With the start of a new year (2024), I thought I would add a new element here on my website in the form of a personal blog. I plan to share images, quotes, and my own thoughts about a wide range of topics periodically. The topics will be related to dharma practice, for the most part, as well as recovery.
I recently spent some time in Nevada City, CA between Christmas and New Year's Eve. I took the image here during a hike with my family on the trail at Hirschman's Pond.
In December, I gave a number of talks about how craving is often related to a lack of connection in our lives. We crave for something we don't have but deeply wish we did have. Insight meditation practice has given me a way to create a sense of inner connection that is not dependent on anyone or anything else. Perhaps ironically, one of the terms for what we are connecting with in meditation is "emptiness" (or suññatā in Pali). It is said that the Buddha spent a lot of his time "dwelling in emptiness." Emptiness has many aspects, according to Bhikkhu Analayo, a scholar of Early Buddhism. In his book, Compassion and Emptiness in Early Buddhist Meditation, he includes the following poem (which he translated) as a pointer to this kind of emptiness (p. 86):
Do not think of the past
and do not long for the future,
matters of the past have already ceased
and the future has not yet come.
In the present moment one should attend
with mindfulness to the lack of stability
of whatever phenomena there are;
the wise awaken in this way.