When I first came to LA to help my mother and daughter, I knew no one; it was a lonesome, sad time. I’d left my 30-year community of friends and colleagues. I said my farewells to my home at the Cambridge Buddhist Association, to our marriage and my wasband. I truly didn’t know, what will I do with the rest of my life? The Buddha said: “If you want to know your future, look at your past!”— so I wondered, what’s been most important to me over the years? What do I want to bring forward as I create a new life?
All I really wanted was to continue studying, practicing and teaching the Dharma in my new community in Los Angeles as I did in Boston. So in 2002, I started InsightLA as the first center to offer both secular mindfulness education and Buddhist teachings from the start. InsightLA would provide education and training in both, and Insight in Action would offer community-based mindfulness and compassion programs to help a variety of underresourced people and places.
Is InsightLA Buddhist? Sometimes I hear people ask, what are we? Mindfulness, wisdom, joy and love are not Buddhist!! Learning to embody these qualities is our responsibility as conscious, aware sentient beings. Our life’s work to free our hearts from whatever occludes clarity and loving awareness. Then it’s our inevitable birthright to wake up to our interdependence with everyone and everything. Whether we identify as Buddhists or not makes no difference – what matters is that we care for ourselves and our world with open hands and hearts.
What will be in your future? What do you treasure from your past? What quenches your thirst, relieves your ‘affliction, fatigue and feverishness’? Every morning at breakfast you are born anew. You have the chance to begin a new story. Which elements of the past align with your deepest values and deserve to be brought into your future? Imagine taking time to reflect on this each morning as part of your daily practice!
“Just as if there were a beautiful pond with a pleasant shore, its water clear, agreeable, cool and limpid, and a person came by, scorched and exhausted by the heat, fatigued, parched and thirsty, and they would step into the pond, bathe and drink, and thus all their affliction, fatigue and feverishness would be relieved; so too, whenever one hears Dharma (teachings of wisdom and compassion), be it discourses, mixed prose, mindfulness or marvelous accounts, all one’s affliction, fatigue and feverish burning are eased.” – Buddha