Thursday, July 31, 2008

Native American Code of Ethics

I got this in an email today. There's a lot of good stuff here:


1. Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often. The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

2. Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path. Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

3. Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.

4. Treat the guests in your home with much consideration. Serve them the best food, give them the best bed and treat them with respect and honor.

5. Do not take what is not yours whether from a person, a community, the wilderness or from a culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.

6. Respect all things that are placed upon this earth - whether it be people or plant.

7. Honor other people's thoughts, wishes and words. Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them. Allow each person the right to personal expression.

8. Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative energy that you put out into the universe will multiply when it returns to you.

9. All persons make mistakes. And all mistakes can be forgiven.

10. Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind, body and spirit. Practice optimism.

11. Respect our Creator's work of art which is nature and its amazing wonder and beauty.

12. Children are the seeds of our future. Plant love in their hearts and water them with wisdom and life's lessons. When they are grown, give them space to grow.

13. Avoid hurting the hearts of others. The poison of your pain will return to you.

14. Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the test of one's will within this universe.

15. Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual self, Emotional self, and Physical self - all need to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out the body to strengthen the mind. Grow rich in spirit to cure emotional ills.

16. Make conscious decisions as to who you will be and how you will react. Be responsible for your own actions.

17. Respect the privacy and personal space of others. Do not touch the personal property of others - especially sacred and religious objects. This is forbidden.

18. Be true to yourself. You cannot nurture and help others if you cannot nurture and help yourself.

19. Respect others religious beliefs. Do not be forceful with your beliefs.

20. Share your good fortune with others. Participate in charity.
I especially am impressed with #2 above -- the one about practicing tolerance for others who are lost on their path. That is a very helpful way of thinking about those who malign us or harm us.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

The magnificent and noble Smokey
Photo by Bill Miller
(Bill's blog is here)

The wonderful reliability of true silence

I'm talking, of course, about deep silence, interior silence, the silence that supports and strengthens. We start by becoming acquainted with exterior silence. So turn off the television and radio occasionally. Give the senses a little rest. And listen.

Silence is the great teacher, and to learn its lessons you must pay attention to it. There is no substitute for the creative inspiration, knowledge, and stability that come from knowing how to contact your core of inner silence. The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote, "Only let the moving waters calm down, and the sun and moon will be reflected on the surface of your being.

-- Deepak Chopra

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Father and His Two Daughters

I happened upon a collection of Aesop's Fables today and here is one that I don't think I've heard or read before:
A man had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married the gardener, and inquired how she was and how all things went with her. She said, All things are prospering with me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the plants may be well watered. Not long after, he went to the daughter who had married the tilemaker, and likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied, I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks might be dried. He said to her, If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my wishes?'
This is a wonderful story. It teaches us that something that is in one person's best interests may well be truly detrimental to another. It also teaches us that context is everything!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Bill Miller
(Bill's blog is right here.)

This is a great story!

Once in India I was travelling in a car. There was a chauffeur driving and I was sitting beside him. There were three gentlemen behind discussing awareness very intently and asking me questions about awareness, and unfortunately at that moment the driver was looking somewhere else and he ran over a goat, and the three gentlemen were still discussing awareness - totally unaware that they had run over a goat. When the lack of attention was pointed out to those gentlemen who were trying to be aware it was a great surprise to them.

-- Krishnamurti

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Unless we practice loving feelings toward everyone we meet, day in, day out, we're missing out on the most joyous part of life. If we can actually open our hearts, there's no difficulty in being happy.

-Ayya Khema in Be an Island

The title of the book Be an Island is not meant to imply that we're not connected. Rather it urges us not to depend on the behavior or approval of others for our sense of well being.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The hardest battle

Here's a quotation I came across today that I actually discovered about 35 years ago or so. I loved it then and I love it now:

To be nobody-but-yourself – in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else – means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

- e.e. cummings

Friday cat blogging!


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Remembering the oneness

There is something very moving, very heartening about this:

You can't tell when this will happen. Usually we act as if we were autonomous, independent beings. But occasionally — at a waterfall, on a walk, hugging someone we love — we glimpse a trace of infinity. Something inside us remembers the oneness.

Daniel C. Matt

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wednesday life form blogging

(Image from Wikipedia Commons)

Meditation and problems

I like the emphasis on clarity here:

When you commit to meditation for daily life, you are accepting that you will make time for this all-important act and that the things in your life need to be addressed. You also accept that while you may not be able to solve all your life problems with twenty minutes of meditation a day, you will be able to look at them more clearly. That is the main benefit that daily meditation for life will bring you, the clarity to look objectively at your problems and to see them not as huge obstacles, but merely as problems that have solutions.

-- Petra Kovlinksy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Shaking the Tree

Vine and branch we’re connected in this world
of sound and echo, figure and shadow, the leaves
contingent, roots pushing against earth. An apple

belongs to itself, to stem and tree, to air
that claims it, then ground. Connections
balance, each motion changes another. Precarious,

hanging together, we don’t know what our lives
support, and we touch in the least shift of breathing.
Each holy thing is borrowed. Everything depends.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo by Cynthia Burgess

Essential gaps

Many meditation teachers throughout the years have told us that meditation is about noticing and eventually lengthening the gap between thoughts. Another way of helping the mind learn to settle is to notice the gap between words:

Even during a conversation, become conscious of the gaps between words, the brief silent intervals between sentences. As you do that, the dimension of stillness grows within you.

-- Eckhart Tolle

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The present moment

This is wonderful:

On Arturo Toscanini’s eightieth birthday, someone asked his son, Walter, what his father ranked as his most important achievement. The son replied, “For him there can be no such thing. Whatever he happens to be doing at the moment is the biggest thing in his life – whether it is conducting a symphony or peeling an orange.

-Ardis Whitman

This does so remind me of that old slogan, "Comparisons are odious."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fear of the unknown

It's undoubtedly the most common fear of all - fear of the unknown. And, of course, what we want (or think we want) is for it not to be unknown after all - for it to be predictable. When you think about that, it's a contradiction in terms; it's utterly impossible. Look at it this way:

The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that. Accept that it’s unknown, and it’s plain sailing.

-John Lennon

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

The acquisition of wisdom

I just found the quotation below and it intrigues me. How very interesting that silence is first on the list. I agree. And, yet, how we resist it! The important thing to remember is that we come by that resistence honestly. Keeping silence is profoundly countercultural for westerners - especially Americans. So let us be patient with ourselves in the difficulty but let us still be willing to persevere in the effort.

The first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth practice, the fifth teaching others.

-Solomon Ibn Gabirol (11th Century C.E.)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I've noticed that many people entertain the fantasy that proficiency in meditation will bring an end to their problems. Oh, dear! I'm afraid not. I really like the first sentence of the following quotation:

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.

-- Hanmer Parsons Grant

Our problems do not cease with meditation proficiency. What does happen is that our tolerance for distress increases along with our compassion and both of those qualities have the effect of reducing our suffering.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another reason for self acceptance

This week in ongoing class the topic was moral courage. Sometimes I think it is the task of looking clearly and honestly at oneself that requires the greatest moral courage of all:

The full and joyful acceptance of the worst in oneself may be the only sure way of transforming it.

Henry Miller

A stubborn refusal to look within pretty much guarantees that we will never make any substantial changes in ourselves even if we want to very much.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More about kindness

Here are some very thought-provoking observations:

Kindness trumps greed: it asks for sharing. Kindness trumps fear: it calls forth gratefulness and love. Kindness trumps even stupidity, for with sharing and love, one learns.

Marc Estrin

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monday meditative picture blogging

Photo: Hank Weaver

A different way of looking at the mind!

This is a funny and profound quotation from The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe :

See, the human mind is kind of like . . . a pinata. When it breaks open, there's a lot of surprises inside. Once you get the pinata perspective, you see that losing your mind can be a peak experience.

Jane Wagner

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Meditation and the brain

I subscribe to a health newsletter by Dr. Joseph Mercola. This morning an article on meditation was published. Here's part of what it says:
There is growing evidence to show that meditation can make people healthier and happier. It may even increase lifespan, alter brain structure and change personality.

Now, mainstream medicine is beginning to take notice of meditation’s effects. For example, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which is about 80 percent meditation, has been approved in Britain for use with people who have experienced three or more episodes of depression.

MRI scans of long-term meditators have shown greater activity in brain circuits involved in paying attention. Long-term meditation can also cause changes in the actual structure of your cortex, the outer layer of your brain. Brain regions associated with attention and sensory processing have been shown to be thicker in meditators.

Studies suggest that meditation can help you to train your attention and focus, even in the midst of distractions. For instance, when disturbing noises were played to a group of experienced meditators undergoing an MRI, they had little effect on the brain areas involved in emotion and decision-making.
Then Dr. Mercola made some interesting comments. There are also quite a few comments by readers. You might like to click through and take a look at them all.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday cat blogging!

Gatto Europeo

More on the reflection process

You may have noticed that Annie C. asked about the reflection process in the comments below and wanted an example. Here are the instructions along with sample questions to work with:

1) Have pencil and paper handy. Sit comfortably - preferably in your self-supporting posture for meditation.

2) Begin by bringing the mind to tranquility using a visual focus or by following the breath.

3) Drop your reflection question into your mind as if your mind is a tranquil pool of water.

4) Allow thoughts to bubble up in response to having "dropped the question" and write down whatever comes to you - without censoring. Complete sentences not necessary.

5) Let go of any tendency to analyze, problem solve, evaluate, or search for answers. This is not linear thinking. Nor is it delving or probing. Reflecting is a spacious willingness to bring to consciousness whatever is willing to reveal itself at the time. There is a slightly playful (but not trivial) aspect to this method which is very helpful.

6) At the point you notice any agitation or distress or even ordinary effort in this process, stop and return to basic non-expectation (calm abiding) meditation until the mind is tranquil once more - and then continue. It does not matter how many times this remedy is required. Do not attempt to reflect in a state of grasping or any sort of tension.

7) After you have written down what seems to want to come up in a given time (five to twenty minutes does not seem to tax most people at first) then you may want be open to patterns in what you have written or the general mood of the words and phrases you have used.

Reflection questions can be devised using any material from one's personal life or they can be more general. Excellent beginning questions to work with are:

* What sort of person am I?
* What happens when I am caught unawares, "off-guard"?
* What do I want? (Really want?)
* How do I use my energy?
* What am I afraid of?
* What are my sources of deep refreshment?

If you reflect regularly on Scripture or other spiritual and/or philosophical writings as part of your practice, reflection questions can be derived from the content of your reading.

(The above material is taken from the handout on Session 5 of the "Foundations in Meditative Practice" course © Ellen E. Finlay, 1996)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

One more approach to motivation

The late Eknath Easwaran, a well-known meditation teacher, said the following once:

Whenever I forgot to perform an errand for my grandmother, she would ask, “Have you ever forgotten your breakfast?” No, I had to confess, I hadn’t, nor had anybody else I knew. Strike a bargain with yourself – no meditation, no breakfast – and you won’t forget to meditate.

That's good! And funny!

Sounds like a helpful approach to me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

At the Center we regularly engage in an exercise called "the reflection process". This involves dropping a question into our consciousness as if we were dropping a pebble into a pool of water and then seeing what bubbles up. The following quotation illuminates how powerful this process can be:

A very powerful question may not have an answer at the moment it is asked. It will sit rattling in the mind for days or weeks as the person works on an answer. If the seed is planted, the answer will grow. Questions are alive.

Fran Peavey in By Life's Grace

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The journey

What a simple and wonderful way of putting it:

The spiritual path -- is simply the journey of living our lives. Everyone is on a spiritual path; most people just don't know it.

-- Marianne Williamson

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A lovely, lovely passage

Oh look at this!

Compared to the immense capacity for spiritual awareness latent in the human being, the great majority of us can almost be said to be living in our sleep – dreaming that if only we could have a million dollars, win the Nobel Prize, get our portrait on the cover of Time, or marry the screen star of the day, we would be happy. This is like chasing the horizon, because happiness does not lie outside us. It can only be found within – a most elusive realm which the modern world, with its overwhelming emphasis on sensory experience, has effectively hidden from our view.

In every age, East and West, daring men and women have made this stupendous discovery and told us how we can follow them. At first the challenge may not make sense, but when we think it over, we recall how many times we managed to get what we wanted and found that fulfillment had somehow slipped through our fingers. Gradually, a little voice inside us whispers, “Do you suppose . . . ? Perhaps what I am looking for really does lie within – in my own heart.”

Once this suspicion arises, your spiritual journey has begun. You have your ticket; now all you need do is board the train. That is what meditation is for.

-- Eknath Easwaran

So very true. And so beautifully expressed.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day Greetings

Today is our national holiday. It is a day on which we celebrate liberty. But it strikes me that to celebrate liberty in an authentic way is to recognize reality. How can we be free if we do not know what is real? And that's where meditation comes in. By that I mean true awareness - not zoning out or inducing artificial bliss. Here is a good explanation:

Meditation demands an astonishingly alert mind; meditation is the understanding of the totality of life in which every form of fragmentation has ceased. Meditation is not control of thought, for when thought is controlled it breeds conflict in the mind, but when you understand the structure and origin of thought, which we have already been into, then thought will not interfere. That very understanding of the structure of thinking is its own discipline which is meditation.

Meditation is to be aware of every thought and of every feeling, never to say it is right or wrong but just to watch it and move with it. In that watching you begin to understand the whole movement of thought and feeling. And out of this awareness comes silence. Silence put together by thought is stagnation, is dead, but the silence that comes when thought has understood its own beginning, the nature of itself, understood how all thought is never free but always old —this silence is meditation in which the meditator is entirely absent, for the mind has emptied itself of the past.

-- Krishnamurti

Rob Nairn, one of my meditation teachers, used to say that "meditation is knowing what's happening while it's happening no matter what it is." Actually, that's about as good a description of responsible citizenship as I've ever come across.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Being our own friend - really

It's so sad when people believe that spiritual practice is about making themselves something that they're not. That's why I like this so much:

Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away or become something better. It's about befriending who we are already.

-- Pema Chödrön

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Here's something that's so true:

The time to relax is when you don't have time for it.

-- Sidney J. Harris

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A glorious meditation

Here is my wish for you and every other child, woman, and man on the face of the earth: Spend one week saying only kind, caring things to yourself. Say thank you at least ten times an hour, direct five toward yourself and five to the world at large. Compliment yourself (and others) each time an effort is made. Notice all the wonderful qualities and characteristics about yourself and those around you. One week. You will never go back. And your whole life will be a glorious meditation.

-- Cheri Huber