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Thoughts, thanks, reflections and the way forward…

December 28, 2010

…at least for me.

As I sit here, in the woods in the town of Wellfleet, making sure a generator keeps running to power part of our cable system, it got me thinking and reflecting on the past year of my life, both in the “real” world and in the internet world.

In the “real” world life was somewhat of a whirlwind. It seems this year was busier than usual. I guess with three children that is somewhat normal, so I expected nothing less. There are (were) times when I am (was) down on myself, and think I could be a better father. Sometimes, to often, I get frustrated and have a hard time coping. I know it is selfish to think these little people should behave the way I want them to. It is humbling for me to come to that realization, and I know it is something I need to work on. Not only for the sake of my children, but for the sanity of our household.

My wife Leah and I hit our 7th year mark as a married couple, although we’ve been together for 11 years. Time definitely does test a relationship, but with love, and the resolve to make it work, our relationship seems to grow stronger when ever there is a bump or scrape. I love my wife with everything that I have, and am working on being a better husband. We all have our inadequacies, I know and realize that, but I refuse to just accept them as they are. I made a vow to be with her through it all, and to assist her in any way possible. That resolve grows stronger by the moment, and I am happy to be able to share this life with such an amazing woman. Where my inadequacies come up short, she is always there to pick up the pieces and work it out. Without her I do not know where I’d be, and I am so grateful to have her in my life. I love her with all of my heart, and always will.

As far as my practice goes, this past year I attended a couple of events which helped me decide just where the path is taking me, at least for the time being. I went to my first retreat, a three day retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. What a fantastic time that was. The retreat was led by Christina Feldman and Chas Dicapua, and it was a pretty basic retreat about mindfulness in our daily lives. I learned a lot, and by day three my mind really felt at ease. By the time I left though, and hit traffic, the wheels started turning and back to reality it was.

This year the co-holder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, Chetsang Rinpoche, came to teach, give some empowerments and transmit some special practices. Being the broke bloke from Cape Cod, I was granted the opportunity to do a work-study so I could attend. My job was simple, to make sure people sat in the proper spots that their tickets said, yup I was an usher. It was great as I was able be close to him as he passed by toward the throne on stage. The teachings that I was there for were the Amitayus empowerment and the transmission of the phowa practice. Again, I learned a lot, but life in the real world, and my responsibilities, soon took hold. I did retain a bit more from this more formal teaching and really enjoyed the practice.

I attended two more teachings with Lama Migmar Tseten this year, one being another Green Tara empowerment, the other was a calm abiding (samatha) class. I’ve felt a connection to Lama Migmar since receiving the first empowerment from him. His teachings, and instructions, seem to resonate in a way no other teacher I’ve met have. After the samatha teaching, I was asked to bring him back home and I did not hesitate to say yes. It was a great opportunity to talk one on one with someone I really respected and understood. I had to switch vehicles so he came with me to my house, it was quite interesting to see the look on my wife’s face when she walked in and there was a Tibetan lama with his full robes on and everything. She was hospitable though and enjoyed the brief visit. I drove him back to his brother’s place, and without hesitation I was invited in to share a meal with him. It was a traditional Tibetan soup, man was it good. But anyway, the fact I was sharing this meal with this teacher I admire and respected put things into perspective for me and I felt that this was the guy I could learn a lot from.

I have always believed I could do this on my own, without a teacher or without choosing a specific school and or lineage to follow. The following day, after dropping Lama Migmar off, I called him and asked him what it would take to become a student. He explained a few things and then told me how to do a ngondro practice. The ngondro is a preliminary practice designed to awaken oneself and prepare them for specific teachings to come. It felt right and I’ve been doing the practice every day since. It’s rigorous at times, I’ve wanted to give up, but I am dedicated and hope to receive transmission soon from Lama Migmar and become his student.

This year was an interesting one for my blog. Precious Metal went through a few changes and has continued to grow.

One of the biggest was the phenomenal redesign, with graphical assistance from the mighty Anoki Casey of Buddha Badges, Dharma Dots and Altar Bot. With his skill and talent, Precious Metal has taken on a look I am very proud of and have no intention of changing, it symbolizes not only my personal self, but my approach in combining my personality and practice. So, once again, I’d like to thank Anoki for his assistance.

For a while now I’ve been doing some book reviews, this year they were really ramped up. I want to thank the following book publishers for sending material to be reviewed here.

Thanks to:
Wisdom Publications
Snow Lion Publications
Shambhala Publications
Penguin Group
North Atlantic Books
Oxford Press
New World Library
Public Affairs Books

If I’ve forgotten the name of your book company, I apologize, as you see there were a number of new one’s this year and I appreciate you all. Thanks for the support.

This year I went on a vegetarian diet. I made the decision as part of the evolution of my practice. I will never be the preachy type, meaning I will never say one diet is better than the other and you have to convert, the decision was a personal one. I felt that in order to continue on this compassionate course I could no longer subscribe to the belief that my body needed to consume the flesh of another’s body. I still drink milk and eat cheese and eggs, so I am no vegan. Maybe someday I will move up to that, but this is what works right now for me.

Continuing on with that, in a way, another thing that grew here at Precious Metal was the new page of vegetarian/ vegan product reviews. When I made the decision to change my diet I reached out to readers to see if they would be interested in reading product reviews, so with your support I started that page up. There are only a few products there right now, but it will be growing as the interest from companies has grown and I am receiving their support.

I’d like to thank those that have supported me in this new endeavor, and those companies are:

Lightlife Foods
Gardein
Quorn
Bumble Bar
Dominex Eggplant

Again, if I’ve forgotten you or your company, I apologize.

I’ve got a couple of ideas for the new year and beyond, some of them ought to be interesting. I plan to interview some more folks, whether they be lesser known practitioners or those that we may know a bit more. I’ve got a couple bands in the works, some that may be metal, but are compassionate in the message and approach.

I hope to incorporate some more giveaways. Thanks to Shambhala Publications and Penguin for working with me on a couple this past year, the response was great.

You may or may not remember the Article Swap which have run from Precious Metal a few times this year, you may have participated in one or two. I’d love to get those going again in the new year and am looking to spice them up a bit. Any input would be great!

This year Kyle from Reformed Buddha and I brought the Blogisattva Awards back. With the founders blessing, Tom Armstrong, we worked our tails off bringing in a designer to refresh the look and feel, again thanks to Anoki. We also brought in a few judges to help us whittle down the nominees, who were nominated by the public, we had no input as far as that went. I know some folks are looking for my response to a minor mishap that came out after the winners were announced, but all I’m going to say is I apologize for any miscommunication and we will work harder to make sure it does not happen again.

The awards were meant to be an outlet to bring folks together. Our intention was to help shed light on bloggers we thought were a little less known, and those that maybe were more known, but we meant only to give recognition to those that’s message resonated with an audience. We did not intend for any sort of divisiveness to ensue, and the person that bared the brunt of it was you. All that were involved felt wronged, that was never the intention. My apologies go out to Marnie, aka Nella Lou, I never meant for you to feel the way you did. May my apology be welcomed as it is truly stated. Like I said, we will work harder next year, as we have more time to bring a truly diverse panel together and hopefully bring back the joy that we had from the get go about the awards. Thank you all for your support and we look forward to next years Blogisattva Awards.

So from here on out, my approach with this blog and my life will be relatively the same, maybe a little added down time to contemplate and work issues out before they become bigger than they need to be.

I want to thank everyone out there that continues to support Precious Metal, and those people I call my friends, whether we’ve met in the “real” world or not. May you all be well, may you find happiness and may you find some peace and stillness in your life.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 30, 2010 7:06 pm

    Thanks for being such a great partner man, and I look forward to 2011. Always have loved your blog and your views on Buddhism.

    Thank You!

  2. m0ok permalink
    December 29, 2010 5:59 am

    It’s been a year. We have another one on the way. Should be interesting. :)

    Like you, I’ve also made a decision to commit to practice in a particular tradition – I think it’s probably the only way for me to grow. Some dudes might be able to go off into the wilderness and realise everything for themselves without support, but that dude is not me. :)

    All the best for the New Year, Nate. I’m planning to re-embrace the blogosphere and cut down on social networking a bit – I’ve realised that, while it might not have the immediacy of facebook etc, I miss the level of depth and expression that’s possible there.

    Cheers for your great blog and hope 2k11 is an auspicious one for you, your practice, your family and your sangha. :)

  3. December 28, 2010 7:15 pm

    It’s so heart-warming to read about your work, Nate. Your dedication to living the dharma shines through everything you do. Your intent, in my experience, seems to be the building of connections and community – at least that’s what I feel when I read (and participate in) the Article Swap. For that I am very grateful. Thank you for all you do and mostly for all you are to us.

  4. December 28, 2010 4:34 pm

    Another thing you did this year, that probably slips under the radar, is provide guidance, advice, and an honest look at life to those who are just beginning to walk this path. You were one of the first people to welcome and engage me when I started sitting with the Online Meditation Crew, and I truly appreciate it.

    Have a great New Year!

    _/\_

  5. December 28, 2010 12:57 pm

    Of course Nate. I’m pleased to let any bygones be bygones with you.

  6. December 28, 2010 10:11 am

    and we thank you back!

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