The Mark of Non-Creating

The first practice instruction Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche ever gave to me was: “Don’t create.” He told me, “Leave your mind in its natural state—don’t do anything. When thoughts and sensations arise, just let them arise. When they fall away, just let them fall away. Don’t try to manipulate them.” Then he went to Tibet for six months. 

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Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel
The F Word

This entire book hinges on the word faith. You may assume that you know what that means. You may think that it has a single, clear definition. But words are not definitive structures: one word can have limitless—even opposing—meanings. Language morphs over time and words take on different meanings depending on their contexts. You’ll likely find as many definitions of faith as there are people to define it. Try asking around.

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Katarina Bergh
From Scratch

It's National Pie Day and I have just the right thing to share. A few years ago a dear friend of mine, knowing about my deep interest in the teachings on pratityasamutpada, shared a Carl Sagan quote with me about pie that would prove to be so thought-provoking it served as the inspiration for one of the chapters in my upcoming book, The Logic of Faith

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Katarina Bergh
My Dad

This month I want to share something personal with you that took place in my life at the end of last year: the death of my beloved father. At first I wondered how this topic would go over as a New Year’s blog...but there is something so poignant and relevant about loss for everyone.

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Katarina Bergh
Creating Grace

You might say that you have always been searching for grace. Whether or not we make a conscious choice to follow a lineage of wisdom or not, it has always been our natural inclination to bend toward wellbeing. Our search expresses itself the moment we are born into life and instinctively cry out to suckle and find comfort in our mother’s arms. From there, we have so much to learn, which requires lots of playful experimentation.

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Katarina Bergh
Cutting Through in Canyon de Chelly

This month I want to share with you something remarkable that has been going on in my life. Some years back Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, at the request of Anam Thubten Rinpoche, gave me the transmission of Jigme Lingpa’s Chod practice, called the “Sound of the Dakini’s Laughter.”

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Katarina Bergh
Letting Life Touch You

Doesn’t it seem that something positive always emerges from a broken heart? A tender heart has unlimited “give” while a brittle or contracted heart—a heart focused solely on me and mine—has no choice but to break. If we allow our heart to continuously break as a practice, we will make space for the infinite suffering and beauty of our world, excluding no one. So I say: let it break.

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Katarina Bergh
Perfect

Have you ever noticed that you move back and forth between what can seem like parallel universes? Do you ever have an experience when, one moment, you feel absolutely no hope for humanity; and then in the next you see someone do something completely selfless, brilliant and daring, and all of a sudden you feel overcome by the beauty of it all, and everything seems perfect?

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BlogElizabeth Mattis Namgyel
The Decisive Moment

The way we respond to the stream of momentary experiences we call “our life” determines our move toward our habitual search for security or toward awakening. The Buddhist tradition has many ways of explaining our tendencies to shrink from experience, but all these explanations have one thing in common: pain and suffering proliferate when we can’t stay present with what we encounter. 

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Katarina Bergh
Losar Greeting from Elizabeth

As the Lunar New Year (of the Fire Monkey!) approaches, I have begun making some strong aspirations. Aspirations always give my mind direction and an opportunity to clarify and explore the meaning of my life and activity. As many strong aspirations have been surging up in my mind I wanted to share them with you, and hope that they influence you in many positive ways (that is, if you want them to). 

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The Teacher-Student Relationship

What does it mean to trust anyone, especially a spiritual teacher? What do we do when a teacher doesn’t present him/herself in a way that is comfortable for us? I don’t see how it is possible to skip over questions like these.

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Katarina Bergh
Are We Really Meditating?

As meditators we look at the mind and its activity. When we begin to practice, we often feel surprised: “I didn’t realize my mind was so wild and unruly!” Even experienced practitioners will complain, “I have been practicing for thirty years, but my mind is still crazy!” We often view experience as a problem. So how do we work with it? Is there a way to enjoy the activity of mind? How does practice bring us into a healthy relationship with our world? Meditation puts these questions front and center.

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Katarina Bergh
A Broken Heart

My experience is that something really positive always emerges from the heart when it is broken. A tender heart has unlimited “give” while a brittle or contracted heart – a heart focused on me and mine – has no choice but to break.

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Katarina Bergh
A Parent on Retreat

I think when there is a longing we can creatively find ways to practice. Flexibility is key. You can’t hold on to fixed ideas of how you think things should be. You let your longing for practice guide you.

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Katarina Bergh
A New American Buddhism?

Sometimes I wonder about this notion of creating a new American Buddhism. I think it is more important to probe deeply and personally into the meaning of the teachings and practice and the lineage of realization.

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Katarina Bergh