Archive for October, 2007

A Good Turn Daily

October 19, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Each of us is more than capable of helping the world, despite our fears and limitations and the uncertainty that holds us back. It is commonly accepted that it is impossible to make a difference without unlimited funding or free time, yet most healing, cleansing, and spreading of joy is accomplished in a matter of minutes. If we vow to make the world a better place one day at a time, the true significance of small good deeds reveals itself to us. We come to see that we can be of service without dedicating our lives to recognized charities or giving up the pleasures we enjoy. The warmth we feel when we help the world is only a tiny part of the affirmative transformations that take place when we make altruism a part of everyday existence.

We make our homes, workplaces, communities, and countries better and brighter when we think positive thoughts that echo outward, give donations of time or money, smile at everyone we meet, and lend those in need of aid our assistance. As we learn, we inadvertently improve the universe because we can only be truly involved when we are informed. Even enthusiastically sharing ideas with others generates positive energy that then serves as the motivation for more tangible change. Selfless and helpful deeds remind us that we exercise some degree of control over a world that can seem chaotic at times. Even the smallest of such deeds is a demonstration of the fact that we are capable of changing the world in a positive way. So much negative energy is generated by the suffering, pain, and close-mindedness we are regularly exposed to, but we can counteract it in a constructive way by thinking and acting altruistically when opportunities to do so arise.

Helping the world often takes no more than a moment, just a wish for the world is a beautiful gesture and can be done by even the busiest of people effortlessly. The gift you give each day need not be grand or attention-worthy because the broader benefits are the same no matter the literal repercussions. Once a day, you can affect reality, and you can reap the rewards of knowing that you are making the world a better place, day by day.

Moments of Reason

October 18, 2007

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Old age is winter, alas, for many people, but for those who are wise and optimistic, it is the happy and fruitful time of harvest.

So long as one continues to be amazed, one can delay growing old.

The entire life of a human being depends upon ”yes” and “no” uttered two or three times between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five.

Old age arrives suddenly, as does the snow. One morning, on awakening, one realizes that everything is white.

It is by growing old that one learns to remain young.

If someone declares that he is able to do everything at sixty that he was able to do at twenty, then he was not doing very much when he was twenty.

Old age embellishes everything. It has the effect of the setting sun on the beautiful twilights of autumn.

As one grows old, one generally rids himself of his shortcomings because they no longer serve any useful purpose.

There are four great periods in the life of a man; the one where he believe in Santa Claus, the one where he no longer believes in Santa Claus, the one where he is Santa Claus, and finally the one where he looks more and more like Santa Claus.

The good side of this, as old as one might be, is that one is always younger than he will ever be.

The person who considers himself too old to learn something has probably always been that way.

Dealing With Midlife Crisis — Master Sheng Yan

October 18, 2007

中年不悲哀 文/聖嚴法師

問: 社會的中堅分子, 大家說的「五年級」, 近來也步入中年了,有人不免有「中年危機」, 往回看, 覺得這一生似乎小有進展, 卻又沒有大成就; 往前看, 人生要改變, 代價又太高, 沒有改變本錢了, 好像卡住了, 舉目茫然啊。 就這樣等老嗎?

答: 雖然有句老話: 「人到中年百事哀。」 但那可不一定喔, 有些人到了中年, 四、五十歲時, 有太太、 父母、 孩子, 自己也小有成就, 或者更好, 享有很高的財富跟社會地位, 等於是人的黃金時代。 也有人不那麼順利, 人到中年, 感覺對現況不是很滿意, 往未來看, 也不知道未來會怎麼樣。 如果把事業、 財產當作自己的目標, 用一個存款數字, 或社會標準, 當自己人生的目標, 這會惹來很多的痛苦, 永遠也比不完。 人到中年, 應在意的是活得踏實, 沒有浪費時間, 沒有糟蹋自己的身體、 名譽, 沒有傷害其他人。 如果能盡力而為, 幫助其他人, 不論有錢、 沒錢, 有沒有地位, 你的一句話、 一個念頭, 或者一個表情、 一個手勢, 都能影響其他人; 讓人快樂, 就能讓自己感覺很快樂 — 這就是人活著的價值。 如果這樣, 中年人不要擔心未來會茫然。

像我這樣的人, 原本在清涼寺一事無成, 沒人看得到我, 也沒人看得起我; 直到四十五歲, 得到博士學位時, 我已中年了, 但是, 台灣沒有人要我。我到了美國, 名義上當住持, 其實是當廟祝, 我沒有主張和實權, 只是照顧那個廟就是了, 還要買菜、 煮飯、 掃地、 照顧信徒。 那時, 我不覺得自己悲哀, 其實, 在那個狀況下, 是沒有前途的。 但我還是盡全力把當前的事做好, 奉獻所學。 我也曾經流浪紐約街頭,根本不知道未來是什麼。漸漸的, 有些美國人跟我學打坐、 學佛; 台灣也開始有人需要我。 我回到台灣, 待的寺廟好像也不是很大, 看起來沒有「前途」和「地位」, 我也不在意, 但我盡力奉獻我所知道的。 就這樣,我六十歲,才開始建設法鼓山。

像我這樣的生命過程, 並不順利, 我並不覺得悲哀, 因為我沒追求什麼, 沒有和任何人比。 我經常告訴學生、 弟子, 不要跟人比、 不要跟自己比。 跟人比,比不過人, 會氣餒; 比過了, 會驕傲。 跟自己比, 今年是不是比去年多賺一點、 地位和身價上升或下降? 要這樣比會一年年痛苦。 因為人的生命過程, 就是起起落落, 一帆風順是不多見的, 何況, 人的健康、 社會大環境, 都不是個人可隨心所欲的, 要各種條件皆具, 人生才能往上的。 我常勉勵大家, 往下走時, 不要沮喪; 往上走時, 也不要興奮, 如此才會有自在的人生。
【本文摘錄自«聯合報‧副刊»2005/12/25】

In The Presence Of Difficulty

October 18, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Compassion is the ability to see the deep connectedness between ourselves and others. Moreover, true compassion recognizes that all the boundaries we perceive between ourselves and others are an illusion. When we first begin to practice compassion, this very deep level of understanding may elude us, but we can have faith that if we start where we are, we will eventually feel our way toward it. We move closer to it every time we see past our own self-concern to accommodate concern for others. And, as with any skill, our compassion grows most in the presence of difficulty.

We practice small acts of compassion every day, when our loved ones are short-tempered or another driver cuts us off in traffic. We extend our forgiveness by trying to understand their point of view; we know how it is to feel stressed out or irritable. The practice of compassion becomes more difficult when we find ourselves unable to understand the actions of the person who offends us. These are the situations that ask us to look more deeply into ourselves, into parts of our psyches that we may want to deny, parts that we have repressed because society has labeled them bad or wrong. For example, acts of violence are often well beyond anything we ourselves have perpetuated, so when we are on the receiving end of such acts, we are often at a loss. This is where the real potential for growth begins, because we are called to shine a light inside ourselves and take responsibility for what we have disowned. It is at this juncture that we have the opportunity to transform from within!

This can seem like a very tall order, but when life presents us with circumstances that require our compassion, no matter how difficult, we can trust that we are ready. We can call upon all the light we have cultivated so far, allowing it to lead the way into the darkest parts of our own hearts, connecting us to the hearts of others in the understanding that is true compassion.

African Oral Tradition

October 17, 2007

There is the spirit of nature, the spirit of the river, the spirit of the mountain. There is the spirit of the animals, of the water, the spirit of the ancestors.

Good is everything that promotes and increases the life force. Bad is everything that hampers and lessens it.

Human beings have mastery of the spoken word; their, then, is the responsibility to direct the life force.

Fear can engender deception because it creates images of thing that do not exist. Fear is one of the grounds for elimination in initiation [ceremony]. Man needs to have the courage and will to confront everything, never mind how strange or unexpected.

Despair and fear have a nullifying effect upon a man’s activity and throw into confusion. That is why initiation [ceremony] always contains a test of courage. It is an exercise of the will, a struggle with oneself. The goal of our journey, our quest, is to penetrate the mystery of life’s events.

Quoting Nelson Mandela:

Only free men can negotiate.

One of our strongest weapons is dialogue.

The fact that courage is expected of you in the face of the unbearable gives you strength for the rest of your life.

I am not truly free if I am taking away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken away from me. The oppressed and the oppressor alike are robbed of their humanity.

Releasing The Reigns

October 17, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Our perception of humanity as a whole is, to a large extent, dualistic. We paint people with a broad brush—some are like us, sharing our opinions and our attitudes, while others are different. Our commitment to values we have chosen to embrace is often so strong that we are easily convinced that our way is the right way. We may find ourselves frustrated by those who view the world from an alternate vantage point and make use of unusual strategies when coping with life’s challenges. However ardently we believe that these people would be happier and more satisfied following our lead, we should resist the temptation to try to change them. Every human being has been blessed with a unique nature that cannot be altered by outside forces. We are who we are at any one point in our lives for a reason, and no one person can say for certain what another should be like.

The reasons we try to change one another are numerous. Since we have learned over time to flourish in the richness of lives we have built, we may come to believe that we are qualified to speak on behalf of the greater source. The sum total of our knowledge will never compare to what we do not know, however, and our understanding of others’ lives will forever be limited. The potential we see in the people who are a part of our lives will never be precisely the same as our own, so we do these individuals a disservice when we make assumptions about their intentions, preferences, and goals. Our power lies in our ability to accept others for all their quirks and differences and to let go of the need to control every element of our existence. We can love people for who they are, embracing their uniqueness, or we can love them as human beings from afar.

Your ability to influence people may grow more sophisticated because others sense that you respect their right to be themselves, but you will likely spend more time gazing inward, into the one person you can change: yourself.

The Art of Being Well — Dr. Dráuzio Varella

October 16, 2007

Becoming Who We have always been – Michael Addis

October 16, 2007

“To dream of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.” — Author Unknown

The best thing about growing older for me has been discovering and becoming who I’ve been all along. Once that truth is uncovered and we recognize the beautiful souls that have been with us since the beginning of time, we’ll never go back.

There is such clarity in this awareness… to accept… love… respect and admire our unique qualities. It would be crazy now to hide this truth.

I can now speak from this truth with confidence. Yes, the words at first sounded foreign and sometimes stumbled out because I didn’t recognize where they were coming from. Yet, my intuition felt right and inspired me to keep going until eventually my words were defining and strong. And with each word my confidence grows and looks more beautiful.

— Debbie Holden

“If we really love ourselves, everything in our life works.”

— Louise L. Hay

Maintaining The Flow

October 16, 2007

[From DailyOM]

The essence of all being is energy. Our physical and ethereal selves depend on the unrestricted flow of life energy that is the source of wholeness and wellness. Though the channels through which this energy flows are open systems and influenced by factors outside of our control, we ultimately choose what impact these will have in our lives. It is up to us to identify and clear blockages in the energy field to ensure that flow is maintained. A healthy, grounded individual absorbs some portion of the energy emitted by other people and the environment, but this does not interrupt the continuous stream of balanced energy sustaining them. The same individual copes constructively with stress and upset, and they are not subject to the stagnation that frequently goes hand in hand with negativity. When we keep the energy in and around our bodies flowing harmoniously, we are naturally healthy, vibrant, and peaceful.

Life energy flows through us like a swift stream when there is nothing to obstruct it, but various forces such as trauma, downbeat vibrations, and disappointments act like stones that impede the current. If we allow these to pile up, our life energy is thrown off its course or blocked entirely, causing illness, restlessness, and a lack of vigor. If, however, we take the time to clear these forces away, we rob them of the power to impact our lives. When we cultivate simple yet affirmative habits such as taking regular cleansing baths, practicing meditation and breathing exercises, smudging, and self-shielding, we protect ourselves from outside influences that might otherwise impede our energy flow. Likewise, we lessen the impact of inner influences when we clear our auras of unwanted attachments and divest ourselves of blocked emotions.

A strong and fluid energy field is the key that unlocks the doors of self-healing and peace of mind. Your awareness of the flow of energy sustaining you empowers you to take charge of your own well-being by taking steps to unblock, correct, and enhance that flow. Fear will likely be the culprit when you cannot identify the source of stagnation—you may simply be afraid to let go of what is obstructing the flow. Letting go can be challenging, but the exuberance you will feel when the flow is restored will be a welcome and blessed reward.

Wisdom and Inspiration from His Holiness The Dalai Lama

October 16, 2007

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I love friends, I went more friends. I love smiles. That is a fact. How to develop smiles? There are a variety of smiles. Some smiles are sarcastic. Some smiles are artificial – diplomatic smiles. These smiles do not produce satisfaction, but rather fear or suspicion. But a genuine smile gives us hope, and freshness. If we want a genuine smile, then first we must produce the basis for a smile to come.

Two

If you have fear of some pain or suffering, you should examine whether there is anything you can do about it. If you can, there is no need to worry about it; if you cannot do anything, then also there is no need to worry.

Three

Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.

Four

Some people, sweet and attractive, and strong and healthy, happen to die young. They are masters in disguise teaching us about impermanence.

Five

When we pray together, I feel something. I do not know whether you would call it blessings, or grace –but in any case there is a certain feeling that we can experience. If we utilize it properly, this feeling is very helpful for developing our inner strength.

Six

It is said that if you want to know what you were doing in the past, look at your body now; if you want to know what will happen to you in the future, look at what your mind is doing now.

Seven

For as long as space endures, and for as long as living beings remain, until then may I, too, abide, to dispel the misery of the world.

What the Modern Woman Wants

October 15, 2007

A 15-year old Singaporean, competing against 16- to 18-year-olds, has won the 2004 top prize in a writing contest that drew 5,300 entries from 52 countries.

In the annual Commonwealth Essay Competition, Amanda Chong of Raffles Girls’ School (Secondary) chose to compete in the older category and won with a piece on the restlessness of modern life. Her short story, titled What The Modern Woman Wants, focused on the conflict in values between an old lady and her independent-minded daughter.

(more…)

Feeling grateful for everything

October 15, 2007

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Meeting Of The Minds

October 15, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Sometimes it feels as if we have many different people living inside of us, expressing themselves in voices that seem distinct from one another. There is the inner child with its wants and needs, the angry voice that expresses its opinion and probably several more as well. With all these different parts of ourselves express differing desires and needs and opinions, we may begin to feel as if we have no clarity. It is difficult to know which voices to pay attention to and which ones to ignore or dismiss. Even if we manage to move forward amidst the confusion, doubts and concerns may linger in our psyches simply because they have not been fully expressed and examined. As a result, we may have trouble being at peace with the decisions we do make.

One way to handle this dilemma is to consciously make time for a meeting of the minds within our psyche. This can be done as a guided meditation or as a journaling exercise. In both we can summon the many fragments that make up the whole of who we are and give them each a chance to speak. This can be a helpful tool in the face of a decision we need to make, and it can also be a fruitful path to take in the interest of self-exploration and self-care. When we gather the many fragments of our psyche together, the health and power of the whole is greatly increased.

We can imagine a roundtable in which we gather all the various representatives of our being, allowing them to name themselves and giving them a chance to speak. We allow each one to weigh in, fully expressing the perspective they represent, and we listen without comment. As we listen, we may be amazed at the wisdom and energy stored in these fragments of our self. This gathering brings the fragmented pieces of our psyche into a closer relationship, enabling us to move forward as a unified whole.

Lessons Of Reflection

October 12, 2007

[From DailyOM]

When we care about people, we want to save them from pain by offering them the benefit of our experience. Sometimes we feel like we know what is best for them. Sometimes, like when their safety is involved, we need to step in, but those times are rare. More often we find ourselves becoming frustrated when our close friends or family members do not use our relationship insights or follow our dietary advice, and this is where we find our challenge. We may even find ourselves becoming angry when they choose another path. This strength of feeling is usually a sign that our motivations go beyond merely helping another to indicate that there is a lesson there for us.

First, we need to keep in mind that each of us is on our own path and that we all learn differently. When we trust the universe, we know that there is a higher power at work that knows what is best for our loved one. Since we do not want to deny them experiences of deep feeling that are essential steps in the growth of their spirit, we can instead offer them our counsel. After we have given our gift, it is time to release it, along with our expectations of them and their choices, with love.

Once that is done, we can remind ourselves that our relationships are mirrors that allow us to see ourselves more clearly in the reflection. That is why it is easier for us to see solutions to other people’s problems than to see answers for our own. We can also learn from these experiences when we ask ourselves if we ever do the same thing. Maybe we do not share experiences with relationships, but we do with our finances or our food choices. In being willing to look at ourselves and see why we are being irritated by what other people choose to do with their lives, we can be like an oyster and make irritations into pearls. With these pearls of wisdom, we learn to release the desire for control over others and instead enrich their lives as we enrich our own.

The Life of Buddha

October 11, 2007

Someone has posted 50-minute BBC documentary on youtube entitled “The Life of Buddha“, or rather Siddharta, who lived about 2,500 years ago.