have to decide
right now to be free
once and for all. Everyone who
has found freedom in this lifetime has
had to make this decision. Now is the time
to have a direct introduction to this moment.
This moment is free of time, of mind, of any notions.
When one abides as the Self, some divine power
takes charge of one’s life. All actions then take
place spontaneously, and are performed
very efficiently, without any
mental effort or
When turtles hide in the mud, they come to no harm. When they emerge from the mud, people catch them. When fish lurk in the depths, they remain whole. When they come out of the depths, birds kill them.
What I realize as I observe this is the tao of harming life and enhancing life.
The reason that people ordinarily cannot enhance life, and tend to hasten to their doom, is that they cannot hide their light and nurture it in darkness — confident of their intelligence, they use their talent and wit too much.
Intellectual brilliance, talent, and wit divide the mind and disturb one’s nature, so that sane energy wanes day by day, and aberrant energy grows days by day. Eventually the root of life is shaken, so mortality is inevitable.
This is why adept humans do not give rise to thoughts from within and do not take in things from without. They appear to lack what they do in fact have; though fulfilled, they appear empty. They appear to be simpletons; they have understanding that they do not employ, they have illumination that they do not allow to shine.
Such people do not let the artificial damage the real, do not let externals disturb them inwardly. They only respond to an intuitive sense, only rise when pressed, only act when there is no choice. Though they are outwardly responsive, they remain inwardly unmoved. Though physically active, their minds remain unstirring.
When you meet such people, you cannot tell where they are going; when you follow such people, you cannot tell where they have been. Even Creation cannot constrain them, so what harm can befall them? They are like turtles gone into the mud where people cannot catch them, like fish lurking in the depths where birds cannot kill them.
to learn to catch a mouse?
Don’t try to learn from a pampered cat.
If you want to learn the nature of the world,
don’t study fine bound books. The True Jewel’s
in a coarse bag. Buddha-nature stops at huts. The
whole herd of folks who clutch at the outside
of things never seem to make the
upon a time 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
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
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
When I lost
my daughter more than fifteen
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,
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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