Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Beautiful Book

     I picked up a book for a pretty good price (my favorite kind of book) and found it was a true treasure on every page.  If you love beautiful artwork, thoughtful, pithy writing, and learning more about Buddhism without too much dogma (or dharma), this book is for you. 

     Written by Tom Lowenstein, Buddhist Inspirations: Essential Philosophy, Truth and Enlightenment (Inspirations Series) explains the life of the Buddha and how he developed this way toward enlightenment, as well as healing practices, sacred symbolism, and more.  Each entry is one or two pages, along with a beautiful artwork, so it is easy to read an entry or two right before bed.  It is lavishly illustrated on nearly every page and I found myself contemplating the illustrations as much as I did the written entries.  You will find treasures here.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Let's Celebrate Willie!

'Tis hard to believe,
But our beloved William Shakespeare
Passed from this earthly life
To the eternal one
Four hundred years ago
Happy dreams, dear Willie.
Image result for william shakespeare
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind;
and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A Useful Book, Part 2

     Last time I was discussing the wealth of information in Ronald D. Siegel's The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.  Not only does he provide several helpful techniques on how to deal with difficult emotions, but he also talks about the challenges we all experience, such as dealing with pain, or dealing with people that cause us pain (did a few faces just pop into your mind?). 

     By looking at our emotions and thoughts about painful things, accepting them as normal given the circumstances, but learning how to avoid acting on them, we are free to examine them.  Further examination of these thoughts and emotions shows that they are transitory, that they pulse in and out, and that if we accept them rather than fight them, we can overcome them sooner.  These are powerful techniques.  I encourage you to take a look at this book.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Useful Book

     A while back I mentioned that I was listening to an audio book about using mindfulness techniques to assist in various life challenges.  Because I felt that I wanted to go deeper into the subject, I bought the book by the same author, Ronald D. Siegel, entitled The Mindfulness Solution: Everyday Practices for Everyday Problems.  I'm glad I did.  It really delves into all sorts of life situations and how to use mindfulness techniques to avoid getting sucked into the emotional drama of it all.  Better yet, he offers several different techniques for each situation, knowing that each one of us does better at one technique than another. 

     One of the most helpful things I learned from this book is that my reactions, whatever they are, are perfectly normal.  Someone cuts me off in traffic?  It's perfectly normal to get a little peeved.  But this book teaches me to step back and observe my anger rather than acting on it, to watch how the anger affects my body and to release it, and to accept the moment rather than fight it.  A very useful book, with life-changing potential.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools!

     Did you ever wonder how the annual tradition of playing practical jokes started?  History is a little hazy on this, but I did a bit of research and found a scholarly article written in an old historical journal by Prof. I. M. Foulenne of the University of Dover, SE campus.  He recounted the most unusual story:

     Once there was a beautiful princess who had all the admirers she could ever want.  It was getting time for her decide whom to marry, and her father kept pressing her to make a decision.  However, this young princess was a little vain and enjoyed the attention of all the suitors who came to visit her.

     One day her father came into her room and gave her an ultimatum.  "You must decide on your groom by the first day of April, so that spring's passion might bring me an heir to the kingdom."  The princess blushed, but agreed, seeing that her father was adamant.

    She devised a plan.  She would choose three of her most favorite suitors and send them on a mission.  However, this mission had a challenge that she alone knew -- it would take cunning and insight for the suitor to win her hand.

    Finally, the first day of April arrived and the princess summoned the three gallant suitors.  To each she gave a letter, rolled up as a scroll, and told them to take it to the wisest person they knew, who would read it and tell them what to do next.  The suitor who returned to her first, having completed his mission, would win her hand.

     The men rode out as fast at they could.  The first, a handsome and strong man, handed his scroll to a renowned warrior.  The warrior took it, read it, and told him to report to the commander at the fort at the edge of the kingdom. 

     The second suitor, a man known for his charm and beautiful tenor voice, took it to the greatest musician in the land.  The musician took the scroll, read it, and told him to go to the abbey in the northernmost part of the kingdom, where he would find a singer beyond compare.

     The last, a gentle and thoughtful man, rode his horse until he grew hot from riding in the sun.  He found a shade tree and thought of who he would consider the wisest person in the land.  He thought and thought, and could not decide whom to choose.  Then, he remembered who taught him the love of books, and the beauty of clear thought and honest motives, and he turned his horse toward his childhood home.  He entered the house and gave his mother a hug.  "Mother," he said, handing her the scroll, "I ask you to please read this and guide me what to do next."  His mother took the scroll, read it, and made a wry face.  "Child," she said, "This does not apply to you.  Here, have a look."  He took the scroll, read it, and laughed aloud.  "Thank you, Mother, for the kind compliment and for your faith in me.  The princess has laid a trap.  I will return to her immediately and ask for her hand."  And, after hugging his mother one more time, so he did.

     And what did the scroll say? 

    "Send the fool further."

    April Fools!