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Archive for the ‘birth’ Category

In the book The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal the authors write about this idea of connectedness or lack thereof in our lives, schools, and communities.

the-heart-of-higher-edMany of us bear the wound of invisibility, believing, not without reason, that no matter how hard or how well we work, no one really sees us. When we invite each other to tell our stories, we have a chance to create community in the simple act of saying “I see you.”

Storytelling can create community at an even deeper level: the more one knows about another person’s story, the less one is able to dislike or distrust, let alone despise, that person. This is a good thing in and of itself, but it serves a larger purpose as well by helping us weave a more resourceful and resilient collegiality. At some point down the road, when we need to solve a problem or deal with a difficult conflict, we are more likely to have woven the fabric of relationships required to do it well (page 139).[1]

As teachers we can offer this opportunity to our students to come out from the shadows, to be really seen and heard with some simple exercises in our classes.  By dividing your class in to groups you can help them get to know each other better and become more familiar with the way they may live, their hobbies, their family vacations, favorite books, sports, or movies.  They might share stories about their religious and spiritual beliefs.  Depending on the age of the groups the topics should be appropriate for them.

After they have shared in the small groups you can invite them to share with the entire class by sharing some of the topics that came up.  They might even want to have a member share their story with the entire class. This exercise helps the participants learn to be connected with each other in a personal and emotional way.  The students become not just someone they see in class but a real person with feelings and likes and dislikes.

We live a world that is so disconnected any time we are given the opportunity to share in this way as children or adults it opens our hearts and minds to others and we often find that we are more alike than different!  We all have a favorite food and a food we hate! I sometimes start the first day in class by getting everyone to share the food they love to hate the most! Then we can divide the class up for group exercises in okra, broccoli, and cabbage haters.  This gives them just another way to be connected!

Even though as a Buddhist I am not supposed to pick and choose I’m still NOT going to choose okra! I don’t mind being in the okra haters group! You’re welcome to join me! See you there…

In gassho, Shokai

[1] Palmer, Parker J.; Zajonc, Arthur; Scribner, Megan; Mark Nepo (2010-06-17). The Heart of Higher Education: A Call to Renewal (Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education) (p. 139). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition

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Emerson: We can only see what we are…(page51)[1]

Zen Gautama Buddha: We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.Zen Eight Fold Path

This may be the best thing you’ve read all year and I hope that it will help you in 2017: What you think is the master of your life.  If you think thoughts of peace, love, health, and prosperity you will attain just that.  If you think thoughts of fear, anger, illness, and hate that is what you will manifest in your life.

It is time that we get over blaming our parents, our upbringing, our teachers, our genes, and life for the situation we are in today.  Yes, they affected us in a myriad of ways but as adults it is our opportunity to forgive and forget.  To create a new life that is filled with goodness and love.  To create the life that we want to live instead of letting others or the past have power over us!

I read an article many years ago in a Unity publication about a woman who had a terrible childhood and so her adult life was filled with lack and limitation in all areas.  Then one day she decided to recreate her life and she began slowly by remembering one good thing that happened to her as a child.  She focused on an aunt who was kind and loving and shared that goodness with her. From there she discovered other memories that had been hidden and blocked by her anger and hatred.  She began focusing on them and little by little her life turned around.  She became a loving and compassionate person with success in all areas of her life.

She began to really be what she was born to be a happy, healthy, loving person regardless of her past circumstances.  She began to succeed in all areas of her life and it was filled with peace, love, prosperity, and happiness.  Life is like the script of a Broadway play.  Some scenes are dramatic and scary others are filled with music, dance, and love.  What is your script reading like today?  Will you create a new script for 2017?  Or will you keep playing the same drama over and over? How about writing a musical filled with fun and laughter and love?

You are what you think the Buddha said. He also said our thoughts make the world.  Let’s create a world, from today forward, that is filled with peace, love, and compassion for self and all others!  Do not be like the blind leading the blind—be like the knowing leading the knowing!  Follow The Eightfold Path above and watch what happens!

See what you truly are—a perfectly divine, loving, healthy, prosperous you!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Dillaway, N. (1949) The Gospel of Emerson. Wakefield, MA:The Montrose Press

 

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Emerson: The foundations of a person are not in matter but in spirit (page 29).[1]

The Poetry of tu-fu-poet-712-770Zen:  ~by Tu Fu (712-770) “I Stand Alone”
Heaven’s ways include the human;
Among a thousand sorrows, I stand alone (page51).[2]

 

As Emerson says the person’s true foundation is his or her spirit where “heaven’s ways” include us as our lives move from the thousand sorrows to endless joys and into bliss.  This occurs only if we allow it to. Only if we take time out of every day to know it, live it, and spend time in the quiet experiencing it.

The “matter” in our lives does not count if we are wallowing in our “thousand sorrows” standing alone in our pain and suffering avoiding our spiritual self, our divine self, our perfect self.  Each of us was made in the image of divine perfection as Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Because you are alive everything is possible.” As we watch the blind person walking down the street enjoying the day laughing with a friend we can see the spirit in each of them sharing their divine selves with each other.

Watch the children in the playground laughing and singing and playing lost in the simplest things—being spirit in motion! Watch the musicians in the symphony orchestra play and become one with their instruments. Soon they are playing in perfect harmony, union, and joy. That is the foundation of spirit. Heaven’s ways for sure!

Some of them may have a thousand things not going perfectly in their lives but in those moments they stand alone with the music in their humanity and soar above those sorrows to heaven on earth.

I tripped going into the Lynn University concert hall two weeks ago trying to avoid an elderly woman with a cane who did not see me.  I fell, splashed myself all over the sidewalk, and was helped up by the crossing guard.  I did not wallow in my sorrow because my spirit said go and immerse yourself in the beauty of the student orchestra and be in their joy and passion for their music.  So I did and I enjoyed every moment of it!  I took my friend home and then took myself to the ER where I discovered the foot was broken.

I chose to live in the moment to bask in “heaven’s way” with the music and in the company of my dear friend.  Because the foundation of a person is not in “matter” but in “spirit.” My spirit soared with the music and encompassed my body and mind as I became one with it. What joy there is in life if we simply look for it, are open to receive it, and get out of heaven’s way. Be ready to “stand alone” to receive it!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com

[2] Hamill, S. and Seaton J.P. (2007) The Poetry of Zen. Shambala:Boston & London

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Emerson: “There is no planet, sun or star could hold you if you but knew what you are.”

Shodo Hashodo-harada-roshi-sanzenrada 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).”[1]

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 iBuddhism for Sheept is the source of everything.”[2] 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.

Shokai

[1] Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com (page 25)

[2] Harada, S. (2011) Moon by the Window, The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada. Boston, MA: Wisdom Press.

[3] Riddell C.,  Howard, L. (1996) Buddhism for Sheep. London, England: Ebury Press

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What is love in the spiritual sense?

We see that this love is not something far-off, nor is it anything that can come to us.  It is already a part of our being, already established within us; and more than that, it is universal and impersonal.  As this universal and impersonal love flows out from us, we begin to love our neighbor, because it is impossible to feel this love for God within us and not love our fellow man (page 66-67.)[1]

~Joel S. Goldsmith

It just happens to be Father’s Day when I am writing on this topic of “love.”  Some of us have been born lucky into a family where our father was a great dad, loving, kind, sharing, supportive and more and for others not so much.  But in everyone’s life there is a person who fills that roll.  It could be a friend, uncle, grandfather, teacher, minister, neighbor, or coach.  So this blog is dedicated to everyone who has inspired someone to be the best they can be, consoled someone when they were sad or afraid, and loved someone just for who they were—a perfectly divine and lovable being. They see a person that is loved beyond their actions or words in a given situation or in spite of them.

Every time I walk into our prison sangha to share the teachings of Buddhism with our members “behind the fence” I am reminded of that truth.  If I did not know that I was in a prison and I was just dropped into the room unaware of its location I would have thought that I was in the midst of a study group of monks and priests practicing and living a life of peace, love, and compassion for all.  They are such a great demonstration of what some might term “fatherly love.”  They support each other, share, praise, and love each other as the divine beings that they were created to be.

Love is not something that you get out of a bottle or can create in a high school science lab.  It is not something that you can buy in a store or on line from Amazon.  It does not come from the US Post Office or FedEx. It comes from each individual when their hearts and minds meld together supported by feelings and actions that are loving, compassionate, and sometimes firm when need be. All the money in the world could not buy it.  It is not for sale. It does not have to be earned, nor can it be.

Love simply exists in the universe as an energy that we are born with, an energy that exits everywhere and thus in everything.  When we open our hearts and minds to this truth of our being all doors can be opened and all hearts can be repaired.  I have seen it with my own eyes in our prison ministry each and every day.

I encourage you all to meet your good today and every day by living your life through the words of Emmet Fox and watch your life be transformed!

emmet-foxs-Love

In gassho, Shokai

[1] Goldsmith, J.S. (1958) Practicing the Presence: The Inspirational Guide to Regaining Meaning and A Sense of Purpose in Your Life HarperSanFrancisco:CA

 

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When was the last time you took some part of your day and simply played?  As adults we are taught to be serious, intellectual, formal, and only be bystanders as we watch our children play.  Or maybe we watch others play on TV from playing golf, to football, to hockey, to basketball, and soccer.  Once you hit 25 and get married the only game that you’re allowed to play is “golf” your parent’s game.  You might be able to play with your children once in a while if they fit into your schedule.

Just think about the last time that you played with joy, laughter, and passion.  When it consumed your entire mind, body, and spirit.  When it allowed you to soar to another dimension.  Can you remember the last time you actually played?  If not, how sad is that?  You’ve missed so many moments of joy.

Now I have Annie, my adorable rescue dog.  She wants to play! I’ve found myself running down the street with her chasing another dog or a duck laughing at how excited she is to see her new friend Moon Dance the beautiful black furry friend named after Van Morrison’s song. Sometimes I find myself laying down on the floor so we can be eye to eye and in the mystery of that moment we are one.  Her heart beat and mine merge, while her big brown eyes send a look of love into my spirit and soul.

I listen to Van Morrison sing his Moondance[1] song as I write this post and I feel the joy in his words as I picture them dancing in the moonlight playing in each other’s arms like two magicians creating magic. The magic does not have to just happen at “night” the magic of the moment can occur anytime and anyplace when we are open to it.  Open to playing, growing, expanding, and forgetting that we are “adults” and the labels that entails.

Let’s use the moments that we are given this week to play, dance, sing, smile, skip, run, and love as often as we can—regardless of the looks or the words we get from others. Even if they yell at you to “act your age.” When they admonish you let them know you are acting your age: eternally young! Take out those old Uno cards, roller blades, bicycle, or the chessboard, or the dominoes, and play!  Find some young kid with chalk and play hopscotch or some kid with a rope and skip rope with him or her.

Be in the moment with joy, happiness, and fun!  You can be serious after you die! Why waste this moment in madness, sadness, regret, and anger?  Laughdad, grandad, boy playingter is good for the mind, body and soul.  Playing will keep you young regardless of what your body or the calendar says! So let’s get going! Won’t you come out and play with me today!  Give me a call as soon as you can I’m waiting by the phone…

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Moondance Van Morrison  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vo3JznMhpWc

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darwin-falls mitch

 

Praise is the point in the wind
Where the sounds collide,
the trees whisper,
the water ripples,
And the fish swim with ease.
Where Suchness is all things!

 

 

You can hear suchness sung by the birds, barked by the dogs, meowed by the cats, in the laughter of the child, in the eyes of the grandparent, and in the hearts of the teachers.  Suchness does not have to be spoken, or sung, or drawn, or written about.  It is inherent in every tree, flower, and plant.  It is an integral part of every inventor, every poet, every dancer, and every composer. It is the mystery of the moment.

How are you showing praise and suchness today? What are you praising?  Where are you when you feel one with it? When was the last time you praised someone or something and felt that connection of oneness?

Do you think that praise and suchness should only be experienced by and with humans?  I hope not!  My dog, Annie, loves to hear my words of praise.  Her ears perk up, her eyes sparkle, and her tail wags so hard that sometimes she knocks things over that are near her. I feel so good along with her that my eyes begin to sparkle and a grin appears on my face and laughter and clapping begin to appear.  That makes us both jump with joy, in unison, in the moment of suchness.

Shodo Harada says “The hidden bird is playing with true suchness (page 37).”[1] Suchness or thusness in Buddhism means the way things really are.  The Buddha is to have awakened to suchness. When I praise something or someone I am seeing things the way they really are.  As the Buddha did when he awoke from sitting under the Bodhi tree and said, “I and all beings on earth together attain enlightenment at the same time.”  Remember when you experienced the suchness of a glorious sunrise over the ocean, or the mountains, or the desert? Or during the birth of your child?

We are all enlightened beings. But most of us have not recognized our oneness for more than a few seconds in our entire life.  But that does not mean that it does not exit and is not the truth of our being. Harada goes on to write:

If our mind is clear, all conditions are heaven. If we’re not angry and resentful and full of negative energy, wherever we are is always the best season.  But when our mind is full of ego and desires, we aren’t able to know this.  When we hold on to nothing, we awaken to the wisdom of prajna and widely open our original eyes of Truth.  This place, as it is, is the land of lotuses.  When we know this very Truth as it is, everything is wondrous (page 37).[2]

Suchness lives in our lives in the mystery of the moment when we praise and know that I and all things are one!

Let me know how it is!

In gassho,

Shokai

Picture: http://listeningwiththeeye.squarespace.com/galleries/death-valley-lone-pine-2010/

 

[1] Harada, S. (2011) Moon by the Window, The Calligraphy and Zen Insights of Shodo Harada, Wisdom Publications: Boston

[2] Ibid.

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