The reason for this blog is simple really. I care. I care about others, all others, not just those in my immediate circle of family and friends. I care about our planet with all of its creatures, from the tiniest bug to the largest whale. I care about the trees of the Amazon, the fir trees where I live, plant life everywhere in all its wonderful diversity, and that I have clean air to breathe. I, like all of us, want to be happy and peaceful, and to live a full life.
I also care about the spiritual side of life. When I meditate or connect with nature on the long walks I often take, I find I sometimes have more clarity around the truth of how things really are. Of how we and this planet in all of its diversity are interconnected, which I guess, kind of brings me to the topic of this page: Imprints We Make.
Everything I do and say and think affects our world. How so? How can what I think possibly affect those and what’s around me, let alone the world? A simple example: Actually, this blog is a perfect example. I often find myself thinking about the goings on in my life, in the lives of others, and in our broader world. I think, I feel, I’m inspired to write. To share through stories what little clarity I have touched as I make my way through the ups and downs of the roller coaster ride we call life. Through my Buddhist practice I’ve come to be a more compassionate person, which is, of course, reflected in my thinking and writing.
My first story, “Imprints We Make”, for example, came from me thinking about that seven year old boy and his granddad; from me thinking about encouraging that little boy to grow in compassion. I acted based on that thinking. I gave him five dollars. He then would have thought about what I’d said and done to help him and his teacher to raise money for a good cause. So he thought about it and acted. He sold his favourite toys. Wow! I’m still in awe of that one. So I thought and he thought. I acted and he acted. And somewhere in our world, there are some people whose lives are a little bit better because I thought and he thought. So yes. What I think does have an effect. We really inter are. We all do make imprints on our world, and it on us, on those near to us and those further afield.
If I start to think more deeply about it, I couldn’t even exist if this world didn’t exist, if the primordial dust and gases had never happened, never had the right conditions to begin the process that would eventually form our world. I guess that dust made an imprint. What if there wasn’t rain? Would you or I be here? No sunshine? Would we be here? We are affecting each other, affecting this planet we call earth, and the earth affects us.
As I said in my first post “Imprints We Make”, I am grateful that, as a human being, I have the capacity and the ability to make choices as to what kind of imprint I make as I walk through my life. Our actions, our thoughts, and our words have an effect both on ourselves and on others. To speak, to think, and to act by stepping gently and wisely coming from that place of compassion, a place that we all hold within us, both for ourselves and for others, goes in the direction of spreading harmony and peace in our world.
A little bit about me:
I have been a meditator for around sixteen years. I have taken four levels of Buddhist vows through my teacher of long standing, Tibetan Buddhist monk Karma Yeshe Wangpo. In response to Yeshe’s request, I introduce others to, and teach or guide them along this path of compassion towards all. In 2004 I was ordained by Yeshe as a lay Buddhist teacher in the Tibetan Karma Kagyu tradition. My ordination name is Samten Wangmo.
In the past, at the request of the public library, I ran both introductory one evening programmes introducing people to meditation, and to loving kindness or Maitri meditation. Again, at the request of the library, I ran six-week programmes geared to those who had never meditated before, to newer meditators, and to those who were interested in exploring and learning about Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices. The programme was not just for those interested in Buddhism, but for everyone. The practices I taught were beneficial to all, no matter what background or beliefs. People learned about, and how to do Shamata, the meditation practice of “Calm Abiding”, now more popularly known as Mindfulness Meditation; were introduced to Vipassana or insight meditation, which involved starting to learn about looking at the calmed mind to begin to obtain insight into its nature; about Maitri, or Metta, the loving-kindness meditation practice that can help us move towards becoming more caring and accepting of ourselves and of others; and walking meditation.
During the autumn, winter, and spring season, I lead a meditation group in my home. At the request of the Bereavement Coordinator for St. Joseph’s London Hospice, I also lead a drop-in meditation group year round.
I am also a published writer. It took a long time for me to realize that writing was what I was meant to do. I don’t have to look back very far to recognize this. I think that probably all along I kind of knew it, deep down inside, but I am good at pretend.
In grade two, I wrote a play for puppet theatre. I happened to be the proud owner of some marionettes. Anyway, long story, short story, my teacher, upon seeing this play that I had written, asked me to perform it for all the primary younger grades and so I did. I didn’t think much about it, really. Oh, I felt pride in being asked of course, but really it was just pure fun. In grade six, I wrote a play that I showed to my teacher. Again, I was asked to do it for other classes, the senior classes this time. So on I went, getting a venue to show it in, getting actors, costumes, and directing it. I even was one of the actors. I knew when the audience of grade six, seven and eights were killing themselves laughing at one point during the play, that it was a success. I felt ecstatic and surprised. In grade ten an English teacher who saw my poetry, asked me to teach a poem to all of the grade ten classes. Much fun, yet again. And so it went.
In my adult life then, why did I go on to do everything but write? Lots of reasons, I guess. It took a long time, but eventually I finally saw, and more importantly, acknowledged that this was what I was meant to do. I love words. I love everything about them. Their power. Their beauty. Their ability to touch us. What isn’t to love? An author I admire, Parker Palmer, really nailed it for me when he said, if we don’t know what we should do, what our love is, to just look back to what we loved to do in our childhood.
A bit about my writing journey as an adult: I completed eight writing courses at Western University; have been a member of a couple of writing groups; have worked on a novel and memoirs; was invited to be a guest speaker for a college fiction writing class; contracted to write numerous articles published in a small local publication; reported proceedings of an Ontario Housing Corporation Conference; published numerous book reviews, and as a staff writer had numerous articles published in Fanshawe College’s faculty publication.
At one point on my journey, after being laid off from London Public Library, I realized that the kind of writing that I really wanted to do was of a spiritual nature. I also thought that being laid off was an opportunity to finally just write. I decided to test the waters in the type of writing that I was interested in, so I wrote an article which I sent out to Buddhadharma magazine. Buddhadharma magazine is unofficially considered one of the top three Buddhist publications in North America. In less than twenty-four hours an editor got back to me. She was interested, but wanted to show my piece to the other editors. The article ended up not being published, but I now knew. This was the direction to go. I am now published in Buddhadharma.
Now there is this blog, for me the perfect marriage of my love of writing and the spiritual. I am blessed in so many ways: I’m alive, have a husband I love with all my heart and who loves me, my mother and children and family I love, good friends, free and accessible health care, am in a country that is safe and is filled with so much natural beauty, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, have found peace in the spiritual, and I have been fortunate, thanks to my ancestors, to have inherited this love of words with its accompanying ability to write.
In closing, I’d like to share something with you. Ironically, or maybe not, it was actually one day when I was meditating that the title and subject of this blog came into being.