How many times in your life do you get a chance to throw the deck up in the air and just watch where it all lands? I am now retired 2 1/2 years, a single former medical professional launched into a different life two years ago. The matrix of my former life suddenly became more mutable than I have ever known it to be. I had no ties or obligations to a particular place. I remained a parent, but mostly at a distance. All the normal reference points of my identity and the behaviors that come with it either loosened or disappeared. I felt a rare and delicious lightness.
I also have an orientation to dharma study and practice. Thus, I decided to indulge my unending curiosity, explore a new lifestyle and a new intention: more spontaneity, radical presence, fearlessness, creative integrity and no regrets.
These conditions present an opportunity to blend life and practice, to make life as practice an immediate reality. Who shall I become? A global nomad? A divine madman? A lion, unafraid? Unattached, like the wind? Or like space, not relying on anything? Whatever it is, it will be more fluid and, I hope, closer to the truth.
I have been exploring new surroundings, new activities, new endeavors and new associations. I am paying attention to inner process, habitual patterns and reflexive responses. I am looking at my familiar identities or whether I am able to diverge from them; the many small ways that I seek safety in the familiar or permit the structures to fall away.
This is an exploration of what arises in every moment, spontaneous presence, seen through the lens of Buddhism and the offerings of my precious teachers. Abiding in the Two Truths— that all appearances, all perceptions and all phenomena are both real and arise spontaneously from nothing whatsoever; their essence empty, clear and unlimited–is the primary challenge.
This is the reality of appearance and the truth of emptiness, realized in the moment. What possibilities does this open? What does such a condition call for? — a freshness, simplicity and joyful, open presence: the roots of authentic compassion-surely the important challenge for every life in every time.
Sustainable service is another intention. I have been a climate activist and writer. I created educational materials on environmental awareness and climate change for middle school students in Nepal last year. I’ve spent 8 months in Chiang Mai and exploring Thailand in 2015-16, including three months of intense collaboration on a book.
Most recently, my plans included relocating to a swing state, doing my part to tip the election, arc-building and influencing policy. Now, as the world considers, and girds itself for the meaning of the outcome, I am returning to Asia and in particular, the Kalachakra Initiation in Bodhgaya in January, 2017.