February 15, 2013 - Leave a Response

There are so many things I want to say, but I’m afraid to say them—and I’m afraid of what they mean.

I just want to be held.


Medicine Buddha

November 13, 2012 - Leave a Response

May all things be well. -H

King of the lapis jewel heart,
Antithesis to my experience of disease and discomfort,
Supreme remedy for each of Samsara’s myriad sufferings;
Holder of the ultimate cure,
The pure nature of mind itself,
Incapable of defilement:
Cradle me in your medicine bowl
And nurture the healing qualities
Of my body, speech, and mind
Until nectar pours forth
From each pore, word and thought
That I may possess,
Eliminating the suffering of all beings everywhere,
As well as the plague of my ignorance,
A hidden weapon, and an enemy to peace.
Before the next world-age,
If any merit is in these aspirations,
Bless your children to accomplish the teaching
So that future generations may arise unfettered.

Song of Surrender

June 15, 2012 - Leave a Response

This is a poem I wrote as a gift for my teacher. I am posting it here so that all may benefit. -H

Mother of mothers, destroyer of fears,
Revealer and enlivener of the secret virtue
In every closed heart:
I prostrate to you, the diamond one
Who delivers all beings simultaneously
From the bonds of conditioned existence
And establishes them firmly
In the realm of the Conquerors.

Unsurpassed in virtue,
You set the perfect mold,
Accessible to all those who encounter you
Through your unfailing mastery
Of compassionate skillful action,
Which manifests itself as a shoreless ocean of blissful nectar
Existing for the enjoyment of all living beings,
Who may always find jewels in its depths.

Resting at once in a moment of pure faith, I pray—
Mother Tara, please stay close until the end
And give us the whole of your strength!

Word vomit

April 21, 2012 - Leave a Response

This post began as a freewrite, turned out to have a point, degenerated into a rant, and then dribbled off without warning/before I covered everything I thought about saying. Nonetheless, maybe I will eventually turn it to something useful if I leave it here for now. – H

Maybe what I’m doing is wrong. It can’t be that I’m not avoiding something… look at me. I’m looking for something, but I don’t know what it is.

I sit here, going over my failures again and again, without really thinking about them… just letting them wash over me, basking in the details, because there must be something in them that tells me who I am. Without that, I can’t go forward. If I don’t move, I don’t have to change—and if I don’t change, I can pretend nothing is wrong and that the rest of the world has not already moved on without me. I don’t live in the world any more: I love entirely in my head. Was that a typo? I don’t know any more.

The sad thing is that making a habit out of writing out my feelings will only put more distance between me and the truth; eventually, I will have to adopt an identity just for the sake of having one, whether or not it feels right. This is the same thing that everybody does, but healthy people don’t seem to agonize over it. It creeps up on them and gives them a feeling of security, something to stand on as they reach out and explore all the opportunities available to them. They make mistakes, they have regrets, they may not like themselves and they may not understand why, but being comfortable with a particular explanation helps them to move on until something makes them happy again, and the cycle repeats. Not so with me. My preoccupation is so strong that nothing can keep it away for long, and it so defines my existence that I have no time or energy to think about anything else. Whenever I challenge the isolation it brings, it strikes back at me with fresh examples of the pain I cause people who try to be close to me, as if to discourage me from finding someone or something that might one day be more important to me than this. So far, it is winning—and leaving me in doubt as to whether I’m making it up to account for difficulties that are faced by everyone.

As I understand it, no one grows up completely intact. As soon as we are born, we are given the task of finding ourselves in a world of strangers who are well-meaning, but usually stupid and dangerous, with nothing to go on except what we are able to infer from experiences we can’t communicate. We are cared for (if we’re lucky) by people who love us but, at best, only partially understand our needs, and, eventually, the usefulness of our past is limited to the product of other people’s memories and the framework we are given with which to interpret them.

Immediately, there is the assumption that babies are lacking in something that we have to give them—that we, if we are good enough, can teach them not only to withstand life in the world, as other animals do, but also to be better people, which is to behave in a way that appeals to a sense of justice we developed when we ourselves were stumbling in the dark with no voice, as they are. But this is backward thinking, and dooms us to perpetuate our mistakes. What we think of as justice is a reflection of what we wished the world were like when we got here, and the fact that we hold it up as an ideal ensures that our children will be equally damaged. In some way, rather than recognize the true gift of the potential that they represent, we use them in order to have a shot at addressing old wounds that are still alive in our heads.

In reality, babies don’t need teachings on morality until they have been sufficiently exposed to us that they begin to see the world as we do. By virtue of our condition as an old, disgruntled generation of babies, still reacting as we do to desires and expectations we don’t remember having, we have become so firmly identified with our most profound moments of weakness, vulnerability and pain that we commit ourselves to re-experiencing them endlessly. Instead of making the world a better place, we create a world where such teachings continue to be needed.

Thanks for reading 🙂

– Harry


February 11, 2012 - One Response

Just something I wrote today:

O, Great One,
Because I, weak and deficient
In all aspects of my conduct,
Prone to all types of non-virtue
And lacking all good qualities,
Have created unbearable pain
For myself and other sentient beings
Out of persistent ignorance
Of true and appropriate objects of refuge,
Please grant me shelter within your celestial palace
Until I am bound inseparably to your mind of enlightenment
And my actions are fully devoted to the welfare of others,
Who provide the basis for my every comfort and happiness.

Although I have always been motivated by self-interest,
And have thus squandered every opportunity
To be of assistance to others,
Choosing instead to neglect the gift of Dharma
In favour of my own fleeting desires and enjoyments,
Out of compassion, please restore my commitment
And allow me to work solely
To alleviate their suffering.

Teach me to remain firm,
So that I may carry out my duties
In the face of every illness and misfortune;
Teach me to rejoice in the goodness of others,
So that the vows I have taken
Do not lose meaning;
Teach me to value the advice of my Guru above all,
So that his essence may bless me
For time without end.

Completely oblivious to the consequences of self-cherishing,
Lacking all knowledge of the great path and its undertaking,
I must rely on you fully for protection:
Take pity on me, even as I wander within an inch of hell,
And set me again on the path to liberation
When I, like an infant, lose my way.

Grant me the ability to train without ceasing
In developing a pristinely clear mind,
So that wisdom may spontaneously arise
To infuse my mundane and spiritual activities
With great meaning and power
To accomplish my and others’ well-being.

In this way, may I completely turn away from negative actions
And experience the flowering of altruistic intention
As the gateway to sublime bliss.

– H

Space needed for community event (Medicine Buddha)

January 27, 2012 - Leave a Response

Cross-posted from my Facebook page:

image description

Sometime in April, my meditation group will be holding a public event for all who wish to attend. I was asked to help find a suitable venue for it, and I figure the best way is to ask around as much as possible, so here is the scoop from an email I plan to send to Carleton U’s Housing and Conference Services department:

I’m a Carleton student who practices Tibetan Buddhism in the tradition of the Dalai Lama. Currently, I’m in the process of sussing out a wheelchair-accessible location for my teacher to be able to give initiation and commentary on a set of practices relating to Medicine Buddha, who represents the development of qualities that help people to actualize mental and physical health in themselves and others.

My teacher has had decades of experience in teaching various Buddhist practices. Coming from a Western background with strong medical and scientific training, he knows and responds to the challenges facing people in the context of modern society, and his dedication to improving the welfare of others in all areas of his life has earned him the endorsement of high-ranking Tibetan practitioners.

At some point in April of this year, he would like to make the Medicine Buddha teachings available to interested people in the community. This is intended as a service to others, and, although donations are traditionally accepted in appreciation of this type of activity, no one undergoing financial hardship is turned away on that basis.

Additional info:

Currently, we expect to need a wheelchair-accessible venue capable of housing fifty people for four hours. I was asked to see about finding space at Carleton, but it doesn’t have to be there.

Anyone from the Ottawa area who is interested in the event itself, or who has better ideas than I do about who to contact to get it set up, should feel free to get in touch with me.

Thanks for reading 🙂



November 12, 2011 - Leave a Response

(I wrote the bulk of this post a long time ago, and some of the sentiments in it are dated, but I felt like it was worth sharing anyway. Apologies to those who didn’t want to see my dirty laundry.)

This will not be a “Buddhist” post, exactly. I’m writing it primarily for my own benefit—simply because I have to sort out some stuff in my head, and I don’t know another way. (Thanks to my Health Psychology prof for pointing me to the work of James W. Pennebaker, a “positive psychologist” who is known for his research on the impact of expressive writing on emotional and physical health.)

Here’s the deal: every time I start moving in a positive direction, something else inevitably drags me away, and I’m back where I started. It doesn’t help that I’m always making promises to myself, either. If they gave an award to the most optimistic-sounding, yet secretly neurotic and out-of-control Buddhist blogger, I could probably win that in my sleep with half of my attention devoted to having sex with Marilyn Monroe1.

Attention, and my inability to self-regulate it in order to do the things I want or need to do to take care of myself and accomplish goals, is the real killer. My tolerance for the mundane things in life is extremely low, but not because I get bored, per se. My gut says that, when I run into any kind of roadblock, I get frustrated and move on  to something else before I can figure out what the problem is.

Come to think of it, I don’t usually acknowledge feeling frustrated about daily life in the first place—part of my brain probably kicks in and convinces me not to worry about it. Or maybe it’s because. since I’m so sensitive about what other people think, I’m constantly having to minimize the concerns I express to people. It could be that this pushes the problem out of my mind just long enough for me to ignore it completely. Later, when it hits me, I might not have the energy to do anything about it, and so it continues.

I sometimes lie about doing things I haven’t done on a given day, just to reduce the pressure I feel when people ask me about my various obligations. Although I understand that I’m not necessarily a bad person for doing this, I do wonder whether lying to others contributes to a false confidence that makes me less likely to complete a task at all—or whether doing so causes me to feel a loss of control that has the same effect.

Part of the problem must also be that I haven’t found my purpose yet. School currently retains a certain level of importance in my life, but it feels, at best, like just another thing to do. At worst, it’s more like a never-ending panic attack. I have no idea if I’ll even be able to finish, let alone where I will end up when I do, but I can’t do much without a degree, and that’s why finding something I actually like would be a huge blessing. I’m not even going to discuss all the disability-related crap that I have to deal with on the side… I just want to be able to do my work like any other student, and move on to another part of my life. This shit is getting old.

In any case, I feel like nothing big can happen until I learn to express more of what’s on my mind. Writing it down should be a way of leaving a trail to remind me where I have been, and what patterns not to repeat. Anyway, if I forget, the universe will just beat me into the ground until I remember again.

As always, thanks for reading.

– Harry

1 Based on true events

Movember: Day 12

November 12, 2011 - Leave a Response

I think I need a trim. Pic:

Movember Greetings

November 8, 2011 - Leave a Response

I’m not known for keeping in touch very well. I hope things are going well for all of you, and that all your ducks are in a row.

In case you are feeling generous and want to support a good cause (namely, prostate cancer research/awareness), I wanted to let you know that I’m participating in Movember with a team from my university. Any donations are very much appreciated, no matter the amount. My “Mo Space” is here:

I’d like to say that I’ll be back around here in not too long, but I don’t know when that will be; school is giving me a bit of a beating, for the time being.

Somehow, though, I’ve found the time to meet a lovely lady who I rather fancy…

Kristin & Harry

Saturday at the Canal (Edit: Pic missing)

Thanks for reading 🙂



June 30, 2010 - One Response

I have realized that I was being premature when I announced on Twitter that I would start blogging again soon. All this time, I’ve been using the pursuit of universal truth to mask my personal problems. Right now, I’m not naked at all: I’m wearing the same one-piece snowsuit, rose-tinted goggles and thick earmuffs that I always have, and somehow I’ve tricked myself into believing that I’m comfortable, even though it is plain to see that I’m not. I am suffering, and I have quietly been spreading my suffering to others through a false sense of entitlement to trust I never earned.

It’s common for me to think things like I’m a nice guy or I’m generous or I’m there when people need me and then wonder why I always get the short end of the stick. In reality, this is because I’m not doing it for them–I’m doing it for me, and all I accomplish in the process is to feed the delusions of my ego. When I tell myself that people need me, what they really need is for me to back the hell up. The truth is that I will never deserve anything that I’m not willing to give freely to others.

I like playing the part of the wounded hero, if only because the pain involved is easier to handle than the effort required to find a solution. In Jewish numerology, my name even corresponds to the words “Pyrrhic Victory.” If a solution ever presented itself, would I take it? Where would that leave me but in unknown territory? These are questions I need to answer, and I’m not going to feel right until I do.

I guess what I’m saying is, my break from this site is going to be longer than I first thought. I’m tired of pretending everything is okay when it’s not–at least, not here on Earth. Reveling in the Buddha fields every now and then is nice, but if I’m going to keep coming back to life on this planet, I have to get my shit together. I should be capable of more than this.

Feel free to contact me if you feel the need. However, it may take me a while to reply. In the meantime, I’m thinking of starting a private journal, and would consider inviting close friends to read it.