Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Little Things That Make Me Smile

After reading my friend Corinne's post and then my friend Suzy's post this morning, on what little things make them smile, I thought I'd share my own list here.  I couldn't help but be refreshed and encouraged on the positivity that is felt when one reflects on the small things that bring joy into our most seemingly mundane moments.

What makes me smile?

My children enthusiastically turning off the t.v, preferring time playing games with me over their favorite shows.

My dog's gaze of affection as she wags her tail while I get her ready for a hike at the river.

Watching the sun rise as I chant God's names on my japa mala.

Reading a poem or post that relates so well to my own experiences. Ahh..someone who understands!

Witnessing my children's sense of wonder come alive while we are out in nature.

What little things make you smile? Please share in the comments section. Thank you!

Friday, January 25, 2013

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Entering the Stream

I read my friend Corinne's post this morning and she started off by saying that she was choosing to simply write freely for that day's post on her blog. To simply just write what came to her mind. I thought of how it is quite a liberating process to write in a stream-of- consciousness style, though sometimes what comes out oftentimes I choose to keep "in" for one reason or another.

Unless some spontaneous poem rises up in my consciousness, like yesterday's post, I usually take some time in developing a post. Sometimes the idea might come easily enough but it is usually my desire to find references, quotes and passages, to help support some of my thoughts and conclusions. This takes some time and more than naught I eventually am led  to abandon my pursuits to the more mundane things of life that tend to get in the way. After all, there are dishes to wash, floors to clean, skirmishes between my children to help break up and reconcile. Very often almost as soon as I get my books out, turn on my music, and begin to write, the door bursts open with one of my offspring either expressing some joy about a discovery needing to be shared or some angst over a conflict that needs my intervention to be resolved.

But this morning, as I write sitting in my bed with my lap top before me, my husband snoring beside me, my children are playing quietly in the other room. I know every minute counts, so I will just write and see what happens. I suppose I will share some of my morning with everyone. I don't write a lot about my personal life beyond my ideas regarding philosophic and religious ideas, so this will be a bit of a change of pace. A glimpse inside our tiny house on a Sunday morning in small  New England town.

The day began quite nice as my son crept into our bed very early in the morning as he has gotten into the habit of doing. I don't mind that much except it has broken up my morning routine of meditation and chanting, which I need to resolve somehow. But other than that, I enjoy his warm and tiny body curling itself up beside me. I love laying next to him, breathing in his sweetness. We co-slept with our daughter until she was the age he is now. He is much more independent than she was at this age as he has been sleeping in his own room for nearly a year now.  So, I drink in these moments, the precious nectar they offer, until he starts squirming too much. At that point I know he will no longer fall asleep and just cause my husband to grumble as he is continually woken up by little feet and knees against his back turned towards us.

So, we rise. Oftentimes, we take to the "blue chair", my favorite perching place in our living room. It is an over-sized chair that my husband and I have had since we got married nine years ago. If we had more money it probably would have been replaced by now as it is particularly worn down. In fact, one has to be very careful getting in and out of it as it tends to wobble precariously at times as the frame that forms the base of it has seen better days and is unstable.  But I like it nonetheless because I can either recline it and sit with my legs extended comfortably if I wish or sit criss-cross which I prefer to as I read or chant. It's almost like sitting on the ground because it is firm and the seat spacious, yet I am high enough so our loving border collie won't lick my face in moments where I seek contemplation.

This morning was a little different than other usual mornings as when we entered the living room I realized it was still pretty early and my daughter, who tends to sleep considerably later than my son, probably wouldn't be up for another hour. My son had wanted to watch a Superman episode yesterday but my daughter, being very sensitive to its content (she gets frightened of the fighting),  started protesting loudly to him viewing it with tears and arguments. He finally agreed to watch it at another time. I was very grateful that he made that choice and proud  that he put his sister's concerns before his own desires. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity and turned it on for him thinking that it would end before she came down the stairs, sleepy-eyed, looking for hugs and her Sunday morning mug of hot cocoa.

Of course fate had other plans, as right when we turned on the episode my daughter's footsteps could be heard descending the staircase. My heart sank as I knew it would be a lot to ask my son to stop his show because he had to already had to stop it yesterday. I anticipated conflict so asked Montana if she wanted to sit and eat breakfast with me at the table while Noah finished watching his show. She could draw, and instead of sitting on my blue chair that was truly beckoning me at that moment, I would read at the table. She agreed.

It turned out to be a time that yielded  fruitful conversation, even though, at first I have to confess I felt a little resentful. I am one that is very much for routines and I was hoping it to be like every other Sunday morning. But instead, my daughter gayfully took out her art supplies and I began reading a translation of the 10th Canto that I have been going through.

I decided to see if Montana would be open to the idea of me reading out loud. She had no objections and so I proceeded to read a story of how a demon, under the charge of Lord Shiva, who had ten thousand arms grew too haughty and proud. Ego inflated to nearly bursting, he thought he could battle anyone and win so decided to go up against Krishna. I explained to Montana that Krishna is another name for God and that in this story Krishna had taken human form.  The story brought up Narada and I told her that he was Krishna's earthly father, comparing him a little to Joseph who wasn't Jesus' biological father but served as his father on earth. I asked her if she thought it was a good idea to fight against God like this demon was attempting to do and she agreed that that was undoubtedly a very foolish pursuit.

Krishna cut off most of the demon's arms in the battle that had ensued. With four left, Lord Shiva intervened asking for mercy for the demon who would surely see his demise if Krishna did not cease his assault. Seeing the demon humbled, Krishna agreed. In these stories of Krishna's past times I have to say that they present God as being very reasonable in granting mercy to others. We talked about some of the lessons that could be learned from such a story. I love how deep Montana thinks. She asked if they were real. I remembered a Buddhist teacher's lecture I listened to not very long ago on parenting, one in which I agreed with very much that expressed the need to not impose our ideas and beliefs on our children but to help them develop the inner tools to search for the truth on their own and develop their own ideas.  Personally, I am still working out my own personal philosophy so sometimes when my children ask me a question I answer it in a very neutral way anyways.  I answered that, just with the many stories in the Bible, many people believe them to be literal and true to every detail given, while others believe them to be stories that were inspired to teach us important lessons about our own true natures and of God's.

She then asked me about the story of Noah's ark, if that were real or just a story.

Up until a little over a year ago she had been attending church regularly nearly all of her life. I had been a Sunday school teacher with her in my class for years instructing her and her peers that the stories in the Bible were literal. Well, this morning I took a little bit of a different approach as I answered that I thought it was quite possible that there had been a flood, a really big one, so big that maybe the writers perceived it as engulfing the whole world. She then asked me who the writers were, Noah, one of his family  members? To be accurate it would have had to have been someone who was there. If it wasn't Noah or any family members then other people must have survived and the story wasn't exactly true because it said just Noah and his family members lived through it. And how did the world go on after that if just his family members survived? Did that mean brothers and sisters or cousins had to marry one another. Wouldn't that be "gross"?

Hmmm..what to say to that! Well, seeing that her own conclusions were very speculative towards the literal take on the story, I just finally conceded that it was most likely a story told to convey an important message to those that read it.  That there were similar stories to the Flood story that is found in the Bible found in other cultures throughout the world. That the message it conveys is a universal one, as God Himself, is universal.

I have to say that lately I've had no conflict teaching my children that there is only one God and that He is perceived and worshiped differently throughout the world. I am really glad that I have abandoned teaching them that there is only one way to salvation. I believe that creates a destructive "us v. them" mentality. A "saved v. the damned" way of thinking. I realize that by teaching them of my belief that God manifests Himself differently to different people  contradicts my stance of not teaching my children "my beliefs". I feel, however,  that that is a neutral enough platform in which they can set off to investigate their own inquiries and that some kind of foundation is needed for stability. My children think of God as being personal and, though sometimes I go back and forth in the way I perceive God and the nature of reality, I always talk to my children of God as being personal as to not confuse them.

Well, this post is probably more than long enough. See what happens when I choose to "write freely"? I could probably write all day!

Would love some thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pursuing Peace (A Poem)

All of us want peace. All of us want to be happy. When life throws negativity our way it is hard to always deflect the arrows of darkness that seem to pierce the peace we try so hard to cultivate. I haven't written much on my blog lately as I am trying to sort out some things spiritually. This morning, though, was a particularly difficult one for me personally. I felt my peace and security shattered as my hopes for the future seemed to fall down around me. It is in those moments when we look for something to hold on to, an anchor of sorts, to help steady ourselves so that we aren't knocked off our feet during these times of perceived chaos.
It's almost like we are compelled to pursue peace sometimes as if we were hungry hunters but it just passes through our hands like a mirage when we reach out to grasp it. I don't want to be too dramatic , though, as what I am going through personally is no doubt just as much if not less than what some of you have experienced. Both joy and sorrow come to us all.

When I feel utterly lost for words it is when I tend to just turn on some music (this morning it was Krishna Das) and find words amidst the sheer emptiness conceived from despair that seems to loom within my consciousness. Below is a poem I wrote. I have not edited it yet as I rarely really spend time editing my poems, for better or for worse. It describes some of the despair one can feel. It is difficult to go through difficult times but I think for some of us it can be especially difficult when we have not yet cultivated a firm philosophy and are struggling spiritually with concepts. So this poem also reflects such a struggle. At the end I bring up the "Holy Names". I am referring to my mantra, the mahamantra. (Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare). Regardless of whether or not I always think of God as being personal or impersonal, I have continued to chant this mantra and in all times, both stable and unstable, joyous and grievous, I have found that by chanting this mantra my soul has found some comfort and peace.

I'd love your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you!

Pursuing Peace

When all hope drains away
and all that is left is filth and decay
When longing is all that the heart feels
The soul reaching out for something to heal
The pain that reaches deeper than eternity
All that meets one's agonizing pleas
Is an emptiness vast as the ocean is wide
The seed of light long buried deep inside
covered with thick layers of maya and grief
One's spirit longing for much needed reprieve
This life seems a tragic and laughable dance
Poised on the pinnacle of misery and chance
Like a wave joy rises only to meet sorrow
The light of today kisses the darkness of tomorrow
Is there a God out there to sweep me away
from the tragedies life throws my way?
Or is it all just a jumble of happenstance
No meaning except for this moment, no God to glance
up from His undoubtedly busy duties of creating
to, in His mercy, absorb up some of this pain permeating
My soul making it throb and quiver,
Making my heart so cold that it ceases even to shiver.

Maybe there is no way to truly find out the mysteries that hold
All of mankind in suspense, a story truly untold.
We can speculate and forecast our fates
But none really knows what is scribbled on reality's slate.
All that I know is when the darkness settles in
I repeat the Holy Names as if they were a holy hymn.
In them my heart takes refuge and searches for peace
Waiting for the storm's raging winds  to finally cease.

Friday, January 11, 2013

This Moment: A Friday Tradition

This Moment

"A single photo – no words – capturing a simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember."