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Archive for June, 2014

I am going to continue on with the Peace Pilgrim again and share some of her thoughts from Chapter 8: The Way of Peace.

This is the way of peace: Overcome evil with good, falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. . . . Only good can overcome evil. . . . One in harmony with God’s law of love has more strength than an army, for one need not subdue an adversary; an adversary can be transformed (page 97).[1]

The first Grave Precept in Buddhism is “Not Killing.” I think she just may have been a Buddhist in a past life and maybe even this life but did not know it! Her life and her words are almost identical to our teachings and if you look at what Roshi Robert Aitken wrote about it in his book The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics she was teaching these exact ideas as she walked around the United States through every hamlet and city. He wrote:

Acting upon the First Precept is also the spirit of not harming applied in the natural world. The same poisons that set us apart in families, communities, and across national boundaries—greed, hatred, and ignorance—blight the grasslands, deplete the soil, clear-cut the forests, and add lethal chemicals to water and air. In the name of progress, some say. In the name of greed, it might more accurately be said. We are killing our world… (page 20).[2]

And so in Buddhism and in life if we focus on the positive aspects of peace, love, and compassion for all beings, for the earth, and for all things on the earth we will end up with a world that is without war, and with clean air and water. But if I think that it’s someone else’s job to do it—I’m dead wrong—it all starts with me loving me! It starts with me living a life filled with inner peace, love, and compassion. It starts with me refusing to hate people because of the color of their skin, or who they love, or where they live, or what god they believe in, or even if they believe in no god at all, or what political party they are affiliated with.

Peace Pilgrim said: My inner peace remains in spite of any outward thing. Only insofar as I remain in harmony can I draw others into harmony, and so much more harmony is needed before the world can find peace. All right work and all right prayer has effect, all good effort bears good fruit, whether we see the results or not. In spite of the darkness in the present world situation I am not discouraged. I know that just as human life proceeds toward harmony through a series of hills and valleys, so a society has its ups and downs in the search for peace (page 99).[3]

What is so profound about these words is that you would think she is living right here, right now in 2014. But she is not—she died in 1981. But let us not get discouraged! She never did and so we can all live as she did with hope and goodwill and with the knowing that there will be a turning point when more people believe in PEACE then in WAR!! Some call it the tipping point, some refer to it as the 100th Monkey Theory, but whatever you call it peace is possible!   Peace in your life, in your job, in your neighborhood if only we step out on faith, if only we begin with our selves, and invite our family, friends, associates, neighbors, and everyone we meet to join us in peace, love and compassion. Then let’s watch what happens to our lives our families our jobs and ultimately the world in which we live.

As the Unity peace song goes…let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me!

Let’s start today by living the words in this poem by Emmett Fox that is simply titled “Love.”

Try it for a week and let me know what happens! I am excited to hear from you.

Namaste, Shokai

LOVE

There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;

No disease that enough love will not heal;

No door that enough love will not open;

No gulf that enough love will not bridge;

No wall that enough love will not throw down;

No sin that enough love will not redeem.

 

It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,

How hopeless the outlook, how muddled the tangle,

How great the mistake, a sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.

If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world.

~Emmett Fox

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] Aitken, R. (1984). The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY, NY

[3] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

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Thanks to those who have read and shared my blog on  Peace Pilgrim.  I feel compelled to give you an opportunity to read another of her powerful poems this one is simply titled “War.”

WAR

On the scarred battlefield, where they forced me to go

I met a man that they said was my foe–

And I ran him through with my blade!

When I pulled it out and his blood gushed forth,

I was suddenly filled with racking remorse–

“I have killed a man!” I said.

He was slim and youthful and frightened like me,

And not a fiend as they said he would be–

“They sent me to kill you,” he sighed.

“By God! I wish you had done so!” I swore.

“Why, I don’t even know what I’m fighting for!”

“Nor I,” he breathed, and he died.

 

When we kill with drones, and bombs, and land mines, and airplanes we never have to look them in the eye and see their humanity. Nor do they! What’s all this fighting for? Oil? Religion? Land? Power? Politics? You be the judge.

In love and light, Shokai

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The Peace Pilgrim walked across America talking about peace, working with the anti-nuclear movement, and the anti-war movement most of her adult life.

Peace PilgrimFrom 1953 until 1981 this silver-haired woman, with cheerful obedience to her calling, was a server in the world. As she approached each country hamlet or sprawling city she carried to all she met a message of peace expressed so simply: When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war (2004 page xi).[1]

Many people have never heard of her and I hope this little blog about her will inspire you to order her free book from the Friends of Peace Pilgrim at www.peacepilgrim.org or friends@peacepilgrim.org.

She walked across this country with nothing but the cloths on her back and a vest with pockets where she kept all she believed she needed, paper, pencil, envelopes, and stamps. She ate only when invited to by strangers and friends. She slept outdoors unless invited into someone’s home for shelter. She walked over 25,000 miles before her death in a tragic car accident on her way to give a talk on peace at a college. She spoke to young people on college campuses, people in churches, and parks, and on the roadside everywhere she went.

During her years on the road she was picked up and jailed several times for vagrancy because she carried no money, but she said, “they always release me once they understand (page 33). When she went in front of the judge in one state they released her because they found this letter in her vest pocket.

It read: The bearer of this note has identified herself as a Peace Pilgrim walking coast to coast to direct attention of our citizens to her desire for peace in the world. We do not know her personally as she is just passing through our state, but since undoubtedly it will be a long, hard trip for her, we wish her safe passage.” It was on official stationery and signed by the governor of the state, Howard Pyle (page 34).[2]

I know that I would not have the courage or the conviction to spend my adult life on the road for a cause such as this, but she did and was able to raise the thoughts and minds of thousands of her followers, college students, police, and politicians and ordinary citizens through her convictions and drive to see peace in the world and disarmament of all nuclear bombs that she believed could and would destroy the planet as we know it.

This war mongering again from some American politicians and their followers is just what she gave her life to upend and what brought this little book on my bookshelf into my hands this morning.

As such I end this post with a poem that she wrote. I hope you share it with everyone you know to help stop the war mongering, shouts, and actions toward war that are here among us today.

War Fever

That terrible blindness—

Which makes your foe appear like a fiend

And makes you look like fiend to him—

War fever!

 

That awful insanity—

Which makes the same act brilliant strategy for you

And foul treachery for the enemy—

War fever!

 

That frightful drunkenness—

Which muddles the mind until wrong seems like right,

Hate appears good, and murder a virtue—

War fever!

 

That horrible sickness—

For which no cure is sought, but instead

Ways are sought to spread the disease—

War fever! (page 164)[3]

 

I hope there is an antidote invented for this “war fever” before we exterminate human kind on planet Earth. As Peace Pilgrim said, “When enough of us find inner peace, our institutions will become more peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war.”[4]
This I wish for you and for all our politicians in every country around the world.

 

Namaste, Shokai

 

[1] Peace Pilgrim Her life and Work In her Own Words, Friends of Peace Pilgrim and Ocean Tree Books, 2004.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid

 

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“Peace is the way,” is a very famous idea and the original quote is shared with us in the very popular book by Robert Aitken, The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics (1984). He writes:

. . . we have the saying attributed to A.J. Muste, “There is no way to peace; peace is the way,” I doubt if this could have been formulated without the influence of Gandhi, who showed that swaraj, or independence, is right here now, not some time in the future… “Right here now,” “Peace is the way,” “This very body is the Buddha,” “The Kingdome of God is within you”—these are all expressions of human intimacy with essential nature, which is not born and does not die (page 164).[1]

So how do we get so far off the track of peace and into war, anger, meanness, self-centeredness, and the like? All of these words lead us away from peace and make us a very unlikable person. For me I find that when I allow my ego to take over my thinking and feeling nature I’m in big trouble! When the only words that I hold in my head are I, me, my, and mine I am in bigger trouble! And yet it is a great challenge to hold your ground when you are being abused or taken advantage of without giving up your “peace.” But it can be done!

I took a workshop many years ago with a wonderful Unity minister named Edwene Gaines and she shared a great affirmation with us to use when we needed to get a “toxic person” or situation out of our lives and it went like this: “I bless her on her way to find her highest good elsewhere.” WOW!! That’s a powerful thought and I have used it for over 20 years very successfully and so have others that I have shared it with.

So you might say, “I bless ________on his way to find his highest good elsewhere.” Change the pronoun as necessary. Really do it, say it, and think it from a place of peace and love, not of anger and hatefulness. Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, JR were able to do it in a big way. If they can free countries and people we sure can free ourselves and others with peace and love to find their highest good elsewhere.

Remember peace is inherent in you right here, right now, not in some other time in the future! Our essential nature is peace. Can’t you just picture that new born baby asleep in the crib how beautiful the baby looks, serene, content, and fulfilled? When was the last time you looked and felt like that, and I don’t mean without the wrinkles! I mean with real love and contentment in your mind and heart. The love and contentment that you were born with, you had it once; you can have it again right here right now this very minute. It is all up to you—choose it or lose it! A person can have love and compassion for even the most so called “unlovable” person in the world when they remember that everyone’s true nature is love and for whatever reason they just do not recognize it in themselves.

Let’s take the time now to do our three breath exercise. Take those three long breaths now! Feel the peace begin to move through you as you count one on the in breath and two on the out breath. Feel the relaxation that begins to encompass your mind, body, and spirit. Unwind your mind and ego~ and rewind the natural peace with which you were born!

And when you do you will see your relationships blossom and grow through peace and love. Peace is the way…this I see for you today!

In love and light, Shokai

 

[1] Aitken, R. (1984) The Mind of Clover Essays in Zen Buddhist Ethics. North Point Press: NY, NY

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How can sitting upright bring peace into my life?  In our little book published by the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, Soto Zen Introduction to Zazen (2002), they write

This kind of zazen practice teaches us to sit upright wherever we are.  Sometimes our mind is calm and sometimes our mind is busy.  Sometimes we feel peaceful, and sometimes we are in the midst of a storm.  We neither cling to nor avoid any condition, but keep sitting in an upright posture.  We try to live in this upright manner, not only in zazen but in our daily lives.  When we deviate from uprightness, we are aware of it and return to it (page65).[1]

And so, do not be deceived by the idea that you can only be peaceful when you are actually sitting, meditating, or praying and that once you’ve completed that task you go back to the chaos of your daily life.  In Zen your life is always based on the energy of sitting, the consciousness of sitting.  When walking we walk straight and tall conscious of our every step, our eyes are tuned to “seeing” all things around us from the things that are close up to the things that are far away.  We try to stay in tune with our immediate environment and in doing so it helps keep our mind from wandering into the past  where fear, anxiety, regret, sadness, and disappointment may live, or living with expectations for the future of joy, happiness, love, and peace.

As the text says, “we neither cling to nor avoid any condition.”  So when a fearful or negative thought enters our minds and disturbs our peace we do not chastise ourselves, get mad at ourselves, or criticize ourselves, we simply recognize the thought, thank it for coming, give it no power over us and move on. We do the same with the “happy” thoughts.  Do not cling to either—simply observe and then let go.

Regardless of where you are or what you are doing, driving the car, working, doing dishes, taking care of the children, or watching TV live every moment as though you are sitting zazen: focused, fully aware, patiently observant, and in the “now” moment.  And when you do you will be surprised at how creative, productive, successful, and in tune with all that is you have become.

I encourage you to walk with me on this path of Zen, try it, I think you’ll like!

 

[1] Sotoshu Shumucho, (2002) Soto Zen an Introduction to Zazen. Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, Japan

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Kaplan University

Kathleen A. Bishop, MS, PhD, Kaplan University Health Sciences Faculty

© 2014 Clipart.com © 2014 Clipart.com

Today is the day I’ve decided to write my first blog post for the KUWC, and like all writers I am a little nervous about the whole thing. Will it be good enough? Is the grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure correct? I wonder if the other faculty members will like my writing or if they will think it is boring, simplistic, or uninteresting. Wow! While all of these thoughts are running around in my head how can write? I can’t!

So what are my options? I can just choose not to write. I can chicken out and send an e-mail to the blog editor saying I am too busy and have to forgo the opportunity. Or I could just take a few minutes and do what I do each morning before I start my day—meditate and…

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