Thursday, July 2, 2015


Happy Birthday to my niece, Louise!  She'll be missing her "mum," my sister Flora on this day...

By the way, and curiously, I note a huge spike in readers in Greece.  Was it something I said?  But welcome anyway.  I sympathize with your current plight, and wish you a speedy recovery from financial woes.

As for me, I'm checking out until Monday for the July Fourth weekend.  We're picking up Luka from school today and bringing him back down to Laguna, where he'll spend the next two days with us.  Sarah joins us late Friday night or Saturday.  I don't anticipate much writing time!  Have a great Fourth!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Yesterday's perception was a useful and I think an accurate one, and I left it hanging, thinking to return for some further contemplation in order to reach a better understanding of its origins and effects.

Today, I came to what I think is the wiser follow-up perception: do nothing.  Accept the perception for what it's worth, recognize the validity of the experience--and let it go.  There's nothing I can do to change what's past, and I have done enough inner work to understand how some of the early wounds remained unhealed through much of my adult life, determining the course of some events.  There's nothing to be gained in going over them again.  So it's better simply to say thanks to the perception for popping up uninvited, and let it go.

And go it will.  As everything does--thoughts, feelings, physical sensations...  They all come and go.  There's no benefit at this time in my life in holding on to them, nursing them, examining them, trying to understand or heal them.  Just watch them come and watch them go, with awareness, yes, but without interfering to stop them in their passage.

So.... Poof!  It's gone.  This morning, in my meditation, I sat and did nothing.  No program, no method, no purpose, no issue to resolve.  Just sat and watched who came to visit.  Welcomed them all, thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and let them go their way.  The time went fast.

Monday, June 29, 2015


This morning after meditation I managed finally to name an unhealthy reactive pattern in my life that needs to be examined--with all the discomfort such self-inquiries bring along with them.  The name that came to me was "falling short," and it felt like a perfect fit.  Before, in meditation, I had been working with the idea of "laziness," but the word did not feel right in quite the same way.  I don't think I'm actually lazy. But "falling short" has the precision of a sophisticated lock, with all the tumblers falling into place with unassailable finality.  Do you know how that feels?

If I look back in a thoughtfully critical way--I hope without self-pity, but rather with the kind of clarity and honesty I aspire to--I recognize this pattern in almost every aspect of my professional life: falling short as a student, privileged to attend one of the greatest universities in the world; falling short in the career I embarked upon shortly after, as a grammar school teacher; falling short, next, in the world of academia, as a student and teacher of literature; falling short as a poet, abandoning that path after the publication of two books; falling short as a college administrator, a career that I quit just as the greater possibilities were opening up for me; falling short as a novelist, again after the publication of two books in the 1980s; falling short as the art critic, when it came to making a whole-hearted commitment.

In each of these fields I believe I could have had outstanding success, had I approached it with a full heart and with full conviction.  But in each case I chose to fall short.  And this is not to mention the more personal ways in which, looking back over the decades, I fell short.

I'm no fan of breast-beating.  It comes dangerously close to the self-pity I wish above all things to avoid.  I take full responsibility for all this falling short, and mention it in these pages only because I choose, here, to be as fully authentic as I can.  If you look at the banner I devised for The Buddha Diaries, up above, you'll be reminded that it's about "getting to the heart of the matter," no matter what that matter is.  Just recently, I've been trying to get to the heart of the experience of loss...

And now that I have this reactive pattern formulated in a way that feels just right, it's incumbent on me to get to its heart, to explore its original and meaning.  One way to do this, I have learned, is to examine "what's at risk."  If it's a choice--if I accept responsibility for this pattern in my life--what do I stand to lose in falling short?  And what's the benefit, to me, in choosing the shortfall rather than the persistence that it takes to go further?  What's at risk in failure?  And, just as importantly, what's at risk in success?  Something to contemplate...

Friday, June 26, 2015


A word from Ajahn Chah, discovered in a book I'm reading for review: "If you want to practice meditation, put a chair in the center of a room.  Sit in the chair and see who comes to visit."

Oh, yes...

But here's the curious thing: I sat this morning in my chair and invited in whoever might want to stop by to visit; and I was surprised to be approached by every sexual partner I ever had (or could remember), starting with the violators.  Deeply disturbing...  But something, surely, on which to meditate.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


All this fuss about the Confederate flag is well and good.

But once it is down, what about the rest of it?  The equal opportunity?  Even-handed justice for all?  An education system that provides the best schooling available for all of our citizens?  Voting rights assured for everyone, regardless of "race"?  Health care for every American?

These are just some of the systemic problems that won't go away without a government for all the people, not just the privileged few.

So, in the wake of only the most recent tragedy afflicting African Americans, will our congressional leaders start to address these issues in some serious way?  Or are we content simply to take down the flags, censor the offensive language, and ensure that the windows are properly dressed?

This is what I want to know.

See Nicholas Kristof in today's New York Times.