Karma – Poems On Anger and Redemption

one act in anger

lifetimes of merit fade – flames

devour the land


(the grinding wheel of samsara)


As Pema Chodron said (more or less)


“All these years of practice, same shitty old mind”

It’s said that Samsara, the endless cycle of birth, old age, sickness and death, is subtle, grinding and pervasive. And so it is. Recently, I had the “opportunity” to look directly at my own root klesha, that of anger (kleshas are the habitual behaviors that keep us stuck in Samsara, lifetime after lifetime –https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kleshas_(Buddhism).) On a recent trip with my wife and dear friends, I got triggered and without thinking acted out of irritation and anger. In addition to directly harming someone most dear to me, I could instantly feel whatever merit I may have accumulated in years of meditation practice completely drain away.

In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, “merit” is said to be accumulated through practice and is essential as fuel for further practice on the path to awakening (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merit_(Buddhism)

It’s also said that a single act of anger can destroy lifetimes of merit. And so it felt.

Actions cannot be undone, only addressed by subsequent action. We practice, we stumble, we get up again and resolve to do better. Perhaps, with grace, to soften the karma of this earlier action. And so it goes,

around and around and around…

Two poems then, the haiku above and the poem below, speaking to the experience of action and remorse – may they be of benefit




anger, rising like a flame, 
brief yellow, white hot
and she’s hurt
this girl you’ve always loved 
completely. thoughtless, 
you’ve burned her to white bone.
actions refuse to be undone.
whatever merit you’ve gathered
turns to dust, blows away
on the icy winds of hell.
dedicate whatever days remain
to her.
breathe only love and loving kindness.
you will fail
but at least you will try.
prostate and purify
collect mantra like dreams
offer incense, the tendrils of smoke
rising into heaven. your hair
beginning to burn.

African Wildlife Photo Collection- Botswana Part 2 (Okavango Delta)

Wild Dog Stretching Before a Hunt

The second of three Collections of photos from Africa this last October is now up on my photo site, Jfinkimages (see the link below.) This is a larger set of images from the Okavango Delta in Botswana. While there was still water in the Delta, much of it was pretty dry. Nonetheless, we were still able to spend serious quality time with a wide array of of wildlife, highlighted by encounters with three groups of predators: African Wild Dogs (including witnessing a kill,)  a  brother and sister pair of Lions, and the most beautiful female Leopard I’ve ever seen!

Here’s the link: https://www.jfinkimages.com/p305060048#hdf04ccea

The link will take you directly to the Collection where you can either click through image-by-image, or click the “Slideshow” button in the top right – personally I like to run the Slideshow in full-screen, but of course, I’m biased!

Many thanks to Rob Barbour at Epic Private Journeys for orchestrating yet another “once in a lifetime” safari experience (https://epicprivatejourneys.com/) and for Mapula and Tuludi Camps for their terrific hospitality and expert guide services (https://www.okavangodelta.com/the-okavango/)