New: Check out the Goodies in our Store!

Hello everyone!

I’m so excited to share the news with you that we (my husband and I) have designed some great mugs, T-shirts and other fun items based on my photography and art designs!

We’ve named our store Takara Spirit designs – “Takara” is one possible combination of my husband’s name (Takeshi) and my own, and it also means “treasure” in Japanese – which I just love!

All of the designs have a “spiritual” focus or feel to them, and these were intended to bring that much joy, happiness, serenity and empowerment into the world.

Here are some of the designs you will see featured in the shop, which you can access HERE!

 

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We hope you enjoy taking a look at Takara Spirit Designs, and we’ll be adding many more designs, so keep checking back!

Love,

Tammy and Takeshi

In Compassion’s Arms: Hearing the Dalai Lama Laugh.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Tales of India

 

There are three lines: one for monks, one for Tibetans and one for foreigners.

We’re at Dharamsala’s Kalachackra Temple on the first morning of the Dalai Lama’s three-day Introduction to Buddhism teaching. Dusty roads and smaller alleyways wind down the hilly mountains at the foothills of the Himalayas, converging past cafes, kiosks and prayer flags, taking thousands of people to the temple.

Men and women must separate at security check; it takes the women 10 times longer to get through, with the exception of the Tibetan nuns. There are far fewer of them than monks, and they fly right in, a flurry of burgundy and comfortable shoes.

There are no cellphones or cameras allowed.

Most people seem to know this in advance, but a few have to leave the line to leave them with security. Up front, there’s a thorough bag check, followed by a body check—and we’re in.

The temple’s sprawling courtyards and prayer halls are spilling over with people from all over the world. We walk among the throngs looking for a seat; there always seems to be that tiny bit of extra room, the intent of generosity and kind spirit translating without effort into miraculous spaces for new bodies.

It’s still early, and we stroll around, walking past a flat screen TV with the Dalai Lama on it, and it takes a moment to realize he’s just a few meters away from us in the hall. Right now. We have the telecast view and the actual view available to us simultaneously.

We look up—there he is, visible through a few open windows, sitting in his large chair mounted on a platform, chatting jovially with a few people nearby.

There’s security everywhere, but everyone inside had been checked, and now it’s deemed safe to allow people to wander around in his immediate vicinity.

This would never happen in the West, if say, Brad Pitt was making a personal appearance somewhere. And that’s Brad Pitt.

This is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Every day it becomes easier to see how strangely skewed things are.

We eventually settle on a very pleasant courtyard outside and one level down, and fish for our newly-bought little FM radio, two sets of earphones and a splitter. We’re able to locate a faint Japanese translation—and a Korean one—but no English.

Meanwhile, the teaching begins and we can hear the Dalai Lama speaking through loudspeakers in Tibetan, and a Hindi version follows. We fall into the rhythms and cadences of these two languages dancing with intermittent periods of silence.

And laughter.

That delicious, life affirming sound of the Dalai Lama’s booming giggle permeates the entire space of the temple, right through our bodies as though we have all become porous beings, ripe for absorbing this infectious laugh.

It almost seems beside the point that we don’t understand a word of what’s going on. Along with most of the foreigners in our area, we cheerily give up the search for the right frequency after a few minutes, as the Dalai Lama’s chanting begins.

Namo Tasa Bhagavato Arahato Sama Sambuddhasa.

(I pay homage to the Blessed One, the Worthy One, the Fully Enlightened One)

Then:

Buddham Saranam Gacchami

(I go to the Buddha for refuge)

Sangan Saranam Gacchami

(I go to the Sangha for refuge)

Dhammam Saranam Gacchami

(I go to the Dharma for reguge)

Listening to the melodious sounds, I close my eyes and observe a new feeling of gentility and acceptance permeating my thoughts (obliterating them for the time being) into the bodily level, where I’m accustomed to searching for signs of discomfort and distress.

Warmth washes over me.

I feel so lucky for whatever forces have conspired to bring me here in the genuine name of heart-opening. I’m struck by the truth and beauty that has emerged through an act of communal gathering in the presence of this great leader, teacher and healer, and by the seemingly impossible set of circumstances that have brought me here.

I take myself centuries back in time and wrap my imagination round The Buddha, who in my understanding, wasn’t trying to start a religion or become the object of worship. He wanted everyone to recognize the cycles of craving and aversion that perpetuate suffering, and to learn how to free ourselves the way he had: through self-reflection, awareness and hard work.

The path there allows no shortcuts, but the rewards are numerous and exponential if you have the right intention, persistence and diligence.

These are things I have always instinctively believed in, maybe even known, whether I had the language for it or not; they’ve come to me now cased in a new context, outside the intellectual one that is my comfort zone.

Hindus, Tibetans, and foreigners of all backgrounds sit together today, drinking Tibetan butter tea doled out by monks into our borrowed tin cups, quietly enjoying the presence of someone who palpably epitomizes kindness and compassion.

I feel that together we are not unlike a breezy bamboo forest in late spring, soft, pliable and strong.

Compassion, we soon learn, is the subject of today’s teaching, according to our neighbor and friend, who eventually manages to find the English frequency by sitting just outside the temple complex.

We catch it too, for about 30 seconds, during which time I hear His Holiness say that it is very important to study.

Wisdom, I read later in one of his books, comes from analytical thinking and reflection, and complements compassion on the journey of evolution.

For the time being, I’m still stuck on his laughter, and the powerful freedom it evokes in me.

Studying, maybe for the first time in my life, will have to come later.

 

*This was originally published in The Tattooed Buddha – check them out!

 

 

Under the Sky {Poem}

Hello! I’m delighted to have been published in the new and amazing The Tattooed Buddha, which you can read about and find great stuff here. I wrote this poem after being inspired by a walk I took post snowstorm – the only one of the season so far in otherwise snow-less Nagoya!

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

Under the Sky

Up—and
the sky and sun together
reveal a forever-dream,
inviting us to wonder what might happen
if we went soaring right through
the gauzy blue,
where we might land,
what will sink into our bones
along the way.

But I am still here,
on this side,
so I keep my gaze steady,
only looking up a little, and
under the cover of snow,
I see electrical wires and tree branches
hanging in close conference,
sharing secrets.
The snow has cloaked their differences
but they knew this all along.
They don’t ask, “Who am I?”
There are in full being,
they don’t need our questions.

 

 

On Ending Violence with (Inner) Peace: Quotes from the Dalai Lama.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Words are a bridge between us and the world.

Sometimes words help us express ourselves, and then sometimes they fail or desert us completely as we confront something wondrous, inexplicable or, in the face of the events in Paris and so many other parts of the world these days, downright horrifying.

Sometimes it’s okay to be at a loss for words, to not know how to be, or act, or express oneself in the wake of tragedy and the feeling of hopelessness that can follow.

We are struggling to be better humans. We should never forget this. Every single one of us, without exception.

This is how we, and the world, move forward together, in one piece. Even when it looks like that piece is shattering into a million smaller, more jagged ones, and we don’t understand the hows and whys of it all.

Instead of finding my own words (they were definitely in hiding), today I went looking for a bundle of cards bought in Dharamsala, India, a couple of years ago; on each is a quote by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They’re sold all over the place there, colourful, paper jewels lining the hilly streets leading down the mountainside to Kalachakra Temple in this thin-aired, sacred space. They positively emanate peace, goodwill and compassion to visitors and to the rest of the world below.

I needed to read these words today, to have them filter gently and slowly into my being, and hoped they might be of benefit.

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Tammy T. Stone

Tammy T. Stone

 

Another powerful thing to do when there are no words is meditation.

Let’s take a comfortable, upright seated posture and be silent, and really attend to the moment: the present moment of our thoughts, feelings, fears and bodily sensations (our body is truly the map of our past and ongoing mental processes).

Simply watching the breath and gently guiding ourselves back to the breath when the mind wanders is an astounding tool for grounding, heart-opening and stress-reduction.

Tonglen Meditation, from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, is also an extremely powerful, cathartic and effective meditation to help us generate compassion and contribute to a state of inner and outer peace. I’ve described this meditation here, and there are many fantastic guides to Tonglen on these pages (for example, here) and elsewhere.

It can be as simple as this (though I encourage you to read more about Tonglen):

Find a place where you can be quiet and still, and then proceed to slowly breathe in the suffering of the world (or any particular people you’d like to imagine, who are suffering), imagine it transforming into a bright white light of peace and goodwill, and breathe that goodness out onto the suffering parties.

In between the words, and in all the dark spaces, are the seeds of promise, and a reminder of the inevitability of—and potential for—change.

Please share this message of peace!