R E F L E C T I O N S
Himachal Pradesh, India

Himachal Pradesh, India

We have been back in the U.S. for the last couple months and the time has gone by fast. Studying and practicing in India has been very beneficial. It also gave us the opportunity to reflect on the past few years, where we would like to be in the future and how to cultivate Lamplighter with the motivation to benefit others.

The online store has been updated with some new inventory. While some of our products have changed, our emphasis has also changed a bit. Instead of focusing primarily on selling products, we are going to shift direction more toward building an online meditation and mindfulness community. This was our original motivation & vision for Lamplighter Company and we're looking forward to the journey ahead.

For now, our focus will be more on writing updates and blog posts. We are also open to suggestions on the content you would be interested in. Please keep in touch by email: info@lamplighterco.com or reach out on
Instagram: @lamplighterco.

We’re planning to return to India this winter, most likely before the Holiday season. All contributions and sales will go towards our practice and studies. Thank you all again for your time and support, wishing you many blessings.

Posted by Kate Dutton and John Almanzor on September 26, 2019.

HERE IN BODH GAYA
 
Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, India

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, India

We arrived in Bodh Gaya the end of January but it feels like we’ve been here much longer than that! Bodh Gaya is a small, dusty town west of Varanasi in Bihar, one of the poorest states in India. Traditionally a farmland, it’s common to see cows, goats, chickens and dogs wandering the streets but it’s become quite a bustling tourist and pilgrimage destination. People from all over the world come to visit and pay homage to Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, who meditated and nearly starved himself to death before realizing what he called the Middle Way, when he became enlightened. It happened 2500 years ago, but somehow the energy of the place makes his presence very much alive today through the many people gathered around the holy site under the famous Bodhi tree making offerings and reciting prayers.

Just outside the Mahabodhi Temple complex, which is where the main temple and Bodhi tree resides, is a busy hustle and bustle of beggars, children, and those who are disabled, sick and aging asking for money as well as many street vendors selling flowers, butter lamps and much more to the visitors. The Buddha’s first teaching in Sarnath called the First Noble Truth where he stated, “There is suffering” is alive in every moment in Bodh Gaya. The harsh conditions have weathered the local folk and it all becomes part of the greater picture as to why the Buddha chose to become enlightened here. Perhaps if he chose an area where people were really healthy, rich or overall doing well then his teachings wouldn’t have such resonance.

Our lives here have been quite simple. We’re staying in a guest house about 1/2 mile from the complex. We eat all of our meals at the Tibetan Om restaurant, which mostly consists of Momos (Tibetan dumplings) and Banana tsampa (wheat porridge). The food is delicious and homemade by a very kind Tibetan family. We visit the Mahabodhi temple each day and practice. And we also have been practicing at Tergar monastery. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be here, it’s profoundly inspiring for our practice and I hope to benefit others more in the future.

Posted by Kate Dutton on February 17, 2019.

 
LETTING GO
 
Calligraphy by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Calligraphy by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

It’s a few days before we fly to India. I’m going through my belongings, packing things up and donating items. It feels good to start the year off with clearing out some things I don’t want or need anymore and preparing for the journey ahead. But of course there’s a resistance to change, a resistance to letting go of the home I created the past year and the uncertainty ahead. While this process of clearing out and packing up is going on, there’s a framed calligraphy hung on the wall. It was painted by one of my teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh and says, “Let Go.” What I have learned from the teachings is that letting go is about accepting what is going on in the present moment. It’s not about not caring or being indifferent. It’s about being open and adaptable. Similar to how the body becomes more flexible when doing the yoga asanas, the mind can become flexible, too. And when the mind is open in that way, the light of our heart and mind shines forth. From my experience, this isn’t a linear process. It’s not like all the sudden I wake up one day after years of practice and realize, “Okay, I finally let go!” It’s a back and forth - sometimes I let go a bit here but then my attachment comes back about that other thing. Every time I go through a transition like this, it’s yet another test. Can I let go a little more than last time? Or is it the same old familiar resistance? Can I finally put what I’m learning into practice? Not sure yet, but either way I’m going to India soon!

Posted by Kate Dutton on January 24, 2019.

AUDIO VERSION

 
THE POWER OF PRAYER
 

There is a kind of power that comes from prayer. A liberating power that happens when your ego overcomes its normal selfish tendencies. Prayer is a practice of equalizing self with others by recognizing that everyone wants to be happy and free from suffering. Therefore your own suffering isn’t more important than others. This may seem very simple but actually it’s quite difficult. This is very important on the spiritual path because without a loving heart that wants to benefit others, the ego can become greedy and spiritual work can become just another material gain. Just relaying a message from my teachers, I still have homework to do. . .

Posted by Kate Dutton on January 16, 2019.

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Kate Dutton
REFLECTIONS
 
View from Royal Arch, Boulder, CO

View from Royal Arch, Boulder, CO

Getting ready to leave for India in the next few weeks and reflecting on how grateful I am for the past year in Colorado. The teachings and retreats we attended, growing both our practice and business, connecting with different communities and exploring the beautiful nature. We’ve grown a lot. The vulnerability is creeping in again, that familiar feeling of the excitement of what’s to come and the fear of letting go. In a recent teaching, I heard a teacher say that renunciation is not about giving up this or that, it’s not about not caring about things anymore. It’s about putting yourself in line with the teachings so that you can better yourself and others. It’s really hard to give up the familiar comforts of living here but I hope that through our meditation practice and study in India we can cultivate ourselves to be of more benefit to others. It might not seem logical or practical, I’m not going to India for specifically business reasons. I’m following my heart and my devotion to making the world a better place.

Posted by Kate Dutton on January 7, 2019.

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NEW YEAR MESSAGE
 
Wat Thai Temple, Sarnath, India

Wat Thai Temple, Sarnath, India

As we head into 2019, I encourage you to cultivate peace this year. (Or continue to do so!) Just as the lotus flower grows from the mud, the mud of our own mind can be transformed into peace. A teacher said a few years ago that the mind is like a beautiful quartz crystal, clear all the time. But so often our beautiful mind gets deluded by emotions. Cultivating peace is becoming aware of that process. It’s being aware of where your mind is at and consciously choosing to live harmoniously. There are many ways to cultivate peace whether it’s through a meditation or yoga practice, exercise or prayer, whatever feels right for you. If you have a practice already, strengthen it. If you don’t, try something new.

Posted by Kate Dutton on December 31, 2018.

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PRACTICING EQUANIMITY
 
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

In my practice, I’ve recently been contemplating equanimity. Equanimity is one of the Four Immeasurables found in many Buddhist teachings. The Four Immeasurables are love, compassion, joy and equanimity. A definition of equanimity is something like mental and emotional stability when faced with experiences that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind. Why is equanimity important? In general, most people have a strong attachment or aversion to certain things whether it’s particular people, situations or different sense perceptions. (sights, smells, sounds or tastes) This can cause all kinds of suffering. When you want to go out to eat at your favorite restaurant and you find out they’re closed - that’s attachment, or when you go out to eat at your favorite restaurant and you don’t like the food you ordered - that’s aversion. Equanimity teaches us to be flexible and adaptable in different situations. When our hearts and minds are open anything is possible, and the whole world can fit in our heart. 

There’s also a strong correlation between equanimity and compassion. Many of the teachings say it’s important to try to treat every human as though they were your mother or someone else you love. Occasionally this is much easier to imagine than to put into practice! There are those moments when people annoy each other, but imagine a world where the kind of care and concern directed towards each other as though each person’s life was significant to the wellbeing of all lives. Life is very precious and I think equanimity helps awaken the compassion that is already there within our own hearts. 

Posted by Kate Dutton on December 8, 2018.

AUDIO VERSION

 
WE ARE ALL ONE
 
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Sometimes people ask why there is one larger bead in the center of our bracelets. This single bead represents that we’re all one. In a world of diversity, there are many different kinds of people. People who have come from various religious traditions, cultures and backgrounds. Beyond our differences, I believe there is something that connects us all together and that is the innate wish to be happy and free from suffering. At the core level, I think all people are fundamentally the same. In recent history, humans have been interacting with each other more often than ever before. Sometimes cultures who before modernization had never known of their neighbors over the next mountain. Since it seems like the world is rapidly getting smaller, I think this is a crucial moment to see what connects us together - the desire to live in a world of harmony.

Posted by Kate Dutton on December 3, 2018.

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ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
 
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It seems like everyday there is something that reminds us of the challenges we’re facing. When reading the news, it’s clear that there are difficulties in our country. Whether it’s aggression, the effects of climate change or social challenges, it can feel difficult to accept these issues.

And in the midst of these challenges, as with every season, the fall is a reminder that life continues on. While it seems like there isn’t a place for hope or gratitude, when we look deeper into our lives we realize that the challenges give us an opportunity to cultivate appreciation.

Gratitude isn’t about being ignorant to the challenges going on, it’s about seeing them clearly and choosing to appreciate the positive as well. There are so many qualities within us right now - that we can discover each moment. Whether it’s peace or love, compassion or understanding - it’s important to take a moment each day to be grateful for the positive qualities in our lives and the lives of others. It’s these qualities that give us the inner strength to progress through any challenge.

Contemplation: Each morning when you wake up, spend 1-2 minutes bringing to your attention some qualities within yourself that you are grateful for then extend that out to others in your life.

Posted by Kate Dutton on November 14, 2018.

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ADAPTING TO CHANGE
 
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In a world that is quickly shifting, how do we adapt to change? When reading the news or watching television, the topic of change is ever-present. Whether its related to technology, the weather, politics, the economy or relationships, it’s obvious that things are always in flux. Just about everyone is very much aware of this, yet how many people are okay with it? While change is always happening, there are many ways to avoid thinking or dealing with it! From my experience, I’d say that accepting change is one of the most challenging aspects of my meditation practice. 

From shopping to going out - from eating fancy dinners to movies, there are so many distractions from this fundamentally important life issue. Then suddenly something can happen such as the loss of a loved one or major life transition. If not previously prepared, this can be sometimes devastating. Since change sometimes has a bad reputation, especially aging, I’d like to try to put a new spin on it. Perhaps change can be a good thing? After all, I think that’s why we celebrate New Year’s and Easter. It’s a way to begin again and realize that life continues on and on. When there’s acceptance about it, change can be a beautiful and powerful thing! For those interested in integrating a recognition of change in their meditation practice, here’s a meditation exercise. This suggestion comes from a Buddhist practice associated with the Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind. 


Meditation Exercise: Sit in an upright comfortable posture, keep your spine straight. Begin by focusing on your breath. As you breathe in, you can say in your mind, “breathing in” and when you breathe out, say to yourself, “breathing out.” Then after 2-3 minutes turn to the Impermanence contemplation by thinking as each breathe is going in and out that each breathe is unique. Each heart beat is unique. And that as you are breathing in and out, think that everything is always changing. The universe is changing with each breath. After contemplating this for 2-3 minutes, go back to just focusing on your breath. Throughout the duration of the meditation, alternate focusing on your breath and contemplating Impermanence. Finish the meditation by focusing on your breath for 1-2 minutes. 

Posted by Kate Dutton on September 24, 2018.

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