“Conquer anger by non-anger. Conquer evil by good. Conquer miserliness by liberality. Conquer a liar by truthfulness.”
The Buddha (Dhammapada, v. 233)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks to audiences all over the world, and because it is always relevant, he frequently reminds them that there are now over seven billion human beings on this planet. “Physically, emotionally and mentally our needs and wishes are all the same,” he says. “All human beings want a happy life.” He emphasizes that when we talk about a happy life and a peaceful world we cannot neglect the importance of inner peace.
When I was a little girl, probably six or seven years old, I was fascinated by magic. I would take leaves or blades of grass I’d picked in the garden to the pond in our yard, and by dipping them in the water I’d see their colors change from green to silver. I was sure there was a magical language available in them and that it ran through all of nature, if only I knew its language and could interpret it. My father must have noticed my interest in magic and one evening he brought a book home from New York City, the city where he worked. It was a “glumpnous present,” he said, (glumpnous is a word I believe he invented, used when giving a gift for no particular occasion.) I read the entire book, practiced the tricks and performed them for my family. Sometime later my father presented me with a magic wand he made from a wooden dowel that he had painted black with white tips. I couldn’t have been happier.
Mindfulness. Impermanence. Karma. Compassion. Whether or not these words are part of your every-day vocabulary, even if unspoken they are an active part of your life.
Several years ago I completed the certification program for Life Coaching at New York University, SCPS. I learned about the Model of Human Functioning; a model that demonstrates the sequence of events that occur within human experience. The sequence is this: 1st Thoughts, 2nd Feelings, 3rdActions, and 4th Results.
August arrived, and with something like celestial clockwork the crickets began their nightly ritual, and the morning breezes sent a flurry of yellow leaves floating like delicate ornaments to rest on the grass. Now it’s September, and I have a friend who threatens to arm herself with a glue gun and paste each leaf back onto its tree. She’s not one to be rushed into change; nor am I. However, sometimes life and nature have their own course to take. Well, maybe more than sometimes.
This post is about Borobudur, my grandmother, and something magical that manifests from the realm of imagination. The “something magical” is always available to us when we soften our grip and allow the dynamic force of life itself to support our journey.
The photographs you see are of Borobudur, a Buddhist temple in Java that I first read about in a letter my grandmother wrote to her sister in 1930, and is an important part of the story in How Patience Works. The photos are from one of her albums.
My grandmother wrote this about Borobudur:
Exploring new things later in life is not unheard of or even exceptional, but I will say that it is exhilarating, and I encourage anyone teetering on the edge between dreaming and doing to step into the doing.
As a young girl growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s I had no aspirations for a career, nor was I encouraged to develop any. This was a disadvantage in some ways and a gift in others. It wasn’t until I was in my forties, damning myself for not having prepared better for life, that I noticed my self-limitations were more restrictive than my lack of a formal career. Accepting responsibility may be a crucial step in initiating change, but out-maneuvering fear is one hell of a challenge. I’m not writing this as someone who has mastered the art of dispelling fear, but as someone who recognizes that I continue to be a work in progress with plenty of room for expansion.