My weekend by Richard G.

Have you not seen the idle man of tao who has nothing to learn or to do?

Who neither discards wandering thoughts nor seeks the truth?

The real nature of ignorance is Buddha nature;

The illusory empty body is the Dharma body.

–from the Song of Enlightenment

by Yung Chia Hsuan Chueh

Temperature in the 96’s and humidity about the same, I spent the morning finishing Tara Brach’s extraordinary book, Radical Acceptance. In a nutshell–a small one, maybe a hazelnut shell, she says that the way to most enjoy and be satisfied with life is to accept it. As my clients at Samaritan Village might say, “It is what it is.” Ms. Brach, however, spends 326 or so pages saying it both beautifully and brilliantly, with examples and exercises and wonderful moments of humanity to remind me that heart comes first in the Buddhist concept of the heart/mind.

Today became day number four in my string of four incredible days in a row, days filled with love, compassion, delight and good food. It all started at work on Thursday when I presented a workshop, “Social Work and the Therapeutic Community,” at the 40th Annual National Association of Social Workers Addictions Institute. The presentation could not have gone better. The audience was enthusiastic and participatory. The material flowed nicely. Even the evaluations at the end looked good.

Back at Samaritan Village in the Highbridge section of the Bronx on Friday, both staff and clients were in extraordinarily good moods– remarkable in that I’d seen/felt nothing like it in my previous 13 years and one day on the job. The clients, all struggling with addiction and legal and family and mental health issues, are now also struggling with the State of New York’s decision that on July 26th (a minute away in their eyes) all substance abuse treatment facilities within the Empire State will become no smoking zones. Not only that, but nicotine addiction will be treated as all other brain-confounding addictions, to wit, no possession of smoking materials or accessories will be allowed; clients and staff seen smoking anywhere will be subject to repurcussions and YES THIS MEANS YOU!!!

We’ve been working to bring this in gradually, with one fewer smoke break per day each month to the point at which we’re now at one per day. We’ve even renamed them “breaks” to get the smoke out of the package. There’ve been Nicotine Addiction classes, free hard candies and NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) devices (e.g., gum, patches, etc.) available to them. Nonetheless we’ve had a high number of clients leaving treatment against clinical advice, often explaining their decision not as showing a desire to return to crack or heroin of reefer or even sex, but resting in the inability to swear off allegiance to Joe Camel and his mentholated cohort.

Why the good mood, then, was anyone’s guess. But there it was, expressed in smiles and laughter and cooperation. I did a couple of very satisfying individual sessions, one unscheduled with a client who just needed a safe place to vent, yet came away from it with much more. There was a wonderful teaching session, also unscheduled and informal, with a young case manager who’s charged with some very demanding clients. And then there was just a looseness and warmth in the staff-staff interactions during the day. Again, why is anyone’s guess.

Saturday after zendo I had lunch with some fellow meditators who’ve taken to discussing matters Zennish over lunch. Those of you who have known me for a while know that when I’m uncomfortable with anything I’ll either withdraw and spend my time wishing 1, that I had the balls to say something; and 2, wishing I was elsewhere; or 3, blowing up at the wrong thing, creating a mess and 4, wishing I was dead. Without going into the details of what got me bent seriously out of shape this time, let me just report that I was able to articulate what was going on with me and, to the best of my understanding, why I was able to to mention out loud the knot in the belly, the inability to intellectually comprehend what was being discussed along with the attendant sadness and frustration, the desire to be better able to participate, the desire to find a way to apply what was being said to my own quest for a richer life experience–all this without casting blame or mentioning anyone’s mother.

Phenomenal! I couldn’t help but feel like a grown-up.

And then came today. (Incidentally the pictures of the cats have nothing to do with the words here, but I couldn’t resist them. I’m not a “cat person,” but Fred and Mrs. Sipowicz are beauties.)

In an unrelated development–but one of great interest–my friend, Alix Loranace is having a show of Selected Prints entitled ” Amazing Women.” The show is at the

Ocean County Artists Guild

Ocean & Chestnut Avenues

Island Heights, N.J

It will run through June 30th.

If you have a way to get there, get there!

You can go to


to see a series we ran here a while back.

Published in: on June 8, 2008 at 5:39 pm  Comments (2)  
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