In the company of friends

Welcome to Dharma Zephyr’s new website.

Several years ago I was walking up the Khumbu Valley in Nepal on my way to climb one of the big mountains up there. I wasn’t by myself: there were several of us, Sherpas as well as Americans. The Sherpas asked that we stop at Tengboche Monastery to ask the monks to perform a blessing puja for us. Climbing those high mountains is so dangerous they thought we needed all the spiritual help we could get.

After the puja the lama gave us each a postcard that showed a peacock plucking fruit from

The Four Harmonious Friends: Here's a picture of the postcard from the Tengboche Monastery

The Four Harmonious Friends: Here’s a picture of the postcard from the Tengboche Monastery

the highest branch of a tree. The peacock was standing on the head of a hare, who was being held above his head by a monkey, who was standing on the back of an elephant.

The Four Harmonious Friends of Tibetan folklore, the animals signify interdependence. According to Venerable Ribur Rinpoche, the story of the Four Harmonious Friends is often told to Tibetan families undergoing difficult times, as examples of how families should stay together and help each other, each member using their own strengths to contribute to the strength of the whole.

It was also a very useful piece of advice for a group of people going to climb a big, dangerous mountain.

The Buddha’s attendant Ananda once said to the Buddha, Lord!  I believe that good friendship is at least half of the spiritual life.

Admirable Friendship: Dharma Zephyr lay leader christy Tews and teacher John Travis in the Mustang region of Nepal, June, 2014. Photo by Liam Keating

Admirable Friendship: Dharma Zephyr lay leader Christy Tews and teacher John Travis in the Mustang region of Nepal, June, 2014. Photo by Liam Keating

The Buddha answered, “Don’t say that Ananda, don’t say that! Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the spiritual life. When a monk has admirable people as friends, companions and comrades, he can be expected to develop and pursue the Noble Eightfold Path.”

When I started sitting with the small group of people that later became Dharma Zephyr Insight Meditation Community all I was looking for was some relief from the stress and loneliness of being a mother of two very young children in a new town that wasn’t my home. While I did find some relief from stress, I also found a group of friends, what the Buddha might have called “admirable companions,” whom I could trust, who by their efforts to wake up encouraged me to do the same, and who were, moreover, easy to spend time with.

Now twenty-three years later, here Dharma Zephyr is, with seven sitting groups in three towns, a full schedule of daylong and residential retreats with nationally-known teachers, and a brand-new website.

I hope through the website, the sitting groups, the retreats, and everything else we do you will have the opportunity to find your own “admirable companions, the whole of the spiritual life.” Welcome.

Anne Macquarie, Dharma Zephyr lay leader


  1. Beautiful article, Anne! Thank you and Dharma Zephyr for bringing this community of admirable companions together.

  2. Anne, what a lovely way to talk about the community of practitioners! And, I love the photos.

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