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Posts Tagged ‘patience’

On December 7, 1975 a short piece was published in the Family Weekly Magazine about Peace Pilgrim. In it she talked about the idea of peace that Americans held:

Peace is much more than the temporary absence of war; it is the absence of the causes of war. I believe it will take another 10 years for an outer peace to develop and sustain itself, but even after that time I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace (page 180).[1]

Sadly 42 years have gone by since she made this statement and wars on the common people by their governments and the fundamentalist religious groups around the world are raging harder, longer, and in more places than ever…from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, to the mountains of Iraq, to the sovereign state of Ukraine, and still fermenting are wars between the Israels and the Palestinians that live in the Gaza Strip. Just to name a few!

So what would you suggest to the Peace Pilgrim if she were still amongst us as to the “causes of war”? The absence of war for me will come when we all develop a constant and consistent attitude of peace, love, and compassion for self, and then allow that to flow freely and fully to all beings at all times, and in all places. Next, move that peace, love, and compassion to the trees, lakes, mountains, and rivers, to the grass beneath your feet and the sun and stars above—to see everything through the eyes of love. Finally, to teach these principles in every town and village on the planet to the young ones who will be the future caretakers of it. This is what’s missing and is the cause of war everywhere from the bedroom to the boardroom to the city and to the countryside.

The eyes of love for self disappeared in Robin Williams as his depression and life’s challenges grew harder and harder to accept and manage until he took his own life. His peace and compassion for himself began to dwindle and finally to disappear. That is just what the Peace Pilgrim was speaking about when she said, “I will continue to talk about the inner peace man needs to maintain outer peace.”

We are a union of minds melding together through the energy that moves around this planet. We feel the energy of others in our presence all the time. Sometimes we can feel the energy of joy, laughter, and love and sometimes we feel the energy of fear, hatred, and sadness. But feel the energy we do, sometimes it is so palpable there is a saying that “you could cut it with a knife.”

While sitting in the Zendo this morning one of our teachers, Mushin Sensei, put on a beautiful piece of music for us to focus on after the talk given by our teacher Doshin Mitch Cantor. The music was a piano piece that was so fabulous it brought the energy of a recently departed friend into the room. I saw his light, I could feel his love, I could see how his spirit/energy was everywhere present as far as the mind could imagine from cosmos to cosmos from heart to heart and from mind to mind. I felt both tears of joy and sorrow begin to roll down my cheeks as our energy merged with the music and I was once again reminded that “all is one” that there is no separation in time and space when agape love is concerned.

Wouldn’t it be great if the love energy of the Peace Pilgrim and my dear friend Kevin Dulling could be flowing in and through all that is to help end this madness on planet Earth? I know they both would approve!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

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

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I am getting ready to present a workshop for Career Source Broward the audience will be people that are working with them to find employment. The title of my workshop is “Reduce Stress…Increase Success with Mindfulness.” My desire is to share with each one of them the principles of mindfulness and breath work that can help them decrease their stress in mind, body, and spirit even in these trying times.

It is easy to be relaxed and joyous when your life is moving forward with a good job, personal health, and family members doing well, and when you have time for recreation, hobbies and the like. But for the unemployed or underemployed that is not always possible. Many times they are filled with emotions of fear, anxiety, depression, and panic–some in a small way and for others in a big way where they are probably going to need the help of the medical community. But for many some simple mindfulness, stress reduction, and time management techniques integrated into their daily lives on a regular basis can help them immensely.

One of my colleagues recommended a book to me, Mindfulness an Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World (2011) by Mark Williams and Danny Penman so I ordered it online and was highly impressed by the content and the information and tips shared in it.

In Chapter 2 “Why Do We Attack Ourselves?” they shared with the reader an illustration they titled “What makes an emotion?” I thought this would be great information for the participants in my stress and mindfulness training since I was sure they were having the gamut of every emotion on the planet during this trying time in their lives.

They define emotions this way”

Emotions are “bundles” of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and impulses to act. Next time you experience pleasant or unpleasant emotions, you might check in with what’s going on, and notice the interplay of the different aspects of the bundle (page 20).[1]

These ideas: Thoughts (I’m getting nowhere with this.”), feelings (tense, upset), impulses (Escaping; crawling into bed; pulling the covers over your head) and bodily sensations (Tense shoulders, churning stomach) (page 20)[2] can come in any order and move round and round leaving you sick in mind, body, and spirit. You are probably relating to this idea and wondering what the heck you can do about it.

The authors recommend some simple things that anyone can do at any time to turn the switch from one negative thought, feeling, impulse, or sensation to a better one. Here is one simple thing they recommend that you can do at any time and in any place to bring “peace” back into your life.

Something as subtle as frowning, smiling or altering posture can have a dramatic impact on mood and the types of thoughts flickering across the mind.

. . .the act of smiling can itself make you happy. It’s a perfect illustration of just how close the links are between mind and body. Smiling is infectious too. When you see someone grin, you almost invariably smile back. You can’t help it (pages 20-23).[3]

So if you want to make peace with yourself to see more peace in your life—even in the most difficult times and situations—observe your facial expressions and body language and make a simple adjustment. Put a smile on your face and stand up tall with your shoulders back and head held high and watch what happens to your “feelings” and your “attitude” you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Plus, you’ll feel more peaceful and your mind will feel sharper and ready to handle anything that anyone throws at you! Try it today and let me know what happens!

[1] Williams, M. and Penman, D. (2011) Mindfulness An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. Rodale: NY, NY

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

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If you have not already read this wonderful Sutra I hope that it will enlighten your day and keep you in peace.  Please share it with others to use in their services and with their groups to help bring our planet back to peace, love, and compassion.  In Gassho, Shokai

Metta (Loving-Kindness) Sutra

By 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 all beings 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 a boundless mind should

one cherish all living things,

suffusing love over the entire

world, above, below, and all around

without limit;

so let each cultivate an

infinite good will toward the whole world.

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I woke this morning hoping that yesterday’s news of the commercial airline being shot down in the Ukraine and watching the bombs and lights flashing through the evening sky between the Gaza Strip and Israel was just a dream. But it wasn’t. It did however make this just another reason and another opportunity to continue my series of blog posts on war and peace.

Peace Pilgrim said:

My pilgrimage is an opportunity to talk with my fellow human beings about the way of peace. It is also a penance for whatever I may have contributed by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today. It is a prayer that this war-weary world of ours will somehow find the way to peace before a holocaust descends (page 27).[1]

If I did not know better I would think this was written today. We have more wars then ever being fought around the globe. We have not only countries fighting countries, but political parties fighting political parties, and religions fighting religions.

Robert Muller1Robert Muller, who was the former Assistant-secretary General of the United Nations for forty years wrote a little book titled Dialogues of Hope wrote:

It is very important that religions work together, listen to each other, while keeping their own creeds and rituals, in order to determine what is fundamental to all of them and what is the deeper structure of the global spirituality inborn in the human person and race. When people get together and work together as we do in the UN, they discover that they do not really disagree on the fundamentals (page 92).[2]

Our life on this planet is so short why must we spend it fighting and fussing over things that do not really matter, things that do not make a positive effect in our life, things that are not filled with peace, love and compassion for ALL beings? If they do not make this world a better, kinder, gentler world they should be discarded by me immediately and replaced with some thoughts, words, actions, and feelings that do make this a better, kinder, gentler world for all those who come across my path. Just like the Peace Pilgrim did. Just like Mahatma Gandhi did. Just like Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha did.

I hope that I am not, as the Peace Pilgrim said, contributing “by commission or omission to the tragic situation in the world today.” I do make every effort to be mindful of my thoughts and actions, to catch myself and change my behavior and thinking if it is not filled with peace, love, and compassion.

In the Diamond Sutra it reads:

Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world; a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream; a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream.

So everything is impermanence: you, me, war, peace, love, hate, so what is all the fighting for?! Too bad these violent actors are not just a phantom and a dream and I could wake up tomorrow and all of this world would be a place filled with peace, love and compassion. And our newspapers and TVs would be filled with only good stories of peace, love and kindness. Then I would never want to awaken from my dream…

In gassho, Shokai

ingassho

 

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

[2] Muller, R. (1990). Dialogues of Hope, World Happiness and Cooperation, Ardsley-on-Hudson, NY

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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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I began thinking this morning about writing a new blog on my series on peace and just could not come up with a good idea, so I decided to go visit my friend who is in the hospital. I am helping her learn some breathing techniques and some Unity principles on health and healing so she can get back on her feet for GOOD! I figured the driving would clear my mind and sure enough it did.

When I got in the car I turned on the radio and one of my favorite Bette Midler songs came on, kismet you might say! She was singing From a Distance what a beautiful treatise on peace. So in case you haven’t heard it lately here is a link to the song and the words [emphasis and changes mine]. http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bettemidler/fromadistance.html

“From A Distance”

From a distance the world looks blue and green,
and the snow-capped mountains white.
From a distance the ocean meets the stream,
and the eagle takes to flight.

From a distance, there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
It’s the voice of hope, it’s the voice of peace,
it’s the voice of every man.

From a distance we all have enough,
and no one is in need.
And there are no guns, no bombs, and no disease,
no hungry mouths to feed.

From a distance we are instruments
marching in a common band.
Playing songs of hope, playing songs of peace.
They’re the songs of every man [person].
God is watching us. God is watching us.
God is watching us from a distance [from within].

From a distance you look like my friend,
even though we are at war.
From a distance I just cannot comprehend
what all this fighting is for.

From a distance there is harmony,
and it echoes through the land.
And it’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves,
it’s the heart of every man [person].

It’s the hope of hopes, it’s the love of loves.
This is the song of every man [person].
And God is watching us, God is watching us,
God is watching us from a distance [from within].
Oh, God is watching us, God is watching.
God is watching us from a distance [from within].

This is given prayerfully from my house to your house this Memorial Day Weekend in memory of all those who have been killed or injured in a war ever, anywhere on planet earth and beyond.  Namaste…

In gassho, Shokai

ingassho

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Throughout this series I have stressed the idea that “peace begins with me” and so long as I am not at peace with myself how can I see peace in others or be a part of a community of peace. I remember someone saying that some of the most un-peaceful people he had ever met were at a peace rally!

Thanissaro Bhikkhu writes in this wonderful book MEDITATIONS2 , “The Buddha said that the mind can be at peace only when it’s one, but for most of us there are two, three, four, five, six voices going at it, with all their different values and preconceptions… (page 150)”[1] You see we can be at war with ourselves as easily as with other individuals, groups, religions, countries and in the future maybe even worlds!

Peace is an elusive thing. One minute I have it and the next minute I don’t. It can be as simple as hearing something on the news that will yank me right out of the peaceful state I’ve been in. Or maybe it is the ringing of the phone in the middle of my meditation. Or perhaps a judgmental or critical thought pops up about a friend or relative. One minute I am practicing mindfulness while eating and the next minute my mind has moved out of peaceful contemplation on the plate of food before me into criticism or jealousy or pain.

Why oh why is peace so hard to maintain? Thanissaro Bhikkhu goes on to say, “We hold onto so many things not because we like them but because we’re afraid that if we don’t hold onto them something even worse is going to happen (page 150).[2] And thus these thoughts pop up at any time and in any place! The power of the mind is incredible and will draw us away from the most beautiful meditation for what seems to be no reason at all. So what is the solution?

He gives us some simple advice to deal with the rambling persistent voice in our head!

If anything gets in the way of concentration, put a question mark next to it. Do you really believe that? Is that kind of thinking really right? Is it really useful? When you start asking yourself this question, you begin to see how much you’ve been holding onto things you’ve never really examined in the past. You just accepted them because other people said they were true, or they sounded right, or maybe they worked once, and then you held onto them as a habit. So you have to make it a rule within yourself: An unexamined voice isn’t worth listening to (page 150-51). [3]

Thus it is important for us to learn how to examine our beliefs about the things that are drawing us away from our peace.

He goes on to say:

You need to learn how to see through those voices. That’s what they are: just disembodied voices floating around there in the mind. Learn how to put a question mark next to them saying, “I wonder if that’s really true? Maybe I can look into it some other time.” Then put the issue aside and go back to work, focusing on the breath (page 151).[4]

What appeared to be that elusive peace can return easily and you can regain your composure and focus and simply: be peace. Let’s try it now. Close your eyes, take three deep slow breaths, and count one on the in breath and two on the out breath. . .be one with your breath.

AHHHHHHHHH that felt great! Peace at last in mind, body, and spirit. Keep it up—I think you’ll like it if you do!

 

[1] DeGraff, G (Thanissaro Bhikkhu), Meditations2 Dhamma Talks, The Abbot Metta Forest Monastery, Valley Center, CA

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

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Just this morning I was reading one of my favorite internet news sources The Daily Koz and in it was a great post by Rdeforrest entitled Another Woman from Wasilla? where she quotes President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). This evidently was his dream—not how he was experiencing the world—but how he envisioned it to be in the future. It is both bold and unfortunate at the same time. Bold in his vision—unfortunate after all these years that we are no closer to its manifestation then on the day he shared it with the world.

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants—everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world.

That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.”

I hope that you will share this vision with others. I hope, as well, that when you can you will help make FDR’s dream become reality. And remember that peace begins with you and when you, your family members, your friends, neighbors, and co-workers manifest it in your daily lives and affairs we are all one step closer to this dream becoming a reality.

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Being mindful in life, in the classroom, at work, at home or at play can increase your powers of concentration, recognition, memory, and more.  Would you like a better relationship with your significant other?  Then using mindfulness techniques in your relationship just might help.  When was the last time you forgot his or her birthday, an anniversary, or her favorite food or that he liked his coffee black?  Want to have a better relationship with your boss, co-workers, and customers?  How mindful were you at that last meeting with them?  Was your mind wandering from to-do list to- do list so much so that you couldn’t even remember what he or she said, what they were wearing, or the color of his or her eyes or hair?  If this sounds like you help is on the way!

Russell Simmons in his new book Success through Stillness writes, “…we eventually come to understand that our happiness is derived from being present in the moment.  In seeing the miracles that are constantly unfolding around us every second, instead of blindly running past them (page 51).[1]  So here is the trick…when you catch your mind wandering, acknowledge it and invite it to come back into the present moment.  Whether you are reading a text for school or work, washing the dishes or the car, or waiting for a bus bring yourself back into the now moment.  Take a deep breath, scan your environment, focus on the person you are speaking to or the book that you are reading or the assignment that you are writing and smile. Yes, smile! Don’t put yourself down or criticize yourself for having that wandering mind just be grateful that you are beginning to recognize it and call it back to the now moment.

I like to help my students practice being mindful with a simple exercise like taking a piece of wrapped hard candy and using every one of your senses to “experience” the candy.  Yes, experience the candy.  Most of the time when we just eat the candy: We just unwrap it and throw it into our mouths and never really know what it felt like or tasted like and seconds later some of us have forgotten that we’ve even eaten it!

So try this and see what happens.  Take the candy and use all 5 of your senses to eat it. How does it feel to the touch?  Look at it before unwrapping it and after unwrapping it.  See its color, texture, shape, and more.  Listen to the sounds it makes as you do that.  Next, smell the candy and really smell it. Yes, hard candy does have some luscious smells!  Next, hold it in your mouth and feel what it feels like in there.  Is it sharp, soft, hard, feel it as it melts does it get slippery?  What happens to your saliva?  Does it taste different when you move it around your mouth from one place to another?  Really “experience” the candy.  Many of my students have noted after this exercise that this was the “best” candy they had ever eaten.  Why?  Because they actually took time to “experience” it.

What would happen if you spent your life really experiencing it—seeing the people, places, and things around you? What if you really smelled the smells, felt the textures, and enjoyed the views.  Really read the words that the author has written—really put yourself into the writing.  Really be there!  What would happen if you really looked at the cashier behind the register?  Saw him or her as a real human being with feelings, likes, dreams, and ambitions.  Like you!

Woody Allen once said that he’d never met a man on his deathbed who said “I wish I’d spent more time at work.” I have always said that when I die on my tombstone I want it written that “She died having no regrets.”  How about you? What will yours say?

Live life today—experience  it every moment, no matter how many times you have to remind yourself to “be in the now moment.”  Simply be here now!  Now is the only time there really is.


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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