Tag Archives: Metta Prayer

Three Truths and One Wish (on a Wednesday)

I am a Practitioner in Susan Piver’s Open Heart Project, and we are currently studying the 59 lojong slogans. Lojong means mind training and these slogans “offer pithy, powerful reminders on how to awaken our hearts in the midst of day-to-day life, under any circumstances,” and help us to see that “we can use everything we encounter in our lives–pleasant or painful–to awaken genuine, uncontrived compassion,” (Pema Chödrön, Always Maintain a Joyful Mind).

As often happens on a Tuesday, I woke up yesterday knowing it was a Three Truths and One Wish post day but having no idea what I might write about. I was also extra tired, having been so worried about Dexter, needing to keep such a close eye on him. That worry and lack of sleep also brought back a little bit of the sick that kept me home from work last week. I didn’t feel great, had very little energy or motivation, and ended up not writing anything at all.

But if I had posted, I knew what I’d write. Even though I woke up not knowing, the email came from Susan with our lojong slogan for the week. It was a set of threes, an obvious sign from the universe that here was something I could write about.

Lojong slogan: Three objects, three poisons, three seeds of virtue.

1. Truth: three objects. These give the next three, the poisons, something to attach to, a place to focus their attention and energy. The three objects are what trigger the three poisons, what provoke us. These objects are everything we crave, fear, or ignore. They are all the stuff we try to get, reject, or don’t pay any attention to. They can be people, events, experiences, or things. The three objects are what give rise to the three poisons.

Pema Chödrön describes them as “friends, enemies, and neutrals.” An Everyday Buddhadharma post on Elephant Journal explains this further by suggesting that “Whether we are aware of it or not, we tend to categorize people into friends, enemies, or neutrals and we react with corresponding emotions to these categories as if they were fixed and unchanging.” In her commentary on this slogan, Acharya Judy Lief says “One way of looking at this slogan is that it is about the power of labels. It is about the way we categorize our world and what happens as a result.”

1. Truth: three poisons. These are passion (grasping or attachment), aggression (passive or active), and ignorance (dullness, delusion, or willful confusion). I can still remember hearing about the three poisons for the first time, being completely gobsmacked by the power and clarity of that view, this way of understanding how we generate suffering.

The three poisons are always trapping you in one way or another, imprisoning you and making your world really small. When you feel craving, you could be sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, but all you can see is this piece of chocolate cake you’re craving. With aversion, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon, and all you can hear is the angry words you said to someone ten years ago. With ignorance, you’re sitting on the edge of the Grand Canyon with a paper bag over your head. Each of the three poisons has the power to capture you so completely that you don’t even perceive what’s in front of you. ~Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living

3. Truth: three seeds of virtue. These are freedom from passion, aggression, and ignorance. It is the way we can interrupt our habitual response, disrupt our normal patterns, it’s how we can turn our regular way of being into one that manifests compassion and wisdom. We see the truth of our typical behavior, become aware and take responsibility, and plant the seeds of virtue.

Pema Pema Chödrön explains this part of the slogan in her book Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living and does so beautifully, with complete clarity.

In terms of “Three objects, three poisons, and three seeds of virtue,” when these poisons arise, the instruction is to drop the story line, which means-instead of acting out or repressing-use the situation as an opportunity to feel your heart, to feel the wound. Use it as an opportunity to touch that soft spot. Underneath all that craving or aversion or jealousy or feeling wretched about yourself, underneath all that hopelessness and despair and depression, there’s something extremely soft, which is called bodhichitta.

When these things arise, train gradually and very gently without making it into a big deal. Begin to get the hang of feeling what’s underneath the story line. Feel the wounded heart that’s underneath the addiction, self-loathing, or anger: If someone comes along and shoots an arrow into your heart, it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person. It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow in your heart and to relate to that wound.

When we do that, the three poisons become three seeds of how to make friends with ourselves. They give us the chance to work on patience and kindness, the chance not to give up on ourselves and not to act out or repress. They give us the chance to change our habits completely. This is what helps both ourselves and others. This is instruction on how to turn unwanted circumstances into the path of enlightenment. By following it, we can transform all that messy stuff that we usually push away into the path of awakening: reconnecting with our soft heart, our clarity, and our ability to open further.

One Wish: That each of us develops an awareness of the ways in which we are generating suffering. That with wisdom and compassion and great gentleness we start to interrupt this behavior, to change the habitual patterns that lead to pain and poison. That we ease suffering, in ourselves and the world, and begin planting seeds of virtue instead.

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be well.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be free from suffering.

Day of Rest

Metta Prayer (original version here)

May we be well, happy and safe.
May we be free from suffering and at ease with pain.
May we live in peace and harmony with all beings.
May we live with a heart and mind that is always in balance.
May we accept with understanding and wisdom the events in life and the world.
May we forgive others and ourselves for the inevitable harms we cause each other.
May we have the patience, courage, understanding, and determination to overcome the inevitable problems in life.
May we experience and manifest loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity.

On this day of rest, dear reader, and with my whole heart, I am wishing these things for all of us.

Three Truths and One Wish

This morning, I finished reading “There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate” by Cheri Huber. As a way of helping me process some of what I learned, I’m focusing this post on truths from the book.

1. Truth: As children, we learn that love, acceptance, and approval are “out there” and must be earned somehow. I heard this idea first in one of Brene’ Brown‘s books, that when we are young, 0-5 or so, we view love and attention as survival issues, because we are aware that we are dependent on others to have our needs met–unless we can get others to love and care for us, we’ll literally die. We believe we must earn our very survival, get others to meet our needs.

Dressy Bessy

Me and Dressy Bessy, Early 70's

Then, even later in our lives, we don’t look to ourselves for love or care, don’t see them as needs we can meet. “Without feeling full ourselves, what looks like generosity and kindness is often a backwards plea to get our own needs met. A silent, ‘If I meet your needs, you must meet mine,’ ” (“Start With You” by Nona Jordan). Some of us, without even being conscious of it, stay stuck in this way of being. Stuck in looking to others for love, acceptance, and approval, we don’t learn to love, appreciate, accept, care for, or trust ourselves, we try to earn it.

2. Truth: Stuck here, we believe if our needs aren’t met, it’s because we’ve failed. We need others to meet our needs and when they aren’t, when they don’t, it’s because we aren’t good enough, we’re flawed or broken. If only we could please or perform, be perfect, we would get what we need. We don’t believe we can provide for ourselves. We become self-hating, self-destructive, self-denying, and smash ourselves to bits to try and be what we think others want. We believe we aren’t loved or accepted because something is wrong with us. We spend our attention, time, effort, and energy trying to be good, earn approval, get permission, please others by being perfect. It’s like that cellphone commercial where the guy keeps saying “can you hear me now?” but instead we are saying “do you love me now?”

3. Truth: The way out of self-hate is to learn to love and accept yourself, exactly as you are. No need for self-improvement or change, no need to earn this. We can simply drop the trying, the smashing ourselves to bits, and accept ourselves–simple in theory, but hard to do when something is so old and deep and sticky, but it’s workable, and worthwhile to try. And the good news is:

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves–the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds–never touch our basic wealth. They are like clouds that temporarily block the sun. But all the time our warmth and brilliance are right here. This is who we really are. We are one blink of an eye away from being fully awake. ~Pema Chödrön

Brave Belly

One wish: That we all know our basic goodness, remember it, have faith in it, trust it. “If you are ever going to be free, you must be willing to prove to yourself that your inherent nature is goodness, that when you stop doing everything else, goodness is what is there,” (Cheri Huber). Goodness that is loving and accepting, that can provide everything you need. “We think we are rocks, but we are gold.” May we all embody and manifest this truth.

There’s so much more truth in Cheri Huber’s book, 300 rather than just three. I put folds in the top corners of 37 pages, the places where something shimmered, the brilliant glittery light of truth almost burned through the page, made my eyes tear up. Letting go of self-hate is important work. For those of us working with it, (here’s your bonus wish), may we accomplish it quickly and without obstacle so we can get on with the good work of loving ourselves and being of benefit to others in their struggle, so that we can ease suffering in the world.

Three Truths and One Wish

I’m not ready to do a full write up, a whole review of Sunday’s Well-Fed Woman Retreatshop, as I feel like I am still digesting, processing so much of it–but I would like to share some of what I learned, some truths that Rachel shared with us.

1. Truth: “Your hungers are patient.” No matter how long you’ve ignored them, no matter how good you are at denying and disconnecting and distracting yourself, if they are true, primary hungers, they will wait.

2. Truth: We often confuse our secondary and primary hungers. “In fact, this is why so many women are hungry. They go to feed the secondary hunger without addressing the core primary hunger and are often left unsatiated because the secondary hunger isn’t what they want after all,” (read more about this in Rachel’s “Primary Hungers” post). For example, in the Retreatshop on Sunday, I identified being hungry for time, (more time to do lots of things–think, work, play, rest), but Rachel helped me to see that wasn’t the real, fundamental, primary hunger. What I really wanted was to trust myself to make the right decisions about how to spend my time. My primary hunger was for self-care.

3. Truth: We can trust ourselves. “When we are judgmental, we create a very unsafe internal environment.” Enough denial of our hungers leads to distrust. If you feel you can’t trust yourself, you become the enemy, and view each hunger as an attack. And yet, we can change this. We can move from being our own enemy to deep communication and connection. We can provide acceptance and safety and care and love for ourselves. When it comes to our hungers, we can trust them and trust that we know how to feed them. We have all the kindness and wisdom we need to do so.

One wish: that you are well-fed, in all ways, always. That you are full and satisfied, free from suffering.

Day of Rest

Dexter and I are at home, resting, while Eric is at Lory State Park hiking and running with Sam. Last night, when we came home from dinner out, Dexter was limping again.  In the last three months, he’s cracked a toenail and spent a few days limping, three different times. His toenails aren’t to blame this time. Instead, he did too much and strained his paw.

Dexter on Arthur's Rock, Lory State Park

On Friday, Eric took both dogs to Lory State Park and they ran/hiked up to the Towers, a ten mile trail, half of which is really steep. Dex was fine yesterday morning (and the hike isn’t out of the ordinary for him), but then we found four tennis balls in the little dog park, and even though we’ve had to cut down on Dexter’s fetch time in the last year because he ends up hurt, it’s so hard to say no when it makes him so happy, so after the hike, the tennis balls, and two walks yesterday, it was just a little too much. It’s so sad, because he wants to keep going, do everything he’s always done, but he’s reached an age that we sometimes have to step in and force a time out. When we got up this morning, he wasn’t limping anymore, and really wanted to go with Eric and Sam, but we thought it best that he stay home and rest. Even healthy, almost young, working breed dogs need a day of rest from time to time.

Which has me thinking again how important it is for me to cultivate time for rest. I’ve been thinking about adding another regular feature to the blog, so starting today, Sundays on A Thousand Shades of Gray will be “Day of Rest.” I’m going to try again to cultivate and keep a sabbath day in my life, a day of prayer and rest. On these days I’d like to offer you, kind and gentle readers, something that might help you in that same pursuit.

image by Kevin J. Charles

Today, it’s “30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself.” There are so many items on this list that resonated with me. For example, #1 is “Stop spending time with the wrong people,” which I have been working on this year. The explanation says, in part, “Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth.” There were many others on this list that had me tearing up, nodding my head, and whispering “yes, that too.”

On a day of rest, pick just one item from this list that particularly resonates with you. Contemplate it, consider what it means to stop doing this one thing, reflect on where in your life you could apply it, meditate for even just a few minutes on how your life might change if you were to actually stop–then let go of it and simply rest.

Mantras, prayers for this day of rest:

  • You’re already good enough, you already have more than enough, and you’re already perfect…You already have everything you need to be happy, right here and right now, (read “you’re already perfect” by Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net).
  • “You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” ~Buddha, (read “How to Love Your Authentic Self” by Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha).

On this day of rest,

May you be peaceful.
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you awaken to the light of your true nature.
May you be free.

Sun Salutation

I did it again: pushed myself so hard, I got sick.  Even though I know I’m wired this way: too tired = sick, I continue to push past my limits, not get enough rest or take proper care of myself.  When I won’t listen, keep going anyway, my body revolts, shuts down.  Headaches, tension, dizziness, nausea, unable to process what I eat like a body should, inability to think clearly or make good decisions–exhaustion.

This morning, I listened to some of Tara Brach‘s cd “Radical Self-Acceptance: A Buddhist Guide to Freeing Yourself from Shame.”  She also wrote a book on the same topic, “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.” For me, these teachings pair perfectly with the work of Brene’ Brown.  In the part I listened to, Tara talked about how our culture’s addiction to rushing, busyness, overwork, and the pressure to do more, be more is a kind of violence. She said that the Chinese character for “busyness” is translated as “heart killing.”

And yet, what did I do while I listened to her talk about this habitual strategy that causes so much suffering?  Even when I’d taken a sick day from work, had been willing to admit I needed a break and rest?  I cleaned off my desk and balanced the checkbook and did some mending.  Sick as I am, even when I am willing to admit it and stay home, I don’t allow myself to rest, do less, just be.  Even now, I should be on the couch, taking a nap, and here I am instead.

“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns…We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.” ~Tara Brach, “Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha.”

Tara suggests that we take a “sacred pause.” She said that “we can’t see what’s true…when we are busy blaming, hiding, and fixing and improving and getting other things done.” Just a little while ago, I went into the backyard and sat in the sun.  It’s cold out today, so I was in a sweater, down vest, flannel pjs, and snow boots, but sat in the sun, my own little Sun Salutation, (without all the moving around).  I took a sacred pause.  I closed my eyes and listened to the kids on recess at the grade school around the corner, the wind in the trees, my own breath in and out.  I felt the true measure, the full depth and weight of my weariness. And once again, I said to myself, “I am so sorry. You deserve so much better.”

Thank You and Amen, Day Two

I am grateful for so much right now that I almost can’t be reasonable. It’s just that there is so much good stuff, and when you start actively looking for it, it seems to multiply, and suddenly there is so much good, you can’t get your brain around it, there aren’t enough words or enough time to ever be able to explain. There is enough joy though, and enough love. Seriously, you’ve got to get in on this. There is so much extra, and I’d hate to see it go to waste, for you to miss out.

I am grateful for my students. “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ― Pema Chödrön It is that point in the semester when my students are feeling tired and overwhelmed, just when their classes are asking the most of them, demanding that now they ramp things up, really show what they’ve learned.  I got an email from one of them last night with the subject line “jiiiiiiillllll hellpppp.” Through it all, they make me laugh, allow me to help and support them, don’t act like complete jerks, and let me have my own mistakes without making too big of a deal about it.  We are all struggling, none of us can keep up, but that’s okay.  I think we are managing to learn something anyway.

Picture by Christopher Sessums


I am grateful for Pema Chödrön. She was the teacher that provided my way in to the Buddhist study and practice that have helped me so much in recent years. And you don’t have to be a Buddhist to learn from her, (technically, I am not a Buddhist). She is amazing: funny, wise, compassionate, and kind. She wants all of us to simply make friends with ourselves, to relax and not take things so seriously, to sit with what is instead of running away or getting angry or numbing out (or all the other ways we try to resist who we are and what is), and has made it her life’s work to see that manifest in the world.  She is precious, and teaches us to see that we are too.

I am grateful for the Metta Drum blog.  Right now, especially these two posts: “Your Openness is Your Gift” and “The Truth of Loving Yourself.”

Why yes, that is me as a baby.

I am grateful for the chance to rest, for the choice to rest. I am still struggling with this.  There is so much work to be done, so much to write about, so much to study, so much to read, so much to taste and feel and see and talk about and love…I am not good at knowing when to slow down, or when to quit.  But I know I can, and I am trying to do better.

I am grateful for you, dear reader.To know that you are “there,” listening, allowing me to be heard and seen, is such a gift.  Even when I am not getting direct feedback from you, I can feel the kindness, and it gives me the strength to take another risk.  And when I do get direct feedback from you, it is so filled with love and generosity and knowing and empathy, I am filled with gratitude and joy.

May you be peaceful.
May you be happy.
May you be safe.
May you awaken to the light of your true nature.
May you be free.