Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich

February 22, 2016—March 30, 2016

February 22, 2016
Today in the hospital: Sun Min, a thirty-two year old Chinese Canadian woman, has asked for a Buddhist counselor. We talk in a quiet waiting room, where her son plays happily with some toys. Sun Min finds herself stranded in San Diego with her three-year-old son and her dearly loved husband who has invasive cancer and now a stroke. They have no savings and will lose the little business they had started in a remote Canadian town. His family is in Germany, hers in China.

She tells me she is a 16-year meditator, who has even taught meditation, and then tells me the details of her desperate situation. She clearly needs to share her story, and yet does so without urgency or self-pity. At the end of my visit, we embrace, and she whispers in my ear—almost as though she were making a Buddhist confession—“I know it’s terribly sad, but—I am happy.”

She knows that she will be understood.

February 22, 2016
Often we will hear people say, often with pain and confusion in their voice, that they hesitate to give money to people who are homeless, since they don’t know whether it will be used for food or drugs.

We can make our guesses about the appropriateness of any gift, however we can never know, with any gift, whether it will be used for good or ill—that lovely vase may fuel materialism or grasping. The woman whose breath speaks of whiskey may use your three dollars and caring words for a bus ride to the rehab center. All we can be responsible for is intention and our willingness to make connection.

February 28, 2016
Faith, in Buddhism, cannot be “blind” faith, as in walking with a blindfold on. The Buddha told us that we must see for ourselves. The faith that is required is the faith that says, “This is worth pursuing, this is worth committing to, to see where it will lead me.”

March 30, 2016
Nirvana is not about reaching a place of only sweet feelings. It’s reaching a place where all feelings—sweet, sour, bitter—are seen as flowing through, not solid, no meaning weighting them down.

Happiness is beside the point.
The point is to bring the mind into alignment with reality.
When we get to the point, happiness is there by our side.