tui 兌 the joyous


In its essence,

the Way is without words.

All this talking and pointing

and carrying on, only signposts.

Gather too many of them

and they’ll weigh you

down. Just be



Wei wu Wei Ching, Chapter 58

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song of the skin bag

olivia hsu


Renounce riches and jewels.

Look lightly on body and life.

Reject them as spit and phlegm, and do not hesitate!

Hold precepts purely,

Be blemishless!

In four comportments be clear as ice and pure as jade.

When scolded, don’t be angry;

When beaten, do not hate.

Bear what is hard to bear. Forget about mockery. Overlook sarcasm.

Oblivious to winter and summer,

Be ceaselessly relentless.

From start to finish, hold Amitabha Buddha’s name in mind.

Do not lapse into torpor;

Refrain from getting scattered.

Be like the pine and the cypress, never withering, evergreen.

Doubt not the Buddha.

Doubt not the Dharma.

Inherent awareness lets us know clearly what we see and hear.

Bore through the paper,

Pierce the cowhide.

Make your mind perfectly bright and free from error.

Return to the origin;

Reach liberation.

Go back to the source, retrieve your inherent innocence.

Nothing’s not nothing;

Emptiness isn’t empty:

The divine potential’s revealed; its wonder hard to imagine.

When you arrive,

You haven’t toiled in vain.

The impacts of your causal ground are finished.

Now you are known

As a Great Hero,

All ten titles fit perfectly. You are a teacher of many generations.

Ah! The same leaking shell can now manifest

As a complete body pervading ten directions!

With good and evil distinguished clearly, no more mistakes occur. 

So why rely on the false alone and fail to practice the true?

Hsu Yun

9 November 1998 – 27 November 2010:
 on this date a buddha was born



twenty years ago, after

living for a year and a half without a dog,

I got a call from my friend Lynelle.  She had been hiking on

Mt. Sanitas, run into a woman with two beautiful standard poodles,

asked where she’d gotten them, called the woman in Rock Creek who was

the source, and discovered that she had a litter of puppies ready

to go.  I phoned the woman, got directions to her home,

took Sofia out of school, and

drove there.


I used to believe,

having trained dogs when I was

younger, that I knew something about them.

When we got to Rock Creek, I started performing puppy tests,

in my mannish way, to sort out which was the best dog of the five available.

Sasha was the first dog I tested, the runt of the litter, and it took me all of a minute

or so to dispense with her.  I was on to the third or fourth puppy when

Sofia, who was sitting quietly against the fence with Sasha

in her lap, spoke softly.  “Dad, I think we

should take this one.”



“Really?!”, I said.

I’d been decidedly unimpressed with her.

But I always knew my daughter was smarter than me,

so that was the end of it.  We paid the woman

and went home with our

new dog.



It would be fairer

to say that Sasha raised Sofia than

that I did.  She slept with her every night,

napped with her every afternoon,

communed with her





I lost my daughter almost thirteen

 years ago, it was Sasha who carried me through it.

 In Tibetan culture dogs are regarded as the reincarnations

of high lamas, and are treated accordingly.  Sasha

taught me over the course of a dozen

years that this is fact,

not fancy.



To try

to recount all else that

Sasha carried me through, taught me,

helped me to bear, suffered or savored or celebrated with me

would require more space than the internet offers.  I realized early, as did

most everyone who knew her, that I was in the presence of a realized being —

pure grace, pure patience, pure humor, pure steadfastness.  I didn’t

always behave accordingly, though mostly I’d like to think I did,

at least in the way I held her, regarded her, treated her.

But I did always know what I was looking at

when I looked in those




When she was

diagnosed with melanoma

in 2008, they told me,

“Three months,





stayed twenty four,

through three surgeries, a bunch of

radiation, an experimental study at CSU.

Throughout she was as present, as loving, as kind

hearted as ever.  In early fall of 2010 I walked over to

Whole Foods with her for a cup of coffee to drink with my NY Times.

We sat down at the tables out front, and a middle-aged woman a couple of

tables away was talking, rather incessantly, with a young couple at a table on the

other side of her.  I could tell immediately that she was somewhat needy

and unhappy, describing her husband’s refusal to let her decorate

her home the way she liked, and things like that.  The couple

answered her politely, if unenthusiastically,

and left after a few minutes.


At that

point she turned to me and

 began asking questions.  I don’t love a lot of

conversation first thing in the morning, especially of a certain

kind, especially with strangers, and I answered in the best way I could

to get across the message, “I’m going to drink this coffee and quietly enjoy my

paper now.”  She understood and quieted down after a few questions, but

I could still feel her very real unhappiness just vibrating away.  After

a minute or two, Sasha got up, walked over to her table, and lay

at her feet.  She stayed there, soul-doctoring

in silence, until I left a half an

hour later.



This was Sasha

on the day she left her body.

One eye had stopped working a few days

earlier, the other was glassy, and she had a hard time

locating us if she was more than a few feet away.  But when

you put your face next to hers, or curled your body

around her, she was the same as she ever was.

She curled back into you and

radiated love.


I could never

summarize her and won’t try.

But I understand in my bones what bodhisattva

means because of Sasha, and also how Rumi stopped

searching for Shams because he came to

understand that Shams lived

inside him.



This is

the best friend and

 greatest teacher and purest love

I’ve ever known, on the 25th of July of 2010,

filling my home in Boulder with God.  Ibn al -Ghazali wrote

that “Prayers for the dead are on the same footing as gifts for the living.

The angel goes in to the dead with a tray of light, bearing a cloth of light,

and says, ‘This is a gift for you from your brother so-and-so,

from your relative so-and-so.’ And he delights in

it just as a living man rejoices

in a gift.”


Do me

a favor today and

send a tray of light to Sasha.

Trust me when I tell you that she is

never not sending one to each

and every one of



IMG_3523 sasha shadow canyon instagram


North star,

guiding light,



do not attempt to intervene now

A period has been entered when inferior influences will prevail. Even a superior person who seeks to act now will be undermined by the time. There is no reason to resist this state of affairs; indeed, it is natural that the inferior elements periodically come to the fore. Adversity is often a stimulant to our spiritual growth, and what is important is the spirit in which we meet it.

When challenging situations come to call, we are often overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, doubt, and fear. We fear that if we do not act immediately and vigorously, we will be ruined, we doubt the power of the Creative to resolve the situation favorably. It is when we act upon these feelings that we engage in “splitting apart”: we split apart from our spiritual path, our devotion to the Higher Power, and the wisdom of patient nonaction in the face of difficulty. If you take this course now, you will prevent the Creative from coming to your aid and unnecessarily increase your own misfortune.

The guide to proper behavior at such times lies in the image of the hexagram, which is “mountain over earth”. By keeping as still and quiet as a mountain, by resting firmly on your foundation of proper principles, by accepting the nature of the time and not resisting it, you weather all storms. By trusting in nonaction, acceptance, and patience, you gain the strength of the very earth.

from The I Ching, or Book of Changes

Hexagram 23, Po / Splitting Apart


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this is what you shall do



is what you

shall do: Love the earth

and sun and the animals, despise riches,

give alms to every one that asks, stand up for

the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor

to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have

patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat

to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men,

go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young

and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open

air every season of every year of your life, reexamine all you

have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss

whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall

be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only

in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and

face and between the lashes of your eyes

and in every motion and

joint of your



Walt Whitman