Thinking (as usual) and what we’re afraid of.

Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. from Hamlet, W. Shakespeare

Five Recollections:

  • I am of the nature to grow old; there is no way to escape growing old.
  • I am of the nature to have ill health; there is no way to escape having ill health.
  • I am of the nature to die; there is no way to escape death.
  • All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
  • My deeds are my closest companions. I am the beneficiary of my deeds. My deeds are the ground on which I stand.

And finally, this amazing article on facing fear and suffering:

Outside_ Angela Madsen



In order to de-stress, you have to embrace it

I was just thinking it’s going to be a hard winter for us all, with lots of suffering, or stress. Meditators have an edge in dealing with suffering. At least I hope so. Hang in there!

In the following article, if you substitute “suffering” or “thinking” or “ruminating” or “fretting” for “stress”, you will learn a lot about what we’re doing in Recollective Awareness!

This is a great article taken from a TED talk:

How to be good at stress

And of course there’s lots of lists of what to do to deal with stress. Not sure either of these is the “answer”. But I put it down to help you think about what your own list might be:

View at



Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen and Mr. Kitty

My teacher and dear friend, Mary Ellen Landolina,  died peacefully early this morning. I want to take a moment to acknowledge how much she taught me and how blessed I feel to have known her.

She welcomed me (and so many others) to Tri-State Dharma with enthusiasm and sincerity. She introduced me to the Dharma in a non-threatening way. I thank Mary Ellen for her encouragement and for guiding me towards learning painting and teaching meditation. I know she effected different people in different ways: the true sign of a great teacher.

Mary Ellen emphasized a style of Buddhism that was both reasonable and loving, without judgement or a reliance on ritual. Her joy and curiosity infused her life and was her greatest gift.




Concepts and beliefs- Part 1

Beginning this week, I’d like to look at certain concepts that often come up in our meditation practice that we take for granted, or may not even pay attention to at all.  The Buddha pointed to them, but sometimes meditation teachers and writers have been a little less than rigorous in defining what they’re talking about. Here’s a few of these concepts that are great for investigating during your meditation:

  1. Authority: who are you going to believe…and why?


The self



Any requests?

From Heather for additional talking point: Reassurance or some concept indicating the positive support that is needed and provided by a teacher.

Recommended film from Heidi:

A provocative social experiment-turned-documentary, KUMARE follows American filmmaker Vikram Gandhi as he transforms himself into a wise Indian guru, hoping to prove the absurdity of blind faith.







Be Here Now

Here’s the article on the present moment and what it may or may not be. Batchelor doesn’t go into much detail, but at least it might help you to think about how we experience (or not) the present moment.

Self-Reliance and the Present Moment: Stephen Batchelor

and here’s the very funny New Yorker article on how frustrating the breathing instructions in meditation can be:

Finally, here’s the article where you can find the  Mary Oliver poem I read to you.

Mary Oliver on the Measure of a Life Well Lived and How to Maximize Our Aliveness


The Dark Side

I had some thoughts, possibly given a bit haphazardly, about how the present mood of the United States is creating a sense of selfishness and anger that is at odds with the teachings of the Buddha and with our ability to be at peace. I guess this isn’t a huge insight, but at least we can recognize it and make an effort to understand our emotions right now.

Here are some interesting articles on personality and culture:




Authenticity and Honesty: for yourself

Today we talked some more about working with difficult or discursive thoughts and emotions. We often find that our sitting practice contains two typical elements: thoughts that run on in a way that may seem like annoying chatter, and also periods of calm, more observational states. Both are fine.

From Jason’s book Thoughts are Not the Enemy: “In Recollective Awareness meditation we are working toward becoming aware, wise and compassionate individuals, not just good, positive-thinking people. So instead we move toward being honest with ourselves when we feel hatred, envy, lust, greed, and other negative emotions. We don’t want to replace them each time they arise–that would not be honest.”

Also take a look at what Herman Hesse said about difficult thoughts and taking responsibility for them:

Hermann Hesse on Hope, the Difficult Art of Taking Responsibility, and the Wisdom of the Inner Voice