Standing in the Fire of Longing: Mirabai Starr

Published on Oct 27, 2017

Mirabai Starr, who received critical acclaim for her translations of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich, shares her experiences of personal loss and what she has learned from her experience as a bereavement counselor and from her involvement with the writings of the mystics of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.


Real Relationships in a Virtual World by Ruth Wilson

October 26, 2017
How to create deeper connections in a virtual workplace.

I retired from teaching a number of years ago and now work with a non-profit organization where everything is done in a virtual environment. This was a new experience for me. I knew from the beginning that the technical aspects of the virtual workplace would be challenging. I had a lot to learn about teleconferencing and webinars, storing information in a cloud, and using Dropbox and virtual folders instead of file cabinets and manila folders. What I didn’t anticipate was the aloneness I felt. While the internet and world wide web are quite efficient in connecting us across time, miles, and languages, they come with the challenge of staying connected at deeper levels.

I appreciate the way our computers can to talk to each other; but the world wide web remains a service, not a team of people. The internet can never be a replacement for face-to-face contact. Some organizations look for ways to make the virtual working environment more personal. Several months ago, the team I work with decided to develop a “values statement” as a reminder that, while our work place is virtual, the people we work with aren’t.

We devoted several of our bi-weekly meetings to developing our values statement. We started by each sharing one personal value and briefly describing how we bring this value to our work. Examples of personal values include honesty, enthusiasm, innovation, respect, and happiness. From this list of personal values, we developed our values statement: “We invest in our team to spur personal growth and excellence in a culture of fun, innovation, respect, passion and commitment to a common goal.” I like the way this statement promotes both personal growth and excellence in our work as a team.

We then initiated several practices to help us live our values. For staying connected on a personal level, we tried using google hangout for monthly “happy hours.” Different time zones and people’s varied schedules made this difficult for everyone to participate, so we switched to a different format. We now start our staff meetings with a brief sharing of “news and celebrations.” This sharing has varied from celebrating personal and professional accomplishments to announcements about getting a new puppy. We’ve also shared information about books we’re reading and places we’ve visited. We recently instituted a “Weekly Team Brief”—an online newsletter to helps us share and stay informed of any new developments in our respective initiatives.

I’ve now worked in a virtual environment for over a year. I still miss the face-to-face interactions, but I no longer feel isolated. I value the relationships I have with my team members and continue to invest time and energy in keeping these relationships strong over time. While the keys to meaningful relationships span the “in person” and virtual worlds, I’ve found they become even more critical when using technology to communicate. I’ve developed a few reminders to help me stay real and personal in a virtual world.

I call these the “three R’s”—reach out, respond, request.

1. Reach out to stay connected. While I work remotely and have siblings and daughters living a distance from me, I make a point of reaching out to team members and families frequently. It’s sometimes just a “checking in” with a short email, but I also make a point of calling fairly often. A real conversation, I find, strengthens a relationship more than email threads.

2 Respond with respect and warmth. We all know that a true conversation involves both listening and speaking—that without the listening, there is no real conversation. With each email I receive from a colleague, friend, or family member, I try to engage a listening ear before responding. To me, listening is a form of respect. I also try to include a touch of warmth in my response. After all, it’s a person—not a machine—that I’m responding to. Finally, I’ll add a spark if this feels appropriate. By spark, I mean something interesting or an element of humor. I avoid overdoing this, as there are no visual cues to show me how the recipient is feeling.

3. Request the opinions and support of others. People who work remotely often take pride in their independence and ability to figure things out on their own. They tend to avoid “bothering” others on the team. Yet, we should never be afraid to ask for advice and help. The entire team and individuals on the team are usually energized by supporting each other.
I now feel connected with my team members in both a professional and personal way. Each one means more to me than the role they play in the organization. While our workplace remains virtual, the relationships are real.

Time to Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for Our Earth — The Buddha’s Life and Message through Feminine Eyes (Sacred Activism) by Thanissara (Author)

Time to Stand Up retells the story of the historical Buddha, one of the greatest sacred activists of all time, as a practical human being whose teachings of freedom from suffering are more relevant than ever in this time of global peril. Evolving onward from the patriarchal template of spiritual warriors and their quests, former nun Thanissara explores awakening from within a feminine view where the archetypes of lover and nurturer are placed as central and essential for a sustainable world.

Vital is an investigation into the pinnacle of Buddhist practice, the realization of the “liberated heart.” Thanissara questions the narrative of “transcendence” and invites us into the lived reality of our deepest heart as it guides our journey of healing, reclamation, and redemption. As the book unfolds, the author examines traditional Buddhism–often fraught with gender discrimination–and asks the important question, “Can Buddhist schools, overly attached to hierarchal power structures, and often divorced from the radical and free inquiry exemplified by the Buddha, truly offer the ground for maturing awakening without undertaking a fundamental review of their own shadows?”

Chapter by chapter, the book relates Siddhartha Gautama’s awakening to the sea-change occurring on Earth in present time as we as a civilization become aware of the ethical bankruptcy of the nuclear and fossil fuel industry and the psychopathic corporate and military abuse of power currently terrorizing our planet. Thanissara relates the Buddha’s story to real-life individuals who are living through these transitional times, such as Iraq war veterans, First Nation People, and the Dalai Lama. Time to Stand Up gives examples of the Buddha’s activism, such as challenging a racist caste system and violence against animals, stopping war, transforming a serial killer, and laying down a nonhierarchical structure of community governance, actions that would seem radical even today.

Thanissara explores ways forward, deepening our understanding of meditation and mindfulness, probing its use to pacify ourselves as the cogs in the corporate world by helping people be more functional in a dysfunctional systems–and shows how these core Buddhist practices can inspire a wake-up call for action for our sick and suffering planet Earth.

About the Sacred Activism series
When the joy of compassionate service is combined with the pragmatic drive to transform all existing economic, social, and political institutions, a radical divine force is born: Sacred Activism. The Sacred Activism Series, published by North Atlantic Books, presents leading voices that embody the tenets of Sacred Activism–compassion, service, and sacred consciousness–while addressing the crucial issues of our time and inspiring radical action.

THANISSARA is Anglo-Irish and originally from London. She trained in the Burmese Vipassana School of Meditation for three years, and was a Buddhist nun in the Thai Forest School of Ajahn Chah for twelve years. She has taught Buddhist meditation internationally for thirty years, and has a Master of Arts in Mindfulness Based Core Process Psychotherapy and a Post-Qualification Master of Arts in Mindfulness Based Psychotherapeutic Practice from the Karuna Institute of Middlesex University in London. She is a cofounder and guiding teacher of Dharmagiri Meditation Centre (South Africa) and Chattanooga Insight (Tennessee), a core teacher at Insight Meditation Society (Massachusetts), and an affiliated teacher of Spirit Rock Meditation Center (California). She lives between South Africa and the United States. Thanissara and Kittisaro, her husband and teaching partner, coauthored Listening to the Heart: A Contemplative Journey to Engaged Buddhism, and she has written two poetry books, Garden of the Midnight Rosary and The Heart of the Bitter Almond Hedge Sutra, and Time To Stand Up: An Engaged Buddhist Manifesto for the Earth.

♡ Awakening from Separation ♡ A Brilliant Dharma Talk about the Practice of Buddhist Meditation ♡

This talk “Awakening from Separation” given by Thanissara, also known as Linda Mary Peacock, impacted me quite deeply and I’m very happy to be able to share it with you here/now. Having listened to this talk several times, my hearing, learning and understanding of the practice continues to deepen. My desire and intention in posting this talk is simply to help share this Dharma, by getting the word out, and helping as many people as I can by providing links to the teachers, events and organizations that are helping the world to be more kind, compassionate, wise, generous and awake.

This talk was given as part of a free online conference (July 15-17 2016) that was presented by “Embodied Philosophy” and sponsored by the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science. The free online event was called, “Radical Presence: Buddhist Teachings for Modern Life” and the talks featured some of the most respected voices in Buddhism. To find out how to purchase the complete set of talks email Embodied Philosophy at:

There is a lovely meditation instruction for cultivating Samadhi by gathering the body, mind & breath starting at 38:00 ♡ “The activity of wisdom is compassion” ♡

(38:26)“We turn our attention to the breath… following the rhythm of the breath… breathing in and breathing out… feeling the breath energy suffusing the body… breathing in and breathing out and training the attention to follow the breath… the attention goes to a subtle experience of breath… as sensations in the body… as we rest there this gathering starts to happen… directly experiencing the whole body… feeling with the whole body… feeling from the inside of the body… calming the mental body… the felt sense body… the physical body… this working with body and breath within the body is the ground and heart of the practice of Samadhi….

For more information about Thanissara her Website is here:…

The Nature of Prayer ~ Rupert Spira

Published on Oct 27, 2017

Rupert discusses two types of prayer and how they relate to the understanding ‘I Am That’.
From the seven day retreat at Mercy Center

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