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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

My Christmas Message to the world with love!

” The way to peace is an untrodden path, but it is not unknown. It is the way Jesus gave us. [And the way of the Buddha.]

‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ not in word but in deed.

Let all men spend their lives, as Jesus did, helping others.

Let strong men sacrifice their personal advantage so that all may have equal opportunities.

Jesus’ way would be peace itself if we followed it. But men don’t want to change as radically as that! They are still trying to make selfish greed work. In the peace negotiations, nations have jostled for special privilege, and selfish business interests have tried to grab advantages that would be sure to make other men hate them. Senator Vandenberg wrote before the San Francisco Conference that nations were striving for ‘America first,’ ‘England first,’ ‘Russia first,’–the very attitude which has caused all wars. Peace cannot be permanent until we put ‘the whole world first.’ No part of the world, whether America or England or Russia, or any business enterprise, is as important as the welfare of all. ‘Thy kingdom come on earth’ is not only Christian, it is the only possible roadway to lasting peace (pages 12 & 13).”

Written before the end of WWII
Prayer The Mightiest Force in the World
Frank Charles Laubach

In gassho, Shokai

Buddha Do not believe in anything pic and quote

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Emerson:  “Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates aajahn-brahmll whom it floats, and you are without effort impelled to truth, to right, and a perfect contentment.”[1]

Zen Ajahn Brahm: “Contentment is the opposite of a faultfinding mind.  You should develop the perception of contentment with whatever you have, wherever you are, as much as you can (page 44).”[2]

Wow!  What a concept!  In America we find ourselves often in a place where contentment seems impossible.  Especially during times like Christmas.  From the time we are very little until we die we make lists all year long asking for the newest toy on TV or the bike like your best friend has, or a new car like the neighbor down the street just got.  We long for material things and money and trips and more.

When was the last time you were content with what you had?  When was the last time you spent time in meditation and prayer where your mind was not drug off into thoughts of discontent?  Discontent with your relationships, your job, your income, with your health, or the world in general.

Don’t get me wrong there are a lot of people in need all over the world. In need of food, shelter, and safety from floods and bombs and more.  And we should do all we can to help them from supporting peace not war, supporting food banks, homeless shelters, veteran’s benefits, and more.  However, we must start with ourselves and our own consciousness.  Start with the little things and work your way up to the big things!  If you need to lose weight and you create a plan to do so celebrate even the smallest improvement be it losing three pounds, exercising three days in a row, or changing your diet to healthier foods this week.

Be open to “baby steps—baby steps” as Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) told his patient Bob Wiley (Bill Murry) in the movie “What about Bob.”  Find contentment in the little things wherever you can—whenever you can.   Longing for things that are out of reach makes you discontented with life and robs you of your contentment and your peace and joy in the present moment.  It doesn’t matter whether that discontentment is about things, places, or people.

We attract what we think about the most.  So if you want peace meditate and focus on peace and like a magnet you will draw it to you!  Remember contentment is hiding within it! If you want better health, or a different more fulfilling job, or a new relationship do the same and watch what happens!  Open your mind to receive your good by placing yourself in the middle of contentment!

Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

 

[1] http://www.azquotes.com/author/4490-Ralph_Waldo_Emerson/tag/contentment

[2] Brahm, A. (2014) Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond A Meditator’s Handbook. Wisdom Publications: Boston

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This Christmas time I was gifted with this beautiful 3-year-old Schnauzer-Yorkie mix, Annie,  from Jamie’s Rescue.  She was rescued from a puppy mill in Miami by the police when they raided the mill and shut it down.  My dear friend, animal advocate, and former music director at my church, Jeffrey Frank, sent me a link to Jamie’s Facebook page with Annie’s picture on it and he asked me if I could take this dog who was in need of a good and safe home.  She was forced to have 4 liters in her short 3 years of life.

Of course, I said yes and she came to me a few days before my B’day and two weeks before Christmas.  She has lit up my life and given me hundreds of hours of joy over this holiday season.  I am blessed to have her and all of my friends who take care of those less fortunate two legged and four legged sentient and insentient beings. May all your dreams come true.

Thank you all for the light you bring into my life! Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!  Kathy and Annie

Annie Nov. 27.15 (2)

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Sharing the Merit

Showing our gratitude, practicing the way of awareness
Gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruits with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends,
And numerous beings.
Who give guidance and support along the path (page 170-71).[1]

It just happens to be 5 days before Christmas as I am beginning to think about what I will write next for my blog. The theme has been prayer and so I scoured my numerous book shelves with books on prayer both Unity ones and Buddhist ones and low and behold what did I see this wonderful book given to me by my sangha, Chanting from the heart Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village in France. I noticed there was a cloth bookmark and as I lifted it to open to the page there to my surprise was a short chant entitled “Sharing the Merit.”

How perfect is that! “God is good…all the time” as my friends at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale always say. And they are right, even when it doesn’t seem so. When we say and do the right things, right things happen in our lives. So not only is it important to believe the words above in our chant it is imperative that we live our lives as the example of them. And not just at Christmas time but 365 days a year.

Whatever you do don’t turn away your good when someone showers you with gratitude by saying, “Oh, it was nothing.” That demeans their gift of gratitude, and equally as important, you are turning away your good. In Unity we encouraged our students and congregants never to do that as you don’t know what good may be coming your way and if it hears those words of rejection it may decide to bless someone else with that “good.”

And that “good” could have been prosperity, a new job, a visit from a long lost friend or relative, or a healing. So always accept your good with grace and gratitude. Use the above sutra and share that grace with others whenever you get the opportunity. Christmas is the time of giving so instead of giving material possessions try giving kind words, your help, your love, and your gratitude and watch your good manifest in miraculous ways—especially without expectation of receiving.

Give simply for the gift of giving. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1]Hanh, T.N. et.al. (2007) Chanting from the heart Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices. Parallax Press: Berkeley, CA

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I have been invited once again by Rev. Barbara Lunde to be a part of the interfaith Christmas Eve Service at the Center for Spiritual Living in Boca Raton, Florida.  Each year I am privileged to read the Metta Sutra The Loving Kindness of  Shakyamuni Buddha.  I use our beautiful bells and make it a time of meditation for the people in attendance.  They leave the service feeling as though they have experienced a great calmness and peace as Jesus had asked his followers to do when he walked this earthly plain.

As a retired Unity minister I can see these words being written or even recited by Jesus himself.  Some say that his lost years were spent studying in the Far East and thus he would have been exposed to Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. The founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama the historical Buddha was born in 566 or 563 B.C.E.[1]  Jesus of Nazareth was born  2,013 years ago. So it is clear by his age that he could well have been exposed to these teachings as he too preached love and compassion, and opened his heart to all people, rich or poor, sick or well, gay or straight, and sinners of all kinds just as the historical Buddha had taught.

You can see this clearly written in many of the verses in the Bible, start with Luke Chapter 7:

  • But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!
  • Do good to those who hate you.
  • Bless those who curse you.
  • Pray for those who hurt you.
  • Give to anyone who asks
  • Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
  • If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even Sinners love those who love them.
  • You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

And I could go on and on, but I won’t.  To illustrate the Christmas Spirit in the words of the Buddha pay attention to the words below with an open heart and an open mind and see that all Wisdom is from the same source which had no beginning and has no end.

Blessings from my house to yours for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

In gassho, Shokai

 Metta Sutra: The Loving-Kindness of Shakyamuni Buddha

May all beings be happy.  May they be joyous and live in safety. All living beings, whether weak or strong, in high or middle, or low realms of existence, small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born, may they all be happy.  Let none deceive another nor despise any being in any state; let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.

Even as a mother at the risk of her life watches over and protects her only child, so with boundless mind should one cherish all living things, suffusing love over the entire world, above, below, and all around without limit.

Standing or walking, sitting or lying down, during all one’s waking hours, may one remain mindful of this heart and this way of living that is the best in the world.

Unattached to speculations, views and sense desires, with clear vision, such a person will never be reborn in the cycles of suffering.


[1] The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen, (1991) Shambhala Dragon Editions: Boston, MA

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December 8th according to tradition in Zen Buddhism is the day celebrated when Shakyamuni Buddha was sitting in mediation under the Bodhi-tree and at the first glimpse of the morning star, attained enlightenment.  History says that when he looked up he cried out, “I and the great earth and beings simultaneously achieve the way.”  It’s probably true also that the day of Jesus’ birth, when he was slapped on his little butt, he too cried out. To the joy of his parent’s ears, I am sure!  He let them know he was alive and well and ready to live the mission for which he was born.

Whether we believe Jesus was actually born on December 25th or not December seems to be the month chosen to commemorate the birth/rebirth of these two great men or what we call in Zen Buddhism “Bodhisattvas of the world.”

One of the great teachers of Buddhism in America is Father Robert Kennedy, in his book Zen Gifts to Christians (2004), he writes these words about the Buddha’s enlightenment experience, “He exults in his realization that he and the great earth and the whole cosmos and everything in it simultaneously achieve enlightenment; he realizes that they all share the same reality.  It was this experience that launched Zen Buddhism as an international religion of wisdom and compassion (page 68).”

And for Christians we see Christ telling his followers, “I and the Father are one.”  (John 10:30) He says, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) He nor the Buddha championed war, killing, prejudice, hatred, ignoring suffering, and the like since if we are all one we are only hurting ourselves as we hurt others.  I cannot separate myself from you.  This has been proven by those who are coming back from our wars with the increased incidence of PTSD and suicide.

Christ’s life was about teaching compassion for those who were suffering, in pain, in need, and in want.   The Buddha and the Christ both said that there will always be suffering in the world.  Why should our behavior contribute to that suffering?  Let our behavior help minimize the suffering and recognize the divinity in everyone and everything.  Father Kennedy goes on to write, “. . . when we touch our neighbor, we do not only touch a friend of Christ’s, we touch Christ himself. When we touch Christ, we touch the one who sent him (page 71).

It is so in Buddhism.  When we touch the lonely, the poor, the suffering, and those in need we touch the Buddha.  What difference is there between the two: culture, geography, and calendar years.  The rest was added on by man and the writers of history books.  But what really matters is their lives and the way they lived them.  Their deeds and the way they performed them.  Their wisdom and the way they shared it with anyone who would listen.

At this time when Zen Buddhists celebrate Rohatsu and Christians celebrate Christmas we should put aside our man made differences and begin to understand what Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha understood that we are all “one” with God, with mind, with others, with everything.  Let us break the bonds of separation and “other than ness.” Father Kennedy reports the story of the Asian Catholic bishops visit to Thailand in January of 2000 to evangelize Asia.  “…because they felt they should be sensitive to the enduring Buddhist spirituality of Asia and since they were aware that the Buddhists saw Christ and the Bodhisattva as one, the bishops offered an alternative way to evangelize Asia.  They claimed that although they did not deny the uniqueness of Christ, they believed they should not present Christ as simply unique.  They proposed to portray both Christ and the church in a way that resembled the Bodhisattva: That is humble companions and partners of Asians in their common quest for the truth (page 77).”

Both the Buddha and Jesus awoke to the knowledge that all is one.  So on these two very special days of the year let us continue the quest for peace, love, and compassion every day of every week of every year.

Namaste: I behold the Christ/Buddha in you.

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