Archive for December, 2007

Crochet

December 27, 2007

A man and woman had been married for more than 60 years. They had
shared everything. They had talked about everything. They had kept no
secrets from each other except that the little old woman had a shoe
box in the top of her closet that she had cautioned her husband never to open or ask her about.

For all of these years, he had never thought about the box, but one day the little old woman got very sick and the doctor said she would not recover.

In trying to sort out their affairs, the little old man took down the shoe box and took it to his wife’s bedside.

She agreed that it was time that he should know what was in the box. When he opened it, he found two crocheted dolls and a stack of money totaling $95,000.

He asked her about the contents. ‘When we were to be married,’ she said, ‘ my grandmother told me the secret of a happy marriage was to never argue. She told me that if I ever got angry with you, I should just keep quiet and crochet a doll.’

The little old man was so moved; he had to fight back tears. Only two precious dolls were in the box. She had only been angry with him two times in all those years of living and loving. He almost burst with happiness.

‘Honey,’ he said, ‘that explains the doll, but what about all of this money? Where did it come from?’

‘Oh,’ she said, ‘that’s the money I made from selling the dolls.’

The Paradoxical Commandments

December 27, 2007

The origin and transcript of this slide show can be found here.

She Gracefully Surrenders

December 26, 2007

[From DailyOM]

In fall, the earth begins the process of releasing all the things she has been holding onto throughout spring and summer, and by midwinter she has let everything go. She sits clean and undecorated in her simplicity, free of the frenzy of life that defines her in the warmer seasons. There is a quiet humility about the earth in the winter months, as animals and people retreat inside to escape the wet and sometimes freezing cold that takes hold. Inside our homes we create abundance and warmth in response to being effectively kicked indoors by the dark and cold that permeate the outdoors.

We burn fires in fireplaces and make heavy, hot foods to keep our bodies warm and insulated. We may find ourselves sleeping longer hours and yearning for downtime, just like the animals deep inside their caves and warrens taking a winter-long nap. Even if we live in a warmer climate, the longer nights and shorter days have the same effect on our cycles. If we surrender to this time as nature intended, we allow ourselves to slow down, sleep more, and lower the volumes on our busy minds. At the same time, we crave company in our dwellings, and the insulated warmth of the hearth tends to bring people together, creating more warmth and fostering connections that last through the coming year.

We laugh, eat, and talk, sleep, or catch up on reading, while outside our windows the earth grows dark earlier and stays cold longer, accepting as always of the process of change and her place within it. We might remember to learn from her as she so gracefully surrenders to the emptiness that precedes all form, the peace that precedes activity, the darkness that precedes the light. For everything she gives and teaches, we might offer a blessing, extending a goodly portion of the gratitude of this season her way, holding her in our hearts and thanking her for our very lives.

Kindness

December 26, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Kindness is an ideal that is easily accessible to all of us. We all know that a small kindness can make our journeys lighter and more enjoyable. Even bringing an instance of kindness to mind can put a smile on your face days or weeks later or perhaps even inspire you to share kindness with another. Though it may seem simple to the point of insignificance, many cultures throughout the world and history have recognized kindness as a powerful virtue. It may be the simplest way to experience and share all the grandest ideals of humanity. We can make the choice to act from the best place within ourselves at any time, while simultaneously recognizing the highest potential in another with the smallest of acts, nourishing the seed of hope in each soul we encounter.

In a way, kindness acts as the oil that makes the engine of our world move more smoothly and with less friction. We can still get where we are going but the ride is more pleasant, and those around us can share in the ideal world that we help to create. We are all fortunate that kindness is limitless in its supply and available to everyone. When we act in ways that confirm our ideals, we make the ideal our reality. Then, instead of affirming the experience of struggle and competition, we can shift our experience to the reality of ease and pleasurable camaraderie with the fellow citizens of the world.

Whether giving way to someone in traffic or letting someone go ahead of us in line, donating money or sharing our homes in a crisis, we actively create a universe of kindness and giving with every choice we make. The smallest gesture can bring a smile to light the shadow of an unpleasant situation or remove tension from a difficult task, but it’s effects can echo and extend far beyond the moment. We can be sure that we will receive a kindness in return, but giving is its own reward. Kindness expands the light within us and reaches out to touch the light in others as well, giving us all a glimpse of the glow that has the power to enlighten our world.

Zen Wisdom in Chinese

December 24, 2007

Click here to see more.

Two Choices

December 23, 2007

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves learning-disabled children, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do. Where is the natural order of things in my son?’

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. ‘I believe, that when a child like Shay, physically and mentally handicapped comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.’

Then he told the following story: (more…)

Be Free Where You Are

December 22, 2007

[by Thich Nhat Hanh]

An extract —

When a storm comes, it stays for some time, and then it goes. An emotion is like that too — it comes and stays for a while, and then it goes. An emotion is only an emotion. We are much, much more than an emotion. We don’t die because of one emotion. So when you notice that an emotion is beginning to come up, it is very important that put yourself in a stable sitting position, or lie down, which is also a very stable position. Then focus your attention on your belly. Your head is like the top of a tree in a storm. I would not stay there. Bring your attention down to the trunk of the tree, where there is stability.

When you have focused on your belly, bring your attention down to the level just below your navel and begin to practise mindful breathing. Breathing in and breathing out deeply, be aware of the rise and fall of the abdomen. After practising like this for ten, fifteen, or twenty minutes, you will see you are strong — strong enough to within the storm. In this sitting or lying position, just stick to your breathing the way that someone on the ocean would stick to a life vest. After some time the emotion will pass.

This is a very effective practice, but please remember one thing. Don’t wait until you have a strong emotion to practise. If you do, you will not remember how to practise. You have to practise now, today, while you are feeling fine, when you are not dealing with any strong emotions. This is the time to begin learning the practice. You can practise for ten minutes every day. Sit and practise breathing and in and out, focusing your attention on your belly. If you do this for three weeks — twenty — one days — it will become a habit. Then when anger rises up or you are overwhelmed by despair, your will naturally remember the practice. Once you succeed, you will have faith in the practice and you will be able to tell your emotion, ” Well, if you come again, I will do exactly the same thing. ” You will not be afraid because you know what to do.

Practise regularly.Once your practice becomes a habit, you will feel as though you are missing something when you don’t do it. It will bring your well – being and stability. It will have a good effect on your health as well. This is the best kind of protection you can offer yourself. I always think that the mindfulness is the energy of the Buddha, the energy of God, the Holy Spirit, that is inside of us protecting us all the time. Every time you touch the seed of mindfulness and practise mindful breathing, the energy of God, the energy of Buddha, is there to protect you.

When you learn the practice, you may like to tell a friend, a relative, or your children, if you have any, how to practise. I know mothers who practise with their children. They hold their child’s hand and say, ” Darling, breathe with me. Breathing in, I am aware that abdomen is rising. Breathing out, I am aware that my abdomen is falling. ” They guide their child to breath with them until he or she gets through the emotion.

If you know the practice, you will be able to generate the energy of stability, and you will be able to hold another person’s hand and transmit to him or her the energy of your stability. You can help that person cross out of the eye of the storm; it may help save someone’s life. So many young people these days don’t know how to handle their emotions. The number of people who commit suicide is enormous. This is a simple exercise , but very important.

To Others And To Ourselves

December 22, 2007

[From DailyOM]

We all encounter obligations in life, from spending time with family and friends to being present at important functions in the lives of the people who form our community. Many times, the obligations are actually fun and fulfilling, and we want to be there. At the same time, we all sometimes experience resistance to meeting these obligations, especially when they pile up all at once and we begin to feel exhausted, longing for nothing so much as a quiet evening at home. At times like these, we may want to say no but feel too guilty at the idea of not being there. Still, our primary obligation is to take care of ourselves, and if saying no to someone else is what we have to do, then we do not need to feel bad about it.

There is a skill to balancing our obligations, and it starts with simply becoming aware of our schedule. We may notice that three invitations have arisen in one weekend, and we know that we will pay energetically if we attempt to fulfill all three. At this point, we can take the time to weigh the repercussions of not going to each event, considering how we will feel if we miss it and how our absence might affect other people. Most of the time, it will be clear which obligation we can most easily let go and which one we simply can’t miss. Sometimes we have to miss something really important to us, and that can be painful for everyone concerned. At times like this, reaching out with a phone call, a thoughtful card, or a gift lets people know that you are there in spirit and that your absence is by no means a result of you not caring.

Meeting our obligations to others is an important part of being human and not one to take lightly. At the same time, we cannot meet every obligation without neglecting our primary duty to take care of ourselves. We can navigate this quandary by being conscious of what we choose to do and not do and by finding concrete ways to extend our caring when we are not able to be there in person.

Beeswax Candle: Natural Air Purifiers and More

December 21, 2007

[by Annie B. Bond, author of Home Enlightenment (Rodale, 2005).]

Beeswax candles offer a honey scent, a golden flame, and the longest, cleanest burn of any candle.

SIMPLE SOLUTION:
But there is much more benefit to beeswax candles compared to paraffin candles that are made from polluted petroleum sludge, or even vegetable-based candles that are a big improvement over paraffin: When beeswax candles burn, they clean the air like a great, natural, air purifier, and they are a link to a deep spiritual belief system.

For each pound of beeswax provided by a honey bee, the bee visits 33 million flowers. It eats 10 pounds of honey. It secretes the beeswax from its abdomen, and then uses the wax to construct a honeycomb. Beekeepers recover the wax from the comb by heating it in water where the melted wax rises to the surface and can be removed.

Many have written about the wisdom of the beehive, and how burning beeswax puts a person in a special mood of reverence. It is easy to imagine why, given that millions of flowers have been visited and pollinated to make any one beeswax candle!

Healing and spiritual powers have been attributed to all products of the beehive. Honey has always been considered holy, a gift from God, and endowed with esoteric and mystical qualities. The Path of Pollen, or bee shamanism, is a calling into the secrets of healing, longevity, and spiritual powers of bee products, including honey, wax, and pollen. The Hebrew word for bee is dbure, meaning word, with the message being that the bee brings the Divine word. Specifically beeswax candles are designated for the Christian Roman Mass.

To burn a beeswax candle is to enter into the wisdom world of the bee, and you enter, too, into a world of benefits from the bee. Compare this to breathing toxic fumes from paraffin candles! (For more on toxic candles, see Candle Soot.)

Cleaning the Air by Burning Beeswax Candles
Air contains billions of electrically charged particles called ions. Ions act upon our capacity to absorb and utilize oxygen, and therefore cause powerful effects on our lives and well being. The ions in the air can affect our mood, energy and health. Negative ions actually feel good. Too many positive ions make us feel bad and they are loaded down with pollution and allergens that are drawn to them and suspended in the air. Negative ions, on the other hand, remove the pollution and allergens from positive ions, allowing them to drop harmlessly to the ground.

Beeswax candle fuel is the only fuel that actually produces negative ions, which not only helps remove pollution from the air but increases the ratio of negative ions to positive ions, the ideal and necessary scenario for clean air.

Beeswax Candle Buyer’s Resource Guide
Make sure to only buy 100 percent pure beeswax candles. Choose yellow beeswax (it is lightly refined) and not white beeswax is often bleached with chemicals and is best avoided.

Learning From The Holidays

December 21, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Holidays and joy are two elements of our lives that are naturally intertwined. Traditional celebrations awaken within us an ardent desire to reconnect with the people we care about and to share our abundance. During the holiday season, we feel more driven to actively practice compassion, tolerance, selflessness, and gratitude. When we feel stressed, we find peace in the company of loved ones. And, filled with warm thoughts, we endeavor to ensure that others can share in our celebrations. Yet while happiness and holidays go hand in hand, the serenity and optimism that blossom within as we act on our festive feelings need not be relegated to a few days or weeks each year. We can carry the holiday spirit within us all year long if we make an effort to embrace a celebratory frame of mind no matter what the date.

Holding the holidays in your heart can be wonderfully transformative. Changing your life can be as simple as thinking about the uplifting activities you engage in and the positive attitudes you adopt during the holiday season and then integrating them into your daily life. If you learn to always be as open to wonder as you are around the holidays, the world will seem like a more magical place, whether it is December, March, or August. While holidays represent a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, there is little preventing you from reaching out to the people you care about throughout the year. The patience, compassion, goodwill, and tolerance you feel while celebrating can easily become a part of your everyday experience. Likewise, you will soon discover that the generous charitable gifts you give once a year mean just as much during other months and are often needed even more.

To remind yourself of your decision to carry the holiday spirit in your heart, consider displaying some small part of your holiday decor to signify your commitment. Remember that giving, whether your gifts are tangible or of the soul, always feels good, whatever the occasion. However you prefer to celebrate the holidays, practicing the ideals of the season every day means experiencing the beauty of the holiday season all year long.

Shining Through the Clouds

December 20, 2007

[From DailyOM]

When we’re in a good mood, we shine like the sun. But if we find ourselves in the presence of a person, or people, in a grumpy mood, it can feel like a dark cloud approaching to dim our radiance and block our positive way of seeing the world. We can remind ourselves that clouds pass, while the sun and stars continue to shine above. Then it’s easier to think of these “grumps” affectionately, knowing that they only have the power to affect our mood if we allow it. With the power of change firmly in our hands, we can choose how to respond to a grumpy person, or a grumbling group of people, with confidence and understanding.

Like a lighthouse, we can continue to shine through the darkness, offering our light to help others find their way back to their own. We can send them a silent prayer of peace or a sympathetic smile. We may sense that reaching out to offer a comforting touch or hug can ease their frustrations and cause the clouds to dissipate. If they need understanding, we can sympathize without reinforcing the negativity they may be experiencing by directing their attention someplace more positive. Helping them find the humor in their situation might be appropriate and is a great way to lift spirits, or a logical approach may help them see all the good in the situation, in their lives and in the world.

We might find that someone we encounter often seems to be in a perpetual state of gloom. Our tendency in such cases may be to try to avoid them, but instead we can make the choice to offer support that comes from the heart. We may be inspired to ask if they would like some help or to offer suggestions that have helped us in the past. We can include thoughts of their health and happiness in our times of prayer and meditation. When we lend our energy to uplift another in any way, we improve our own lives while making the world a better place for all of us.

Your Awakening

December 19, 2007

[author unknown]

A time comes in your life when you finally get it…

When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out – ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes. This is your awakening.
(more…)

Letting The Curves Take You

December 19, 2007

[From DailyOM]

Trying to maintain control in this life is a bit like trying to maintain control on a roller coaster. The ride has its own logic and is going to go its own way, regardless of how tightly you grip the bar. There is a thrill and a power in simply surrendering to the ride and fully feeling the ups and downs of it, letting the curves take you rather than fighting them. When you fight the ride, resisting what’s happening at every turn, your whole being becomes tense and anxiety is your close companion. When you go with the ride, accepting what you cannot control, freedom and joy will inevitably arise.

As with so many seemingly simple things in life, it is not always easy to let go, even of the things we know we can’t control. Most of us feel a great discomfort with the givens of this life, one of which is the fact that much of the time we have no control over what happens. Sometimes this awareness comes only when we have a stark encounter with this fact, and all our attempts to be in control are revealed to be unnecessary burdens. We can also cultivate this awareness in ourselves gently, by simply making surrender a daily practice. At the end of our meditation, we might bow, saying, “I surrender to this life.” This simple mantra can be repeated as necessary throughout the day, when we find ourselves metaphorically gripping the safety bar.

We can give in to our fear and anxiety, or we can surrender to this great mystery with courage. When we see people on a roller coaster, we see that there are those with their faces tight with fear and then there are those that smile broadly, with their hands in the air, carried through the ride on a wave of freedom and joy. This powerful image reminds us that often the only control we have is choosing how we are going to respond to the ride.

Come Together

December 18, 2007

[From DailyOM]

We humans have a knack for coming together and rising up to our potential in the face of a tragedy. Natural disasters and acts of violence bring us out of our small selves and into the world, ready to lend a hand to those in need. This experience is often life-changing for those who are willing to step into the position of helper. We feel as if we are finally doing something really important, and this leads us to feeling more self-actualized. We feel more connected to the people we are helping, as well as more connected to humanity in general. As we expand beyond the boundaries of our individualistic pursuit of happiness there can be a complete reality shift. We often find that it is much easier to be happy when we are motivated in an effort to make the world better in tangible ways, by coming to the rescue of those who are suffering.

Considering the many benefits of this kind of gesture, it is surprising that more of us don’t devote our lives, or at least some portion of our time, to serving people in need. We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to come together, as a community or a nation, and offer ourselves to the world in service. Sometimes it’s easier, of course, to respond to an event that has just happened rather than to ongoing problems like homelessness, poverty, and illness. But the truth of this world is that there is always someone in need of our best efforts to rally a group of helpers and healers. Maybe we feel discouraged because these smaller acts and gestures don’t generate the same kind of energy and attention from other people as heroic acts in the face of immediate disaster, and perhaps an effort to change this is one way to change the world.

The more we promote, applaud, and actively inspire humanitarian efforts in the world, the more others will be drawn to this kind of work. We might pay a little less attention to sports and celebrity gossip and a little more attention to those everyday heroes who devote their lives to alleviating suffering. The more attention we pay, the more we will inspire others and ourselves to be of service in a world that greatly needs our attention.

Live each day to the fullest

December 17, 2007

过好每一天 — 妙妙

「我每天祈求神给我力量、智慧及清晰的思维去过好每一天。」 这是在最近一次的家访中,老朋友莉、重复告诉我们这个令亲朋好友感动及鼓午的信念。

两个月前因为眼晴的视力逐日减退,莉预约给全国癌症中心的医生检查。资深的医生一检查、要她立刻做脑部扫描,并且留院观察。好不容易等到听取扫描报告的当天,主冶医生询问她的登记号码时,一种不祥的感觉涌上心头。她徐徐地说出了号码、不敢正视医生的双眼,耳边听到:「这次扩散到脑了。」第三次的癌症病发,莉的心是无比的恐慌;脑袋一片空白,含着花望着医生、无助地问:「为什么会这样的?!」医生摇着头说不知道,安慰着说:「幸好发现的早,虽不能开刀、吃药能缓和病情的。」

六神无主的她,让哥哥帮她处理出院后一切的医药复理。回家后看到年迈的妈妈,痛苦地说:「妈,我的眼迟早会瞎的,不久也无法走路了,这样活下去还有什么意思呢?!」两母女不禁悲中来、抱头痛哭。

莉执教鞭到半百,本想换个工作岗位做个辅导老师,为年学子解忧及分享人生;但生命无常,她的理想成了泡影。她不敢去想靠着药物过日子的生活该如何规划,日渐肿大的脸掩不住心灵深处的茫然、颓丧及悲伤。

在莉的生命陷入这样的低谷时,亲朋好友不时从旁帮忙及鼓励;尤其她的妈妈无微不至的关怀及照顾、终於感动了她去面对现实、并接受治疗。在一位毕业的学生的介绍下,她开始服用一位中医师配给的药,疗效令人鼓午;最近复诊的结果、显示出其他部位的恶瘤有缩小的迹像。

看医生、吃药的日子似乎过得缓慢及刻板的。莉的心情变化起伏相当大,心情恶劣时谁也不想见,有封闭自己的倾向;家人不时从旁开导,不过是时好时坏。
有一天,一位毕业生打电话联络到她、邀请她出席结婚典礼。莉的心情是悲喜交集,能参加学生的婚礼是欣慰的事;可是心中有顾虑:不敢以自己那残缺、病态的身躯面对以前的学生及他人异样的眼光。善解人意的毕业生一再告诉她:「您的出席会让我的婚礼更有意义,因为你是我们敬爱的老师。」学生真诚的邀请打开了莉的心。

出席婚礼前几天,莉的理发师去她家、为她剪了一个清爽、容易处理的发型;并告诉她日后要理发时、会再来她的家,不需再上理发店。彼此多年来的善缘,如今理发师以贴心的服务回馈她。学生婚礼当天,贯常戴她上课的德士司机、把她送到举行婚礼的教堂,其他毕业生在门口迎接她;以往健步如飞的老师、变成如今得靠着拐杖走路的情景令人难过,然而莉勇敢的出席了婚礼却令学生十分感动。勇敢的踏出了一步后,莉开始拾回失去的信心及希望。接下来的星期天就与一位朋友开始到教堂做礼拜,为自己失落的心灵找一个家。

心境因心灵的提升有了改观,莉接着买了一副放大镜来阅识书报、发简讯及写电邮。最近还买了一架电风琴,自学一些乐曲,自娱自乐;也圆了小时想学乐器的。她也开始进行一些简单的运动及静坐。明年她的其中一个计划是到日本及台湾旅行及探访亲友,也准备到临终关怀中心当义务辅导员。

现在的莉、就像迎着朝阳的向日葵,展现出阳光般的光辉,有了自己要走的方向;她告别忧伤后,温暖了自己也温暖了他人。

莉,衷心祝福你:日日是好日。