Saturday, January 09, 2010
WHOA! Powerful words from my hero, Sri Easwaran, this morning. I seem to be on a roll with the Thought for the Day as you can see, often deeply resonating with the daily Teaching.
The fact is that my thoughts impact every corner and cubicle of my life. I well know that thoughts repeated over and over make tracks in my consciousness and become conditioned behavior, which is frequently NOT where I want to be. One of the biggest reasons that I meditate is to slow down the mind, slow down the thoughts, the mental chatter and slowly take control. This allows me to change...to act spontaneously...to follow my bliss and move ever closer toward uncovering who I am, my true nature.
It is also so very valuable on a day-by-day, mundane level in attaining goals like meeting and maintaining an optimal weight, eating wisely, following a daily structure that serves me including exercise, clearing clutter, keeping my space clean, etc. In moving toward controlling my thoughts, I'm looking for progress, not perfection -- baby steps toward the goal.
The Buddha says, "All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a wo/man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows her/him. If a wo/man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows her/him, like a shadow that never leaves her/him." And Notes From the Universe ( www.tut.com ) admonishes -- "Thoughts become things. Choose good ones." Yep. It's a purdy basic formula, simple Truth, but one that for me is not easy to live by, though it IS the "healing I took birth for" as Stephen Levine says.
We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.
-- Swami Vivekananda
The ancestor of every destructive action, every destructive decision, is a negative thought. We do not have to be afraid of negative thoughts as long as we do not welcome them. They are in the air, and they may knock at anyone's door; but if we do not embrace them, ask them in, and make them our own, they can have no power over us.
We can think of thoughts as hitchhikers. At the entrance to the freeway, we used to see a lot of hitchhikers carrying signs: "Vancouver," "Mexico," "L.A." One said in simple desperation, "Anywhere!" Thoughts are a lot like those hitchhikers. We can pick them up or pass them by. Negative thoughts carry signs, but usually we see only one side, the side with all the promises. The back of the sign tells us their true destination: sickness and sorrow.
Nobody is obliged to pick up these passengers. If we do not stop and let them in, they cannot go anywhere, because they are not real until we support them. There is sympathy in the world: pick it up. There is antipathy in the world: don't pick it up. Hatred destroys. Love heals.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Thursday, January 07, 2010
As usual, Eknath Easwaran spoke to me in a place that I truly resonate with. Returning home after a wonderful trip to the "left coast" I'm ready to move into a level of greater conscious attention, enabling me to flourish in body, mind, and spirit as I enter the new decade.
I have been consistent with a daily sitting practice since the Soul Writing Retreat in October. I hope to continue deepening my practice and overall wellness as I learn how to increasingly direct my attention.
May we all grow and flourish in this new year!
Genius...means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an inhabitual way.
-- William James
Attention is very much like a searchlight, and it should be mounted in such a way that it can be trained on any subject freely. When we are caught up in some compulsion, this searchlight has become stuck. After many years of being stuck like this, it is hard to believe that the light can turn. We think that the compulsion has become a permanent part of our personality. But gradually, we can learn to work our attention free.
As an experiment, try to work cheerfully at some job you dislike: you are training your attention to go where you want it to go. Whatever you do, give it your best concentration. Another good exercise is learning to drop what you are doing and shift your attention to something else when the situation demands. For example, when you leave your office, leave your work there. Don't let it follow you home and come into the dining room like an untrained dog, barking at your heels.
All this is the spiritual equivalent of kicking exercises in a dance lesson or knee bends in an aerobics class. By practicing these exercises, anybody can learn to direct attention freely.
-- Eknath Easwaran
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is such a wonderful affirmation of the power of long-term, dedicated meditation practice that I had to take a minute to share it, from Sri Easwaran's Thought for the Day.
Om shanthi, shanthi, shanthi!
Know that when thou learnest to lose thy self
Thou wilt reach the Beloved.
There is no other secret to be revealed,
And more than this is not known to me.
To know completely, the knower has actually to become one with the known. To know you as you really are, I must somehow get out of my own shoes and step into yours. I must get myself out of the way in order to know you as you really are. This is what we catch some glimpse of in totally faithful love, where we forget ourselves completely in the happiness of another.
The mystics of all faiths and all ages testify that then we know directly, intuitively, what the needs of the other are, and we do our utmost to make sure those needs are fulfilled. It is this direct awareness that we can develop through the sustained and enthusiastic practice of meditation.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran
Monday, December 14, 2009
The law of karma is so precise: For every action there is a reaction. And yet the law is also complex beyond our ability to comprehend -- the great teachers have basically said we needn't even try, just do our best to live honorably. The quality of "Interbeing" that Thich Nhat Hanh so elegantly captured, the interconnectedness of all things, is an excellent way to frame the law of karma.
Once again Sri Eknath Easwaran's Thought for the Day communicates a complex truth in simple language that speaks clearly to me..."we are not separate fragments." It helps me understand that the consequences of my unconscious behavior, for instance in the way I eat and care for myself, have a ripple effect FAR beyond what I could ever imagine. ALL of my behavior has consequences, from the most personal to the most socio-economically derived. We truly "inter-are."
All things by immortal power
Near or far,
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.
-- Francis Thompson
The science of ecology teaches us that everything in the universe is connected. We cannot separate ourselves from the consequences of even the least of our actions: whatever we do here comes back there. This is the law of the unity of life. Like gravity or any other law of nature, you cannot break it; you can only break yourself against it.
If you throw a bottle into the air, it will return to earth and shatter. Similarly, if you act in a way that violates the unity of life -- polluting the atmosphere, wasting precious resources, ignoring the needs of others -- you will find your health, your peace of mind, and your happiness destroyed. We are not separate fragments. Like all the animals and plants, we depend on each other and on the environment.
-- Eknath Easwaran
I can't resist adding this short text from Sharon Salzberg's exceptional book, LOVINGKINDNESS: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, because it is so in *sync* with the words of Thompson and Easwaran: "Committing ourselves to caring for one another and living in a way that is not harmful is the most basic and fundamental protection we can give to and receive from each other. It protects us, because if we are not swept up and carried away into actions based on forces such as greed, hatred, and delusion, then we do not have to suffer guilt, remorse, confusion, and trouble in our hearts -- now, or even when we die. It also protects others from the harm we might cause them (no matter how subtle)."
OK, now I'm going to REALLY get carried away and add this poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, which embodies the essence of "interbeing," the innerconnectedness of all things:
CALL ME BY MY TRUE NAMES
Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond,
and I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the earth.
My pain if like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a poet, a scholar, and a peace activist. His life long efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. "True Names" was written in 1978 during the Vietnam War, while helping the boat people.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
You'll be glad you did! tinyurl.com/ydqlh5v
I just received this CD from Amazon.com...and the music is just fabulously WONDERFUL. I'm having a hard time typing this, because I'm moving all over my chair -- shakin' my booty! I discovered it through the world-music Pandora.com holiday station I created. If you groove to world beat and holiday music with *attitude,* you'll love this!
Here's what the album notes say:
"Our glory is we had such friends.
-- WB Yeats
"Those words, to paraphase Yeats, express how grateful all of us in the Special Olympics Movement are to the artists on this album. They have shared the gift of unique and beautiful Christmas music from each of their countries to make this magnificent 'World Christmas' record a reality.
"And what an important reality! 'World Christmas' will help the expansion of Special Olympics programs in the urban areas of America and in developing countries like Bangladesh and Botswana as well as 150 other countries, bring friendship and joy where there was once isolation....
"We are sincerely grateful to all of you who purchase this wonderfully inspiring Christmas record."
-- Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Founder, Special Olympics International
O!M!G! I've reached #11...Mino Cinelu and Dianne Reeves, Twelve Days of Christmas. It's BEYOND fabuloso! Cinelu's arrangement is surreal. (I'm prejudiced though, 'cause Reeves is WAY high on my list of fav musicians!) Oh, and check out the stud, er I mean, Cinelu's webpage: www.minocinelu.com/menus/main_menu_V
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