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Posts Tagged ‘Nelson Mandela’

What does it mean to be free?  There will be different connotations if you live in the middle of a war zone in the Middle East, or in a job that you feel chained to that is joyless and boring, or if you are incarcerated in a prison “behind the fence” as we say.  Then there is the prison of our minds and emotions that keep us from being free of our thoughts of lack, limitation, and ill health.

As a college professor I have seen that fear in my students eyes when they enter my developmental English class and know that they will not be free to take the “for credit courses” and earn a degree in their favorite area of study if they don’t pass my class. And yet at some time during that semester I can see the light go on in their minds when they finally “get it.”  They are finally free of their negative thoughts and fears and able to move on with their education.

H. Emily Cady in her book Lessons in Truth wrote:

You may think that something stands between you and your heart’s desire, and so live with that desire unfulfilled, but it is not true.  This “thing” is a bugaboo under the bed that has no reality.  Deny it, deny it, and you will find yourself free, and you will realize that this seeming was all false.  Then you will see the good flowing into you, and you will see clearly that nothing can stand between you and your own [good/freedom].[1]

You will be free!

Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years and yet he was still able to be a powerful symbol of black resistance to apartheid. On February 11, 1990 he was released by President de Klerk and in 1991 he was elected president of the African National Congress. In 1993 Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

A similar story can be told in our country about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Susan Bright Eyes LaFlesche (Omaha Native American civil rights activist.) and R.C. Gorman painter, sculptor and Native American the first Native American to be internationally recognized as a major American artist.

R.C. Gorman Native American artist

Freedom: Nothing stood in the way of their “hearts desire.” Do not let anything stand in yours either. Freedom is not a place—it is a consciousness.

Be free to meet your good today!  Let me know how that goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Cady, H.E. (1903).  Lessons in Truth. Unity Village, MO: Unity House

 

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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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Enlightenment is an elusive idea spread by many religious and spiritual teachings around the world. Questions abound:  What is it?  How do I attain it?  What will happen if I do get it?  Does that mean I have to leave my family and friends and go live on the top of a mountain somewhere?

Dogen said, “Great enlightenment right at this moment is not self, not other. Great enlightenment is the tea and rice of daily activity.  Enlightenment is ungraspable (page 55).”[1]

Tanahashi and Levitt say, “Awakening to the ultimate reality of human existence is called ‘realization’ or ‘enlightenment.’ It is the actualization of our innate capacity to experience wisdom beyond wisdom (page 50).”[2]  Wisdom abounds everywhere, are you looking?

Enlightenment is knowing that you are in the present moment, doing all that you can to demonstrate your oneness with the world and the people around you.  It is living in the moment and not being drawn into future events or challenges or pushed back to the worries and woes of the past minutes, hours, days, or years.  It is being one with all in this very moment.

As Dogen said it is the “tea and the rice of daily activity.”  So if you are sitting or meditating so you can be sent to another plane of existence, or to light up like the pictures we see of Jesus, or to be relieved of your daily chores and sorrows you may or may not grasp it.  You just may be looking in the wrong place for the wrong thing.

Enlightenment to me is when you are living your life fully with peace, love, joy, and compassion.  When without thinking you act as the Good Samaritan, or Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, or the Buddha just doing and being the embodiment of those things. It is washing the dishes with care, driving the car with mindfulness for the safety of others on the road and the passengers in your car.  It is saying a prayer before you eat to bless the food and those who have made it possible for you to eat: the farmer, the truck driver, the clerk in the grocery store and hundreds more.

We have a beautiful prayer that we say before each meal at our Zendo if you are not already using it I hope you’ll try it out.   It seems to have extra added benefits like no indigestion after the meal for some reason or other!

Earth, water, fire, air, and space combine to make this food. Numberless beings gave their lives and labors so that I may eat. May I be nourished so that I may nourish life.

This prayer can be used throughout the day for everything.  Bless the clothes you wear and the people who made them for you.  Bless the car you drive and the home where you live, and the furniture that you sit and sleep on. See the “light” in everyone and everything.  That is why we call it “enlightenment.”  It is not a place to go but a place to be!

Be light about everything, look for the humor and laughter around you and bring humor and laughter wherever you go.  Life is short—too short to be living “enheavyment” every day all day long!  Be good to yourself and lighten up. When you do you see enlightenment everywhere in everyone and in everything.  Think what a miracle that would be! If this day was your last day on earth what a wonderful day it would have been.

Dogen said, “You should remember that how much you study and how fast you progress are secondary matters.  The joyfully seeking mind is primary (page 51)”[3]  So trade in your heaviness for joyfulness today!  When you do you will be face-to-face with the master’s I have named above and many more—you will be walking with them in the light.

So travel lightly, Shokai

Things to focus on this week:

1.  I will begin each day with joyfulness and lightness.

2.  I will remind myself that life is short—and not to spend time in “heaviness” but in “lightness”!

3.  I will remember to keep my eyes and ears open because wisdom and enlightenment are everywhere present.

4.  Lastly, I will keep a journal of the opportunities that have been presented to me so I can keep track of my progress and my opportunities for growth.


[1] Tanahashi, K. Levitt, P. (2013) The Essential Dogen, Writings of the Great Zen Master. Shambhala: Boston, MA

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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