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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

Get off my back, donkey!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The body is mortal, but that one dwelling in the body is immortal and immeasurable.
-- Bhagavad Gita

When I say that this body is not me, I am not making an intellectual statement. It is an experiential statement. If you were to ask me, "Who is this body?" I would make an awful pun: "This is my buddy. I give him good food and good exercise, and I look after him very well, but he is not me."

My body has always been my faithful buddy, through many trials, and during many difficult times; and I let him know how much I appreciate his faithful service. We have an understanding: I take very good care of him, and he looks up to me as the boss. As Saint Francis used to say, "This body is Brother Donkey. I feed him, I wash him, but I am going to ride on him." Whenever we use drugs, or smoke, or drink immoderately, or overeat, the donkey is riding on us. Francis challenges us: "Don't you want to get that donkey off your back and ride on it?"
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUSTDUCKY1405 3/14/2010 3:17PM

    Another words... take control back in your life!


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LIZARDG7 2/28/2010 3:13AM

    Eknath is my very favorite! He just has a wonderful way with words that touch my heart! Thank you! emoticon

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MACGIRRL 2/28/2010 12:08AM


((((((( yes )))))))

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WILDHONEYPIE1 2/27/2010 11:14PM

    Very nice. emoticon

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PENNYAN45 2/27/2010 4:24PM

    I had not heard it before, but I like it. I understand it.


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WALKINGANNIE 2/27/2010 11:22AM

    Thank you.

I haven't always looked after my body / buddy but I'm really trying to do so now. It deserves respect.

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GENKI_WARRIOR 2/27/2010 11:07AM

    so cute--and so ..."head-smacking!" lol :P
thanks for sharing.

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BECOMINGONE 2/27/2010 10:58AM

    And as he lay dying St. Francis apologized to his body for not taking better care of it -- working it to death.

Even St. Francis knew what to do but did not do what he knew to do. The paradox of life in this body ....

Shine bright,

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MISS_VIV 2/27/2010 10:25AM

    Let's ride the donkey.. Glad you have your neighbors to remind you.

Have a super day.


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This Precious Human Life....

Friday, February 26, 2010

As I *come up for air* after a 2-1/2 week intense academic push, the image above describes the kind of physic space I would love to create for myself. I did manage to take a time-out last Sunday for an exquisite and deeply needed celebration with friends (the "Antipenultimo" blog). Other than the care of my spirit the Sunday gathering afforded me, I have been very neglectful during this period in the care of this amazing temple that takes such good care of me.

A new SparkFriend, THE_SILVER_OWL has been blogging her way through the alphabet. Each piece has spoken to me, some very deeply. As I move back into the sphere of loving self-care, her blog this morning, M is for Mirror, which speaks about things on my mind today, REALLY hit home:

I am resolving to make baby steps back into balance, little-by-little, clearing psychic, spiritual and material space to enable me to move forward. My Spark (and 3-D) Friend Sandra, also back in school, has been encouraging me over the last few days, sharing juicy wisdom and giving me practical points of departure, that I've been making good use of and will continue to today.

My spiritual journey is the largest circle around which all this other activity revolves. I came upon some important Teachings of Sogyal Rinpoche, a Dharma Teacher I have deep esteem for which rocked me to my soul. (He is the teacher of SparkFriends SNOGUM and CLAIR-A-T.) In completing this with his words, I dedicate them to all of my wonderful friends here, with gratitude for all you offer in this journey to our optimal wellness of body-mind-spirit that we're on together:

Every spiritual tradition has stressed that this human life is unique and has a potential that ordinarily we don't even begin to imagine. If we miss the opportunity this life offers us for transforming ourselves, they say, it may well be an extremely long time before we have another.

Imagine a blind turtle roaming the depths of an ocean the size of the universe. Up above floats a wooden ring, tossed to and fro on the waves. Every hundred years, the turtle comes, once, to the surface. To be born a human being is said by Buddhists to be more difficult than for that turtle to surface accidentally with its head poking through the wooden ring.

And even among those who have a human birth, it is said, those who have the great good fortune to make a connection with the teachings are rare, and those who really take them to heart and embody them in their actions even rarer -- as rare, in fact, "as stars in broad daylight."

The quality of life in the realm of the gods may look superior to our own, yet the masters tell us that human life is infinitely more valuable. Why? Because of the very fact that we have the awareness and intelligence that are the raw materials for enlightenment, and because the very suffering that pervades this human realm is itself the spur to spiritual transformation.

Pain, grief, loss, and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a very real and dramatic purpose: to wake us up, to enable, almost to force us to break out of the cycle of samsara and so release our imprisoned splendor.
-- Sogyal Rinpoche

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOKEYOKEY 2/28/2010 12:39AM

    Well that's a kick in the old tushy! emoticon


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KARBIE18 2/27/2010 8:50AM

    Love the picture, and the words of wisdom, Maha. It couldn't have come at a better time for me, as I recently lost a beloved friend. I have decided that in his passing was a lesson, and this just reinforces that belief.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 2/27/2010 2:17AM

    Beautiful... emoticon

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SANTANDERE 2/26/2010 9:05PM

    Thank-you, Gracias, Merci...

Gracias, por compartir tanto de ti en una forma tan linda.


Comment edited on: 2/26/2010 9:06:36 PM

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MAZZYR 2/26/2010 5:49PM

    Thank you.

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FRANCESCANAZ 2/26/2010 5:01PM


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THE_SILVER_OWL 2/26/2010 4:07PM


I am so honored that you have chosen to share my blog. Thank you.

My belief is that your "turtle" will reach the surface, "in time, on time, every time".



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STLRZGRRL 2/26/2010 11:46AM

    Holy cow. Thx a LOT, Maha! No pressure or anything!!!

The cold hard facts are that you are nothing but right... and the blessing of this body, this life, this day, THIS INSTANT... is SO precious... using ANY of it for ANYTHING but good is just... criminal, really...

(Unless we learn from the transgression, I s'pose... or someone ELSE does...)

Ok, ok... really and TRULY thank you...

May you always be my wonderful loving noodge...

HUGS! Thouands of them!
emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon emoticon emoticon
emoticon , Etc., Etc., Etc...

Comment edited on: 2/26/2010 11:47:45 AM

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BRIGHTSPARK7 2/26/2010 10:14AM

    It is a great blessing to connect with the Teachings to improve our lives. You are a priceless treasure, Mahalakshmi. Take wonderful care of your temple.

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BECOMINGONE 2/26/2010 9:44AM

    In the end it's all a spiritual journey, isn't it? It's the spiritual that provides the warp and woof for the rest ... kind of like Ellen's felted shawls. Thank you for sharing of yourself! I like that!


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PEACEFULONE 2/26/2010 9:42AM

    Thank you again, dear Maha, for lighting the torch and leading the way!

May your weekend be filled with peace, joy, health and happiness!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is too beautiful NOT to share -- Mary Oliver's gift is exquisite...and that she chose to share it with us is our profound good fortune.


In fall
the cricket
beneath the rose bush

as the roses fall
to the very ground
that is his kingdom also.
So they're neighbors,

one full of fragrance,
the other
the harper
of a single dry song.

We call this time of the year
the beginning of the end
of another circle,
a convenience

and nothing more.
For the cricket's song
is surely a prayer,
and a prayer, when it is given,

is given forever.
This is a truth
I'm sure of,
for I'm older than I used to be,

and therefore I understand things
nobody would think of
who's young and in a hurry.
The snow is very beautiful.

Under it are the lingering
petals of fragrance,
and the timeless body
of prayer.

~ Mary Oliver ~

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THE_SILVER_OWL 2/26/2010 3:54PM

    Truth when spoken as a whisper or a poem, shouts loudest of all.

Thank you!

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ABQUEST 2/25/2010 10:26PM

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing

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SLASALLE 2/24/2010 2:08PM

    She is most definitely a keeper when it comes to beautiful poetry. And YOU are a keeper when it comes to sharing amazing findings with us ... xoxoxo

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BLUESLALA 2/24/2010 11:56AM

    WOW emoticon

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SOULCOLLAGESUE 2/24/2010 11:27AM

    Mary Oliver's poetry never ceases to transport me into a state of Universal mind. This one is new to me; thank you for sharing!

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JUSTDUCKY1405 2/24/2010 10:35AM


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ONELUCKYSUSAN 2/24/2010 10:31AM

    This is so beautiful! Bless you for sharing with us!

I am so grateful for the joy you share with us.

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GRANDMAAMIE 2/24/2010 10:28AM

    (`.) . BEAUTIFUL
``.. ♥~*-::-*♥~.*♥
*♥~.* THANK YOU!
(`v) ♥`.
.`.. ♥ AMIE
..) .*)
(. (. . .`.♥

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SUCHAHOOT 2/24/2010 10:09AM

    'a prayer, when it is given,

is given forever.
This is a truth
I'm sure of,
for I'm older than I used to be, '

Beautiful words...the whole of it, but these touch me especially. Thank you, friend.

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GINABUG 2/24/2010 9:42AM that Joe Riley -- thanks so much for sharing this with me: the poem and the daily poetry celebration! Love to you!

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LIVIN-N-LEARNIN 2/24/2010 9:31AM

    so beautiful, love it!! emoticon

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DLDROST 2/24/2010 9:29AM

  Love it thanks for sharing...

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RTLISA 2/24/2010 9:21AM

    That is beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

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Monday, February 22, 2010

The linguistics class is haunting me: I'm seemingly locked into this conceptual linguistics loop of before-before...or, in this case the night-before-my-birthday-eve --

It was such a beautiful gathering of Anam Cara, soul friends, that heart-to-heart connection. There was so much love spewed about during the evening that my heart continues to overflow from the fullness.

The food was abundant, whole and healthy! Oh...uh, and then there were the desserts!!!

CAMILLE, with me in this happy shot, owns (she would say "caretakes") the property where the Sisters of the New Moon meet. We're building a labyrinth in the woods and we celebrate life around a wonderful bonfire as a climax to each monthly coming-together.

Above, my friend ELS (left) -- we "accidentally" ran into each other last year on a backwoods country road in upcountry Maui as she was beginning a 6-month around-the-world trip/trek with Tom, her lovely spouse! (See P.S.)

MARILYN, seated beside Els, is a geologist and created and gifted me with a stunningly beautiful mobile/chimes, made with beaver wood, glass pieces, and crystals. I'm sorry I don't have a photo of her beautiful art to share.

NELDA, far right, and I have participated together in the study of the work of Connie Kaplan, The Invisible Garment, where we've gathered around a circle-of-love for over five years.

SparkPeople got lots of plugs from me and SANDRA. Here she's hanging out with vino-in-hand between Marilyn and Nelda, ready to share her SparkPeople blogs on "Space."


The sheet she gave to everyone also had GinaBug's original blog, which had caused Sandra's musings:

Above Sandra has the rapt attention of Gail, Jean, Pam, Siaw-Khian and all but Fritzie's nose!

Camille relaxed in the rocker chatting with ANNE, a gifted Iyengar Yoga teacher who I've been studying with off-and-on since 1997! Anne led us in some pranayama (breathing) techniques.

My dear friend FRITZIE, the hostess-with-the-mostest, is smiling at my antics and Siaw-Khian is talking to Pam, out-of-sight.

Ahhh...a partial group smile...from the left Ellen, Nelda, me, Camille, Siaw-Khian. Back row Els, Marilyn, and shortie Amy.

I study tai chi and qi gong with SIAW-KHIAN, a skilled teacher, and she graciously agreed to introduce us to some qi gong techniques. It was wonderful.

I wish I had a photo of the exquisite wrap that ELLEN gifted me (she has another one on, but you can't see the beautiful detail). She works in Nepal (she's leaving again for Nepal on March 10) with talented women who use a Nuno felting process with wool and colorful silk saris -- oh my!!! I don't know if you can access this if you're not on FaceBook, but here's the link:

Above is GAIL's lovely profile. She and I share a lot of quality sister time. We also do the prison gatherings together along with Camille, our fearless leader.

Then comes Janice-in-yellow, Amy, Ellen, and JOHNYE (Janice's mom) -- English Literature Professor Emerita and published haiku poet:


Above Fritzie, Siaw-Khian, silly Pam, and Jean.

I first met FRITZIE and SANDRA at a Buddhist retreat. Then I got invited to Sandra's birthday party at Fritzie's beautiful home, and the rest is history! Fritize is hard to catch up with, because she's a very busy barrister, but I vie for her attention, because I treasure time with her. We also share the "Spanish connection," and she has worked to assist Hispanics via immigrant law.

PAM, AMY and I have become friends as New Moon Sisters. Pam adds "intelligent levity" and Amy, an artist, brings us beauty in space and form.

JEAN is a new New Moon Sister. She is a warrior...a blind woman who has traveled internationally, holds a graduate degree and many amazing life half-empty cup for her!

A *mood effect* of JANICE playing and singing one of her compositions, dedicated to me, because it's my fav, about the preciousness of the present moment.

She also did a group Tarot reading of Past (at 79, Johnye is the oldest reveler, and she drew this card), Present (as the birthday girl I drew this card), Future (Siaw-Khian, as the youngest, drew this one) using a deck of her own fabulous design.

JANICE and I were housemates for around three years, firmly and exquisitely establishing our Sisterhood during that time.

The sisters went on...and on, enjoying the fullness of one another's blessings for almost FIVE hours!

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May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.

May you be able to journey to that place in your soul
where there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.

May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.

May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
May they bring you all the blessings, challenges, truth, and light that you need for your journey.

May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.

-- John O'Donohue, from Anam Cara
(Anam cara is Gaelic for "soul friend")


A couple days before Els and Tom continued on from Maui to New Zealand.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEACEFULONE 2/26/2010 10:05AM

    Brings to mind the Beatles song "I'll get by with a little help from my friends". You are truly blessed!!! Thank you for sharing.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/26/2010 10:11:09 AM

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PENNYAN45 2/23/2010 10:21PM

    Friends are everything! I just copied the Friendship Blessing - and plan to send it to a very dear friend of mine. Thanks for sharing that.
In the company of friends is the best way to celebrate a birthday. They are celebrating you and your existence in -- especially in their lives. We, your friends here on SP, are happy to have you in our lives too. Thanks for sharing your celebration, and thanks for always sharing so much of yourself.

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KALATHIA 2/23/2010 8:35AM

    What a wonderful group of sisters! A spectacular celebration! You are truly blessed!

I love the Friendship Blessing. I hope you don't mind if I share it with some of my friends.

Have a wonderful day!

Comment edited on: 2/23/2010 8:36:39 AM

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LYNNANN43 2/23/2010 1:04AM

    I feel like I was there! You have no idea how much I would love to meet those amazing people!

You are one of the most blessed individuals that I have ever had the honor to meet.

Thanks so much for sharing:D

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NORLANA 2/23/2010 12:19AM

    Oh Maha ... such beautiful friends and tributes. I am so happy you are surrounded by such lovelies! Enjoy!!

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GINABUG 2/22/2010 9:49PM

    Maha -- thanks so much for sharing the words, images and imaginings of this gathering. I almost feel as if I were there! What a blessed event for a blessed soul! Happy Birthday Eve, dear friend!

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WATERMELLEN 2/22/2010 9:24PM

    Friends: at the heart of what matters! And you have such interesting ones!!

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STLRZGRRL 2/22/2010 8:52PM

    How cool for us to be able to be with you... NOW!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

But, but... WHAT were the cards you each drew?

I. MUST. KNOW!!! (Iz not sek-rit, iz it?)

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SLASALLE 2/22/2010 2:31PM

    I am so happy to put so many faces with the names I hear you speak of often. What an amazing gathering of dear friends. I am SO DELIGHTED that you ALL enjoyed it so much. Now, I have also enjoyed much of it, albeit still at a distance!!!

Happy birthday eve, Maha!!!

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WALKINGANNIE 2/22/2010 1:05PM

    Your birthday celebration has given you - and us - some wonderful memories to share and a reminder of the joy that friendship brings. I hope that the happiness lingers to sustain you for a long time.

Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem too.


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LADYIRIS313 2/22/2010 12:56PM

    You are blessed with riches -- the kind that only good friends can offer. Happiest of birthdays to you Maha.

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SUCHAHOOT 2/22/2010 11:55AM

    My, what a wonderful gift. Such a treasure to be sure. Thank you so much for sharing your evening with us!

Edit: And thanks for taking the time to share the poem. What more could one ask for?

Comment edited on: 2/22/2010 11:56:37 AM

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BECOMINGONE 2/22/2010 11:41AM

    Having been there, I can attest it was one of those magical evenings -- when the life energy is flowing and all are connected in a web of friendship and love. Thanks to Maha for bringing us all together.


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YOOVIE 2/22/2010 10:36AM

    this is so wonderful and so full of love. thank you for taking pictures for us!

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KAT573 2/22/2010 10:18AM

    what an honor to have all your friends about you!
Happy Birthday, Maha.

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AZIMAT 2/22/2010 10:17AM

    How sweet. Happy birthday dear friend. I'm sending you a blast of high flying energy.

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MAZZYR 2/22/2010 10:15AM

    emoticonBig Happy Day hug, just for you, dear Maha!!

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LISANANCY 2/22/2010 10:09AM

    Wow, what a wonderful time emoticon

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MISS_VIV 2/22/2010 9:52AM

    What great fun, what a great group of women all together to celebrate the new beginning. Happy Birthday again Maha..Super pictures.

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The Gift...the Present!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
-- The Buddha

When the mind is at rest, we are lifted out of time into the eternal present. The body, of course, is still subject to the passage of time. But in a sense, the flickering of the mind is our internal clock. When the mind does not flicker, what is there to measure change? It's as if time simply comes to a stop for us, as we live completely in the present moment. Past and future, after all, exist only in the mind. When the mind is at rest, there is no past or future. We cannot be resentful, we cannot be guilt-ridden, we cannot build future hopes and desires; no energy flows to past or future at all.

Past and future are both contained in every present moment. Whatever we are today is the result of what we have thought, spoken, and done in all the present moments before now -- just as what we shall be tomorrow is the result of what we think, say, and do today. The responsibility for both present and future is in our own hands. If we live right today, then tomorrow has to be right.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIVIN-N-LEARNIN 2/22/2010 9:27AM

    I so needed to read this...i was just telling a good friend of mine yesterday that sometimes I feel i missed out on things, this quote I know is going to help me live with no regrets!!

Thank you MAHA!!

And happy belated birthday!!!! emoticon emoticon

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PUDLECRAZY 2/22/2010 5:35AM

    The reminder I need on a regular basis. Thank you for this post. I love the photos you included, as well.

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MEDDYPEDDY 2/22/2010 12:29AM

    Hmm - I get stuck with the depressive knowledge that today is the result of yesterday...

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STARRY-EYEDGIRL 2/21/2010 9:19PM

    I could meditate looking into the eyes of Sri Eknath Easwaran - so soft but strong, wise, beautiful and all knowing.

I am reading your Blog after yoga practice and meditation and am feeling pretty good in this moment, having already paved the way for the moments to come.

Also, I have subscribed to the inspirational quotes and commentary of Thought for the Day via email.

emoticonMahalakshmi, I appreciate this precious gift.

Comment edited on: 2/21/2010 9:25:38 PM

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WATERMELLEN 2/21/2010 6:34PM


I often re think this military injunction subversively as "embrace right now"!!!

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WALKINGANNIE 2/21/2010 5:48PM


Thank you.

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JUSTDUCKY1405 2/21/2010 5:30PM


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GEODAWG 2/21/2010 2:52PM

    How true! Thank you.

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SUCHAHOOT 2/21/2010 1:33PM

    So, you're saying I should stop being angry with my husband about yesterday? AND stop worrying about the future? AND be happy in the present moment? OK, for you...and for me I will give it my best.

Thank you for your beautiful reminder and your gentle nature.

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LYNNANN43 2/21/2010 1:22PM

    I am going to post this quote as my status update, send it to facebook and then copy it down to make a beautiful sign in "My" room with this quote:D


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SATYAGRAHA 2/21/2010 1:06PM

    I need constant reminders of this. THANK YOU!

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THE_SILVER_OWL 2/21/2010 12:55PM

    Maha, What lovely and wise quotes you have brought to us today. Thank you!

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LISANANCY 2/21/2010 12:21PM

    Today is tomorrow past. We can change our past by living today. We need to remember this, Good going my dear sparkfriend emoticon

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BECOMINGONE 2/21/2010 12:19PM

    See you this afternoon!!!

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PENNYAN45 2/21/2010 12:03PM

    The gift of the present! It is the everything and the only thing that we ever have, isn't it?

Thank you for focusing my mind on the present this beautiful Sunday morning.


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SLASALLE 2/21/2010 11:21AM

    Ahhhhhhh ... nice, long, slow deep breath as I read your words ... such a wise and warm welcome to my day. Enjoy your celebration, my dear friend. I am with you in spirit. AND I hope to be able to talk in real time on 2/23. xoxoxo

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WILDHONEYPIE1 2/21/2010 11:18AM

    I particularly enjoyed the line "If we live right today, then tomorrow has to be right." Maybe not the way we pictured it, maybe not how we want it, but right all the same.

I knew your birthday had to be coming up any minute (February Pisces) so thanks to MAZZYR for letting me know the exact day to be thankful for! emoticon

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MENT2BE 2/21/2010 11:13AM

    Divine Order!! Just what I needed to hear today! Bless you!!!!
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STLRZGRRL 2/21/2010 11:06AM

    I am so grateful to have you with me in this moment... now.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAHA... in every moment of every NOW.

Birthday kisses!!!

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MAZZYR 2/21/2010 10:34AM

    Ditto, I'm grateful for knowing you too, dear Maha.

Dear Maha, thank you for the GIFT of YOU and this blog. I really needed to read these words today.

BTW, I'm counting the days till your B-Day and would like to come to your virtual party. February 23rd... I can't wait.


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GINABUG 2/21/2010 8:58AM

    Maha! This present moment I am grateful for knowing you! Thank you for the gift of YOU and all the wise words and wisdom you share! Blessings and celebration to you, my dear friend!

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