Death & Life-Altering Mittens (An Interview)

Deborah Niemann is the force behind Antiquity Oaks farm in rural Illinois. She is the author of three books: Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living (2011), Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, (2012), and Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More (2013). She also […]

Swarm of Loving-Kindness

As the bee collects nectar and flies away without damaging the flower or its colour or its scent, so also, let the bhikkhu (monk) dwell and act in the village… (Dhammapada Verse 49) One bright, warm day last early June, I hurriedly made the rounds at the farm. As I walked toward the tool shed […]

Bailey & The Beanstalk

Hard is it to be born into human life. Now we are living it. Difficult is it to hear the Teachings. Now we hear them. If we do not enlighten ourselves in the present life, no hope is there that we shall be freed from suffering and sorrow in the ocean of birth and death. […]

A Talk & A Song

On May 31st 2015, I spoke at the Buddhist Temple of Chicago on the theme of … well, lots of themes. Among them: cultural intersections of modern Buddhism, killing a chicken for the first time, impending parenthood, and the recent musical genre “buddhagrass” aka Buddhist Bluegrass. Ok, it’s not really a genre per se… yet. […]

Fear & Loathing & Lower Back Pain

My computer’s wallpaper is a picture of a smiling Buddha, cherubic and childlike. Above his head is the quote: All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become. Before my recent transformation explained below, I would have read this quote in the abstract. […]

Zen and The Art of No Security

A dear friend and mentor gave me a book called Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth. Here’s one of the stories. My Uncle Ry lived alone in a small house up in the hills. He didn’t own many things. He lived a simple life. One evening, he discovered he had a visitor. A robber had […]

Love Your Enemies, Friends and Fowl

One morning during our school’s holiday break, I awoke before dawn to the sound of my alarm. It was a dark Sunday morning, when most people are clinging to their pillows as long as possible – which is exactly what I would be doing if it weren’t for the fact that my number one chicken […]

A Commute Via The Himalayas

We Chicagoans love to complain about the Winter. Each year we are incensed, outraged even, that we are subjected to such injustice. “It took me an hour to get to work”, we say. We threaten relocations to such exotic locals as Portland, but we never go. We can continue to complain year after year, or […]

Beyond Mycophobia

When my students open the squeaky gate to our city farm, they immediately pass by shelf of mushrooms that grow from the side of a tree stump. Eye level to a seven year old, the fungi at first appear unreal and cartoonish. One can easily picture a real life Mario boinging from one pillowy cap […]