Saturday, December 22, 2012

How to Create a More Loving Relationship

One of the most powerful things you can do to improve any relationship and to increase the amount of happiness you feel is to not get involved with your judgments. Be aware of judgmental thoughts (notice them when they arise in your mind), accept that they are there (don't think they shouldn't be there), and then choose to not dwell on them or give voice to them. Judgments are probably the one thing that interferes most with love and sustaining relationships. Judgments and the criticism that flows from them kill love. Even small doses of criticism when engaged in day in and day out can poison a relationship. They kill the love that is there and leave anger, resentment, and hurt in its place. So the very first principle for a more loving relationship is to ignore your judgments and don't express the criticism that is the natural result of judgment.

There are a several reasons why judgments are difficult to ignore. First of all, because they arise in our mind, we assume our judgments are true and meaningful representations of "our truth," while judgments actually come from a small, petty, and unwise part of ourselves: our conditioned self, or ego. Judgments never reflect our true nature, our essential self, or what I like to call Essence. We assume our judgments serve a purpose, but they don't achieve what we hope they will achieve, which is changing someone or something. People rarely change because they are judged, and if they do, that change comes at the expense of love and trust. Judgments are a way of bullying our partner to change in ways we want him or her to change, and that is not a loving act.

If love and relationship are important to you, which they must be, since you are reading this, love and relationship have to become more important than having your way, more important than your conditioning and how you like things done. The way you put love first is to refuse to get involved in the judgments that pop into your mind and, above all, don't speak them. The reason to not get involved with your judgments mentally is that doing so leads to believing them and speaking them. The more you dwell on a judgment, the more real and true it seems. Judgments cause us to feel bad about someone (and bad about ourselves), so we naturally want to do something to change that person so that we no longer have to feel bad.

There is a better and more effective way to feeling good, and that is to realize that you don't have to change anything or anyone except your relationship to your own thoughts. All that has to change is your relationship to the judgments that arise in your mind. You can believe them and try to change the world to fit them, or you can see the truth about them, which is that they have no intrinsic value or truth. If a judgment arises, notice it, recognize it as a judgment and as therefore not worth your attention, and then leave it alone. Put your attention on something else, like something you appreciate about your partner, or about anything else.

Another reason judgments are hard to ignore is that they give us a sense of being right and being better than or superior to another. This superiority and self-righteousness feels good to the ego. That is the payoff for judging and one reason we judge and continue to do so even when we see that judging and criticizing is not getting us what we want from the other person, including that person's love. When we choose to judge someone, we settle for this feeling of superiority and self-righteousness instead of love and the good feelings that come from being loving, kind, accepting, and understanding.

We tend to make this choice instead of being loving because it is our default position as human beings; it is the path of least resistance. We are programmed to not make the most loving choice, oddly enough. So to get what we all really want, which is to be loving and to be loved, we have to learn to overcome some of the negative programming we have that keeps us making choices that are destructive to our relationships.

A big reason we don't ignore judgments is that most of us are not that aware of what is going on in our mind. We tend to accept the thoughts that go through our mind and act on them or speak them without questioning them first. We don't tend to ask ourselves if what we're thinking is true or useful. We often don't question what the result will be if we believe our thoughts and act on or give voice to them. The trouble with this is that our thoughts are often unkind and untrue, and responding to them without evaluating them first results in a lot of trouble and pain to ourselves and others. Becoming more loving is largely a matter of becoming more conscious of what we are thinking, and then choosing a more loving response than the automatic one, which is likely to be the ego's response.

The ego is a primitive aspect of ourselves that is shortsighted and out for itself. It doesn't see the whole picture or value love's very important role in life. It is, in fact, the enemy of love. The ego's point of view as well as our conditioning are reflected in our thoughts about ourselves, others, and life. The ego's voice is the mental commentary we all are so familiar with, which seems at times like our own voice and at other times like someone else speaking to us. This aspect of the mind that chatters on and on is often called the egoic mind, and it reflects the false self, not Essence.

Another thing that makes judgments difficult to ignore is that we assume that judgments and criticism are a perfectly acceptable and valid form of communication, since they are so common. It is part of our culture to judge, to express opinions about anything and everything. It almost seems like it's our duty to judge, as if we are not being discriminating if we don't point out the flaws of something or someone. However, the truth is that pointing out flaws, criticizing, and having an opinion are the easiest things in the world to do. What's difficult is being loving, accepting, and moving beyond our judgments, beliefs, and other conditioned ways of being. That is our challenge as human beings—to become more loving, not to complain, judge, and try to change others to suit our preferences. Loving is a matter of moving beyond our personal preferences and judgments enough to let love flow to another, enough to allow ourselves to see another's beauty, not the flaws.

The truth is that judgments don't just hurt others, they hurt us to have them. When we are feeling judgmental and critical, we feel small, petty, unhappy, angry, and unkind, even though we may enjoy the feeling of being superior or right. Judging and criticizing others leaves us feeling bad about ourselves, and this may drive us to tear others down even more, creating a vicious cycle of negativity. This is not how we want to feel, and it isn't how we want to make others feel; and yet, that is what happens. Our judgments cause us and those we're judging to feel unhappy and unloving. That is the opposite of what we all want!

Notice how you feel the next time you catch yourself judging and criticizing someone, including those you aren't even close to, such as people in the media. Judgment and criticism don't feel good, and you don't have to feel that way. We have the power to choose not to judge and criticize (internally or externally), and when we make that choice, it is possible to get in touch with who we really are—with Essence. Essence is an experience of contentment, peace, joy, happiness, awe, love, gratitude, and wonderment. That is who we really are, and the only thing that can obscure our true nature is believing the ego's negative evaluations and stories about everyone and everything. Change in the world can still happen without our judgments because the wisdom that is our true nature moves us to act wisely and lovingly in the world. Our judgments only interfere with that.

Because judging and criticizing is the path of least resistance, it can take some practice to choose to be loving and accepting over the usual criticisms. But the more you choose love, the easier it becomes to choose it again, and the weaker the habit of criticism becomes. If you fully absorb this first principle, it will change your life. You don't need your judgments. You have never needed your judgments. They have never served you, but only obscured and undermined the love, wisdom, and happiness that are possible. Love and happiness are possible because it is your true nature to love and to experience happiness, peace, and joy.

Practices: To be done throughout the week:

1. Whenever you feel an urge to judge your partner, examine the conditioning (e.g., desires, beliefs, opinions, preferences, fears, expectations, demands) behind that judgment. Every judgment is a disguised "should" or "should not." What "should" or "should not" are you imposing on your partner? Our judgments are an attempt to get our partner to change his or her behavior so that we don't have to feel the discomfort that our own conditioning is causing. When others do things we don't like, that is, when they don't conform to our conditioning, we feel afraid, angry, ashamed, or embarrassed. In an attempt to get rid of these feelings, we try to change our partner by judging or criticizing him or her: "If only he or she would change, I wouldn't feel this way!" Notice how your judgments are an attempt to ease the discomfort that is caused by your own conditioning—not by your partner, but by your desires and demands that your partner be a certain way.

2. If a judgment arises, just let it be there without doing anything about it. What is that like to just let that judgment be there? Your ego won't want you to stay with this exercise. It may try to talk you out of just being with the judgment, or it might offer a more concealed judgment or one that sounds a little nicer. Are there feelings that accompany this judgment? Just let them be here as well without doing anything else with them. The more you practice noticing your judgments and feelings and just letting them be there without doing anything else, the weaker these judgments and feelings will become. What empowers our thoughts and feelings is acting them out. If you don't want to be at the mercy of your negative thoughts (judgments) and feelings, then just let them come and go in your mind without identifying with them or giving voice to them. Don't fight with them or push them away, but allow them the space to come and go, as all thoughts naturally do. Your thoughts c! ome out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere. You have the ability to empower them by giving them your attention or dis-empower them by not giving them your attention, which is accomplished by giving your attention to something else.

Explorations: Do just one of these explorations a day. When you've finished all three explorations, go back to each one and see if you can uncover any further insights.

1. There are certain judgments and criticisms you have about your partner that come up again and again and are probably causing conflict, stress, and a shutting down of love between you. What are they? Take some time to contemplate this. Make a list of them. What if you didn't have these judgments and the feelings that go with them? What would that be like? And what if you never expressed your judgments or criticisms? What would that be like? How would you feel? How would that change your relationship?

2. Look carefully at any resistances you may have to ignoring and not speaking the judgments and criticisms you have. What are you afraid will happen if you give up judging and criticizing? Are you afraid you will be a doormat, you will be unhappy, you will be taken advantage of, you will not be in control, you will lose power in the relationship? Is it your way of being strong? Is it your way of being smart? Is it your way of proving that you are an individual? How do you believe your judgments are serving you? What are you getting out of judging and criticizing? Spend at least ten minutes contemplating this question because it is a very important one. There are reasons, although mistaken ones, for clinging to our judgments and criticisms. Once we really see how ineffective and destructive our judgments are, they lose their power to capture our attention and make us do their bidding.

3. What are the negative ramifications of judging and criticizing? Does your partner fire back with criticisms? Does your partner withdraw, disengage? How does judging and criticizing make you feel about yourself? What is your self-image like when you are criticizing someone? Are you The Bitch, The Complainer, The Whiner, The Martyr, The Wronged One, The Raging Maniac, The Self-Righteous One, The Mother Hen, The Drama Queen, The Emasulator, The Boss, The Avenger, The Victim, or some other image? Our ego takes on these personas, but we are not our ego, and we can choose to not identify with and act out these personas. Our judgments cause negative feelings within ourselves and others—anger, resentment, hatred, desire for revenge, and even guilt and shame—and negative feelings are not only exhausting, but also can lead to physical illness. They shut down our own heart and the hearts of those around us. What price are you paying for your judgments and criticism? What is the cost! to your relationships? Is it worth it?

Friday, August 10, 2012

12 Steps to Happiness

By Stacey Kennelly

A slideshow illustrating a dozen research-tested happiness activities you can start practicing today.

Sonja Lyubomirsky’s book The How of Happiness offers readers more than a dozen everyday activities they can practice to become happier in the short and long term. Lyubomirsky compiled the list of activities after conducting and reviewing years of research about what distinguishes happy from unhappy people.
The slideshow below features some of the main activities Lyubomirsky and her colleagues have identified that make people happier. You can read the full list below the slideshow; click on the links next to some of the activities for instructions (created by Lyubomirsky’s lab) on how to practice them.
To help you decide which of these activities might be right for you, read about how Lyubomirsky and graduate student Kristin Layous have been exploring the best ways to practice some of these activities and why some of these activities may work for some people but not others.
For more on these activities, also see Jason Marsh’s article on “The Hows of Happiness” and download our “Six Habits of Happiness” poster.
Asian woman drawing

Do more activities that truly engage you

At home and at work, seek out more challenging and absorbing experiences in which you “lose yourself,” experiencing what researchers call “flow.”

Savor life’s joys

Pay close attention to life’s momentary pleasures and wonders through thinking, writing, or drawing, or by sharing them with others.
Chimps kissing

Learn to forgive

Keep a journal or write a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward someone who has hurt or wronged you.
Woman giving other woman muffins

Practice acts of kindness

Do good things for others—whether friends or strangers, directly or anonymously, spontaneously or planned.
Grandchildren hugging grandma

Nurture relationships

Pick a relationship in need of strengthening, and invest time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.
Glass half full half empty

Cultivate optimism

Keep a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practice looking at the bright side of every situation.
woman with question marks above head

Avoid over-thinking and social comparison

Use strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems, and guard against comparing yourself to others.
Hands embracing

Develop strategies for coping

Practice ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.
Family saying Grace

Count your blessings

Express gratitude for what you have—either privately, through contemplation or journaling, or to someone else—or convey your appreciation to people whom you’ve never properly thanked.
Man meditating in sunset

Strengthen your spiritual connections

Religious and spiritual people are happier, perhaps because of the social connections they get through their community.
Now not later

Commit to your goals

Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you and devote time and effort to pursuing them.
Lacing up running shoes

Take care of your body

This could mean exercise, of course, but also meditating, smiling, or laughing.

Do more activities that truly engage you. At home and at work, seek out more challenging and absorbing experiences in which you “lose yourself,” experiencing what researchers call “flow.”
Savor life’s joys. Pay close attention to life’s momentary pleasures and wonders through thinking, writing, or drawing, or by sharing them with others.  Download instructions for the “three good things” exercise—a way to help you savor the good in your life.
Learn to forgive. Keep a journal or write a letter in which you work on letting go of anger and resentment toward someone who has hurt or wronged you.
Practice acts of kindness. Do good things for others—whether friends or strangers, directly or anonymously, spontaneously or planned.  Download instructions.
Nurture relationships. Pick a relationship in need of strengthening, and invest time and energy in healing, cultivating, affirming, and enjoying it.
Cultivate optimism. Keep a journal in which you imagine and write about the best possible future for yourself, or practice looking at the bright side of every situation.  Download instructions.
Avoid over-thinking and social comparison. Use strategies (such as distraction) to cut down on how often you dwell on your problems, and guard against comparing yourself to others.
Develop strategies for coping. Practice ways to endure or surmount a recent stress, hardship, or trauma.
Count your blessings. Express gratitude for what you have—either privately, through contemplation or journaling, or to someone else—or convey your appreciation to people whom you’ve never properly thanked.  Download instructions for keeping a gratitude journal and forwriting a gratitude letter.
Strengthen your spiritual connections. Religious and spiritual people are happier, perhaps because of the social connections they get through their community.
Commit to your goals. Pick one, two, or three significant goals that are meaningful to you, and devote time and effort to pursuing them.  Download instructions for using your strengths to help you achieve your goals.
Take care of your body. This could mean exercise, of course, but also meditatingsmiling, orlaughing.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Be a wise person

by Donald Latumahina

Do you want to be a wise person? I certainly do, and I believe you do too. Being wise is different from just being smart though. Here is a definition of wise from
having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.

And, to complement that, here is Wikipedia’s definition of wisdom:
Wisdom is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding.

As a comparison, here is a definition of smart from
having or showing quick intelligence or ready mental capability.

So, as you can see, being wise is more than just being smart. Being wise is about the ability to make the right assessment of a situation and, from there, to know what to do. It’s about making the right decision given the situation you are in.

From this understanding, it’s obvious that being wise is essential to live a full life. The wiser you are, the more likely you are to live a full life. Why? Because it helps you make the right decisions in life.

So the question is: how can we be wise?

Well, there could be other ways, but there is one that I believe is essential:

If you want to be wise, you must learn to see the big picture.

Yes, the big picture. It’s essential. Let me explain why.

Making the right decision depends on making the right assessment of a situation. But to make the right assessment, you need to understand the big picture. You need to understand the context of the situation and how everything fits in. Only then will you be able to assess the situation correctly and, from that, to make the right decision.

This, unfortunately, is not how many people live. Instead, they are so busy with the details of their lives that they can no longer see the big picture. As a result, they tend to just follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. Or they just follow their natural inclinations. Obviously, this is not a good way to live.
I’m not going to go into details in this post, but here are a few things you can do to see the big picture:
  1. Learn how the world works
    To see the big picture, you need to understand how the world works. This way you can see how your situation fits in the present world. Among others, it means learning about globalization, technologies, new trends, and the global economy.
  2. Learn history
    While the point above deals only with the present world, you also need to see how the present world fits within the larger context of history. This will give you a deeper insight of your situation. Moreover, there are many events in history that you can learn something from.
  3. Read biographies
    As I wrote in How to Learn About Life, a good way to learn about life is to learn from the lives of exceptional people. Through their biographies, you can see the big picture of their lives, along with their good and bad decisions. This will enrich your life and help you see your life in a new way.
  4. Check your life map and patterns
    Talking about the big picture, you should also see the big picture of your own life. One way to do this is to create a life map. It helps you see how your life has been throughout the years. This, in turn, will help you make strategic decision for your life. You should also find patterns in your life such as your passions and things you care about. It will help you figure out the right direction to go to.
  5. Have a regular “think time”
    While all the points above can help you see the big picture, it’s easy to lose sight of it because of one thing: busyness. Once you get busy with the details of your life, it’s easy to forget the big picture. So it’s important that you take time away from your busyness to connect again with the big picture. It can be in the form of reflection time, prayer, or whatever it is that works for you.

How to Make the Most of Your Life

By Good Life Zen

Life is precious.

But how to make the most of your life?

Here are fifty wise tips by readers on how to make the most of your time on earth.

1. It starts with being present and in the moment. Really appreciating the ‘small’ things in life – the smell of the morning, the feel of flannelette sheets, the warmth of a hug, the gift of a smile. And gratitude.

2. Follow your passion and you can create a life you can be proud of. The formula is really simple: find what makes you useful and happy.

3. Speak for those who have no voice. Make a difference in someone else’s life.

4. Help others, love fully, judge less, and take care of your body and your mind

5. Help your family and make sure they are okay.

6. Heal, if you need to be healed, forgive if you need to forgive, learn to love if that is your lesson.

7. Strive for a healthier, more purposeful life to get to the bones of existence.

8. Listen, breathe, and seek for the answers to who you are and what you are meant to do, as they are unique to all of us.

9. Face and accept pain and hurt, and to act in spite of fear.

10. Discover who we truly are – and live that life.

11. Use your own sense of self to look at others without judgement, see them with clear eyes and exercise compassion.

12. Remember to be present in each moment, see what beautiful thing is here now, no matter how small.

13. Take the time to really look carefully and contemplate.

14. Stay in the present and know we are where we are supposed to be.

15. Get to know the true nature of mind, seeing thoughts and emotions for what they really are – just clouds passing by in the sky.

16. Be in the present moment and extending love, kindness, and compassion to myself and others.

17. Take all your activities, beliefs, work, thoughts, feelings and contributions and make a gloriously messy patchwork of what’s true for you and your place in our earth community. Stitch the patchwork together with peaceful reflection and laughter. Decorate with love and courage. Realise that sometimes a patch will wear out or tear and you’ll have to decide whether you can mend it or must replace it.

18. Whatever your passions and dreams are – live them now!

19. Never stop learning. . . learn to love unconditionally and love to learn empirically.

20. Live every moment like it’s your last.

21. Take risk and chances because later in life you’ll look back and know that you lived your life like you wanted to, and that it was all worth it.

22. Take care of your body. Health and fitness has an effect on every aspect of your life.

23. Have a plan and actively work it to how you can make the most of your time.

24. One way to make the most of life is to be open to and selective about ideas. The more we extend our language, the more ideas we’ll meet and entertain and go ahead with as if beautiful to experience.

25. Realistically assess your talents and abilities and look for opportunities to apply them in ways that will grow human culture into the future.

26. Stretch yourself now and then. You may have more resources than you know.

27. When in doubt, go with that other great human strength–the most compassionate choice.

28. Care for the sick, injured, and infirm.

29. Love, love, love, and when you’re afraid you have nothing left, love some more!

30. Put your unique talents, skills and insights to use by helping others.

31. Give friendly advice or share some knowledge to help someone along their path.It can make a world of difference.

32. Be as present as possible as often as we can.

33. Quit judging yourself so harshly.

34. Know that you are a vital part of humanity and therefore essential to this world we live in.

35. Be gentler, kinder and more respectful of our planet.We owe it to the planet and animals, our forests and our oceans to restore the health they once held.

36. Be a collector of things and people that make you happy.

37. Find richness in knowing and observing all different kinds of people.

38. Do what you love to do, love the people you love, and grow in spirit.

39. Enjoy life.

40. Just do it. Don’t end up with a life unloved.

41. Always try to do more for others than what you do for yourself. Something as simple as opening a door for someone else, letting someone go ahead of you in a queue, saying good morning to someone who is on their own can create good karma.

42. Do volunteer work.

43. Love your family. They are the people who really matter.

44.  Don’t worry about what others have to say about how you live your life.

45. Lower your expectations, it makes life less complicated, allowing you to enjoy it to the fullest.

46. Work towards love always – to give and receive love. If, on your death-bed, you can say you’ve made others feel loved… that’s a fulfilled life.

47. Don’t forget to have fun. Do what you can – then go to the movies.

48. When you feel confused, look up at the sky and feel the spaciousness of all things.

49. Set goals and plan – but be flexible and resilient if your plans don’t work out.

50. Remember that starting over is a great a opportunity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Four Agreements

“1. Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

2. Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

3. Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4. Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.” ~ Miguel Ruiz

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Practice of Gratitude

Make a Difference...... 

1. Start a thankfulness ritual. At dinner, breakfast or just before bed have each family member share three things that made them happy, or that they're thankful for. 

2. Track your gratitude. Doing this creatively can make your efforts more focused and fun.
  • Keep a family gratitude journal. Decorate a spiral notebook
    Gratitude Treewhere everyone can write or draw things they appreciate. Choose a day (perhaps Thanksgiving) to read all the entries aloud.
  • Create a gratitude jar. Place a glass jar alongside colorful strips of paper and fun pens on your kitchen table. Family members can deposit their gratitude ideas in the jar. (Or, alternatively, hang them on a tree branch.) Invite visiting family and friends to contribute as well. When the jar is full, read them to one another, and then make the strips into a paper chain. Hang the chain from your kitchen ceiling or along a window.
  • Cover a window or wall with sticky notes, each expressing appreciation for something.
3. Focus on thank-yous. Encourage your children to write notes, not just for presents, but also for the people who make a difference in their lives - teachers, coaches, babysitters, bus drivers, etc.

4. Model gratitude. Compliment the chef when you have a nice meal out, express gratitude to a friend who lends a hand, thank your spouse for cleaning the bathroom, and express appreciation for that crazy, mild winter. Especially thank your children when they do something you appreciate. You'll you notice them following your example.

5. Slow down. This is probably the most difficult step, but it's hard to be grateful if you're rushing around. Take time to realize how much you appreciate the things one might easily take for granted - clean water from the tap, the smell of a flower, a warm house, a new pair of shoes. Express your thankfulness out loud so your children become attuned to the value of gratitude for everyday wonders.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

True love

"True love is the desire to maintain the happiness of all beings impartially, regardless of whether we like them or not."
Ling Rinpoche

The Legacy Project - Lessons for Living

The Legacy Project has systematically collected practical advice from over 1500 older Americans who have lived through extraordinary experiences and historical events. They offer tips on surviving and thriving despite the challenges we all encounter. 

What Is Old Age For?

An African proverb says, “The death of an old person is like the loss of a library.” In these words are embedded the important role given to older adults in many African cultures. After a person has productively lived his or her life as an adult in the community, he or she is honored by initiation into the elder circle. This usually happens around the age of 65.

These elders, now masters of the school of life, have the responsibility for facilitating the transition from childhood to adulthood of new generations. They are responsible for and oversee the process of initiation. The idea of elders as “library” also reveals the fact that only the elders have full access to the tribe's knowledge base. The elders safeguard the highest secrets of the tribe and protect its medicine and inner technologies. They incarnate the wisdom of the society, which they happily share, often in the form of storytelling.

Anyone in the last half of life can attest to the difficulties, the aching joints, the fading eyesight. What is open to interpretation is the meaning of these changes. What if they are understood as a form of preparation (not unlike adolescence) for a new life as an elder of the community?
An African proverb says, “The death of an old person is like the loss of a library.” In these words are embedded the important role given to older adults in many African cultures. After a person has productively lived his or her life as an adult in the community, he or she is honored by initiation into the elder circle. This usually happens around the age of 65.

These elders, now masters of the school of life, have the responsibility for facilitating the transition from childhood to adulthood of new generations. They are responsible for and oversee the process of initiation. The idea of elders as “library” also reveals the fact that only the elders have full access to the tribe's knowledge base. The elders safeguard the highest secrets of the tribe and protect its medicine and inner technologies. They incarnate the wisdom of the society, which they happily share, often in the form of storytelling.

Human elders have long been known as peacemakers, and for good reason. The physical changes that accompany advancing age make conflict, armed and otherwise, worthless to the old. Like statesmen serving their final terms in office, elders are freed from the tactical maneuvering that defines the struggle for adult rank and prestige. It is this freedom that allows them to put forth unique interpretations of the problems faced by their families and communities. The awareness of one's mortality that normally arises in late life—and so terrifies adults—opens new perspectives for elders on the world in which they live.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Life of the Buddha

Life of Buddha
Life of Buddha (2)
SUMEDHA, the wise man inherited a vast fortune from his parents who left them upon their deaths. Realizing the unsatisfactoriness he gave away his fortune and became an ascetic in the forest. He soon gained mastery in meditation and was well known for his supernormal powers.
Life of Buddha (4)When ascetic Sumedha knew of the coming of Dipankara Buddha to the city of Rammavati, he took part in preparing the road for the Buddha. He was still repairing it when the Buddha arrived but he was determined to complete it by prostrating himself into the muddy hollow, in fulfillment of his vow to become a Buddha. Beside him was a young lady named Sumitta bearing eight stalks of lotus flowers. She gave the Ascetic five stalks and kept for herself three stalks for her own aspiration.  When the Buddha Dipankara saw this, He omnisciently declared the Ascetic Sumedha a future Buddha, while He stated that the aspiring young lady Sumitta would be his constant companion and helpmate.
Life of Buddha (6)The Devas (Gods) imploring the Bodhisatta Santussita Deva (whose real name was Setaketu) in Tusita heaven to be reborn on earth to become a Buddha. He accepted their request after viewing the Five Great Considerations (Panca Maha Vilokana); which are appropriate time, Island-continent, country, clan and life-span of mother.
Life of Buddha (8)At Lumbini Park in Nepal, on Vesakha Full Moon Day, the newly born Prince walked seven steps on the lotus flowers and pointing to the North said, “AGGOHAM ASMI LOKASSA” meaning “Chief Am I in this world”. The birth of this baby Prince brought great joy to his royal parents, King Suddhodana and Queen Maha Maya as well as all beings!
Life of Buddha (10)The marriage of Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara (whose real name was BaddaCancana ) took place at the Golden Palace which was presented by his father, King Suddhodana. It was a luxurious palace full of comforts of life . The celebration lasted many days.
Life of Buddha (12)During his visit to the Royal park, Prince Siddhattha saw the Four Great Signs, namely — an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a serene mendicant. These made the Prince to realize the unsatisfactoriness of life and urged him to ponder deeply about renunciation.
Life of Buddha (14)Mara (the Evil One), with his host tried without success to prevent Prince Siddhattha from his Great Renunciation at midnight . Prince Siddhattha was riding on Kanthaka his fovourite stallion and followed by Channa his loyal charioteer. Mara said that if the prince did not proceed on his renunciation, he would become a Universal Monarch on the seventh day.
Life of Buddha (16)Prince Siddhattha cut off his hair to renounce the worldly life at the bank of the Anoma River. Ghatikara Maha Brahma presented the Monk’s Eight Requisites to Ascetic Siddhattha, who commanded his charioteer Channa to take his royal chattels back to the palace.
His hair was received by Sakka, King of Gods and enshirned in CULAMANI CETI (pagoda) in his celestial abode in TAVATIMSA. Similarly, Ghatikara Maha Brahma bore his princely clothes to his higher celestial abode, Akanittha and enshrined them in the pagoda known as DUSSA CETI.
Life of Buddha (18)The ascetic Bodhisatta spent six years practising austerity and meditation with steadfastness as well as earnestness, prior to his attainment. Even though he was reduced to a mere skeleton, he did not give up practising.
Life of Buddha (20)The Bodhisatta was sitting on a Golden Throne under a Bodhi tree and being challenged by Mara (the Evil One) riding on the ferocious elephant Girimekhala. Mara with host tried to capture the Golen Throne just before the Bodhistta’s Enlightenment.
Life of Buddha (22)On Vesakha Full Moon day, Bodhisatta Siddhattha seated under a Bodhi tree at Gaya, attained Supreme Enlightement. On the first watch of the night he gained knowledge by which He remembered past lives. On the second watch of the night he was able to see into the future including the birth and death of other beings. On the third watch of the night, He destroyed all defilements and became a Fully Enlightened One (Samma-Sambuddha).
Life of Buddha (24)It was in the final week (7th week) after his Enlightenment, when the two merchant brothers Tapussa and Bhallika from Ukkalapa passed by the spot and saw the Buddha. They offered the Buddha their own provision; then the Buddha gave eight strands of hairs from His head for them to worship as sacred objects of veneration.The hair relics are now enshrined in the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar.
Life of Buddha (26)At the Deer Park at Varanasi, the Buddha met the five ascetics, Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama and Assaji all of whom He had known before .He delivered His first sermon to them. It is called the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta which sets the wheel of the Dhamma in motion. The ascetic Kondanna who was at His childhood Name-giving Ceremony became the first to see light in the Dhamma and attained Sotapanna, the first stage of Sainhood.
Later, all attained Arahantship after hearing the Anatalakkhana Sutta (the Discourse which deals with No-Self)
Life of Buddha (28)The Buddha exhorted His first sixty Arahant disciples to go forth in different directions to preach the Doctrine, using these famous words: – “Go ye, 0 bhikkhus and wander forth for the gain of many, for the welfare of the many, in compassion for the world, for the good, for the gain, for the welfare of the Devas (Gods) and men . Proclaim ye, 0 Bhikkhus! The Doctrine that is glorious and preach ye a life of holiness, perfect and pure!”
Life of Buddha (30)When the Bodhisatta visited Rajagaha, the capital of Magadha, King Bimbisara offered his Kingdom to the Bodhisatta. But He did not accept it because of the worldly pleasures. After listening to the preaching of Buddha, the King attained the first stage of Sainthood (Sotapanna). He then dedicated his Royal park known as Veluvana (Bamboo Grove) to the Buddha and His disciples.
Life of Buddha (32)The Buddha performed the Twin Miracles of emitting fire and water simultaneously from His body, to subdue the pride of his older relatives who had erroneously thought that the Buddha being the younger would have to show respects to them.
Life of Buddha (34)On the seventh day after his arrival in Kapilavatthu, Princess Yasodhara dressed up Prince Rahula and pointing to the Buddha said, “Behold, son, the great Ascetic of majestic appearance is your father. Go up to him and ask for your inheritance!”
As advised by his mother, young Rahula came to His presence and asked for his inheritance. Instead, the Buddha told Venerable Sariputta to ordain Prince Rahula , giving him a spiritual inheritance better than the one he asked for.
Life of Buddha (36)During a subsequent visit to Rajagaha City, the Buddha went for alms-round in the company of His Chief Disciples and other monks. Along the way King Bimbisara and his royal family paid repects to the Buddha and His disciples.
Life of Buddha (38)The Buddha delivering a sermon of peace to two powerful warning armies of Kapilavatthu and Koliya at the opposite banks of the Rohini river before the two countries started fighting for the water supply of the river, for pastoral use.
Life of Buddha (40)The Order of Nuns (Bhikkhuni Sasana) was founded in the fifth year of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. After the death of King Suddhodana, Maha Pajapati Gotami , who was His former foster mother desirous of joining the Order ,approached the Buddha who was then, residing at Kapilavathu and begged permission for women to be admitted into the Order. After hearing and turning down their pleas, Buddha returned to Vesali for the Rains Retreat . Undaunted by the rebuff, Maha Pajapati Gotami cut off her hair and wearing yellow garments went on foot to Vesali, accompanied by many other Sakyan ladies. They stood outside the porch of the Pinnacled Great Hall in Mahayana where the Buddha was residing. Interceded by Venerable Ananda , the Buddha finally consented to establish the Bhikkhuni Sasana when Maha Pajapati Gotami and other Sakyan ladies agreed to observe the Eight Disciplinary Rules for nuns. Henceforth Maha Pajapati Gotami and other Sakyan ladies were admitted into the Order.
Later, the Nuns Khema and Uppalavanna were appointed the two Chief female Disciples; as were Sariputta and Moggalana the two Chief Male Disciples.
Life of Buddha (42)After losing in lively debate, the haughty hermit Saccaka refused to answer accordingly when the Buddha asked a question. Only when he was threatened to be beaten up by a celestial demon for arrogance, only then did he finally realize his own folly and listened to the Buddha’s preaching meekly. This wholesome action of his would augur well for his future.
Life of Buddha (44)On the seventh year after His Enlightenment, the Buddha preached the Abhidhamma (higher Doctrine) in Tavatimsa Heaven. As a fulfillment of gratitude to his former mother, now a Santussita deva, the Buddha then delivered a sermon on the Higher Doctrine to thousands of Devas (Gods) and Brahmas (higher celestial beings) who attained the various stages of Noble Sainthood.
Life of Buddha (46)The non Buddhist sectarians grudgingly wanted to ruin the Buddha’s reputation. They told Cinca Manvika , a beautiful girl to falsely accuse the Buddha for her shamed, pregnancy in a big and august assembly. King of Devas (Gods) dispatched some Deities disguised as mice to gnaw through the strings holding a block of wood under her garment. Her plot was exposed when the wood fell on her feet. When the people saw that, they threw stones and chased her away. As she was walking away, the earth spilt open and a flame sprang up to envelop and drag her down to Avici (deepest and worst) Hell.
Life of Buddha (48)On the sixteenth year of His Enlightment, the Buddha tamed the carnivorous Demon King , Alavaka who feasted on human flesh, to give up his habit on devouring at least one human being everyday. After hearing the Buddha’s Teaching, he henceforth gave up his habit, thus sparing the small child offered to him as food on that day.
Life of Buddha (50)There was a young harmless student at TAKKASILA University called Ahimsa. His jealous fellow students poisoned the mind of their teacher against him. As a result the teacher asked Ahimsa for a garland of one thousand right index fingers as tuition fee. Eager to discharge his obligation, he went into the Jalini forest in Kosala and started to waylay the passing travellers to collect an index finger from the right hand of each victim. The garland was almost completed except for one more single finger. Ahimsa decided to kill even his own mother for the sake of completing the one thousandth finger in the garland. However, Ahimsa was intercepted by the Compassionate Buddha who came to his aid. After listening to His preaching and being convinced, Ahimsa now known as Angulimala (garland of fingers ) joined the Sangha and became a Bhikkhu (monk) . The Angulimala Sutta, a discourse ascribed to this Thera (elder/monk) and connected to this event, is well-known in Buddhist countries and often used by pregnant ladies in travail for easy and safe delivery.
Life of Buddha (52)Once the Buddha and His Disciples went to Lake Anotatta passing by the mansion of Nandopananda the dragon king who was enjoying himself with his retinue. Angry at the apparent trespassing, Nandopananda coiled itself seven times round Mount Meru, covered the summit with its hood and spewing hot poisonous smoke to prevent the Buddha and his disciples from reaching lake Anotatta. Thereupon Maha Moggalana, (the second Chief Disciple) at once transformed himself into a dragon and likewise coiled round the mountain, crushing Nandopananda. Watched by the Buddha and His disciples, Maha Moggalana too began spewing hot poisonous smoke which greatly distressed Nandopananda who soon lost the challenge and upon realization of his folly, sought refuge in the Triple Gem of Buddhism.
Life of Buddha (54)The Buddha taking care of a sick monk, named Tissa who had been neglected by his unthoughtful fellow monks. By so doing, the Buddha wanted to foster mutual care and welfare amongst the Bhikkhus as well as others.
Life of Buddha (56)Baka Brahma, who was bitten by the snake of tenacious heresay (in believing that the Brahma Loka is the best and everlasting world in existence) , was duly defeated by the Buddha in a mutual contest to show power. On hearing the Buddha’s profound expounding of the Dhamma (Buddhist Doctrine), he became enlightened along with many other Brahmas (higher celestial beings).
Life of Buddha (58)When the Buddha was on his way to the city of Rajagaha, Devadatta ordered the release of the fierce elephant, Nalagiri, to harm Him. As the elephant charged towards the Buddha, everyone ran away leaving a mother and her baby on the ground. The Buddha radiated His infinite Compassion to calm and subdued the elephant before it could trample the helpless baby.
Life of Buddha (60)1.  The Buddha at Kusinara laid himself between two Sal trees with his head to the North, determined not to rise again. He them delivered his last admonition, “Behold, 0 Disciples! I exhort you ! Subject to change are all component things! Strive on with Diligence !” before He entered Maha parinibbana (attainment of Final Emancipation).
2.  Dona , the Brahman divided the Buddha’s relics into eight equal portions and distributed each of them to the Rulers of the eight countries. Then Dona decided that the golden container be kept for himself as an object of respectful veneration.