This website and blog tool in combination together are aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange about shared spiritual journey.....”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”
Self-knowledge is the beginning of wisdom. In self-knowledge is the whole universe; it embraces all the struggles of humanity. This Matter of Culture p 113 Tweet
We were a group of friends at my house. It had a big backyard with grass and flowers. It was a bit overgrown with weeds. I think we were moving and were fixing up the place. The bathroom cupboard needed a bit of paint, and I had the right colour, but the wrong texture. In the backyard there was a big shed. In the shed was an old piano. It was half under an old piece of machinery. I didn’t know it was there until I lifted the lid. It was playable though a bit out of tune. Everything—the house, the yard, the piano—seemed to be a bit neglected and I didn’t have the right tools to fix things. I wasn’t frustrated with the broken things.
DREAMER: Female, U.S., 34
Friends – familiar aspects of the dreamer
House – state of mind
Backyard/grass/flowers – subconscious existence
Weeds – thoughts which are obstructing the dreamer’s subconscious existence
Bathroom – a place of release and cleansing
Paint – attitude used in imaging
Shed – place for storing tools related to subconscious existence
Piano – a tool for harmony
Thank you for submitting your dream.
Your dream is an excellent example of providing feedback to the dreamer as to how she is using her mind to create the reality she desires to experience.
The dream speaks to you being in a state of mind that is familiar to you (your house). In that state of mind you’re realizing that you’re being quite creative with your subconscious existence (backyard/grass/flowers), wanting to create harmony (piano) and putting your imagination to a good use (paint). Your friends are reflecting you being in touch with many aspects of yourself.
You’re recognizing that an upgrade (fixing) of the house (your mind) is needed. Certain attitudes need to be adjusted. You are specifically seeing that some aspects of how you’re releasing/cleansing (bathroom cupboard) need to be updated through the use of your imagination (paint). Same goes for the means of harmony (piano) which is stored in a shed (not in the house) and it is usable, yet needs to be tuned and placed such that it is easily accessible. Lastly, your backyard has some weeds which represent thoughts that are obstructing manifestation of your desires.
You’re doing great Melissa. The dream shows that you have an acute awareness of your state of mind and aspects of creation such as imagination, harmony and accessing your subconscious mind. All are essential in creating the reality you want to experience in the physical realm. “Thought is cause” and everything within our reality is a reflection of our inner thoughts.
Your subconscious mind through this dream is letting you know that you’re in process of upgrading your state of mind and that you need to call upon your imagination, harmony and inner mind to first visualize or imagine what it is that you want to experience. It’s very important to focus our mind on our desires versus the lack thereof. I would suggest you write out on a sheet of paper 10 things you would like to manifest in the nearest future. Prioritize them. Read that list every day. For each item invest some time to imagine how it would feel like to have what you desire. Remember, our desires are not only limited to physical things. You may also want to build certain characteristics within yourself such as patience or self-expression. We become what we think. By focusing our attention on what we want to create we open ourselves up to countless possibilities.
May your dreams illuminate the inner you…
Image old piano in ghost town Nelson, Nevada via Shutterstock
# # #
Learning to trust your intuition is an art form, and like all other art forms, it takes practice to perfect. You don’t learn to do it overnight. You have to be willing to make “mistakes,” to try something and fail, then try something different the next time — and sometimes, perhaps, even embarrass yourself or feel foolish. Your intuition is always correct, but it takes time to learn to hear it correctly. If you are willing to risk acting on what you believe to be true, and risk making mistakes, you will learn very fast by paying attention to what works and what doesn’t. If you hold back out of fear of being wrong, learning to trust your intuition could take a lifetime.
It can be hard to distinguish the voice of our intuition from the many other selves that speak to us, from within — the different parts of ourselves that have their own idea of what’s best for us.
People frequently ask me how to differentiate the voice or energy of intuition from all the others. Unfortunately, there’s no simple, sure-fire way at first. Most of us are in touch with our intuition whether we know it or not, but we’re actually in the habit of doubting or contradicting it so automatically that we don’t even know it has spoken. The first step in learning is to pay more attention to what you feel inside, to the inner dialogue that goes on within you.
For example, you might feel, “I’d like to give Jim a call.” Immediately, a rational, doubting voice inside says, “Why call him at this time of day? He probably won’t be home,” and you automatically ignore your original impulse to call. If you had called, you might have found him at home and discovered he had some important information for you.
Another example: you might get a feeling in the middle of the day that says, “I’m tired, I’d like to take a rest.” You immediately think, “I can’t rest now, I have a lot of work to do.” So you drink some coffee to get yourself going and work the rest of the day. By the end of the day you feel tired, drained, and irritable, whereas if you had trusted your initial feeling, you might have rested for half an hour and continued about your tasks, refreshed and efficient, finishing your day in a state of balance.
Whether or not you act on your intuitive feelings, you’ll be learning something, so try not to condemn yourself when you don’t follow your intuition (thus adding insult to injury!). Remember, it takes time to learn new habits; the old ways are deeply ingrained. I’ve been working intensively on my own re-education for many years, and while the results I’m enjoying are wonderful, there are still times when I don’t yet have the courage or awareness to be able to trust myself completely and do exactly what I feel. I’m learning to be patient and compassionate with myself as I gain the courage to be true to myself.
Suppose you are trying to decide whether to change jobs. You might have a conservative self that feels it would be safest to stay where you are, an adventurous self that is eager to do something different, a self that is concerned about what other people will think, and so on. One way to handle this is to “listen” to each of these voices and write down what each has to say (perhaps using a different-colored pen for each one). Then just let yourself sit with all the conflicting viewpoints for a while without trying to resolve them or make a decision. Eventually, you will start to get an intuitive sense of what your next step needs to be.
As you get to know the different selves within you, you will discover that your intuitive self has an energy or a feeling that is different from the other voices. In time, you will learn to recognize it quite easily.
One important step in learning to hear and follow your intuition is simply to practice “checking in” regularly. At least twice a day, and much more often, if possible (once an hour is great), take a moment or two (or longer, if you can) to relax and listen to your gut feelings. Cultivate this habit of talking to your intuitive self. Ask for help and guidance when you need it and practice listening for answers that may come in many forms: words, images, feelings, or even through being led to some external source such as a book, a friend, or a teacher who will tell you just what you need to know. Your body is a tremendous helper in learning to follow your inner voice. Whenever you feel your body is in pain or discomfort, it is usually an indication that you have ignored your feelings. Use it as a signal to tune in and ask what you need to be aware of.
As you learn to live from your intuition, you give up making decisions with your head. You act moment by moment on what you feel and allow things to unfold as you go. In this way, you are led in the direction that is right for you, and decisions are made easily and naturally. If possible, try not to make big decisions concerning future events until you are clear about what you want. Focus on following the energy in the moment and you’ll find that it will all be handled in its own time and way. When you must make a decision related to something in the future, follow your gut feeling about it at the time the decision needs to be made.
Remember, too, that although I sometimes speak of following your inner intuitive voice, most people do not literally experience it as a voice. Often it’s more like a simple feeling, an energy, a sense of “I want to do this” or “I don’t want to do that.” Don’t make it into a big deal, a mysterious mystical event, a voice from on high! It’s a simple, natural human experience that we have lost touch with and need to reclaim.
# # #Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. Along with Marc Allen, Gawain cofounded New World Library in 1977. The updated and revised 25th Anniversary Edition of her bestselling book Living in the Light was published in 2011. Visit her online at ShaktiGawain.com.
September 28th 2016
Theckchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 28 September 2016 - In a letter to the Director of the Peres Peace House His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote that he had been saddened to learn that Shimon Peres had passed away following a recent stroke. He added:
"I offer my prayers for him and convey my condolences to the members of his family at this difficult time.
"Mr. Peres and I met on several occasions in different places over the years, the last being Jordan in 2006 when we were attending a conference of Nobel Laureates and other thinkers addressing global concerns.
"I admired his efforts to promote peace between Israel and Palestine, which actually did lead to the historic Oslo Peace Accords of 1993."
Noting that Peres often spoke of the importance of compromise, he quoted him once saying that as the Palestinians were Israel's "closest neighbours" they might become its "closest friends.” His Holiness concluded:
"I pray that this may soon come true."
After all, to know yourself is to watch your behaviour, your words, what you do in your everyday relationships, that is all. Begin with that and you will see how extraordinarily difficult it is to be aware, just to watch the manner of your behaviour, the words you use to your servant, to your boss, the attitude you have with regard to people, to ideas and to things. Just watch your thoughts, your motives in the mirror of relationship, and you will see that the moment you watch you want to correct; you say, “This is good, this is bad, I must do this and not that.” When you see yourself in the mirror of relationship, your approach is one of condemnation or justification; therefore you distort what you see. Whereas, if you simply observe in that mirror your attitude with regard to people, to ideas and to things, if you just see the fact without judgement, without condemnation or acceptance, then you will find that that very perception has its own action. That is the beginning of self-knowledge. The Collected Works vol VI p 307 Tweet
I was fortunate to be able to take some time off and travel across Southeast Asia. After three weeks of exploring Myanmar I realized I needed some time to calm down and find stillness—not that the opportunities for being still are lacking during solo travel. So I was looking for a place to find calm from the distractions of booking the next bus ticket, visiting the next place and worrying about the next step. During a Yoga retreat, I thought I would have a break and could focus fully on myself, immerse myself in the practice in such a way that I could connect more authentically with my experience of travelling.
Reasons to do a Yoga retreat
In theory, a Yoga retreat is a safe environment (especially when travelling solo) that could be a good way to connect with like-minded people. In the past, retreats had offered me the structure I needed to feel taken care of and to not worry. A well-organized yoga retreat provides consistency of meals and bedtime—simple things that help build the necessary routine to ground ourselves without constriction.
I’m vegetarian and sometimes travelling can become a challenge from a dietary point of view, especially when trying to remain healthy. During a retreat, nourishing food is generally provided and the environment encourages us to really sit and savour. Savour not only food, but the present moment by unplugging from computers and smartphones.
When I booked the retreat I was filled with excitement. I couldn’t wait to delve back into my Yoga practice after a few weeks without. I thought I was headed to an oasis. Unfortunately, that was not my experience. The centre was hardly the peaceful place away from the noise of Siem Reap, Cambodia and a mindful zone free from judgement that was advertised. This was not a place to progress and deepen through relaxation—to let go of distractions and worries. I wanted to leave the moment I arrived. I lasted four days, constantly debating with myself whether to stay one more day or not. I felt uninspired and unmotivated. I had forgotten why I enjoy Yoga.
It is, as such, crucial to navigate the abundant offers of the “retreat system.” Here’s my checklist before committing to a Yoga retreat.
Yoga retreat checklistPractice Yoga at home – The first step is to try Yoga before going to any retreat. Understand what style suits you the most and know what to expect. Then check the retreats that match your preferred style. Remember the meaning of Yoga: union and integration – Yoga is often reduced to just physical exercise, neglecting its core as an integration practice where meaning and philosophy play an important role. Any respectable centre should have these principles at their foundation to support your personal journey towards integration. Read the reviews about the retreat centre, especially the bad ones, and the responses to those by their management. This will give you a feel of their intentions. It can be hard to remain mindful in the face of negative feedback. Do they practice the mindfulness they preach? Location, Location, Location – Research the location of the retreat, the country and the culture. Think about your preference of climate too. The last thing you want is to be uncomfortable while trying to find balance. Background check – Do your homework by researching the Yoga teachers. It’s important you feel supported and comfortable around them. Ideally, you want to attend a retreat organized by a teacher you already know or that somebody you trust has referred. See if they have a website and check what other people say about them online. Trust in the teacher is fundamental to fully experiencing the benefits of Yoga. The schedule and level of classes – The schedule should be an organic flow that allows relaxation and does not exhaust you. You need discipline and enough pause time to rest. The level of classes offered is also important. Do not accept “all level open classes” especially if you’re looking to deepen your practice. All levels or too many students are not supportive of an environment that’s focused on you and your experience. It’s your practice and it should give you the most benefit physically, mentally and spiritually. Intention – Lastly, the most important thing when choosing a Yoga retreat is your own intention. Ask yourself why you’re going and what your expectations are. Only when you’ve answered these questions you can find your best match.
Do not go simply because it’s cool. If it does not match your intention, leave. And, my last piece of advice? Check their refund policy, which should be transparent and guarantee a certain level of protection that you’re comfortable with.
Are you ready for your Yoga retreat?
by Fateme Banishoeib
image: Couple in white sitting in lotus pose via Shutterstock
Sometimes I wish I could run fast, such as when I’m already late for a meeting or when it’s really cold outside, but I’ve accepted that I’m simply not a fast mover thanks to my mobility impairment. With this realization has come a general appreciation for the benefits of taking things slow. For example, I’ve moved slowly enough over the past few years to really begin enjoying the beauty of nature. The scent of fall in the wind and the shadows that the sun allows to play off of tall buildings are things that I would probably not recognize and certainly not appreciate if I was running from the parking lot to my office. That being said, I’m really more of a people person and my favourite thing to enjoy while moving slowly is catching the eye of a passerby—we smile at each other and hold one another’s gaze for a moment. It’s a brief connection that can last a second, but brightens the rest of my day. If I was moving fast with my head full of “what nexts” I wouldn’t be able to capture this spark and carry it with me!
Waiting for other people to help instills patience
Due to my disability, I sometimes need other people’s help. I usually require assistance with daily tasks that demand coordination or physical strength that I simply do not have. What someone could accomplish immediately under their own steam, may take longer for me because I have to wait for someone to help me. However, that’s OK because I’ve realized over time that I’ve become a more grateful and patient person. I think, for example, having to wait for someone to carry my dinner plate to the table gives me pause and the chance to slow things down. When I finally get my plate and am ready to eat, I really appreciate my meal. This kind of waiting also allows me time to reflect on the support that I have and be grateful for it.
Falling fast does not allow me time to catch myself—isn’t this a metaphor for life!
Sometimes I know when I’m about to fall. It sounds strange, but I can fall to the ground slowly, allowing me time to alter my position and avoid injury. However, at other times I fall fast and crack my head on something or just end up in an undignified heap on the ground. This is a good parallel to many of my experiences in life. When I’m moving too quickly, racing from one thing to the next or not taking time to think through a decision, things in my life are more likely to come crashing down around me leaving me in a rather awkward mess. These may be small events like rushing around and misplacing my keys thus making me late for a next appointment. Or it may be larger events like the time I rushed to accept an exciting sounding job without really thinking through what the job would involve. When I’m rushing I realize what I really need to do is to slow things down and reflect and re-evaluate. I’m often left thinking that if I would just take things slower in the first place and not rush into things, I could catch myself before I fall into a mess.
Repeating an activity is good practice
Due to my disability and related clumsy fine motor skills, I often end up repeating tasks. For example, it may take me a couple of tries to get my shoes tied or to successfully pack something away in a box. This makes getting things done a lot slower. However, I’ve learned to embrace this! I often tell myself that practice makes perfect and I think that this is true because after three attempts at getting my shoelaces tied in a bow that will not undo thirty seconds later, I must say they look pretty good and I’m feeling a real sense of accomplishment. If I’d rushed through this and been successful on the first try, it’s possible that I might not feel the sense of achievement that I do after multiple attempts.
Change (in me and society) can be slow, but is so sweet
Having a disability makes me take a lot of things more slowly. I realize that my ability to accomplish tasks successfully or acquire a new skill may take longer than it would for people who do not have a disability. However, when I do achieve a goal it’s very satisfying and I think that’s because I really had to work for it. I’ve also noticed as a member of the disabled community that meaningful change to disability-related policies and practices in society can take a long time. It’s slow going for sure! However, when things are achieved it tends to be, in my opinion, quite meaningful. It demonstrates hard work and extensive collaboration; a real coming together of dedicated people and powerful forces, working together to shift the tide of inaccessibility and stigma.
Real change is sweet and we are part of it!
by Andrea Walsh
image: Silhouette disabled man looks into the distance, enjoy summer on the ocean via Shutterstock
Now the problem arises: How am I to change, not abstractly, the relationship that is now based on self-centred pursuits and pleasures?
[Authorhouse, 330 pages]
In Cosmos Screen, author Perry Kelly shares his experiences growing up in a large, southern Baptist family, the son of farmers during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He writes about his time in the Air Force during World War II, his college years, and his love of art, education and world travel.
Secretly gay, Kelly uses the “screen of Cosmos flowers… In the edge of [his] yard” as a metaphor for the alienation he felt from his family and the geographic separation he experienced as a consequence of his extensive travel.
Cosmos Screen opens with a look at Kelly’s early years. He writes thoughtfully and lovingly of his family, reflecting on his relationship with certain members. Kelly talks about religion and describes his family’s way of life as farmers and the hardships they faced during the Great Depression.
Cosmos Screen follows Kelly into adulthood and into the Air Force, through college, and over the course of a long, extraordinary career in art education. Motivated by his interest in art and his appreciation of different cultures, Kelly travels to over 40 countries seeking to understand a diversity of art forms and the role of art in cultures around the world.
In discussing Kelly’s extensive travels, Cosmos Screen becomes more of a travel log than a story about a man who was raised in the Baptist faith and his sexual orientation. In fact, with the exception of the book’s Epilogue, there’s little beyond factual references to Kelly’s homosexuality. In light of his career as an educator and his empathy for others who might be struggling with their sexual identity or their child’s, this writer found it curious and somewhat disappointing that Kelly chose to limit his personal reflections and insights on this important and still relevant, often divisive issue, especially given his unique historical perspective.
Cosmos Screen is the story of a passionate, highly respected and accomplished educator and mentor. Kelly’s love of art and his dedication to teaching and education are admirable, even inspirational. Cosmos Screen is the journey of a man whose life was touched by family, poverty, religion, homosexuality and homophobia. Too, it is the story of a man who took to heart his “mother’s admonishment to ‘always leave a place and people in better shape than you find them.'” That, Perry Kelly most certainly did.
by Annette Sultana
image: cosmos flowers on spring background via Shutterstock
# # #
Just for fun, imagine that the spiritual world is every bit as diverse as our own physical world. Imagine that it possesses every personality, style, skill, interest, motivation, talent, and ability that we humans do. For example, here on Earth we find people with all kinds of personality traits. Some are funny, some are analytical, some are spontaneous or assertive or efficient. We also find people with every possible talent, ability, and job description. Some are exceptional as teachers, some as negotiators, some as gardeners or counselors or child-care providers.
Now imagine that all of these characteristics and job descriptions also exist in the nonphysical dimension, that every subject has a match in the spiritual realm. Science, mathematics, art, music, philosophy, construction, and every other possible arena all have their spiritual doubles. For a talent or ability to exist here on Earth, its corresponding nonphysical energy must also exist.
Next, imagine that this entire universe of celestial experts and attributes is yours for the asking. Imagine that the Spirits of Creation are standing ready to assist you in making your world. Believe that not only is the power to summon that creativity flowing through you, it is your divine right — divine assignment, even — to wield it.
I have seen that what I’ve just described is true. How could this reality change your life? What if all of these skills, traits, and talents were indeed at your fingertips?
The Universal Yellow Pages
Let’s go even further and imagine that each of us has access to the expansive, unabridged, revised-every-minute Yellow Pages of the Universe. Next time you’re in need of a special talent or skill, let your imagination do the walking! Whatever project or need you may have, I invite you to open the Universal Yellow Pages and choose the professionals with the perfect skills to assist you.
If a talent or ability exists here on Earth, the Universal Yellow Pages has a section for it. In fact, even if you’ve never heard of anyone with the exact package of skills and traits you’re looking for, you can be confident that somewhere in the Universe, precisely what you need is lined up and ready to serve you, just waiting to be asked.
This concept is easy to work with because it utilizes a template you are already comfortable with. Your conscious mind is familiar with the process of hiring from the physical Yellow Pages, so to imagine doing the same thing in the nonphysical dimension is also a simple process. Suddenly, connecting with Spirit becomes as conceivable as any other endeavor. You create the thought, you bring in the talent and energy and ability, and then your request begins to fulfill itself.
Contemplate for a moment how easily some things just fall into place as if they were meant to be, how chance meetings serendipitously occur as if written in a play. What about the way you sometimes get an impulse to go somewhere that puts you in the perfect place at the perfect time? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to increase the frequency of these amazing so-called coincidences? That’s what can happen every day when you open the Universal Yellow Pages and let the Universe arrange and orchestrate the details of your intentions.
Think Heavens First
On the physical plane we always seem to be dealing with limited resources: not enough money, not enough time, not enough people or experts. If we switch our perception to the Universe, those restrictions don’t apply, so just imagine that you have all the money, time, and resources in the world to hire whatever kind of assistance your mind can come up with.
Let’s say you’re planning a trip to another country. I encourage you to think about the heavenly resource pool first and hire a spiritual travel agent and a spiritual activities coordinator to help make it the most enjoyable visit ever. But don’t stop there. Remember, your invisible helpers can facilitate anything you think of. You can bring in a spiritual tour guide to show you around, a spiritual translator to bridge the language gap, and a spiritual comedian to make sure there’s plenty of laughter during the trip.
Likewise, if you want a new house, think Heavens first and hire a spiritual real-estate agent.
Ready for a better job? Get some inspiration from a spiritual job hunter.
Looking for a new car? Hire a spiritual car salesman.
Feeling overextended? Ask for a spiritual time manager.
Having trouble with your computer? Requisition a spiritual computer tutor to figure out how to solve the problem.
Feeling uneasy about driving in an unfamiliar neighborhood alone? Call spiritual 911 and request a celestial police escort.
Are you getting a feel for this? You can enhance every aspect of your life by tapping into the aptitudes of the Universe. Help from the Divine can facilitate everything you do. Think Heavens first, and you’ll thank Heavens!
Angels for Hire
My guidance wants you to know that there are thousands of unemployed angels. Don’t ever think your problem is too trivial for you to call upon divine assistance. Don’t ever think you might be bothering the celestial helpers. You’re not bothering them; you’re giving them a job! Think of the world of Spirit as someone you can talk to about anything — or nothing in particular. There’s no reason to put on airs or speak in a stiff, formal voice. Spirit knows you. Be real, be spontaneous, be silly — be anything that makes you feel close to this incredibly warm and loving energy. Know that Spirit is honored to be included in every detail of your life. Truly, this is where you’ll find unconditional love and the best friend you could ever have.
# # #
I was at a Turkish bath and there were many very large men around me—almost like Sumo wrestlers size-wise—all in different stages of disrobement. We were all talking about many things, some of it just idle chitchat, and being extremely companionable. There were many swimming pool-like baths all around. Trays of food and drinks were being delivered. For the first time in my life I felt completely comfortable in a group of men.
DREAMER: Male, Canada, 69
Turkish bath – place of cleansing
Men – conscious aspects of the dreamer
Naked – being naked in a dream symbolizes honesty
Swimming pool – contained conscious life experience
Food – knowledge
Thank you for submitting your dream.
A bathhouse is a place of cleansing the body. All the men in your dream represent conscious aspects of you (with the rule being that people of the same gender relate conscious/outer qualities and of the opposite gender represent subconscious/inner aspects). Sumo wrestlers follow a regimented lifestyle and a form of martial arts with many spiritual elements. Those being disrobed signifies honesty. Food symbolizes knowledge.
Putting it all together: this dream reflects a state of consciousness of being at ease and comfortable with oneself and with learning. There are many aspects of Self that you’re getting to know throughout your waking life experience and you’re doing so with honesty. Those aspects are disciplined and somewhat spiritual. You’re moving through a process of cleansing, not only outwardly, but also inwardly.
It would be great for you to recall what attitudes you were holding in your mind a day or two prior to having this dream. Whatever these attitudes were they were very productive and helped you expand your consciousness. They were bringing about comfort with regards to getting to know yourself. Something also stimulated you to perceive parts of you as disciplined and spiritual, indicating an inward evolution. If it were my dream I would continue to foster these attitudes to ensure expansion of my inner and outer awareness. Keep up the good work!
May your dreams illuminate the inner you…
While pursuing her Doctorate of Divinity degree Aneta continues her research and study of dreams. She also holds Master’s Degree from DePaul University in Computer Science. She has been serving as a spiritual teacher through the School of Metaphysics for the last 6 years. She currently resides in Kansas City where she directs one of the branches of the School of Metaphysics. Learn more about Aneta and the School of Metaphysics.
image: Bey hamam (turkish baths), Thessaloniki, Greece via Shutterstock
Wroclaw, Poland, 21 September 2016 - More than thirty Tibetans and Mongolians living or studying in Poland came to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama before he left for his day’s engagements. He spoke to them briefly:
“Tibet is known as the Roof of the World, but also as the Land of Avalokiteshvara. We Tibetans have our own language, with its own writing, which is the best medium for accurately explaining Buddhist teachings. In the past some Tibetans were shy of saying they were from Tibet—not any more. We have every reason to be confident. We have the seed of compassion and we need to strengthen it through reason and training.
“Our Kangyur and Tengyur collections contain a wealth of knowledge about Buddhist science, philosophy and religion. We have published a Compendium of Science in a two volume set and one abridged volume. These books are being translated into other languages like English, Chinese and German. When you have time, try to read them and discuss among yourselves what you learn.”
Turning to the Mongolians he recalled how Buddhism had first come to Mongolia on the Silk Road. Later, in a second phase of transmission, Drogön Chögyal Phagpa brought Buddhism from Tibet. This was consolidated when the Third Dalai Lama, Sonam Gyatso, went to Mongolia.
His Holiness said that he first visited Mongolia in 1979. And on that occasion the monks at Ganden Thekchenling offered him a Long-Life Prayer so fervently it brought tears to the eyes of all concerned. He observed that the 13th Dalai Lama not only spent time in Mongolia, but was also able to speak Mongolian. Relations between Tibet and Mongolia have a history of being close. His Holiness mentioned that his interest in emptiness, which he has reflected on seriously for the last 60 years, owed not a little to his Mongolian debating assistant, Ngodup Choknyi.
The Peace of Westphalia was a series of peace treaties signed between May and October 1648 effectively ending the European wars of religion—the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) in the Holy Roman Empire, and the Eighty Years' War (1568–1648) between Spain and the Dutch Republic. The treaties did not restore peace throughout Europe, but they did create a basis for national self-determination and the concept of co-existing sovereign states, which became central to international law as it prevails today. The church is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As he stepped out of his car, His Holiness was received by Bishop Waldemar Pytel and Mayor of Swidnica, Mrs Beata Moskal-Slaniewska. They escorted him to his seat to the music of Handel played on the organ.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama sitting in the front row of the Church of Peace in Swidnica, Poland on September 21, 2016. Photo/Maciej Kulczynski|
Dutkiewicz also mentioned several reasons why this Church of Peace was a fitting location for such a gesture. Apart from its older history, it was here in 1989 that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl met Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Poland’s first post-Communist Prime Minister. More recently, in November 2014, Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz and German Chancellor Angela Merkel came here as part of celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Mass of Reconciliation in Krzyzowa.
Prior to the signing of the Appeal for Peace, His Holiness was invited to address the gathering.
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Church of Peace in Swidnica, Poland on September 21, 2016.|
“Nowadays, some scientists say that basic human nature is compassionate. When we’re born, if our mother was full of anger, we would not survive. The way life starts is characterised by affection and it’s time we paid more attention to this.
“Despite philosophical differences, all our major religious traditions convey a common message of love. Sadly however, we are seeing today conflicts arising in the name of religion. Consequently, we need to make special efforts to promote harmony between our traditions based on mutual respect. I’m a Buddhist monk, but among Buddhists are many who don’t take their practice very seriously. They may adopt a serious demeanour when they come to the temple, but this doesn’t extend into their day to day lives. Whether we are Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Hindu, if we think of ourselves as religious, we should make our faith part of our daily life. Not only should we be compassionate in our conduct, we should be happy.
|Members of the congregation listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the Church of Peace in Swidnica, Poland on September 21, 2016. Photo/Maciej Kulczynski|
His Holiness observed that peace will not come about as a result of prayers alone. Logically, since it’s human beings who have disrupted the peace, it’s they who have to work to restore it. And even if they do that, he said, it doesn’t mean no further problems will occur, but when they do they have to be solved in ways other than the use of force.
“Yesterday, I visited the exhibition at Wroclaw Museum dedicated to Cardinal Kominek’s work to foster forgiveness and reconciliation. On the way here, as I thought about that, I looked out on the rolling fields and reflected on how the Polish people have suffered and worked hard to rebuild their lives—wonderful.”
The moderator then requested the respective spiritual leaders to come forward to sign the Appeal for Peace, which read:
|His Holiness the Dalai Lama signing the Appeal for Peace at the Church of Peace in Swidnica, Poland on September 21, 2016. Photo/Maciej Kulczynski|
The signatories were Bishop Waldemar Pytel; Priest Eugeniusz Cybulski - representative of Orthodox Church; Archbishop Jozef Kupny; Bishop Włodzimierz Juszczak - Greek Catholic Church, Immam Ali Abi Issa, Rabbi David Bassok, Bishop of Swidnica Ignacy Dec, pastor Edward Pawłowski and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Having signed they lined up together as a group for photographs to be taken before filing out of the church and gathering in the Church of Peace café for lunch. During conversation in the course of the meal, His Holiness repeated the importance of religious people getting to know one another on occasions such as this.
|Bishop Ignacy Dec welcoming His Holiness the Dalai Lama to his church in Swidnica, Poland on September 21, 2016. Photo/Jeremy Russell/OHHDL|
Bishop Ignacy Dec invited His Holiness to visit his church in Swidnica, which he did briefly on the way, before driving back to Wroclaw. Arriving at the hotel, His Holiness gave interviews to CBS Sunday Morning and Good Morning Britain (ITV) in connection with the forthcoming publication of ‘The Book of Joy’ based on conversations he held with his old friend Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Tomorrow, His Holiness departs for India and a return to Dharamsala.
Travelling, as opposed to staying put
I just returned from a three-week trip to Barcelona, Spain and two locations in India. The trip was a spiritual pilgrimage, but aspects of it were typical of any international or exotic travel.
Travel—for those who can afford it—is the quickest way out of the doldrums of the humdrum and the myriad of traps laid by habit. By contrast, in the Tibetan spiritual tradition the solution proffered might be, “Go into a cave and meditate for a year.”
A person who can procure a plane ticket to the other side of the world will almost certainly experience a heightened sense of being in the present, as soon as jet lag wears off. In Spain, walking through narrow lanes fronted by buildings that are 500 years old, or in India, my path crossed by a man in a pink turban plowing a field with two cream-white bullocks and an ancient wooden implement, I felt acutely “there”!
For much of my life, I’ve tried to deal with how the fluidity of the new tends to solidify, after a few months, into dull routine. The hills in the distance, which at first appear as aesthetic objects, as well as invitations to go beyond them into the Unknown, become just blobs of stuff. The highways—which refused, for the longest time, to coalesce into a single recognizable pattern during a year-plus sojourn of mine in New Jersey, once—finally did! And this left my world feeling smaller and less exciting.
How do you work at a full-time job and also “be” while doing the same thing at the same time every Monday, and possibly, something only slightly different every Tuesday? In all my contemplation and living, I haven’t really found an answer to that question. But do we live just to accumulate money for another trip?
It occurs to me, too, that some of us might have a problem feeling grounded, if we were on the road all the time. The opposite of travel, you might say, is home. The goal of a spiritual focus is to make home something found within, rather than a single physical place. But that’s quite an advanced state to attain. Meanwhile, alternating periods at home and with travel seems to yield a pretty good balance. The spiritual effort continues through thick and thin, through novelty and the mundane.
The joys of pilgrimage
In point of fact, most of my own international travel has been on the way to my pilgrimage destination: Meherabad, India. The desire to touch base every few years at Meher Baba’s Samadhi (tomb-shrine) is what actually gets me off the ground!
Looking at Baba’s picture in my home, I sometimes think, “Why go anywhere? He’s here!” But gradually, the longing builds once more to return to the places Baba sanctified through decades of living, and especially the place where the Master’s mortal remains are.
This pattern makes me completely happy. There are many “perks”: the wonderful atmosphere inside the Samadhi, the incredible music of East and West that we share each day after morning and evening Arti. This summer, a violinist from Poland became a catalyst: harmonium, tabla, guitar, Persian “daff drum,” and other instruments easily blended together in song after song!
Other perks are that I can configure my trips so as to stop off for several days to see a city like Barcelona, as I did this summer, having explored Paris and Rome in previous years. I’ve also travelled elsewhere in India a bit over the years, on further pilgrimages to other places associated with Baba. This summer I went, with a local guide I know from Baba circles, to a glorious valley a hundred or so kilometres north of Meherabad, called the Valley of the Saints.
It so happened that 700 years ago, for reasons not entirely known, a great Sufi Master named Nizamuddin asked a number of Sufi Saints to migrate to this valley. Today, the valley and the nearby town of Khuldabad sing with beautiful domed shrines built to honour these living lights. August in this part of India is monsoon season, and though I didn’t see much rain, the days were mild and all the land was green!
One of my biggest thrills on the trip came as my guide and I walked in the shadow of a 700-year-old shrine, one that is in a semi-ruined state. Crossing a meadow, we noticed some young Indian men playing cricket. My guide knew them, and before long, I was standing there with the heavy bat in my hands!
I’ve never been able to understand the slightest thing about cricket. But like many Americans, I was a baseball fanatic as a boy, and thought, “Maybe I can still hit.” When the pitch came, I swung, and crack! The ball sailed off into the distance. The Indians exploded into applause and laughter, and asked me to try one more pitch, then I did it again! The feeling among us all was of such cameraderie! Life was overflowing! And all in the shadow of those 700-year-old Sufi ruins!
Such experiences inculcate an attitude of awe and gratitude about travel: how blessed I am to see and do such things! With such compassion must I hold all beings—who are at some deep level, “me.” How fortunate I am to be able to engage in globetrotting, when so many people live at subsistence level or below!
I try to keep in mind a cautionary note, as well, about a certain exoticism in going to a place like India, where the field workers, for example, wear flowing, colourful garments that seem to beg to be in a photo. This romanticizing of “the exotic” can become a subtle objectification of others. I try to remind myself that these people are just living their daily lives. Their culture is to be commended for its appreciation of beauty in attire or, say, in putting necklaces on the bulls that plow their fields. The jobs these folks are doing, though, remain labour-intensive and far from glamourous.
I became aware of still other subtleties in India. One day I saw a small herd of what looked like water buffalo, being tended by a tall, thin man with a stick. I was struck by the appearance of the animals, and snapped a couple of pictures. Then I approached the shepherd to ask him if they were indeed buffaloes, or just black bulls.
I was surprised at first to notice that he had a scowl on his face. What’s he upset about, I wondered? Then I saw him extend his open palm and pass his thumb back and forth over his index finger. He wanted me to pay him for taking the photos! Of course! How dense I was not to have offered him a few rupees beforehand. We haggled a bit, and I walked away feeling that I’d managed the situation well. This turned out to be true. I spotted him in another location two days later, and we smiled at each other and shared a hearty handshake. This time I kept my camera in my pocket.
Ultimately, “here” is all there is
A short video made by some acquaintances of mine is only six minutes long, and does a wonderful job of expressing the truth that however exotic a location may seem, it is simply here to those in it (and that this is truly One Beautiful World).
A Traveller’s Prayer
Let’s end this story with a little poem and a few more photos from my trip, all in the spirit of sacred and transformative travel:
I long to walk
of the world
as a labyrinth
village and city,
wonders of Creation
to the Creator,
until at the centre
there You are!
[ click to enlarge each photo ]
Clockwise from top left: Tomb-shrine of Meher Baba on India’s Independence Day (Aug. 16); La Diosa (The Goddess) by Josep Clarà i Ayats at Plaça de Catalunya, Barcelona; original building created by a Modernisme architect other than Gaudi; the inside of Meher Baba’s Samadhi (tomb); plowman with bullocks; sunrise at Meherabad, Maharashtra, India.
To read more about travelling within the country of India, visit ASTONISHING INDIA: 8 of the Most Awe-inspiring Places to Visit in India»