Sunday, May 25, 2008

Peaceful Eyes


Taking the idea of the logs and the splinters in our eyes a little further this morning I was considering the difference between teachers and preachers. My own shortcomings have been pointed out to me by the self-righteous and by the humble. The difference is vast. The loud moralists aren't even worth writing about. The true teachers defy words.

My husband quietly singing Eric Clapton's "Before you accuse me", or an old policeman who once stopped me for speeding, just asking me quietly: "Please, not so fast" and then not giving me a ticket - are two favorite examples of how I have been humbled into instant improvement. And the quiet, wide open look or smile of a child has more than once reminded me of the right course of action or in-action.

This look is also in the eyes of the wise ones. In both the child and the wise, there is no judgment, but absolute knowing of right and wrong. This absence of judgment is an absence of resistance to our behavior. It is giving us free will to be as stupid, mean and ridiculous as we need to be without forming an opinion about it.

Considering the split in our endlessly commenting minds we need to do the same internally for ourselves. In other words, we need to be a silent, compassionate, all knowing, non-judgmental presence to ourselves, rather than the constantly commenting critic. As we become whole and good that way, we regain the peaceful joy in our hearts and eyes we knew as children.






Friday, May 23, 2008

Spiritual Ego

Are you a spiritual person? Well - you better not think of yourself that way or you will fall into the trap of spiritual ego. Whatever we identify with - we will think it is superior to others - or what others identify with. Why? Because we have chosen it over other identifications for certain reasons which make all other people, deep down in our minds, less wonderful than ourselves.

It is actually quite difficult to snap out of it. One way is to remind ourselves of how very un-spiritual we actually are. The gigantic log in our own eye versus the splinter in other people's eyes we are trying to inspire them to take out, is a good way to remember this. That is where humility comes in. To get to this elusive humility requires surrender to our powerlessness, and recognizing this powerlessness as the source of our being. It is one way to dislodge the mechanism of false identification.

We are not who we think we are, nor who other people think we are, nor are they who we think they are. So who are we then? It is beyond thought. When we have no thought it can be discovered.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Frugal Dad

Here is a useful new blog I found called Frugal Dad. Lots of good advice on how not to get caught up in the "shop 'till you drop" way of life, or how to get out of it, if you are already addicted. There is a lot of creativity about how to approach anything from gardening to financial investing all while keeping informed and fun frugality in mind.

Frugality is not supposed to be a puritan attitude against pleasure, but a way of life that reduces the dullness of our over saturated senses so we can once again enjoy the more subtle, and higher pleasures. This kind of "poverty" leaves us in abundance, and is available to everyone. No need to save the planet or reach higher religious heights. It is simply pure pleasure to be free from the unnecessary.

I can attest to the wealth available to the poorest and "unfortunate" families who have welcomed me into their homes all over the world. There are definitely two kinds of poverty. One is what I call true wealth. True wealth is when one has enough. People with that attitude create magic out of nothing - a bowl of rice, soup, or a cup of tea, which take on a quality that is far beyond their physical reality.

Not that the rich and well off cannot reach this same inner wealth. The advantage for the rich is that they have first hand experience that money cannot buy that kind of peace and happiness, while the poor might still hope that that is the case. Neither wealth nor poverty can guarantee the realization of inner wealth, but both can be used to get there.

In the spirit of less is more, maybe I'll keep this post short, and end it right here :-)



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Freedom From Death

We know we are immortal. We know we will always be together. And yet - in this life - we all have to experience the painful illusion of death and separation from our loved ones, again and again. With the recent death in our family of a beloved grandmother - my daughter-in-law's - we are all reminded of the limits of our mortal existence, which has little to do with our real existence. Without meditation it is hard to ever know this for sure.

Death surprises, saddens and frustrates us, even when we intellectually understand and expect it. The thing with death is that we cannot truly trust our five senses with their reports regarding so-called reality.

This inherent knowing that we are immortal, and always united, is like the sense we sometimes have in sleep reminding us that we are dreaming. Life is but a dream. Death and separation is nothing but an illusion - a very convincing one, but an illusion nonetheless. Love is the key to this puzzle. Knowing this, we may suffer a little less, and wonder about what it is like to wake up.

Buddha said "I am awake" and Jesus said: "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free". We will all wake up naturally once we have had enough sleep. Sleep then becomes infinitely enjoyable once we are awake and free.

This post is dedicated to all our grandmothers who taught us a level of freedom, joy, unconditional love, and compassion beyond even that of our mothers' whose own unconditional love for us is naturally handicapped by the many day-to-day responsibilities of mothering, with its many fears for our well-being. There is more freedom in the love between a grandmother and a grandchild. Love at its highest level is freedom and peace. Freedom and peace from all fears, worries, attachments, comforts, desires, hopes and dreams. When our loved ones die, it takes a long time to realize that they have just given us a new, unfamiliar freedom to again love differently. We don't want to trade our loved ones for this freedom or peace, and often resist this new level of love for years, but in the long run we have no choice but to drop this false idea of death, separation and abandonment.

Winning The Lottery

Today - 29 years ago - my daughter-in-law was born - without any help from me. Someone else pushed her out and rocked her through the long nights. Someone else put up with her when she was two, and all through her teenage years, hugged her when life was tough, and inspired her to greatness. Someone else did her laundry and paid for her college.

Then, when she was all grown up, she said "Yes" to my son, and I felt like I had won the lottery. A free child! For nothing! All done, and there to just add to my bunch of kids to love. Several Yes-es later - what appears? Another free child! This one little and cute, and with a 22-year free care and maintenance agreement. This makes me a many times over lottery winner from the first day my husband took me into his arms. I just keeps getting better.

We know we don't earn, or deserve, "winning the lottery". It is simply good luck and something that overwhelms us with gratitude, as well as a sense that the Universe loves us in spite of our shortcomings. It is humbling, really, for we have no right to expect such things. This feeling of abundance does not require all the things we think it would come from though. It requires nothing. It is an inner treasure we carry with us all the time.

There is no question we can feel that way just being alive considering the odds of all of us being here in the first place - billions of years after some Big Bang in the middle of nowhere.

Our grandson always has this look on his face as if he had just won the lottery - especially when he runs into his Mama's arms. He knows. Happy Birthday, Mama - you rock - keep on rocking - while we are all flying through space together!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Name and Form

The other day I came out of meditation with this phrase arising in my mind:

"The past is the past, and the future is for delight"

To most people I talked to that day, this sentence represented a feeling of hopefulness about the future. To me, though, this sentence meant a framing for the idea of "Now" - without having to name it "the Present" or "the Now", as we all have been doing a lot lately in order to express the "place and time" where freedom, serenity, infinity and eternity are to be found. The thing is, though, that this "place and time of Now" is beyond place and time, which means we ruin it the moment we name it.

As it says in the Tao - that which can be named is not the Tao. The same can be said about the Present. That which can be named the Present, cannot be the Present. In other words, once a name is given, a direct experience eludes us. This is true for all things. Once you say "a tree" you are communicating with yourself or another about what you see before you, but communion, in the sense of a direct experience of the tree, becomes impossible.

The secret discovered in mediation is that form is what the brain does with the eyes - giving "words" in the form of form, to things that don't exist either in the way we see them. If we first stop naming things, and then stop seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling things - then we can come to know the truth of all things - in other words, commune and become one with the very source of our being.

The moment we call it stillness, we are once again, making way too much noise and causing new confusion. Then again - this kind of shouting may indeed be needed! At least that way we can work ourselves backwards from bad ideas, to good ideas, to no ideas and finally - silence.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

What Time Is It Now?

What time is it now? Well, if you had the "Now Watch" it would tell you every time you checked, that it is exactly Now o'clock. A clever idea by Adam Rothenhaus trying to help people to remember that they are always in the present, no matter how late, early, or in a hurry they are.

No doubt this watch will create small and accumulative moments of calm and peace for its wearers as well as smiles and conscious breaths, taken while on the run to the next meeting or soccer practice. Here is where you can find it: www.thenowwatch.com Check it out - there is no time like the present.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Teach English In Nepal

Remember Captain Craggen's Shamrock School in Nepal from my earlier post? Well, they are looking for an English teacher if you have always wanted to go to Nepal and make yourself useful. It is a volunteer position I am pretty sure, but life in Nepal is not very expensive once you get yourself there.

If you have any interest contact my friend Daniela in Italy at abakus2002@libero.it

For more information about the school click here and scroll down the page.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Silly Putty Removal

A Mom for 29 years (and four years of Chemistry) I sometimes think I should know something as fundamental as removing Silly Putty from a cashmere blanket, but I don't. It's a first, and unlike 29 years ago, I now have the Internet. It is a resource I still sometimes forget I have, when I am faced with a crisis like this. It is not yet an automatic impulse for me to google away. To call a friend, maybe, or to apply macrobiotic principles of yin and yang to solve a puzzle of any chemical nature. Don't laugh - that once saved my baby's life.

The first useful site, at About.com recommended WD 40 and Rubbing Alcohol.

The second site - and what a treasure trove of cleaning product information - is alwaysbrilliant.com - which recommended the much better smelling GooGone which I will be trying first. I'll let you know if I ended up having to put stinky WD40 on my cashmere blanket. Maybe I'll use it on my son's sweat pants so he doesn't end up smelling like a giant orange, but more manly, like he just fixed something really big that required a can of WD40.

2 days later: After two more days of procrastination I was successful today rescuing my old blanket (an old cashmere blanket my mother gave me 32 years ago when I left home) Neither the WD40 nor the GooGone worked, but the rubbing alcohol!!! dissolves the putty and it just disappears. Just don't add water during the process - it makes everything gooey again.

And here is the history of Silly Putty. Silly, but true. Especially since everyone who bought it, could have made it at home -




How To Remove Silly Putty From Carpet
From About.com/Barbara Whiting,
Your Guide to Stay-at-Home Parents.

Kids love Silly Putty, but it can make a big mess on carpets. But WD-40 will quickly and easily remove this sticky mess.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 20 minutes
Here's How:

1. Scrape off any excess Silly Putty with a butter knife.
2. Spray with WD-40 and let sit for about 10 minutes.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 as necessary.
4. Blot with rubbing alcohol until stain is removed.

Tips:

1. WD-40 is a lubricant and cleaner found in most grocery, automotive and hardware stores.
2. Always test cleaners in inconspicuous area first.
3. Use in well-ventilated area.

What You Need:

* WD-40
* Rubbing Alcohol
* Butter Knife
* Rag

Thursday, May 8, 2008

More Mother's Day

A few Mother's Day Videos for fun - Enjoy!







And this last one at YouTube

Mother's Day Brunch

Just in case anyone may be wondering...I am the best Mom in the World! I have it in writing - many times over - and after 29 years of Mother's Day Cards, it still melts my heart. Maybe I'll get these cards framed like the PhDs on my doctor's walls.

Today my son's third grade class put on an early Mother's Day Brunch, complete with salads from their vegetable garden, chocolate cake, and many choices of salad dressings, drinks, cookies and jelly beans. Then skits for entertainment. The Moms weren't allowed to lift a finger and many of us were surprised by how awkward that felt. The kids were on a mission to spoil us. Since we are in California - this naturally included neck and shoulder massages while we were munching on our jelly beans.

Triumphant grins everywhere by the time the Moms were sent home, without having to clean up the classroom!


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Segway Fun


Here is a someone on a Segway.

Yesterday was the first time I tried this form of transportation on a tour of Angle Island. The Segway takes but ten minutes to learn - even for timid old ladies, which was the majority in our group.

Segways are much more comfortable, and safer than a bicycle. They do make you look like a lazy dork who should be using his or her legs for walking, and you get a lot of disapproving looks from frugal hikers. Usually I am that frugal hiker, and it was amusing to find myself on the other side of this relationship.

Once you try a Segway, you learn that after an hour you can barely move your legs because you got so much toning exercise. It feels like being on skis, or on a horse all day, because the Segway constantly wants to move, and you control it by slightly shifting your weight at all times.

Segways have enough power storage to last for 19 miles - at 1 cent a mile!!! - after which you simply plug it back into a regular outlet to recharge. According to our guide, the inventor's dream was for everyone to have one in their garage, plugged in right next to their cars, and use it whenever a whole car was not needed.

The best thing is it feels like flying, because you can simply lean forward and spread your wings, Titanic style. It made me feel like a kid to try something new that was so much fun.





















Kids Lego Segway Race Video

And then there are the wild ones - another video.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Captain Craggen And Giving Back

img_1372aToday I shipped several boxes of Here You Are to the UK to go to Captain Craggen's School in Nepal. After serving in Iraq, he decided he wanted to give back and make a difference, so he started Shamrock School. The school has 41 children between 10 and 14, who are placed into this school because of high IQ and other test scores. Nepal has been ravaged by Civil War for the last decade and these children are given a unique chance to rise from the ashes by this wonderful Captain and his friends.

Here You Are will be used as a first English book, and I am hoping the children and I will start a conversation about art, writing, publishing, and even about their experiences as they take Here You Are to other children in their community to help with difficult times with a little Here You Are magic.

As far as "giving back" goes - it first struck me as amazing that a soldier would feel that way. I guess it is because to him the military is his profession, the way he feeds his family and the way he grows as a human being facing the challenges of his work. To me, though, these jobs, where one puts one's life on the line for other people, are already making a gigantic difference. It must be hard to feel like one is making a contribution when one has to go to a country and raise hell before that country can put itself back together again in a better version of itself - but a contribution it is.

The British Army and its allies did this for Germany. At my son's wedding two years ago a former US fighter pilot who had bombed Cologne during World War II, sat next to my mother who had been a little girl then. Every time, and mostly in the middle of the night, when his airplane and the whining of his bombs set off the warning sirens in Cologne, she had to rush into hiding down into the bomb shelter in her basement trembling for her life. Cologne was bombed to the ground. He hated his assignment, but he knew who he was fighting.

65 years later, my mother hugged him and thanked him with all her heart, for what he had done for Germany and the world. You should have seen the serene happiness on both of their faces. No use to all the ones who perished - true - but my mother's uncles and grandfathers who died during that war, would have rejoiced in this little dinner scene.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Penguin Books

"Osho is one of the most influential spiritual teachers of the second half of the 20th century and many thousands of people -- of all ages, from all countries and all spiritual backgrounds -- have been inspired by the simplicity and directness of his teachings." Penguin Books


Osho was my master! What does that mean? It means that with his help, even though I only knew his teachings through books and video tapes - over twenty
years ago - I made it to the other side - the way a ferry man takes you across the river. Once on the other shore there is no more need for the master, just infinite gratitude. He was the gate through which I stepped because my love and trust of his silence, serenity, sincerity and peace was greater than my fear of death and annihilation.

To reach this silence we need to disappear and it feels like death. It is not for the faint-hearted. He was one of the most controversial figures of the 20th century, seen as an enlightened master or terrorist depending on who you ask. To me he was pure silence, peace, love, and eternal serenity.

Coming across the above quote by Penguin Books I decided to look them up on Google. Low and behold they are the publisher of Eckhart Tolle's book The New Earth. On my Amazon listing page it says that people who buy Here You Are, also buy The New Earth, so I was happy to see all these connections. During one of Oprah's Monday Evening Webcast Events with spiritual teacher Tolle, a woman from Ireland called in to ask whether there was a book like Eckhart's for children - to teach children to be in the present. The question went unanswered.

It cannot be answered because it is a wrong question. It is like asking: "Is there a book that can teach children how to be children?" Children already live in the present, and it is the adults who need to join them there - even it that means playing a video game with them. You may remember Jesus advising the apostles to become like little children in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, after the apostles tried to send them away, considering them a disturbance.

Here You Are confirms to children who they are, and they "feel seen" after reading the book, often convinced the book was written for them personally. It slowly but surely pulls the adult who may be reading the book to their child, into the present moment with them for a magical moment of being together - here, now. Even though it does not take long to read Here You Are, Here You Are creates a moment of eternity for its readers, young and old.



Osho said: "What is an Absence in a very young child, becomes a Presence in a sage." - which is one of my favorite quotes. To come full circle like that - into the present - requires love, trust, devotion, humility, infinite patience, courage, and the willingness to face death and suffering. "March of the Penguins" comes to mind - the by now famous movie about those brave little souls on the south pole who have fascinated all of us with these qualities. What a nice name for a publishing company, publishing spiritual and other fun books. Here's their blog.


Thursday, May 1, 2008

Wave And Smile


This morning on my way home from school a group of middle school boys from out of town, were walking towards the ferry terminal for their spring field trip to Angel Island which sits in San Francisco Bay. It was obvious that they were excited, and a bit awed by our wealthy little town here on the Bay, where Porsches and Ferraries zip by every few minutes. One boy - shy, but ready to be bold - waved at me as I drove by, to see whether he could make friends in this magical place. Waving back I was hoping that my hair would look shiny, and my sunglasses big enough to make me look like a movie star, so it would make his day. No glory in waving at an old Mom who just dropped off her child number five at elementary school. Sure enough, he broke out in a triumphant smile and walked on, a foot taller with an extra bounce in his step, suddenly the alpha male of the group - and made my day. The light of his spirit stood out from the little crowd he was moving in.

Sometimes making yourself or someone else happy, is that easy.