11/25/2012 – Generosity and Gratitude

Anne led our reflections on this seasonally appropriate topic, using a talk by Tara Brach.


Among the many sources alluded to in the talk was Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Wandering Around in an Albuquerque Airport Terminal”

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well — one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew — however poorly used –
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been cancelled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her — southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies — little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts — out of her bag —
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo — we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There [are] no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers —
Non-alcoholic — and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American — ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend — by now we were holding hands —
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate — once the crying of confusion stopped
— has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

11/18/2012 – Investigation as Meditation

Michael guided our reflections today, first by setting Investigation (dhamma vicaya) in the context of the progressive chain of the 7 Factors of Awakening (mindfulness, investigation, energy, joy, calm, concentration and equanimity) and then by distinguishing the different versions of these factors which do or don’t aim at enlightenment.  The two types of investigation, analytic and intuitive, were then explored.  Ajahn Sumedho’s approach to holistic or intuitive investigation is articulated in the first 48 minutes of this talk





11/11/2012 – Experiments in Mindfulness

Donia framed our second inquiry into Mindfulness, the first Factor of Awakening, with short excerpts from two talks, both by Donald Rothberg

2010-10-13 Mindfulness-What it is and What Makes it Difficult


2007-10-26 Supporting And Deepening Daily Life Practice


and then invited us to enter on-the-spot experiments in mindfulness.  For those interested in revisiting the music we listened to mindfully, the piece was the third movement from Beethoven’s String Quartet Opus 132 – a hymn of thanksgiving, after being delivered from a great illness.  If you’d like to listen to it again, you may click this link or copy it and paste it into your browser:



11/04/2012 – The Science of Mindfulness

Rebecca began our explorations of the Seven Factors of Awakening with a look into the first factor – Mindfulness – from a neurological point of view.  The core reading for the morning was Daniel Siegel’s article from the Shambhala Sun, titled “The Science of Mindfulness,” to which the following link will lead you.