Tag Archives: Buddhism

Hungry?

 nudibranchs are carnivores a fun fact about nudibranchs is that

soul blog inspired by Psalm 1 and Matthew 22:34-46 

What we eat can effect us greatly. Take the nudibranch snails (see picture above) and medusa jellyfish medusa-jellyfishfound in the Bay of Naples. The snail carries a tiny parasite, a jellyfish, attached to its surface near the mouth.  The jellyfish grows up and gets nice and fat, but the snail leaves its larva within the body of the jellyfish, and the snails end up eating the jellyfish from the inside out.  http://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/Medusa_and_the_snail.html

Gross!

The food we ingest certainly changes us in many ways. What we listen to, look at, and are taught are types of food—spiritual food, psychological food and intellectual food.

Often we cannot get beyond teaching that has been ingrained through culture, schools and family. This is all right provided it is healthy information. Information forms us.

The Pharisees had learned the Torah well, and they were not about to budge on what they considered the rules that pleased God. Of course, the rules that pleased God were not merely about whether you ate certain foods, but how you lived your life, how you treated other people, how you meted out justice, how you included those who were marginalized, and how you got beyond whatever limited you personally.

How do we become better human beings? Do we want a world of peace? Do we want interior freedom?

When an expert in the law, a Sadducee, asks Jesus “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself: All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

During elections, we are often confronted with people who think opposite to us. What’s worse is the attack ads which completely distort the truth and sometimes tell downright lies about the opposition. It is important for us to learn how to include other people and not allow anger over differences to create separation. Let us discern truth, admit that others have good ideas, even when we disagree with them, and recognize that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, no matter their color or their political persuasion.

I got a political e-mail from a friend of mine. We share the same opinions and what he sent were some basic facts. I’ve heard them before. I’ve even confirmed them. In any case, because I agree with him, I have no problem with what he sent me, and I take no issue with him. I sent this information to a few people whom I know and respect. I was surprised at the vehemence of one of my other friends. She sent me back some hate mail that was clearly propaganda.

Perhaps my friend though, “Ohhh, Christina, I don’t want these facts! They cannot possibly be right!”

Sometimes we might actually be absolutely right such as when we oppose murder, cheating, lying and various ugly and obvious crimes, but more often than not we only have a partial view of reality and truth.

Thank God for our differences. How are we to love one another as ourselves when we can’t stand what someone says or does. It’s simple. Treat others as you hope to be treated.

If you hate your neighbor for any reason, it does not matter that you come to church regularly, give money to a charity, and pay your bills on time, you are not obeying the basic spiritual rule of love.

We do not and cannot fully understand what makes people think they way they do. We are not in their shoes, and they are not in ours. Our very differences are our strength. We can learn from one another.

Jesus says you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  This is basic wisdom. God does not want destruction but joy and freedom in our lives. Resentments and bitterness, like those nudibranch snails (we don’t even know are there), can eat us from the inside out.

The commandment to love your neighbor as yourself prevents outsiders from pointing accusatory and judgmental fingers, because there are no outsiders. In God’s love, we are all insiders. This command to love your neighbor as yourself is given as a gift. This is the only way to true joy, true happiness and peace.

To love our neighbors as ourselves unifies us as a people. It is the hope of the world.

Start with the little things: Love your neighbor as yourself    you tube video/music

Acts of Kindness Caught on Camera in 2012  

spiritual quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh

  • When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.
  • People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?
  • In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.
  • Training is needed in order to love properly; and to be able to give happiness and joy, you must practice DEEP LOOKING directed toward the other person you love. Because if you do not understand this person, you cannot love properly. Understanding is the essence of love. If you cannot understand, you cannot love. That is the message of the Buddha. [True Love. A Practice for Awakening the Heart.]
  • So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person. [True Love. A Practice for Awakening the Heart.]
  • Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself- if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself- it is very difficult to take care of another person. In the Buddhist teaching, it’s clear that to love oneself is the foundation of the love of other people. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice. [Shambhala Sun March 2006 ]

Who is Your Mother?

mother4from: http://jennyphar.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/mothers-day/

I came across a helpful contemplation in Volume 1 from Modern Buddhism, The Path of Compassion and Wisdom by Geshe Kelsang Gaytso, who has offered his book free on Kindle.

“Training in Affectionate Love.”

Consider the idea of reincarnation: Geshe suggests that we recognize every other human being we meet as having once been our mother in a former life.

We are reminded that mothers are women who have given birth, mother3sacrificing themselves, giving up sleep at night to tend to their babies, giving up food so their children can eat, risking their very lives for the safety and wellbeing of their children.

If you have an antagonistic relationship with your mother, you may not find this an easy contemplation, since your current mother/child relationship will influence your ability to feel affection. Nevertheless, you must pray for your enemies (as the Christ tells us) and persevere with this practice.

Personally, I find it a lovely way to love others of all stripes, persuasions, and creeds.  My mum was my best friend, and I remember her, during those years in England after WWII when rationing was still in effect, going without to give me and my brothers the last of the sausages for dinner.  It’s also the case that she rejected me as a baby but that is another story.  We are all mixtures of light and gloom, sunshine and clay.

manwithbeardIt might seem difficult to contemplate a man with a beard as our mother, but consider what is of the essence in a person is not appearance, gender, or sexuality.  What is of essence is compassion, care, choice, and the inner potentialities of this person manifested in various uniquely alive ways.  Indeed, Jesus was and is considered by many wise spiritual leaders to be their mother.  For it is he who has helped birth their greater understanding, their deeper sense of mystery and wonder, and their ability to negotiate life’s uncertainties with grace.

We are all complex, awesome beings with immense potential.  As are all living creatures. As is our planet we so often call mother earth.

Excerpt from Modern Buddhism, Volume I

“We should contemplate as follows: Since it is impossible to find a beginning to my mental continuum, it follows that I have taken countless rebirths in the past, and, if I have had countless rebirths, I must have had countless mothers. Where are all these mothers now? They are all the living beings alive today.

Having repeatedly contemplated this point we strongly believe that all living beings are our mother and we meditate on this belief.

The Kindness of Living Beings

Having become convinced that all living beings are our mothers, we contemplate the immense kindness we have received from each of them when they were our mother, as well as the kindness they have shown us at other times.

When we were conceived, had our mother not wanted to keep us in her womb she could have had an abortion. If she had done so, we would not now have this human life. Through her kindness she allowed us to stay in her womb, and so we now enjoy a human life and experience all its advantages…” (Kindle location 931-38).

Meister Ekhart, Christian mystic, said, “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”   (Thomas Moore. The Soul’s Religion. Harper Collins. 2002. p.6).

For Christians this is akin to seeing Christ in all others.  It is a good practice to recognize other people, some who we may consider less than us, some who may have hurt us, some who struggle with addictions and who knows what else.  It is a good practice to see they are equal to us in potential and lovability. We must try to remember we all need help from one another all the time.

None of us, no matter our circumstances, are, in the eyes of Theos (God) which in Greek means to see, is more or less than others.  We are all potential Bodhichitas which Christians might consider as being one-with-Christ.

Being Now, Now

I woke up this morning in the wee hours with my mind racing (Buddhists would call this a monkey mind) in plans on how to furnish the house my husband and I are buying. Where would I put the couch, the occasional tables, the lamps? Would we be able to get the bed up the stairs? Where could I place my pots and plant my flowers?

It is very exciting.  Yet I don’t want to spend my time in planning ahead and speculating.  Much more important to be here now, present to the moment, else the experience of life is lost in a sea of vague unformed ideas that might never come to pass.

Jesus remained rooted in the present moments of his life, healing others, teaching, laughing with his friends, suffering with his friends, praying on mountaintops. He did not waste his time worrying about what was to come nor what had been other than to recognize how the past (Torah) informs the present, and the present (how we think and act) informs the future.

Allowing our minds to wander takes us out of the center of our being. We often lose ourselves in past moments that are gone or are galloping ahead into moments that may never come.

We must train our minds so that we might direct them in right-thinking, rather than become a victim of a particular thought, lost in the past or carried away into a frenzy. 

Thoughts, Eknath Easwaran tells us, are like balls being bashed around in a game of tennis. Everyone knows it takes practice and skill to play tennis successfully, lobbing the ball within the bounds of the court.  It is the same with our thoughts–we practice meditation so that we might become aware of where the thoughts fly in order to direct them wisely.

So, in the middle of the night, I first prayed for God to help me calm down and then I began to meditate, paying attention to my breath.

When I inhaled, I noticed the passage of air through my nostrils, and I thought Being Now.

When I exhaled, I thought Now.

I became aware of the warmth of my body, the feel of the clean sheets, my husband next to me sleeping deeply. I enjoyed the feel of the fan blowing air down onto us. I rejoiced for the health of my body at this time. Slowly I drifted back to sleep.

I awoke refreshed and grateful for the day ahead, wondering what it might bring, excited at the possibilities, but grounded in reality, aware that no matter if there is pleasure or no pleasure, excitement or routine chores, when I attend deeply, all is well, and I am rooted in an eternal and everlasting flow.