Tuesday, January 31, 2017


     Research shows that a healthy American pre-school child smiles about 400 times a day, while adults smile an average of twelve times daily. Wow!  What a disparity!
     In Celebration Circle, we have spent the past 25 years doing our best to help ease this gap. All of our gatherings, events and digital offerings are created in hopes that our words, music and meditations will help make hearts smile and increase the Joy Quotient in the world, by deepening our understanding of our Oneness with ourselves, each other and all Creation.
     I hasten to point out that I'm not talking about pasting on fake, "how-are-you-I-am-fine-isn't-life-wonderful" smiles and pretending to be positive about everything. Rather, we are engaged in the process of encouraging ourselves and each other to face and embrace whatever Life brings us with an open mind and a soft, welcoming smile in our heart.
     And, no, this is not easy an easy task. Still, I remain fully committed to this mission, but I believe it is important to remind ourselves and each other of who we truly are by incorporating our personal insights with those offered by all the major faiths and wisdom traditions, as well as contemporary science, psychology, art and the recovery movement.
     This Sunday morning, we'll be celebrating the Circle's birthday, marking 25 years of weekly gatherings, concerts, classes, workshops, retreats, art exhibits and meditations. We'll share uplifting words, sing rousing music, blow out candles and eat birthday cake, and big fun will be had. And then, on Saturday night, April 1st, we'll have a big Birthday Bash, Cocktails & Cake, dancing and more. I really hope you can join us for one or both of these celebratory occasions; it would be great to see you there.
     But more than that, my heartfelt birthday wish is that the Circle will continue to serve you in feeling, knowing and glowing with the quiet, peaceful joy that comes from remembering: We Are One.
With joy and blessings,
     Thanks to everyone who has supported the Circle with their time, talent and treasure in the past and those still willing to offer support. You can always make a donation by clicking HERE.

Friday, January 20, 2017


     This is the Inaugural Weekend, when a new President will be sworn in as the so-called "leader of the Free World." Some people I know are feeling various shades of mad, sad or fearful about this transition; others are feeling glad, joyful or hopeful. As for myself, I've been feeling all those emotions at various times recently, but I'm doing my best to remember that's all they are: my emotions. I've made them up in reaction to some preconceived thoughts, perceptions and projections of what's going on in Washington D.C. 

     And, yes, I know that there will be all sorts of physical, economic and social consequences as a result of the political shift that is occurring. But I also believe that whoever occupies the White House is just an out-picturing of our collective consciousness as a nation. And that while the new Chief Executive may have some measure of political power, the real "leader of the Free World" is not the 45th President of the United States, it is me. And you. And anyone/everyone else who is willing to step up in consciousness to claim their limitless capacity for love and wisdom, and wield it consciously in the service of our Highest Good. Because, ultimately, Love is the only power that lasts. Political ideas come and go; empires rise and fall; only love endures and evolves. 
     Is that an overly idealistic vision? Perhaps. But that doesn't make it any less potent, or any less true, at least from where I stand in my understanding of spiritual principles. And to that end, I plan to attend a deeply personal Inauguration Ceremony sometime this weekend. There will be no flags waving, no bands playing, no speechmaking. Instead it will be a time of prayerful silence and contemplation, during which I will be "inaugurated" anew into the office of World Leader, and consciously accept both the awesome responsibilities and limitless possibilities of the position.

      I invite you to consider doing the same, in whatever manner you choose, wherever you are, whatever your political persuasion. You might find yourself asking, "Just exactly what do you plan to do to carry out this role, Rudi?  And what do you expect me to do, should I choose to accept this challenge?"
     I don't pretend to know the answers to such questions. But I fully trust that guides and guidance will appear to help make things clear as we move forward. That our willingness to step up and into this role is sufficient for us to be bestowed with all the help and helpers we need along the way.

     "We are The Ones we've been waiting for!" And, yes, the task is large, but the need is great, and much too important to ignore, much less think that "someone else can do that." At least, that's my story...and I'm sticking to it.

With blessings,
Thank you to all who have supported the Circle with time, talent and treasure in the past and those still willing to offer support. You can always make a donation by clicking HERE.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


     Once upon a time, long ago and far away (or perhaps, not that long ago, in a place much closer than you might imagine...) a spiritual pilgrim was travelling among various sacred sites when he came up a particularly remote and elegant Buddhist shrine located at the foot of a mountain. He was preparing to take off his shoes and enter the shrine to meditate in front of a statue of the Buddha on the altar, when he saw a small sign near the entrance which said, " This Way to the Most Beautiful Buddha in the Country," with an arrow pointing to a steep path up the nearby slope.              
     His curiosity aroused, he began hiking up the trail, which proved to be quite arduous. He almost turned back several times, but was glad he'd persevered when he finally got to the top and encountered a vast, stunning vista, spread out below in all directions. And there, set on the highest point, was a simple stone pagoda, similar to the shrine below, except this time there was no altar and no Buddha inside. Instead, there was only an empty space, framing the breathtaking view of lush, green landscapes and sparkling blue skies. Entering the structure, he saw another sign on the floor, which said simply, "If you can't see the Buddha here, you had better go back down the mountain and practice some more."
     This story reminds me that wherever I am is a sacred site, if only I will climb up a little higher in consciousness, and take a wider view. If I'll just open the eyes of my heart, I can see Spirit manifesting in whoever or whatever is directly in front of me in that moment.
     Even as I sit here, arranging words on my computer screen, I am stunned by the timeless, sacred light of the full moon, peeking through the treetops in our backyard, reminding me to breathe into the beauty and magnificence of this time, this place, however commonplace it may seem at first glance.
     May you, too, feel blessed by this invitation to look around at your surroundings, wherever you may be, and see the Buddha, the Christ, the magnificence of Spirit, unfolding right before your eyes. 
Thank you to all who have supported the Circle with time, talent and treasure in the past and those still willing to offer support. You can always make a donation by clicking HERE.

Friday, January 6, 2017


   In my recent morning readings I came across these words from Pema Chödrön, an American Buddhist nun widely known for her insightful, down-to-earth interpretation of Tibetan Buddhism for Western audiences. I was so touched by the sentiment, both personally and globally, that I wrote the publisher asking permission to share this with you and they graciously granted that request. I hope to see you on Sunday as we focus on Mindful Compassion.
   It's daring not to shut anyone out of our hearts, not to make anyone an enemy. If we begin to live like this, we'll find that we actually can't define someone as completely right or completely wrong anymore. Life is more slippery and playful than that. Trying to find absolute rights and wrongs is a trick we play on ourselves to feel secure and comfortable.

   Compassionate action, being there for others, being able to act and speak in a way that communicates, begins with noticing when we start to make ourselves right or make ourselves wrong. At that particular point, we could just contemplate the fact that there is an alternative to either of those, which is bodhichitta. This tender shaky place, if we can touch it, will help us train in opening further to whatever we feel, to open further rather than shut down more. We'll find that as we begin to commit ourselves to the practice of tonglen, as we begin to celebrate aspects of ourselves that we found so impossible before, something will shift permanently in us. Our ancient habitual patterns will begin to soften, and we'll begin to see the faces and hear the words of people who are talking to us. As we learn to have compassion for ourselves, the circle of compassion - what and whom we can work with, and how - expands.

Bodhichitta (Sanskrit) The awakened heart of loving-kindness and compassion. Absolute bodhichitta is our natural state, experienced as the basic goodness that links us to every other living being. It has been defined as openness, ultimate truth, our true nature, soft spot, tender heart, or simply what is. Relative bodhichitta is the courage to realize this tinder openhearted quality by tapping into our capacity to love and care for others.
Tonglen (Tibetan) "Sending and receiving." Also described as exchanging cell for other. In the practice of tonglen, we breathe then whatever feels bad and send out whatever feels good.

From Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chödrön © 2002 by Pema Chödrön and Emily Hilburn Sell. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boston, MA. www.shambhala.com
    In joy, 
Thank you to all who have supported the Circle with time, talent and treasure in the past and those still willing to offer support. You can always make a donation by clicking HERE.