By Clementine Moss
I recently read The Hidden Messages in Water, Dr. Masaru Emoto’s account of analyzing the effect of the energetic environment on crystals in water. If you haven’t seen these studies, you can pull up the images online and see the beautiful snow flake patterns of the sentiments “I love you” and the song “Amazing Grace,” and the chaotic, disrupted patterns of hate and negativity on the water crystals. The take-away is how we experience a direct response to vibration and frequency, and how our physical being, seventy percent water, might cultivate protection against disruption of our crystals.
One way to guard against this disruption is through gratitude. This information has created new rituals for me around the house. “Thank you water! Thank you! I love you!” now happens before every hydration. “Thank you water! Thank you for keeping Henry healthy!” as I refill the pug’s bowl. I try to remember to do the same for my food, too. Suddenly, a little “thank you” before eating takes on new meaning, as I imagine the molecules arranging themselves into patterns of love as they lift to my mouth.
By Barry Lipscomb
Reading A Fearless Heart was a very powerful, transformative, and healing experience for me personally. This was heightened by reading the book the same week I began the Sacred Stream’s Applied Buddhist Psychology 1: Entering the Stream class, and started practicing Shamata meditation. It seems my heart is breaking open and expanding in new directions, as if compassion and loving-kindness is the last frontier.
I find myself already genuinely wanting other beings to be free of suffering, spontaneously doing small acts of kindness with the recognition that, just like me, all beings want to be happy. By the middle of the week in which I was reading the book, I began a new practice of engaging someone from work each morning by text or Slack, to just say hello and ask how they are doing. It was only later in the week that I connected this new practice to my reading of Jinpa, and my morning Shamata meditation.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
Matthew Fox’s new book, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic is educational in many ways. Not only is it a revelation about a female Christian mystic whose wisdom should be more widely known, but it is a window into the history of 14th century Europe, and the long-lasting effects the bubonic plague had on society and culture. This book could not be more timely.
Reverend Fox has been an ardent preservationist of the mystic streams of thought within Christianity throughout his long career. He has kept this esoteric philosophy front and center in popular discourse in a way that has served thinkers from all traditions. He wrote the first modern book about Hildegarde von Bingen, the 11th century Benedictine nun who founded her own abbey and infused the work there with the fruits of her visions, her poetry, and her prophesy.
Like Hildegarde’s contributions, Julian of Norwich’s work informed Christian thought in ways which have not always been fully acknowledged or appreciated by the church. Both women’s offerings receive the attention they deserve through Fox’s efforts. In spite of the fact that Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love is the earliest surviving book by a woman ever published, it is not widely read. Yet, her writings about her visionary experience and the ecstatic relationship with the Divine are still as profound, fresh and universal today as when they were written. We are lucky to have Fox point our attention to her reflections on her life and the times of plague through which she lived.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
“We all share an identical need for love, and on the basis of this commonality, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress or behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences because our basic natures are the same.”
-The Dalai Lama
His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, is a role model of compassion and courage for millions of people around the world. He has, almost single-handedly, stared down the Chinese government as it has dismantled Tibet and turned it into a Chinese fiefdom. He has done this without ever uttering an unkind word as he has watched thousands of his countrymen and women die at their hands.
His Holiness, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama was born in 1935 in Amdo, Tibet. His birth name was Lhamo Thondup. When he was two, he was recognized through a series of signs as the fourteenth incarnation of the Dalai Lama. He was sent to a monastery where he studied Buddhist philosophy.
In 1958 and 1959, as he was taking his final examinations, the Chinese, who had been in Tibet for several years, overran the country. His Holiness barely escaped. Thousands of other Tibetans were not so lucky. The Chinese killed and tortured thousands of Tibetans and destroyed many of the monasteries that had housed the ancient wisdom of Tibet and Buddhism for centuries. The losses of the Tibetan people were overwhelming.
By Laura Chandler
In a commencement speech he gave at Emory University, the late civil rights leader and Congressman from the 5th District of Georgia, John Lewis said, “You must find a way to get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” For decades, getting into good trouble has been the creed of Lewis, described as the “Conscience of Congress” by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. His death on July 17, 2020 comes at a time of great social unrest in this country, yet his legacy offers us an example of how to proceed in these times and, even more importantly, it offers us hope.
Lewis was the last living member of the Big Six leaders who organized the 1963 March on Washington, and he led the historic first march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which became known as Bloody Sunday. His actions and work with the civil rights movement contributed to ending legal segregation in the United States and he continued his work and lifelong commitment to social justice and the causes of democracy, serving 17 terms in the US House of Representatives.
John Lewis’ life was one of activism informed by his faith. He was dedicated to nonviolence and learned the concepts of nonviolent protest through his study of Christian texts, trainings with the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference, and the example set by Mahatma Gandhi. Like Gandhi, Lewis and the participants in the early civil rights movement understood the power of nonviolent action and stood bravely in the face of oppressive hostility. Lewis endured physical beatings and was arrested over 40 times without succumbing to violence himself, and he held to this principle of nonviolence his entire life.
Thankgas are paintings on fabric that often depict meditational deities or subjects. Popular throughout the Himalayas for centuries, they have provided a teaching and practice tool to help students deepen their understanding of a particular deity or subject. There are many images of Avaloketishavara or Chenrezig as they are known in Tibetan.
In this talk with the San Francisco Dharma Collective, Isa Gucciardi explores these images of compassion and the wisdom of the deities depicted therein.
By Laura Chandler
I’m fired up! I just read the most myopic “opinion” piece on a well-respected news site and it has me boiling. Not only is the news site prominent, the positioning of this opinion piece was, too. I like opinion pieces. I often learn things when I read them. However, after reading this, I was left feeling irritated and wondering how anyone could find this opinion useful. I am not going to site the article here, simply because I feel when people behave in this way, they are pretty clueless that they are behaving badly, and I don’t want to bash anyone. What I would like to do is point out the significance of focusing on what is important and what we all have to learn. This isn’t going away anytime soon, and we need to develop some tools for coping if we haven’t already.
Article: Interview: Plant Medicine as a Spiritually Transformative Experience: Challenges to Integration in the Modern Context
ACISTE recently had an opportunity to interview Isa about her views on the use of psychotropic plant medicine for psychological and spiritual transformation. Given the recent resurgence of clinical interest in the use of psychedelics for treating mental health concerns, we hope this two-part (Feb/Mar) interview will encourage therapists and others to further educate themselves about the unique integration needs of those who choose to engage plant medicine for healing and guidance.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
Albert Schweitzer became one of my first heroes when I read his biography at 8 years old. It was the first time I understood that there were people in the world who did not have access to the help they needed when they were sick. This was very distressing to me. I wanted to go to Africa to help.
By Laura Chandler
Something remarkable happened at the US Open this year when Naomi Osaka (currently ranked #1 in the world in women’s tennis) defeated 15-year-old tennis sensation, Coco Gauff in the third round. Naomi consoled a crying Coco on the sidelines. She told her it was alright to cry, then invited her to stay and join her for the post-match on court interview where she praised Coco for her talent. This display of sportsmanship was not only kind; it illustrated something even more significant about human nature and our ability to be strong and compassionate, simultaneously.
Work is a lot of things. It’s fun and rewarding, challenging and exciting. It’s also hard a lot of the time and for most of us it can be a place of real struggle.
In order to thrive, today’s leaders need to develop many different kinds of tools. Trainings around things like presentation skills and strategic planning are relatively accessible. The real differentiator though is less about these kinds of visible skills and more about something that might be described as invisible: Mindfulness.
In this episode, guest host Isa Gucciardi, interviews the venerable Tibetan Buddhist monk and teacher, Geshe Pema Dorjee. Geshe Pema Dorjee is a tireless advocate of the poor and disenfranchised in Nepal and India, especially children. He has dedicated his life to helping stop human trafficking and travels the world to raise funds for his many altruistic projects and often brings those funds to remote villages, which sometimes requires days of walking to the final destination.
Geshe Pema Dorje was the Director of the Tibetan Children’s Village School in Dharamsala for many years and has helped thousands of displaced children gain an education and find their way. In 1995, he became the first Principal of the College for Higher Tibetan Studies and in 2001, His Holiness the Dalai Lama asked him to revive and promote the Bodong tradition of Tibet, and he became the founder and Director of the Bodong Research and Publication Center.
By Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D.
One of the oldest Stone Age artifacts that has been recovered is a small statue of a full-bodied woman carved from limestone. The statue was named the Woman of Willendorf, after the small village where it was found in southern Austria, and is estimated to be around thirty thousand years old. Many similar statues dating to the early Stone Age have been discovered throughout Europe and beyond. Expressions of the feminine have been found in the art, mythologies and spiritual practices of many ancient cultures, often represented in the form of female deities and goddesses.
Ancient images of Quan Yin, the goddess of mercy, have been found in China, Korea, Thailand and throughout southern Asia. Pachamama, the goddess of the Earth and time, has long been depicted in the traditions of the Andes Mountains of South America in stories and art. Long before Mary, the embodiment of the great feminine in Christianity, Middle Eastern and African cultures revered Isis, who presided over the other gods, life, and death. Images of Kunapipi and Eingana, the mother goddesses of the Australian aboriginal cultures, have been found in rock art dating back at least ten thousand years.
On this episode, hear the conclusion of Laura Chandler’s interview with scholar and bestselling author, Robert Thurman, who talks about the importance of the Sacred Feminine, the ways he sees humankind progressing, and why there is reason for hope. And in the second half, Laura is joined by author and teacher, Isa Gucciardi, who regularly co-teaches workshops with Bob on the subjects of Buddhism, shamanism, and the Divine Feminine. Isa discusses her workshops with Bob and the importance of bringing the masculine and feminine aspects in each of us into balance in order to create a more peaceful, productive, and harmonious world.
On this edition of the Sacred Stream Radio Podcast, host Laura Chandler speaks with Buddhist thought leader and author Robert Thurman about his latest work, Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet. Catching up with the high-energy scholar is always a wild ride. In this candid episode, Laura chats with Bob on a trip down California Hwy 280, en route to his talk at Googleplex in Mountain View. He opens up about many topics including the Tibetan diaspora, Chinese history, contemporary politics, the role of the Dalai Lama in the world today, and his optimism about the future.