Archive for November, 2007

Favourite quote from Great Expectations

November 23, 2007

When I was a kid, my favorite quote from Charles DickensGreat Expectations was something Pip said.

“So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.”

My thoughts regrow randomly and causally. It has just come back to me now. Then I found a collection of equally a quotable quotes from the same book here.

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My Symphony

November 23, 2007

[by William Henry Channing]

“To live content with small means;
to seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
to be worthy, not respectable,
and wealthy, not rich;
to study hard, think quietly,
talk gently, act frankly;
to listen to stars and birds,
to babes and sages, with open heart;
to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely,
await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual,
unbidden and unconscious,
grow up through the common.
This is to be my symphony.”

Like it? More of his writing here.

Beyond Counting Blessings

November 23, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Often when we practice being thankful, we go through the process of counting our blessings, acknowledging the wonderful people, things and places that make up our reality. While it is fine to be grateful for the good fortune we have accumulated, true thankfulness stems from a powerful comprehension of the gift of simply being alive, and when we feel it, we feel it regardless of our circumstances. In this deep state of gratitude, we recognize the purity of the experience of being, in and of itself, and our thankfulness is part and parcel of our awareness that we are one with this great mystery that is life.

It is difficult for most of us to access this level of consciousness as we are very caught up in the ups and downs of our individual experiences in the world. The thing to remember about the world, though, is that it ebbs and flows, expands and contracts, gives and takes, and is by its very nature somewhat unreliable. If we only feel gratitude when it serves our desires, this is not true thankfulness. No one is exempt from the twists and turns of fate, which may, at any time, take the possessions, situations, and people we love away from us. Ironically, it is sometimes this kind of loss that awakens us to a thankfulness that goes deeper than just being grateful when things go our way. Illness and near-miss accidents can also serve as wake-up calls to the deeper realization that we are truly lucky to be alive.

We do not have to wait to be shaken to experience this state of being truly thankful for our lives. Tuning in to our breath and making an effort to be fully present for a set period of time each day can do wonders for our ability to connect with true gratitude. We can also awaken ourselves with the intention to be more aware of the unconditional generosity of the life force that flows through us regardless of our circumstances.

Whatever May Come, Whatever May Go

November 22, 2007

Sometimes, when we encounter problems, we allow them to grow so large and menacing that they block out everything else. Like an eclipse of the sun, we are caught in a darkness that, for a moment, threatens to shut out the light forever.

We all know that the moon is tiny compared to the enormity of the sun. It only appears to overshadow the sun because of its shorter distance from us.

In the same manner, our problems sometimes seem insurmountable and the solutions cannot be found. We allow the problem to become so close to us, that life seems pointless. We disregard and neglect the things which can still give us joy and meaning.

Sara Teasdale writes about her encounter with a wise old man, whose simple creed enabled him to keep the joy in his eyes through the ravages of the years.

I saw him sitting at his door,
Trembling as old men do;
His house was old; his barn was old,
And yet his eyes seemed new.
His eyes had seen three times my years
And kept a twinkle still,
Though they had looked at birth and death
And three graves on a hill.
“I will sit down with you,” I said,
“And you will make me wise;
Tell me how you have kept the joy
Still burning in your eyes.”
Then like an old-time orator
Impressively he rose;
“I make the most of all that comes,
The least of all that goes.”
The jingling rhythm of his words
Echoes as old songs do,
Yet this had kept his eyes alight
Till he was ninety-two

A short and simple tenet for us to keep in our minds, for the times when loss and disaster threaten to darken our hearts?

“Make the most of all that comes, and the least of all that goes.”

Everything Happens For A Reason

November 22, 2007

[author unknown]

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there… to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson or help figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be but when you look
eyes with them, you know that every moment that you are with them, they will affect your life in some profound way. And sometimes things happen to you at the time that may seem horrible, painful and unfair, but in reflection you realize that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, will power or heart.

Everything happens for a reason!

Nothing happens by chance or by means of good luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer
stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight, flat road to nowhere, safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless.

The people you meet affect your life. The successes and downfalls that you experience can create who you are, and the bad experiences can be learned from…. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them because they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally not only because they love you, but also because they are teaching you to love and open your heart and eyes to little things.

MAKE EVERYDAY COUNT!

Appreciate every moment and take from it everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people who you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, even if it doesn’t seem right because you are too young or too far, just follow your heart. Surround yourself with those who make you smile, laugh, and make you happy.

Break free and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you. Create your own life then LET GO and LIVE IT!

The Other Side of Beijing

November 22, 2007

Reflections on Life

November 22, 2007

Antidote to Panic

November 22, 2007

[by Pamela Bloom]

Recently I was scheduled to have the medical test known as a colonoscopy. It is an extremely invasive procedure into the most intimate parts of one’s body and therefore frightening for most people. For that reason patients are usually asked to bring someone with them so they can be accompanied home. Unfortunately, due to the timing of my procedure, I didn’t have anybody to come with me, so I was already feeling quite vulnerable from the start. On top of that, my veins are quite small and my doctor had a terrible time inserting the IV for the anesthesia. For some reason, my memory of the day is sill fresh, as if it is happening now. Strapped to the gurney and dressed only in a patient’s gown, I do everything not to squirm, but he misses… first time … second…. third. The needle is huge and the pain is excruciating. As he taps up and down my arm looking for a vein, I can feel his nervousness through his finger. Seeing me break out in a sweat, he asks if I ‘ve brought somebody with me. Tears well up in my eyes. “ That’s Okay,” he says unconvincingly., “ You’ll be fine. “ Finally, on the fifth try, the needle connects with a vein. I’m about to exhale in relief when I hear him yell to his attendant, “ Okay, hit the music. “ At this point, the loudest, most raucous, most offensive rock music blasts through the room. I’m stunned. I can’t believe I have to ask him t turn it off.

“I can’t, “ he says, strapping on his mask. “ This is the way I work. “

I’m just outraged. Strapped down like a prison, I feel the heavy – metal beat rattle my bones and I feel like I‘ve entered hell. Sweat pours down my face and I begin to shake unconditionally. Never before have I felt so trapped in a nightmare, and worse, there is absolutely no escape. In less than a minute, I will probably be unconscious. I actually feel like I am about to be executed, poison draining into my system through the IV. I’m completely on the stage of panic and the only thing I have on my side is my own mind. And then, squeezed by this physical, mental, and emotional claustrophobia, something shifts, and maybe because I am in such an intense state of suffering, I suddenly open to an awareness where I feel not just my suffering but also the suffering of umpteen billions in the world who have gone through this same kind of experience. I think of my friend Sylvan who endured thousands of IVs during the long years of his diabetes. My father and mother, my brothers, before surgeries. Millions I have never met who face trauma, fear, helplessness, every day. The room feels full of spirits. Then somewhere in me, almost as if I had been rumbling in the dark for eons looking for it, a prayer arises in my mind, one taught to me so long ago by my master: May all those who have this same kind of suffering never have to experience it again. May this suffering I am enduring release them form their agony.

And then I am out of cold. My next memory is the nurse telling me it’s over. The procedure had gone fine, and after the IV episode there is almost no pain. I get up, dress, and take the subway home by myself. The whole episode is almost like a dream. But the experience taught me something I will never ever forget — How easily distress can arrive, how helpless sentient beings are, and how entrenched prayer must be in our mind-streams so we use it when we need it.

Built Upon the Past

November 22, 2007

[From DailyOM]

As the holidays approach, you may be preparing yourself to gather with family members you don’t usually spend time visiting. You may even feel that you are choosing to meet more from a sense of obligation than celebration. But when we trust that the universe always places us exactly where we need to be, we know that we have been placed in our families for some higher purpose. Your spirit may have chosen that particular group of souls to help you learn certain lessons, or to give you the experiences necessary to overcome specific challenges. And when we feel we’ve moved away from situations that don’t resemble us or the life we choose to live, it can seem frustrating to put ourselves back into an old scenario. But even a sense of obligation is a sign that you are still connected to the energy of your family, and for that alone it is worth investing yourself into making the most of any gathering.

Once surrounded by people from your past, you may find that you are feeling challenged by a sort of identity crisis. There is likely to be a gap between the person you know yourself to be now and how you are seen by those who knew you before. But you can call upon your inner strength to stand in your truth and simply be who you are without needing their approval or heeding any criticism. Then, you can offer them the gift you’d like to receive when you also allow them to be themselves.

Being in situations that we might not choose for ourselves allows us to see ourselves in a new light. The contrast helps us to see our own strengths and weaknesses, and to learn to accept others for theirs. Part of the magic of family is the way in which it bonds diverse people together, allowing them to function as a complete unit. Who we are today has been built upon our past. If nothing else, rejoining with the family and friends who knew us in our earlier days allows us to recall where we came from so that we can appreciate all that we’ve been given.

Dying Into Love

November 21, 2007

[by Michael Damian]

When my mother become terminally ill, I went out to Las Vegas, where she was living, to take care of her. My mother was a very devout Catholic and raised us as devout Catholics. As I grew older, however, I became increasingly disaffected by certain perspectives of the Catholic Church but retained many positive values from my Christian experience as I explored other spiritual traditions, ultimately finding a home in Tibetan Buddhism. My mother, understandably, did not share my enthusiasm, and her disapproval was the source of some pain.

My mother loved people and loved to give service, but there was also a dark side to her. She was very complicated emotionally, and she acted out a lot of the trauma she had experienced as a child on my father, my sister, and myself. By the time she became ill, I was fortunate to have worked out most of my feelings toward her but still did not see a connection between her personal interactions and her attendance at daily Mass and the rosaries she said all the time. She had a very special connection with the Blessed Mother; in fact, she had Blessed Mothers all over the house, in the garage, in the garden, guarding her hat collection in the carport. I could never figure out, however, how could she be saying the rosary every day and be so awful at times.
(more…)

Return And Reclaim

November 20, 2007

[From DailyOM]

As children, many of us entertained fantasies or even goals of being a singer, dancer, artist, or musician. In some cases, we received enough encouragement to develop our abilities in those creative arenas, but somewhere along the way we stopped. This stopping may have been due to circumstances beyond our control or to our own unconscious acts of self-sabotage. Being creative can be scary in a world that seems to value logic over imagination and practicality over dreaming. We can forgive ourselves for shutting down or turning our attention away from our inner artist, but perhaps we can also take steps to reclaim our dreams.

In certain times and places, developing a creative ability was considered an important part of being a well-rounded human being. It was not necessary to be a professional or a masterly genius, because the act of creativity was valued in and of itself. It gifts are manifold—from the sheer pleasure of allowing our imaginations free reign to sharing and enjoying the fruits of our labor. Children share drawings and songs freely, without self-consciousness, and there is no reason why we cannot do the same thing. You may already be remembering some lost form of expression, such as making jewelry or writing songs. Your soul may be responding with an energetic lift as it feels its way back to a time when it was allowed to express itself freely. Your brain, on the other hand, may be throwing up obstacles, like the idea that you are too old or do not have the time.

The truth is, you are not too old, and if you have time to pick up a pen, you have time to make a doodle or write a haiku. Recognize that the
obstacles you find before you have arisen from a place of fear and that they will wane in power every time you do something creative. Each creative act takes you deeper into a realm of beauty and magic, a realm that you have every right to return to and reclaim.

ABC of Friendship

November 19, 2007

A Friend …
Accepts you as you are.
Believes in “you.”
Calls you just to say “Hi.”
Doesn’t give up on you.
Envisions the whole of you,
even the unfinished parts.
Forgives your mistakes.
Gives unconditionally.
Helps you.
Invites you over.
Just wants to “be” with you.
Keeps you close at heart.
Loves you for who you are.
Makes a difference in your life.
Never Judges.
Offers support.
Picks you up.
Quiets your fears.
Raises your spirits.
Says nice things about you.
Tells you the truth when you need to hear it.
Understands you.
Values you.
Walks beside you.
X-plains thing you don’t understand.
Yells when you won’t listen and,
Zaps you back to reality.

Embracing Womanhood

November 16, 2007

[From DailyOM]

There are many ways and myriad reasons for women to honor and embrace all that they are. And when any individual woman chooses to do so, all women collectively move closer to becoming what they are truly capable of being. By honoring her experience and being willing to share it with others—both male and female—she teaches as she learns. When she can trust herself and her inner voice, she teaches those around her to trust her as well. Clasping hands with family members and friends, coworkers and strangers in a shared walk through the journey of life, she allows all to see the self-respect she possesses and accepts their respect, too, that is offered through look, word, and deed.

When a woman can look back into her past, doing so without regret and instead seeing only lessons that brought her to her current strength and wisdom, she embraces the fullness of her experience. She helps those around her to build upon the past as she does. And when she chooses to create her desires, she places her power in the present and moves forward with life into the future.

Seeing her own divinity, a woman learns to recognize the divinity in all women. She then can see her body as a temple, appreciating its feminine form and function, regardless of what age or stage of life she finds herself. She can enjoy all that it brings to her experience and appreciate other women and their experiences as well. Rather than seeing other women as competition, she can look around her to see the cycle of life reflected in the beauty of her sisters, reminding her of her own radiance should she ever forget. She can then celebrate all the many aspects that make her a being worthy of praise, dancing to express the physical, speaking proudly to express her intellect, sharing her emotions, and leading the way with her spiritual guidance. Embracing her womanhood, she reveals the facets that allow her to shine with the beauty and strength of a diamond to illuminate her world.

Heart Surgery

November 15, 2007

[by Ven Segyu Choepel Rinpoche]

I was in great deal of pain growing up as a teenage in Brazil. Although I had a very good life in the worldly sense, I was very frustrated and didn’t understand why. I fact, I was smoking pain and anger and making everyone around me miserable too. Wanting to help, some friends invited me to see a teacher known for her healing abilities. I was very skeptical that any spiritual teacher would be able to help me. I believe that she perceived my skepticism immediately upon our meeting because she was very fierce and strong with me. She literally threw a coin at my face and when it hit the floor she said, ” See this coin ? It has two sides. One side is your spiritual life and you must take care of it. The other is your worldly life and with that only suffering will remain in you.” After those few words, she proceeded to kick me out of her house. I was shocked by words and left with an anger that would stay with me for months.

One year later, still frustrated and distressed, my life had become unbearable. There was a terrible pain in my heart and I felt practically suicidal. One day,as I was driving to work in terrible despair, suddenly the image of this woman throwing the coin at me came into my mind. So I decided to try to find her. I started driving wildly around Rio de Janeiro, a big city that is difficult to get around, looking for her home. My friends had taken me there the first time so I didn’t know exactly where she lived, but my motivation and will were so strong that I would not give up. After hours and hours of driving up and down the city streets, I became so desperate that I leaned my head on the steering wheel and broke into tears. Suddenly I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. A woman, a stranger, started telling me that I ought to talk to someone and suggested I go to this address she gave me. I didn’t think much of it, but because I was so desperate I decided to go. When I made the final turn and looked up, I was astonished to see the woman I had met one year before standing in front of her modest home. A seventy – eight – year – old woman, she was very sick and very weak, but she had one incredible smile and a powerful will. She came over to me and said, ” Oh, son, it took so long for you to flip the coin over. I am so happy you came. ” She was so warm and so nurturing that I spent the day crying in her arms. She didn’t say much, just a few words, but they would prove to be the words of my first spiritual teacher. ” It’s all right, son, now you are on the path. ”

I studied healing with this teacher until her death many years later. She created all the conditions for me to embrace my spiritual path,until I found my ultimate path in Tibetan Buddhism. Today, inspired by my goal to spread the Bodhidharma, I shoulder many responsibilities as a teacher and director of two monasteries and many Dharma centres. But I know I am who I am today because of the kindness of this first great teacher who tossed a coin in my face and threw me out of her house. That’s what I cultivate and remember in the midst of my greatest difficulties — how in one moment of great compassion she so skillfully and invisibly opened my heart.

Playing Mind Games

November 14, 2007

[From DailyOM]

For better or worse, many people have been raised to believe that communicating in an honest and open way will not get them what they want. They have learned, instead, to play mind games or go on power trips in the service of their ego’s agenda. People stuck in this outmoded and inefficient style of communication can be trying at best and downright destructive at worst. We may get caught up in thinking we have to play the same games in order to defend ourselves, but that will only lead us deeper into confusion and conflict. The best way to handle people like this is to be clear and honest with them

As with all relationships and situations in our lives, we must look within for both the source of our difficulties and the solution. Reacting to the situation by getting upset will only entrench us more deeply in the undesirable relationship. Only by disengaging, becoming still, and going within can we begin to see what has hooked us into the mess in the first place. We will most likely find unprocessed emotions that we
can finally fully feel and release into the stillness we find in meditation. The more we are able to do this, the less we will be bothered by the other person’s dramas and the more we will be free to respond in a new way. In the light of our new awareness, the situation will untangle itself and we will slowly break free.

Whenever people come into our lives, they have come for a reason, to show us something about ourselves that we have not been able to see. When unhealthy people try to hook us into their patterns with mind games and power trips, we can remind ourselves that we have something to learn here and that a part of us is calling out for healing. This takes the focus off the troubling individual and puts it back on us, giving us the opportunity to change the situation from the inside out.