Stories/Koans/Parables: Turning Toward

barking dog

Fear, Regret, Grief, Humiliation, Sadness, Loneliness, Heartbreak…

Trungpa Rinpoche was traveling with his attendants to a monastery he’d never seen before. As they neared the gates, he saw a large guard dog with huge teeth and red eyes. It was growling ferociously and struggling to get free from the chain that held it. The dog seemed desperate to attack them. As Rinpoche got closer, he could see the bluish tongue and spittle spraying from its mouth. They walked past the dog, keeping their distance, and entered the gate. Suddenly the chain broke and the dog rushed at them. The attendants screamed and froze in terror. Rinpoche turned and ran as fast as he could – straight at the dog. The dog was so surprised that he put his tail between his legs and ran away.



I do a lot of work with myself and my clients on the topic of “turning toward” emotional difficulty. Imagine my surprise when I noticed the strong desire to freeze or run away when my grandfather passed away last week. I didn’t want to face it, telling my wife “I’ll go to Florida, but I might not go to the funeral.” Luckily the universe conspired to make sure I would be present to all of the thoughts and emotions that arose from that time with my family. I am better off having thoroughly grieved.

This is why I stress the “Practice” aspect of this work we do. Spiritual practices as well as mental health practices are less about achieving a state of perfection or living under perfect circumstances but more about being capable of living more fully within the limits of those imperfections. It is unlikely that we will one day be perfect at turning toward, or being compassionate, or living with a grateful heart; but the effort we put in towards being our best selves is what matters. That effort, coupled with the openness to recognize when we’re falling short, is at the heart of our fulfillment.

These situations will continue to rise again and again in our lives, where we will have the opportunity to respond with freezing in terror, running away from our problem, or turning towards the barking dog to see exactly what needs to be done.

May you be brave enough to turn towards or wise enough to notice when you cannot.



One Quote, One Card: Seeding Mistakes & Beautiful Stumbles

To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.

— William Arthur Ward

Acceptance vs Rejection

Acceptance vs Rejection

Behaviors are like seeds — you reap what you sow — and if that’s what you believe, and all you believe, you end up merely becoming the sum of past actions. But with the practice of observing the consequences of behavior and changing them to appropriately meet Life’s demands, we become Gardeners of our existence. Without the practice of self-inquiry, failure is seen as a roadblock or a reason to give up altogether. However, with  mindfulness and monitoring, we learn to see mistakes as lessons along the path — instructions for how not to plant the seeds of our time, attention, energy and power.


The Gardener learns from her mistakes, makes adjustments, and returns to the garden just as enthusiastic as she did the season before. She allows the soil to direct her, and not the other way around. This is the “dance” in BeBeautifulandDance — do as you know to do, monitor what happens, go along with the consequences and adjust as necessary.

May we yield to Life today, accept our stumbles, and be beautiful in our mistakes. 





If there’s a quote you would like featured in these posts, please send it to me through message or in the comments section.

“Black Angel Cards” by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel are the Tarot cards featured in these posts. You can get your own Black Angel Cards at 

Rumi Moment of the Week: The Grave of This Body


I mean Rumi has some really dope bars right?!

The first time I heard this quote I think I shuddered a little bit. But the poem though, the entire poem is freedom.

It is kind of a given that the TRUTH cannot be contained in words — how could you describe God? Yet I believe Rumi and other mystic poets have found a way to see into Divine space and then translate what has been experienced.

Wake and Walk Out
(or as I like to call it: Get Free)

If I flinched at every grief, I
would be an intelligent idiot. If

I were not the sun, I’d ebb and
flow like sadness. If you were not

my guide, I’d wander lost in Sanai.
If there were no light, I’d keep

opening and closing the door. If
there were no rose garden, where

would the morning breezes go? If
love did not want music and laughter

and poetry, what would I say? If
you were not medicine, I would look

sick and skinny. If there were no
leafy limbs in the air, there would

be no wet roots. If no gifts were
given, I’d grow arrogant and cruel.

If there were no way into God, I
would not have lain in the grave of

this body so long. If there were no
way from left to right, I could not

be swaying with the grasses. If
there were no grace and no kindness,

conversation would be useless, and
nothing we do would matter. Listen

to the new stories that begin every
day. If light were not beginning

again in the east, I would not now
wake and walk out inside this dawn.