Great Spirit

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.


What we call a self…

What we call a self is actually a story about our experience of life. And we construct the story because we’re trying to give some order to what is actually a remarkably chaotic process. And then we get seduced by the seeming consistency of the story that we’ve constructed. And now, instead of just relating directly to our experience, we relate to our experience in terms of the story, and that’s where the difficulties start. One way of looking at Buddhism is as a way of learning how to relate to life without believing the stories that we come up with. And that just opens up extraordinary possibilities.

Ken McLeod, Buddhist teacher and writer


Our stories….my stories have had me living a small life….a fearful life…a shameful life…letting go of the stories I’ve wrapped around past hurts and trauma…weaving stories around intense emotions…making them solid and constricting. I discovered the practice of meditation about 15 years ago…I came to it during a crisis in my life when my world was falling apart and everything I thought I knew imploded…meditation helped me stay somewhat sane…at first I thought it would fix me, make the pain go didn’t, it brought me closer to the pain…it took time but I realized that to heal I needed to feel it all…meditating is a tool that helps me to let go of the story, to see the suffering I put myself through…helps me to open to this life in this moment and the next.-Jen

A Meditation on Gratitude and Joy


With gratitude I remember the many blessings in my life: the people, animals, plants, and insects — creatures of the sky and sea, air and water, fire and earth;


With gratitude I remember the Earth that holds and sustains all life;


With gratitude I remember the care and labor of the generations of elders and ancestors who came before me;


With gratitude I remember the teachings and lessons I have been given and that I have experienced in my life;


With gratitude I hold in my heart my family and friends, my local and global community;


With gratitude I accept my measure of health and well-being and the strength I experience of mind and body;


With gratitude I accept the gifts I have to give — my presence, my knowledge and wisdom, my talents and resources;


With gratitude I am thankful for the life I have been given.


*Adapted from Jack Kornfield’s Meditation on Gratitude and Joy in The Awakened Heart, pps. 399-400. Bantam Dell, May 2008.

one circle again

I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again. —Crazy Horse

Survival of the Kindest: The Key to Our Future

Written by Tim Ryan | Print | Email

Survival of the Kindest: The Key to Our Future

Darwin suggested that togetherness and cooperation, like the kind we saw initially on 9/11, is positively adaptive for human beings. So says the evolutionary psychologist Dacher Keltner — a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studied under the leading researcher on human emotion in our time, Paul Ekman — in his book Born to Be GoodThe Science of a Meaningful Life… “Survival of the kindest” is as important a principle as “survival of the fittest.”

I visited with Keltner and his team from the Greater Good Science Center that he directs at Berkeley. Over dinner he talked about how we have built-in mechanisms that might prioritize the gains of others over those of the self, and transform others’ gains into one’s own. Keltner tells us in his book that this cost-benefit reversal turns our inner compass in the direction of cooperation, of benefiting the other as well as the self. It forgives. It’s willing to cooperate at the first sign of cooperative action on the part of the other, even after long runs of mean-spiritedness.

Which Emotions Promote a Meaningful Life?

The emotions that promote a meaningful life, according to Keltner, are organized to take an interest in the welfare of others, not merely to look for negative information. One of these is compassion, which makes us feel we are connected to other people. We care about what they care about. They need us and we’re willing to be needed by them. Another such emotion is awe, which “shifts the very contents of our self-definition away from the emphasis on personal desire and preferences and toward that which connects us to others.”

Neurochemicals, like oxytocin, and regions of the nervous system related to these emotions promote trust and long-term devotion. “We have been designed,” Keltner says, “to care about things other than the gratification of desire and the maximization of self-interest.”

Finding Contentment by Cultivating Compassion and Altruism

Survival of the Kindest: The Key to Our FutureAt Stanford University, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE), under the direction of the neurosurgeon Dr. James Doty, is doing studies and conducting courses that show that compassion and altruism can be cultivated through disciplines and practices that extend our mindfulness by asking us to place our increased attention on the needs of others. Paradoxically, that brings about greater contentment and well-being in ourselves.

It turns out that caring for and about others makes us happier. How about that? Maybe that’s why my grandparents were so happy.

Research Discovers What Makes Us Truly Happy

We’ve been led to believe that getting more and greater stuff and territory will make us truly happy. What we are learning from the scientific research on mindfulness and well-being affirms the age-old wisdom that true happiness lies in the strength we have within, not what we collect and acquire.

As Jesus said, in the famous biblical passage, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” We have to become kinder, for the sake of our own survival.

©2012 by Tim Ryan. All Rights Reserved,
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc.


“We have two alternatives: either we question our beliefs – or we don’t. Either we accept our fixed versions of reality- or we begin to challenge them. In Buddha’s opinion, to train in staying open and curious – to train in dissolving our assumptions and beliefs – is the best use of our human lives.”
― Pema Chödrön


“Like all explorers, we are drawn to discover what’s out there without knowing yet if we have the courage to face it.”
― Pema Chödrön



what good things….

Every time you wake up ask yourself “What good things am I going to do today?” Remember that when the sun goes down at sunset, it will take a part of your life with it. —Native American proverb