Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Monday Reflection: Open Up To Life

WHEN YOU OPEN UP TO LIFE AS IT IS

When you open yourself to the continually changing,
impermanent, dying nature of your own being and of reality,
you increase your capacity to love and care about other people
and your capacity to not be afraid.
You’re able to keep your eyes open, your heart open, and your mind open.
And you notice when you get caught up in prejudice, bias, and aggression.
You develop an enthusiasm for no longer watering those negative seeds,
from now until the day you die.
And you begin to think of your life as offering endless opportunities
to start doing things differently.

-Pema Chodron
excerpt from “The Pocket Pema Chodron”


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A Most Auspicious Day

dalai-lama

Today was the realization of a dream.  Today I attended two lectures by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. The event was sponsored by the Tibetan Association of Boston. It was a wonderful experience.

I have admired the Dalai Lama for many years. He is a wonderful spiritual leader who embodies so many traits that I try to embody: compassion, empathy, wisdom, humor, realism.

The day started with an introduction by Dr. Lobsang Sangay and a performance by Nawang Khechog. Then with a traditional Tibetan welcome, the Dalai Lama entered Gillette Stadium. As he entered the stadium I felt tears of joy fill my eyes. The love, admiration and respect that filled the stadium was palpable. The drone of horns in the Tibetan welcome music vibrated throughout my body.

Following a welcome address by Congressman Bill Delahunt and the presentation of gifts, the Dalai Lama began his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism.  For this first teaching, the Dalai Lama sat upon a Tibetan throne constructed especially for him. The throne was hand carved by Kunga according to traditional Tibetan Buddhist standards.  It was detailed with intricate Tibetan motifs and symbols of good wishes.  It took Kunga two weeks to construct half of the throne.  In its completed state for today, the throne measured 9 feet high from the ground and four feet wide.  It was adorned with silk brocade.

His Holiness sat on the throne cross-legged. It was overcast and a little windy, so the Dalai Lama took part of his robe and pulled it over his head like a hood. Then he affectionately told those in the front rows how windy it was and recommended they put their hats on as well.

Prior to discussing the Four Noble Truths, the Dalai Lama posed three questions for examination: “What is the Self or I?” “Is there a beginning?” and “What is the conscious mind?”  As he spoke I found myself nodding my head in agreement several times.  At other times I was a bit overwhelmed with the discussion and wished we could take more time to parse the words in order to understand his wisdom.

Following his presentation on the Four Noble Truths, a prayer was offered. The Dalai Lama explained the seven steps that those who are Buddhist practitioners must follow as part of the offering of gratitude, including prostration. He requested that those in attendance who were not Buddhist practitioners be witnesses to this ritual, to ensure that it was followed by the practitioners including himself.

The we took a lunch and entertainment break.

The afternoon was a public talk on The Path to Peace and Happiness.  Here the Dalai Lama sat on a large, comfy chair near the front of the stage. He endeared himself to the audience once more by donning a baseball cap with the Patriot’s logo on it (Gillette Stadium is the “home” of the Patriot’s football team.) By now the sun has come out and it was becoming warmer. So warm in fact that an aide to the Dalai Lama brought him an umbrella for shade. And the Dalai Lama paused momentarily to find his sunglasses in his bag.

In the public talk, the Dalai Lama made several pertinent statements:

Everyone has the same right to a happy life.

Spirituality can be defined in two ways; faith and religion or the basis of a universal value not necessarily in a religious faith.

We create our own problems.

And the path to peace and happiness is found in universal values such as compassion, respect, affection, and warmheartedness.

A clip of the Dalai Lama’s visit can be seen here

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The Dalai Lama truly embodies these universal values. Yet he is also human and admits to his foibles such as frustration and moments of anger. He encouraged us, when we are in times of frustration, fear, and doubt, to look within ourselves. To find the positive alongside of the negative. To see the beauty and similarities in each other, for we are all one people.  We are, in our essence, all the same.

Compassion can be put into practice if one recognizes the fact that every human being is a member of humanity and the human family regardless of differences in religion, culture, color and creed. Deep down there is no difference.

-His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

Namaste


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Is the Law of Attraction Crap?

Okay, maybe that is a bit terse, but after so many months of sharing thoughts on trying to live in the present moment, being positive, getting clear, and all that “woo-woo” stuff, I feel like kicking it all in the pants. And admit it; haven’t you wondered or wanted to do the same thing?

To borrow some worn out words “It is hard work.”

But I didn’t think it was supposed to be “hard work.” I thought it was supposed to be effortless. Aren’t I just supposed to “show up” and let the universe take care of the rest?

Can you tell I’m feeling a bit frustrated?

Actually I do believe that the law of attraction, or aligning yourself with the universe, or opening yourself to the universe or however you wish to describe it, does work. Problem is, it seems to be rather inconsistent. Or maybe I’m just not always “in the moment.”

My current feeling brings to mind an article I read in the March 2008 issue of Shambhala Sun by Brad Warner titled “That’s Not Very Buddhist of You.” In a nutshell, Warner, a Buddhist, discusses the issue of being told that you are doing something that others perceive as “not being very Buddhist.” That when when we don’t live up to someone’s idealized version or image, look out.

And that may be my problem with the Law of Attraction. I have, at times, held this idealized image of what it means to follow the Law of Attraction. That by being positive and upbeat and spreading the good karma and setting intentions and getting clear, I should get whatever I bloody well want.

Ouch!

Warner states “it is of no importance at all to try to live up to some media stereotype of a supposedly ‘typical Buddhist.’ In fact, that’s one of the most self-destructive activities you can engage in. Buddhism must always be grounded in reality.”

And so it is with the Law of Attraction. The reality of the Law of Attraction is that it happens in its own perfect time. It isn’t something you can force, push, or hurry along. When the time is right, it will happen.

The admittedly frustrating part is setting those intentions, being open to intuition, to the universe, getting clear, and nothing. So you keep on doing what you’re doing and waiting a little longer and, nope, not yet.

The universe sure is a big ol’ tease.

Some say that while you’re setting your intentions and getting clear and being open, the universe is aligning behind the scenes. Small things are happening. Perhaps you’re not paying attention to the small things because you’re waiting for the big wham-o. And when the big wham-o doesn’t smack you in the face, you think what is big deal with this?

Yet, if you look back, reassess your day, your week, the past month, you become aware of all the small things that did take place. The universe really did align and it did bring you to where you are today.

As Warner stated in his article “Our intuition never actually fails us, even though we often think that it does. We only fail to hear it over the noise we generate in our heads. We all have this intuition. But we’ve learned how to shout it down with our thoughts and emotions to the extent that it’s sometimes impossible to hear that small, still voice.”

I have sometimes felt that the Law of Attraction has failed me when in reality I have not paid enough attention to the small signs and trusted my intuition. When the negative voice or ego is on a roll, getting “uppity” you might say, I have to shift my thoughts and return to that place of stillness. After all, compassion begins with being compassionate with yourself.

Warner ends his article saying “Our practice will never make us perfect, when perfection is merely an image created by thought. Real perfection is just to keep on practicing.”

And so it is with the Law of Attraction. It is a daily practice to set intentions, to get clear, to be open. Some days I fail and and I have to get clear again. And some days I realize I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Note: Christine Kane wrote a series earlier this year on the 6 Snarkiest Misconceptions about the Law of Attraction. I’m going to read these posts again. You’ll find misconception #1 here. Links to consecutive posts are at the top.


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Kuan Yin

kuanyinpicture.jpgToday is the birthday of Kuan Yin (also spelled Quan Yin, Quan Shi Yin, or Kuanyin.)  In sanskrit, her name is Padma-pani which means “Born of the Lotus.”

Kuan Yin is regarded by the Chinese as the Goddess of Mercy.  Kuan Yin was originally male until the early part of the 12th century.(Avalokitesvara, in sanskirt, her male form, was the Bodhivista of Compassion of Indian Buddhism which was introduced to China in the third century.) 

Several stories exist about Kuan Yin.  She was a Buddhist who, through great love and suffering during life, earned the right to enter Nirvana after death.  While standing before the gates of Paradise, she heard a cry of anguish from the earth below.  Turning back to earth, Kuan Yin renounced her reward of bliss eternal and in its place found immortality in the hearts of the suffering.

Quan  means to inquire or look deeply into. Shi means the world of people or generations.  Yin means cries.  Therefore the Bodhivista of Compassion responds to the suffering cries that come down the generations.

Kuan Yin is portrayed in many forms, each revealing an aspect of her merciful presence.  She is frequently portrayed as a slender female in flowing white robes and carrying in her left hand a white lotus, a symbol of purity.  Her beauty, grace, and compassion have come to represent the ideal of womanhood in the East.

Kuan Yin is also known as the “bestower of children” where she may be portrayed as sitting on a lotus with a child at her feet, on her lap, or in her arms.  Kuan Yin may also be depicted with a thousand arms, and a number of eyes, heads, and hands (sometimes with an eye in the palm of the hand.)  In this depiction she is considered the omnipresent mother, looking in all directions, sensing the affliction of humanity, and extending her arms to alleviate them.

Symbols associated with Kuan Yin include a willow branch which she sprinkles with the divine nectar of life, a precious vase symbolizing the nectar of compassion and wisdom, a dove, a book or scroll of prayers, and a rosary adorning her neck.

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