Archive for March, 2011

The Effect of Not Doing

March 31, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action NOT taken.

Life is sculpted on a moment-to-moment basis. Every one of the thoughts we think, the words we speak, and the actions we take contributes to the complex quality and character of the universe’s unfolding. It simply is not possible to be alive without making an impact on the world that surrounds us. Every action taken affects the whole as greatly as every action not taken. And when it comes to making the world a better place, what we choose not to do can be just as important as what we choose to do.

For example, when we neglect to recycle, speak up, vote, or help somebody in immediate need, we are denying ourselves the opportunity to be an agent for positive change. Instead, we are enabling a particular course to continue unchallenged, picking up speed even as it goes along. By holding the belief that our actions don’t make much of a difference, we may find that we often tend to forego opportunities for involvement. Alternatively, if we see ourselves as important participants in an ever-evolving world, we may feel more inspired to contribute our unique perspective and gifts to a situation.

It is wise to be somewhat selective about how and where we are using our energy in order to keep ourselves from becoming scattered. Not every cause or action is appropriate for every person. When a situation catches our attention, however, and speaks to our heart, it is important that we honor our impulse to help and take the action that feels right for us. It may be offering a kind word to a friend, giving resources to people in need, or just taking responsibility for our own behavior. By doing what we can, when we can, we add positive energy to our world. And sometimes, it may be our one contribution that makes all the difference.

A Special Goodnight

March 30, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Behind us lies the previous day and all that has come before; ahead of us, dawn heralds all that is yet to be.

At the end of the day, as the sweet, dark stillness of night beckons us to lay down our bones and rest, we find ourselves at a clear transition point: Behind us lies the previous day and all that has come before; ahead of us, dawn heralds the unfolding of all that is yet to be. While many of us have morning rituals that connect us with our center and help us to set intentions, we may want to explore the magic and power of nighttime ritual as well. It holds for us a beautiful chance for self-appreciation and blessing. Before you go to bed each night, you can send gratitude, compassion, and healing to the being you have been up until this moment. And you can send lightness and love into the future for the one you are in the process of becoming.

Though simple, this action honors the journey you have taken thus far, while opening you to the wonderful possibilities still ahead. When you consciously engage with your own evolution this way, you may find that your sleep gets sweeter, filling your night with a deeper sense of trust and relaxation. As you rest, you can surrender to these peaceful hours, knowing that the road behind you has been seen and acknowledged with respect and kindness, while the path ahead now holds your own benevolence and well wishes.

This bedtime ritual empowers you as the only one who can determine the meaning of your own past and the hopefulness of your future. By setting this special time aside each night, you can begin to orient yourself on your path of growing. It allows you to let the past have its place, to trust that the future is taken care of, and to simply rest yourself in the graceful arms of the present moment.

The Laboratory of Life

March 29, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Having a vision of what we want in life is important to our efforts of getting what we want, but we also must take action.

There is a popular misconception that we might be able to just wish our dreams into being. Maybe on some other level of consciousness this is the case, but here on earth what we need to do is take action in our lives. Vision is an important companion to our efforts, but it can’t accomplish anything all by itself. When we focus on what we want and ask for what we want, we are initiating a conversation with the universe. Our desires, passionately defined and expressed, bring about valuable and relevant opportunities, which we then respond to by either taking or leaving them.

Many of us are afraid to step out into the world and make things happen, and so we hang back, dreaming and waiting and watching. There are times in life when this is the right thing to do, but this phase of inaction must eventually give way to its opposite if we are to build our dreams into a reality. This can be really scary, and we may fail and struggle, but that’s okay because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Waiting for everything to be perfect before we act, or waiting for what we want to be handed to us, leaves us waiting forever. No one expects us to be perfect, so the best thing we can do for ourselves is to get out there and take action on our dreams.

One of the hardest parts about having a vision is that when we test it in the laboratory of life, it often comes out looking completely different than what we had in mind or, worse, it doesn’t come out at all. If you read the life stories of people who have brought their dreams into reality, you will hear many stories about this experience. But you will also hear about hard work, taking action, perseverance, and, finally, the successful birthing of a dream.

Stuck in the Mud

March 24, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Pain comes and it goes. It is just one component to the grand cycle of life. And when experienced as such, pain can serve as an important teacher. It is when we get stuck in our pain that it becomes detrimental to our well-being and development. If you notice that you feel closed-off, resentful, heavy-hearted, or that you try very hard to avoid being hurt again, there may be a part of you that is still stuck in pain.

We can get stuck in our pain for many reasons. As children, it was natural for us to cry, throw a tantrum, and let the experience move through us. By fully feeling our pain in this way, our emotions would wash us clean, leaving us open and available to new experiences. With age, though, we might have determined that expressing emotion was no longer appropriate, and so we developed a variety of coping strategies to deal with our discomfort. We may have learned to stuff our feelings down or to run away from them. Perhaps we began thinking that staying closed and unwilling to try new things would keep us safe from heartbreak, safe from rejection, and safe from failure. We may have even gotten so used to being in pain that the thought of being without it scares us. But, if we continue to hold onto it longer than necessary, we are expending a lot of energy that could instead be channeled into making our life experiences more positive.

If you notice that you are continually connecting with the same familiar patterns of pain, consider embracing your feelings and letting go of your hurt. Whether your pain is from childhood or from an experience last week, see if you can give it room to move. When it does, you will reconnect with a wonderful source of your own vital energy.

Permission to Be Real

March 23, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

People who keep it real present themselves as they truly are, the good parts and the parts most of us would rather hide.

Most of us are familiar with the idea of keeping it real and have an intuitive sense about what that means. People who keep it real don’t hide behind a mask to keep themselves safe from their fear of how they might be perceived. They don’t present a false self in order to appear more perfect, more powerful, or more independent. People who keep it real present themselves as they truly are, the good parts and the parts most of us would rather hide, sharing their full selves with the people who are lucky enough to know them.

Being real in this way is not an easy thing to do as we live in a culture that often shows us images of physical and material perfection. As a result, we all want to look younger, thinner, wealthier, and more successful. We are rewarded externally when we succeed at this masquerade, but people who are real remind us that, internally, we suffer. Whenever we feel that who we are is not enough and that we need to be bigger, better, or more exciting, we send a message to ourselves that we are not enough. Meanwhile, people who are not trying to be something more than they are walk into a room and bring a feeling of ease, humor, and warmth with them. They acknowledge their wrinkles and laugh at their personal eccentricities without putting themselves down.

People like this inspire us to let go of our own defenses and relax for a moment in the truth of who we really are. In their presence, we feel safe enough to take off our masks and experience the freedom of not hiding behind a barrier. Those of us who were lucky enough to have a parent who was able to keep it real may find it easier to be that way ourselves. The rest of us may have to work a little harder to let go of our pretenses and share the beauty and humor of our real selves. Our reward for taking such a risk is that as we do, we will attract and inspire others, giving them the permission to be real too.

Knowing Our Heart’s Desire

March 21, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

When we examine jealousy of another, we can use this feeling to help us determine what we really want for ourselves.

Jealousy is one of the toughest feelings we come up against in our lives. There is not much worse than this aching sense that somehow life has been unfair to us, while amply rewarding someone else. It’s even worse if that someone else is present in our daily lives, making it difficult for us to get the space we need to feel and heal our pain. We may be jealous of a sibling, a dear friend, or even famous personalities. We may even face the challenge of feeling jealous of our spouse, our child, or one of our parents. Whatever the case, we can normalize our experience by understanding that, as painful as it is, jealousy is a common human feeling.

Nevertheless, it is important that we not revel in our jealousy for too long, feeding it with inner talk or gossip with others. If we do, we run the risk of losing ourselves to its negative power. Jealousy has something good to offer us, though, and that is information about our own heart’s desire. When we are jealous of certain people, we want what they have, and if we are to be conscious, we must acknowledge that. In this way, we discover what we want for ourselves, which is the first step to getting it. It may be a certain kind of relationship or a career. Whatever it is, it is possible that we could create it for ourselves, in our own lives, if we are able to honor our own desires.

Of course, there are times when we cannot heal our jealousy in this way, and then the lesson may be about acceptance and the understanding that our path is different from the paths of those around us. It may be hard to see now, but perhaps it will eventually be clear why our life has taken its particular path. In the end, the best cure for jealousy is the recognition that the life we have is full of its own meaning and beauty, utterly unique to us—a gift that could never be found in the life of another.

Extra Weight

March 17, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

If we make food choices from a place of love and awareness we will nurture ourselves with the foods our body really needs.

Our bodies are like living temples, and deserve all the love and care we can give them. Amazingly flexible and strong, they allow us to experience the world. If we notice that we’re not feeling our best, that we’ve put on extra weight, or that our favorite clothes don’t fit, we can make the choice to be good to ourselves in a new way today.

There are times we become conscious of a deeper hunger that will not be satisfied physically. We can make a new, healthier choice for ourselves in any moment, regardless of the hour, day, week or month. And when we make the choice lovingly, we work from a creative place of improving our lives and nurturing the best within us, so there is no need to punish ourselves. From this place, we can be gently honest with ourselves about the reasons we want to eat certain foods. We can reach out to doctors to help us determine if our bodies are out of balance at a level that requires something other than basic nutrients. We can also reach out to our friends for support and to share the journey of health, which is just another part of our adventure on the physical plane.

When we treat ourselves and our bodies as we would a trusted and loyal companion, we keep our energy free from negative thoughts that would complicate our journey. Our bodies are not our enemies, and we are not fighting a battle. Instead, we are investing our love and attention into the care and support of a beautiful creation—our selves.

人唯知道有来春

March 14, 2011

[ 摘自《安士全书》,  清朝周安士居士著]

人唯知道有来春,所以留着来春谷。   

人若知道有来生,自然修取来生福

Afraid of the Truth

March 14, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

We avoid the truth because it scares us, or makes us angry, or makes us feel like we don’t know what to do.

For the most part, we avoid the truth because it scares us, or makes us angry, or makes us feel like we don’t know what to do. We often create our lives based on a particular understanding, and if that understanding turns out to be fully or even partially incorrect, we may feel that our whole sense of reality is being threatened. It takes a strong person to face the truth in circumstances like these, and many of us run for cover instead. Nevertheless, we can only avoid the truth for so long before it begins to make itself known in ever more forceful ways.

Ultimately, there is no way to avoid the truth, no matter how painful it is, so the sooner we let down our defenses, the better. When we know the truth and accept that we may have to adjust our lives to accommodate, we are in alignment with reality. At the same time, we can be patient with people around us who have a hard time seeing the truth, because we know how painful it can be.  Whatever the truth is, we make a sincere effort not to close our eyes to it, but instead to be grateful that we have access to it.

Mangala Sutta ( Discourse on Blessings )

March 10, 2011

[ These translations are adapted from the translations and notes in The Light of the Dhamma by the Venerable Narada Thera.]

Thus have I heard. On one occasion the Exalted One was dwelling at Anathapindika’s monastery, in Jeta’s Grove, near Savatthi. Now when the night was far spent, a certain deity whose surpassing splendor illuminated the entire Jeta Grove, came to the presence of the Exalted One and, drawing near, respectfully saluted him and stood at one side. Standing thus, he addressed the Exalted One in verse:

“Many deities and men, yearning after good, have pondered on blessings. Pray, tell me the greatest blessing!”

[ The Buddha: ]

Not to associate with the foolish, but to associate with the wise; and to honor those who are worthy of honor — this is the greatest blessing.

To reside in a suitable locality, to have done meritorious actions in the past and to set oneself in the right course — this is the greatest blessing.

To have much learning, to be skillful in handicraft, well-trained in discipline, and to be of good speech — this is the greatest blessing.

To support mother and father, to cherish wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupation — this is the greatest blessing.

To be generous in giving, to be righteous in conduct, to help one’s relatives, and to be blameless in action — this is the greatest blessing.

To loathe more evil and abstain from it, to refrain from intoxicants, and to be steadfast in virtue — this is the greatest blessing.

To be respectful, humble, contented and grateful; and to listen to the Dhamma on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.

To be patient and obedient, to associate with monks and to have religious discussions on due occasions — this is the greatest blessing.

Self-restraint, a holy and chaste life, the perception of the Noble Truths and the realisation of Nibbana — this is the greatest blessing.

A mind unruffled by the vagaries of fortune, from sorrow freed, from defilements cleansed, from fear liberated — this is the greatest blessing.

Those who thus abide, ever remain invincible, in happiness established. These are the greatest blessings.”

 

Children Of Mother Nature

March 10, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

People are very much like trees needing to send our roots down for grounding and open our crowns toward the sun.

A tree that is beginning to grow sends roots down into Mother Earth even as it reaches and opens to the sky above, seeking nourishment from the sun and the moisture in the air and in the rain that falls. In the same way, we can envision ourselves as treelike beings, imagining that we have roots reaching down into the earth, energetic strands that keep us connected. At the same time, the crowns of our heads lift and open to receive nourishment from above. Just like a tree, we seek the sunshine and water we need to survive and thrive. Both trees and people serve as conduits for the intermingling of the opposite and complementary elements of air, water, sun, and earth.

We also share creative ways of growing, regardless of the challenges we come up against in our environments. Trees will even grow through rock, shattering it, in their effort to reach the air and light they need to survive. We are similarly resilient, with a built-in propensity for growth and the conditions that promote it. We find creative ways around the obstacles we confront as we move along our paths, moving toward the light that feeds us, just as trees grow around other trees and rocks as they make their way upward.

Contemplating the ways in which trees and people mirror one another brings us into alignment with the reality that we are part of Mother Nature. Our children, and the trees and their children, will live together on the earth as long as we all survive, sharing the elements and serving together to forward nature’s plan. Walking in a forest can be a meditation, the interweaving lives of all living creatures and the planet on which we all take root and reach for the sky.

Living A Day In Grace

March 8, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Grace is always with us. It flows like a river through our lives, artfully reminding us that there is magic and power beyond what our eyes can see. At times we catch its subtle beauty, like during chance meetings, near misses, and insights that seem to come from nowhere. Other times we experience grace in all its powerful surety such as when a job or relationship comes to an end. Though we may forget that this is grace at work too, it is indeed influencing our lives, helping us to move forward and take the next step. Grace exists in all situations, in every moment, yet all too often we may overlook its presence.

Imagine how it would feel to live an entire day in grace, to fully appreciate that your day is unfolding in absolute perfection. Whereas usually you might miss the magic in ordinary events and interactions, on this day you would recognize them all as little miracles. Perhaps you could begin with your first deep breaths in the morning, becoming aware that there is an abundant supply of air for you to breathe. Your lungs know just how to carry oxygen to your blood, and your blood knows where to carry it from there. This is grace at work. You might appreciate the brilliant sunshine, the warm summertime rain, or the possibilities for learning that greet you at every turn. You might notice the ease with which you do your job or laugh with a close friend. These things are also grace. Even laying your head down at the end of this day and resting in the stillness of night is grace.

With each opportunity you give yourself to enjoy this current of benevolence, you may discover a deeper peace. Your faith may strengthen and your heart may open. You might begin to wonder if struggle is really all that necessary after all. By living this one day in grace, you might open the door to many more.

A Bridge To Acceptance

March 2, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Disappointment provides us a bridge from expectations to acceptance of reality, wisdom, and the energy to begin again.

Whenever we do something in life with an expectation of how we’d like it to turn out, we risk experiencing disappointment. When things don’t go the way we had envisioned, we may feel a range of emotions from slightly let down to depressed or even angry. We might direct our feelings inward toward ourselves, or outward toward other people or the universe in general. Whether we feel disappointed by ourselves, a friend, or life in general, disappointment is always a tough feeling to experience. Still, it is a natural part of life, and there are many ways of dealing with it when we find ourselves in its presence.

As with any feeling, disappointment has come to us for a reason, and we don’t need to fear acknowledging it or feeling it. The more we are able to accept how we are feeling and process it, the sooner we will move into new emotional territory. As we sit down to allow ourselves to feel our disappointment, we might want to write about the experience of being disappointed—the situation that preceded it, what we were hoping would happen, and what did happen. The gift of disappointment is its ability to bring us into alignment with reality so that we don’t get stuck for too long in the realm of how things might have been.

As we consider other disappointments in our life and how we have moved past them, we may even see that in some cases what happened was actually better in the long run than what we had wanted to happen. Disappointment often leaves us feeling deflated with its message that things don’t always turn out the way we want. The beauty of disappointment, though, is that it provides us a bridge to its other side where the acceptance of reality, wisdom, and the energy to begin again can be found.

Being Present At Work

March 1, 2011

[ From DailyOM ]

Bringing your presence into your work activities can fill the entire experience of working with new energy and life.

Being present at work begins before we even go to our place of employment. It starts with our intention to bring consciousness into everything we do, including those activities we do for money. Whether you are a secretary who files papers all day, a janitor who cleans the local high school, or a nurse caring for children, there is much to be gained by fully engaging in the tasks at hand. When you decide to bring your presence into your work activities, you may find that the entire experience of working is filled with new energy and life.

Sometimes we believe that when we step through the doors of our workplace, we cease being ourselves and start being someone else’s employee. Though our employer may depend on us to perform certain tasks, the truth is that we never stop being ourselves. The commitment to being a conscious, empowered person of integrity doesn’t stop and start with a time clock. Our decision to be present for our own lives is what weaves together all of our experiences from the moment we wake up, throughout our entire workday, and to the moment we turn off the lights at night.

Before leaving for work today, you can clear your energy and choose to step out with your best foot forward. Setting an intention in the morning can even help you stay present as your day unfolds. You might decide to find joy in every activity, complete all of your projects on time, or be truly helpful to your coworkers. By being fully present, you will begin to radiate and people may begin to notice; they may even want to follow your lead. Whether you run a company or hold a sign outside a deli, do it with pride and be the best you can be.