Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Might Happen

There's an old Egyptian story about a little boy named Miobi who came to a village where the people were very strange. They did little more than moan and groan about almost everything. The fires didn't get lit, the goats didn't get milked, the children didn't get clothed, and the crops didn't get planted, all because the villagers were expecting any time to get eaten by the monster that lived on top of the mountain.

Miobi looked up, and behold — the monster was real. He had a head like a crocodile and a body like a hippopotamus and a tail like a very fat snake. Smoke and fire came from his nostrils. The villagers lived in dread that any day the monster might come down and devour them.

Miobi said to the villagers, "I will go up the mountain by myself and challenge the monster." The villagers pleaded with him not to go, sure that he would never return. Miobi began to climb the mountain, and as he climbed higher and higher and got nearer and nearer, the monster looked smaller and smaller. "This is a very curious phenomenon indeed," thought Miobi. "When I run away from the monster, the monster gets larger, but the nearer I get to it, the smaller it becomes."

When at last Miobi reached the cave, instead of a gigantic monster, he found a quiet little creature about the size of a toad. It purred. Miobi picked it up and put it in his pocket and headed back down the mountain.

When the villagers saw Miobi safe and sound, they wanted to make him their god for slaying the monster. Miobi explained exactly what had happened and how he had brought the "monster" back down the mountain as a pet. He showed them the little-toad like creature. "What is your name?" the villagers asked. The monster answered, "I have many names. Some call me famine, and some pestilence; some call me war, and some cancer." Then the little creature yawned and added, "But most call me What Might Happen."

— R. Wayne Willis in Hope Notes

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Size of Our Problems

LOOK at the camels first and then read the message below.


This is a picture taken from directly above  these camels in the desert at sunset.  It is considered to be one of  the best pictures of the year.  When you look closely, you can see  that
the camels are  the little white lines in the picture.  
The black images you see are just the  shadows!

Sometimes, our "problems" seem to be as big as the shadows...but they are little.

Friday, May 27, 2011



There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror,

and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror

and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'H-M-M,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed

that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and

noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head.

'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary,

for everyone
you meet is fighting some kind of battle. Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly, and reflect continually. Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass...

It's about learning to dance in the rain.
Its about Enjoying the rain while it pours on our faces.

It's not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived. 
Life is too short to wake up with regrets.
Love the people who treat you right and be kind to the ones who don’t.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Making Life a Prayer

From Weavings Newsletter April 2011

Making Life a Prayer

The nature of the soul is aptly compared to a very fine feather or very light wing. If it has not been damaged or spoiled by any moisture falling on it, it is borne aloft almost naturally to the heights of heaven by the lightness of its nature and the aid of the slightest breath. But if it is weighted by any moisture falling upon it and penetrating it, it will not only not be carried away by its natural lightness into any aerial flights but will actually be dragged down to the depths of earth by the weight of the moisture it has received.
So also the soul, if it is not weighted with faults that touch it and the cares of this world or damaged by the moisture of injurious lusts, will be raised by the natural blessing of its own purity and borne aloft to the heights by the light breath of spiritual meditation. Leaving things low and earthly, it will be transported to those that are heavenly  and invisible.

So we are well warned by the Lord's command: "Be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkeness and the worries of this life." If we want our prayers to reach not only the sky but what is beyond the sky, let us be careful to reduce the soul, purged from all earthly faults and purified from every strain, to its natural lightness. Then our prayers may rise to God unchecked by the weight of any sin.

Cassian uses the image of feathers to describe the soul in prayer. What images of prayer and the soul are meaningful to you?

[1] John Cassian,  Making Life a Prayer: Selected Writings of John Cassian, ed. Keith Beasley-Topliffe, Upper Room Spiritual Classics, (Nashville: Upper Room Books), 49.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Abide in Me

Abide in Me

"Abiding" has its roots in a love of God so great that all other loves fall by the wayside, a love that fills the heart so completely that it leaves no room for any other love. This love first arises as a response to God's own creating, redeeming, and sustaining love. It springs up in those who have found the hidden treasure and the pearl of greatest price, and have gladly abandoned all else for the sake of this: the love of God at the center of all things.
It is when we have been taken captive by this love that we learn to "abide in Jesus," to open ourselves constantly to his presence and to be constantly present to him, and to persist under any pressure and against all other inducements in this inexhaustible devotion and joyful allegiance. We have found something we can no longer do without, and whether it leads us to the desert, to ministry among those most in need, or simply to a deepened and transformed sense of our choices in daily life, it will ultimately always lead us in some sense apart from the world. There, in our own forests and caves (whatever these may be), let us remain persistent, resolute, constantly abiding in him.

[1]  This excerpt comes from David Rensberger's article "Persisting in Presence" from Weavings "Abide in Me" XXII/2, March/April 2007.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

In Thinking, Just Thinking

When you close your eyes, start watching your breath, and random thoughts start popping up.

You will them to stop, but they don't.

At some point you realize... those thoughts aren't you. They can't be, as your intent/will is that they do not arise and they pop up regardless. They're conditioned arisings, and they belong to no one.

The internal monologue in your head isn't you thinking, it's thoughts that are perceived in your body's voice, because you think that they're you, that they represent your self/soul.

Try changing the voice to any other voice, and immediately it's just thought (not self).
Same goes for feelings, for perceptions, for the body, and eventually for all forms of consciousness/awareness itself. It all goes eventually (as being thought of as "self"), seen as belonging to no one and arising/passing due to conditions, causal interactions with the other aggregates internal and external.

There is thinking, no one thinking

There is hearing, no one hearing

There is seeing, no one seeing

In thinking, just thoughts

In hearing, just sounds

In seeing, just forms, shapes and colours.

HT: Punna

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Forest Monks and Dhutanga

Dhutanga (Known in Thai as "tudong") is a group of thirteen austerities, or ascetic practices, most commonly observed by Forest Monastics of the Theravada Tradition of Buddhism.

All Forest Monks will observe at least one of the dhutanga austerities. The dhutanga austerities are meant to deepen the practice of meditation and assist in living the Holy Life. Their aim is to help the practitioner to develop detachment with material things including the body.

The thirteen dhutanga practices

1. paµsukúla (Abandoned Robes) - this is the austerity of using any cloth found on the road as material for making robes.

2. tecívarika (Three Robes) - this is the austerity of only using the three robes of a bhikkhu as garments.

3. pišðapáta (Begged Food) - this is the austerity of eating only what one gains on almsround (pindapata), whether it be a little or a lot or even nothing at all. NB: bhikkhus do not beg per se, since they are not allowed under Monastic rules (Vinaya) to ask/beg for food. He gives an opportunity for laypeople to OFFER food to him for the good of both the Monk, the laity and the sasana. The bhikkhu observing this dhutanga declines invitations to take meals at the houses of Lay people.

4. sapadánacárika (Regular Alms round) - this is the austerity where if a bhikkhu gains tasty food from a particular house on his almsround, then he avoids that house in future

5. ekásanika (One eating) - this is the austerity where the bhikkhu will eat only in one place and not eat a little in one spot and then eat more in another.

6. pattapišðika (Measured food) - this is the austerity of eating only a certain measure of food. The bhikkhu sees fault in indulging his appetite.

7. khalupacchábhattika (no longer accepting any extra food after having started to take the meal) - this is the austerity of no longer accepting any extra food after having started to take the meal

8. áraññika (Dwelling in a peaceful place) - this is the austerity where the bhikkhu does not dwell in a village or noisy temple. This is meant to help with meditation, as it is very hard to meditate in a noisy place.

9. rukkhamúla (Dwelling under a tree) - this is the austerity of not dwelling under a roof.

10. abbhokásika (Dwelling in a dewy place) - this is the austerity of dwelling neither under a roof or a tree, but in the open

11. susánika (Dwelling among the graves) - this is the austerity of living/dwelling in a cemetery. NB cemeteries in Ancient & modern India often have corpses left out in the open or only partially cremated. Also places where ghosts & malevolent spirits were known to inhabit...a frightening place.

12. yathásantatika (Any chanced upon place) - this is the austerity of at the end of a days walking/wandering to sleep wherever the bhikkhu happened to be so long as it was safe.

13. nesajjika (Always sitting and not lying down) - this is the austerity of not sleeping stretched out. Usually the bhikkhu sleeps propped against a wall or even in the meditation posture.

HT: Punna

Sunday, February 20, 2011


There was a monastery that was renowned for its hospitality, a welcoming place for many weary travelers in need of rest. One day while the abbot was deep in prayer, an angel appeared, surrounded by golden light. The abbot gazed in rapt contemplation and was filled with a peace beyond measure. Suddenly a series of heavy knocks resounded on the front door. "It is some weary traveler come to find shelter," the abbot said to himself. "What should I do? If I go and answer the door, the angel might disappear. If I stay, who will care for the traveler?"
Reluctantly the abbot rose, looked resignedly at the angel, and left the room in order to attend to the needs of the dust-stained traveler.
When he returned to his cell, the angel, to the abbot's great surprise, was still there. The angel said to him, "Had you not gone to help the needy traveler, I myself would have been compelled to leave."

— Joan Chittister in 40 Stories to Stir the Soul