Author Archives: jespada

A Thousand Years of Miracles

For more than 2,000 years, people have been healed by calling on the name of Jesus; crutches and wheelchairs left along the road, and at sites of worship;

For 2,000 years, the laying on of hands, casting out harmful spirits, restoring life; and there have been countless interventions, visitations, apparitions, visions, in dreams and in contemplation, of Jesus, Mary, the Saints, and Angels;

Two thousand years of miracles, two thousand years, and still we don’t believe!…

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The Blessings of Paritta

The Tradition of reciting or chanting Buddhist teachings is mostly practiced in South East Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Burma and Thailand. These cultures are different from the West in that they have more natural faith in the Dhamma, from long familiarity with it. Their world view also supports their belief in the effectiveness of hearing and reciting teachings and prayers…

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A few notes on faith

From Faith, Devotion, and Blessings on the Path to Liberation

Faith comes in a few different ways. First, there is the intimation of a greater truth, something in us that says, ‘Yes, this is the way to go’.

This becomes verified faith, as we follow our intuition. Our trust in a teacher or a tradition proves itself. We become healthier, more at peace, open to others and responsive.

After this, and higher than these two is unshakable faith. Having this kind of trust calms and steadies the mind.

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Metta and Classical Music Study

I’ve been a student of the classical guitar since the mid 1980’s, and of metta, or Buddhist loving kindness practice for almost that long. There are a number of things they have in common, and so I thought I’d bring these two subjects together, and let each shine their light on the other…

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A reflection on the power of gratitude

Our roots go deeper than we know

In every traditional culture, we find parents and elders teaching their children gratitude, and the essence is always the same, that of cultivating a living sense of appreciation for what we’ve received.  Parents don’t do this for their own sake, instead they do it as a gift to their children. They do it because they’ve known these blessings themselves, and know that this is what will sustain future generations…

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The Precepts of Love

There is so much contained in love at it’s best that I thought it would be worthwhile to write a few words about it this morning. I highlight love ‘at its best’ to distinguish it from the fleeting, partial, or limited kinds of affection we all know so well.

The love I would like to talk about is the kind we look to when we want to remember who we truly are and who we can become…

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A Midwife for Love

Combining metta and the reflection on impermanence

Taken separately, both metta, the step by step development of loving kindness, and regular reflections on impermanence have the potential to bring us a keen sense of the preciousness of life, a kind of fearlessness, and greater generosity. When they are combined though, their power is increased even more.

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Rediscovering Joy

Putting the joy back in Joyful Effort

In Buddhism, we call a bodhisattva someone who’s intent on helping others in every needed way. He or she does this through what are called the Six Perfections, which are Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Joyful Effort, Meditation and Wisdom. This is, or should be, a path of unsurpassed happiness, and mature joy, because this is not a small ambition to have. Such great love is, in fact, the fulfillment of our lives here.  Sometimes, however, we lose our zeal…

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A Buddhism for Progressives – Preface

Two Traditions

As the son of an activist, I learned when I was young about the need to care for others. It was part of our upbringing to talk about and to think about what was going on in our world with compassion and with a sense of responsibility. Like many other young people who were raised in the 60’s, we received from our parents and from previous generations this precious legacy of the creative struggle for human rights, dignity, and social justice…

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The Glory of the Good Fight

To join in what my father’s generation called the good fight was to enter into the timeless struggle for human rights everywhere, with like-minded, courageous souls. It meant to stand with them, to march with them, to raise your voice with them, to fight along side them, and perhaps most of all to be inspired by their dedication and action, and to give your encouragement at every turn…

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A Life Giving Vision

The way we’re operating right now as Americans and as a global society is unsustainable ecologically and for more and more of humanity. How do we make the systemic changes needed so that human and organizational creativity naturally lead toward sustainable and restorative practices instead of destructive ones?

What can ordinary citizens do?..

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Power and Love – a Buddhist Perspective

We fear power because we associate it with aggression.  It’s there in everything from militarism to abusive husbands and boyfriends, to those we say are ‘drunk with power’ – implying control, domination, and injustice.  But power in itself is neutral.  Power can be turned any way, and this is something we need to know, for our own sake, for that of our community, and world.

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Spread the Word – The Answer is Love

I first saw what has come to be known as ‘the human microphone’ during Occupy.  This is where one person speaks, and those around him or her repeat it, so that others can hear. They begin with saying ‘Mic check!’ ‘MIC CHECK’, the crowd replies. This is a time when we all need to repeat the best things that we hear, a time when we all suffer and struggle together, and whatever wisdom we can gather needs to be spoken far and wide…

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Getting on the same page when it comes to American history

It’s almost impossible these days for people with different political views to have a meaningful conversation.  Each side is so committed to their point of view it seems there’s no basis for communication. On one news program after another, there is very little dialogue, and expressions range from bewilderment, to contempt and insults…

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Reframing Modern Day Colonialism

{A brief history of colonialism for anyone in need of clarity about the past.}

At times, we here in these United States barely register the meaning of words that should make the hair on the back of our neck stand on edge. This is because we have not been taught our history, or else it has been so watered down. Take the word colonialism…

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A Sketch of Frank Espada’s Life

63. On 29th St._photo by Jason Espada
On 29th St., in San Francisco.  Photo by Jason Espada

The following was written in 2014, in preparation for visits from curators, who were coming to view the entire range of my father’s work, within the space of a few short days.  I took this as an opportunity to touch upon the most significant events in his life, and to celebrate the man I had come to know more fully through organizing his archive.

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The Puerto Rican Diaspora

Documenting the Puerto Rican Experience in the 20th and 21st centuries

Imagine if you will conceiving of a project that would document the Puerto Rican experience across the United States… Imagine further that this project would be undertaken by someone who is widely respected as an advocate for these people, and that this person, in addition, is a first-rate photographer… Continue reading

From Eugene Smith to Frank Espada

{Photo credits: Eugene Smith, by Don Getsug; Frank Espada, Big Sur, 1984, by Jason Espada}

As soon as I heard the photographer W. Eugene Smith’s voice, in a documentary produced for Japanese television, I recognized him immediately as a spiritual ancestor. It was not just what he said that was so moving, and familiar to me, but his fierce love and commitment to the people he photographed.

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Once upon a time, a letter…

I will date myself now by telling you that once I used to write letters, and receive them. These were always special occasions, and something to be cherished. Since the advent of the computer though, hardly anyone writes letters by hand anymore, and so of course, almost no one receives them. Now that this is so, I’m thinking, people really don’t know what they’re missing.

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Where Two Worlds Meet

Terma, The Word Made Flesh, and Divine Manifestation

I had an unusual occurrence last night, that followed my thinking about the magical side of Dharma, and writing about terma, or the tradition they speak of in Tibetan Buddhism of teachings coming into this world as a precise result of the needs of the time.

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The Heart and Mind of a Person on a Spiritual Path

From Mundane View to Pure Perception

As soon as we begin to practice a spiritual path, we become aware that we are seeing things differently than the average person. To the ordinary mind, there is not much to celebrate here, and certainly not anything worthy of reverence; the common view is jaded, corrupt, and impoverished, and it offers very little to depend on in difficult times.

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A Through-line for Zen Study and Practice

One way of thinking of the Buddha is that he was a reformer of Indian spirituality. He saw the limitations of how people of his time were practicing, and he introduced new language and insights to guide them to freedom. His gifts continue to be received, and new ways of talking about practicing his teachings have evolved, and they will continue to do so…

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Why so many words?

A story goes that once there was a Zen master and his apprentice. It was their custom every morning, after meditation and before breakfast, to go for a long walk through the woods, along mountain trails, and back through fields on the way back to their simple monastery…

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Third Ear Music

We usually listen to music in an active way, reaching out, linear. Certain types of music, however, require a different kind of listening for their appreciation. On Saturday night I went to see Ustad Habib Khan, playing the sitar, and Swapan Chaudhuri on the tablas, at the Vedic Cultural Center in Berkeley, in a performance of ragas, traditional music of India…

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Hearing Beethoven

When we talk about the major figures in Western Classical music, Mozart is seen as representing the unique genius of Classicism. His music is the easiest to approach.  J.S. Bach is on another level, such that it is almost difficult to think of him only as a composer. His art is filled with mystery, passion, profundity, and exaltation. He is thought of as the apex of the Baroque.

The influence of Beethoven, in comparison to other composers, in my thinking, eclipses the boundaries of music. When his music is known in context, we can begin to understand just how much it changed, not only music, but all of Western consciousness and Western Culture…

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The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra

The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra Retreat, by Ani Tenzin Palmo, Vajrapani Institute, Boulder Creek, California, June 8th through 10th, 2018.

Commentary on Advice for Mountain Retreat, by the Eighth Kamtrul Rinpoche

Complete audio recordings:

Friday evening, June 8th, 2018

Saturday, June 9th, 2018, morning session – I

Transcript of an excerpt, A Healthy Sense of Self

Saturday, June 9th, 2018, morning session – II

Saturday, June 9th, 2018, evening session – audio

On the meditation section of the text:


Saturday, June 9th, 2018, evening session, questions and answers

Sunday, June 10th, 2018, closing session



Esoteric Buddhism

Friends, a couple of months ago I came across a wonderful podcast called ‘This Esoteric Life’. In it, Christopher ‘Free’ covers a broad range of subjects from The Western Esoteric Tradition, and he does so in an inspired way. So I sent him a message and suggested we do a program on Buddhism and A Belief in the Miraculous as a starting point, and here it is. The program we did together is titled, ‘Esoteric Buddhism‘.

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Books by Jason Espada

Clicking on any of these will take you to their individual pages, with samples, and ordering information.

More below.


Then there is this.

Buddhist Poetry

From four collections, 1985 to 2018.


2006 to 2007.

And this, 1985 to 2005.


If resources are an issue, get in touch with me and I’ll make it not an issue.

Free ebooks, in .pdf format, updated 10/2/2023

A Resource for the Practice of Meditation – Third Edition (2023)

A Key to Buddhist Wisdom Teachings

A Concise Set of Buddhist Healing Prayers and Practices

The Wisdom of Impermanence – Twenty Four Essays (updated 10/1/2023)

Ten Essays on Healing

As Editor:

An Anthology of Buddhist Prayer (2008)

Metta and Readings on the Mahayana (updated 11/20/2023)

Cultivating the Field of Joy – Buddhist Readings to Uplift the Heart

The Stages of the Path Teachings – A Selection of Texts

The Beautiful Path – Readings on Ethics, to Soothe and Brighten the Mind (updated 11/13/2023)

Essays on Purification, by Various Authors

Vajrasattva Commentaries, by Various Authors

Mahayana Prayers and Poetry.pdf; Audio (2012)

Teachings on Bodhicitta, in two volumes: One, and Two

Great Perfection Teachings

Teachings on Mahamudra – Volume One

Teachings on Mahamudra – Volume Two

Readings on the Middle Way

Essays on the Middle Way

Paritta Recitation – Protective Readings from the Pali Canon, Audio, (2022)

with an introduction, The Blessings of Paritta.pdf; Audio (2021)

Reflections on Impermanence and Transcendent Renunciation

Aiming for Freedom – Readings on Transcendent Renunciation (2023)

Teachings on Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh

On The Avatamsaka Sutra

Opening the Door to Pure Perception (2023)

On the Vajrayana

In Praise of the Vajrayana

A Collection of Prayers to Tara  (updated 2/14/2021)

Chenrezig Sadhanas and Commentaries – in four volumes: One, Two, Three, and Four

A Collection of Buddhist Methods for Healing (279 pgs., 2020)

Dedication Prayers

Dedication Prayers from Various Teachers

Dedication Prayers – 6/16/2021

Prayers for the time of transition – 4/26/2020

Teachings on Humility from the Buddhist and Christian Traditions

The Discourses of the Buddha – from the Pali Canon

Audio – on youtube; and, on Bandcamp

Reflections on this precious human life

Essays on Buddhist Prayer (2023)

An Ocean of Prayers – Introduction and Contents (2023)

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contributions in any amount are appreciated.


Essays on the Frank Espada Archive

To view my father’s photography, please visit

The notes and essays in this collection were written over the last couple of years, as I’ve prepared for events, and communicated with scholars, curators, and representatives from universities. In a few cases, I’ve included something just because it has a family story or two in it.  Perhaps all together these will help someone who is interested to get a fuller idea of who my father was, along with his own writing, and his art, of course.

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Hope and Betrayal in the Age of Obama

When it comes to the legacy of Barack Obama, the Left is divided. Some see him as a heroic figure that did his best for the country, despite Republican opposition, while others see him as a traitor to progressive values.  With Trump’s election, it’s essential that we understand what took place during Obama’s presidency because it’s only in knowing our recent history that a unified progressive movement can make it’s way forward.  We owe ourselves and the coming generation of activists at least this much.

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Confronting Revisionist History – On The Vietnam Veteran Experience

Last year I wrote an article, The New Extreme of the American Left, that describes the way many people who identify themselves as progressives today view the modern soldier. I began my article with what I thought was a given: In the late 1960’s and early 70’s, as American soldiers returned from Vietnam, they were met with scorn, spat on in airports, and called “baby killers”. To my surprise, I learned that there is another narrative, being held up by the left in particular (commondreams, truthout, alternet, seattletimesthat says vets were never spit upon.  I found this hard to believe, and so I did a bit of research.

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