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AUTHENTIC GENDER EQUALITY

In ACTIVISM by Kim Roberts6 Comments

I live a short drive away from what was, until recently, known as the sex-change capital of the world: Trinidad, Colorado. As more people explore the option to alter their biology, gender issues have surfaced in so many ways it’s hard to recognize certain facets of culture we used to take for granted. There is no longer a ladies room or a men’s room for that matter in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. My Indian friend was aghast to learn recently that her 18 year old daughter’s dorm at Princeton has co-ed shower rooms, with flimsy shower curtain separating her from the male students in the adjacent stall. At a program I recently taught at a university, I was instructed to refer to one particular student as they, despite appearing as a young woman, they did not identify as either male or female. So they was not a she, as I had assumed.

These cultural changes provide the backdrop for a larger issue coming to light: gender equality and specifically, women’s rights. Is it a coincidence that the gender issue is arising at same time as #metoo? It seems there are two issues: gender fluidity and gender equality. We seem to be asking collectively, what is gender? And how do we implement basic human rights, and authentic gender equality, in the face of its evolving nature?

Gender is a mental construct: From an ultimate perspective, it’s fantastic we are disposing with entrenched labels. From another, I wonder: are we simply creating new trenches? Labels are still mental constructs, even if they do replace worn-out ideas. HH 17th Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje notes:

“The social meaning of our biological differences is created by our ideas about gender that is, what gender means socially is determined by the mind, and not by the body. Masculine and feminine are fabricated identities that societies create, not nature.”

“Although gender constructs are mere concepts, we can see that they can be terribly powerful forces that shape our experiences and affect how we treat others.”

 

17TH KARMAPA URGYEN TRINLEY DORJE

I think the most important question we can ask is not, how do women get equality in an era of patriarchy, but rather: What does an authentic, empowered masculine look like? Because if we keep insisting on equal rights for women based on a lopsided paradigm, we are going to end up in a different unbalanced situation, on the other side of the spectrum. It’s up to each of us to identify our inner masculine and feminine -something we contemplate in any tantric tradition- and develop a sane relationship to those energies. And this can’t be done on the sidewalks of Washington DC. As helpful as social activism can be, I think most of what confronts us as we untangle the knots of patriarchy is inner work.

Karmapa writes:

“When a problem is rooted in society’s habitual outlook and habitual thinking, then legislating change will have limited effect. After all, you cannot legislate a change in thinking.”

What does equality look like? 

It is long overdue for women’s rights, and safety, to be given the respect it deserves. But equal does not mean identical. Equality denotes balance, fairness, a portioning out of things so that everyone ends up with an advantage, no one with an advantage over another. But how can we assure fairness when each has our own karma?

Karmapa continues:

“Women’s rights have to do with respecting the value of human life and freedom. It has to do with acknowledging our shared humanity and the basic human bonds that link us.”

Obviously the biological roles of men and women differ, so it’s never quite made sense to me how we can be equal. What would make more sense is to aspire to treat each and every human being with an equal amount of kindness and respect.

Equality Or Ahimsa? As we evolve into more acceptance of gender fluidity, and more awareness of gender equality, it seems to me that what we need more than a tired concept of equality. The real issue at stake here is ahimsa. Kindness and acceptance, or at least a commitment not to cause harm. Equality has to do with ahimsa.

Gender Fluidity: It’s interesting that the vast majority of sex reassignments are male to female. From a darker perspective, you might take the gender fluidity we now insist upon as another attempt to appropriate the feminine. This darker view might see the patriarchy plotting against women as we stand up and demand justice from oppressors. As if saying: society accepts this shift in consciousness, then let’s attack the very foundation. Let’s deny the paradigm of femininity itself. We’ll kill mother nature at its root – denying the importance of our physiological roles, and so anyone who wants to can simply change their minds and decide to call themselves something different.

So when I hear about gender fluidity, and the pronoun they I have a hard time understanding. It seems pretty clear to me that if you have monthly periods and the ability to bear children, you are a woman. If you don’t have this possibility, then you are a man. Forgive me if this seems to black and white, but manand woman are different than masculine and feminine.

From a Meditation Viewpoint: Mind is neither male and female. All of my teachers have taught that both men and women have an equal opportunity to attain enlightenment. But Padmasambhava is recorded as saying that all other factors being equal, a woman is more likely to achieve enlightenment:

“The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment the woman’s body is better.”

This then begs the question: where are all the women teachers in Tibetan Buddhism? And how do we contextualize – and accept – the sexual escapades of male teachers? 
Tenzin Palmo asked her teacher Khamtrul Rinpoche why he thought there were not more female incarnations. He replied:

”My sister had more signs at the time of her birth than I did, and when she was arriving everybody said, ‘wow, this must be some really special being coming.’ but as soon as she was born, they said, ‘Oh, we made a mistake!’ You see, if she had been male, they immediately would have tried to find out who this child was, and he would have been given a very special kind of upbringing. Because she was only female, she was not given a chance. She had to marry and so on. This was the problem,that even if you came back as a female it would be very difficult to receive the kind of training and opportunities you could get as a male.”

Karmapa writes in his book, The Heart Is Noble:

“ I think a note of caution is in order here. Although there may be aspects of Buddhist teachings that can help us in thinking more wisely about gender issues, I want to warn you against looking to Buddhist societies to provide ideal examples of healthy gender constructs and practices. You should expect to come across things you do not want to adopt for yourself. Not everything in Buddhist institutions is perfect, and this is certainly the case when it comes to gender discrimination.”

I appreciate the openness and honesty of recent months, but where does this leave us? I have watched over and over the splitting of sanghas due to the misbehaviour of teachers. And yes, #metoo.

#metoo: I was groped by one of my yoga teachers, Pattabhi Jois. I did not speak up. Nor did any of the other many women I knew who he had touched inappropriately. Why did we remain silent? Because our voices had been cut off at an early age: the rule as a young lady is that you don’t cause conflict or confront injustice directly. I hope this movement of sharing can help us show up and educate men and women to be kind and decent human beings, so we can shift the tide to make respecting women and the power of the feminine the norm and not the exception.
Karmapa writes:

“If we continue to devalue what women have to offer, we will continue harming women and continue overlooking and devaluing these virtues that are considered feminine and these are precisely the virtues that the world needs most now.”

Letting go of identity: How do we as practitioners let go of fixation on identities while acknowledging this re-balancing of power. How do we say with a straight face that there is no gender, while supporting a woman’s right for basic human dignity and respect?  I understand the value in thinking about ourselves as human, rather than as men or women. But middle path is not neither. Middle path arises when we have 2 distinct polarities that play off of each other. If we lose the polarity, we lose the juice. Karmapa reminds us that gender constructs are nothing more than social fabrications.

Without attention to the details of our worldly experience, the fabric of our society may unravel. As practitioners our greatest contribution is to embody the wisdom of a larger view while embracing compassion as we meet each individual.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kim Roberts

KIM ROBERTS

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A graduate of Naropa University’s M.A. Contemplative Psychology program, Kim Roberts has been a devoted student of Ashtanga yoga and Dharma since 1992. She spent 15 years living in South Asia and now makes her home in Crestone, Colorado, where she is finishing her second book, Toward A Secret Sky: A Guide To The Art Of Modern Pilgrimage, to be released in Spring 2019. She also makes encaustic art. Learn more at KimRoberts.co or KimRobertsArt.com

Originally published in Levekunst

 

How can we best prepare ourselves for death?

 

That’s the same way, actually. In a way, the way you prepare others for death and the way you prepare yourself for death is more or less similar. You have to see what would work and what would not work for yourself. It’s important that as a practitioner facing death you try to prepare yourself, because when you are prepared then you don’t leave things unfinished. If you have a property, or if you have money you do whatever is necessary, you just give them to whoever you want to give to, make things clear, so that there are no problems afterwards for those left behind, fighting and things like that. Then you can concentrate on your own path and not on other irrelevant things.

Also, I think that it is important that in your life maybe you have done some good things, maybe not so good things but that’s all past so we have to forgive everything, forgive everybody, including yourself and then start a new way of life, from now. The past is past, whatever I have done, something not so good, that’s ok, it’s done, finished; if it’s something good, that’s very good. Now this moment I don’t have to feel guilty, I don’t have to feel bad about things because there’s nothing I can do about it, it’s all done but now I don’t hold onto it, I start fresh in a positive way because if I can do that, that’s the best purification.

So, about yourself, you just do what you want, really preparing yourself to die, be ready to die and then concentrate on your practice, inspire yourself, remind yourself of the teachings, listen to inspiring teachings and as much as possible you can kind of put your mind on something positive. That’s why thinking about the Buddha, thinking about the Buddha realms like the realm of Amitabha, or any other Buddha, whatever is interesting to you and also listen to the teachings of Bardo and things like that is also important. And if you can read yourself, or listen or otherwise if you cannot listen then whatever abilities you have, the main thing is that as everybody has to die, then just get ready for it, just let go, relax and don’t hang onto anything positive or negative of the past, just let go.

Q- Would Rinpoche say that we die as we have lived, that our experience of death reflects the engagement we have had with dharma and life generally?

Of course, we die as we live, it is about a state of mind, it’s not so much what I do but how I experience. So whatever happens, if I have certain emotions, strong emotion like too much attachment, too much ignorance, too much anger, too much fear then that can become stronger so therefore what I experience in my life now creates the circumstances for what I do in the practice; that we try to let go of our fear and our aversion and attachment are the three most important things. And if you can a have a little bit of control or have a little bit less aversion, less attachment, less fear and not too much clinging then I think you can face death with much more clarity, much more confidence.

So, therefore, it’s like that but when we are in a disturbed state of mind at the time of death, death is not easy, death is not always easy, it can be a challenging time. Some people are lucky and they don’t have much pain but, because of different circumstances, different diseases, different situations, some people have more pain, some have less pain. But the most important thing is that the life has to be a preparation for the death, the practice for life is actually the practice for death. If we look into most of the vajrayana practices, the sadhanas, the creation stage and the completion stage practices, all of them are actually a direct preparation for death, this is very important to understand.

Ringu Tulku Rinpoche

Article first appeared in Living and Dying in Peace

2 Comments

Your Policy

[How to let a reader know from a one-sided conversation on the phone what the person at the other end is saying.  The obvious ploy would be to have the recipient of a phone call continuously repeat what the other is saying. But this may abrade the reader with such an obvious and redundant repetitive strategy. 

I recall Bob Newhart and his sketches about the driving instructor and Sir Walter Raleigh’s introduction of tobacco and potatoes to Queen Elizabeth I.  He had a subtle way of crafting his monologue by letting the listener infer and predict what is going on at the silent end of the conversation.]

*

[Scene]

First you pay attention to the buzzing of your phone against your thigh.  The phone’s in your pocket.  You’re sitting at your computer and really don’t want to be disturbed.  Ah!  That’s the reason, it’s on silent.

Stand up.  Remove from pocket.  Look at the screen.  Sit down.

This is an unidentified call.  Danger!  Danger!  Must be a stranger.  A Nigerian gang are after your bank details; or an Indian girl with a sweet voice wants to tell you there’s something wrong with your computer and to switch it on; or it could be a friend of a friend with some bad news … so better to answer.

  • That’s me.

  • No, I don’t think so. She didn’t mention speaking to you.  Yes, go on.

  • She did mention speaking to someone from the bank the other day.  Oh, it was you.  So, you’re Doris.  OK.  Go on.

  • I’m not on the system! What system?  My date of birth?  27 01 59

  • Hold on or phone me back? … Eh! … phone me back.

*

Switch off call.  Back to your computer screen.  Now, what were you doing?  Let’s see.  Napier University.  Published writing … that was quick.  Phone buzzing again on your desk.  Unknown call.  It’s Doris.

*

  • Yes, it’s me. Hi Doris.

  • Per month?

  • No, I don’t have my home insurance policy handy. Nineteen pounds and thirty three pence … per month?  I’m not sure how much I’m paying.

  • A cooling off? A cooling off from what.  No don’t send me the policy.  I can tell you now I don’t want the policy.

  • You mean the money is taken out of my account if I forget to cancel? What if I forget to tell you within the fifteen days that I want to cancel the policy?  I’m a bit absent-minded. Can you not just send me the policy and I’ll consider?

  • No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I like this method of selling.

  • Give me your number and I’ll check it out online and if I’m interested I’ll get back to you.

*

You don’t bother to write the number down.

One week later.

*
  • Yes, this is Mr McHaggis.

  • No, you didn’t speak to me and I don’t think you spoke to my wife. Someone called Doris called and spoke to me.

  • Why did she put me on the system?

  • Yes, she gave me a quote but I told her I wasn’t interested in the sales method and that I wanted the details in writing before I make a decision.

  • Why don’t you do that? Oh, you don’t do that.

  • No, I don’t want a cooling off period. I’m feeling cool just now … and what is there to cool off from.  Should I be feeling hot?  Do you want me to feel hot?  I have an idea, why don’t you improve your conditions of sale and get back to me in about five years and I’ll consider your offer of a policy?  Oh, and take me off your system.

  • No, don’t contact me at a later date.

  • No, I’m not interested. I have to limit my interests at my age.

*S

You hang up feeling less cool than you did five minutes ago.  You are more than a little rubicund.

Ah yes.  Bar that damn number.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Heart Sutra

 

A New Translation from the Chinese by Hanh Niêm with Commentary
______________________________

Prajna Paramita Hridaya – Heart of Perfected Wisdom

The Bodhisattva Avelokiteshvara,
Practicing the perfection of wisdom, going deep within,
Was illuminated and perceived that
All five skandhas are empty of intrinsic existence.
Thus being at one with all things,
Experiencing things directly without the intervention of thought,
All suffering and doubt ceased.

Shariputra, the appearance of form is not separate from emptiness,
Emptiness is not separate from the appearance of form,
The appearance of form is one with emptiness,
Emptiness is one with appearance of form.
The same is true for feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness-ego.

Shariputra, all dharmas – all appearance of phenomena – are mutually empty:
There is neither birth nor death,
Neither defilement nor purity,
Neither gain nor loss. Continue reading

Each Morning You Awake…

Each morning you wake and begin your inner story about the day ahead.  Much of this story is a repetition of the thousands of stories you have spu in your life. What if you could birth a new story, completely untouched by your old stories?  Would it take you somewhere you have not been before?  The beautiful thing about you is that you are a storyteller.  The challenging part is that we are not immune to our old stories or those others tell.

Bless you for being a storyteller.  May your heart’s desires write the fresh new script for your mind to direct and your behaviour to act out.  May the performance be so moving that you decide to write a new play each morning.  The seats are sure to be filled with patrons like Healing, Wonder, Discovery, and Renewal.  The sellout streak will never end.  And friends will wonder how they can get a phenomenal life like yours.

 

From Fresh Peace:  Daily Blossoming of the Soul by Jaiya John

Tofu Sushi Bowl

 

Ingredients
100g/3½oz firm tofu, drained

50g/1¾oz sushi rice

25g/1oz frozen soya beans

low-calorie cooking spray

4 radishes, thinly sliced

¼ small cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed, cut into thin matchsticks

¼ small carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks

3 spring onions, thinly shredded

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp Japanese pickled ginger, drained, to serve

For the dressing

½ lime, finely grated zest and juice

½ level tsp runny honey

½ tbsp tamari or dark soy sauce

½ tsp rice vinegar

dash toasted sesame oil

Method
To make the sushi bowl, wrap the tofu in kitchen paper, sandwich between two plates or chopping boards and weigh down with a few tins from your cupboard. Leave to drain for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and boil the sushi rice for 8–10 minutes, or until just cooked. Drain, place back in the pan, cover and set aside.

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook the soya beans for 2 minutes, or until tender. Drain, refresh under cold water and set aside.

To make the dressing, put the lime zest, juice and honey in a small saucepan and simmer for 1 minute. Stir in the tamari, vinegar and sesame oil and set aside.

Cut the tofu into 1.5cm/½in cubes. Spray a large frying pan with a little low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook for 1 minute on each side until crisp and golden brown.

Place the rice in a bowl or lunchbox and stir in the dressing. Top with the soya beans, radishes, cucumber, carrot and two-thirds of the spring onions. Sprinkle over the tofu, remaining spring onions and sesame seeds and serve with the pickled ginger or place in the fridge until ready to eat.

Bardos

‘Live and let die’, a reflection on the summer camp

Summer Camp 2018: 

I had my first experience of the Bodhicharya summer camp this August. It was a life changing experience in many ways. The theme of the camp was ‘Bardos’, which translates to transitions. Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, who I’ll refer to as Rinpoche from now delivered the teachings in a remarkable way. Rinpoche wanted to focus on death and dying, and managed to deliver his message via some core Buddhist concepts and philosophies, making this an open and accessible summer camp. I didn’t have much experience of Rinpoche directly until this week, and what I saw was a very relaxed, informal and benevolent human being. The way he managed to intertwine simple messages in his teachings was exemplary, messages such as ‘you prepare for death by what you do now’, and ‘the only possessions you really have are moments’. These little messages hammered home the hardest, and what is so great about them is that they are so accessible for everyone. Okay, so I don’t mean ‘Live and let die’ in the

I decided to take refuge as the week went on. I knew most of what this meant and what it involved, but Rinpoche gave us a lovely introduction to this and the Bodhisattva vows to really cement the process together. The whole session of taking refuge was enlightening and cleansing. Even though I had been practicing meditation and Buddhism for a few years, this really made me feel like I was properly on the path. The deep meaning and beautiful words of the refuge and Bodhisattva prayers gave meaning and light to the path. Going through the refuge process made me truly understand and think about the words in the prayers we say every time we begin our practice.

Rinpoche handed me a card with my Tibetan name, Sonam Gyatso, which means ocean of merit. Rinpoche didn’t specifically choose this for me, and he said not to read too much into this, which I agree with. I do like the name though, and I think it can also serve as a specific reminder to oneself about their own dharma path. To me it serves as a reminder that we must all go to the efforts of gaining merit through our positive actions in order to traverse the path to enlightenment.

My week was characterised by uncertainty and impermanence. As a fledgling to the Bodhicharya circles, I was learning a lot and was faced with lots of new and exciting challenges. My uncertainty usually changed to confidence through practice which demonstrated the power of impermanence, a key tenet to the Bardo philosophy, about transition and change. Everything changes.

Jay Rao is a member of the Bodhicharya London sangha, and lives in Watford, UK. He started meditating sporadically to improve his well being, and stumbled upon the London sangha after work one day, who helped him to improve his practice. Jay was born in Pondicherry, India, a multi-cultural and spiritual town with a blend of Tamil and French heritage. He moved to Lancashire at the age of four and his family settled in Sale, Cheshire at the age of ten. He is interested in world history, economic development and Buddhism and manages urban regeneration projects for Watford Council.

 

 

Generating Water from a Backpack

One of the most vital resources on the planet may soon be readily available in your backpack.A professor of mechanical engineering is leading a research team to develop a lightweight, battery-powered pack that can harvest water from the air—as many as 10 gallons per hour— even in arid locations.The nanofiber-based harvester could help address modern water shortages due to climate change, industrial pollution, droughts and groundwater depletion, especially in dry parts of California, Africa and China. This will also aid residents in South America who live atop mountain ranges higher than rain clouds.

“I was visiting China, which has a freshwater scarcity problem,” said Dr. Shing-Chung Wong of the University of Akron. “There’s investment in wastewater treatment, but I thought that effort alone was inadequate.”

He figured it would be more prudent to develop a water harvester that could take advantage of abundant water particles in the atmosphere.

To miniaturize water generation and improve the efficiency, Wong and his UA students turned to electrospun polymers. Electrospinning uses electrical forces to produce polymer fibers ranging from tens of nanometers up to 1 micrometer — an ideal size to condense and squeeze water droplets out of the air. These nanoscale fiber polymers offer a much larger surface-area-to-volume ratio than that provided by the typical structures and membranes used in water distillers.

By experimenting with different combinations of polymers that were hydrophilic — which attracts water — and hydrophobic — which discharges water, the team concluded that a water harvesting system could indeed be fabricated using nanofiber technology.

Unlike existing methods, Wong’s harvester could work in arid desert environments because of the membrane’s high surface-area-to-volume ratio. It also would have a minimal energy requirement.

The appearance of the portable water harvester depends on the end-use applications. The envisioned design looks much like a backpack.

“We could confidently say that, with recent advances in lithium-ion batteries, we could eventually develop a smaller, backpack-sized device,” Wong said.

What’s more, Wong’s nanofiber design simultaneously grabs water and filters it, thus the water would be free of pollutants and immediately drinkable.

Next, Wong hopes to obtain additional funding to build a prototype of the freshwater harvester. He anticipates that, once his team is able to produce the prototype, it should be inexpensive to manufacture.

(Source: University of Akron)

The Good News Network

5 Reasons Jews Gravitate Toward Buddhism

In Jewish and Buddhist circles, there is the story of the Jewish woman who schleps to the Himalayas in search of a famous guru. She travels by plane, train and rickshaw to reach a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. When she gets there she’s shvitzing and exhausted but she is committed, and thankfully she is wearing sensible shoes. An old lama in a maroon and saffron robe opens the door, and the woman promptly requests a meeting with the guru. The lama explains that this is impossible because the guru is in silent retreat, meditating in a cave high on a mountaintop. Not willing to take no for an answer, she insists that she absolutely must see this guru. Finally the lama acquiesces while insisting on the following rules: The meeting must be brief, she must bow when addressing the guru, and she can say no more than eight words to him. The woman agrees and says a silent prayer that her years with a personal trainer will pay off and somehow get her up the mountain. After hiring a Sherpa and a yak, she sets off for the grueling trek. With hardly an ounce of energy left, her spiritual search brings her to the opening of the cave high on the mountain. Keeping within the eight word limit in addressing the guru she breathes in deeply, sticks her head in the opening of the cave, bows and says, “Sheldon, it’s your mother. Enough already, come home!”

A JuBu refers to someone with a Jewish background who practices some form of Buddhism. It has been estimated that 30 percent of all Western Buddhists are of Jewish heritage, and many of the prominent Western Buddhist teachers were born Jews. Here are five reasons why Jews are attracted to a Buddhist path:

Spirituality

Many Jewish seekers find that the Judaism they grew up in lacked a spiritual component with which they could connect. While many Jews today can identify with the cultural, social and historical aspects of Judaism, the spiritual dimension for many is significantly lacking. Today, increasing numbers of rabbis are acknowledging this problem. They maintain that there is a deep spiritual Jewish practice (through mystical Judaism and study of the Kabbalah) but that it has been inaccessible to the majority of Jews based on the way that Judaism is practiced in most synagogues across the country. Jews seeking a spiritual connection often find it in Buddhist philosophy where practices such as meditation and mindfulness are both central and accessible.

God

Because Buddhism in non-theistic in nature, Jewish believers in God, as well as Jewish atheists and agnostics, can find a home in Buddhist practice without having to compromise or struggle against opposing belief systems.

History

Jews and Buddhists have no baggage with one another, making exploration of this spiritual path much easier and more acceptable that joining a religious tradition where there is a history of conflict.

Open Invitation

In contrast to other religions, it is unnecessary to formally convert to Buddhism in order to follow this spiritual path. There is room for the decision to practice and identify as a Jew while embracing a Buddhist belief system and Buddhist practices.

Suffering

Both Jews and Buddhists share a deep understanding about the nature of suffering.Buddha’s Four Noble Truths explores this concept in depth, offering a way to understand both the causes of suffering and a path to end suffering. These ideas resonate with Jews who have struggled with a history of persecution that culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust. Applying a Buddhist perspective to such atrocities can offer many a path of healing.

As Jews continue to explore Buddhism and its practices, more JuBus will be able to discover the “OM in ShalOM,” creating a rich and fruitful spiritual path. Both traditions have much to offer and boast a rich legacy of dialogue and thought provoking debate to cultivate both wisdom and compassion and a whole lot of JuBulation

Reprinted with the kind permission of Ellen Frankel

Articles in her Blog by Ellen Frankel

Radish Achar मुलाको अचर

Ingredients
2 cups of small pieces of radish
1/2 cup of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon of mango powder
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds

Process
Cut the radish into small pieces.  Bleach in salt water for about 5 minutes and then boil.   Roast the sesame seeds lightly without using any oil till they pop.  Grind the sesame seeds.  Mix the radish with chili powder, sesame powder and salt.  Squeeze the lemon juice over it.  Fry the fenugreek seeds till they turn black and add the turmeric.  Pour over the radish.  Add a few drops of water.  Mix well and serve.

 

Honoring the Child’s Unique Song

An excerpt from Dr. Jaiya John’s book Reflection Pond: Nurturing Wholeness in Displaced Children. A compassionate guide for professionals and caregivers.

EACH OF US is born with an essence–a distinctive nature or character. An inclination peculiar to us alone pulls us toward some things and away from others. While we commonly understand this as personality, this truth has been honored in world cultures for centuries in a more textured sense.

Many African communities have long held that each spirit born into the world carries its own unique song. This song represents the rhythm, frequency, and flavor of life that strikes the chords of the child’s spirit with the greatest degree of harmony. It is her way of being. Her nature. Her song is her reason for having been brought into the world. She carries a package she must deliver, an insight to join into the collective awareness of her people.

When a woman in such a community becomes pregnant, a tradition occurs, varying according to the particular tribal culture. Here is a general depiction: The expecting woman gathers her female family members and friends. They venture out away from the compound, away from the children and men and the daily noise of society. Surrounded by listening trees and sitting close to Earth, the women form a circle.

They have a singular purpose in being here: to recognize the song of this new life on its way. They spend many moments in silence, so that they can hear what nature speaks to them. Back in the compound, commotion would drown out these voices.

Protected by shade clouds from the determined sun, they laugh together and tell stories. Laughing and storytelling create good vibrations that loosen clumps of dirt blocking the unseen rivers they wear like a skirt. Inspiration begins to flow.

At times they join hands, the two closest to the waiting mother cradling her affectionately like a small child. Waiting mother massages her belly. She is not just soothing her baby, she is receiving what that precious life is already voicing. This may seem like folly to us who inhabit a reality of the tangible and who often scorn what cannot be seen. But what is the nature of all things but energy? And how does energy exist but through vibration? How are we to notice and understand a vibration except by letting it dance into us?

Night emerges to greet the circle of women. Truthfully, some of them are impatient. They want the song to come so they can get back to their lives. But this ritual is sewn into the fabric of their lives. It is what their heritage has delivered them. They have the context in which to understand this ritual’s value.

            

Some children sing louder from their mother’s belly in the night. Some become brazen in the morning. Note by note, the song emerges. The song is a love song to the world: Prepare yourselves. I am come. Beat the drum.

               

The women begin to share with each other what they are intuiting about this new child. Intuition is all we have in this world. Many of us do not believe in our intuition so it becomes a rusted tool left on the floor of our despair. These women cannot imagine not believing in a gift such as this. When they intuit, they speak what they have received to each other without self-consciousness or worrying about what the others will think.

               

To lie about what one intuits of a child, or to cloak that intuition in the clothes of what we desire of that child-these are bad tidings. They bring harm to the child, to the family, and to the community. Because all relationships based upon a false or disguised intuition about the child wreak havoc.

It is like being sold a bag of what we are told are melon seeds when in fact the bag contains flower seeds. Then we go about happily planting our seeds, congratulating ourselves; salivating at our expected harvest. When the harvest we expect does not come, we curse the seeds. But the seeds have done nothing wrong. They were flowers all along.

Our faulty understanding of the seeds’ nature is behind our disappointment and frustration. What’s more, conflicted about our failed expectations for the seeds, we fail to realize that we have been blessed by flowers. Their beauty escapes us because our limited understanding demands that they be something else.

              
Our children are those flower seeds. In this African setting the women continue to share what is being revealed to them about the nature-song of this child. The waiting mother’s intuition is given the highest authority. This is true except in cases when an elder woman present deciphers something that helps clarify the mother’s understanding of her child.

               

The child’s song unfolds: I am a boisterous spirit; you must allow me voice and room to move and roam. I am a quiet child; you must grant me my silence. I am a teacher, please nurture my skills. I am meant to feel things deeply; I will use this for being a healer. I am small, but my vision is large; our people would do well to fall into it and drown.

              
Waiting mother and the other women reach an accord on their initial understanding of this new life on its way. This recognition of song has been the first sacred step in preparing to relate to the child in a way that will create wholeness. Wholeness depends upon being seen, recognized, and understood accurately. This is why one of the most important questions between people in many of these grandparent cultures is: Do you see me?

 

The women return to the compound and gather the people around them. Again in a circle, the women announce to the community what they have learned about the song of this new life on the way. At this point, the broader community begins its responsibility for constructing the understanding necessary to honor the child. Parents initiate conversations with their children about the waiting mother, her family, and the new child. Young people question their elders about the same. This is how we begin to prepare a safe space, a greenhouse for wholeness to grow.

A child is come! Go beat the drum! The compound of children and adults, each with a conscious stake in the new life on its way, eagerly sing the child’s song during the pregnancy; not only to the child but to each other. This way, when the child emerges and begins crawling, walking, running through the community, she encounters people and places that have been drenched in her essence. What a wonderful way to make her feel beautiful!

The song is the family’s and community’s way of saying to the child, We recognize and honor that this is who you are. The song represents values, beliefs, personality, talents, life purpose, preferences–all of who she is.

Everyone’s eagerness to sing comes from a simple understanding: that for each child who suffers in life there is a community that also suffers. For each child who thrives is a people who thrive. The degree of suffering or thriving in a child is mirrored by the amount of suffering or thriving in her people. This is a law that never changes.

The new child is bathed in her own song during her gestation; she receives this nourishment just as she receives nourishment through her umbilicus. She gestates in a bath of validation, celebration, and understanding. She is sung into beauty before she draws her first breath.

At the moment of her birth, among her first sensations are the sounds of her family and community singing to her. Along with the stark contrasts of cold air and bright light outside of the womb, she is wrapped in the warm blanket of recognition: Welcome new child! We see you. We have planted good seeds in you. You are a seed who grows in us. You are not alone in this world. We are each other. You will never be alone. This is a good way to begin a life.

During the important landmarks of the child’s life, her loving people caress her with her song. When she learns to crawl, walk, or run, there is the song. When she learns to speak, there is the song. On her birthdays, on her first day of school, she is greeted in song. When she first menstruates she is initiated by song into the deeper meaning of her transformation. She is not allowed to breed shame inside herself for becoming a woman.

The older she grows and the more she develops, the more she dictates the nature of her song and teaches it to her people. She is the best teacher that can ever be of her song. She is granted her divinely endowed right to teach the world what she has been brought here to share.

 

Being imperfect, the child will struggle. This is a time when her people gather around her with determination. They sing to her more forcefully than ever. They have come to return her to herself. They recognize that punishment does not cause a struggling child to recover her vision of self. Discipline does. Discipline is a hard reminder of who we are and why we are. It snaps us back to our intended path.

In collective social harmony she receives the message: Dear child, you are forgetting yourself. You are losing your footing. The Earth beneath you does not change. The way in which you step has changed. Remember how you began. Remember why you are. Remember the truth of how you are to be. In Nepalese culture there is a term for this. Shanti ko Samjhana: Remembering Peace. This refers to the peace of the womb, the peace of our natural state, and the peace of self-understanding.

Be true to yourself. This is the one and only Yurok Indian law. Imagine how powerful this manifestation must be for a people to hold it as their essential law. When we are true to ourselves, health and prosperity flow from that cup. Most personal and social despair can be traced back to individuals failing to be true to their nature and purpose. Trueness implies the child knows herself; believes in herself; understands her purpose; and has faith that being true to that purpose and to her nature will yield a bountiful life for her and the circle of life she inhabits.

The African village sings to the child to remind her of who she herself has told them she is. They sing to say: You are not being true to yourself. All of your suffering is a polluted water springing from the source which is your self-betrayal. They sing so she can find her way back through her blindness to the clearing of her recognition. They sing her back home.

When the woman who was once the child becomes an elder, she is crowned with her song–a harmony always evolving as she evolves. At the moment her seasons on Earth have ended and she passes into all things, oh what a glorious song comes out: Our dear child has become all things! She joins us now in the trees and the sky, in the water and the wind. She has not left us. She is all around us. She will visit us as she wishes, to teach again. A soul learns many things when it sits at the feet of all things. Immersed in affirming harmony, this child has lived a good life.

 

Dr. Jaiya John’s book Reflection Pond: Nurturing Wholeness in Displaced Children, is a compassionate guide for professionals and caregivers. It is available online where books are sold. Learn more about Jaiya’s books at jaiyajohn.com.
SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. To submit an article, essay, or story to be considered for publication in Soul Blossom, content must have a humanitarian focus, be under 1,500 words, and be the sole intellectual property of the submitting author. Submit to soulblossom@soulwater.org.

Faith and Reason,

In my book, Scratching the Itch: Getting to the Root of Our Suffering, I hypothesized the reason for there being so many instantaneous enlightenments reported when reading about the life of the Buddha or of Zen Master Benkei.  I said that people back then were more open to blind faith, to the promise of religion.  Whereas today, people are suspect of blind faith and rely more on reason.  I think, therefore I am.  Also, the ego-mind is much more developed now than in those days.

Recently, in reading Montaigne, The Complete Works, he notes that if faith does not come from some mysterious inner source but instead is founded on reason, then that faith is subject to being constantly beaten down by competing reason.  Whereas faith founded on some mysterious inner source is inviolate, not susceptible to being pierced by the ego-mind.  Reason can be used to support faith, but not to give it birth. Continue reading

THREE REASONS WHY AN ANIMAL MAKES THE BEST MEDITATION PARTNER

THREE REASONS WHY AN ANIMAL MAKES THE BEST MEDITATION PARTNER

In ANIMALS by Kathleen Prasad12/16/20154 Comments

You see, in my work with animals and Reiki over the years, I began to notice something interesting; when I would meditate and my animals would happen to be with me, I found myself able to quiet my mind and be present with an open heart much more easily. I realized that perhaps I should rethink the way I approached my own meditation practice. Meditating alone is all well and good, offering many benefits that have been backed by science. But when I began to meditate with the animals and follow their lead, all of the benefits of meditation I had always experienced began to improve. Here are three ways animals helped me become a better meditator:

1. It’s easier to stay present and peaceful in the moment with our animals. If we are trying to meditate but our intellectual minds keep analyzing, judging and interpreting everything (which is just natural for us, really), the animals will often mirror this agitation. The more we feel ourselves shift into a state of quiet, and the more we can just “be,” the more we can see the animals relax. I can always tell what state I am in by how the animals around me are responding to my presence. A peaceful mind and peaceful heart means peaceful animals. In addition, animals have a natural calming presence. So when we have trouble letting go, and we’re stuck inside past problems or future fears, simply sitting with our animals can help to calm our energy, quiet our thoughts and take us to this moment right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Animals help our hearts to open, so that we can more easily radiate our inner compassion. According to a 2013 study by Northeastern University, those who practice mindfulness meditation feel more compassion for others. But sometimes, compassion can be a difficult feeling to tap into. That’s where the animal factor comes in: Animals show so much unconditional love for us, we just can’t help but open our hearts when we are with them. If we are with our animals during our meditation practice, our inner compassion arises effortlessly because we are already opening our hearts to our animals at that moment. This compassion will radiate out to all animals … and even ultimately to the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Animals remind me that the true purpose of meditation is to bring peaceful presence out into the world. Some people think, “Oh, I have to light a candle and sit on this cushion to meditate.” And that sometimes works well, but it’s also very limiting. Meditation isn’t about escaping the world, shutting our eyes and sitting in a stiff position. The most important purpose of meditation is to bring compassion to our lives, and the truth is we have to learn to take our practice off of the cushion, bringing this compassion with us into the world. What the animals teach us by their compassionate presence is very freeing: That truly any moment in our lives can be a meditation. We can practice peaceful presence while sitting, walking or standing—cuddling our cat, walking the dog or standing in a pasture with our horse. You see, this is how our animals live already, and they can show us how to live this way too.

Meditation is about bringing all of our energy here to this present moment, and opening our hearts to the peaceful power that exists in the now. Animals are always present, they don’t judge like we do, and they live life with an open heart. They are my best meditation partners: mirrors, reflecting to me how I should be, and lights, guiding me along the path of inner healing.

10/07/2015 

 

 KATHLEEN PRASAD

Animal Reiki teacher, author, mostly-vegan, animal advocate, passionate meditator and dragon-at-heart. Founder of Animal Reiki Source and co-founder of The Shelter Animal Reiki Association. Compassion is the ultimate healer! My website & blog.

First published in Levenkunst.

 

 

 

Conversation with Ernie Buck

Derelict barns at Garvald

When and how did you first discover Buddhism?

Oh heavens!  In a conventional sense I would say by accident.  I started doing TM in about the early nineties or late eighties.  I got into TM as a totally secular thing.  It worked fine.  The mantra I used to do – a couple of times a day, twenty minutes – it did what it said on the tin.  It was very effective for me.  I did it for about a year and then … you gradually get out of these things.  I had a quite stressful job (Chamber of Commerce).  So that all finished.

Fast forward to about the early nineties now.  I got a phone call from an ex-colleague of mine at the chambers.  “You used to meditate, didn’t you?  It worked for you.”

And I said, “I did.”

She had seen meditation classes advertised in the Bradford Interfaith Centre.  She didn’t want to go on her own.  Would I go with her?  Along I went.  It happened to be Buddhist.  I knew nothing about Buddhism at all.  Brought up a Roman Catholic.  I knew quite a lot about Samye Ling because I’d worked in the Middle East as a soldier and so on.  So, that got me into it.  And that was with the New Kadampa Tradition.

Continue reading

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