – that yoga taught without attention to mindfulness of the body and the breath and without meditation is not yoga, but merely acrobatics. Indeed, this is what Desikachar told us in my trainings at the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram.

This training is a ground-breaking 18-month program for yoga teachers and experienced practitioners that integrates asana and pranayama, mindfulness meditation, and Patanjali’s classical yoga system. It is led by nationally renowned teachers in both the Buddhist and yogic tradition, using asana and pranayama as foundations for the more subtle limbs of yogic practice (meditation, concentration, and insight), using the techniques taught by the Buddha. Phillip Moffitt told us that planning this program has taken two years and as far as they knew, this training has never been taught anywhere in the world, that is, a program that integrates Buddhism with Patanjali’s classical yoga as written in the Yoga Sutra-s.

According to Spirit Rock’s website, the benefits of this blended program include: an experiential grounding in an integrated yoga and vipassana practice that can nourish practitioners in their daily lives; a solid understanding of the entwined history, philosophy, and techniques of both yoga and Buddhism; and the foundational skills and understanding necessary to practice yoga--and for teachers to teach it--in a way that embodies and facilitates a deep understanding of core Buddhist principles such as mindfulness, lovingkindness, compassion, equanimity, and the interdependence of all life.

There is a core group of vipassana and yoga teachers with guest teachers coming in for each retreat. The vipassana teachers are Jack Kornfield, Phillip Moffit, Mark Coleman, and Anna Douglas. The yoga teachers are Stephen Cope of Kripalu, Anne Cushman, and Janice Gates. The guest yoga teacher for this retreat was Tias Little. Future guest yoga teachers will be Sarah Powers, Frank Jude Boccio, Judith Lasater, and Jill Satterfield, among others. Dr. Dean Ornish is also scheduled to teach.

Before the retreat we were required to read portions from four books: Loving-Kindness: The Revoluntionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg; Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation by Jack Kornfield; Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body and Mind by Frank Jude Boccio (who was also at the retreat but did not teach); and a recent translation of the Sutra-s by Chip Hartranft, The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali. This is the first translation I have read that takes into account the influence of Buddhism on Patanjali.

We woke up every morning at 5:15 for the first 45 minute sitting meditation at 5:45 am. The first three days we had 11 periods each day of either sitting or walking meditation, 30 or 45 minutes at a time, with two hours of yoga practice, together with a yoga talk in the morning and a dharma talk at night. The next 7 days we had 9 periods each day of sitting or walking meditation. We had a choice during one of the 45 minute morning time slots to do walking meditation or our own personal yoga practice. Most people chose yoga. At this point in the retreat we did not have the yoga talk in the morning, but had a three hour yoga seminar in the afternoon and this is when Janice Gates and Tias Little taught. We still had the dharma talk led by a different vipassana teacher every night.

I have never been to Kripalu but I’ve read Stephen Cope’s books. All I can say about him is that he is brilliant. A brilliant lecturer and a brilliant yoga teacher, besides being a classical pianist obsessed with Beethoven. If you ever get a chance to go to Kripalu, run, don’t walk, to sign up for his teachings. On the second night of the retreat he gave the dharma talk and drew us a yoga timeline from the Vedas to the explosion of yoga after 1975 when Yoga Journal was first published. He emphasized that the renouncers of the Hindu rituals, the sramanas, starting from the 8th Century BC to the 2nd century CE, used their own bodies and minds as laboratories for the direct experience of yoga and for the research on the nondualism of body and mind -- just as we will do during the next 18 months.

He told us that Patanjali wrote the Sutras as a treatise for advanced yoga students and reminded us that only three sutras mention asana, all the rest are about meditation and the human experience. So when people say that “yoga is 5000 years old”, that really isn’t accurate because it was not until the Middle Ages (1300 app.) when the Hatha Yoga Pradipika was written followed by the Geranda-Samhita (1600 app.) and the Shiva-Samhita (1700 app.) that the yoga poses we do today were revealed.

Cope said that the core of the Yoga Sutra-s is not about asana practice but about uncovering the roots of human suffering. He said that yoga and Buddhism both grew out of the same cultural milieu of India at that time, that is, as a reaction to the dogma of the Vedic and Brahmin culture. Buddha (563-483 BC) lived about 700 years before Patanjali wrote the Sutra-s but Cope said that given the religious atmosphere of India in the 2nd Century (wandering Buddhist monks), it would have been impossible for Patanjali not to have been influenced by Buddhist thought. Both the Sutra-s and Buddhism seek to uncover the roots of human suffering. When Buddha said that “second hand answers have no power to transform”, he was talking about direct insight into known experience, the known experience of sitting and watching the breath, watching the body in the body and the breath in the breath.

quoting the sages

During my retreat the teachers read many quotes from many sources. Here are some of my favorites....

"In your investigation of the world, never allow the mind to leave the body. Examine its nature, see the elements that comprise it, see the impermanence, the suffering, the selflessness of the body while sitting, walking, standing, lying down. When its true nature is seen fully and lucidly by the heart, the wonders of the world will become clear. In this way, the purity of the mind can shine forth, timeless and delivered." Ajahn Mun

"The essence of pleasure is acceptance. Whatever may be be situation, if it is acceptable, it is pleasant. If it is not acceptable, it is painful. You will find in acceptance of pain a joy which pleasure cannot yield, for the simple reason that acceptance of pain takes you much deeper than pleasure does. The personal self by its very nature is constantly pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. The ending of this pattern is the ending of self. The ending of the self with its desires and fears enables you to return to your real nature, the source of all happiness and peace." Sri Nisargadatta, I Am That

"Ultimately you must choose between the discomfort of becoming aware of your mental afflictions and the discomfort of being ruled by them." Mingyur Rinpoche, The Joy of Living

"My life is filled with terrible misfortune...most of which hasn't happened." Mark Twain

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May all beings never be parted from freedom's true joy.
May all beings dwell in equanimity, free from attachment and aversion.

om mani pedme hum

21 October 2007

california dreaming

Meditation Hall at Spirit Rock where I spent most of my time

Sunrise at Spirit Rock

Foggy walking meditation at sunrise

Buddha and resting yogi

I would post a pic of me standing on the corner of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, standing in the same spot I did 33 years ago, but I'm shy.

05 October 2007

feel good friday

Here's another Feel Good Friday video for you, Janis Joplin singing Big Mama Thornton's classic "Ball and Chain" from Woodstock, 1969, the year before she died. I came thisclose to seeing her in concert two months before she died but my friend Daiva and I couldn't get a ride to the venue. I was a year away from getting my driver's license. Sounds pretty funny now -- missing Janis because I didn't know how to drive.

I liked her last band the best, the Full Tilt Boogie Band, because the horns punched up her music. I had a thing for sax players back in the day anyway. I always thought that if I ever had a blues band I'd want horns in it to add that extra oomph. And yes, I used to sing the blues and even tried out with a band in college -- I didn't make it, but my friend who came with me for the audition ended up with one of the musicians. I ended up alone with my bottle of Southern Comfort just like Janis did on many nights.

When I was a young hippie chick in high school I loved Janis, and I still do. She was authentic and honest and what you saw was what you got. Looking back at that time of my life I knew what she going through -- being misunderstood, drugs, booze, surrounding yourself with the wrong people sometimes, people who didn't have your best interests at heart. Janis' pain came out in her songs, mine came out in my writing. I wrote lots of poetry back in the day and even won a few awards for it in high school and college.

Some people hated Janis' voice but I loved it. Some people thought all she did was scream but to me her voice was raw and primal. She sang with soul and passion and she wore her heart on her sleeve. In many ways Janis was misunderstood and that was her pain. A friend of mine christened me "Loba" because he said "wild women and wolves are often misunderstood."

So rock with Janis and think about the balls and chains in your life that are holding you back from living, that keep you sleep-walking through life. I went through a tumultuous week, but in the process got rid of a ball and chain that weighed me down and kept me stuck. The negative emotions and stress that I experienced dealing with the antics of an alcoholic studio owner ended up in my body like sludge. I felt like a toxic landfill.

This old hippie chick is out of here for 10 days and my retreat can't come soon enough. Peace, y'all, and tell someone you love them.

Cosmic Sister
for Linda

My cosmic sister walks the constellations
Laughs tip toeing in between stars
Keeps snakes
Keeps lovers at her feet to remind her
that there are no more stakes where they burn witches,
only inner mounting fires.
And when Janis sings them old cosmic blues again, Mama,
she cries.
(Daiva Karuza, 1972)

04 October 2007

blogging for Burma

Free Burma!


Dashing Hopes in Myanmar
. . .There was talk at the UN that Mr Gambari might return to Myanmar in November. Perhaps international pressure could make the regime open dialogue with the pro-democracy movement, leading ultimately to a peaceful settlement. But this looks less and less likely. The regime continued making large-scale arrests of suspected pro-democracy campaigners during and after Mr Gambari’s visit, while blaming foreigners for instigating protests.

Buddhists Worldwide Back Myanmar's Monks
The Buddhist monks who led Myanmar's protests have drawn support from fellow believers worldwide, including Tibetan and Vietnamese spiritual leaders who are no strangers to state persecution.

This week, as hundreds of disrobed monks could be heard chanting from inside a windowless detention centre in Yangon, Buddhist supporters in cities around the world continued their protest rallies and prayer vigils for them. . . .

Myanmar Junta Tightens Screw on Dissenters

. . . Although most are too terrified to talk, the monks and civilians slowly being freed from a makeshift interrogation centre in north Yangon are giving a glimpse of the mechanics of the general's dreaded internal security apparatus. . . .

One freed monk, who did not want his name revealed, said some had been beaten when they refused to answer questions about their identity, birthplace, parents and involvement in the protests, the biggest challenge to the junta in nearly 20 years.

. . . A relative of three women released on Wednesday said detainees were being divided into four categories: passers-by, those who watched, those who clapped and those who joined in.

02 October 2007

for what it's worth

Why do I always think about this song anytime shit happens like what's going down in Burma right now?

and I said I wouldn't write much before I left for California...

International Bloggers Day for Burma on Oct. 4 has announced an International Bloggers' Day for Burma on October 4th.

Bloggers who support the protests are being asked not to post that day and instead display one of the Free Burma banners or images (like the one above) that have been created for the online protest.

A list of participating bloggers -- I'm #2382 -- can be found here. Even though the government of Myanmar has cut off Internet access, words and pictures are still being spread worldwide.

what did I say about peace?

Sometimes one image is juxtaposed against another to bring home a point.

"Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety."
Thich Nhat Hanh -- Vietnamese Buddhist monk, nominated in 1967 by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize

This image is taken from ko htike's blog who continues to write, post photos, and YouTube videos of the situation in Tibet*. There is also a link to Burmese Bloggers Without Borders if you want current information about the situation.

Thousands dead in massacre, bodies of monks dumped in the jungle
October 1, 2007

Yangon, Myanmar -- Thousands of protesters are dead and the bodies of hundreds of executed monks have been dumped in the jungle, a former intelligence officer for Burma's ruling junta has revealed....

Reports from other exiles along the frontier confirmed that hundreds of monks had simply ' disappeared' as 20,000 troops swarmed around Rangoon yesterday to prevent further demonstrations by religious groups and civilians.

Word reaching dissidents hiding out on the border suggested that as well as executions, some 2,000 monks are being held in the notorious Insein Prison or in university rooms which have been turned into cells.

There were reports that many were savagely beaten at a sports ground on the outskirts of Rangoon, where they were heard crying for help.

Where are Myanmar's monks?
October 2, 2007

Thousands of Buddhists have been arrested and scores killed, observers say, but no one can find them

BANGKOK, Thailand -- After paying a heavy price for their uprising, Myanmar's monks are nursing their wounds and hoping for international action against the military junta that crushed their peaceful protests with bullets and tear gas.

A new estimate by a well-connected dissident group has concluded that 138 people were killed and about 6,000 detained, including about 2,400 Buddhist monks, when the regime smashed the anti-government protests last week....

Another report said many of the arrested monks are being held at a former race course, where they were forced to give up their robes and change into civilian clothes.

Several monasteries, brutally raided by police and soldiers last week, are nearly empty now.

From the above story: "Monks in northern Burma who spoke to the Associated Press confirmed that many of their colleagues were killed or beaten and taken away by the military. But they predicted the monks would not give up.

"I want our demands to be fulfilled. I want peace," said one. "The best thing is to have balance and equality and peace."

Bush appeals to China to pressure Myanmar
September 27

President George W. Bush reached out to China to exert its influence on Myanmar on Thursday, an admission that new U.S. sanctions alone will not be enough to stop the ruling junta's crackdown on protesters.

Trying to rally the international community against Myanmar's generals, Bush met Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and asked Beijing "to help bring a peaceful transition to democracy in Burma," the White House said....

A leading European Parliament lawmaker suggested that European countries should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics unless China does more to resolve the Myanmar crisis.

The White House played down any prospect of the United States staying away from the games or Bush canceling plans to attend if China fails to put pressure on Myanmar.
But Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino reiterated the president's view the "world is going to be watching" in the run-up to the Olympics.

If you were paying attention in the first paragraph, you would have noticed that although I was thinking Burma I typed the word "Tibet." That was an honest mistake, I've changed nothing except to add the asterik. I went back to proofread and saw that while I was writing about Burma, I was thinking about Tibet.

So what about Tibet? I was thinking of a pithy post to write about the similarities of Burma and Tibet when I saw this post on the Precious Metal blog. The similarities are striking when one thinks about how China marched into Tibet. Chinese soldiers raided and ransacked Buddhist temples in Tibet. Chinese soldiers jailed and killed Buddhist monks in Tibet. Buddhist monks are "reprogrammed" in Tibet, that is, made to listen to Chinese government propaganda in their temples.

And now Pres. Shrub is "appealing" to China to pressure Burma? Where is the outrage for Tibet?

Hollywood celebrities are speaking out about Burma. Where is the outrage for Tibet? Is Richard Gere the only actor who knows where Tibet is?

Don't get me wrong -- I am not saying one should be given precedence over the other, but do you see where I'm going with this?

Free Burma. Free Tibet. Free all beings from oppression.

Boycott the 2008 Olympics

01 October 2007


I have seen Gregory Colbert's website Ashes and Snow on more than a few blogs and his stunningly beautiful photographs always bring tears to my eyes.

Colbert says "In exploring the shared language and poetic sensibilities of all animals, I am working towards rediscovering the common ground that once existed when people lived in harmony with animals. The images depict a world that is without beginning or end, here or there, past or present."

On occasion when I meditate I receive visions. I've had a vision of healing elephants in India with some type of healing touch modality. Don't know when, where, why, or how, it just is. I don't attach to it, it just is. I also know that the next step on my Path is somehow combining a touch healing modality with yoga and taking it on the road, so to speak, away from whatever is holding me back.

The photos on this website bring me a profound peace. I hope they do the same for you. Enjoy them until my return.


Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

Then we learn that there is no peace walk;
that peace is the walk;
that there is no happiness walk;
that happiness is the walk.
We walk for ourselves.
We walk for everyone
always hand in hand.

Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Print on Earth your love and happiness.

Earth will be safe
when we feel in us enough safety.

Thich Nhat Hanh,
Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh

the times they are a-changing

Y'all won't be reading very many cathartic musings and rants because a week from today I am headed to Northern California for Spirit Rock's Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training. I will be gone for 10 glorious days.

I can't tell you how excited and grateful I am to be accepted into this program because it is truly a ground-breaking, leading-edge training, something that I have searched for for a long time -- well, ever since I started teaching. According to the latest Tricycle magazine,
"the 18 month long training is designed to ground participants in the deeper, meditative dimensions of yoga as set out in Patanjali's classical yoga system, through the integration of asana and pranayama with mindfulness meditation techniques.... The program's integrated approach harks back to the way yoga was practiced thousands of years ago.

The teachers for this retreat -- and what's cool is that there are different yoga and Buddhist teachers for each retreat -- are Jack Kornfield, Anna Douglas, Phillip Moffit, Mark Coleman, Stephen Cope, Janice Gates, Anne Cushman, and Tias Little.

The retreats follow a structure similar to a vipassana retreat, with regular periods of seated and walking meditation and yoga interwoven with dharma talks, yoga talks, workshops, Q & A sessions, and individual interviews with both yoga and vipassana teachers. Awesome!

Between retreats there are readings and practice assignments and we are assigned a "dharma buddy", somebody in my geographic area.

So no blogging for me. It will be good to detach from the outside world, or at least detach as much as possible. It will almost be like going to India because when I am in India, I rarely read newspapers -- maybe the international version of the New York Times occassionally -- and I especially don't want to read about the United States. When I was in India the first time, I completely missed Hurricane Katrina. and you know what? it felt good.

So try it some time, detaching from the constant barrage of negativity and the "live in fear" mantras that this culture is bombarded with 24/7/365. you will feel a difference, believe me.

And when I return I will tell the story of how I left the yoga studio where I have been teaching the last few years. Let's just say that I had the guts to stand up and be honest about a situation that was based on delusions and lies and I got shot down in flames for it. Since Friday I have been honored and humbled by students who told me that they consider me their "spiritual teacher" -- when most days I consider myself a fraud, merely an ant at the bottom of the yoga hill.

So this retreat at Spirit Rock can't come soon enough because I feel disappointed, betrayed, and totally emotionally fried by the entire studio experience. if that sounds melodramatic, oh well, it's the way I feel. I don't live my life in delusions or lies. not anymore. and any life (or yoga studio) that is built on those two things will crumble soon enough, it's only a matter of time.

But as they say, a door closes and another one opens. I talked today to a studio owner who sounds wonderful and we are getting together after my return. Plus I will learn a healing modality in November that my gut tells me is going to be an important part of my Path. As a reiki master I always intuited that there was something more out there, something much deeper and more profound. An akashic record reader told me that "reiki is too mundane for you." And Ma India is only 86 days away.

I will leave you with the words of my teacher, Gelek Rimpoche, about how to deal with someone who upsets you:

You should try to realize that the person who is upsetting you is not doing it willingly. They are under the control of their own self-grasping ego and driven by delusion toward harmful actions. In that sense, their actions are like that of a drunkard or madman. With that understanding, ask yourself if it is worth getting angry with a madman or a drunkard. There is no reason to hate such a person, who is suffering under the control of their negative emotions.

Go with the flow, Sama, just go with the flow. Detach from the outcome and all is coming.

While I'm gone, please go over to the sidebar and look at "Compassion in Action" -- please click one or all of the charity buttons to doesn't cost you anything but about 10 seconds of your time.

salaam aleikum