Thursday, March 30, 2006

Eight Earthly Winds

Eight Earthly Winds

There was a well-known scholar who practiced Buddhism and befriended a chan master. Thinking that he had made great stride in his cultivation, he wrote a poem and asked his attendant to deliver it to the master who lived across the river. The master opened the letter and read the short poem aloud:

"Unmoved by the eight worldly winds, [1]
Serenely I sit on the purplish gold terrace."

A smile broke up on the lips of the master. Picking up an ink brush, he scribbled the word "fart" across the letter and asked that it be delivered back to the scholar.

The scholar was upset and went across the river right away to reprimand the master for being rude.

The master laughed as he said, "You said you are no longer moved by the eight worldly winds and yet with just one 'fart', you ran across the river like a rat!"

[1] Eight worldly winds/concerns: Gain and loss, honor and disgrace, praise and blame, happiness and pain.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Old Turtle and the Broken Truth

The torrid sun melts the mountain snows. When anger comes, then wisdom goes. (Chinese proverb)

The question "Who is my neighbor?" is at the heart of all authentic religious traditions.

Douglas Wood’s children’s story, Old Turtle and the Broken Truth, begins:

“Once, long ago, in a far away land—a land where every stone was a teacher and every breeze a language, where every lake was a mirror and every tree a ladder to the stars—into this far and lovely land there fell a truth. It streaked down from the stars, trailing a tail as long as the sky. But as it fell, it broke.”

Eventually, some people find a broken piece in the woods, upon which is written “You are loved.” The people form a religion based on that statement, interpreting it to mean that only they are loved since, after all, they were the finders and are now the keepers of that piece sent down from the heavens.

Soon, they become targets of repeated attacks by others trying to take it from them, forcing them to defend their sacred icon while hiding it so that just a special few know its location. Later, their leaders determine that the best way to continue keeping it was not to wait for attacks but to initiate pre-emptive strikes against all who would want that truth for themselves.

Then, one day, some people find another broken piece that fits together perfectly with that piece which fell to earth so very long ago and, at last, the people learn the whole truth: “You are loved…and so are they.”

Life is not easy—we struggle either to maintain an illusion of superiority or to stay stuck in our indifference. We suppress our urge to wholeness and unity when we insist on “either-or”—when we deny the second part of that basic truth: “You are loved—and so are they.”

“The first step in making religion more a cure than a curse— Let us pray, “God bless the whole world, no exceptions!

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Free Mind

The Free Mind
William Ellery Channing

I call that mind free which masters the senses, and which recognizes its own reality and greatness: Which passes life not in asking what it shall eat or drink, but in hungering, thirsting and seeking after righteousness.

I call that mind free which jealously guards its intellectual rights and powers, which does not content itself to a passive or hereditary faith: Which opens itself to light whence-so-ever it may come; which receives new truth as an angel from heaven.

I call that mind free which is not passively framed by outward circumstances, and is not the creature of accidental impulse: Which discovers everywhere the radiant signatures of the infinite spirit, and in them finds help to its own spiritual enlargement.

I call that mind free which protects itself against the usurpations of society, and which does not cower to human opinion: Which refuses to be the slave or tool of the many or of the few, and guards its empire over itself as nobler than the empire of the world.

I call that mind free which resists the bondage of habit, which does not mechanically copy the past, nor live on in its old virtues: But which listens for new and higher monitions of conscience, and rejoices to pour itself forth in fresh and higher exertions.

I call that mind free which sets not bounds to its love, which, wherever they are seen delights in virtue and sympathizes with suffering: Which recognizes in all human beings the image of God and the rights of God's children, and offers itself up a willing sacrifice to the cause of humankind.

I call that mind free which has cast off all fear but that of wrongdoing, and which no menace or peril can enthrall: Which is calm in the midst of tumults and possesses itself though all else be lost.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The Servant of Truth

Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the servant of truth.

Question your convictions, for beliefs too tightly held strangle the mind and its natural wisdom.

Suspect all certitudes, for the world whirls on -- nothing abides.

Yet in our inner rooms full of doubt, inquiry and suspicion, let a corner be reserved for trust.

For without trust there is no space for communities to gather or for friendships to be forged.

Indeed, this is the small corner where we connect -- and reconnect -- with each other.

Source: 1997 UUMA Worship Materials Collection

"There was once a rabbi who was revered by the people as a man of God. Not a day went by when a crowd of people was not standing at his door seeking advice or healing or the holy man’s blessing. And each time the rabbi spoke, the people would hang on his every word, accepting everything he said as the truth.

There was, however, in the audience a fellow who frequently questioned the master. He would question the Rabbi’s word or his opinions often doubting the truth of the Rabbi’s word. The disciples who hung on his every word as the truth were embarrassed for this questioning fellow.

One day this doubter took ill and died. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief. Outwardly they looked appropriately solemn but in their hearts they were glad for no longer would the master’s inspiring talks be questioned or doubted.

So the people were surprised to see the master plunged in genuine grief at the funeral. When asked by a disciple later if he was mourning over the eternal fate of the dead man, he said, “No, no. Why should I mourn over our friend who is now in heaven? It was for myself I was grieving. That man was the only friend I had. Here I am surrounded by people who revere me and always nod “yes” to my every word.. He was the only one who challenged me. I fear that with him gone, I shall stop growing.”

Saturday, March 18, 2006


The Great Fool

In all ten directions of the universe,
there is only one truth.
When we see clearly, the great teachings are the same.
What can ever be lost? What can be attained?
If we attain something, it was there from the beginning of time.
If we lose something, it is hiding somewhere near us.
Look: this ball in my pocket:
can you see how priceless it is?

The Zen master confuses and compels us with his words.
That is his method.
Mine is to offer a simple blessing:
May our eyes be clear enough to recognize truth when it presents itself,
even though the source surprises us.
May our ears be true enough to know falsehood when we hear it,
even when disguised by beautifully crafted words and turns of phrase.
May our hearts be compassionate enough and our spirits brave enough
to speak the truth in love, if we are to speak at all.
May we find and embrace the truth that dwells in metaphor, mystery, and silence.
So may it be.


When people see things as beautiful, ugliness is created.
When people see things as good, evil is created.

Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.

Therefore the Master can act without doing anything
and teach without saying a word.
Things come her way and she does not stop them;
things leave and she lets them go.
She has without possessing, and acts without any expectations.
When her work is done, she take no credit.
That is why it will last forever.

Tao Te Ching 2

Thursday, March 16, 2006

TARA - The Great Mother

Shrouded in mystery, revealed in wonder, the Great Goddess has been adored for millennia. Sculptural evidence discovered in prehistoric caves of 30,000 years ago finds Her worship to be more ancient than humankind has memory.

Legends and myths of every culture praise She Who Brings Forth Life, She Who Is The Embodiment Of Wisdom, The Great Compassionate Mother, The Star Of Heaven. She has been called by many names, she has been revealed in many forms. Her worship continues to this day in ancient cultures of Asia, and in the 20th century search for the lost feminine.

To the Tibetans, She is their Mother, closer than their heartbeat. She is known as Tara, a Sanskrit word meaning Star. We hear the echoes of Her name in the Latin Terra, Mother Earth. The Druids called their MotherGoddess Tara. An ancient saga of Finland said to be 5 million years old speaks of Tar, the woman of wisdom. An ancient tribe of indigenous peoples in the South American jungles, the Tarahumara, worship the Goddess. The Cheyenne people tell of Star Woman who fell from the heavens to the earth, and that out of Her body all essential food grew. She sent Her people to mate with the more primitive inhabitants of earth, thereby giving them the capacity for wisdom. This legend is echoed in the more modern research of Z. Sitchin who tells of IshTar who came to earth from another planetary system and instructed her people to intermarry with earthlings, making them capable of many things.

To the Tibetans, even higher than a god or goddess is a Buddha, a being who has gone beyond the rounds of birth and death. Such an enlightened one has attained the highest wisdom, compassion and capability. Tara is so highly thought of that she is said to be the Mother of all the Buddhas. Buddhas integrate all aspects and possibilities. They are one with all that exists. They can manifest bodies of light and radiance and they can emanate bodies of form into the world in order to bring benefit to this world of challenges and confusion. Tara is known to the Tibetans as The Faithful One, The Fierce Protectoress, and to this day there are stories carried out of Tibet by refugees, fleeing from the horrors of Chinese occupation, that tell of Her intervention and assistance in their lives. In the system of mind-training practices offered by the great masters of Tibetan wisdom, Tara is an archetype of our own inner wisdom. They speak of a transformation of consciousness, a journey to freedom. They teach many simple and direct means for each person to discover within themselves the wisdom, compassion and glory that is Tara.

21 Taras

Tara is Swift Protection
Tara is Creative Wisdom
Tara is Impeccable Virtue
Tara is All Victorious
Tara is Sublime Intelligence
Tara is Worthy of Honor
Tara is Invincible Courage
Tara Destroys Negativity
Tara is True Refuge
Tara is Joy and Laughter
Tara is the Distributor of Wealth
Tara is Auspicious Beauty
Tara is Irresistible Truth
Tara is Ferocious Compassion
Tara is Serene Peace
Tara Destroys Attachment
Tara is Triumphant Joy
Tara is Transformer of Poison
Tara is Remover of Sorrow
Tara is Radient Health
Tara is Complete Enlightenment

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On Growing Good Corn

There was a farmer who grew award-winning corn.

Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it. The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

"How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

He is very much aware of the correctness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.

So it is in other dimensions. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn.

"Each man takes care that his neighbor shall not cheat him.
But a day comes when he begins to care that he does not cheat his neighbor.
Then all goes well. He has changed his market-cart into a chariot of the sun."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Man is now able to soar into outer space and reach up to the moon;
but he is not moral enough to live at peace with his neighbor!”
Sri Sathya Sai Baba (Indian Spiritual leader, b.1929)

Monday, March 13, 2006

Integration of Spiritual & Physical Realities

I get up every morning determined to both change the world
and have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult. -E.B.White

Our participation in life extends to the whole.
We are not encapsulated, self-enclosed entities,
but rather fields of energy integrated with our environment.
Everything we do transforms and reshapes the world.
If our actions can destroy, so can they heal.
There is no difference between prayer and work,
no distinction between physical activity and work of the spirit.
Precisely in the restoration of this balance between body and spirit
lies the path for healing the greater whole.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves...

-Mary Oliver

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It Matters What We Believe

It Matters What We Believe
By Sophia Lyon Fahs

Some beliefs are like pleasant gardens with high walls around them. They encourage exclusiveness, and the feeling of being especially privileged. Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and deeper sympathies.

Some beliefs are like shadows, darkening children's days with fears of unknown calamities. Other beliefs are like the sunshine, blessing children with the warmth of happiness.

Some beliefs are divisive, separating the saved from the unsaved, friends from enemies. Other beliefs are bonds in a universal brotherhood, where sincere differences beautify the pattern.

Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one's own direction. Other beliefs are like gateways opening up wide vistas for exploration.

Some beliefs weaken a child's selfhood. They blight the growth of resourcefulness. Other beliefs nurture self-confidence and enrich the feeling of personal worth.

Some beliefs are rigid, like the body of death, impotent in a changing world. Other beliefs are pliable, like the young sapling, ever growing with the upward thrust of life.

It is indeed important what (humanity) has believed. It is important what we believe.

(From Today's Children and Yesterday's Heritage)

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"On countless occasions when someone asks you what your church “believes,” it is appropriate to reply that “Churches don’t believe things. People do.” You see, it is so important “What” and “How” you believe that were I to hand you a scripted set of beliefs and expect adherence without rewrite, refinement, restatement and even outright rejection, then I would sin against the truest notion of the holy that I hold. Belief is for the believer. Belief is for the believer to discern and affirm and test." Rev. Mark Christian

This day is a gift. A gift of Love. A gift from God. A gift from Life itself. Let us then rejoice in it and be glad. For this is the day we have been given: to live in; to love in; and, in time to die in. Let us rejoice in the promise and possibility of this day. May all our beliefs start and end there. AMEN

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wisdom of Buddha - Pt. 3

In a controversy the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth, and have begun striving for ourselves.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you.

It is better to travel well than to arrive.

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.

The wise ones fashioned speech with their thought, sifting it as grain is sifted through a sieve.

The world, indeed, is like a dream and the treasures of the world are an alluring mirage! Like the apparent distances in a picture, things have no reality in themselves, but they are like heat haze.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.

Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.

Unity can only be manifested by the Binary. Unity itself and the idea of Unity are already two.

What we think, we become.

We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.

What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What's the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?

Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.

To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Wisdom of Buddha - Pt. 2

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.

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.

All wrong-doing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrong-doing remain?

Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals.

An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.

An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.

Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.

He is able who thinks he is able.

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

However many holy words you read, However many you speak, What good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Wisdom of Buddha - Pt. 1

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.

There is no fire like passion, there is no shark like hatred, there is no snare like folly, there is no torrent like greed.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.

Through zeal, knowledge is gotten, through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost; let a man who knows the double path of gain and loss thus place himself that knowledge may grow.

The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.

As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.

What you are is what you have been, and what you will be is what you do now.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sufi Wisdom

A donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey. -Traditional (Essential Sufism)

"I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God". -Sufi Proverb

Enlightenment must come little by little-otherwise it would overwhelm. -Idries Shah

Whatever we perceive in the world around us tends to reflect who we are and what we care about most deeply, as in the old saying, "When a thief sees a saint, all he sees are his pockets." -Robert Frager, Heart, Self & Soul, The Sufi Psychology of Growth, Balance and Harmony

"When we are dead, seek not our tomb in the earth, but find it in the hearts of men." On the tomb of Jalaludin Rumi

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cherish Your Doubts

Cherish Your Doubts
By Robert T. Weston

Cherish your doubts, for doubt is the attendant of truth.
Doubt is the key to the door of knowledge; it is the servant of discovery.

A belief which may not be questioned binds us to error, for there is incompleteness and imperfection in every belief.

Doubt is the touchstone of truth; it is an acid which eats away the false. Let no one fear for the truth, that doubt may consume it; for doubt is a testing of belief. The truth stands boldly and unafraid; it is not shaken by the testing: For truth, if it be truth, arises from each testing stronger, more secure.

Those that would silence doubt are filled with fear; their houses are built on shifting sands. But those who fear not doubt, and know its use, are founded on rock. They shall walk in the light of growing knowledge; the work of their hands shall endure.

Therefore let us not fear doubt, but let us rejoice in its help: It is to the wise as a staff to the blind; doubt is the attendant of truth.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Pax" by D.H. Lawrence

“Pax,” by D. H. Lawrence

All that matters is to be at one with the living God
To be a creature in the house of the God of Life.

Like a cat asleep on a chair
At peace, in peace
And at one with the master of the house, with the mistress,
At home, at home in the house of the living,
Sleeping on the hearth, and yawning before the fire.

Sleeping on the hearth of the living world
Yawning at home before the fire of life
Feeling the presence of the living God
Like a great assurance
A deep calm in the heart
A presence
As of the master sitting at the board
In his own and greater being
In the house of life.