Thursday, September 30, 2010

Deal with pain

Pain can be a real burden. Either continuously or for a short time.

When you've hurt yourself you can dibvert your attention from the pain.
That's what moms do when they kiss the kneww that was hurt.
Mom's kiss isn't magic (otherwise your dad would never be ill), her attention is.

You can divert your attention by focussing on something else.
A poster on the wall or music for instance.
More piercing pain can be dealt with by tricking the brains by making it think there's pain elsewhere that needs attention.

Pressing your nail in your thumb is a well known trick to do so.

Try it out and you'll see it works.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Who's done that?

People in our society are very driven to find the person responsible for an unwanted situation.
Who's guilty?

It's seldom that a person makes a choice all by himself to do evil to others.
Most of the time there are "circumstances" that led to the acts of someone.
So nothing is caused clearly by the act of someone, there's also a mix of other causes.

In Buddhism we say these causes can go a long way back.
For instance: 
  • someone doesn't behave well beause he hasn't learned properly how to behave
  • that's because his parents didn't have enough time for him because they had relationship problems
  • these were due to the fact that they never had a proper home when they were young
  • that's because the fathers worked hard and were often drunk
  • that was because their parents moved into a neighbourhood that was unsafe, with lots of violanece
  • that was because the father was fired because he couldn't live up to the expectations anymore because he got ill from working in the mines, 
  • etc etc.
 That places guilt in a completely other contexts doesn't it?

The question about who is guilty is not a proper one.
A better question is how we deal gracefully with a situation and how we are able to prevent it in the future.
With other words: it's a learning experience and there lies a duty to learn from it.

Ofcourse buddhism doesn't allow crimes.
And the laws of the country are always to be followed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

In need and karma

I've often heard stories about people who really needed something and got it at their deepest moment of despair.

Like that couple that had a small child during war and had to flee their own home.
They took food and water with them, but ran out of all of it.

After a while the breastfeeding started to diminish and the baby started to lose weight.
All seemed to be lost. And on top of it, they were lost too.
Somewhere in a wood. They didn't know where to go.

They hoped to find some food. Maybe berries, maybe something else. But it was too early in the year.

At last, too tired to go on, they sat down at the side of a small road.

A car passed, but it didn't stop.
Another one and another one.
They dozed off, expecting nothing.
Then the car of a backery passed. Even this one didn't stop.
But when it was almost out of eyesight  something fell off.
It was a loaf of bread.

More cars passed, but they were too bussy to eat the bread.

Then they fell asleep and would have died because of the cold.
An old farmer, on his way home, saw them and went to see if they were still alive.

He took them with him.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Buddhist temples

I've been asked for a list of Buddhist temples.
Ofcourse I don't have a list on the shelf, but there's a good one here.

Buddhist temples can be found all over the world.
Some are huge and very richly decorated, others are sober.
They all, however, provide the feel of intense being.

Using the links provided on the site brings a lot of information.
Not only about the temples themselves, but also about the historical and cultural times of importance.

I never knew there were temples in Russia too, and already a few centuries ago.

Well, have a look yourself.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

No killing

Buddhists don't kill.
Well, none should.

But don't we all try to kill what really bugs us?

I'm not talking to musquitos. Unless I tell them: "Gotcha!"
Which means I've killed one.
I try not to. But I'm hypersensitive to what they do to humans and I have to protect myself to function well in the morning.

That's the problem.
When I respect all creatures I want some respect back.
And when they respect me I respect them.

I know it should be unconditional. But I have to take care of myself.

What do you think?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

In relation

.
All things appear and disappear
because of the concurrence
of causes and conditions.
Nothing ever exists entirely alone
everything is in relation to everything else.

Buddha



The way things are interconnected makes one feel humble.
Knowing this makes simplification something not done, because it doesn't justice to the nature of things

Friday, September 24, 2010

a wannabee buddhist

He was in a shop nearby the Tibetan shop I like to go.
He was dressed in all sorts of red and yellow, walked on open shoes, and smiled.

For a while he stood looking at the small buddha statues, then turned away and walked past a couple who were discussing the meaning of some statues and figures on printed card..
They suddenly turned to him and asked him for the meaning of a print of the white Tara.
He gave it a glance and told rather unkind: "I am a buddhist. This is not a buddhist print."

The shopowner walked to them quietly and told the couple to wait for a moment.
The "buddhist" walked away and then the shopowner told about the meaning of the white Tara.

It's a pity there are so many wannabee buddhists.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I meditate

I've been asked when I meditate.

Interesting. Not why,but when.

When I wake up I like to take a bit of time to be silent and let the day arrive.
I know it was already there, :), but it has to step into my life.
Often I need to be quick and organised for the children, so they'll be at school in time.
But when they have left I take some time to be silent and bring myself into a calm and peaceful mood.

I express my gratitude for being alive and my gratitude for having another day to practice to become a better being.
I remind myself how.

During the day there are often a few minutes to set myself straight into the person I want to be.

And in the afternoon there's almost always time enough to meditate about a subject.

Before going to bed, however, people will consider what I do as real meditation.
It's the only moment of the day I certainly won't be disturbed by anyone or anything.

To me, meditation is not about moments and time, however.
The way I live is changed from whirling around, not paying attention at all, or doing things mindless, as fast as possible, to devoted attention to what I'm doing this very same moment.

Ofcourse I have to prepare meetings and such. So I have to think about the past and future at times.
But when I slice a carrot I'm slicing a carrot.
I try to keep my attention to the moment and I do whatever I'm doing the best I can.

Some call that meditation too, others call it meditative mood.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

We're all the same

Buddhism is against war or any other violence.

This is based on the knowledge that we're all the same.
We all want to be loved, we all want to love.
We all have the same basic needs.

From that knowledge the differences between people and countries become less huge.
In fact it facilitates compassion.
And care.

Some people consider war an act of political justice.
They say they're bringing democracy to other people and it's the best they can do.
They even take killing mothers and children as a side effect of the good deed.

Is it acceptable for you that your mother, your brother, your child is killed because someone want to bring you a political system?

Enforcing your own beliefs and views on someone else is not a sign of respect.

Show how well you feel in your own system, if you need to, without showing off.
Just be yourself.
And the other will work from the need to experience the same.
Without war.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Daily meditation

Some people consider it strange that buddhists meditate.
They fully accept christians to go to church and pray at home.
But meditation? That só strange!

There are all sorts of meditation. In fact, many christians consider prayer a form of meditation too.

Even within Buddhism there are different ways to meditate.
But why daily?

Because daily meditation creates routine.
The time is made available each day, and that creates both a habit and a need.
And these make it easier to start meditating.
So you're helping yourself.

Most often meditation takes the form of deep thinking about a subject.
Maybe brainstorming resembles the process in part.
Mediation is without clinging to the values people often use when they regard things.. and feelings and thoughts.
When you don't condemn yourself for less wanted thoughts, don't praise yourself for clever thoughts, and don't fall in utter amazement when you think things out of line, you're far more free to let your feelings and thoughts stream.
The consequence is that you can gain insight you'd never will attain when you're thinking in the train.

That is to say.
Someone who is well trained in meditation can meditate everywhere, because they can reach that state of mind without any problem.

Daily meditation brings about changes for the better, not only in your thoughts, but also in you as a person.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It's a long time ago that I heard a story and in it the drops of rain caught the sun and looked like diamonds.

Not long after that I took a note of a wonderful quote:



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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Care and coffee

Making a cup of coffee is so easy nowadays.
No juggling with boiling water, but just a patch and a bit of cold water in the machine. Just pressing the button does the trick.

So how do we show we really care and put some effort in a cuppa?

Take a nice mug or cup and put it on a small plate.
Put a small spoon at the right and a cookie on the left, or put a slice of home-made cake at a seperate plate.

Add decoration the way you like it or your guest likes it.

Some people like a bit of water in a glass with it.
Others like a tissue to wipe their hands and mouth.

Maybe add a note under the cup with: "It's good to have you here".

Enjoy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Plans

Plans can guide us towards the future we wish, and in the meantime we miss opportunities.




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Friday, September 17, 2010

The last one on the shelf

Last week I went to the shops to get groceries.
With a small list I went past the shelves, trying to find something my autistic son really loves a lot.

When I finally found it there was only one left on the shelf and a man took it before I even reached my arm out.
So I turned and wanted to walk away.

I saw he'd seen the small dorja I was wearing as a pendant.
But I didn't think anything about that. Just registered it.

So I turned away, but he called me. Smiled and handed me the item. "For you".
"No, you keep it. You were there first."
"Please give me the opportunity to be a bit caring. Please take this from another buddhist."

He smiled again and for a moment we stood there silent.

"Thank you. You've made two people happy: me and my son, who absolutely loves this."

"Nice way of multiplying", he laughed, and said his goodbyes.

.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lam Rim - 1 introduction

Many buddhust centers provide meditation evenings for everyone who wants to participate.
It's a very nice way to meet the people, and find out if you feel well at that certain buddhist centre.

For those who want to be active each buddhist centre has it's own list of activities, ranging from roling mantras to courses how to draw tanghkas and introduction to buddhism.

Those who are serious about studying buddhism and implement it in their daily life more intensive courses are presented and one of them is the Lam Rim.

Atisha, living in the early eleventh century, took the effort of putting the essentials of the sutras together in one text: Lamp of the Path.
Lama Tzong Khapa, another buddhist master, living in the fourteenth century, created additions to this and this text is known as The Great Exposition on the Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim Chemmo).

Since then many masters have commented on one or both texts and even though the main texts are unchanged, translations and these comment have lead to different interpretations and understandings.

That's why many buddhist keep close notes of who their teachers were, so others can understand where they come from.

Basically however the buddhist principles have remained unchanged, but because we all live in different cultures, we need different ways of guidance to reach the same.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

His smile...


His smile
is of a softness
that soothes the soul
His eyes
speak thousand words
of kindness

He is a restful place
within the crowd
a sole reflection of the sun

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Their loss

To my regret I can't afford the courses at the buddhistic centre nearby.
I would have loved to follow them, but alas.

So I thought I'd spend the time I would have used for studies to be a volunteer at the centre.
It was kindly rejected. Maybe I should learn more about buddhism.

Interesting.

Not one question was asked how much I know about buddhism.
About what kind of person I am.

So I guess I have to prove myself as a buddhist.
And in this centre I have to do it through following their courses.
(I guess this is a western approach?)

But how can I do that without money?

Haha!!

All those circles in life that keep people enclosed.

It's all business and money, isn't it?

So I gues that's not the place to be.
There's one other buddhistic group in town, but their meetings are out of town and they are....too expensive, Yes.

Well, let's smile to the Dalai Lama on the wall here, and turn towards my online group.

For those who are interested.

When I was young I studied buddhism with a group of dear friends here in towm nd elsehwere.
We didn't ask much, we just accepted gladly the teachings and tried to live according to what was taught.
I don't remember writers, I don't remember any names anymore.
But I can study lamrim (again) and see what I don't know yet.

Before becoming a meditation teacher I went trough thorough training by a monk.
The fact that he allowed me to guide groups through meditation in which he at times took part himself says something, doesn't it?

Well, when people consider themselves more without really knowing me, I simply say nothing and move on.

I'll share my journey with you, with compassion for those who entered my life.

Cookbook give-away

Oh, I would love to do a give-away. But right now I'm going to point you to a very nice one.
One for everybody.

Nina,... eh. Ms Recipe, gives away a signed paperback of her cookbook
Ask Ms Recipe:
Simple Recipes that Make Cents to one lucky winner


In case you live outside the USA you have two options: either pay the extra mailingcosts or opt for the E-book. That's fair, isn't it?

I'm sure you want to take part in the give-away too, because these recipes are awesome.
I know. I tried several when they were prublished at her blog and they're as good as you can get.
The book is not only great to keep in sight at your own home, because the recipes are simple they're also perfect for teaching your kids how to cook.

Oh, I nearly forgot to give you the link. Here you go! :)

Read the rules well. They're not difficult. It's worth it!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Kowledge versus experience.

..
However deep your
Knowledge of the scriptures,
It is no more than a strand of hair
In the vastness of space;
However important appears
Your worldly experience,
It is but a drop of water in a deep ravine.

Tokusan 


Very wise saying.
Knowledge without participating in the world means nothing.
And knowing how to behave without doing so is nothing too.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

New url

I've received a new url for this site, and I'm very happy with it.
Now I'm in the process of tranferring everything to that url.

Please update your own links.

Thanks a lot!

I've also added a shoutbox at the left of the site, so those who can't login with intensedebate are able to comment too.
By the way, when you login at intense debate in a seperate tag of your browser and reload my site you're logged in at my comments section too.




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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grief

My gram used to say that our own grief is the worst grief, unless we're able to let go.

After my daughter died, 2 days after she was born, I experienced exactly what she'd told me.
The world stopped to exist and all I could do is think about her.

But then I was told about a mother who died during childbirth and I realised that not far from us a baby had to grow up without his mother.

In fact this opened up my grief and I realised I was one in the long line of mothers who had to live with a dead child in her personal history and her family history.

This has formed me for life.
Whenever I experience something I realise I'm one of all those people who experience the same.

It's not the grief which is most important, it's how we deal with it.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It's my karma.



.
When you don't want to listen to me,
not with your ears,
not with your heart,
it says nothing about me,
it's not my karma.

When you want to misrepresent my words
because you ignore them,
because you write them wrong,
or because you translate them in a bad way,
it says nothing about me,
it's not my karma.

I don't want to spend energy anymore
on putting things straight,
on making you see me for the person I am.

I'm a good person,
I even feel compassion for you,
because you can't see the beauty
of my motherhood in me.

Compassion says something about me.
It's my karma.

.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Silence

Because I can't afford to take part in the course of lamrim that starts at the nearby buddhist centre today I went to a free reading at the university about silence.

I expected a kind of contemplative mood, a restful time.

Wrong!

A group of talkative students chatted all the time in a very disturbing way and the lecturer was equally restless. He gave to many quotations without almost no time between them to let the essence sink in, that the reading was a true violation of it's very subject.

So I left early and walked in the woods near the building.
It was very quiet there, with only the birds singing and some flying creatures swirling around at places.

Then the sun found it's way in long rays to the ground, which was absolutely beautiful.

That was true silence...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meeting a buddhist

Today I went to a meeting and I just before I left home the girls arrived from school.
Ofcourse I wanted to hear about school, so I sat down, listened, and then hurried to the busstation.

I was already on the bus when I noticed I'd taken a small mala with me. It was still wound around my wrist.

I forgot about it.

On my way home I had to wait at the central busstation. The temperature was very high, and I carried my cardigan and coat over my arm.
Now everyone is back from vacation the waiting area at the busstation was crowded and all the benches were taken.

I was staring over the square when suddenly someone called: "nice mala".
I turned and looked into a pair of dark brown eyes.
"From one buddhist to another... you can sit here, I have to go."

The smile he gave me was heavenly. I should have been able to wrap it and take it home.

He moved aside to create a place for me.
"Thank you. I thought you said you had to go?". I smiled back and was a bit concerned he'd forget to take his bus.
"Yep, in 10 minutes. I never tell lies", he laughed. "I thought that otherwise you would have said "no".

Yes, he was right. I always try not to be a burden and give everyone enough space to live.

We talked a bit and when the busses arrived we went our own seperate ways.
I think I'll meet that guy again.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Anger, can you do without it?

Anger is one of those emotions that has nothing to add to your life.
It consumes energy, makes you feel bad and makes you see the world as a bad place. Even distrust and stomach ulcers can be a consequence.

People can pamper and cherish their anger and make it grow so large that they do things they would otherwise never do.

It's important not to feed your anger, but let it go away.
There are several ways.
Feeling compassion with the person who caused anger is one of them.
Being aware that you are the one who keeps the anger alive and who allows it is another approach.

To let it go away first admit that you're angry and then observe it in a mindful way.
That means that you are honest to yourself and accept the anger as part of yourself.
Then observe it without critical thoughts.
What has caused those feelings?
What can you learn?
Maybe you need to redirect the anger to create change for the wellbeing of others.
Otherwise let it flow away.

Dealing with anger requires practice.
In the end you'll be able to realise you're angry sooner and thus you'll prevent the worse forms of it, or you'll reach the realisation that you are the creator of anger yourself and you won't react that way.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The fruit garden and my autistic son

My autistic son didn't feel happy at school.
He was very aware of the chaos around him:
  • the sounds:
    of other children, moving chairs, wind against the windows
  • the lights
    of the harsh lamp, the sun through the window, the refection in a mirror or something iron
  • the colours
    which were everywhere around him
  • the temperature
    that changed whenever someone entered of left the classroom, and the draft that was caused by opening the main door
  • etc.

Whenever he had the chance he took off and went to the fruityard nearby.
There he sat in the grass, or leaned against a tree.
Soon he got calm and even a bit happy, but when the principal came to him he felt afraid and started to scream.
Then they would call me.

In the beginning I didn't understand why he went to the fruityard and felt calm there.
The birds were making lots of noise, the wind could be heard whisepring through the grass and the trees would move and with strong winds even bend, casting large shadows on the earth and allowing the sun to blind the eyes whenever the wind went quiet.

Soon, however I understood.

In the fruityard everything was in balance.
My son didn't experience nature as an outward experience, but he became part of it.
And thus he could rest against the tree and feel it move without being burdened by it.

What a pity his schoolmaster was never able to understand this.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Right speech and children

Raising children in a buddhistic way is a real inspiration, as I've found out.
Children have the inborn tendency to do good and when they're a bit older they want to please others.

Teaching them the right speech isn't a problem until they're going to school.

Many parents remember the first time their child came home with words they certainly never learned at home.
One of my boys didn't even understand what he was saying, but he liked the sound of some words I don't want to repeat here. When I kindly told him what he was saying he got a head so red...

Right speech means not saying awful words, but it also means not saying anything that hurts other people, refrain from idle chatter, no lies.

For a child at school that sure is a challenge, because it should withhold spontaneous outbreaks of using bad words, calling names and the like.

It's a pity that in the western world buddhist schools are hardly or not available.
Because a buddhist child is made aware that words can bring peace, help people grow.
To me it has always been a very positive approach to verbal behaviour, and it has made me aware that verbal behaviour should be trained as well as other forms of behaviour. This is often forgotten in the western world, where freedom of speech is for some people an excuse for misconduct at the verbal level, and calling names back to someone who has been unkind is seen as normal behaviour.

The support of teachers to display the right conduct in school and at the playground makes a huge difference.
When bullying is not tolerated at all, children who exercise the right speech will get the respect they deserve because other children will find the confidence and trust of never being called names or talked about.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How to tell others

When I told others about my interest in and studies of Buddhism the reactions were quite diverse.

Those who know me a long time smiled and said they expected me to do so for a long time. (Why didn't they say that before? :))
Some said: "interesting", others wanted to know what brought about the change or what I thought to be more of interest.

And one expressed a concern that I might get stuck in "that sect".

So you can understand I've spend quite some time explaining my views to others while trying not to sound like I want to influence them or want to convince them.

I came on a site which addressed the subject of telling to others that buddhism is important to you.
It's here, at the bottom part of the page.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Do you have a moment of peace in the weekend?

When I grew up we were called out of bed early on sundays because we had to go to church.
I was raised in a roman catholic family in a part of town that resembled a village and where the priests were more important that the mayor who lived there too.

I was a member of the church choir because I could sing. As simple as that.
And because I had a nice voice and kept key and could remember the melodies well I also sang solo.

My songs were always planned before the incense filled the church with smoke, as I felt unwell as soon as I breathed it in.
Some chaplains refrained from using incense completely. That meant a lot to me as the most beautiful songs were sung in the second one of the service.

One of them, who worked in china and india and was too old to travel any more burned his own incense after he carefully tried it out. He was a kind guy and told me the incense was used to cure asthmatic people. None believed him but I did.

Sunday mass was supposed to be the most peacefull time in the weekend.
In a way it was that for me, as I forgot everything around me when I was singing.

But I doubt it was for others.
The women on their way home always had a lot to talk about others: "Have you seen..., she has a new coat." etc etc.

When I went to university I visited the university church a couple of times and then gradually moved to buddhism.

Each sunday a group of roman catholic and buddhistic students would meet to share a meal and meditate.
I felt at home there.
None was focussed on outward behaviour and clothes.
None was trying to be better than someone else.

I was accepted as the person I was and took the ways of the buddhists upon me in such an easy way that they seemed to have slumbered inside me for a long time.

When I had my own family and wasn't able to keep in contact with church or buddhistic friends I kept the ways of creating a peaceful weekend with a silent hour for all of us in the afternoon or early evening.

It was very special to us and we've kept it until now.
The hour is still silent, but I wonder if anyone of my family realises where it came from and I think some even don't realise it's there every week.

Now we've chosen to be officially buddhists children respect my silence consciously, whereas before they did it unconsciously.

Do you have a moment of peace in the weekend?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The mind

When longing is suffering, what does the longing for understanding mean to us?

For some people loning for understanding is intense suffering.
They study texts and life so very hard, that they become painfully focussed and forget to live in the here and now.

There's a difference between understanding with the heart and understanding with the brains.

Understanding with the heart is far more accepting than understanding with the brain.
The brain feeds the ego, and we can do without the ego.

Some people become very critical in their search for understanding.
They find fault with almost everything and thus sink in a negative attitude towards the world.
It's like wirtten texts can't be read with compassion.

But they can.

Sure they caN...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Controversial teachers and groups

False prophets and teachers  are everywhere.
Those who start to study buddhism will try to find a teacher and a group, and they won't be able to distinguish between those who are genuine good buddhists and those who don't deserve that description.

In order to warn people a special page was made at View on Buddhism to be of assistance for those who want to recognise any problems.

You can find it ::here:: on A view on Buddhism

Connected to your past

Living in the here and now doesn't mean the past isn't part of your life.
It's your life's history and the way you live now is the consequence of the lessons you've learned in the past.

Some people tell me they can't concentrate on the present because they have had too many bad experiences in the past.

One of my teachers used to say that in that case your lesson has been presented very often and you haven't learned it yet, or you're so strong and such a good learner that your lessons follow each other very fast.

Whatever.
When you use the past as an excuse for not focussing now your tied with hands and feet in the past.
This shows the way you deal with your experiences.
Ask yourself:  Why is this experience so very important?
Are you longing to that time? Or do you long to change what happened?
Longing causes suffering.

When you're compassionate for yourself and others you're able to let go of the past.

You have to, otherwise the present will be lost.. all the time. :)

.
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