Saturday, August 22, 2015

Commitment and Vows


A few weeks back, my best friend and long-time partner, Anne-Marie, and I took on lifelong vows to support each others life journey :)  It was a small gathering with an intention of simplicity, joyfulness, and sacredness.  Our day was anchored by a short ceremony and a meditation/sharing circle.  In the ceremony, both Anne-Marie and I committed to the vows that are shared below.  They are iterated from the inspirations of Nipun/Guri and Lama Thubten Yeshe.  The intention was to invite vows to support the inner transformation of ourselves and our partners towards compassion and wisdom.

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Anne-Marie and Birju, do you pledge to help each other to develop your hearts and minds?  cultivating generosity, gratitude, patience, enthusiasm, concentration and wisdom as you age and undergo the various ups and downs of life? and to transform these vicissitudes into the path of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?  


Recognizing that the external conditions in life will not always be smooth and that internally your own minds and emotions will sometimes get stuck in negativity. Do you pledge to see all these circumstances as a challenge to help you grow, to open your hearts,  to develop in authenticity, to see your own unconscious, to accept yourselves, and each other; and to generate compassion for others who are suffering? Do you pledge to avoid becoming narrow, closed or opinionated, and to help each other to see various sides of situations?


Understanding that just as we are a mystery to ourselves, each other person is also a mystery to us. Do you pledge to seek to understand your selves, each other, and all living beings, to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy? Do you pledge to hold the spirit of awe and reverence for the mystery of life?


Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with all beings? To take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other's potential and inner beauty as an example, and rather than spiraling inwards and becoming self absorbed, to radiate this love outwards to all beings?


When it comes time to part, do you pledge to look back at your time together with joy and gratitude-- joy that you met and shared what you have--and acceptance that we cannot hold on to anything forever?


Do you pledge to keep awareness of the disadvantages of ignorance, anger, aversion and clinging attachment, to apply antidotes when these arise in your minds, and to remember the kindness of all other beings and your connection to them? Do you pledge to work for the good of others, with all of your compassion, wisdom and skill?


Do you pledge to work to develop the wisdom of understanding the nature of reality and existence – going beyond the relative and apparent towards the unchanging and subtle? Do you pledge to grow in understanding of nature’s law?


Do you pledge day to day, to be patient with yourselves and others, knowing that change comes slowly and gradually, and to seek inspiration from your guides and not to become discouraged?


Do you pledge to continuously strive to remember each others inner beauty, as well as the inner beauty of all living beings?  To support and grow the qualities of love in each other?  

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I also read a short reflection as part of the ceremony:

Anne-Marie, I love you!  You have helped me understand what the word love even means.  I understood it not because of an intellectual definition, but by having it shown to me through your embodiment of it.  How you treat me, how much you listen, that you suspend judgment, offer invisible acts of kindness, speak caring words, pay attention to our subtle interactions, and so many other things that’s its hard to categorize into a list, even though I want to. 

Small things, like quickly taking my car to get washed so I look decent in front of my boss and family! And big things, like doing intensive meditation retreats together and moving across the country to support my life’s calling.  I so appreciate you, and I feel grateful to make a commitment to support your well-being for my life.  That is my intention, and I intend to work so that I can be better and better at putting those intentions into action.  Thank you for choosing me as I choose you.


May all grow in compassion, courage, and wisdom!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

What I’m working on; What I’m learning

It’s been nearly two years since I moved to the bay area!  I wrote a post on my own evolution when I first arrived, and thought it was time to update with some of the fruits of the time here.

Coming from a perspective of wanting to ‘change the world’, I’ve been in a journey to understand what it means to focus on ‘being the change’ as a primary driver in life.  That means developing a sense of self-compassion when I can see ways to practice love more deeply, but not having the inner capacity at this time to actually do it.  It means actively growing my inner capacity.  And it means doing things in the world, but not holding on to the work product as the point – rather, the person I am becoming through engaging in the work is primary.  Given this approach, what i do is de-emphasized next to how i do it.  The ‘how’ of patience, of unconditionality, of love, of supporting the edges, of trust, of growing ‘real’ wealth (ecology, community, wisdom/compassion).

Relationships continue to be most important in this for me.  Group contexts of Armonia, Nessel Development, RSF Social Finance, ServiceSpace, and many others who share the wish of inquiry: how do we engage with the world of money while being primarily motivated towards inner transformation? 

Below, some seedlings that have sprouted as I’ve been able to work with a host of friends, colleagues, and mentors in the spirit of love.  None of this work is ‘mine’ as I see it, but I am grateful to be connected to an ecosystem where this is happening-

-21 day challenges at KindSpring.  inviting people into the daily ‘work’ of heart awakening, building off the latest in science and practice.  guiding dialogues in the office context based off these practices.

-Well-Being in Business and Finance. groups of business leaders who want to live into a different values set with each other.  no more competition to see who is most sustainable.  no more ‘business case for sustainability’.  having real wealth  more important than having financial wealth.  inviting a profound shift within by supporting each other and practicing together.

-Laddership. reframing projects that wish to make the world a better place.  6 week group process that is building new concept of the entrepreneur who knows that changing the world is possible when the inner revolution (wisdom, compassion) connects with the outer revolution (innovation, creativity, discipline, ecosystem).

-Work+Transformation. small monthly tidbits to bring light to how this longing for a consciousness shift is everywhere if we’re looking for it.

-Awakin Calls + Circles. dialogue spaces with thought leaders who are interested in how concrete action intersects with personal transformation

But again, the ‘how’ is more important to me than the ‘what,’ and what I am becoming more important than external outcome.  Each of these projects could probably be ‘scaled’ with investment capital and reach exponentially more people.  That is not the ‘how’ that resonates with me; in fact, it is an example of a system that I wish to slowly disengage from through building my inner capacity.  So these projects are simply offered out of love, as best I can.  I can only hope for more access to wisdom, to double-down on a process that is aligned with the will of nature.

As many in my generation, I wonder what box to put myself in sometimes.  I have been a consultant, an investment person, a technologist, among other hats.  My formal titles make less and less sense in the dominant paradigm.  I feel myself more fluidly swapping in and out of hats.  If any box feels most alive right now, it’s that of friend.

My personal learnings continue to form the leading edge of my journey.  I feel committed to a life partner, Anne-Marie, who teaches me the art of love daily and with whom I can focus on bringing shadows to surface.  I moved from San Francisco to Berkeley (hence the picture up top) about 6 months ago and finding the sense of community/family as a revelation.  My contemplative practice, and my conversations continue to veer towards the heart, towards the implicit, and towards deconstructing ‘myself.’

I want to end by bringing to mind names of dear ones in holding gratitude at this moment.  My experience is that we are all in ecosystem, I am astounded by that beautiful, invisible net that connects us all…may all beings be happy.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Dhamma Service

Over the last 10 days I had a unique opportunity for which I’m feeling very grateful!  I attended a 10 day Vipassana retreat with my partner Anne-Marie and both my parents.  While it was not Anne-Marie’s first time with this, it was for my parents, and as I’ve shared before, it can be an intense process. 
For the first time, I experienced this course from the perspective of a ‘server’, which meant I was in the kitchen mostly washing dishes and chopping veggies for 10 days.  It was a rare mixture of work and concentrated practice, as I’d get 4-5 hours of sitting meditation daily, and 10 hours of kitchen time.  While I came grateful to be able to serve my family in this way, I quickly realized that I had it reversed.  Their choice to be in the course was actually in service to me so that I had the opportunity to offer to the 140ish other people at the course.  Thousands of dishes washed and hundreds of pounds of veggies chopped later, I’m feeling so many of the benefits of this way to serve.  Additionally, every night we would have time with the course teachers to learn more of their perspective, which was especially valuable for me. Picture below taken on the final day (when noble silence ended)
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Beyond my own experience, I have been inspired to see how much my family has been moved by what this practice of Vipassana is, especially my parents given it was their first time.  At this point, we are all meditating a couple hours daily, we’ll see how that evolves over time Smile Many more insights as is always the case, I’m left with a quote by a monk I met in Dallas – ‘you don’t know if you had a good meditation until afterwards – are you more compassionate? more loving? more equanimous? more aware? then yes, you had a good meditation’
In gratitude for the practice!