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Jerry Katz
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#2553 - Monday, August 14, 2006 - Editor: Gloria Lee  

If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
— Buddhist saying

Rumi the poet was a scholar also.
But Shams, his friend, was an angel.
By which I don't mean anything patient or sweet.
When I read how he took Rumi's books and threw them
into the duck pond,
I shouted for joy. Time to live now,
Shams meant.
I see him, turning away
casually toward the road, Rumi following, the books
floating and sinking among the screeching ducks,

oh, beautiful book-eating pond!

— Mary Oliver
Gill Eardley on Allspirit  

Hankering after the unknowable

You want me to tell you what reality is. Can the indescribable be put into words? Can you measure something immeasurable? Can you catch the wind in your fist? If you do, is that the wind? If you measure that which is immeasurable, is that the real? If you formulate it, is it the real? Surely not, for the moment you describe something which is indescribable, it ceases to be the real. The moment you translate the unknowable into the known, it ceases to be the unknowable. Yet that is what we are hankering after. All the time we want to know, because then we shall be able to continue, then we shall be able, we think, to capture ultimate happiness, permanency. We want to know because we are not happy, because we are striving miserably, because we are worn out, degraded. Yet instead of realizing the simple fact - that we are degraded, that we are dull, weary, in turmoil - we want to move away from what is the known into the unknown, which again becomes the known and therefore we can never find the real.

Book of Life - August 11th

  photos  by Alan Larus  


Without understanding the nature of these two truths-the conventional and the ultimate-it is difficult to fully appreciate the distinction between appearance and reality, that is, the discrepancy we experience between our perception and the way things really are. Without a deep understanding of this fact, we won't be in a position to get at the root of our fundamental ignorance.

— Practicing Wisdom, The Dalai Lama
~  ~  ~
"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always
assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins
because he had achieved so much--the wheel, New York,
wars and so on--while all the dolphins had ever done
was muck about in the water having a good time.  But
conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they
were far more intelligent than man--for precisely the
same reasons."

The Art of Not Being Offended
by Jodi Shams Prinzivalli

There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness and well-being
that the Great Ones rarely talk about but frequently utilize, and is
one which is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called
The Fine Art of Not Being Offended. In order to truly be a master of
this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and
reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life
experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our
world say and do what they do from their own set of fears,
conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when
aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. It usually has more
to do with all the other times and in particular the first few times
that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they
were young. Yes, this is psychodynamic. But let's face it, we live in
a world where psychodynamics are what make the world go around.

An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a
spiritual person really needs to understand the psychology is as
spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means,
the study of the soul. Those of us who are either ignorant of this
fact or who believe this is not true often tend to have unnecessary
suffering where there could be joy.

All of that said, almost NOTHING is personal. Nothing. Even with our
closest loved ones and beloved partners and children and friends. We
are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other's life
experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of
life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This
is not to dehumanize life or take the intimacy out of our
relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we
get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. The true
embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less
suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we
are the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the
right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are
doing, we don't have to take life personally. If it isn't us, it will
likely be someone else. This frees us to be a little more detached to
the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a
statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the
other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended,
it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be
suffering - even if they themselves do not appear that way on the
surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is
in truth a form of suffering. When we provide it no velcro for it to
stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a
thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing. People who
are suffering are usually not keen on the fact of someone pointing it
out. We do not have to be our loved one's therapist. We need only
understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves
experience less suffering and at best, we have the chance to make the
world a better place.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt,
neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm
to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a
magical thing also happens. All the seeming abusers of the world
start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can
only happen if we believe what the other is saying. When we know
nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can
say, "Thank you for sharing," and carry on. We are not hooked by what
another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less
seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating
more misery for ourselves.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment
regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine
art of not being offended is one of many options for being a
practical mystic. Yet I suspect it is the task of a lifetime. It
certainly is for me.

  posted by Gill Eardley on Allspirit  

Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity--but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our "biography," our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards. . . It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are? Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn't that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?  

— Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

All Is Grace a photo essay by Alan Larus

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