Thursday, December 21, 2006

Feel the love

If you are reading this message right now, please know that you are loved. During this season, make a special effort to feel the love, be with it. Give it freely and revel in all that you receive. Open up to it and embrace it. It's a wonderful feeling and it's too easy to filter it or hold it back out of fear. So enjoy being loved and share that feeling with as many people as you can. And love yourself no matter what happens or what you do.

May your holiday season be bright and joyful and your new year filled with wonder.
Peace and love,

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Different Paths

I hope this finds you doing well and enjoying a happy holiday season. Some of my recent observations may be a bit of review for some of you, but I had to share the thoughts while they were fresh on my mind. Hopefully you will find them relevant in your life at this point as well.

We're all on different paths in life. In fact, there are no two people alike and, therefore, no two people who are taking the exact same path in life. We're all striving for something slightly different based on our own set of beliefs about the best way to get there. We also like to seek out people who share similar paths. We enjoy being in their company and sharing stories about our common path. But, no matter what paths we share with others, ours is still a little different. This makes it difficult to identify fully with another person and often leads to misunderstandings and even conflict.

However, we are all in fact on the same overall path. We're all divinely complex beings getting through life the best we know how, whether we realize it or not. Therein lies the heart of learning unconditional compassion. I think that acknowledging the commonalties that link us all is the best way to make us better people.

The conflict and suffering that arise as a result of our lack of understanding that we are all on a common path can be a vital teaching tool. If there were no suffering or conflict in the world around us and in our personal lives, we wouldn't be challenged to strive for something. It would also make it more difficult to learn gratitude for all we have to be thankful for since we would lack a frame of reference.

An example of this has to do with the way the Buddha started his journey toward enlightenment. He was brought up in a luxurious environment insulated from the harsh world outside the palace walls. When he was in his 20s he was allowed to venture out into the world where he came face to face with suffering people for the first time. He was so overwhelmed with it that he left his family and kingdom behind in search of a reason why there was so much suffering in the world. I suspect if he had never been confronted with suffering, he never would have found enlightenment.

So, suffering is never meaningless. It's a constant reminder that we are all human and prone to making mistakes. On a greater scale though, suffering can serve as a wake up call to the core love in us all that's just waiting to be let out. We have to love ourselves for doing the best we know how, and spread that love to everyone else doing the same thing, no matter how far off base they seem to be in our eyes.

Peace and love to you and yours during this holiday season, and may everything go exactly as it needs to for you to reach your ultimate potential. That's what's happening anyway, isn't it?
Take care,

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A few tips on life

Hey guys, how’s it going. In between each email I send to you, I think of at least a handful that I would like to share, but can’t make the time to type them up every time they occur to me. Plus, I suspect you would get sick of hearing from me that often. Anyway, here are some of the tid bits I wanted to share with you this week that might be beneficial to you and your life.

First of all, I have compiled a list of attitudes that are revisited quite a bit in the literature about obtaining joy. I will try not to spend too much time on each item but still do them some justice.

Gratitude - Always be thankful for everything you have and have done. Spend some time each day just being grateful for everything you are. If you ever catch yourself revisiting a time when you did something foolish and getting embarrassed by it all over again (something I catch myself doing from time to time) forgive yourself and remember that everyone is doing what he or she is thinks is right at that particular time in life. We can not fault ourselves for making mistakes, it comes with the territory and helps shape us into the wonderful people we are today. Be thankful and not regretful.

Openness - This is basically being open to all experiences and people without judgment. We are lightning quick to categorize people and experiences when we encounter them, so it seems difficult to catch much less rectify. However, it’s important to realize that we are doing ourselves more harm than good by judging other people and events. They too are doing the best they know how at this given point in their lives and prone to make mistakes just as we have in the past and will likely do in the future. We have to also be careful not to judge ourselves nor think about how others might be judging us based on what we do or say. It’s a slippery slope.

Compassion - This is something that I have been “preaching” about for a while now and is very interrelated with being open. However, this goes a step beyond simply not judging someone to be an egomaniac. Compassion means showing compassion toward everyone regardless of their predispositions for annoying habits or poor behavior. Try to remember that we are all connected and share a common bond, and that we are all products of our environment. Realize that those who suffered most when they were young are often the ones who cause the most suffering when they are older. Try to be empathetic with their situation and show them what it’s like to be kind as they may not have seen it first hand. You will be surprised at the effect this can have on a person.

Mindfulness - This involves paying attention to what you are thinking and what you are experiencing in as much as possible. You really can’t begin to make things happen in your life without it. If you are just floating through life on your daily routine and not paying attention to what you are doing, then your life will fly by without feeling very fulfilling. If you are truly happy by just following your routine, then please don’t let this stop you. If you feel like something is lacking or that you could be happier or just want to experience true joy, then start paying attention and consider doing some basic meditation during the day. It may take a little practice to do at first, but it feels good to do and is good exercise for living.

Present - Try to remain in the present moment as much as you can. We spend a great deal of our time worrying about an impending engagement or future obligation or goal, as well as reliving past events for further investigation. Once you start paying attention to your thoughts, you will realize this is basically what we spend most of our time doing. We are well trained in that way by our daily routine. You have to try to stop to realize you’re somewhere else in time. However, there gets to be a point in there where you can still be present while planning or working or making breakfast. If you can realize the past doesn’t matter and realize that worrying about the future doesn’t change it, you can realize the importance of being in the present moment. It too feels good to be in that place, though I still can not sustain it for long periods without being sucked back into my routine or typical behavior.

I’m going to wrap up by saying this, “Give freely and forgive quickly.” It came to as I was waking up from a dream I don’t remember but that I had to write down. It’s important to forgive yourself for everything you’ve done and expand that forgiveness to everyone you know, past and present. People are just doing what they think is right at the time. They are also constantly learning from their mistakes and trying to do what they think is better. In short, we are all capable of change and I think that interacting with people who are trying to embrace these key things in their lives is the best medicine anyone could be exposed to.

There’s a lot more I would like to share with you, but I will leave it at that for now. I hope all is well. Stay in touch.
Take care,

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Getting Involved

I hope your Thanksgiving was as good as ours. We went to Florida to visit Shelby's relatives that we do not see very often. In fact, she was able to reunite with her brother and sister who she had not seen in almost 15 years (since the death of their father). It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved and I was glad to be there for it. It was all brought about by a dream one of her aunts had. Her aunt acted on the dream and helped make the reunion happen. The love was everywhere despite the anxiety leading up to it.

During conversations with her family members, I learned things about everything from gardening techniques to remodeling tips to interpersonal relationships. The wealth of information learned on this trip is greatly appreciated. In fact, at the end of this note, I will share the tips related to fostering loving relationships since I feel this information is valuable to everyone who wants to have a loving relationship.

One of the key pieces of information that I have learned previously and have been trying to remember is summed up by this quote, "When someone makes a statement, they are not asking you for something. If they are, they need to ask it." This seems simple enough, but I have found that I am in the habit of automatically jumping into action when someone makes a statement that implies they are in need of something. This gets you into trouble though because it is based on an assumption, which is based on projection, which is based on past experience or programming. I have been focusing on not jumping in to fix things when a problem is stated and it seems to make life less complicated and more clear cut. If you find yourself doing the same thing, you might want to try refraining from assuming the role of fixer before someone asks for your help.

Shelby and I were discussing this and other things on the drive back from Florida and we stumbled on an issue I wanted to come to terms with. How and when do you offer help to someone who you think needs it but who may not know they need help or even want it. Or, when do you get involved when you see something happening that you know does not need to happen and will have negative outcomes if it continues. A basic example of this is when you see a parent mistreating a child. You can see that the situation is a continuation of the same old cycle (i.e. parent mistreats child, child later becomes parent and mistreats their child, etc.) and yet it's not your place to intervene. Or is it? Do you ignore it if it doesn't directly affect you and just let the parties involved live the lives they were intended to lead? They have their life lessons to learn after all.

We were debating this issue and not getting any clear resolution. There is an obvious problem in that the observer is assuming that he or she has a better solution to the situation. The degree of separation also has to be considered. It makes more sense to offer helpful suggestions to a family member in need than it does to a complete stranger. We kept going back and forth on this because I was looking for some rules of engagement to know when to get involved and none were evident.

As we stopped the conversation we stopped for a quick bite to eat. While eating in the car, we realized that we had parked right next to a case of exactly what we were discussing. The man and woman next to us were arguing about something. She was very pregnant and standing in front of the car refusing to talk to him or even get back in the car. A young boy was in their back seat crying and an elderly woman was in the passenger seat sleeping (I'm not sure how). The man, after trying to tell the woman to get in the car because her son needed her, decided he would give her to the count of five to get in the car or he was leaving without her. At this point I wanted to do something, but had no idea what to do without knowing what they were fighting about.

Well, after counting to five he started to leave thinking she would give in. Of course she did not. He finally made good on his word and left. We just sat there and continued to eat. I felt quite bad. After about 10 minutes she had sat down on a bench and cried a little. I finally went over and asked her if she was okay (unsure as to what to say). She smiled and said yes. I asked her if she was sure and she nodded. I said that I just had to make sure and left.

We sat in the car for another minute before we hit the road again. I started second guessing what I should have said, and quickly realized that it was a waste of time and that I had said exactly what I was supposed to say. We also discussed the fact that she was at a busy gas station with a phone inside if she needed to call someone. Though I was reassured by the fact that she would be okay, it was difficult for me to get it out of my mind.

The next day, on our second leg of the trip home, we parked at a rest area. While I was waiting for Shelby to return to the car, the woman parked next to us could not get her car started. She also could not get the hood up on her car after several attempts. This time I got out without an invitation to help and offered my services. I could tell she was a bit reluctant to accept help from a total stranger (which is a sad state of affairs in and of itself), but we were able to get the hood up. She smacked on the loose battery cable (as she had apparently done a number of times) and was able to get it started. She thanked me a couple of times and left. I felt good that I was able to help and was glad that nothing mechanical was wrong as I would not have been able to help with that.

Thanks to these situational gifts, I decided that there is not a clear cut time and place to involve yourself in someone else's life. There is no magical list of criteria to check against before offering a helping hand to someone in need of direction or assistance. It's all shades of gray. Oh well, maybe as I continue to grow I will develop a keener sense of when and how to get involved in another person's life. But I can safely say that I am glad that Shelby's aunt got involved in her life to help bring about a long overdue family reunion. Feel free to share any guidelines on getting involved that you might use as I would love to obtain a bit more clarity on this issue if there is any more clarity to be had.
Take care,

List of Relationship Tips (care of Shelby's aunts)
- Always kiss hello and good bye
- Have a meeting night once a week to discuss things that are on your mind
- Go for walks where you talk about what you like/love about each other and what you like/love about yourself (you can't love someone else unless you love yourself)
- Don't allow yourself to act as your partner's parent
- Lead a full social life together
- Alternate decision days (one person gets to decide what to do/buy one day and vise versa)
- Each person pick a hobby that they want to do with their partner (i.e. one person picks dance lessons, the other person picks tennis lessons)
- If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all
- Have a romantic date night once a month
- Don't be afraid to ask your partner for something you want

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Choose to be in control

It's been a while since I have dropped you all a line, but I have thought of it on numerous occasions (about every time I have a new realization). This is just a sampling of what I have been realizing lately that I felt compelled to share.

I've been paying attention to my own thoughts a lot more lately (i.e. practicing mindfulness) and learning a great deal about myself in the process. A great deal of what I do is based on habit or trained response. It's like the brain is a computer programed with a series of "if" "then" statements (if I do this, then I will bring about this result or avoid something else). This is basically the role of the ego.

The ego is a survival mechanism that helps us avoid injury as we develop. We innately try to avoid unpleasant things and instead bring about a pleasurable outcome. However, as we grow so does the ego's role in running our lives, which can become very detrimental to our development and prevent us from finding true happiness. Many of the books I have read recently talk in great detail about the ego but I won't delve too deeply here. Just to give you one example, when I was a kid I started smoking because I thought it was cool (despite my denial at the time). In fact, I could probably write a book of examples from my life alone on things my ego lead me to do that weren't in my best interest.

Now that I have become more aware, I have noticed that I have a tendency to always be doing something and allow certain things in my environment to run my life. This may be out of fear or a way to distract myself from dealing with something I'm not ready to deal with, but that's a discussion for another time. The bottom line here is that years of unconscious living has caused me lose sight of the fact that I have the ability to choose what I do and how I respond to my external circumstances, regardless of what my ego has to say about it.

In fact, the power of choice was expressed quite nicely in a recent article I ran across in the WNC Woman I picked up. I decided to type it up so I could share it with those of you who didn't have the opportunity to read it. Take a look at it and feel free to share any thoughts or comments you have on the subject (either via blog or email).
Take care,

PS - Thanksgiving is coming up and it's a great time to practice gratitude for all that you have. Gratitude is a wonderful thing so make sure you take time out to think about all of the things you have to be grateful for and feel free to share. Personally, I'm grateful for every single thing I've ever experienced as well as every person I have had the pleasure to communicate with, because it has all had the cumulative effect of making me the person I am today.

Women and Power: The Power of Choice
(from WNC Woman - November 06, p 25)

Throughout our lives as women, we are constantly called upon to make choices. For some, choices are an unwelcome burden, causing life to feel challenging at every turn. For others who make the same choices time after time, the idea of choosing may seem nonexistent. People who say that they have no choice have fallen into a state of unconscious habitual living, unaware as to how their sense of helplessness is constantly impacting their lives. And then there are those women who hold a higher reality, believing that they wield great power through the choices they make in every moment of their lives.

It is through these moments of choosing that we define our future and set into action our destiny for either insignificance or greatness. At times we are called to make choices that challenge our very foundation; “Do we stay or do we go? Do we pick safety or do we take the risk? Do we do what is expected or do we follow that inner voice that so often knows?” Then there are times when we make what may appear to be smaller choices; the way we treat ourselves, our attitudes and responses, even our first thought when seeing our reflection in the morning.

Whether large or small, our choices mold our future by directing the flow of energy and resources in our lives. We can all look back and see how some of our choices have caused us to completely change direction. We can also see how the choices we are making in this moment will affect us in the days, months and years to come. Even when we thing we are not choosing, we are making a choice. A choice to do nothing has the potential to set in motion events that can impact us for the rest of our lives.

As we grow in self-awareness, we more deeply understand that the conditions and circumstances of our lives are our creation. It is up to us to make choices that support us in having the lives we want and deserve. We also realize that no one else can make those choices for us; our choices are only ours to make. So the choice is literally up to each one of us. Do we hide our heads in the sand and delude ourselves by saying, “This really doesn't matter?” Or do we consciously focus on what we want, clearly choosing that which serves our highest and best and supports the future we so desire?

By consciously and wisely using the power of choice, we stand in our now moment aware of who we are, with head held high, clear in what we are doing and where we are going, knowing that through the choices we make today, a bright future is guaranteed.

By Barbara Waterehouse (Co-Minister of the Center for Creative Living -

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Anniversary Thoughts

Today is my two year anniversary. It was two years ago today (11/7) that I had my first grand mal seizure and was diagnosed with epilepsy. What an earth shattering event it was. A lot has changed since then and I am grateful for it all. In fact, I have learned to be more grateful for everything I have and everything I have been through as a result of this life altering event. I also think that it is no coincidence that it happened right around election time. At that time I was getting sucked deeper and deeper into following the political wranglings of our country's leaders and losing sight of what's really important: leading a joyful life.

Now, I have grown to realize that no matter who controls what country, I can be a whole person and lead a fulfilling life. I can choose not to let external issues control my life and find inner peace if I look deep enough. I can even feel compassion toward those people who have lost hard fought elections, even if they happened to be less than honest while in office.

Ultimately, the only things that can affect us directly are those things that we allow to affect us. We have the power to decide how to respond to what happens in our daily lives and my personal recommendation would be to respond positively regardless of the situation. Be good to everyone even if they are not good to you and you can tap into something that the Dalai Lama refers to as the "seed of perfection in all of us."

It's a tall order I know, but one that I am trying to implement in my life as the result of a diagnosis that I could have allowed to be an ongoing tragic event. Instead I can say that developing epilepsy is one of the best things that's ever happened to me. So, take care of yourselves and be grateful for everything you have.
Take care,

Monday, October 30, 2006


Well, not long after my six month anniversary of being seizure free (meaning I could drive again for a few days) I had a partial seizure this evening. Oh well, I’m apparently not quite ready to be free of them. Anyway, I wanted to share some other information that I had recently come across that I found quite powerful.

The first is a quote someone passed along by an author named Rosenburg (not an exact quote), “Behind every criticism, judgement, or blame resides an unexpressed or unfulfilled need or want.” This reminds us to be present and aware of how you are feeling as often as possible. I am planning on reading “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn to help increase my awareness of the present moment. On a similar note, while trying to incubate a dream on being granted the power of presence, I had some simple advice come to me: Think before you say something and don’t let an unkind word out of your mouth.

Some ideas have come to me, while I’m on the subject, regarding mindfulness and not getting hung up in the future or past events. Everything you’ve done to this point was absolutely necessary to your survival. Look back for guidance but don’t have regrets about it. Everything in the future will turn out just as it’s supposed to, so don’t waste energy with needless worry.

Finally, I have been exposed to the concept of Ho’oponopono (an old form of Hawaiian healing that translates into “to make right” or “to rectify an error”) from several places now and recently missed a local workshop on the subject. However, the a recent article I read in the October issue of Natural Awakenings magazine sums up the concept quite well.

Taking responsibility for all that happens and taking action when trouble spots arise are at the fundamental core of the practice (which brings us back to awareness). I would recommend reading this article if you can, but it is not currently on their website. So, in the meantime I will try to hit the highlights of what’s covered. The article makes comparisons between how we function and how computers function.

“In Ho’opononopono, a physical symptom (pain or disease) or an emotional symptom (judgement or upset) appears to an individual–causing the person to stop and pay attention; this serves as the clue that a cleansing process is needed... When the person agrees to do the cleansing, he or she makes it possible to clear the way for whatever bigger processing is needed to take the next step...”

“How does the Ho’oponopono cleansing process work then? Well, for one thing, each individual is only allowed to work on their own system/computer/internal memory. Whenever a clue shows up on the “screen” of a person’s mind, the “owner” walks it through a 3 step process of repentance (“I’m sorry”), forgiveness (“please forgive me”) and transmutation (“I love you”), which thereby effectively transmutes the stored memory (bad file) back into blank, reusable disk space and opens the same space for positive function...”

“The first two steps of repentance and forgiveness are directed at both the person experiencing the pain and the one who triggered it (and is very likely being blamed for it). ‘I’m sorry...that I accused you, that I have been subservient to this stored replaying memory and keeping myself back/down, that I have taken it out on you and on myself as I now realize we are both innocent victims of bad files...’ So ‘please forgive me for operating from this subconscious/unconscious place and interfering with my own progress as well as making your life uncomfortable/unhappy.’ The third step, also for the benefit of all parties with similar stored memories, adds the missing ingredient/energy/cleansing to all ow the transmutation to be complete: ‘I love you...for you are the same as I am...both subject to the patterns/memories of our pasts from which we have heretofore not known how to free ourselves and now have the choice/knowledge/process to change that and move into the place of oneness and dissolve our differences, remembering and embracing our lack of separateness.’”

I had to read parts of the article a few times to get it, but I feel a bit better about dealing with my life as a result (and not sweating the little things) so I wanted to share it with you as well. Keep me posted on your experiences as well.
Take care,

PS - If you want more info on Ho’oponopono or the magazine I mentioned, see the links below.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Yin and Yang

There is something I have been wanting to share with you. I rediscovered a poster I made almost 10 years ago when I was working on my second master's degree. I was in a counseling type class where we had to bring in a collage that represented us and present it to the class.

I decided to cut out words that I printed off on a computer and taped them to a poster that I had drawn a Yin Yang symbol on (see picture). I didn't have much knowledge of the Yin Yang and just knew that it represented a balance between feminine (yin) and masculine (yang) traits.

The words I chose were based on what I thought to be more masculine qualities I had at the time vs. what I perceived to be more feminine traits. If I had it to do over again, I may have rearranged things a bit or used some different words here and there, but the gist is that I felt out of balance, having very little on my feminine side.

Yang Yin
Truth Kindness
open Minded Nurture
Analyze Feel
Global Equality
Logical Compassion
Imagine Goodwill
Consistence Help
Reason Humble
Reflect Touch
Create Human
Generalize Empathy
Learn Acceptance
Think Tranquility
Introspection Peace
Speculate Care
Vision Gentle
Rationalize Support
Cynicism Harmony
Justice Cultivate
Wisdom Respect
Skeptical Love
Educate Natural

Many years later and some life altering experiences later, I now I feel more connected with my feminine side and even aspiring to tap into more of those traits listed. In fact, based on what I've read so far, if we could all open up to the yin traits I listed and extrapolate them to apply to everyone and everything unconditionally, then we could find true happiness in everything we do and see. Just some added food for thought.

I now have this poster in my bathroom and will post a photo of it to the blog (not sure how clear it will be). Feel free to share any feedback or pass it on. You might even consider a similar project for yourself. Take care and be grateful for what you have.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Suggested Readings

Since my last post I've added a new book to the group of books I'm currently reading "A new earth: awakening to your life's purpose" by Eckhart Tolle (author of "The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment" which I have not read). It delves into what you find when you start paying attention to your thoughts and how they affect your life. I highly recommend this book as well as the others I have mentioned previously (and look forward to reading others recommended to me by friends). I will probably be talking about it more in the future.

I also wanted to mention that the recent issue of What Is Enlightenment magazine (a great magazine by the way) has a two part interview with Brian Swimme (a mathematical cosmologist). Part one is entitled "Awakening to the Universe Story: Comprehensive Compassion" (see link below). Not long after I made the personal compassion between gravity and love, I found out that this idea was not new (not that I thought it was). Swimme says, "gravitational attraction is an early form of compassion or care." He talks a great deal of the importance compassion has played in the evolution of the world. I felt quite encouraged by what I read in his interview as he has a lot of great ideas about the evolutionary track we are on (both past and future) so check it out if you're interested.

That's all for now. I hope all is well with you and yours. Keep me posted on your lives as well. I enjoy getting feedback from others, whether they are through the blog or sent directly to me. Enjoy the changing seasons and make the best of everyday.
Take care,

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Few Tips on Life

For those of you who are interested in some basic tips on living the life you want to live, I have come up with a basic list from my own experience (and research) that might benefit you.

- Pay attention to your thoughts as often as you can. The mind is always working on something and we are oblivious most of the time. However, what it's doing affects everything we do or say, so start keeping tabs on the thoughts going on in it. This is also referred to as practicing mindfulness and does take practice.

- Break your routine. This includes what you would ordinarily say in response to something as well as your daily activities. This also translates into "think before you speak or act."

- See what thoughts occur as a result of changing your routine. If you are practicing mindfulness and choose to do or say something different (or nothing at all) from what you would ordinarily do or say, interesting thoughts or feelings may arise. Pay attention to those and ponder them.

- Stop to smell the roses. When you are feeling trapped in your routine or stressed out about something, take a moment to stop and clear your mind of the habitual thoughts for a moment. Take a deep breath and look around at the scenery and find something to appreciate. Practicing gratitude is an important thing to do and can make you feel better about things, but it too takes practice.

Some people say that you don't own your thoughts, you just listen to them. They tend to be based on years of training and are not always the types of thoughts that have your own best interest at heart. So, no matter what your interested in doing with your life, being mindful will be a key to making it happen. With practice, you can begin noticing when negative thoughts start to enter your head and intervene before they take you somewhere you don't want to be. Over time, you can maximize the number of positive things that happen in your life and minimize the negative things.

Though I could elaborate on each of these things in great detail, I wanted to just give you some basic tools to use if you so choose. Mindfulness is where it all begins. Hope all is well with you and yours.
Take care,

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Power of Compassion

I wanted to share a story out of The Lost Art of Compassion by Lorne Ladner that you might find inspiring. It is an actual case in point on using compassion to better your world, and it goes something like this:

>>A student of Budhism is at a dinner party with a goup of intelligent and wealthy individuals. They had chatted a bit about Budhism, but then conversation had turned to more daily life type things. One of the guys (John) told this story about how one night he heard a thud outside. He ran to the window to see that his neighbor had just backed into his BMW (parked on the street) and drove away and parked in his garage. John went down and saw that the damage was pretty extensive so he went over to the neighbor's house and began ringing the bell. No answer. He tried knocking for a while and eventually gave up.

His insurance company sued the neighbor and eventually won a $5,000 settlement for the damages. After he got the car repaired, he found one day that it had been deeply scratched all the way down one side. John suspected his neighbor, but didn't witness it so he had it fixed himself. After he got it painted, the same thing happened again. He felt sure his neighbor was to blame so he went over to confront him about it. The guy denied it and threatened to sue him for slander for accusing him of such. He gave up and had it fixed again.

At this point John was constantly peeking out the window in hopes of catching his neighbor in the act and it was driving him crazy. He asked the guests at dinner what they would do. Suggestions ranged from hidden cameras to sensitive alarms (he had to park in the street). The Buddhist student wondered what his teacher would suggest in that situation and instantly knew. He suggested that John should take a gift to his neighbor and apologize for the trouble he has caused him. The people at dinner thought that was crazy and pointed out that the neighbor was a low life.

However, John decided to do just that. He knew his neighbor was a golfer, so he went and bought very expensive golf balls (the type people would not ordinarily buy for themselves). He went to his neighbor's house who was wary to see him. He gave him the gift and apologized for accusing him of scratching his car and wanted to give him a token of apology.

A little while later, the neighbor showed up at John's door. It looked as if he had been crying. He thanked John profusely for the gift and said that no one had ever been so nice to him. The neighbor told him if he ever needed anything, just to let him know. From that point on, he was the best neighbor one could ask for.>>

Just a little food for thought that might benefit you in your lives. It could have saved me problems a few years ago when I was having problems with my neighbors. Maybe it can do the same for you in some way.
Take care,

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wake Up Calls

Thanks in part to my friend Jason's near fatal fall (he is healing well now by the way - thanks for the vibes), I have come to realize more fully something about myself that I think may be of use to others. Given that I don't believe in accidents and that everything we encounter has some significance, I think that major events in our lives are that much more significant. We tend to get painful and sometimes nearly fatal messages in life, that are what some refer to as wake up calls (in my case it was a grand mal seizure). I think these major events in our lives are designed to tell us something about the direction our life is going, more specifically that we may be pursuing the wrong path. It seems like they have to be life altering events sometimes to adequately get our attention since we are resilient creatures that bounce back from minor occurrences.

A lot of us have been lucky enough to survive life's wake up calls and emerge on a totally different and more beneficial path. The key seems to be to look at these events from a different perspective and pay close attention to what was going on when the event took place. There are clues everywhere guiding us in the direction we need to be going, but if we don't pay attention to the little things, it may take something more significant to get our attention focused where it needs to be. I'm very grateful for everything I've been through since it all has helped shape who I am today. Maybe you should be too.
Take care,

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

World Peace Starts at Home

I just wanted to share some more information with you that you might like. As many of you know I have been doing a fair amount of research lately on life, consciousness, and things that might be considered more spiritual or metaphysical in nature (I've read that epilepsy does that to some people :) . What I have learned in the last year or so has just fascinated me enough to want to share it with others.

Since I come from an academic background, I have been approaching it all with some hesitation and skepticism, but have been pleasantly surprised at the consistency and coherence I am finding along the way (among scientific discoveries and a variety of spiritual philosophies). There obviously has not been such a major breakthrough that all of the skeptics have to agree, but I think there is always a way to find fault even with truth if you want to badly enough.

The conclusion I've come to so far is that it really doesn't matter if you believe what any of the major religions have said for hundreds of years. What does seem to be clear is that being a good person and taking responsibility for your actions leads to good things. Learning to be compassionate is a fundamental part of it all, no matter what your faith or scientific background, and is said to lead to happiness in your life if it's actively pursued. It also seems to be highly contagious which could have far reaching implications.

The problem is that it's not easy to be kind and compassionate to everyone we know, especially if they are not kind to us. This is where certain ideas come into play to help us out. For example, the quotes below summarize a great deal without going into much detail, but can also serve as potential building blocks to structuring a happier more peaceful existence. There's a lot more information out there that supports these ideas, as well as specific tools for fostering happiness (not all of which are reliant on the common theme illustrated below).

"Internal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It's very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family."
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"All mystics, sages, and saints have come to the conclusion that we are all one. The implications of this are profound and far reaching. Now we find that science (quantum physics) also is claiming the same thing - that we are all (at the quantum level) simply energy." - Christopher Westra

"Everything is an aspect of this infinite intelligence, every person, every animal, every tree, every star and every planet, and every micro-organism, however small, is ultimately an equal aspect of the very same energy. There is no separatedness except as an illusion created by the ego and five physical senses; we and the Universe without exception are one." - Adrian Cooper

Fostering Compassion

Recently I was invited to participate in an experiment that involved focusing on one thing and applying it all aspects of life. That one thing was compassion. Soon after two books entered my life through two different friends ("The Art of Happiness" by the Dalai Lama and "The Lost Art of Compassion" by Lorne Ladner - both excellent books by the way). As it turns out, compassion is crucial to our happiness as human beings and I have become much more fulfilled as a result of my new focus.

I have now decided on a more effective way to allow others to share in my journey as I strive for unconditional compassion and would like to invite you to join me on the path and share your thoughts as we go.