Miller's Crossing features the original writing and photography of Laura A Miller, documenting what passes for her thoughts and life.
... coming soon ...
Summer's sweetness gets denser as we draw closer to the equinox. Grapes become raisins. Vacation idle flows into reading assignments. Bright hot sun modulates to piercing golden rays. Chewier. More pungent. I love it.
Organic farm tour today. Pictures at [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyannamedia/sets/72157622421937820/|Flickr].
I strongly recommend the article "[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/13/magazine/13contagion-t.html?em|Is Happiness Catching?]" from Sunday's New York Times Magazine. Science reporter Clive Thompson looks at the research of Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, who are finding that behaviors like quitting smoking, becoming obese and being happy might be passed around through our social networks.
Vacation. The Pacific NW Vacation Odyssey, to be specific. Family style. Fresh [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyannamedia/sets/72157622146197822/|pix].
Martha and I are on our Midwest Minitour. Highlights thus far: Thai dinner on Grand Ave in St Paul, Harry Potter on zoo IMAX, grilling at Martha's, Highway 63, dinner at Drivers' house, Iowa Women's Archive in Iowa City, dinner at [http://www.yelp.com/biz/galleria-de-paco-waterloo|Galleria de Paco] in Waterloo, Highway 18, the visitors' center in Prairie de Chien, Highway 27, dinner at Chilito Lindo in Viroqua, and the lovely girls on Minshall Ave. [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyannamedia/sets/72157621959243718/|Road pictures] on Flickr.
While Buddhism has a very logical and philosophical side, it also has a faith-based side. In many ways, I find the latter more difficult to access. My empirical mind steps to the front, often blocking the metaphysical view. Sometimes that's okay. Other times, I think it's best if it stays on the sidelines. That's how I approached viewing the relics of Buddhist masters.
The Maitreya Projects Heart Shrine Relics Tour, which is at Maitripa College in Portland, OR, this weekend, can be a powerful experience for the faithful and even for those without. Beautifully displayed in Maitripa's Jokhong, I was surprise by how much they moved me.
From the [http://www.maitreyaproject.org/en/relic/|Maitreya Project] website:
The relics were found among the cremation ashes of Buddhist masters. They resemble beautiful pearl-like crystals. Buddhists believe the relics are produced as a result of the master's spiritual qualities of compassion and wisdom. Since we can all develop these qualities, the relics are a reminder of our own essential nature of purity and our inner potential to manifest that.
Here are my [http://www.flickr.com/photos/pollyannamedia/sets/72157621830811928/|pictures] of the relics at Maitripa.
Is it the religion that’s important or the things fostered by practicing that religion that really count? More specifically what is the importance of an esoteric Tibetan Buddhist practice to a 21st-century American female like myself? I’ve been pondering these things since having the opportunity recently to attend [w:Chenrezig] and [w:Chöd] [http://www.maitripa.org/photogalleries/09_lamazoparinpoche/lamazopa/lamazopa.html|Initiations] given by [w:Lama Zopa Rinpoche]. To be clear, I have deep respect and love for the practices of [w:Tibetan Buddhism] and for the great work and teachings of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Even so, I wonder how several hours of unintelligible chanting, incense and bell ringing are relevant and meaningful to a Western life — fair questions for someone who is still relatively new to the religion.
Three books I’ve read recently — The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama by [w:Pico Iyer]; Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo’s Quest for Enlightenment by [w:Vicki Mackenzie]; and Ethics for the New Millennium by [w:His Holiness the Dalai Lama] — have provided much food for thought as I’ve turned the above questions over in my head. The intention of my summer reading is to look at how people write about Buddhists and the Buddhist experience, with a strong eye toward Tibetan Buddhism. I’m grateful to the Multnomah County Library for having so many of the titles that interest me. The timing of my library holds becoming available explains how these three books ended up being written about together. But as these things go, I think these readings compliment each other well.
[w:Xinran]'s 2004 book Sky Burial is many things. It is an epic love story, an amazing travelogue through Tibet, an unheard perspective on the China-Tibet situation, and a story of one woman's faith and strength. I read the book in one sitting, the whole time wondering if this incredible story could really be true.
In late-1950s China, Shuwen and Kejun are doctors who are very much in love. They marry, but after only three weeks together Kejun is sent off with the army to Tibet. Within 100 days, Shuwen receives notice that her husband is dead. She can't believe the news and sets off to find him. What follows is a story of breathtaking devotion, spanning over three decades and thousands of miles.
I just got done listening to [http://media.nypl.org/pico_iyer_4_11_08/pico_iyer_4_11_08.mp3|Pico Iyer talking with Paul Holdengräber] as part of the "Live at the New York Public Library” series on his book The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. [w:Pico Iyer|Iyer] is an insightful speaker and has a well informed mind. He’s fascinating to listen to about His Holiness, who was a friend of his father. Iyer’s book sounds like it could be a more literary look at His Holiness and what he represents than Chan’s book (see [:node/439|below]). I’ve already put it on hold at the library. So, I’ll have more to say in a few weeks.