This week you are getting a two-fer (is that a real word??)!  I didn’t get to post last week but I had a post all planned out in my mind and then time just got away from me!

I really loved the theme of escape. And then this week the topic of background was equally intriguing. So I figured why not combine them into one! Who says you cannot take the rules and adapt them to your purposes??

So, let’s get to the meat of it!

I am a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner. That probably doesn’t mean a lot to you other than the Buddhist part – this likely evokes images in your mind of a perfectly blissful individual meditating and escaping worldly ills and troubles. It also likely evokes images of exotic lands and people not folks who live in a relatively small city in Upstate New York!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to attend a teaching at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra located in Woodstock, NY. This monastery and Buddhist shrine is the North American home of my lineage’s spiritual leader.

Since I have been in graduate school for the last 4 or so years, I have not been as engaged in my “on the cushion” practice of meditation as I would like to be. So my attendance at teachings and ceremonies has often been like an escape or a mini-vacation.

Certainly there are elements of Buddhist practice that can be perceived to be like that, however, the reality is that spiritual practice, of any kind, is not about escape but rather spiritual practice is about being in touch wholly and sometimes even painfully with reality.

Spiritual practice, in general, and Buddhist practice in particular should bring you closer to what it means to be human. Hmmm, and what does it mean to be human? It means that we all experience suffering and have a desire to ultimately be free from this suffering.

And whether we are “on the cushion” or “in the pew” our practice should be something that engages our whole being creating positive effects upon us and those around us. At the grocery store. At the music concert. At the dinner table. Doing dishes. Doing the laundry.

Our practice is our life. Our life is our practice.

I wanted to share a few photographs from my weekend at the monastery. An escape of sorts but really more of a return. Please Enjoy!

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