The Seven Circle Badger Boogie Woogie with the Kings Canyon Side-Step

Heart of Practice Retreat 2018

3:30 rose offers itself up to me,

crescent moon the vase,
the fire releases it.

I’m awake!
Now time to clean the litter box.

This seasick yogi
continues to sail the sea of samsara
Continuously tossing out
Illusory life savers
While sinking deeply into the ocean of wisdom.

If you want the mind to show you
Your most disturbing, distracting attachments:
Just meditate

Reading the recipe and eating the meal
are not the same

This precise collection of people
only happens once in this way

7 Circles, 7 minutes,
Prayers flowing to the seven seas
Cesar Seas
We all see

Letting the stillness and breath
connect the mind and heart
Every single one surrendering
And contributing to the Badger Boogie Woogie
with the Kings Canyon side-step
Next year in double time
SLO being the new fast

Cutting those strings of righteousness
I fall into laughter

The elephant in the room trumpets in glee
while crushing the circus of ego

Circus peanuts fall into the big mind sky
As smooth ivory columns
Spiral through my thoughts

Mind and what arises
Do not get the two confused
They are one

Imagine if the world that you thought you knew
Wasn’t really true
it was made up in your mind
a construct of your desires

I am you
You are me
Let’s work it out

Research recipes
Lists, computer problems
Crush, burn, anxiety,
Fear, terror, endless.
Thinking, talking, shopping
Last minute changes
Do not buy too much
Do not buy too little
Don’t forget anything
Let it go…

They will eat what’s here
And what’s not
but they will be filled.

We arrived as a hand full
Of tight kernels of corn
each day the right conditions come together
Tonight we explode
Into white fluffy clouds
We are now a bowl of popcorn.
om mani padme hung

Nature nurtures nature
Especially if small animals
such as birds are involved
Don’t believe everything you think

Before enlightenment:
Chop wood carry water
After enlightenment:
Chop wood carry water

The lavender is buzzing
with a variety of bees
the table in the background
is buzzing with noble speech

Roaring river, thunder and movement
the source of a thousand whirlpools
watching them form
seeing their nature
then letting them go

Like the rushing river
Thus have I heard!
You don’t do the dharma
the dharma does you

Manjushri’s sword
Cuts through extremes
I asked to borrow it
he told me to use my own
Spontaneity arises from relaxing
compassion is spontaneous
the point is
that there is no point
to be or not to be?
Should be an easy question
Left with nothing,
there lies everything

Sleeping in a sea of nettles,
Like the thistles from epistles
peeling back the mind
letting go the ego
and what remained left
is the watermelon rind.

Beyond the big open sky
I detect
at least one more big open sky

3 weeks of retreat?
that’s completely crazy
No way
Ok, sure, why not?

For you my love: anything
I am an antenna
You are my signal

You are my only friend right now
I am useless to myself
Have whatever is left of me

Oh to transform
all ecstasies
into one
like the love songs
Of Mirabai
Have i ever known such longing?

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
life is but a dream

Stop trying.
What you’re claiming for
doesn’t exist
Sit with your transparent

For seven days at seven circles
I had a dozen heart-felt talks
with new friends
and old
Everyone was the Buddha

These foolish things
I gave up Starbucks for this?
Because your worth it
Withdrawals not withstanding



Tsony visits Pasadena Bodhi Path

DT Tsony

Dear friends,

Here are links to the 2 talks we had with Lama Tsony. For better results, download the files first before listening.

Thanks! – cesar

A Project for an Awakened Life.
The Condensed Practice of Mind Training with the Five Forces – October 25

Anuttara Puja
The Sevenfold Prayer as an Ideal Lifestyle – October 4

Song from Seven Circles

Seven Circles Retreat

Up early each day – meditation, chanting, Feldenkrais, and napping

Om Mani Padme Hung

Overcoming many obstacles, we gather here in Seven Circles for retreat

The gong is a tattle tale – it told on you

Oh, Ngondro, you cracked me wide open

The strong arms of the chant lift me, my sangha, brothers and sisters hold me

Buddha Nature prevails

Love, kindness, discipline, perseverance, awareness, and insight

Chanting and rolling dharma bundles

An oriole shoots by…enlightenment

Noble silence, noble speech

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ho

Sweat rolls down my back as I dive into the linoleum

Gasping for breath, walking among the giant trees with my friends

Making offerings at Big Baldy

Mt. Meru insight prayers

By the circle of tall trees

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, ribbit, ribbit

We grew like hairs on Big Baldy

Reversing time – finding the present moment – going backwards

High Ngondro, starring Cary Grant me your blessings

Trying hard not to break noble silence – epic fail

Who are the three families and do they have anything to do with the five families?

Fail, fail again, fail better

Hope you fail better soon!

Surrendering concepts in devotion, to the teacher who teaches devotion, to the teacher I take refuge

Beloved sons and daughters of the Kagyu lineage – nevertheless you might feel like a stepchild

Gurgle, gurgle, ribbit, ribbit

Rooster, cow, chicken

Om Svasti Shamar Rinpoche – we follow you

You are all masters, just open your eyes – I can’t – it’s too bright!

Would it help to put on sunglasses?

What are we supposed to be doing?

Just stay awake

A road to Badger, feeling anxious

Seeking Buddha – oh, he’s already here

Let the mantras roll

Now my life has become fruitful

I heard about the five colors of emanating light, I need four more flashlights

Breakfast, lunch, dinner – grateful for the earth, grateful for the hands

Nevertheless she cooks

My heart does a gentle dance with time – mine asks to cut in

From the country road, Maria brings wildflowers to the altar

Take me home country road……

Bodhi Path Poem – June 2017  Seven Circles Retreat Center – Composed by the refugees

Heart of Practice – Images from our Summer 2015 Retreat

Seven Circles Retreat

Seven Circles Retreat

Some photos of our Summer Retreat at the Seven Circles Retreat in Badger CA.


Heart of Practice Retreat Slideshow

The Heart of Practice – Summer Retreat 2015

The Heart of Practice – Summer Retreat 2015.

Up Close With A Translator: Julia Stenzel


Greetings Bodhi Seeds!

Here is a wonderful video and interview with a dear friend from the Bodhi Path mandala. Enjoy!


On the first day of Losar (Tibetan New Year) this year, we published the “Ākāśagarbha Sūtra” in the online reading room. Along with the publishing of this translation, we invited two of the translators to share their thoughts on the sūtra, the translation process and the impact that 84000 and our donors have on spreading the Buddha’s words.
Can you summarize the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra?

The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra was named after the Bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, in Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo, which we could translate as essence of space or matrix of space. But we chose not to translate it but leave his name in Sanskrit. The setting is that of Buddha Śākyamuni residing in the Khalatika mountains, which some people think are the Barabar mountains in Bodhgaya. And Buddha Śākyamuni is surrounded by his retinue, and Ākāśagarbha arrives. He doesn’t arrive like any ordinary person. At first, there is a bright light, which comes from the jewel that he is wearing on top of his head. And this light transforms the whole of the world into a pureland, kind of a paradise. And so he arrives, and the bodhisattva Maitreya asking Buddha Śākyamuni, “So who is this bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha?”

The answer of Buddha Śākyamuni then forms the major part of the sūtra. The Buddha explained the qualities and the powers of Ākāśagarbha; and most particularly, his power to help practitioners purify their wrongdoings, their negative deeds. He also explained how practitioners should pray to Ākāśagarbha, which kind of offerings and mantras they should offer in order to purify. And there’s one interesting detail, which is that the purification actually takes place in a dream. So we have to invite Ākāśagarbha to come in our dream, and there we will confess our wrongdoings, and there Ākāśagarbha will purify our wrong doings.

What are the main themes of The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra?

One of the prominent themes in the sūtra is mahāyāna ethics. And indeed the sūtra is known from other texts like the Bodhicaryāvatāra, The Way of the Bodhisattva, from Śāntideva. In this text, Śāntideva recommends bodhisattva practitioners to study the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra in order to know about ethics of the bodhisattva training. Also, Sakya Pandita and Jamgon Kongtrul, later Tibetan masters, mention the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra as a reference text. The interesting thing here is that ethics is discussed from the point of view of failure. Buddha Śākyamuni, in the sūtra, explains 23 cases in which the practitioner fails. And these 23 wrongdoings are categorised into wrongdoings of kings, of ministers, of śrāvakas, and of beginner bodhisattvas.

In Tibetan, these wrong doings are called dongwa, which literally means downfall. And downfall here refers to the fact that we are falling from the way to awakening, and we are falling into the lower realms, which means we will be without happiness and without the possibility of making spiritual progress.

So what are these downfalls? Actually in the text we translate them as transgressions, where some of them are the crimes that we would expect, like killing and stealing. But the bodhisattva transgressions are deeds like teaching emptiness to disciples that are not ready for hearing the teaching about emptiness, or trying to convince somebody that the mahāyāna path is not the right path to practice, or trying to deter somebody who wants to take the pratimoksha vows. So the interesting thing in reading the sūtra is that a lot of these downfalls are not expressed as abstract principles, but rather the Buddha gives us a narrative. For example, monks in a certain situation teaching on the emptiness. So we are told, for each downfall, a little narrative.

Tell us a bit about your translation process.

We translated the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra at the International Buddhist Academy in Kathmandu. This academy is a Sakya school founded by the Sakya master Khenchen Rinpoche. These days it is directed by Khenpo Ngawang Jorden. And one special feature of the school is that it trains translators according to the moral of the Pandita Lotsawa, with whom many Sanskrit sūtras were at the time translated into Tibetan. We have, on one hand, Tibetan scholars who have all studied a decade or more in monastic colleges, and have become experts in Buddhist philosophy; and the “lotsawa,” the translators in this case, are westerners, practitioners but also with academic background; who then will work together in the team, this pandita-lotsawa team, in order to produce translations. This is a bit of a presumptuous word, because we are all beginners. But anyway, that was our ideal.

In the case of the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra, we were a team of four. Two Tibetan scholars: Ngawang Tenzin and Jampa Tenzin; and two Western translators, Christian Bernert and myself. And we worked in such a way that we divided the text in half, and one half was translated by Ngawang Tenzin and Christian, and the other one by Jampa Tenzin and myself. And then we switched work and corrected the work of the other team. That was a time-consuming process, but it was necessary. For difficult passages, we asked Khenpo Ngawang Jorden, and he was of enormous help to clarify the difficult passages.

We did not need a Sanskrit expert because there is no extant Sanskrit original for this sūtra. And the Chinese version is so very different that we could not really do a comparative study. So then after the translation, of course we had proofreaders and editors. Ani Kunga Chodron, Pamela White, Vivian Paganuzzi, who all contributed greatly to the end result. We submitted our translation to the 84000 and then we received comments and corrections from the editors of the 84000, also enormously helpful. And we worked at the text and then submitted our final result. This was all, as I said, very long process, but it gave us the confidence that at the end the result would be acceptable.

Why do you translate?

When I was 21, I entered a Buddhist hermitage in Provence (France). I studied Buddhadharma and learnt meditation with the late mahamudra master Lama Gendun Rinpoche. The condition to enter his three year retreat at the time was to learn Tibetan. So I studied Tibetan on my own. And during the retreat, sometimes we recited many hours of Tibetan texts. And of course I was curious, I wanted to know what I was reciting. Our teacher Lama Gendun at that time said that right now you will all practice in Tibetan, but in the future, people will understand the texts from within. You will translate texts, and then one day practice in your own languages.

When I came to the International Buddhist Academy where we were then in the process of translating sūtras, we had a visit from the head of the Sakya school, Sakya Trizin. And he gave us an advice which took the weight off our shoulders. Because he said: “Don’t worry whether your translation will be perfect, because of course it will be not. In the beginning, translators make mistakes; but based on their work, in the future, other translators can improve.” So with this kind of attitude, we started the translations of, for example, the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra, but also other sūtras for the 84000.

And personally I have to say it is a work which is very rewarding, because it obliges me to reflect deeply on this particular dharma texts, and thereby I learn a lot about the Buddhadharma. There’s the exchange with experienced translators, like Tom Tillemans, John Canti, Gavin Kilty. They gave us enormous help by commenting, advising, correcting our work. So it is a very rewarding experience. And therefore I am very grateful that the 84000 exists, and I would like to thank all the supporters and donors for this project. Thank you.


Ākāśagarbha Sūtra