Belonging Buddhism Embodiment Emergence Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Love Meditation Metabolizing Relationships Self-Righteousness The Feminine You Deserve Gentleness

Buddha Pudding

Before Gautama was officially THE BUDDHA, he was an ascetic. Which is some kind of fruitless exercise in separation, if you ask me.

When he first arrived at the fabled Bodhi tree he was sick and weak and nearly dead from the denial of his body that he was convinced was the path to enlightenment. Such is the way of the immature masculine. He thought he could get there by controlling his mind. He thought there was a “there” there.

So Sujata, a milkmaid, comes to the Bodhi tree to make her devoted offering to the tree sprits for giving her a child and a wonderful husband, as she did on the regs. She sees Gautama there, a bag of bones. She thought maybe he was the tree spirit, somehow exiled from the tree itself. Not far off, really.

She went home and filled a golden bowl with rice pudding, as an additional offering, because how miraculous is it when spirit is made flesh? Even when that flesh has been so diminished. She presented him with the pudding, hoping that it would make all his wishes come true, as hers had. 

He ate it.

He was utterly rejuvenated by this feminine offering. To thank her, he threw her golden bowl into the river as a form of divination to determine his next steps. Apparently he didn’t trust his intuition yet.

Thus fortified, he was shortly thereafter enlightened and became the Buddha that we all know and love.

So the story goes.

In all the celebrations of Buddha’s enlightenment, Sujata is rarely mentioned. And nowhere can I find what happened to her bowl after Gautama threw it in the river. I’m guessing he didn’t return it.

I tell you this story of Gautama and Sujata to emphasize how simple life on the path can be if you’re Sujata and how complicated it can seem if you’re Gautama. And yet Gautama’s story is the one we all hear about. The one who made life difficult and then didn’t and then became a historical figure for telling everyone that it’s easy as pudding without giving credit to the woman who gave him the pudding. 

A classic religious trope. 

Let’s not embody it, okay? 

Sometimes things happen that we most definitely don’t want. We lose people, we lose things, we lose money, we lose our golden bowl—but we don’t have to lose our shit. We don’t have to create loss, create failure, create suffering. We can meet and metabolize everything as it comes, as simply (though not always as easily) as we can eat pudding. We can open wide and take it all the way in. We devour the invisible meat of viruses, spores, pollen, and so much more with every breath. We can’t be separate no matter how much we try. We are always devouring and being devoured. Know this. Taste this. Trust this. 

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Love Resentment Self-Righteousness You Deserve Gentleness

Playing with the Four Noble Truths

Do you know the four noble truths? Or as Stephen Batchelor very usefully translates them, the four great tasks? They really are an assignment. They’re seeds, not just some dusty old rules lying limp on an altar to be sniffed at like incense or ripe cheese.

Truth is just a theory if it’s not embodied. Worse yet, just dogma. Seeds have to be planted in living soil to reveal their essence. Like everything, the four noble truths are renewed by the ecology of erotic emergence.

Here are the four noble truths/great tasks:

The classic version:

  1. The truth of suffering.
  2. The truth of the causes of suffering.
  3. The end of suffering.
  4. The causes of the end of suffering.

A soft core version:

  1. I have so many preferences!
  3. Maybe my preferences aren’t useful.
  4. I can welcome and metabolize this moment, just as it is, regardless of my preferences.

A hard core version:

  1. The world is f*cked.
  2. I am all alone, f*cking myself in a f*cked up world.
  3. I don’t need this to be different.
  4. I allow myself, embodied and un-self-centered, to be intimately f*cked open by the world.

The four noble truths examine the human condition and offer a balm. An activating balm. Like Tiger Balm, maybe. All schools of Buddhism slather this balm liberally—no matter how they spin off stylistically from here. This is the core. Yes, to be a human being involves suffering. If I metabolize it, it nourishes all beings and me. If I turn away, it amplifies. How loud a scream do I require?

To f*ck and be f*cked by suffering is to be fully alive. This includes not just tsunamis of grief, or my response to social and ecological cataclysm; but the ten thousand minor annoyances like the slow driver in front of me, or the boss that doesn’t appreciate just how much I really do, or the husband that doesn’t load the dishwasher the way I like, or the friend who doesn’t want to get vaccinated–any encounter that gives me a free pass to separate myself.

THEY are wrong.

I am right.


When I am no longer available for this childish behavior from myself, I am free. Free to be mature. A state of being we tend not to value. Which might explain a lot about why we consider these toddler antics normal.

But it feels so alive to feel that hot blaze of outrage running through my midline like a vivid imitation of eros itself!

I like it so much I want to feel it again because opening to eros means I would need a sense of play where there is currently a sense of righteousness and how can I maintain an identity that notices that identity itself is an adultish game of dress up?

I might have to just go put a tutu on for real and prance around the kitchen.

What if the neighbors see? Who am I when no one is telling me who I’m supposed to be including myself? Can’t I just keep embodying the four humiliating lies?

The four humiliating lies:

  1. Everything I think is right.
  2. People who don’t align with my rightness are wrong, even that dandelion. Get off my lawn, dandelion!
  3. People who don’t believe what I believe are harmful and I should separate myself from them.
  4. If I work harder, everything will be as I want it to be.

Do I have to keep reiterating this rejection of life? Can I be pulled instead? How’s my magnet?

Can I follow that homing signal that runs through my body even when it’s not aligned with my preferences or the story that I carry about who I am? Can I play with life and let it play with me? Can I meet it in the sandbox and feel the grit chafe my butt crack?

Can I touch the bark of one tree and notice what kind of tree it is and what that mutual intimacy feels like when we touch? Is that my responsibility too? Is that on my to-do list?

Can I trade childish for child-like? Can I trade certainty for innocence? Can I embody eros as innocence?

Eros is how I move with the world, not what I’m grabbing at along the way.

How can I maintain an erotic, playful state of being?

I regulate my nervous system.

Is my nervous system mine or am I enslaved by it? Do I have the skill to regulate myself and my reactions?

Belonging to my own body is the portal to noticing I belong to the world. There is a family in my gut. There is a consensus among all the causes and conditions that make you, all the beings of your body when your life force runs up your midline like a thunderbolt.

This is a no.

This is a yes.

If this is a maybe, it’s a no for now.

Life is too short to move from a maybe and long enough to wait for the yes.

If you don’t know, abide in uncertainty.

Radiate and bask there.

Play there.

Taking responsibility is a willingness to play with life rather than taking my ball and going home in a sulk.

When I’m responsible for cultivating innocence, the four noble truths can be clear as hopscotch, chalked out and played anywhere. Like hopscotch, the four noble truths are an old form, passed down through generations, meant to be joyfully embodied.

Play is essential in erotic engagement. Eros dissolves separation. When I trust in belonging, I’m free to keep playing. If I’m in my head and not in my body, I’ll miss it.

Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness


There’s so much talk of letting go and so little mention of welcoming.

I have considered just sitting on a welcome mat instead of a cushion.

I’m about to sign off for a week to sit my last retreat of a retreating year.

There will be times I’ll feel I’m going to crawl out of my skin. There will be times when I can’t stop crying–sometimes from awe, sometimes from grief, sometimes from wild yearning. There will be times when I am stable and times when I am wobbly. There will be times when my heart is so blown open I don’t know how there could be anything but love in me ever again. There will times when it all feels insufferable and ridiculous and I will see myself as my neighbors do as that crazy lady who chants a lot and hasn’t left the house in a week except to walk the dog. There will be times when I’m pretty sure I can feel all of my neighbor’s heartbeats.

I will remember my grandmother and that time in January and ice cream and my niece and a haiku and my grandfather’s feet before he died and the laughs at the checkout, buying butter. Sometimes I will remember absolutely nothing, just fizzing away in god’s own womb until the bell rings.

It probably won’t be any of that, now that I’ve said it. I’ve welcomed it, so it’s already gone.

When I think about what I need to let go of, I clench. When I trust that I can meet and metabolize whatever comes, I soften. 

This week is the culmination of a year of practice that has surprised me with its depth and devotion. I kept showing up, soft and spacious. I didn’t mean to. It wasn’t my preference. I just couldn’t muster a sulky gesture of refusal. Once I got me the fuck out of the way, everything just unfolded. No force required.

Practice introduces me to myself over and over again. All of me. Retreats call an assembly.

The feral pack of selves doesn’t always show up in the everyday. Not all together, where I can get a good look at them. They hide out. They like to take me by surprise. They’re fun that way. Stalking my own soft animal requires long stillness. If I move, the litter of me-cubs won’t scamper into my lap and tell me their names:

“What kind of animal are you? Oh, I see we have a few reptiles here. A litter of puppies. Who let all these pigs in? Very large number of pigs. This one appears to be a Javelina. Interesting.”

I’ll let them go, but first I have to let them come. I’m letting them show me to myself. I’m letting them play in the field of practice, according to their nature. I won’t starve them, I’ll feed them. I don’t want them clinging to me, desperate for survival. I will let them to go their own way, in their own time. They’re more keen to explore on a full belly.

I’m letting them show me where I still fear desire–being overwhelmed by it, being honest about it. I’m letting them show me parts that think if I open to my deepest desire, I will be punished for it. Again. 

I’m letting them ask me how I can dare to move only from the vast fuck yes while they’re crawling all over me.

Who do I think I am, anyway?

I think I’m emerging, again and again, like G above middle c in a song I haven’t even heard yet.

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Ecology Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Eros Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Resentment Self-Compassion Self-Righteousness The Drama Triangle You Deserve Gentleness

WTF, Snowflake?

I woke up thinking about snow.

And how a snowflake is only a snowflake from the time it forms in the womb of a cloud until it reaches the ground. Then it loses the flake bit, and joins the vaster field of just snow. 

That trip from sky to ground is short.

But then, of course, the sun comes out and the snow becomes water again. 

Evaporation happens and water goes back home to sky. Becomes rain, becomes food, becomes drink, becomes rivers and oceans and trees.

Water is always becoming: eternal, intimate, pure and quite possibly joyful if it doesn’t resist all that becoming.

Our bodies are over 70% water. So much of us floats. So much of us has been a snowflake, whether it’s one we’ve directly put our tongue out to, like a sacrament, or one that came to us later in a can of seltzer, or a shower, or the tear on our shoulder from that person we hugged. Remember hugs? I liked them a lot.

All the water on Earth has always been here. 

I find this reassuring. 

Is that the sweat of Mother Mary in my tea? 

Genghis Khan’s urine I’m washing my dishes with? 

Water is inherently intimate. 

I like feeling its history in my cup. 

The bodies it has made. 

The sprawl of time in a cup of tea.

I think it’s funny that snowflake has become such a handy dismissal these days. As if it’s useful to shame and blame a person for embodying a set of positions in this moment that are naturally emerging from the conditions of this moment. I mean, we’re all creating this. We’re all just doing our part, being our particular snowflake in the storm. 

We’re all a bunch of snowflakes, timeless and temporary; exactly who we are, exactly now. Glittering masters of the slow descent.

Imagine the snowflake who’s like, “I want to be a raindrop! I was told by the river that I would be a raindrop. You are a terrible cloud, turning me, a precious raindrop, into a snowflake.” 

There’s nothing further from freedom than a snowflake caught in victim consciousness.

As I see it, the sky has 2 possible replies here:

1. GTFO my cloud.

2. Be patient. You will be a raindrop eventually. Just not right now. The kind of raindrop you become has a whole lot to do with what kind of snowflake you are willing to be right now. Right. Now. Enjoy the fall, snowflake. You had it coming all along. Take it all in. Sparkle. Never forget you’re actually water. The snowflake gig is temporary, but water is forever. Now GTFO my cloud.

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago, before I went into retreat for a week (If you want to know what you’re like, sit still and silent for a week. It’s very straightforward, really). The post was about all the things that have been challenging in previous retreats and how this time they were all welcome. I went in with no intention this time, just welcoming everything. So nothing came.

Except Mary Poppins.

Which was weird, but persistent. She just kind of dropped into the big old fizzy field like she does in the movie and everything about my practice to this point made sense.** 

It turns out that PL Travers, who wrote the books, was the 2nd Western woman to study Zen in Kyoto. And the 1st Mary Poppins book tracks pretty closely the stages of the bodhisattva from the Avatamsaka Sutra. Who knew? Not me. 

Welcoming opens up that deep, connected desire, every time. It lets the unfolding make sense, even when it’s not the sense you’d like it to make. You really have to stay spacious to feel the difference between desire and and a pesky preference. Preferences will tear up your ducting like a bunch of rats.

If I were the kind of practitioner who shooed thoughts like flies, I wouldn’t have been able to receive that visit from Mary Poppins that clarified so much. 

I know from my own practice that a sip of ordinary joy in my belly allows me to welcome whatever winter brings. 

It lets me notice with love the birth and death of snowflakes as they fall from sky to ground, even the ones that would rather be raindrops.

Arrogance Belonging Buddhism Embodiment Emergence Emotional Sobriety Freedom Fuck Suffering Intimacy Love Meditation Metabolizing Ordinary Joy Resentment Self-Compassion You Deserve Gentleness

F*ck Mindfulness

“Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” –Rumi

This quote has come up a lot for me lately, as I’m interviewing to enroll my new groups. When I ask people if they meditate, the answer is usually, “No, I can’t do that. I have too much anxiety.”

When people would rather medicate than meditate, I die a little. Regular old seated meditation is the heart of my practice. 

It’s simple, free, confronting, and transformative.

It is not always (or even often) relaxing, as the internet would have you believe. 

This belief sets people up to fail.

Why do people have this fear of sitting still? 

Why do they expect being still to be relaxing? 

Did you expect to suddenly be sitting inside a different person? 

You won’t actually crawl out of your skin. 

I promise. 

How have we arrived here? I’m not usually big on blame, but I blame “mindfulness”.

“Mindfulness” is a malignant and horrifying concept, especially for people who come to me and are already drowning in the overflowing cesspool of their minds.

“Wait, am I supposed to fill that thing up even more? Nooooooooo!” 

The commodification of mindfulness is even more insidious and I would like to cut it from the culture like the tumor it is.

The dominance of mind is what most people are suffering from when they come to meditation. They can’t hear or feel much of anything over the unholy whirr of their own mind-made identity turbine. That thing only powers delusion. 

The body knows the truth. The body is the wise companion always already present. 

We’re taught to suspect our bodies and revere our minds. This is still true in contemporary Buddhist practice, which “mindfulness” has unhelpfully emerged from.

EMBODIMENT is a much more useful word than “mindfulness.” The body is the practice portal. Mind is an interfering monkey, flinging poo.

It’s not like I’m against mind. I like it fine. We play together cheerfully, most of the time. 

Still, I’m for mind being informed by the body, instead of the other way around. 

They are intimately intertwined, so why have we allowed the mind such dominance, while relegating the body to cumbersome, shameful skin bag?

My ancestral dharma frenemy, Shantideva’s “A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life” has big ups from all your contemporary Buddhist hitmakers like Pema Chodron and the Dalai Lama.

Shantideva is something like a saint in Buddhism. 

I think his attitude from the 7th century is an apt expression of the poison in our roots. 

Here is his take on bodies generally, and female bodies, specifically:

“Sensuous desires create calamities in this world and the next: through imprisonment, beating, and dismemberment in this world, and in hell and the like in the next. 

“She for whom you have supplicated…and for whose sake you have not considered the cost of either vice nor disgrace, throwing yourself into danger and wasting your wealth, embracing her with the greatest pleasure—she is nothing but bones, indifferent and impersonal…

“Their saliva and excrement arise from the same food. Why then do you dislike excrement and like sucking saliva? 

“The enamored, deluded with regard to filth, do not delight in pillows stuffed with cotton and soft to the touch because they do not emit a foul odor.”

Lol. To me, he doesn’t seem like a saint. He seems like a bratty manchild full of fear, hate, and delusion who probably only went into the monastery because his girlfriend dumped him.

Shantideva shows how the sanctified dominance of mind over body is entangled with a paralyzing terror of the engulfing and transformative power of the feminine. 

“Mindfulness” is the toxic legacy of both. 

No wonder you don’t want to meditate. I wouldn’t either if I thought this anti-eros bullshit had anything to do with practice. 

Shantideva offers an invitation to suffocate the heart, not practice.

“Sati” is the original word that led to the fatal translation of “mindfulness.” Sati means ‘MEMORY’, or ‘TO REMEMBER’. “Prajna,” its practice partner, is translated as ‘WISDOM’ (not so bad) and literally means ‘BEFORE KNOWING’. Sati and Prajna are foundational to meditation practice.

We meditate to remember before knowing.

This memory is in the body, not the mind.

Your mind only interferes with this remembrance.

Your body remembers what your mind hides.

Your body was there before you were born.

Your body arose from one body.

Your body arose from the womb.

A rose.

The womb.

This is where you come from.


When your arm formed in the womb, were you like, “Oh shit, I better figure out what to do with this. How can I use this thing to achieve my goals?” 

There was nothing to do but notice.

Every single day in the womb was transformative.

Every single day you were different from the last.

Every breath in meditation is like this.

Did you panic? Did you cling?

Did you yearn to be the zygote you once were?

Or did you float in sync with your mother’s heartbeat, noticing fingers?

One body.

Your memory before knowing, before separation.

If you forget, your belly button will remind you. Have you looked at your belly button lately? I think it’s interesting that our bellies are one of our most reviled body parts. Keep that portal tight. Only shame in the softness game. Cover it up. Suck it in. Shut it down.

Is that because there’s a little ghost in there? 

That taunts and haunts?


I mean, you can suck it in and be like, “What belly?” Or you could return the ghosts’ whisper with your breath.

Let your belly fill soft with invisible things.

Nudge that bellybutton from within, behind.

“Hey, you. I do. I remember. How did I ever forget? I mean, those were good times…”

One body.

Skin is a permeable membrane.

So is reality.

Sati is this remembrance of womb.

Your memory of before knowing.

Of being one body, before your body.

Of your body before you were born.

Mind has never been here.

The gate’s too small.

You are a speck, a spark.

A bright dust mote that you don’t see land.

You’re the middle c in the demented hum that finds its way back to all the middle c’s in all the songs and wailing and machines that ever were and yet will be.

Deliquesce. Coalesce. Repeat.

Mind has no idea.


Be still.

You will.

This is meditation.

One body, no mind.