Silence Remains

Silence Remains

Ascend in silence
rest in spacious
sky-like awareness
horizon to horizon
no time…no lack…no effort.

Descend into silence
greet the menagerie
untamed beasties
roaming the wilds
of an unowned mind.

Stand as silence
like the ubiquitous junipers
impassive stone Buddhas
witnessing to back-swimmers
in the reflecting pool.

Gaze within silence
dusk softly deepens
hazy moon rises
in a murky grey sky.

Listen to silence
all day drizzle
pit-patter down
on high desert heights.

Walk immersed in silence
boots softly scuff rock
cattle low forlornly
two crows caw
from the temple steps.

Return with silence
to the world of abrupt noise
arising and falling
from within vast quiet.

Silence remains.

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Photo thanks to :

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Five Mule Deer

Five mule deer

Five mule deer
poised and alert
all but hidden behind the blind
heads floating above
a smoke grey frenzy of brush.

Shining black pairs of eyes
intently gazing toward the road
something moving, drawing closer.

Tall charcoal sets of ears
pricked all the way up
acoustics finely tuned
to foreign footfalls crunch.

Small grey deer
utterly present
ready to bolt.

What does flow look like ?
Five deer
tracking the human
without a sound.

Mule Deer

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Photo thanks to:

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Noble Silence, Noble Solitude

Noble Silence

Silence gives one the space
to notice one’s own thoughts.

Silence puts one in touch
with the reality of the heart,
whatever it might be.

Silence makes it easier
to watch one’s actions.

Silence protects one
from oneself.

Silence of the human kind
allows other living things
to have a voice again
– the birds, the air, the insects . . .
even silence itself.

Posted by Marguerite Manteau-Rao on the blog Mind Deep


The Garchen Institute hosts numerous long term retreatants who enter into silence to allow their practice to deepen sans distraction. The silence ranges from a few days ( such as the author’s brief 10 day stay) to over three years, often accompanied by a vow to keep silent for the duration.

Silence is practiced with noble solitude: not directly looking or unnecessarily making contact with others by eye, hand gestures or  body language.

Together, these may sound odd and isolating.

Experience shows just the opposite.

Silence and solitude relieve one from social obligations.

No pronouns required, no stories, no spoken self-references.

Stepping outside of social context frees the mind from much reflexive self-referencing.

[ No use for the bathroom mirror those 10 days, either. ]

When all the little self references are pulled out, what is left ?

Immediate experience simplifies, settles into the quiet, expands.

What a precious condition for practice, for introspection, for fostering simple awareness.

Voluntary silence and solitude open the door to an expansiveness, a lightness, an openness to experience and an open-hearted way of being.

But don’t take my word for it.

Silence and solitude are too valuable not to invite into practice.

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Margeruite Monteau-Rao’s Poem on Silence:

The photo of sand writing is from here:

A Silent Vow:

Lama Surya Das on Noble Silence:

A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland :

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Retreat Refrigerator Reminder

Refrigerator Dharma

This quote from Jigten Sumgon was prominently posted
on the side of the refrigerator
I was to use for 10 days.
Passed this quote daily;
read it numerous times.

It resonates with experience here, perhaps also with you:


Jigten Sumgon’s Nine Verses

On View, Meditation, Conduct & Fruition
That do not need to be looked for elsewhere:

Namo Ratmo Guru!

I have now understood
The unnecessary stream of thoughts
To be primordial awareness
There is no need to look for a view elsewhere.

I have now understood
The undistracted ordinary mind
To be meditation
There is no need to look for experience elsewhere.

I have now understood
That I have never parted from
To be the Buddha
There is no need to look for fruition elsewhere.

Where there is no grasping, there is the view.
Where there is no distraction, there is meditation.
Where there is no clinging, there is conduct.
Where there is no wish, there is fruition.

Jigten Sumgon, Founder of the Dikung Kagyu Lineage

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Many thanks to the Garchen Buddhist Institute for this quote from their lineage founder, Jigten Sumgon.

(1) The only link I could find for this quote is here:

Regarding Jigten Sumgon:

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Silent Retreat Reading

Brought three books to read – actually more, but retreats are not really for reading,

and am not sure until I arrive what book will draw attention.

This retreat :

Indestructible Innocence by A.H. Almaas

Feed Your Demons by Tsultrim Allione

The Gift by Hafiz

To be fair, I had aspired ( and still do) to working through the entire Diamond Heart Series by A.H. Almaas. Upon reflection, these books were a bit dense for the spaciousness of silent retreat, and I set Indestructible Innocence aside for some post retreat digestion.

Hameed Ali a.k.a. A.H. Almaas

In Feed Your Demons , Tsultrim Allione adapts an amazing transformative practice from 12th century Tibet to the 21st century Western world with immediate and galvanizing implications. I did the  ” Feed Your Demons” practice numerous times throughout retreat with excellent results . Please look into this practice if you harbor any negative mind states whatsoever ( you may not ) and are curious ( you may not be ) about novel approaches to encountering and working with chaotic emotion-laden energies.

Lama Tsultrim Allione


The Gift : a translation of poems from the 12th century Sufi practitioner Hafiz. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes inscrutable, always deeply touching, this collection is not to be missed. Read some every evening before turning in. Spilling over with love, bursting from hilarity or yet more, Hafiz’ poetry knows no bounds expressing love for All-that-Is.



In deep gratitude to these three authors for their genius, eloquence and reflection of the infinite.

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(1) A.H. Almaas:

(2) Tsultrium Allione:

Photo from:

(3) Hafiz:

Hafiz drawing from:

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Silent Retreat at Garchen

Time for some mental health time-outs.

This year’s choice: Garchen Buddhist Institute in Chino Valley, AZ.

Chino Valley, AZ  sits at an altitude of 4692 ft. (1) in North Central Arizona.

The Garchen Buddhist Institute stands on a group of rocky outcroppings towering hundreds of feet above the rural agricultural  & ranching Chino Valley to the West and South.

The Garchen Buddhist Institute accepts and accommodates  people of all persuasions who seek solitude and sanity in silence. For this I am deeply grateful.

In addition to providing retreat accommodations, the Garchen Buddhist Institute also provides Vajrayana Buddhist services ( White Tara) every 2:00 pm Sundays and other pujas and teachings per their calendar.

Thanks to all involved for their many kindnesses and facilitations which enriched this beings’ experiences.

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Photo from here:


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Silent Retreat 2014

Why retreat ?

Only don’t know.

No reason.

Just have to.

Just doing.


Silence calls,

but not from elsewhere.

Not doing beckons,

but not from distance.

It’s no-time to do nothing,

to suffer the misery of the kleshas,

to fall into the bliss of spaciousness.

Arrange things

to keep the body alive

and step off

the edge





Photo courtesy from here :×300.jpeg

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The Great Bell Chant (The End of Suffering)


Beautiful.  Deep bow of gratitude to Shantideva, author of Life is but a Dream !

Originally posted on Life is but a dream!:

View original

Posted in Buddhist Practice, Guest Post, Human Experience | Tagged , ,

Science Studies… Awakening ?

Can science actually study awakening ?

This April, I attended the 2014 Consciousness Conference in Tucson, AZ,  titled Toward a Science of Consciousness. The conference consists mostly of academic work in the fields of neuroscience, brain science, philosophy, psychology, and physics as applied to consciousness and the brain.

Toward a Science of Consciousness 2014

Perhaps a dozen out of the 7-800 or so attendees were local geeks like the author, wandering in and around  (with no credentials whatsoever) listening to the sometimes barely scrutable offerings of 21st century science.

Some delightful exceptions stood out from the crowd.

Dr. Carmel Ashton presented her work in poster form on the essential ( and often missing ) element of childhood education : emotional intelligence. Her unequivocal message – we have no choice but to include the emotional development in education if there is to be any possibility of addressing the grand issues the world faces. Compassion is and will be fundamental for our continued survival.

Dr. Henry Viner spent 22 years studying the ” Healthy Human Mind ”  – egolessness – among Tibetan Lamas who practiced Dzogchen meditation. He spoke without slides or PowerPoint – just a plain mike. His conclusion: the egoless mind is far healthier and happier than the egoic mind and we need to start talking about how to transmit egolessness to our kids.

Dr. Jeffrey Martin studies awakening. [ more accurately, the phenomena known by that name and more than 200 other names] His research involves over a thousand people on most of the continents who have had awakening experiences, their psychological states, practices, personality attributes and the experiences themselves. His presentation deeply impressed this attendee.

Dr. Jeffrey Martin

Dr. Martin founded the Center for the Study of Non-symbolic Consciousness to continue research into this very human phenomena.

Apparently, science has been studying awakening for a few years now.

It started around 14 years ago. Until then, most psychological research focused on pathology. In the year 2000, some grant money started to become available for studying happiness, wellness, etc. – healthy people’s psychology. The cool pics of monks with electrodes on their heads and the “mindfulness meditation” proliferation followed.

Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche wearing electrodes for scientific inquiry into the electrical correlates of meditation

Thereafter proceeded Dr. Jeffrey Martin’s work on the happiest, wellest people around as a population: post-awakening types. Are there patterns ? ( yes) Do they resemble each other ? ( not in most ways measurable ) Is this reproducible through other means which might take less time than decades of meditation ? ( pending )

Am keen to hear where this line of investigation leads.

Staying tuned.


For further reference:

The photo of Dr. Martin came from:

The photo from the conference came from:

The photo of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche wearing electrodes came from:

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Say what you please,
as long as it does not prevent you
from seeing
how things are.

(And when you see that,
there will be
some things
that you won’t say.)

- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Philosophical Investigations 2009 #79


Header quote from here:

Main Quote from here:

Graphic of Wittgenstein from here:

For further reading :

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