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Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

September 23, 2015—November 2, 2015

September 23, 2015
We need to be aware whenever we find that we are trying to see ourselves through other people’s eyes. For one thing, it is a laughable exercise, a deluded distraction, as if we were trying to see ourselves—or our living room or our car—through a cow’s eyes or a termite’s. For another, it takes us away from our true consciousness, the space from which we need to live and grow and interbe with others.

September 25, 2015
Like literature or music or painting or the other arts (February 10, 2015), the different systems of religious belief can serve as dharma doors. They encourage us to crack open our shells of conditioning and uncover the reality of a wider non-material world. They can remind us of the immeasurable, give us the nourishment and energy we need to widen our compassion and deepen our comprehension of human experience. Whatever the myth, whether Satan or heaven or hell or Jesus walking on water or the Garden of Eden or the Pureland or God the Father or a godlike Buddha, it points us to larger and deeper understandings of the nature of reality, which is the dharma. It’s when our adherence to these fingers pointing to the moon becomes more compelling than the moon herself that religion becomes the great divider, a finger pointing in a darker direction.

September 26, 2015
Pope Francis has been visiting the States, and in his address to clergy he observed that the primary problems in the U.S. were unchecked consumerism and loneliness.

Francis appears to have much of the spiritual beauty of the Dalai Lama. In closeups of his face when he is meeting or talking with someone, one can feel his loving presence, the immediacy of I-Thou. In that face we can see clearly that the alternative to loneliness lies not in finding people to love us, rather in loving. But the Pope has millions who love him! we might say. However, we know countless politicians or performers who are loved by millions and who are desperate in their loneliness.

A friend tells me that her partner is losing so many of his friends through life’s impermanence in the form of aging and death, and that is a tragedy because “we always said that his friends were his treasure.” However it was not his friends who were his treasure, it was his capacity for friendship, and that he has not lost, and that will keep him from loneliness.

October 30, 2015
It seems that most people, at least in our society, are hyper-vigilant. These days, now that I can relax into life—for that is what aligning oneself to reality feels like—I can see that, even though I’ve never been what you would call a serious worrier, there was usually just a little edge to my way of being in the world, as though I were an animal in the woods with my ears slightly raised even when all was tranquil. It was a level of vigilance scarcely noticeable at the time, just felt like a normal alertness. However, that’s the difference between being alert and being aware. To be fully aware is to be entirely present for whatever arises. The alertness that is hyper-vigilance prevents us from that full awareness—that small edge of dis-ease distracts us from the now—it is always about the future, being on guard for what might happen next. It is delicious now to recognize that little edge when she arrives, and let her go.

October 31, 2015
As we learn to be less reactive in the present, we become less and less fearful or worrying about the future. When we feel fear imagining what might happen to us in the future, what we are dreading is not the thing itself—the car crash, the loss of a limb or a lover—it is how we imagine we would react. As we come to face with more equanimity the world of unpredictable events as they occur, we feel safer in knowing that we will not be overcome by what arises in the future. We know that we will respond, not react. The imagined dreadful happenings feel less dreadful.

November 2, 2015
Wanting is the enemy of mindfulness, since wanting always takes us to the future. However, if we can be mindful of our wanting it is a great friend to our practice.