Spiritual Medicine

A lot of my time over the last decade has been involved in exploring “spiritual medicine.” I have been in search of what this term may mean and how one puts it into practice in the clinic. Since I am now teaching, on occasion I get to explore this idea with students and get their takes. Like anything, the concept of “spiritual medicine” is idealized in countless ways and performed in countless techniuqes.

Some talk of healing energy and infusing qi, some talk of intention and quantum mechanics, some talk of connecting with Spirit and channeling the divine, others talk of magical herbs and alchemy, healing touch, clearing karma, and healing the inner child. Its is all fascinating and endless, mysterious and questionable.

I recently read a passage by Ken Wilber which sums up a definition I would stand by at this point. One that is not as complex or fanciful as the above, but is nonetheless, in my opinion, the true matter.

Perhaps you will rise as Bhaishajyaguru, whose ever-present awareness takes the form of a healing radiance. From the brilliant clarity of ever-present awareness, you will be moved to remind the sick and the sad and those in pain that although the pain is real, it is not what they are. With a simple touch or smile, contracted souls will relax into the vast expanse of intrinsic awareness, and disease will lose all meaning in the radiance of that release. And you will never tire, for ever-present awareness is effortless in its functioning, and so you will constantly remind all beings of who and what they really are, on the other side of fear, in the radical love and unflinching acceptance that is the mirror mind of ever-present awareness.(Ken Wilber)

At this level, “spiritual medicine” is not a matter of some technique, something you do to another, something dealing with matter, energy, or the mind. At this level it is about Spirit, recognizing your truest identity where there is no death, no one who suffers, and pain may arise as a blissful surge and reminder of that.

Spiritual medicine may happen by just connecting with that, and then…. a smile into their eyes. On some level, beneath the doubt and fear, they recognize what is being acknowledged.

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My New Years Resolution


From the recognition that this is all perfect as it is

Empty of identity

Full of radiant dancing light

Where nothing needs to be done, finished, or corrected

From there, make this life a work of art

Make love like creating art

Wash the dishes and move your body as works of art

Every instant and action an artful-emptiness

Imbued with presence (shamatha) and recognition (vipashyana)

Use your intention 意圖 (Yi) with stability and mindfulness

Instead of letting it work unconsciously

Breath deeply and relaxed

And radiate out an intentional gift of

Awakening, wellness and peace to infinity

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Mixing Your Mind with the Guru

What does mixing your mind with the Guru’s mind or resting your mind in the nature of our Guru’s mind really mean?

You both, are in essence awareness-emptiness. The deepest layer of both of your minds is the same: the part that is aware and knowing, yet empty and not findable as a manifest object (unborn).

This aware-emptiness pervades every experience (good or bad), every thought, sound and appearance. This same aware-emptiness is the truest part of all beings and is why we are all in essence one. Whether you are a cat hearing the leaves rustle, a person hearing the cars pass, or a Guru hearing your students supplication, the same awareness unites with all these different experiences.

At the root, we are all mere-knowing, simple awareness. That is our truest self, our selfless self, the Dharmamkaya.

Mixing our mind with the Guru does not mean that is some relative sense we begin to read the Guru’s mind or have his thoughts. It does not mean we merge with him on some dualistic superficial level.

Simply recognize that the same Mind that knows in him, is the same Mind that knows in you, and that is true for all beings. The grocery clerk, your boss, your partner and your dog. This is our inherent Buddha-nature.

All of the perceptions and experiences are unique and individual as they are filtered through your specific body-mind, but the simple knowing and awareness is exactly the same.

Sarva Mangalam!

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The Four Reminders 3/4

#3 Cause and Effect

There is a universal law which applies to all humans. Its not a man made law, it’s natural, universal, and inescapable (from a relative view). This law influences what and how we experience.

Simply, certain causes and conditions will bring certain results and experiences.

To test the law of cause and effect, be really mean to people for a day and then examine how your body and mind feel. Are they open relaxed and full of caring, or closed, tense and full of paranoia and stress. Do the opposite the next day and examine again.

Since we know that cause and effect is an embedded law of our experience, we can then use it to excel on our path and realization. We can use it to create a better more peaceful experience for ourselves.

Karma (cause & effect) always seems like such a scary thing. Like its some monster waiting in the darkness ready to emerge because we’ve done something wrong. We say, “well it must be my karma to endure this hardship” or “man, he must have done something really bad in a past life to deserve this!”

The point I want to make is that we can use this universal law for our benefit, instead of feeling like its an overwhelming negative. If we understand it, we can begin to set up the causes and conditions to wake up right now. We can use the cause and effect relationship intelligently for our benefit and for others.

Understand this natural law effects you

Repeated negative actions will cause results of negative experiences

Repeated positive actions will cause results of positive experiences

Lay down positive habits for yourself which will the be repeated by your offspring and the entire human race

Lay down the groove of positive action for others to follow, not just your self

This is how we change the world

We may ask: what cause will result in my recognition of the deepest nature of my mind, Buddha-nature, union with God.  What do I need to do? What practice, what meditation technique will get me there? How do I get the best results from this life and how do I use it for the best purpose, for myself and others? These are some of the big questions of life  which mystics have explored for centuries. There is no easy answer and they differ according to tradition, but at least we are asking!

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The Four Reminders 2/4

#2 Impermanence

Everything changes. Everything ends. We live in conceptual space where we think we can get “things” that will make us “happy”. However, both the “things” and our “happiness” seems to always change and end.



Our lives are happenings, fluctuating experience after experience

Drop into the present moment

Notice how all experience is in a state of happening

Sounds happen and end without a trace

Sensations pulse

Thoughts pop

Images flash

Internal dialogues spin

All of it a constant fluctuation, teaching us impermanence in every moment

This unique fluctuation is your individual stream of experience

Never repeated, not shared, no one else experiences exactly like you

Use it- in each moment- to recognize your deeper nature

The unborn, aware, openness that has always been your core

Your unique expression, the coming together of the causes and conditions that make your individual self- will never be repeated. You are so unique that the universe will never repeat you, the human race will never see the exact you again- for eternity, you will never be repeated…and you will someday end.

Use this unique self to wake up and to give your unique gift to the world. It can never be given again. Don’t just do it for yourself, do it for all beings and the Kosmos. Don’t close down into contraction and fear, and deprive the universe of your gift.

Let the reminder that your life will end and that all things change snap you out of complacency. Give your self away every moment no matter how much it hurts and wake up to the way things really are.

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The Four Reminders 1/4

I’ve come to the point in my meditation practice curriculum that instruct one to review the their motivations and the previous concentration practices. I thought I would use this blog as a means to express my thoughts and put a contemporary twist on what I believe these contemplations and meditations are pointing to.

The Four Reminders are reasons why we should make a contemplative path primary in our lives. The Buddhist tradition names four.

#1 Precious Human Birth

Have appreciation for your present experience. Appreciation for the fact that your present experience is an opportunity for your to wake up from a grand misperception.

Instead of seeing it as just another day, just another struggle, just another thing you have to do, we can appreciate all these situations- no matter how boring, painful, or joyful- as reminders that show us deeper truths about ourselves and the world.

After some time, our lives are completely transformed by this appreciation. We are no longer simply “food shopping” or “driving to work”, but we are using these activities as a means for practice. We see their value- not just as an activity to accomplish- but as a situation for practice. That’s how we appreciate our lives. By embodying them for a higher purpose then simply completing task after task.

Appreciate your present experience

the sounds




feeling tones

right now, moment to moment, and now and now…

Appreciate them all

Cultivate openess and appreciattion instead of judgements and closing down into mental concepts

Just relax with a sense of appreciation

If you get distracted, just come back to appreciating the passing moment

Can you appreciate the tension, the pain in your legs, the tightness in your chest?

Can you even attempt to appreciate the rapid movement of internal verbilzations and images that proliferate and agitate you as you sit?

Can you apprecitate the sting of someones words, the helplessness in our gut, the gift of praise, the frustration of misunderstanding? The opportunities are endless.

We are appreciating the fact that each of those experiences are- in essence- no other than God, Buddha nature, the nature of mind, whatever you want to call it. As zen would say, those experiences are “it”! Implying that each and every experience already is saturated in and an expression of what we all seek.

Cultivate appreciation. If you don’t, the moments will simply fly by and one day you will be dying. Don’t over look this precious human birth. This moment of experience is always here naturally, awaiting our appreciation.

Cultivate appreciation daily. Even if your day sucks, practice appreciation.

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Dokusan: Case I

The teacher had just returned from a long journey traveling across lava fields and volcano ridges by foot.

Student: How was your trip? Did you see the mountains above the stars?
Teacher: I went swimming. The stars reflected in the ocean.
Student: Ah, so they are one?
Teacher: No, stars sparkle and the ocean is wet!
Student: So, is this about having an experience or seeing through all experience?
Teacher: Why are you here?

I wish I could say the student had a great realization at this point. But the conversation carried off as usual.

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