a poem by venerable old master ren jun

Old Master Jen Chun

A Poem by Venerable Old Master Ren Jun (Jen Chun)

We welcome the New Year and its brightness with the Spring Festival,

Permeated by great sounds of cheer.

With blessings and laughter,

We drink and eat and enjoy ourselves.


Humans with great hearts look at a world that is desolate and depressed.

They are careworn with worry.

They renounce comfort and pleasure and steel body and mind to the task.

They reject shallow solutions and cultivate true peace.


Others idle their lives away, not knowing how to control themselves.

They are buried by their blessings and end up in misery.

Such stories are repeated endlessly throughout history and

Fill us with dread and frighten us to the core.


We come into this world with the call to become extraordinary and courageous warriors,

And when we leave, we have accomplished this ultimate goal.

Our bodies and minds are stirred to act with fervor and commitment.

We dedicate ourselves to this task, dropping any sense of a giver or something given.


Bright spring pervades everywhere, inspiring the spring wind.

With great energy, spring blossoms into a smile

That spreads across ten thousand flowers—

Spring bursts forth in the countenance of the Bodhisattva.

Published by Chan Meditation Center NY 2009 here


farm to table concerns

Our fresh produce, how wonderful to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables! How wonderful to open a can of veggies when in a pinch!

fruits and veggies

Today I am considering the farmer, the farm workers, the packers, the truckers, etc. Who are the farmers and workers?

The following is a story about one of our farm workers in Florida,

“Antonio, a young man from Colombia, obtained an H2-A visa and came to the U.S. to work on a tomato farm in Florida.  The recruiters in Colombia promised to take care of his H-2A visa application to ensure that Antonio could legally enter and work in the U.S.  They described good living conditions and promised he would make enough money to send home to his family.  Upon his arrival, Antonio realized that the conditions were very different than he was promised.  He lived in a rundown building along with many other employees.  He was required to work every day of the week for extremely long hours.  He witnessed two other employees being physically assaulted for taking a break.  Antonio wanted to leave, but felt as if he had nowhere to go.  The owner of the company had taken his passport and visa and refused to give it back to him.  The employer threatened to call the police and immigration if Antonio or any of the other workers tried to leave.  Once when a manager took him and two other employees into town to purchase food, Antonio tried to ask a passerby for assistance.  He was reprimanded and told not to talk to others.  After Antonio was physically assaulted on the job by one of his managers, he made the decision to escape.  He had memorized the NHTRC hotline number from the Know Your Rights Pamphlet issued by the Department of State.  He called the hotline to report the situation and request referrals.  The NHTRC reported the situation to specialized law enforcement and a local service provider, who provided shelter and legal services to Antonio.  An investigation was later opened and the service provider was able to assist other victims in exiting the situation options.

I received an email today from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the above story was written within the letter.

Let’s make the time to reflect about all aspects of our lives which includes not only thinking about my own health and well-being, but about the health and well-being of those who provide our food – from farm to table.

The values that we profess are often disconnected to how we act. We say we don’t believe in slavery, yet our actions endorse slavery when we choose to neglect the facts that slaves may be producing what we are purchasing!

Are we purchasing food and other items made by slaves? 

Free the Slaves provides info here


honoring anniversary of milarepa

May all sentient beings be happy!



international women’s day – a tribute

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to honor the accomplishments of women throughout the world. As I sat before my laptop with an intention to write a tribute tears manifested. Today is a day to smile and be appreciative, I am, yet tears arose for a few minutes – so many are suffering.

A few months ago, when reading Gandhi’s Hind Swaraj, yet another time, I was struck where he was quoted within the Introduction, “The Western civilization which passes for civilization is disgusting to me.” Whereupon a powerful thought arose in my mind, “Patriarchy is disgusting to me!”

So today I am thinking about my feminist persuasion, in light of the world-wide patriarchal systems that continue to oppress women and men through economic, social, and cultural institutions inclusive of religion, and decided to honor bell hooks whose life and work have been, and continue to be, an inspiration to many.

Recently Professor hooks wrote an article, Dig Deep: Beyond Lean In, in light of Sheryl Sandburg’s book Lean In that has been receiving praise and promotion.   Questions arise, where is the praise and promotion coming from? Who does Lean In really benefit? Who is endorsing the book?

The link to the above mentioned article is here - answers to these questions are addressed from a deep perspective. Please consider taking the time to read it.

In closing, the following quote offers bell hooks’ definition of feminism, one that I resonate with deeply:

 “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” No matter their standpoint, anyone who advocates feminist politics needs to understand the work does not end with the fight for equality of opportunity within the existing patriarchal structure. We must understand that challenging and dismantling patriarchy is at the core of contemporary feminist struggle – this is essential and necessary if women and men are to be truly liberated from outmoded sexist thinking and actions.”

Note: “Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence. When my older brother and I were born with a year separating us in age, patriarchy determined how we would each be regarded by our parents. Both our parents believed in patriarchy; they had been taught patriarchal thinking through religion.” (from Understanding Patriarchy by Bell Hooks)

Terrance Real writes: “Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed “masculine” and “feminine” in which half of our human traits are exalted while the other half is devalued. Both men and women participate in this tortured value system. Psychological patriarchy is a “dance of contempt,” a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It is the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western civilization generation after generation, deforming both sexes, and destroying the passionate bond between them.” (ibid, 4)

All the best wishes for a kinder and freer world for all sentient beings!


creating a compassionate world: the power of one

Creating a Compassionate World: The Power of One

September 12 – 14, 2014 @ Garrision Institute New York

the power of one headshots

“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that

an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…” 

Dr. M. L. King, 1967

“Contemplative practice ultimately takes us off the pillow, out of our temples and into the world. Join us for a weekend retreat/intensive with six leading contemplative activists offering hope against hunger, hatred, homelessness, war, racism and human trafficking: Bhikkhu BodhiRoshi Bernie GlassmanFather John DearVenerable PannavatiBhikkhu Pannadipa, and Venerable Ani Drubgyudma. Each of these leaders have stood alone to be a voice for change. But, making that decision was the catalyst for many others to follow their own hearts.”

Additional information may be found here


kunsang dolma

a tibetan woman sharing her story, along with stories of other tibetan women who are addressing social concerns for the greater good of humanity’s struggle to create a just and kind world, is kunsang dolma. i applaud her courage.

kunsang dolma


mother of all buddhas

Excerpt from the Prajnaparamita Sutra – The Mother of All Buddhas

SARIPUTRA: This Perfection of Wisdom, O radiant Lord, is none other than the total awakeness which is omniscience.

LORD BUDDHA: So it is, noble Sariputra, precisely as you say.

SARIPUTRA: The Perfection of Wisdom shines forth as a sublime light, 0 Buddha nature. I sing this spontaneous hymn of light to praise Mother Prajnaparamita. She is worthy of infinite praise. She is utterly unstained, because nothing in this insubstantial world can possibly stain her. She is an ever-flowing fountain of incomparable light, and from every conscious being on every plane, she removes the faintest trace of illusory darkness. She leads living beings into her clear light from the blindness and obscurity caused by moral and spiritual impurity as well as by partial or distorted views of Reality. In her alone can we find true refuge. Sublime and excellent are her revelations through all persons of wisdom. She inspires and guides us to seek the safety and certainty of the bright wings of enlightenment. She pours forth her nectar of healing light to those who have made themselves appear blind. She provides the illumination through which all fear and despair can be utterly renounced.

She manifests the five mystic eyes of wisdom, the vision and penetration of each one more exalted than the last. She clearly and constantly points out the path of wisdom to every conscious being with the direct pointing that is her transmission and empowerment. She is an infinite eye of wisdom. She dissipates entirely the mental gloom of delusion. She does not manipulate any structures of relativity. Simply by shining spontaneously, she guides to the spiritual path whatever beings have wandered into dangerous, negative, self-centered ways.

Mother Prajnaparamita is total awakeness. She never substantially creates any limited structure because she experiences none of the tendencies of living beings to grasp, project or conceptualize. Neither does she substantially dismantle or destroy any limited structure, for she encounters no solid limits. She is the Perfect Wisdom which never comes into being and therefore never goes out of being. She is known as the Great Mother by those spiritually mature beings who dedicate their mind streams to the liberation and full enlightenment of all that lives.

She is not marked by fundamental characteristics. This absence of characteristics is her transcendent, mystic motherhood, the radiant blackness of her womb. She is the universal benefactress who presents, as a sublime offering to truth, the limitless jewel of all Buddha qualities, the miraculous gem which generates the ten inconceivable powers of a Buddha to elevate living beings into consciousness of their innate Buddha nature. She can never be defeated in any way, on any level. She lovingly protects vulnerable conscious beings who cannot protect themselves, gradually generating in them unshakable fearlessness and diamond confidence. She is the perfect antidote to the poisonous view which affirms the cycle of birth and death to be a substantial reality. She is the clear knowledge of the open and transparent mode of being shared by all relative structures and events. Her transcendent knowing never wavers. She is the Perfect Wisdom who gives birthless birth to all Buddhas. And through these sublimely Awakened Ones, it is Mother Prajnaparamita alone who turns the wheel of true teaching.

LORD BUDDHA: Precisely so, beloved Sariputra.


April 2014
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