Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on September 26, 2014


If who you are,
Is who you will be,
And who you will be,
Will be,
Who you were,
Who you are,
Is not who you are,
Or who you will be.

So, who are you?

The above poem was written years ago just for fun. Still, every once in a while I wonder who it is I am and why I am here, as I imagine we all must do from time to time.

At heart, I believe I am an American Transcendentalist, albeit a straggler. Of course Transcendentalism came all in a bunch in the early 1800s with the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Amos Bronson Alcott, and others. If I belong in that group at all, I am just an outrider of that age, a latecomer that just now has managed to show up. I would place myself (in other words I admire) in the lineage of Alcott as a conversationalist, Emerson as an essayist, and Thoreau as a naturalist. I am just about a century too late. And why transcendentalism? That is simple.

Many of the transcendentalists mixed nature with the dharma or something similar to the dharma. That would be me and, of course, the dharma already has a name for this approach which is called the "Lama of Appearances."

It was pointed out to me some years ago by a lama friend that in addition to the traditional "Lama of the Lineage" (our physical dharma teachers) there are other "lamas" or teachers such as the "Lama of Scriptures" (the written dharma), the "Lama of the Dharmadhatu" (the nature of the mind itself as a teacher), and last, but not least, "The Lama of Appearances."

The Lama of Appearances refers to nature and the natural world as a complete teaching in itself, with the ability to enlighten us just as any of the other types of 'lama' can. Buddhism and natural law is, at least for me, the same thing. After all, it was this that attracted me to the dharma in the first place, the fact that I was already a Buddhist in all ways but name. That introduction came through the familiar "Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind to the Dharma," about which I have written here many time.

Of course I have had an incredible personal teacher and lama in the Ven. Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, but I have also received transformative teachings from Mother Nature herself, by way of the "Lama of Appearances." I have looked at and learned from nature how it is and just how things are.

As William Blake wrote,

"To see eternity in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour,"

This is the hallmark of the transcendental movement, mixing dharma or spirit with nature and natural law. How un-religion-like it is that Buddhism and natural law fit together like hand and glove. Each is a reflection of the other and both are a reflection of the mind itself – no difference. When all is said and done, I resonate with the transcendentalists.

As for whom I am and how I would describe myself and like to be remembered" Putting the best spin on it, I might be something like:


American Transcendentalist, Musician, Astrologer, Author, Archivist of Popular Culture (Music, Film, Concert Rock Posters), Naturalist, Photographer, Esoterist, and Dharma Practitioner.

I left out Systems-Programmer and a few other minor interests, but that's enough stuff to have done. Why so much? I don't mean to be vulgar, but my mother told me that when she potty-trained me, she would always use the phrase "Do more; do more." In fact, for years I called it "do-more." It could be as simple as that.