Below is a collection of articles Judy has written over the years, mostly published in the magazine Lion’s Roar.
Judy Lief explains the Buddha’s deep analysis of the roots of anxiety and shows how mindfulness can help us ease the suffering of an anxious mind. Photo by Darren Seamark.
The mind is a tricky, stubborn thing. When we try to force it to behave, it resists. Sometimes it seems as if it’s an external force taking us over, out of our control, in our face. This is definitely the case with anxiety. [Read more…] about Unraveling Anxiety
The more we increase our ability to deal with our own difficulties, the more aware we are that we can’t solve the troubles of family and friends. But, says Judy Lief, we can learn to be with one another just as we are. Photo by Joshua Rondeau.
As we go through life, we face many joys and discoveries and many problems and difficulties. [Read more…] about The Problem with Problems
Living in a “god realm” of privilege and affluence, Americans awoke to the world’s harsher realities on September 11. Judy Lief guides us beyond the anger that followed.
In the wake of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, in many quarters there is a subtle undercurrent of satisfaction, even glee, that the U.S. is finally experiencing a small glimmer of what life is like outside its privileged bubble. [Read more…] about Welcome to the Real World
On the inbreath, says Judy Lief, take in what is bad, freeing others from it. On the outbreath, offer what is good.
The world today is in chaos, full of suffering, confusion, and greed. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and shut down, but closing our hearts isn’t helpful to anyone. [Read more…] about Tonglen: A Prayer That Rides the Breath
You’re not alone if you despair about the present and fear for the future. If you find all the bad news overwhelming, Buddhist teacher Judy Lief has some meditations to help you relieve your anxiety.
It’s not as if times of fear and despair are anything new. People have fought wars, struggled to survive, faced injustice, experienced loss, dealt with violence and greed, and been caught up in historical movements beyond their control pretty much forever. [Read more…] about How Not to Freak Out
Study and practice work together, says Judy Lief, to undermine ego. They’re the great disrupters.
There are many ways to engage with Buddhist teachings. You can read books on the dharma and take classes in person or online. You can meditate on your own or attend retreats. [Read more…] about To Go Beyond Words
Although enlightenment can seem like an unreachable goal, says Judy Lief, we’re actually having glimpses of it all the time.
Awakening is the central goal of the Buddhist tradition. Buddha means “awake,” and the Buddha is said to be the enlightened one. But what does that mean? What exactly is the goal? And where does it all start? [Read more…] about Glimpses of Awakening
Making friends with yourself is the ground, path, and fruition of Buddhist meditation, says Judy Lief. It starts by dropping your mask and looking at the real you with honesty and love.
What do we really know about ourselves? Sometimes it feels as if all day long we are switching between various masks. It’s as though we are always trying to be someone. We do a lot of pretending. [Read more…] about Three Steps to Making Friends with Yourself
If you’re not trying to get somewhere, says Judy Lief, nothing can stop you.
Generally, we define something as an obstacle because it stops us from achieving a goal we’ve set. If you’re walking along a trail and a big tree has fallen across your path, that’s an obstacle. You either have to turn back, climb over it, or go around it. [Read more…] about No Agenda, No Obstacles
Studying Buddhist teachings is different from learning other subjects. Judy Lief shows you how to read the dharma so that it really changes you.
How do we become one with the dharma, the Buddhist teachings? One way is through meditation practice, another is through study, and a third is through our behavior. [Read more…] about How to Read Dharma
Using the traditional metaphor of the poison tree, Judy Lief teaches us four Buddhist techniques to work with our anger.
According to Buddhist psychology, anger is one of the six root kleshas, the conflicting emotions that cause our suffering. Its companions are greed, ignorance, passion, envy, and pride. [Read more…] about How to Transform Anger in 4 Steps
No matter where you begin, says Judy Lief, or whether you are an independent practitioner or affiliated with a particular tradition, all you have to do is to dive in.
Thanks to the efforts of translators, practitioners, and scholars, we have access to an abundance of magazines, journals, books, articles, videos, podcasts, and websites about Buddhism in all its diverse forms. [Read more…] about How to Read Buddhist Teachings
It goes a lot deeper than how many times a day you check your phone. According to Buddhist teacher Judy Lief, distraction is the very foundation of ego, the way we protect ourselves against both the pain of life and the open space of awakened mind. You could even say that letting go of all distraction is the path to enlightenment.
Distractions are everywhere, all the time. Little screens, middling screens, gigantic screens. [Read more…] about The Dharma of Distraction
The Buddha said the greatest of all teachings is impermanence. Its final expression is death. Buddhist teacher Judy Lief explains why our awareness of death is the secret of life. It’s the ultimate twist.
Whether we fight it, deny it, or accept it, we all have a relationship with death. Some people have few encounters with death as they are growing up, and it becomes personal for them only as they age and funerals begin to outnumber weddings. [Read more…] about Death: The Greatest Teacher
When something bad happens to you, it isn’t necessarily the result of your own actions. Judy Lief offers a nuanced understanding of karma.
Question: A recent issue of Lion’s Roar said, “If you want to know your past karma, look at the state of your life now. And if you want to know your future karma, look at the state of your mind now.” I found it upsetting to read this. I’ve suffered terrible trauma in my life and I feel like you’re blaming it on me. [Read more…] about Is It All My Karma?
Buddhist teacher Judy Lief, who was present at 2015’s Paris climate conference, takes a step back for some perspective.
In December 2015, I witnessed firsthand an outpouring of inspiration at the Paris COP21 climate conference. Over one hundred countries sent representatives to talk about how to respond to the changing climate and its impact. [Read more…] about Commentary: Why I’m Still Hopeful After the US’s Paris Exit
So much of our suffering—as individuals and as a society—is caused by fear. In fact, according to Buddhism, fear is at the very root of ego and samsara.
It helps to explore how we can work with fear from the point of view of the path, the student’s journey. How do we walk the path of fear? Fear is not a trivial matter. In many ways, it restricts our lives; it imprisons us. [Read more…] about Fear and Fearlessness
You have a mind, body, thoughts, and a natural bent toward awakening. From that great beginning, Buddhist teacher Judy Lief offers helpful guidelines for the path ahead of you.
If you are inspired to establish a personal meditation practice or explore the Buddhist teachings, what is the best way to go about it? For many of us, it’s a very different path than it used to be. [Read more…] about DIY Dharma: You Have Everything You Need
We may not be able to stop someone from dying or suffering pain, but we can still help through the honesty, compassion and presence of mind we bring to the situation. The key, says Buddhist teacher Judy Lief, is working with our own state of mind and attitudes toward death.
In a stucco room in New Mexico, a group of women are gathered. They are awaiting the arrival of Sandra Jishu Holmes, an American Zen Buddhist priest. [Read more…] about How to Be a Help
The teachings on mind training, or lojong, are an invaluable aid to practitioners because they show us how the wisdom and skillful means of the Mahayana can actually be put into action. They show us how to make it real.
The lojong teachings include instruction in formless meditation, in the practice of “sending and taking” (tonglen), and in postmeditation practice—putting our meditation into action in our daily lives. [Read more…] about The Why and How of Lojong, or Mind Training
Suffering is more than the first noble truth of Buddhism. To see our own and others’ suffering is the first step on the path, the birthplace of compassion. Judy Lief offers guidance on the journey.
When the Buddha was a young child, he led a sheltered life, brought up in a wealthy family. His father was a regional king, and as such, officiated at ceremonies and state occasions. [Read more…] about Kindness to Ourselves and Others
Judy Lief provides an introduction to learning The Seven Points of Training the Mind.
The Seven Points of Training the Mind is a list of fifty-nine slogans, which together form a pithy instruction on the view and practical application of Mahayana Buddhism. [Read more…] about Sacred Slogans
It doesn’t matter if we start small; we can find a way to hold the whole world in our heart. Judy Lief on cultivating a love that is unfettered and pure—a love that touches everyone.
The human realm is said to be the realm of passion. Passion is what holds us together; confused passion is what entraps us and transformed passion is what can liberate us. [Read more…] about Biggest Love
Judy Lief looks at why generosity is the starting place for virtue.
The practice of generosity may seem simple—it is learning how to give—but it is the ground that allows discipline, patience, exertion, meditation, and wisdom to flourish. It establishes the basic attitude of magnanimity that is the defining characteristic of the path of the bodhisattva. [Read more…] about The More You Give, the Richer You Feel
Prominent Buddhist teacher and Lion’s Roar contributor Judy Lief shares her experiences from this month’s historic Paris Climate talks.
My invitation to COP21: The Paris Climate Conference
Since its founding seven years ago, I have been a member of The Contemplative Alliance, a project of the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW). [Read more…] about A Buddhist’s report from the Paris Climate Conference
Lion’s Roar | June 2014 • by Andrea Miller
When I was putting together the anthology Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who Are Shaping Buddhism in the West, Judy Lief was one of the first teachers I thought to include, as her teachings are some of today’s most remarkably insightful, relatable, and also just plain enjoyable. [Read more…] about Buddha’s Daughters: An interview with dharma teacher and author Judy Lief
The spiritual path is like any journey we take into uncharted territory—we need a map, a vehicle, and a guide to reach our destination. Judy Lief takes us on the three-yana journey of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Maps: I have always been fascinated by maps. In grade school, when we were introduced to map reading and map making, it seemed so magical that the world and its complexity could be represented by pictures and diagrams on a simple sheet of paper. [Read more…] about Journey to Awakening
Lion’s Roar | August 2013
What is the origin of the material in The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma?
The material in the Profound Treasury is derived from talks the Vidyadhara Trungpa Rinpoche gave at a series of annual retreats for his senior students. At these three-month programs, called Vajradhatu Seminaries, students had the opportunity deepen both their dharmic understanding and their meditative practice. [Read more…] about An interview with Judy Lief about the Profound Treasury Volumes
Should stress always be avoided? Can it be productive? What are its symptoms and what is its cure? Buddhist teacher Judy Lief on what stress really is, and what the Buddhist teachings have to say about it.
Life is stressful. Although some people claim that contemporary life is especially stressful, I am skeptical whether that is so. Living beings have always had to struggle for food, for shelter, and for safety. [Read more…] about The Middle Way of Stress
“First there is warmth, then there is a sense of cutting neurosis, and finally, there is openness. It’s a three-part process but it’s very quick and abrupt. At that moment, there is an absence of struggle, a sense of warmth and freedom.”
The Mahayana Buddhist path is a way of expanding, and the Mahayana teacher, the spiritual friend, acts as the entrance to that journey. [Read more…]
What happens on the meditation cushion is one thing, but how do we bring our spiritual practice into the rough and tumble of daily life, where it can really benefit ourselves and others? The fifty-nine mind training slogans will help us to be more skillful and loving in all our relationships.
The teachings on mind training, or lojong, are an invaluable aid to practitioners because they show us how the wisdom and skillful means of the Mahayana can actually be put into action. [Read more…]
I woke up this morning, and my sleeping died. I stood up, and my lying down died. I brushed my teeth, and the toothbrushing came to an end. My coffee was in the mug, and then it wasn’t.
I thought about what I had on my schedule, and then I thought about something else, and the first thought was gone. I sat down to meditate, and a feeling of virtue arose. Then that feeling died and changed to a feeling of restlessness. [Read more…] about This Morning – Embrace Change
Judy Lief teaches us the practice of tonglen – a mindfulness technique that intakes the suffering of others and replaces it with compassion.
Each time you practice tonglen, begin with basic mindfulness practice. It is important to take some time to let your mind settle. Having done so, you can go on to the practice of tonglen itself, which has four steps. [Read more…] about Keeping those who suffer in our hearts
Buddhist teacher and Lion’s Roar contributor Judy Lief is back from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, and back with one more installment of her ongoing behind-the-scenes reportage on what’s taken place there.
Now she shares her thoughts upon returning, asks who has the courage to make the next big move for positive change, and reflects upon the personal implications of practice in and for our ailing world. [Read more…] about Judy Lief’s Copenhagen Climate Change wrap-up: Upon returning
Judy Lief continues her reporting from this week’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Report from Copenhagen #5
I have been thinking a lot about not just what is being discussed but the contrast in how that discussion occurs, or the style of the dialogues. [Read more…] about More from Copenhagen and Judy Lief
A multi-faith delegation of key religious and spiritual leaders from around the world has gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, from December 7-13, during the UN COP-15 Summit, to further the vital notion that the environmental crisis is rooted in a profound moral and spiritual crisis.
Senior teacher and Lion’s Roar contributor Judy Lief is there. Here are four reports from inside and outside the proceedings so far. [Read more…] about Climate Change Conference: Judy Lief reports from Copenhagen
The more we increase our ability to deal with our own difficulties, the more aware we are that we can’t solve the troubles of family and friends. But, says Judy Lief, we can learn to be with one another just as we are.
As we go through life, we face many joys and discoveries and many problems and difficulties. We have continual ups and downs. [Read more…] about The Problem With Problems
We may think dharma is learned from books and meditation practice, but, according to Judy Lief, the most powerful teachings come from relationships.
Since the time I first encountered the dharma, I have found that my most intimate personal relationships—with my teacher, my husband, my parents and my children—have been my most powerful teachers. [Read more…] about When the Dharma Gets Personal
“In subtle and in more obvious ways, the experience of birth and death is continuous,” says Judy Lief. “All that we experience arises fresh, appears for a time, and then dissolves. It is as if we were riding the crest of a wave in the middle of a vast ocean. That arising and falling of experience is our life; it is what we have to work with.”
We could look at our life as a whole as a journey from our birth to our death, but we should not stop there. We could take a closer look. [Read more…] about Take a Closer Look at the Journey from Birth to Death
The Tibetan Book of the Dead continues to be fresh and relevant, both in our daily experience and at the time of death. It is an excellent guide for meditators and a provocative glimpse of fundamental mental resources and obstacles. Judy Lief on a “wonderful treasury for psychonauts.”
The Tibetan Book of the Dead presents a map of the mind using imagery. [Read more…] about Dead Again, and Again, and Again