Dharma Sister

From the Cover of Amy Schmidt’s book on Dipa Ma


The poet W. H. Auden wrote
“The funniest and kindest of mortals
Are those who are most aware of the baffle of being”
(A friend named Rex used this quotation
In an inscription to me of Thomas Merton’s
New Seeds of Contemplation
circa 1982)

I’d adapt the poet this way:
“The funnest, friendliest, and kindest of mortals
Are those who are most aware
Of the beauty of Inter-being
Because they are this mystery
Because they savor the gift of this mystery
Because they awaken this mystery in others”




Please Bodhisattva

For All Allen Ginsberg Beings Everywhere

Oh Bodhisattva
I’m a slacker

Ach Bodhisattva
My mind sometimes is so many-pointed

Dear Bodhisattva
I’ve grown weary of always having an angle

Woe is me Bodhisattva
My middle name is “Scattered”

Gee Bodhisattva
It’s hard to cultivate loving-kindness for you know who

I know Bodhisattva
You won’t condemn me

Please Bodhisattva
May I approach you

Please Bodhisattva
May I bow and touch your feet

Please Bodhisattva
May I sit at your feet

Please Bodhisattva
Recite to me the Heart Sutra

Dear Bodhisattva
Now what was the Diamond Sutra trying to say

Never mind Bodhisattva
That’s just my discursive intellect flaring up again

Please Bodhisattva
Gently or urgently remind me to be a Buddha for more than a mere two hours a day

Please Bodhisattva
Press my feverish brow with a cool wash cloth

Please Bodhisattva
Will you read me some lines of Li Qingzhao

Please Bodhisattva
Soothe my jittery nerves

Please Bodhisattva
May I sit with you Japanese-style

Luminous Bodhisattva
Can you spare me another few minutes

Please Bodhisattva
Remind me that the truth of nonviolent action is best expressed in how one closes the door

Yes Bodhisattva
My in-breath is growing longer

Ahh Bodhisattva
My out-breath is growing longer

Awww Bodhisattva
Your Harvey Milk-stamped letters bring me joy

Please Bodhisattva
Kiss me on the top of my head like Kathy Kelly did

Dear Bodhisattva
Send me on my way out into the world

You Could Have Names Like—

Awakened Encourager of Six-Year-Old Buddhas To Be
Fenton Sage of Unrivaled Metta

Skillful Transformer of Anger into Universal Compassion for All Scoundrels
Shining Tyger Who Accompanies the Diffident on Their Dharma Way

Artist Supreme of Tie-Dye Mandalas All over North America
Dharma Sister of Serenity That Ripples throughout the Milky Way Bringing Joy to Incalculable Beings Who Aren’t Beings And So Of Course Are Really Beings After All


Some people are able to focus, laser-like, on one thing—athletes, musicians, scientists.

For Chris Wallach, it’s mindfulness.

It’s a gift. It’s a talent she’s deliberately cultivated over the last several years. It’s a whole set of skills that she practices, like smiling, speaking, teaching, noticing. It’s a good kind of passion—healthy, robust.It’s unifying her consciousness (both mind and store). Mindfulness, it’s one thing, yet it connects her to everything and everyone.

I’ve had this fantasy about her—I’ve been in many scores of demonstrations, vigils, marches, and protests—and I’ll be marching with her, Carrie, Lily, and our friends, walking calmly, inviting our various bells to sound, maybe using Japanese drums in downtown Saint Louis or out on Lindbergh approaching Monsanto, and Chris would be our roshi, our thầy, our guide—no anger, no snarkiness, no jaws clenched when we approach the non-enemy, no venom pouring out, no harm wished on a single being:

Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, Bodhi svaha!
Gaté, gaté, paragaté, parasamgaté, Bodhi svaha!

I can see her as the embodiment of equanimity … and then it occurs to me (I forget over and over) … I am and could be that Chris Wallach walking, I could march that way. I, too, have Buddha nature or Chris Wallach mindful nature. I could be serene and determined like Chân Không and I’d be able to notice my mind getting impatient with serenity and wanting to rage against the filthy, rotten system and its minions and lackeys and reach into my ancient-like-Allen-Ginsberg-Russian-Jewish-past — “Moloch the Congress of sorrows!”—and just at that instant, I would look on all beings in front of me with the eyes of compassion … Present moment, wonderful moment … the eyes of Chris, the eyes that cherish two young women, the eyes that have beheld hundreds of first-grade-bodhisattvas-in-training.

The eyes of the Buddha can be our eyes.

Share the Wealth with Susan Clark and Chris Wallach

In October, Susan Clark and Chris Wallach attended the Mind and Life International Symposium for Contemplative Studies. The Mission Statement of the Institute states:

The Mind & Life Institute is a non-profit organization committed to building a scientific understanding of the mind as a way to help reduce suffering and promote human flourishing. To accomplish this, we foster interdisciplinary dialogue between Western science, philosophy, humanities, and contemplative traditions, supporting the integration of first-person inquiry through meditation and other contemplative practices into traditional scientific methodology.

Susan and Chris will discuss insights they gained during their favorite sessions, the wonderfulness of the overall experience, and the joy of sitting meditation with Zen Masters. Susan has been interested in contemplative studies, particularly Zen Buddhism and Insight Meditation, for many years. She has attended several retreats and has practiced with different meditation groups within the St. Louis area over the years. Chris is a first grade teacher at the New City School who has practiced mindfulness for several years, facilitating the practice for her students, their families, and staff members.

Join us
Sunday 11 January
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Susan and Chris begin sharing at 6:45
At the home of Cristina and Patrick

by Chris Wallach

I believe in miracles, and Dipa Ma is one of my miracles. She reminds me that I am enough just the way I am. I can go to work, be a mother, and be a spiritual being. Part of my meditation is grounded in her recommendation to others; I practice loving kindness for myself. May I be safe and protected. May I be surrounded by love and kindness. And may I live with ease. She is with me everywhere, brings a smile to my face when I think of her, and has her hand on my shoulder when I need it there. She reminds me that the daughters of the dharma are fearless and that anything is extraordinarily possible. Be patient. Be open. Allow all of my being to come forward. I would be there with you in this class, but I have started on an adventure. I am taking Dipa Ma’s biography with me. I love looking at the cover and seeing her eyes looking back at me. She is going to be my teacher once again while I am on the road.

Chris and Carrie

This page is part of my book, Dear Love of Comrades, which you can read here.

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