Wisdom from Indigenous Teachings and Tibetan Buddhism

I recently received in the mail wisdom from two friends who have been working and engaging in caring and compassion and making the world a better place inspired by their respective spiritual traditions.

Rafael Jesús González reading amongst flowers. Photo originally posted to Read The Spirit.

From indigenous poet Rafael Jesús González comes this moving poem employing Hindu images fit for our times:

Lord Ganesh Under the Moon

On the full moon
the eve of my count of years
Lord Ganesh rides Erawan

Devotional statue of Lord Ganesh. Photo by Sonika Agarwal on Unsplash.

cosmic elephant of the three heads,
the three gunas:
creation, preservation, destruction
threads that weave the tapestry
of our fates.

In the skies, Libra reigns.
May Lord Ganesh
take the scales and remove
all obstacles to justice.

And may the moon lend
her soft light of compassion
so that justice be illumined.

And from American Buddhist Lama Tsomo there arrived a beautiful book part of a three part series on Buddhist Practice entitled Ancient Wisdom for Our TimesBook 3: Wisdom, Deepening Connection.

In his Foreward to the book, the Dalai Lama celebrates how “as our world becomes ever more connected, the world’s great spiritual traditions are able to get to know each other better.” And thus we can learn from one another and develop a deeper appreciation and respect for each other’s teachings, traditions and practices.  I, for one, have learned a great deal from the insights of spiritual traditions other than my own.  

Lama Tsomo. Photographer unknown. From official bio on NamchakPublishing.com.

In her Introduction, Lama Tsomo tells us what the focus on “liberation” means to Buddhists.  We Americans talk proudly of freedom, but often it feels like the “freedom” to be led around by the nose by our habit-motivated cravings and anxieties rather than our deepest truest motivations.  I want real freedom.

How much of today’s politics is Americans being led by the cravings and anxietieswhipped up by the media and social media?  How much of America politics since 9/11 has been a politics of fear spread by hate radio, hate television and today, hating politicians with loud mouths and loud megaphones and bank accounts fattened from dark money sources?

There are ways to resist the fear and anxiety spread by the media and politicians.  Lama Tsomo, who is also a psychotherapist, tells us that in the practices she shares in her book, we begin with love and compassion for ourselves.  These practices, sometimes working with image and breath, bring that deep experience again and again to retrain us to a more natural way of thinking: that we are a ‘child of God,’ a wave on the ocean and therefore made of that pure water. 

Matthew Fox expressing gratitude and admiration for Buddhist Teacher, Lama Tsomo. Originally posted to YouTube by Namchak Community.

Truth is that we are all dealing with our own neuroses, barriers, and blind spots.  The question isn’t whether we’re neurotic, because we are.  The question is whether our essential nature is our neuroses which it isn’t.  That’s a key distinction.

Our essential nature is love and compassion.

*© Rafael Jesús González 2022  To subscribe, email rjgonzalez@mindspring.com.  And Lama Tsomo, Ancient Wisdom for Our Times, Book 3, (Boulder, Co, Namchak Publishing 2022), pp. xi, xxif., xxv. 

See also Rev.  Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo, The Lotus & The Rose: A Conversation between Tibetan Buddhism & Mystical Christianity.  

And Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth.  

And Fox, A Spirituality Named Compassion.

Banner Image: “Indigenous Surge: Indigenous dancers led the way for 10,000 marchers protesting the children’s graves at Canadian residential schools. Toronto, 6/6/2021. Photo by Michael Swan on Flickr.

Note: Due to a technical issue, the closed captions are not working in the video. To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE

Queries for Contemplation

Do you feel our essential nature is love and compassion?  How does that manifest in authentic political discourse and in upcoming elections?  How is its opposite also on the agenda of upcoming elections?

Recommended Reading

The Lotus & The Rose: A Conversation Between Tibetan Buddhism & Mystical Christianity

How can we move away from “us vs. them” thinking as our surroundings feel more divided and polarized than ever? Co-authors Matthew Fox and Lama Tsomo discuss how Tibetan Buddhism and Mystical Christianity answer this question from unique points of view, with many commonalities and practical tools to break down the barriers between us.
The Lotus and the Rose is an extraordinary example of what can happen when spiritual leaders from different traditions open up and speak from the heart.” — Paul Chaffee, The Interfaith Observer.

Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth

Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

A Spirituality Named Compassion: Uniting Mystical Awareness with Social Justice

In A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox delivers a profound exploration of the meaning and practice of compassion. Establishing a spirituality for the future that promises personal, social, and global healing, Fox marries mysticism with social justice, leading the way toward a gentler and more ecological spirituality and an acceptance of our interdependence which is the substratum of all compassionate activity.
“Well worth our deepest consideration…Puts compassion into its proper focus after centuries of neglect.” –The Catholic Register

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

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13 thoughts on “Wisdom from Indigenous Teachings and Tibetan Buddhism”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, You write today that you recently received in the mail wisdom from two friends: Indigenous poet Rafael Jesús González who came with a moving poem employing Hindu images fit for our times titled, “Lord Ganesh Under the Moon.” The other was American Buddhist Lama Tsomo, whom you received a beautiful book from, entitled, Ancient Wisdom for Our Times, Book 3: Wisdom, Deepening Connection. Though America politics since 9/11 has been a politics of fear spread by hate through the various forms of media, Lama Tsomo, tells us that in the practices she shares in her book, we begin with love and compassion for ourselves. These practices, work to retrain us to a more natural way of thinking: that we are a “child of God.” But then you ask, “The question is whether our essential nature is our neuroses, or is it love and compassion. Well, I sure hope our essential natures are love and compassion! You add that in his Foreword to the book, the Dalai Lama celebrates how “as our world becomes ever more connected, the world’s great spiritual traditions are able to get to know each other better.” Deep Ecumenism! Finally you ask, “How does that manifest in authentic political discourse and in upcoming elections?” I do not see love and compassion as being any part of the political discourse in the upcoming election.

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    I’ve just discovered Matthew fox and this is one of my first readings. I just absolutly love the openess and encompassing of all spiritual traditions. To finally find a Catholic who works/practices like this is so refreshing/liberating for me

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    Dear Matthew,
    I’ve been following your daily meditations for some time now and am always so grateful for your insights and wisdom! I confess that I have ordered more books than I can possibly read following your recommendations but am always deeply fed and nourished and find my deep resistance to “things religious” softening under the influence of your deep ecumenical outlook. Please know what a gift your teachings are to me!

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    “We begin with love and compassion for ourselves”… it is these words in today’s DM, that speak deeply to my soul. Often, I have discovered, that my own worst enemy is myself. I seem to be easily able to extend much more compassion and love towards others, than I do towards myself. After years of self-criticism, self-judgement, and self-condemnation, which in itself is a form of abuse and misuse of power, directed inwardly… I’m finally learning to practice acceptance, compassion and love towards myself… all aspects of myself… the shadow weakness within my humanness, my wounds, as well as that often hidden inner light and the beauty and goodness of this Divine nature of my soul sense of self that also lies within. Returning to the Sacred Feminine and allowing myself to receptively receive and encounter the Compassion and Unconditional Love of the Cosmic Mother and the Earth Mother and the spiritual reality of this living relationship of companionship, is teaching me in my learning how to Mother myself… awakening me to the unfolding, evolving emergence of my essential nature; as both human and divine.

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      Thank you, Jeanette, for your sharing your experience. A life of compassion can begin with compassion toward others. It is then a resource to draw upon to extend compassion toward self. Beautiful that it can begin either with other or self.

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    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace” (unknown author). If the current vitriolic run up to the election is any example of the real state of our country, greed, lies and manipulation seem to have the upper hand. We all need a personal and countrywide reformation in how we talk with one another, how we solve differences of opinion and philosophy and how we view the common good. Can love prevail ?

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    Yes, Divine Love has many interrelated qualities/gifts that make up its essence and multidimensionality — Wisdom~Truth~Peace~Justice~Suffering~Compassion~Healing~Transformation~Strength~
    Beauty~Joy~Creativity~Oneness…This Divine Love is the main Living Creative Force in the Cosmos… Our Mother Earth with all its living creatures and graceful abundance, including humanity, are Beautiful Sacred parts of this co-Creation~Evolution along with our unique eternally evolving conscious souls, in our multidimensional Loving Diverse Oneness Cosmos….

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    I do believe that our essential nature is love and compassion, but it takes a lot of work and practice sometimes to realize that and to be able to use it as a center from which we go into the world to love our neighbors in very real ways. I appreciate what Jeanette says. We can nurture ourselves also from drawing on the sources of love and practicing lovingkindness toward others. Some of the things I appreciate about Buddhism are the specific practices of lovingkindness and of forgiveness..I have not seen these so much in the Christian tradition but may be missing something,
    During the listening circles of small groups in church yesterday, I was struck by the comment that the divisiveness and hatefulness that had occurred in the church represented a microcosm of what is going on in the U.S.. I had thought that for some time, as well. The only way to begin to break down those walls is deep listening, in the case of the church, not with the goal (although that would be nice) of convincing folks to change their minds, but just so that we all felt heard and respected. From that, transformation can happen. I hope and pray.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, All I will say here is that what you say is true–I too feel that though we can’t always get others to share our same views, the important thing as you say is “that we all felt heard and respected. From that, transformation can happen. I hope and pray.” From small beginnings, big things come !!!

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    Your words MattFox are a source of daily inspiration and your calm way of delivering your messages is so welcome in this time. I’m reading Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh, but just a few pages at a time , since there is so much richness in every paragraph. Today: that is sin, the choice to add suffering to suffering. Much to meditate on. Bless you!

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