Personal Note

My most valued possession is my family. Even if you are living in a box somewhere, and you have the love and support of your family, you will always be wealthy. Love really is all you need. From love, great things will emerge. From your thoughts, you can create greatness.

This is what I need to remind myself of everyday to be the best person that I can be. Live your life with gratitude. Be thankful for all that you have everyday, even if it is your eyes to see or your ears to hear or your feet to walk or your hands to create. Understand your place in this Universe; how infinitesimally small you are, but how huge a contribution your Spirit is. Don't wear blinders to the world around you, you're not the only one here. Be kind, considerate, don't be judgemental, love others, and yourself. Know that you are perfect inside; that you are love.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sundays With Buddha



Week Five

A wise man, recognizing that the world is but an illusion, does not act as if it is real, so he escapes the suffering.                                                                                    

I had such a moment of peace and validation when I turned to this passage. I have always felt this to be true. A few years ago, when I really started my journey along this new Spiritual Path, the realization of this became so strong I was almost frustrated with trying to lift the veil of illusion that I knew existed, just outside my reach. I finally had validation of what I had been feeling for so long. I often had many conversations with Noah on our evening walks discussing how I feel everything we see is but an illusion; so hard to describe, yet so frustrating to keep inside. I felt like I was talking "crazy" as if I could not ever talk like this in front of anyone else. Imagine my surprise when this quote revealed itself to me in such a synchronistic way. It really is so hard to explain all that I feel this one implies, but I will do my best to get my feelings across to you the best way that I can.

I really do feel that this quote has several levels of meaning or depth; different but same. I mentioned last Sunday that, when you begin to do a certain amount of work on yourself to learn how to release your attachment to material things (don't worry...I'm not talking about becoming an ascetic) you will probably start to realize that things should not and cannot make you happy. I do believe it is possible to pursue things and live with things that make you happy, and still remain unattached to them, so that if and when they "go away", you can let them go without fear or devastation at their loss. That is precisely what this quote says to me.

"A wise man," or one who studies himself and the meaning of the life he lives, comes to an understanding of these things by "recognizing that the world is but an illusion”, meaning that this world is not the ultimate in our happiness, it is but an illusion to happiness, as our true peace does not come from the material. Our happiness comes from inside us, not from without. All of these things which we strive for are false; temporary happiness. It is okay to work towards goals and dreams, for without gains and losses, we do not gain valuable lessons that we need for learning how to let go. With the help of these lessons, we learn to let go of things that we once had, but now are gone, without fear and pain. We realize, through the constant desiring of things with too strong of a passion, we cause ourselves great pain when those things cycle out of our lives.

If we can learn from this, surely we can become as the wise man who can recognize the world as illusion and "does not act as if it is real" by retaining our peace of mind even in the midst of loss, because we know that the things of the material world are not our source of happiness, and were never meant to be. In fact, always striving for something more can cause great pain when we do not achieve it, or we gain what we desire and lose it in some way. The constant worry of "losing" our things, from your coveted designer handbag to the house you've always dreamed about, can create a vibration in you that pulls to you more loss. This does not mean to be ashamed of hard work and the purchase of your "dream" home, but if you are trying to live from a place to impress someone, including yourself, you may not be living what you can afford; financially or Spiritually.

What peace do you get from your 'things' if they constantly have you in a state of worry and distress? When you get to know yourself, and what you can do to be happy, you'll be in harmony with a life that does not include comparing with others. It will not matter to you that you don't have what someone else has, because that part of the ego will have started to drop away. You are happy with your achievements because you no longer need more to validate you because you know that your possessions, or positions in life, do not define you. And if they do not define you, you are not destroyed if it all goes away. You can allow it to pass through your life because you know, as with the cycle of all things, more is on its way, and all is as it should be. You then are as the "wise man" and so you "escape the suffering".

I know this all sounds very good when talking about a handbag or some earrings, but I'm sure you're wondering about true, devastating loss, such as a home and all of your belongings after a disaster or your car after a financial crisis. Or even the death of a loved one. I've learned in my own studies that you don't have to be happy about your losses; loss does not usually denote joy. But being at peace with the way things are is necessary to escape the suffering you would otherwise feel by the excessive mourning of such losses. It sounds completely unattainable in certain circumstances, I know, but with time, patience and practice it can be achieved.

In this world that is "but an illusion", it is not only about possessions of value, but I believe our bodies, as well. Some may be holding on very tightly to their youth and appearance, worrying too much about how they are aging and not living the life laid out before them. What good is the youth you're chasing, if by the time you catch it, it's too late to use?

Then there is the loss of the body all together. This would be another interpretation of the "illusion". If this world that our bodies inhabit is an illusion, then can it be that our very bodies are also an illusion, as our Spiritual beings are our true selves? Just as we mustn't let our belongings define us, we also mustn't let our earthly bodies and human personalities define us, either. And, if our Divine beings are our true selves, then when our bodies die, is it just an end to that part of the illusion? We still mourn the loss of our loved ones, I know all too well the difficulty with that loss, but I try to keep in the forefront of my mind the idea that it is not the end of the being that inhabits the body, just the physical body, itself.

The more I practice this way of living, the more peace I have truly gained from letting go of the "illusion", and, though my journey has been in progress for the last 5 years, and I am by far not finished learning, I feel I am accomplishing a great end to my suffering.

This is why I write for you. I am so grateful for the events that triggered my Spiritual change and journey, and I am grateful for all the events that are my journey, that I give them to you in hopes that something in them might be the trigger for you to start searching, and finding your own answers, your own peace.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you today.
I wish you all the wonderfulness you deserve...



Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sundays With Buddha


Week Four

Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.

I picked this quote because my son is graduating high school this Sunday and this is wisdom that I have tried to instill in him his entire life.

I resist the urge to look up a quote, such as this one, to read someone else’s interpretation. I think it defies the purpose of working through this journal. I believe you are to find your own meaning and adapt it to your own life, making it useful to you in this modern age. Most of these lessons seem pretty straight forward to me, while others are a bit more perplexing, so these are just my interpretations. Maybe they will trigger something in you that you can apply to your own life.

That being said, my interpretation of this quote is something I have taught my son, and have been working towards for myself, for many years. The Buddha’s lessons are all about Peace and Happiness. Through his enlightened wisdom he offers you examples of how to begin to reach these states. As you will see, he does not ask you to perform great feats of overpowering another, but the greatest feat of overpowering: that of yourself. Only with producing harmony within yourself can you become harmonious with another.

One of the ways to this harmonious state is to become happy with your state of being. How do you become happy with your state of being? I believe this quote tells you one major way to gain the happiness that you seek.

I have been searching for mine for some time. I know I have found it in writing, but it is scary to feel I must give everything else up to pursue it; I have a full time job. But, I realize, I am giving myself to it. These lessons are but a tool to self-discovery. As I have said before, nothing happens overnight. Everything takes work, but if it’s work towards something you love, it doesn’t feel like work at all. And I don’t feel I have to give up my steady job to pursue it, either. I have done a lot of trial and error ‘work’ to find what I feel is my true purpose, and now I am giving myself to it. That, in and of itself, may be a bit of trial and error. But I don’t mind, because I am passionate about it.

When you take the time to center upon yourself and really search for what makes you happy, that is “discovering your work.” Taking the time to center upon yourself and really search out what it is that you feel your “work” or ultimate purpose is, is that  work” with which you should “…then with all your heart to give yourself to it”, meaning, once you’ve discovered what your work or purpose is, you give yourself to it, wholeheartedly.

So, how does this pertain to my son's graduation today?
I have always taught him to never get himself stuck in a career or job just to make money or survive. I’ve always told him to pursue what makes him happy, what he’s passionate about. He has the full understanding that, in this society, one needs an income. But it is not necessary to give yourself over to “the almighty dollar.”

He is fortunate enough to be just at the threshold of his life, to have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. If doing what you love means making less money, you adapt your life to need less. If you don’t become attached to all the possessions that many believe give you status and happiness you don’t miss these things. If you do the type of work on yourself that gains you the understanding that happiness does not come from without, but within, then most likely the inherent release of attachment to things will follow.

This means that you can pursue things that make you happy and enjoy all the things you have, but stay unattached so that you can let them go if they all go away, and not be destroyed by their loss and absence, as the things aren’t what you should ever rely on for your happiness (but that’s a whole other quote to explore).

I don't think our generation always fully realizes how the world is changing for our youth that is heading out into the work force. There are many University graduates left with high student loans and no jobs in the corporate world. Most of these graduates were following a set of "rules" laid down by a society that they have grown out of, for wanting to do the "right thing". I am not saying that these kids are wrong in what they picked, as long as they are happy and truly passionate about their 'work'.  But I have been hearing a lot more lately of people leaving their jobs in pursuit of a more passion driven path. Sometimes out of necessity due to becoming unemployed, or because they just couldn't take the dread of going through the monotony any longer. If everyone was afforded this opportunity, can you imagine how much happier this world would be to live in? 

 While my son is going to college, he picked where as well as his major and minor.  He is a musician and has already produced several pieces of music, starting at just 16. He is interested in music production and education and I support him in that because it is his passion, his gift and is what makes him happy.

I had a conversation with someone at work who told me there was no money in music, production or otherwise. Not a musician himself, mind you, but someone who probably meant well enough. But if we always give in to other people's opinions and let naysayers sway our decisions, we may not have all of the wonderful discoveries and inventions we are now blessed with. 
I taught my son not to pay attention to what others may try to discourage him from. Never let someone else crush your dreams or tell you that you 'can't'. It's also not always all about the money. You can't put a price tag on your passion. If you make yourself happy, you will be in a state of being that will bring to you all that you need. Richness is being happy with you, and what you do. If your work ends up touching another in the process, all the better.
 These are lessons that I wish I had been taught earlier in my own life, to live passionately and not get stuck doing what is perceived as the 'right thing'. But I am working on the change I need to live from my own heart. Change is always available to you. There are no stone walls built around you. Your path is paved by the bricks that you lay. 

So, you may wonder if he thinks this career path will make him wealthy. He doesn’t ever talk about that, really, except for the richness of his life by following his passion. He knows the trade-off for living your passion is possibly the under abundance of money in the bank. He just wants to make music and teach others how to do the same. He wants to encourage other youth to follow their dreams and believe in themselves, too. That dreaming big and going for it is not unattainable, when you believe in yourself.
Boy, that's rich.

He’s done his work, he’s discovered his work and you better believe he’s given himself to it…wholeheartedly.

And I couldn’t be more proud.  
Thanks for being with me today.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day without mom

You never get too old for your mother’s death to crush you. All supposed wrongdoing and arguments go far away.
You never get too old to need your mother back, to wish anything else in exchange to have her to call, to talk to.
You never get too old to want to wrap up in your mothers robe and be comforted by it. To lay your head on her lap and feel her hand on your hair.
You never get too old to feel sad or lonely or scared and want the presence of your mother to make it all feel better again.

You especially feel the loss of these emotions if you had separated so far from them while she was still living. When they are ripped away from you so suddenly, that's when you might feel that loss the greatest.

I truly realized the meaning of, "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" in this past year. I didn't think this Mother's Day would be as hard as it was; much harder than last year. I suppose it's because I have 'settled' in to the realization of her death and have had time to let it sink in, unlike last year when I was still so overwhelmed and keeping my mind busy with all that there was to do to prepare for life without her.

All I could think about yesterday was what I could have been doing with her for Mother's Day. How much fun we could have had and all the different things she liked to do.

She was no ordinary lady. We could have done so much. I imagine how much fun it would have been to go to our usual haunt, St. Charles for quiche and iced tea and some shopping, but with our cameras this time. How much fun she would have had taking pictures together of the flowers and buildings and walking the Katy Trail along the river, then having a glass of wine on the veranda of one of the many wineries along Historic Main Street. Then, if we weren't too tired, we could have even taken in a movie.
While she was alive, I didn't know how I would feel if she were to live closer to us, but now I wish she had, at least in the last few years.
But I didn't know this was going to happen.
That's why it is important to try to set differences aside, now. Cherish what you have. Decide what's most important, being right or being love.
There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish I had done something different. Now is your chance, don't let it pass you by.
Make your life something to be proud of, not something to regret.
My best wishes to you,


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sundays With Buddha

Week Three

"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world."       


I strongly believe that thoughts are things. If we constantly think negative downtrodden thoughts, we will become negative, downtrodden people. I realize there is a lot to ‘worry’ about in this world now. We all have our troubles. There are things we just must have to survive even the tiniest bit in this society. So, short of packing up the family  and going off on a mission of solitude and poverty, we must have money and materials. And find some sort of way to make that money to attain those materials. With the lifestyles that we have grown accustomed to, comes responsibilities that we sometimes fear we can’t keep up with. When those troubled time arise, we put ourselves through torture with our maddening, incessant thoughts.

How will I pay this bill? How am I going to make the house payment AND the car payment? What about the leak in the roof? You can torture yourself into a frenzy with your thoughts. You can create illness or greatness, calm or chaos. It feels impossible to shut off the mad carousel of your thoughts, which ultimately become feelings, like a switch. But, I think this is necessary to regain our sanity. When your thoughts are out of control, how do you feel? When you are overwhelmed with whatever it is that is troubling you, how do you feel?
Trapped, weighed down, lost, scared, sad, depressed, confused, moody, hateful, maybe?

How do those feelings make you act?  Much of the same, right?

Now, imagine the pleasure of taking control of these thoughts. Knowing that they hold no power over you, but what you allow them to have. Thoughts are indeed things, and may feel like they have a mind of their own at times, but they don’t, not if you don’t let them. You have power over your thoughts, and what you allow into your space, not the other way around.
I, as much as anyone, know how difficult it is to maintain a positive outlook when things seem to be traveling in the opposite direction that you believe they should. You may not always want to think positive when you're feeling low, but it really does help.

Maybe you could go and do something to take your mind off what's troubling you and clear your mind. Take a walk and get some fresh air to get away from it so you can focus on something else and calm the dreary thoughts in your head.
When you create for yourself  space in your mind it gives you room to work things out. Then maybe you'll feel like switching from negative thoughts to a more positive thought process.

So, if you can distance yourself from this thinking and take that walk to put things into perspective a little better, you come back more prepared to organize those overwhelming tasks into attainable goals.
Gaining control makes you feel a whole lot better, right? When you accomplish each goal successfully you may think, "I can do this. I am strong enough."

What happens when you think this way?

You become this way.

It seems unattainable, like waking up one day and deciding to become someone else. But why is that so far-fetched?  Deciding doesn’t have to mean you must change everything right at that moment. Deciding is the first step. There are many more to conquer after that. Patience is the key. There is no right or wrong way to move ahead in your change. You simply decide on what you want to change and you set forth a plan in motion. Our downfall comes from trying to be perfect all the time so as not to “disappoint” anyone, including ourselves. We often judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else ever would. That constant judgment also spoils the mind.
Nothing happens overnight, short of Divine Miracles (which have been known to happen from time to time, just so you know), but with habit forming encouragement, this can surely become a practiced way of life and you will begin to realize that what is happening for you is a miracle in itself.

If everyone took the time to cherish themselves in this way, and changed their thinking, we would love ourselves more, paving the way to loving each other more.
Wow...what a world we would live in.

 Here’s a breakdown of the quote into sections and a little of what I think each verse means.
We are what we think.

The power of thought is not to be underestimated. Whatever we think, we tend to believe as truth. What we believe as truth, we live out in our everyday existence as truth. By living this ‘truth’ everyday, we become what we believe to be true.
All that we are arises from our thoughts.

Whatever ‘truth’ has grown from our thoughts, we form as our reality; who and what we are, what we think, and our deepest and dearest beliefs. All of this bloomed from one tiny seed, one little kernel of thought. We nurtured it with more thought. And it grew. And we fed it more, thinking it into fruition. We grew a life with as many abundant branches as a tree, just by our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make the world.

If we can nurture and grow this great tree of life for ourselves with our thoughts, and each of us does so, we end up with a forest.
I have read and seen examples of how thought can affect the world, both negatively and positively. The first flying machine was imagined into reality with a thought. Scores of music were written by first imagining the sound. Wars were waged, lost and won by dwelling upon the thoughts of tactics.  Cities were built, stories were written and technologies invented…all starting with a single thought.

Why, then, is it so hard to imagine the world becoming a better place to live if we are able to harness our thoughts? We can think ourselves back off the ledge of overactive thinking just as well as we got ourselves there to begin with. You can reverse the negative cycle of the thinking process easier than you think.

That word again, like an entity unto itself, wreaking havoc or creating beauty, all beginning within your mind. It’s your choice. They are your thoughts. We are each our own creator. We are reflections of divine love.

When you are standing at the waters edge of your mind, what will reflect out of you?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sundays With Buddha

   Week Two

“By your own folly you will be brought as low as your worst enemy wishes.”

Because of your own lack of foresight or poorly thought-out actions, you will stoop to your enemy’s level--just as they wish.

In a case such as the recent bombing at the Boston Marathon (and the Sandyhook Elementary School shooting and the Aurora Movie Theater shooting) it is understandable to be filled with confusion, anger and even hatred. Prejudice arises for those that are associated with these acts of violence, further separating "us" from "them".

What I believe this quote warns of in a situation such as this is the danger of the inability to let go of the anger in the aftermath.

There is a lot to be said for the heroics and undeniable bravery displayed by those that unselfishly put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of another. It is lifesaving in more than the obvious way. These acts of selfless bravery and caring that we are fortunate enough to witness during even the darkest of times are lifesaving for our Spirit, as well. It is important that we keep these acts in the forefront of our minds and let the good in these situations overcome the bad.

I don’t think it’s wrong to feel human emotion, but harmful to dwell upon the negative that others spread; for when you do, you are "by your own folly" allowing yourself to be "brought as low as your worst enemy wishes".

One who causes pain and suffering should not be feared. Building your life around that fear and letting a change occur in you based on the evil men do is exactly what they want; to control you with your own fear and hatred. This is the very purpose of "acts of terror."

Misery loves company. There are people out there who are unhappy and want you to be just as unhappy with them. It validates their feelings; makes those feelings ‘acceptable’ so they will do anything to “bring you to their level”. This, of course, can be avoided in both major and minor instances. In minor instances, such as being around people that just want to make you unhappy like them or feed off of your sympathy for their own perceived misery, you can remedy that situation fairly easily. Removing yourself from the situation or changing the conversation to something more positive is sometimes all it takes.

In a more major instance, such as the tragedies mentioned earlier, it takes a little more work within yourself to get to the point where you can actually let go of the fear and hatred you may harbor towards another. While these feelings are understandable, having them make a home in you, coiled and ready to strike, will eventually make you become your feelings, as you will be thinking on them often, and what we think we become.

By succumbing to your distaste for another, you are ultimately hurting yourself. When you dwell upon unpleasant feelings of dislike, distaste, annoyance, detest, and even hatred you start a seed of contention inside that you eventually might not even realize is there. It just slowly grows there, feeding off of your negativity like a parasite, becoming a part of you that you accept as truth. This “brings you as low as your ‘worst enemy’ wishes”. Forgetting the compassion that is inherent in your being is your “folly”, for “nothing can harm you as much as your own thoughts unguarded.”(Buddha)

We, more often than not, do more harm to ourselves than anyone else ever could. By letting our negative emotions run rampant we are causing ourselves harm worse than our enemies, by far.

What I think we are to take away from this wisdom of the Buddha is that, unchecked, our imaginations can run away with us, in the worst way. With practice and gentle reminders to ourselves, without judgment or scolding, we can eventually overcome the cycle of unconscious thinking that we have become so accustomed to. In doing so, it makes seeing the positive in any given situation clearer.

I am not saying to forget the sadness and remorse that comes with terrible acts. None of these things should be forgotten. On the contrary, they must be remembered, talked about and learned from. But it is just as important to celebrate the good that may have come from an act of violence as it is to remember the fallen from that act. I think it changes us as beings to remember our “being-ness”. How uplifting to know we can overcome such tragedies and rely on each other to hold out our hand to raise someone else up so they can do the same for the next?

How beautiful that we can look back, even with heartache, and realize how we have overcome such obstacles in this world and how this world seems to be changing for the better because of our actions, even as these things continue to occur. With our continued commitment to being proactive in this way and shining light onto the darkness we will surely get to the point where we are the darkness of this world's demise instead of it being ours.

Thank you for spending time with me today...