August’s Learning Resources

August Theme: Our Human Nature

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that as human beings we are part of the natural world, intricately connected to all forms of life and to the planet itself.


• Discuss: How do you experience connection to nature? What are your most memorable experiences of “retreating” into nature and how did they make you feel? What can nature teach us about interconnectedness and impermanence? How can feeling our connection to nature help us reduce suffering?
• Read: Why Forest Bathing Is Good for Your Health by Karin Evans  (
• Watch: Reconnecting to Nature, the Earth, and Each Other  (Bioneers Youtube channel)
• Namchak Blog: What is Karma in Buddhism?
• Lama Tsomo’s book recommendation:  The Walking People by Paula Underwood* From Lama Tsomo: “Paula Underwood was a member of the Oneida tribe, and a keeper of their oral history. That history has been memorized word for word and passed down through generations since before they came to the North American continent. Being bilingual, and a poetic, skilled writer, she tells it from inside the Oneida mind, despite it being in English for the first time. It’s a huge, long book … that I never wanted to end. I read a few pages every night, on the way to sleep, for many months. It brought me into that world, that time, that mind. In short, it’s more than a book.”
• Podcast: An “Erotic” Approach to the Climate Crisis | Dr. Andreas Weber (Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris,

* Namchak Foundation and Lama Tsomo do not receive any monetary or other benefit from the purchase of this book.


Four-minute Meditation for Tuning into Our Connection with Ourselves and Others Using the breath to ground ourselves in the present moment, we begin to tap into our true nature. This short practice will help us develop a sense of connection to others near and far, while bringing awareness to our true intention for this moment.

Learning Circle Spotlight ☸️

This month, we hear from Cara Lacey, who is a graduate of our Meditation and Community Course and recently joined the Brownies are a Pathway to Peace Learning Circle. Cara wrote this after a profound mediation and as she was preparing for a speech about her work in conservation.

Plants and trees are our great teachers. When we look out our windows and we see a tree, many beautiful trees or plants or flowers, we can, if we look closely enough, see what they teach us about our human selves. They show us how to just be…just simply be. The great Coast Live Oak or Engelmann Oaks I am blessed with seeing and being with every day outside my home teach me, teach us to be still, to give, to share. They simply share their gifts – so simply and without expectation of anything in return. The great oak gives food and shade without selfishness. And like the oak or any tree, the flowers, the grasses and shrubs under it or near it, also give and teach us to be, to just simply be, to be still, to be here, to be present and mindful in this moment.

These great teachers or beings also show us the flexibility and the bending of ourselves, the adaptability and nonlinearity of time and light, and how to sway with the breeze as do the leaves on our great oaks. If we examine them even more closely, these plants and trees remind us how to live as communities, to grow with one another. Sometimes there is competition for light or water, but it is still shared. Underneath these great teachers within the soil and amongst the roots and when we look very closely, there is a whole other level of life and communication and of bonding and togetherness that is revealed – of connectedness. They are connected and that connects them with us, the human, because we feed from them and they feed from us. But look at how they work together.

Science has revealed what the trees and what we intuitively already knew, that the trees and mushrooms and flowers actually speak to one another – the trees and shrooms and so many things speak through clicking noises – they communicate and they help one another. If one tree is sick within the community of trees, the community of trees will not take from that tree, but rather give and try to help that tree and share their resources to heal it so that they may try to alleviate its suffering and so that if it is to die, it will do so with love and compassion and loving kindness from its own community. Then comes spring, new things grow from where it once stood. All of nature shows us this and teaches us the cycle of death and rebirth and loving kindness and compassion if we look closely enough (yes of course it can be brutal too) but we can learn from these Calm Abiding teachings that we as humans can also live and learn and that we are also connected and can love and help and connect with nature and ourselves on this compassionate level. Trees and plants can teach us to sit, to ponder, to just simply be and that we are all connected together – because we simply just are, we simply can just be in this moment because the past is an illusion as is the future – so only now can actually be.

These are the concepts I hope to further explore on the journey with my partners in our ever evolving Learning Circle as we grow together, learn together and compassionately move through our work together in the group. I am so thankful to the group for accepting me as a very new member into their kindly arms.

With loving gratitude.
Cara Lacey

So lovely. Thank you for sharing, Cara! 🌲

One Community Activities

💫 Opening, Community Commitments, Check-Ins (10-15 min)

  • Invite a moment of silence and give rise to Bodhicitta.
  • Read Community Commitments.
  • Check-in question: What does seeing clearly mean to you?

🌎 Watch Video of Justin's Talk on Seeing Clearly (30-40 min)

  • Justin Kirkwood has been studying and practicing Buddhism for over twenty years and has been working as a Tibetan translator and interpreter for more than ten. He lived in India for eight years, studying and practicing with many great teachers and spent three of those years as a monk, studying Buddhist philosophy in a Tibetan monastic seminary. He now works at the Namchak Foundation as a translator of texts, as Namchak Khen Rinpoche’s interpreter, and as a meditation teacher.
  • This video (1:36:59)  includes Justin’s talk on karma in addition to questions from the community.
  • Depending on how much time you have at the end of your Circle, you can choose to discuss the content shared in the talk, pose any questions to your Learning Circle, or even stretch this topic out between 2-3 Learning Circles if you would also like to read and discuss the resources below.

🗣️ Discussion (15 min)

  • After watching 30-40 minutes of the video, discuss with your Learning Circle anything that stood out to you from the teaching. What are some questions, curiosities, insights or reflections you have about the teachings?
  • 🙏 Dedicate the merit (1 min)

    By the power of this compassionate practice,
    may suffering be transformed into peace.
    May the hearts of all beings be open,
    and their wisdom radiate from within.

    Keep Learning


    Easing Anxiety

    Learn to ground yourself in the present moment by gaining full awareness of the experience of being embodied or being connected to your own body. To do this, we start by paying attention to the sensation of breathing, subtle movements in the body, and other somatic experiences as techniques to help bring awareness to our emotional landscape and ease anxiety.


    Our Human Nature

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that as human beings we are part of the natural world, intricately connected to all forms of life and to the planet itself.


    Taking Action in the World  

    Expanding from our own communities to the world at large, we consider what matters most to us, the issues that we care about, and how we define ways to help ease the suffering of others and bring happiness. We examine three essential questions: “What do I care most about?” “Who do I care most about?” and “What am I going to do about it?


    Thriving Relationships

    There is no going it alone. We live our lives with others, part of interconnected communities, known as “Sangha” in Tibetan Buddhist practice. We explore the ways we can cultivate awareness within ourselves and grow as we engage with those around us, ultimately living happier and more meaningful lives and contributing to the same for others.