Explorations by Kenley Neufeld


Returning Home from Santa Barbara

By on January 19, 2018

Feeling blessed, with a clear acknowledgement of my privilege. The mudslides of Montecito have clearly taken a toll on the community. And yet, the kindness and generosity of everyone has been significant. Each step of the way, people have been offering to help and assist. And yesterday, we had children from Montecito Elementary arrive at our college campus to continue their classes since they can’t get to their own campus. They’ll be here for up to six weeks.

This week I’ve been living in my office and today I was scheduled to return home. My plan had been to drive the long way around back, but with snow in the forecast, I was concerned. Trains were sold out. Boats weren’t running due to high surf. And I definitely didn’t want to spend the weekend in my office!

And so, I asked my work community for snow chains to help make the 5-hour drive home. Within 15-minutes, dozens of responses came back. One in particular surprised me because it was an offer to fly me home.

And now, that work colleague may have saved my life.

About the time I would have been driving, a fatal accident occurred on highway 166, closing both directions. If not for this generous colleague, I would have been on that highway at that time. Instead, I was flown home in a private plane and am now lounging at home with my family.

It’s been a tough week. Friends and neighbors are without homes. And worst of all, lives have been lost. Next week I will take the train back to Santa Barbara and hope that 101 will reopen, bringing some relative safety and ease to my commute. And our community can continue to heal and rebuild. I’m definitely excited to have the students back on campus.

I wish everyone a safe and peaceful weekend, wherever you may be.

Catching Snakes and No-Self

By on June 16, 2014

snakeOne of the deepest and most difficult teachings of the Buddha is no-self. In fact, we are warned that it can be dangerous if we don’t understand clearly this concept. Furthering my study and reflection on this teaching, I read The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake. In this sutra, we can learn to let go of and not cling to or identify with anything. This is Right View. Let’s look at this together and share our collective insight and understanding.

From the teaching of no-self, we can learn to respond with compassion and see false accusations, slander, and reprimands as having an interdependence with all other things. Each of us are products of our family, society, and culture. Seeing this we can have more compassion. To help someone change, we can work to change her family, society, and culture. We don’t need to feel anger or blame.

The same can be said about praise, adoration; and respect. To receive these and not make us proud or arrogant.

In my practice, I am learning how to be in touch with this teaching for myself and also to help transform the consciousness of my society and culture. Just by keeping aware of the teaching of no-self, I can have more compassion for myself and for those who think and believe differently than I do.

Through meditation, conscious breathing, and deep looking I can open my heart to for a deeper understanding. It takes time, silence and presence to move in this direction. And in doing so, I cultivate the heart of love and will not feel anger, hatred, or vengeance.

What freedom!

To help further apply these teachings, we also have the first two Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing.

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us learn to look deeply and develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: Non- Attachment to Views
Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow­ minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing nonattachment from views and being open to others’ insights and experiences in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

How are you understanding, practicing, and experiencing these teachings?

All This Relates to Everything

By on February 22, 2013

This is what Ev of Twitter fame said during his interview with Soren Gordhamer from the stage of Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco – all this relates to everything. Brilliance in five words. Wisdom 2.0 is a tech conference, but it’s not. It’s business conference, but it’s not. It’s a wisdom gathering, a dharma talk, a practice, and a community.

Ev was talking about mindfully building a company from the ground up without really talking much about his new company called Obvious. He talked about meditation practice, about building culture, and about using Holacracy within the new company. This is something to explore and learn more about.

The day began with Ev and got increasingly better. I’m sitting at the end of the day with a cup of coffee and an espresso feeling inspired and motivated; trying to digest all that I heard.

Receiving the dharma rain throughout the day from the likes of Padmasree Warrior (CTO for Cisco), Gopi Kallayil (Google), Jack Kornfield, Tony Schwartz (Energy Project), Pam Weiss (Appropriate Response), Jane Fulton Suri (IDEO), Bradley Horowitz (Google), Peter Deng (Facebook), Melissa Daimler (Twitter), Jon Kabat-Zinn, and a fantastic interview with Jeff Weiner (CEO of LinkedIn).

A few highlights that I’m left with to ponder include integrating mindful planning into my work day, discovering my True Job, and managing compassion. My thoughts go to how this can manifest at Santa Barbara City College in my capacity as the director for the Luria Library and soon-to-be Academic Senate President.

All this relates to everything indeed. My work as a dharma teacher, a parent, a partner, a mentor, a librarian, a colleague. Cultivating wisdom and compassion is my practice. I’m feeling the energy to focus on how I can share about being a mindful leader here on misc.joy even more. Please encourage and support me on this endeavor.