Category Archives: saints

Jun 5 – 1% Less Asshole Repost

Love this author who speaks with love and candor. Thank you, Nadia Bolz-Weber.

1% less asshole

on Roy Kent, Unicorns and the Limit & Possibilities of Human Transformation


JUN 4, 2023


Last week, the final episode of Ted Lasso aired in which this interaction took place (no spoilers here, I promise):

Roy Kent: For the past year I’ve busted my fucking ass trying to change but apparently it hasn’t done shit because I’m still me.

Ted Lasso: Wait. Did you want to be someone else?

Roy Kent: Yeah – someone better. Can people change?

Can People Change?

Last month I wrote a piece about how no matter what happens in my life, good or bad, I am still me:

You're always gonna be you

You’re always gonna be you


APR 29

Read full story

I am still me. And in middle age I can finally say that, for the most part, I am ok with it. Sure there are some jagged edges that continue to snag on the fabric of my life. There is a down side to nearly every good thing about me. But no one escapes this place without carrying a whole load of contradictions about themselves. It’s kind of the only thing that makes us interesting enough to have stories to tell.

I wrote that piece about me still (frustratingly) being me even while walking the Camino.

This morning, as I write these words, I am at a 12 step recovery and yoga retreat at Kripalu and am here to report that even here, I am indeed still me.

I don’t know that I, or anyone else could ever solve the conundrum of human transformation. As I said, whatever happens in your life, glorious or devastating, you will still, in the end, be you.

I mention this because at lunch yesterday, one of the retreatants commented how much they admire one of the leaders, Rolf and how they “want to be as calm as him one day”. As I put another bite of Tempeh salad into my mouth, I couldn’t help but say “but the thing is, I could meditate just as much as that guy and still never look like him – I’d just look like a version of me who meditates more.” (Rolf is epic, by the way. A real mensch of a meditation teacher.)

Still the rhino

How often are we just like that rhino on the treadmill sweating and striving and overexerting ourselves thinking that if we just ran a few more miles we could become an entirely different creature than the one God made us. If we just meditate enough we will look less like ourselves and more like our yoga teacher.

Maybe this is a limit of what I like to call Influencer Self-Esteem Porn that is just smeared all over social media these days: we can’t be everything. (I am reminded of stand-up bit I saw once (not sure who) “We should stop telling our kids they can be anything they want. Realistically we should be saying you can be anything you’re good at – if they are hiring”). We can’t be everything. Having limits is the inescapable experience of being a human being, it is not a failure at being a human being. You just can’t take enough improv classes to become someone who is funnier than how God made you. It’s ok. Because maybe you are more deeply compassionate, or less damaged or more athletic than the people in your life who happen to be funnier. I can’t meditate my way into a personality transplant and if suddenly looking like someone else entirely is the basis by which I am judging my progress, I am being unnecessarily cruel to myself.

Having said that, I DO believe in human transformation, I just believe it is not limitless in ways that the words “achieving enlightenment” and “progressive sanctification” seem to imply (no disrespect intended). I have seen people change, just not in a way that makes them not be them anymore. I am not the same version of me that stumbled messily into her first AA meeting 31 years ago. AND I am unbothered by saying that I am still an alcoholic.

As I have said many times, it’s exhausting to continually feel convicted by the distance between my ideal self and my actual self; the distance between my rhino self and my unicorn self. But my rhino self is all that actually exists anywhere but inside my mind. And the self that God is in relationship with, the self that God loves, is my actual self. And the more I judge my progress in life according to if I look as calm as my unicorn yoga teacher, the more I fail to appreciate the changes that have come from doing my personal work, and gently taking care of my body, and stepping on my yoga mat every now and then to be aware of my breath.

All I know is that I am so far from “achieving enlightenment” that it can fill me with a tiny bit of despair if I think about it. But at the same time, I don’t want to think this is the final version of Nadia because I still cling to the belief that one day I will evolve into someone who makes her bed every morning. So when my friend Nikki Meyers talks about the path of 1% it feels so hopeful to me. Can we just meditate for ONE minute. Can we just get 1% less impatient in traffic. Because 1% is good. But more importantly, 1% is possible.

(Dan Harris – founder of the awesome meditation app, “10% happier” claims his wife calls it “90% still an asshole” which makes me love her)

As you know if you’ve spent any time here or IRL with me, my first reaction to almost everything is “fuck you”. I almost never stay there…but honest to God, I almost always still start there. That’s progress. And I’m at a point in my life where I am ok with being a softer version of the same asshole I’ve always been and believing that maybe I can still change, even just 1%.

As the Big Book of AA says: we claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.

As always, be gentle with yourself,


Update: still did not make my bed this morning. Just sitting here being my inconsistent, lumpy, actual self who God loves madly.

June 3 – Doris Day, Animal Activist

Doris Day’s Most Enduring Role

“Silver-screen and singing legend Doris Day recorded more than 650 songs and starred in nearly 40 films, but PETA will always remember her for her most important role: animal champion.Day personally rescued, fostered, and found loving homes for hundreds of animals, earning her the affectionate nickname “The Dog Catcher of Beverly Hills.”

Recognizing the need to stop animal homelessness at its source, she founded the Doris Day Pet Foundation in 1978, which later became the Doris Day Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has saved countless animals’ lives by providing grants for spaying and neutering as well as funding humane education in schools and helping senior citizens pay for their animal companions’ food and veterinary care.

In 1987, she formed the Doris Day Animal League (DDAL) to lobby for humane legislation…. In recognition of her work for animals, former President George W. Bush honored Day with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.”

Excerpts from the published article May 13, 2019 by Lindsay Pollard-Post

Today’s pupryu: Doris Day, Animal Activist

amazing talent

shares her love for all beings

let’s follow her lead

May 19 – World Peace

When asked what she wants for her birthday, she responds, “All I want is world peace.”

Today’s senryu: World Peace

seek for perfection,

anything else will be less

end the suffering


Lest you think I’m jaded, below are highlights from the Wikipedia page on World Peace:

World peace is the concept of an ideal state of peace within and among all people and nations on Planet Earth. Different cultures, religions, philosophies, and organizations have varying concepts on how such a state would come about.

Various religious and secular organizations have the stated aim of achieving world peace through addressing human rights, technology, education, engineering, medicine, or diplomacy used as an end to all forms of fighting. Since 1945, the United Nations and the five permanent members of its Security Council (ChinaFranceRussia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have operated under the aim to resolve conflicts without war. Nonetheless, nations have entered numerous military conflicts since then.

Many theories as to how world peace could be achieved have been proposed. Several of these are listed below.

  1. Capitalism Peace Theory
  2. Cobdenism
  3. Democratic Peace Theory
  4. Economic Norms Theory
  5. Marxism: World Peace Through World Revolution
  6. Mutual Assured Destruction
  7. Peace Through Strength
  8. Territorial Peace Theory
  9. United Nations Charter and International Law

Many religions and religious leaders have expressed a desire for an end to violence.

  1. Bahai
  2. Buddhism
  3. Christianity
  4. Hinduism
  5. Islam
  6. Jainism
  7. Judaism
  8. Sikhism”


“As stupid and vicious as men are, this is a lovely day.” Kurt Vonnegut (2009). “Cat’s Cradle: A Novel”, p.256, Dial Press

Simply Pray for What Is Best

“Simply pray for what’s best, realizing that you may not know what that is.”

Below is a repost from a thoughtful Tricycle archive article. Regardless of your personal faith tradition, I hope this article offers you some provocative thoughts on what prayer means to you.

Prayer: Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche

A Tibetan master explains that using deities in prayer is a method intended to eliminate duality. By Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche SPRING 2000

Why do we pray? We might think that if we do, the Buddha, or God, or a deity will look kindly upon us, bestow blessings, protect us. We might believe that if we don’t, the deity won’t like us, might even punish us. But the purpose of prayer is not to win the approval or avert the wrath of an exterior God.

To the extent that we understand Buddha, God, the deity, to be an expression of ultimate reality, to that extent we receive blessings when we pray. To the extent that we have faith in the boundless qualities of the deity’s love and compassion, to that extent we receive the blessings of those qualities.

Sometimes we project human characteristics onto things that aren’t human. For example, if we sentimentally think, “My dog is meditating with me,” we’re only attributing that behavior to the dog; we’re imagining what it’s doing. When we anthropomorphize God, we project our own faults and limitations, imagining they’re God’s as well. This is why many people believe that God either likes or dislikes them depending on their behavior. “I won’t be able to have this or that because God doesn’t like me—I forgot to pray.” Or worse, “If God doesn’t like me, I’ll end up in hell.”

If God feels happy or sad because we do or do not offer prayer, then God is not flawless, not an embodiment of perfect compassion and love. Any manifestation of the absolute truth, by its very nature, has neither attachment to our prayers nor aversion to our lack of them. Such attributes are projections of our own mind.

To understand how prayer works, consider the sun, which shines everywhere without hesitation or hindrance. Like God or Buddha, it continuously radiates all its power, warmth, and light without differentiation. When the earth turns, it appears to us that the sun no longer shines. But that has nothing to do with the sun; it’s due to our own position on the shadow side of the earth. If we inhabit a deep, dark mine shaft, it’s not the sun’s fault that we feel cold. Or if we live on the earth’s surface but keep our eyes closed, it’s not the sun’s fault that we don’t see light. The sun’s blessings are all-pervasive, whether we are open to them or not. Through prayer, we come out of the mine shaft, open our eyes, become receptive to enlightened presence, the omnipotent love and compassion that exist for all beings.

Even if we aren’t familiar with the idea of praying to a deity, most of us feel the presence of some higher principle or truth—some source of wisdom, compassion, and power with the ability to benefit. Praying to that higher principle will without doubt be fruitful.

However, it is very important not to be small-minded in prayer. You might want to pray for a new car, but how do you know if a new car is what you need? It’s better to simply pray for what’s best, realizing that you may not know what that is. A few years ago, a Tibetan woman traveled overseas by airplane. When the plane made a brief stop en route, she got out to walk around. Unfamiliar with the airport, with the language, and with foreign travel, she didn’t hear the announcement of her departing flight and missed it. This probably seemed disastrous at the time, but not long after takeoff the plane that she missed crashed, killing most of the passengers.

We pray for what’s best not only for ourselves, but for all beings. When we’re just starting practice, our self-importance is often so strong that our prayers remain very selfish and only reinforce rather than transform self-centeredness. So until our motivation becomes more pure-hearted, it may be beneficial to spend more time cultivating lovingkindness than praying.

With proper motivation, prayer becomes an important component of our practice because it helps to remove obstacles—counterproductive circumstances, imbalances of the subtle energies in the body, confusion and ignorance in the mind. Even in listening to the teachings, we may mentally edit what we hear, adding more to them than is being said or ignoring certain aspects. Prayer offsets these hindrances.

The mind is like a mirror. Although our true nature is the deity, what we now experience are ordinary mind’s reflections. Enemies, hindrances, inauspicious moments—all of which appear to be outside of us—are actually reflections of our own negativities. If you’ve never seen your image before, looking in a mirror you’d think you were gazing through a window, encountering someone altogether independent of you. It wouldn’t seem to have any connection to you as you passed by. If you saw there a horrible-looking person with a dirty face and wild hair, you might feel aversion. You might even try to clean up the image by washing the mirror. But a mirror, like the mind, is reflective—it only shows you yourself. Only if you combed your hair and washed your face could you change what you saw. You’d have to change yourself; you couldn’t change the mirror. Prayer helps to purify the habits of ordinary, small mind and ignorance of our true nature as the deity.

When we pray in the context of deity practice, we sometimes visualize the deity standing or sitting before us in space as an embodiment of perfection, whereas we ourselves have many faults and obscurations. But praying to the deity is not a matter of supplicating something separate from ourselves. The point of using a dualistic method, visualizing the deity outside of us, is to eliminate duality.

When we visualize ourselves as the deity, we deepen our experience of our own intrinsic purity. Finally, in the completion stage of practice, when the form of the deity falls away, we let the mind rest, without effort or contrivance, in its own nature, the ultimate deity.

Thus we begin with an initial conception of purity as external, only to internalize it and ultimately to transcend concepts of inner and outer. This awareness of the nature of the deity increases the power, blessings, and benefit of our prayer.

If the nature of the deity is emptiness, you might wonder why we pray at all. There seems to be a contradiction here. How can we say, on the one hand, that there isn’t a deity, only the reflection of our own intrinsic nature, and, on the other, that we should pray to it? This makes sense only if we understand the inseparability of absolute and relative truth.

On the absolute level, our nature is buddha, we are the deity. But unaware of this, we’re bound by relative truth. In order to make the leap to the realization of our absolute nature, we have to walk on our relative feet, on a relative path. Because absolute truth is so elusive to our ordinary, linear mind, we rely on an increasingly subtle, step-by-step process to work with the mind’s duality until we achieve recognition. Prayer is an essential part of that process.

Red Tara Dedication Prayer

Red Tara is one of Chagdud Tulku’s root practices, which he and his Sangha use daily.

Throughout my many lives and until this moment, whatever virtue I have accomplished, including the merit generated by this practice, and all that I, will ever attain, this I offer for the welfare of sentient beings.

May sickness, war, famine, and suffering be decreased for every being, while their wisdom and compassion increase in this and every future life.

May I clearly perceive all experiences to be as insubstantial as the dream fabric of the night and instantly awaken to perceive the pure wisdom display in the arising of every phenomenon.

May I quickly attain enlightenment in order to work ceaselessly for the liberation of all sentient beings.

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (1930–2002) was a highly revered meditation master, artist, Tibetan physician and the spiritual director of the Chagdud Gonpa Foundation.

May 10 – Purity Is Not Holiness

Here’s another Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation repost (from It’s a beautiful reminder, similar to a message from the Bhagavad Gita, that divine DNA is in all of us and that love and life are messy.

Purity Is Not Holiness

Pastor and public theologian Nadia Bolz-Weber describes how emphasizing “purity” leads us away from holiness:  

Our purity systems, even those established with the best of intentions, do not make us holy. They only create insiders and outsiders. They are mechanisms for delivering our drug of choice: self-righteousness, as juice from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil runs down our chins. And these purity systems affect far more than our relationship to sex and booze: they show up in political ideology, in the way people shame each other on social media, in the way we obsess about “eating clean.” Purity most often leads to pride or to despair, not holiness. Because holiness is about union with, and purity is about separation from….  

To connect to the holy is to access the deepest, juiciest part of our spirits. Perhaps this is why we set up so many boundaries, protections, and rules around both sex and religion…. But when the boundaries, protections, and rules become more important than the sacred thing they are intended to protect, casualties ensue.  

But no matter how much we strive for purity in our minds, bodies, spirits, or ideologies, purity is not the same as holiness. It’s just easier to define what is pure than what is holy, so we pretend they are interchangeable.  

Bolz-Weber points to Jesus’ actions to encourage seeking holiness over purity:

Jesus seemed to want connection with those around him, not separation. He touched human bodies deemed unclean as if they were themselves holy: dead little girls, lepers, menstruating women. People of his day were disgusted that Jesus’ disciples would eat with unwashed hands, and they tried to shame him for it. But he responded, “It is not what enters the mouth that makes one unclean but what comes out of it that defiles” [Matthew 15:11]. He was loyal to the law, just not at the expense of the people.  

Jesus kept violating boundaries of decency to get to the people on the other side of that boundary, those who’d been wounded by it, those who were separated from the others: the motherless, the sex workers, the victims, and the victimizers. He cared about real holiness, the connection of things human and divine, the unity of sinners, the coming together of that which was formerly set apart.  

When I think of holiness, the kind that is sensual and embodied and free from shame and deeply present in the moment and comes from union with God, I think of a particular scene in the Gospels when, right in the middle of a dinner party, a woman cracks open a jar of myrrh and pours it over Jesus’ feet [Luke 7:37–38]. She then takes her unbound hair and wipes his feet, mixing her mane, her tears, and her offering on the feet of God. Her separateness, from herself and her God, is alleviated in that moment. Holiness braided the strands of her being into their original and divine integrated configuration.  

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation (New York: Convergent Books, 2019), 26, 22, 26–27.

Apr 4 – HSUS Animal Care Expo

I am very fortunate to be investing much of this week at the Animal Care Expo in New Orleans, LA, USA. This 4-day event is an annual opportunity for educators and exhibitors to meet with over 2500 attendees to discuss what is happening to improve animal care, animal rescue and animal re-homing across the globe. Here’s what I did on Day 1:

  • Introduced to the Canine Assessment for Risk of Shelters (CARS) framework to assess a dog’s behavioral response to humans, other dogs, or other domesticated animals. This Learning Lab also included a Bite Assessment. This nearly 5-hour interactive session was excellently presented by Dorothy Baisly, Fernando Dias, Amanda Kowalski and Mara Velez.
  • The Welcome Keynote included the recognition of the 4,000 Beagles rescue program completed last year and the aspiration to do even more this year and years to come. This was followed by an inspirational presentation by Dr. Jyothi Robertson on how her interspecies family members (i.e. cats, dogs and a tortoise) help her (and can help us) look at life and our animal care challenges more courageously and lovingly.
  • Last, but not least, I was one of three animal chaplains staffing an exhibition booth for Compassion Consortium.

More good news to come!

Jill Angelo, Patrick Cole and (Rev) Sarah Bowen (award-winning author for Sacred Sendoffs and a founding director for Compassion Consortium)!

Feb 27 – Nhat Hanh, Rohr and Rumi

Thich Nhat Hanh from

In the book, Interbeing – The 14 Mindfulness Trainings of Engaged Buddhism (Fourth Edition) by Thich Nhat Hanh (c) 2020 by Parallax Press, Thay’ says:

“The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings were born in a sea of fire in 1966 in Vietnam. The situation of the war was extremely hot. And we know how hot the fire of fanaticism can be. That is why the very first precept is about nonattachment to views, openness, and tolerance, because we see that attachment to views, narrowness, and fanaticism is the ground of a lot of suffering.” p.30

The First Mindfulness Training – Openness

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined to not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as a guiding means that help us learn to look deeply and develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic or discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and the world.” p.29

Similarly, Richard Rohr speaks of “solidarity instead of judgment.”

Richard Rohr from

In the book, The Universal Christ – How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe by Richard Rohr (c) 2019 by Center for Action and Contemplation, Inc., Richard says:

“A mature Christian sees Christ in everything and everyone else. That is a definition that will never fail you, always demand more of you, and give you no reasons to fight, exclude, or reject anyone.

Isn’t that ironic? The point of the Christian life is not to distinguish oneself from the ungodly, but to stand in radical solidarity with everyone and everything else. … Humans were fashioned to love people more than principles.” p.33

In the book, The Essential Rumi – Translations by Coleman Barks, New Expanded Edition (c) 2004 HarperOne, Rumi, 13th-Century Persian poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic from Iran, says:

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’ doesn’t make any sense.” p.36

Here is my humble senryu to these great teachers: Nhat Hanh, Rohr and Rumi

Looking for the truth

I found love, then hope, then faith.

Thank you, dear loved ones.

Jan 29 – “Quiet Your Mind from Time to Time”

Meditation and poetry, meditators and poets, like two hands coming together in namaste.

One of the most famous poets of all time is Rumi (full name Jalāl al-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī). He wrote poetry in the 13th century in Persian, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. His poetry was influenced by his Sufi meditation.

Rumi as depicted by Iranian artist Hossein Behzad (1957) at

“Rumi was a scholar and poet that lived in 13th century Persia (now modern-day Iran.) Like all extraordinary gifted and profound teachers, Rumi’s words have transcended time and place.

An Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic, Rumi wrote much of his thoughts down in the form of poems … it’s well-known that Rumi was a mystic, devoted to contemplation and self-surrender … Rumi certainly practiced Mur?qabah, an Arabic word that translates to observation in English. Mur?qabah is a form of Sufi meditation where the goal is to “watch over” their spiritual heart and to gain insight into the Ultimate truth.

Nearly every form of meditation practiced, across religious and spiritual traditions, emphasizes quietude of mind. Individuals who are adept meditators are well-aware that mental silence can lead to profound insight, … Please quiet your mind from time to time!”

Today’s senryu: Quiet Your Mind from Time to Time

The slower I go

the more I realize, life

is love in motion