Dharma Gleanings


cynthia rich


These are gleanings from fourteen years of serious Buddhist practice spent, not in India or at Spirit Rock, but in my home town of San Diego. These are the insights that gave me the joy of savoring and nourishing the spiritual growth in my life, while I brought an end (May 2007) to a half-century of political activism, came to serve as a Spiritual Care Counselor at UCSD Medical Center (May 2008-present), joined my life with a new partner and a fellow practitioner (April 2006) and six years later separated from her with mutual love and respect (March 2012), both of us having learned in that time the art of practicing more deeply and effectively with darkness and suffering whenever they would arise from the depths of Little Cynthia or Little Bettina (e.g. October 2009, June 2010, December 2012). In these years, I found peace with memory loss and with a recurring and disturbing condition (similar to depression, but induced by a sinus reaction) of sloth and torpor (e.g. January 2006, April, July and December 2007, December 2008). I came to discover the possibilities for spiritual growth in what felt like obstacles to practice, and ever more profoundly I came to experience how what we call enlightenment or awakening is indeed our natural state.

The separation of First Gleanings and More Gleanings occurred because in the last months of 2008 I felt myself descending into an unusually persistent and relentless state of sloth and torpor that I found unmanageable. I had difficulty walking across a room or remembering why I was walking. I felt I had come to the end of “thinking” and though I learned to practice with it (December 2008) and continued recording gleanings as they emerged, I closed the possibility of sharing them online in this way. The memory loss has continued, and I have befriended it in deep ways (October 2013). Daily yoga, which I had begun in September 2008, has greatly reduced the sloth and torpor, allowing me to send More Gleanings, New Gleanings and now Final Gleanings into the world.

Final Gleanings brings to a close, not my practice, but the impulse to record the insights it affords me, for reasons I try to share in the Coda. In 2015 my practice helped me to resolve a separation I’ve felt from companion animals (July) and opened up deeper experiences of emptiness and form (September-December).

So I offer up these fourteen years of my practice life, with no idea whether or how or to whom they may be nourishing. They are simply an expression of my gratitude for and devotion to a practice that has been life transforming for me.

Note: First Gleanings and More Gleanings each has her own foreword.