The following Teaching was first published in Direct Lines, June 2003 and recently re-discovered by WF Online Shishya EYT who is assigned to peruse the DL Archives once per week as part of her in Svadhaya training…as all wise and sincere WF Students and Members do!

“Life itself is hazardous… There are sharp rocks everywhere. What changes from

years of practice is coming to know something you didn’t know before: that there

are no sharp rocks the road is covered with diamonds.”

– Charlotte Joko Beck (zen teacher)


when i worked at The Ark Bookstore in Santa Fe, NM my heart rate jumped whenever my Tibetan Meditation Teacher “Fred” visited. i got all worked up because i knew more spiritual meat would be cast my hungry way if i opened conversation with him, which i rushed to do perhaps too often, too hurriedly. Fred was hard to talk to while he was in Lama mode in the Stupa on Airport Road where, under his tutelage, i studied Chenrizig meditation, sutra studies, and chanting. but, when he and his little flowing robes and shaved head floated into the Ark, ha! i had him right where i wanted him; out of the temple and in my bookstore where i was clerk, i was king!

one day, i cornered him in near the Sufi/Gandhi/Alice Bailey section.

“Dear Teacher, i have a question if you don’t mind,” my spiritual body quivered with the anticipation of being fed more dharma morsels.

“What is it, Steve?” he was probably moaning on the inside, why does this person always pester me when i come in here?

A shudder of joy rippled my cells as i stammered in both stance and sentence,”Ever since i began the spiritual journey i’ve seemed a magnet for heartbreak and failure. i’ve been paralyzed, bankrupt, and now being divorced. my dreams get shattered as soon as i step toward them!”

Upholding the Tibetan capacity for understatement, Fred just smiled so sweetly, so deeply into me that i about fell to tears among the fibers of the well worn carpet beneath my trembling feet. He said, “We notice many things about ourselves when we take up the Path of Awakening.”

wasn’t good enough.

not this time, mister know nothing at all.

i wanted more.

i had my full of this Tibetan understatement crap during my years at Naropa University. i leaned against his underdeveloped pectorals and did not care as a copy of Alice Bailey’s “The Light of the Soul” slapped the floor. bookstore customers passed by the narrow corridor surely feeling only compassion for my karma as i accosted a Tibetan monk in the Gandhi Section!

“Teacher,” i pleaded, “i need more Guidance than that.” i leveled my best Bruce Lee eye of the dragon gaze into his kind oval eyes, “i mean it! you don’t understand, everything i do just seems so hard, so difficult!”

“Steve, listen to the waves of your thought while you meditate. And this meditation does not need to be in the Stupa alone. You know how to make muscles but you don’t know how to make your mind yours alone. do this: love more deeply, accept more fully, and don’t be afraid of being brave.”

okay, that one worked.

his words hit me like a bullet of pandemonium.

i crumpled on floor next to “The Light of the Soul.”

Fred left me there, crippled in my perceived spiritual crisis.

but picked up and shelved the book.

how good is that?

meditation upon Fred’s words burrowed into the greatest of all my fears, which is why most people don’t meditate in the first place. what’s wrong with keeping fear swept under the carpet of our entertainment and desires of the ego? “…and don’t be afraid of being brave.” i had long fancied and publicly displayed myself as brave; a champion nordic ski jumper, solo ice and rock climber, mountaineer, bike racing, extreme athlete. hell, i figgered i was about the bravest damn mofo on the planet for christsakes! even OUTSIDE MAGAZINE did entire cover stories on how damned brave i am! take that you little bald monk!

bookstore customers stepped over my body to continue their own brand of spiritual seeking, i lay steeping in a deeper layer to my Teacher’s words. Fred was steering me away from sensual, athletic, and financial (lower chakra) forms of attachment and was spurring me up my own spine…toward my heart, toward Anahata and the higher chakra energies.

in his words carried the awkward implication i’d rather not long contemplate;

i am too much a wimp to be who i really am.

that the outdoor sports and injury and personal relationships and financial blues were all just veils designed in part by me to

cover up me.


that hurts.

why should it be so hard to become who we are?

probably – i suppose –

because who we truly are is but an expression of God…

of the UniVerse,

of the One Poem of It All!

probably it is so hard for us to be brave in spiritual ways because it means steadily expressing what distresses us

then, Rising Above all hindrances by learning to embrace and even love those hindrances with skill, courage, elegance, and perseverance.

lots and lots of perseverance. the Buddha make that clear over and again. perseverance baby…that is what matters most on the Spiritual Journey.

at least i was smart enough to pick up Bailey’s, “The Light of the Soul.”

i opened the book and read,

Book II, Verse 33;

“When thoughts which are contrary to yoga are present there should be cultivation of their opposite.”

how good is that?

so simple…“as a man thinketh….so too does he become.”

not long after my Bookstore Encounter with Fred, i upshifted to a new level of Awareness. i finished my fourth book, THE WINTER ATHLETE and moved into my greatest fear of all; leaving my beloved Rocky Mountains and move to LA and teach yoga. these two actions – borne from my own spiritual bravery – have resulted in a few people learning

to love more deeply,

accept more fully,

and not be afraid to be brave.

including feeble me.

i bow to Fred

i bow to the Masters

i bow to feeble me

i bow to you

i bow

in wow




enjoy your dance of breath today.

5 Responses to “(DL Most Popular) WF – A Diamond Covered Path”

  1. py says:

    what a Jewel!
    thank you EC and EYT.

  2. Leslie Hutchinson says:

    Dear EC,
    Once upon a time, I heard Joko Beck, roshi, give the diamond dharma talk….pretty part really caught my minds eye – the diamonds sparkling and all of that. However, the talk wasn’t really about jewels in the way that our minds like to see them – it was really about how we come to the difficulties and challenges in our lives….and diamonds is probably the LAST description we might ascribe or describe our trek. Last week, a Teacher of mine dropped this one – “you know the world is becoming a better place”… you could have heard a pin drop in the room as the group collective mouth dropped….a zen koan had been presented, just as Lama Fred and Joko Beck, roshi presented the diamond koan and EC’s koan. No right answer no wrong answer – however learning to love more deeply, accept more fully and become more brave are the diamonds in the rough for us. These jewels come in many forms cut and uncut.

    And in the Alice Baily take on things I decided “just for today’ that I would act as if the world is becoming a better place ( FYI I had a couple of weeks that closed my heart off)….I was offered the most exquisite jewels from unexpected places and people.

    Thank you, EC, for that story/teaching/koan. My heart is sparkling right now in this very moment.
    Blessing from Student LH and her k-9 companion KK.

  3. coach says:

    Precious Student LH and her beloved KK!
    of course, ilg TAF’d of you as i was re-publishing that piece…

    and now, my heart shimmers like diamond snows upon a sunlit summit…

    head bowed,

  4. Monty Mason says:

    and it just does not get better than this. as i sit with this teaching i’m also reminded coach that “How we do anything,,,,,,is how we do everything”.

  5. Karl Kerschner says:

    and good info to have gotten that June day of 2003, or at any time.
    Some of us took a bit longer to learn
    that it is our dream.


    “The next stage is indeed “a period of unsettling.” Now must the teacher of God understand that he did not really know what was valuable or was valueless. All that he really learned so far was that he did not want the valueless, and that he did want the valuable. Yet his own sorting out was meaningless in teaching him the difference. The idea of sacrifice, so central to his own thought system, had made it impossible for him to judge. He thought he learned willingness, but now he sees that he does not know what willingness is for. And now he must attain a state that may remain impossible to reach for a long, long time. He must learn to lay all judgement aside, and ask only what he really wants in every circumstance. Were not each step in this direction so heavily reinforced, it would be hard indeed!” M-4.I.A.7. of ACIM

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