Emerson: Live, let live and help live.
Zen: Evening Gatha [Prayer]
Let me respectfully remind you.
Birth and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes and opportunity is lost.
We should all strive to awaken.
Awaken! Take Heed!
Do not squander your life!
Both of these quotes are profound in so many ways. Each tests us to live our lives fully every day and make a difference in the world in which we live. Notice that each asks us to go beyond our “self” and to help others. To live life fully, to let others lead their lives fully, and to help those who need help so they too can live life fully.
How have you done that today? How about this week, month, or year? Every time you open the door for someone with their arms full of packages, or let someone in front of you in a traffic jam, or bring a meal to a sick neighbor you are “awake.” Awake to the needs of another. You have taken the opportunity to think of someone other than yourself, to identify a need, no matter how small it may seem—you have helped meet that need for another.
When you are walking through life looking down at your cellphone checking your Facebook page or texting someone—you are missing life at its fullest. You may have missed an opportunity to help a stranger or a friend. When you are focused on self only you miss many opportunities to live.
Just the other day I was teaching at the college on the 11th floor when we had a fire scare and everyone was told to immediately exit the building. So all 16 of my students and I walked those 11 floors down to the street. One of them needed extra attention as she was pregnant. I rushed ahead so that I could make sure all of my students were out of the building and safe. As one of them walked through the door I was holding for them he said, “Oh, you don’t have to do that. Why are you holding the door for all of us and the others?” The question had never come into my mind. “Live, let live and help live” I guess.
Think of the fireman who runs into the fire, not away from it. To the policeman or security guard who runs toward the shooter in a mall. Or a teacher who stands in front of the children to protect them from the bullets being sprayed in his or her classroom.
Awaken, Take Heed! Do not squander your life! Find your purpose each and every day because time swiftly passes by and you do not want to lose the opportunity to be of service to others to go beyond yourself wherever and whenever you can. Even if it’s simply to hold the door for another. Let me know how that goes!
In gassho, Shokai
(1) Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com (page 9)
(2) Southern Palm Zen Group Service Handbook, Mitch Doshin Cantor.
Posted in cause and effect, chant, death, education, Ethics, fears, human race, love, meditation, Metta, Mindfulness, self-help, training, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen | Tagged anger, anxiety, awakservice, Buddha, Buddhism, challenges, college, compassion, Emerson, fear, goals, happiness, health, help others, joy, life, live life fully, love, meditation, mindfulness, Odelia Floris, patience, peace, prayer, sitting, students, suffering, teaching, Unity Church, wisdom, Zazen, Zen, Zen Buddhism | Leave a Comment »
Emerson: “There is no planet, sun or star could hold you if you but knew what you are.”
Shodo Harada Roshi in his beautiful book, Moon By The Window, wrote:
“In a dualistic world we will fumble and fall. When we see with the eyes of the Buddha, we know the joy of the Dharma [teachings] in daily life. We become one with the heavens and earth, and there is no longer any division between inside and outside (page 169).”
We are made up of stars and light and when we use the talent, energy, compassion, and love of which we were born all things are possible. We have sent spaceships to Mars, found cures for diseases that in the past had destroyed civilizations, we have created music, and dance, and poetry, and literature that has moved millions. It is possible to be one with each of these things as we travel through life on planet Earth. I know because I have done it at a Cherokee Indian Fire Walk with Unity Minister Edwene Gaines on a dark night in an Alabama forest during one of her workshops
That is who we are. That is what we are. Shodo Harada Roshi goes on to write, “We have to throw away our small way of thinking and live in a place where we hold on to nothing whatsoever. It’s here that we discover the Buddha, and there is nothing sturdier than the strength that comes from this discovery. The Buddha discovered that he was a part of the “all” as he awoke under the Bodai tree and taught us that through our direct experience we could realize that as well (page 169).”
As Louise Howard and Chris Riddell illustrate in their book Buddhism for Sheep: “Train your mind it is the source of everything.” As we sit in zazen (meditation) we are training our minds to “throw away our small way of thinking and to hold on to nothing.” Then and only then can we know what we are—a piece of the heavens and the earth.
As Emerson said, “know what you are.” Sheep or not sheep…that is the question.
 Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com (page 25)
 Harada, S. (2011) Moon by the Window, The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada. Boston, MA: Wisdom Press.
 Riddell C., Howard, L. (1996) Buddhism for Sheep. London, England: Ebury Press
Posted in birth, BUddhism, enlightenment, happiness, human race, love, meditation, old age, planet earth, prayer, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen | Tagged anxiety, breath work, Buddah, Buddha, Buddhism, Buddhism for Sheep, Chris Riddell, compassion, contemplation, Emerson, enlightenment, fear, happiness, life, Louise Howard, love, meditation, mind, Moon by the Window: The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada, peace, prayer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shakyamuni Buddha, Shodo Harada, sitting, suffering, Unity Church, wisdom, Zazen, Zen | Leave a Comment »
“We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
What does that quote mean to you?
In Zen we have a practice of sitting zazen or meditating and Katageri Roshi, one of the most recognized Zen Buddhist priests in America, wrote this about the junction of these two ideas: living and buddha-nature. He says, “Don’t attach to thoughts and emotions, just let them return to emptiness. Just be present there and swim in buddha-nature (page xiii).” 
Just be “present” be ready to live each and every moment. As I found my mind wandering in meditation this morning I realized that I had just squandered away several minutes of my life! I just gave up the “present moment.” I missed the experience of the feel of the cushion beneath me, of hearing the breath of those near me, of the sounds of the cars driving by on the road, and of the birds chirping in the trees.
I forgot to live! What I was doing was getting ready to live later on by creating a conversation with someone in my head that may or may not even happen in the future. I was “getting ready to live” but not really living.
The Teachings of Ptahhotep tells us to “Follow your heart as long as you live (page 21).” But if you are living in the future with thoughts and fears, or living in the past with memories and regrets you are not actually “living.” What is your heart telling you to do right now? What are you doing right now? What are you thinking right now? Are you getting ready to live or are you actually living?
“Swim in buddha-nature” means to be fully present in the now moment. I love the picture that comes into my mind when he uses the word “swim.” I can see myself in the swimming pool at my grandmother’s house and since I could not swim on top of the water I had to always swim under the water there I was surrounded by buddha-nature above, below, and around me: swimming in buddha-nature.
I was really living! I had to be perfectly present in that moment in order to hold my breath, keep my eyes out for others swimming in the pool who might not see me below, and still keep swimming. I had to keep my mind on how long I could hold my breath, and when I was close to running out of air, and when it was time to start swimming to the top! One time I did not realize how deep I had gone and I panicked and thought I was going to drown! But alas, I was swimming in buddha-nature” and made it safely to the top before I ran out of breath.
Don’t be following what Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.” Don’t be that person! Be the one that is swimming through life with happiness and glee! Following your heart with each breath—in each moment.
Let me know how that “living” is going!
 Okumura, S. (2012) Living by Vow Wisdom Publications: Boston, MA
 Hillard A.G. Williams, L. & N. Damali Editors. (1987) The Teachings of Ptahhotep The Oldest Book in the World. Blackwood Press: Atlanta, GA.
  Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. http://www.odeliafloris.com
Posted in BUddhism, cause and effect, clinging, death, happiness, love, meditation, Mindfulness, Uncategorized, wisdom, Zen | Tagged anxiety, Asa G. Hilliard III, birds, Buddah, Buddha, Buddha-nature, Buddhism, challenges, compassion, contemplation, fear, happiness, Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson, joy, Katageri Roshi, Larry Williams, life, Living by Vow, love, meditation, mindfulness, Nia Damali, Odelia Floris, peace, present moment, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Shohaku Okumura, sitting, The Teachings of Ptahhotep The Oldest Book in the World, Zazen, Zen, Zen Buddhism | Leave a Comment »
I was looking for a quote one day to use in a blog I was writing and I came across a great quote by Emerson. I remembered studying Emerson as an English major in college and just loved his writing and his progressive outlook on life. When I began studying at Unity Village to become a licensed teacher we often used his writings as well. And so he has been a part of my life for a very long time and I hope that he has been one of yours as well.
But just in case he has not I have been moved to write my next workbook on his quotes and writings and to share with you how they can be relevant in the 21st century—even though they were written in the 19th Century when horses were the main form of transportation, and slavery was still legal, and women did not have the right to vote. You’re probably thinking, “What could his thoughts and words have to do with me today? Plenty!
Let’s start with this quote from Emerson: “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.”
Every day—all day we think! Our thoughts create our reality. Sometimes our thoughts slowly arise like a tulip as it breaks through the frozen ground at the first sign of spring. Other times our thoughts pop up when we least expect them to like weeds in a garden that we had just weeded that morning. Or are they like the massive cherry blossoms that appear in Washington, DC in the spring? Some of your thoughts simply fly away like the dandelion when it turns into a fluffy white cloud of seeds.
There is action like the fruit behind the cherry blossoms that we look forward to and expect. There is action behind the dandelion seeds as they fly through the air and plant themselves in our neighbor’s yard so their kids have to painstakingly dig them out as one of their summer chores.
What thoughts are you having right now that are taking action in your life? What thoughts have you had today, yesterday, and will more than likely have tomorrow? Do the seeds/thoughts produce positive events in your life, improved health, happiness, and friendship? Or are they like the dandelions that produce more weeds in the garden that take time, effort, and energy to get rid of?
So what is the thought you are speaking aloud and the action that has resulted from it? Are you living a life filled with cactus covered with thorns, or with the softest petals of the pink ranunculus each being a vision of beauty to the eye and softness to the touch?
If you want to change your life remember you’ll need a new thought—or a new blossom! Why not try something that has a wonderful smell that excites your senses like the jasmine.
What is blossoming in your thoughts and words today? What language are you speaking? What results are you creating? Change your thinking—change your life!
Remember, “Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.”
Keep me posted on that!
 Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. http://www.odeliafloris.com
Posted in cause and effect, happiness, planet earth, self-help, Uncategorized, wisdom | Tagged anger, beauty, cactus, challenges, cherry blossoms, compassion, dandelions, DC, Emerson, flowers, fragrance, happiness, jasmine, joy, love, Odelia Floris, patience, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ranunculus, seeds, spring, thorns, thoughts, Unity Church, Washington | Leave a Comment »