These two spring from the same source-

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“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named is not the eternal name.

The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.

The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

Ever desire less, one can see the mystery.

Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.

These two spring from the same source but differ in name;

This appears as darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gate to all mystery.

–  Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English.”


I am particularly drawn to these two lines this time.

“Ever desire less, one can see the mystery.

Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.”

May be, just may be, this is where we are going wrong with the ideas of ‘spirituality’ out there. May be, we are going wrong because we are seeking manifestation, instead of the mystery of life. Because, think about it… what can a little mind of human do before the mystery of the Universe? Since whatever the ‘great deed’ we achieved were born of the matters anyhow, no matter how grand we declare to be, we would have not even truly left our own backyard yet.

We can be stoked that we can create things.

Or we can open our eyes and see the creations.

And if we are lucky, we could perhaps see us being a part of the creation. I wonder what role the Universe has in mind for me? Could I be willing and courageous to play a role, even if the given role did not appear “ideal” to my eyes?

Could I just be…?

Feeding the Enemy

 

 

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We knew he’d been living  in the front yard for a while.

What we didn’t know was that he was munching on the tomatoes, leaving them on the vine.

Then, he got sloppy.

He left seed drippings around the outside of the pots.

Busted. In broad daylight.

Like most of us who grew up with Alvin and those adorable cartoon chipmunks, I was always delighted to see them. Until now.

He was eating them green. By the time we caught him, 10-12 tomatoes were ruined.

We had just come to terms with the rabbits and squirrels in our yard.

But this one was bold. We caught him mid-meal.

We tried blocking the entrance to his abode. He just dug out another hole.

Maybe we could devise a trap, and relocate him to the woods ?

And then, a simple suggestion.

“Maybe they are just hungry…try feeding them something, like…

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Can you commit a crime and walk away un-noticed?

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“Can you kill a person and walk away without ever being held accountable?”

My grandfather asked me out of the blue. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and killing was not on my card by any chance – I was somebody who had to be taught it was ok cut cut a piece of paper with the scissors, that it would not have ‘hurt the paper’ if I cut it.  I remember my grandmother almost burst with disapproval, however quietly, but only held herself together with the strong faith in her husband and the intension behind his words.

We were sitting over a pot of green tea. Hot water was poured into the pot, and we were waiting for it to steep. “What do you think?” he asked me. And he went on laying the tea cups on the table before us.

I had to think.

If I killed a person: starting right there, it required a great amount of imagination. If I did, the police man would come and catch me. But what if nobody saw it? Is it possible to commit such an act without ever being seen? What about preparation? What would I need to do to hide everything after the act? Could it be possible to do all of those steps without ever being seen? – remember,  Japan is a collectivist nation with an extremely high context culture. If you planned something deviant, you would not likely pull it off without somebody sensing the change in your mood, life style and routine, and the mannerism that would have come with it. But all that granted, if you did managed to commit the act, never mind how, you would have to clean up the trace behind the act. One might flee overseas, because I was already aware that Japan was not the only country in the world, but police man would have chased you as long as you left a trace behind. So is it possible to commit a crime without leaving a trace?

“I don’t think you can do that. Somebody would have seen it, and if you killed that person too, it means more people would have seen you commit the second act.” I answered.

My grandmother was now gasping for breath beside me, but she still managed to hold her words in. And my grandfather asked me. “And if nobody saw you doing any of that, who saw it?”

Was that a trick question? I knew the green tea was almost ready to serve.

And I realised that there was one person who would have seen the whole event, even nobody saw me commit a crime. “Me.” I said.

“Well done,” said my grandfather. “Well, that was a lesson,” my grandmother said, who finally regained her breath. And with that, grandfather poured the tea, and we never spoke about that again.

Murder was a large theme, but any crime would be the same in essence. Whatever the decision you make, you will live with it for the rest of your life. I learned something important that day, drinking a cup of green tea with my grandparents. Had he used a petty crime as a subject, would I have understood the lesson as well~ that I would never know. But I am glad that he taught me this lesson early in my life. Life lived hiding away from the world would be too hard for me to bear.

Castle in the sky – Hayao Miyazaki

 

 I know why this civilisation came to an end.

There is a song in my village that I now know was teaching this wisdom.

“Set down the root and live in harmony with the breeze.

Let us endure the Winter like the seeds in the frozen land,

and sing in rejoice with the birds in come Spring.”

You cannot justify for the king to sustain when the whole kingdom has perished. No matter how powerful the weapon you built, no matter how many robots you enslaved, you cannot live without having the roots in the ground.

( Hayao Miyazaki – Castle in the Sky)

Blessings of life

It was home time at school.

As child, we used to gather local children and walked to primary school in groups in the morning. On the way home, we travelled in smaller groups; basically whomever available to tag together, making sure that no body was left behind. We learned to look out for one another like that from such young age, just as a part of everyday life.

I was about to leave the school building with two other children that afternoon, both boys from the same grade. We got on well and we often walked together and played together.

So we were changing into outside shoes from what we wore inside through the day while at school. We each had a shoe locker, and I bent over to tend to my shoes when….I saw the boys run past behind me fast and one of them swooped my hat away from my head….the beginning of another scramble.

I was never a champion but I could run fast if I was chasing somebody. So off I went, screaming and shouting all I wanted like any other time. But then I had two boys who knew me well running ahead of me and split left and right, and I seriously did not know which one to chase.

Just on the corner of my eyes,  I could see somebody come out of the teachers room. Sh#t, I thought. I bet they saw me doing something completely un-ladylike. I turned my head to see who the moving figure was and swallowed.

It was the headmaster.

I straightened my back immediately, but it was too late. I saw the man reach for something with one hand and wave me over with another. I decided it was a smart idea to surrender, so I approached, trying to look as innocent as possible.

The headmaster looked at me. And before I could open my mouth to say anything, he waved me over again to approach closer. The headmaster could not possible hit me, I thought. But will he?

Of course he did not hit me. But he did something that would remain for the rest of my life.

He was on one knee, tying his shoelaces, and from this eye hight looked straight into my eyes. And he said, “You are going to be something quite remarkable. I know it.” I was dumb struck. He was supposed to tell me off. I was sure of it. And before I could open my mouth, or remotely recover from the shock, he told me to go home.

I remember saying “good bye schoolmaster” like a well mannered child. And I walked towards my friends who handed my hat back immediately. They thought I was in trouble too.  They thought they behaved like cowards, for not coming after me to receive the punishment together. They asked me. “What did he tell you?”

I looked at my friends and said. “The headmaster told me that I am lucky to have good friends.”

“Is that all?,” my friends asked.  I said yes, and we walked home just like any other day.

Many years later.

I went through my life’s ups and downs like everybody else who lived. And I remember. Even though I don’t always refer to the headmaster, I am affirmed that I would get through whatever the difficulties comes along. Because I know that one day, I am going to be something quite remarkable. I just haven’t got there yet.

It reminds me how, such small moment of blessings could change a child’s outlook for the rest of her life. What a blessing it was.

Look deep into – Einstein

Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. – Albert Einstein

I remember a story about Buddha’s teaching. Buddha one day gave his students a flower and told them to look at it. While most students wondered what their master was teaching through this silent task, one of the student looked at the flower for a while and then smiled deeply.  He understood the meaning of this lesson.

Across the ocean, Einstein who did not believe in an organised religion left us the quote above. Different time, different language, and the message appears the same. So can we learn something from this?

Perhaps we could begin with actually taking time to look into nature.

Yes, I mean STOP doing whatever you are doing and look into nature for, say 60 seconds or so.

It’s probably new for most of us to consciously stop and experience something; something that does not offer an immediate gain of some sort, something that is outside of the box.

But if you didn’t need a reason to stop,

If you didn’t need to plan to stop,

Can you just stop and take a conscious breath now, just because?

Stop and notice a tree near a bus stop for a start, or a single weed on side path flowering, a cobweb after a rain, a bird in a tree, and a lady bug, a rock, a piece of wood, stars, ground under feet.

And if you could, only if you could, notice everything else that surround you right in this moment while you maintain your focus on  what’s in front of you. Remember to keep breathing~

What can you see?

Are you breathing?

What can you hear?

Take another breathe.

What can you feel?

What else can you find in your experience?

Are you beginning to relate to Einstein yet?