the Dhammapada verse 103
Though one should conquer a thousand times a thousand men in battle, he who conquers his own self, is the greatest of all conquerors.
…..and now, back by popular demand, the BEAT BUGS
Laughter – have you shared a laugh today? Here’s a guffaw for you and yours.
You and I have within us the ability to make this day part of a successful journey or a meaningless struggle leaving us weary and eager to simply bring the day to an end. We have that power when we first arise in the morning. Don’t grab the phone to check messages, don’t turn on the TV to catch up on news, don’t open the newspaper to front page headlines – just don’t. Say no to all that noise and listen to your own voice for a few minutes. What do I want this day to be like? How will I make this a day that will be memorable? What can I do for the next hour or two hours that will set this day apart from all the others?
We have been designed to live our lives with unimaginable success and contentment. It all begins before throwing back the blankets and swinging our legs out over the bed. Just be still for a moment and open the day with a gratitude list. Listen to your breath, feel your heartbeat, wiggle your toes, then hear the voice inside which says, “I love you, I really do love you. You are worthy and you are perfect just as you are in this moment.”
Confirm that inner voice and plan a perfect day. It will be one in which everything that happens leads to another leg of your journey to success. Namaste. 🙏
“We are at war with ourselves. We have put our faith in the mythical god of progress and are seeing the consequences. Millions of ecological refugees wander the earth, seeking an environment capable of sustaining their lives. . . . Did God have this kind of progress in mind?”
-Louis Vitale, OFM, Love is what Matters
My dedication to a simple lifestyle was not a choice I made altruistically. No, it was forced medicine for a chronic financial malady. But, it opened my eyes to an alternative world where the Joneses do not matter, accumulation of stuff is not a priority, big boy toys are unimportant and money is a resource to be respected and used wisely.
Yes, by Western standards, I am the poorest man I know, but I am extraordinarily blessed with every one of my needs filled. It took severe financial reversals at age 60 to teach me life’s true priorities. It is not about the stuff we gather unto ourselves, nor the clothes we wear, nor the degree behind our names, nor the shiny new BMW we drive, nor the universities our kids attend, nor the upscale church we attend, nor the country club memberships.
Real blessings have no price tag nor can they be bought. You and I awakened this morning breathing air and pumping blood. Of all the people on earth we probably have the most reasonable chance of surviving for the next 24 hours without fear of being murdered or maimed. If we are hungry, someone nearby will feed us. If we are cold, someone will provide us a blanket and a breakfast. When we are lonely, a friendly ear is just minutes away. With raised arms to the heavens let us be grateful! Most of the world’s population does not have what you and I have at this very moment.
For meditation today, consider those who have lost all possessions and their homes to natural disasters. Floods, fires, hurricanes and tornadoes devastate without discrimination. Droughts are causing famines, changing weather patterns are creating wastelands out of productive lands. The vagaries of nature combined with the unbridled greed of Western society have set the stage for a deluge of ecological refugees.
Man, in his quest for material wealth, social status, and personal comfort, seems to have forgotten that all of us need this earth to survive, all of us need to share the resources. There are no shortages if we learn to compromise and share. We do not live in a world of scarcity; rather, we live in a world of plenty designed by nature to accommodate its people if they learn to share the bounty. No one blessed with material wealth and financial success is more privileged or more deserving than another of the world’s brothers/sisters struggling to survive as refugees, either ecological or political. We ARE our brothers’ keepers; we cannot allow political or social influence to refute ancient wisdom.
Friends, today is one of those days – I need John Lennon telling me what our world could be. Join me, I am not a dreamer.
“To leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you live – that is to have succeeded.” RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Do you compare to others? Car? House? Money? Designer clothes? Do you base your personal success on that comparison?
STOP! Just stop. Our Western culture has fed all of us a pack of lies regarding success. As a result you probably work more than you need in order to buy things you don’t really need. And whom are you impressing? The Joneses most likely don’t give a hoot about that shiny new car or your spouse’s wardrobe. In the end when one makes an accounting of one’s life, all of us, yes every single one, will go wherever we believe we are going without a stitch of designer jeans, no fancy ride, and not one of those gleaming diamonds purchased with hard work and sacrifice. Nada, zilch, nothing!
Then what will we take across into the next phase? Perhaps integrity, compassion, stewardship, honesty, conscience? How about selflessness? What good have we done for this creation? The preservation of natural habitats, the protection of wildlife, the concern for the homeless, the compassion for immigrants, the love for the arts, the kind word to a lonely man, the dedication to peace, the restrictions on personal consumption are all ways to view our lives as astonishing successes no matter how small or how grand.
Don’t fall for the world’s allure. It is fleeting and destructive. It will not satisfy your need to feel successful. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s a great day whether spent in an elegant mansion or a modest apartment, whether the ride to town is a limo or a bicycle, whether the jeans are Jordache or WalMart. Stuff does not matter. Repeat that a dozen times as you compose today’s gratitude list.
Here’s a quirky flashback from an era which many of us remember as care-free and exciting. Chubby Checker’s words, “Jack be limbo, Jack be quick. Jack go unda limbo stick…..how low can you go?” (1)
Those years were great times. Were we hopelessly naïve or simply enthusiastic about life? Today, in our maturity, the harshness of the world, the deception of politicians, the betrayal of friends, the cruelty of man to man has a way of mellowing idealistic youth. We somehow came to realize that the things happening around us are mostly beyond our control.
How low can you go? How low will you go before you take charge of your life and remind yourself, “I don’t need to find the bottom anymore. I don’t need to go there. I have a choice today about my life. This morning, right now, I will set my day’s course. I can wallow in my gloom or I can bathe in the rising sun. I can listen to the internal self-condemning dialog or I can enjoy the serenade of awakening birds. It’s my choice today. I don’t need to see how low I can go.”
You are a worthy child of this universal presence which flows through all of creation. So am I. We are functioning, breathing, blood-pumping organisms designed to be spectacular. Hold that thought for just a moment. You, just as you are, are perfect right now. Not tomorrow, not next year, not when you die – no, you are perfect today in this very moment. It may be difficult at first, but repeat it over and over and over until you truly believe it. This doesn’t mean we should rest on our laurels and not aspire to grow into better versions of who we are. Our goal is always to evolve and enlighten into the creatures which we have been designed to be. So, today, right now in this moment, stop stooping to see how low you can go.
Stretch those arms high, open your hands to receive the blessings which have been intended for you. Look into the cosmos and find your home, your joy and peace. That eternal inheritance is there waiting for you to claim it. Right here, right now, grab what has been yours all along. It’s a great day.
(1) LIMBO ROCK
Today’s words are especially for the senior crowd shared by one who is duly qualified to pontificate. Following are five DON’Ts that will create harmony and bliss in our final season of life.
DON’T – believe any of the hullabaloo about the ‘golden years’ because the only golden element of these years is increased incontinence and dribble.
DON’T – believe that your social security check will increase your sense of security. There is no security in the senior years. We can have contentment and peace, but nothing will guarantee security.
DON’T – believe that the younger generation will venerate your wisdom and experience. That’s a lie from hell designed to cast scales over our eyes as the young-uns put us in nursing homes.
Okay, okay, okay. Perhaps a wee bit too much cynicism and sarcasm? But, here are words you can take to the bank.
DON’T – allow your life to reach its final earthly transition believing this existence has defeated you.
DON’T – forget in whose image you have been created, that the trials and tribulations were mere learning lessons, that what others point out as failures in you were actually steps to a higher realization of your innate perfection. That force of nature which knew and understood you before you were conceived has not deserted you. It would never allow you to be defeated. No! Never!
You have always been one with the One. Call it Higher Power, call it God, name it Allah or Krishna, or refer to it as the Supreme Being. You are now and always have been a product of divine intervention. Your life has not been a failure doomed to defeat. If you think that is true, then you are also calling the God of your life a miserable failure. Just don’t go there because
we are not products of our circumstances, we are products of our decisions
You, senior citizen, get up out of bed today and smile with a ‘thank you’ on your lips for another day to excel in living life. Tell yourself how wonderful you are and that you are very special in the eyes of the force which makes the earth rotate, the sun shine, and the stars twinkle. Accept that perhaps today you cannot do the things that your younger self did, but you can do amazing new and exciting things. The world is open to your ingenuity and experience and wisdom. Don’t sell yourself short on your amazing, innate ability to not only survive, but thrive.
Defeat is for wimps. Surviving the senior years with physical pains and financial insecurities is just another stepping stone to becoming the perfection intended for us. Look up, lift those hands to the sky and receive another day to be functional, grateful, and integral in your world. Old age is not for wimps and we were not created to go down in defeat.
Don’t check the phone for messages. Don’t turn on the noise from the multiple media sources. Don’t read the front page headlines. Don’t do any of those things until you have spent the beginning hours of this new day processing the beauty of life, the wonder of earth, the amazing complexity of mankind’s mind, the indescribable energy behind every function, every organism, and every creature of earth. Just don’t! Stop the monkey brain thoughts that clutter up this morning’s spectacular appearance over the horizon. Look at that sun creeping into the eastern sky. Be fascinated by its timely routine each and every day of this existence. Soak it in!
If that sun could talk, what would it say about mankind? What would it tell about the recent violence in New Zealand? Would it take sides, find blame? No, of course not. The sun cannot do that because it is merely the sun. Powerful and brilliant, yet unable to alter its course or its purpose. It shines upon and warms all of humanity regardless of race and creed. The sun has no choice but to do what it was put in the heavens to do.
You are more powerful than the sun, the stars, the oceans because you can choose what you will do today, where you will go, when you will eat, whom you will speak to. On this day, in this moment, you can choose thoughts that nourish your inner strength or thoughts that defeat your indwelling peace. You can align with rhetoric which speaks your kindness through truth or rhetoric which exposes your inner demons. You can choose actions which honor a Higher Presence or actions which debase the soul. You can do all this because you have the power of choice.
When you accept your one-way ticket into eternity, life will change. The love and compassion you accept for yourself will also be freely available to others through you. There will be no room for hatred and intolerance because a freed heart cannot harbor bigotry. The demons which drove the mass murderers in New Zealand, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Paris or London will be unable to exist in the presence of a heart filled with understanding and love. It is your choice today to be whom you want to be.
This power of choice is life’s golden ticket. Today, in this moment, whom you will be is one of your choices. Look at that reflection in the mirror, gaze into those beautiful eyes and tell yourself, “You are worthy. You are loved. You are a child of immense significance with infinite potential. I love you.”
Decide today to love yourself more than any other creature can possibly love you. You will not be disappointed or betrayed. Greet the morning sky with outstretched hands facing upward to receive the blessings of a new day. It will be a great day!
I am an avid reader. In my mind I see myself reading the great classics, the newest block-buster sci-fi, the works of great thinkers, etc. I stop by my local library and check out 4 or 5 selections anticipating spending an evening wrapped up in one author’s adventure or another’s philosophy. At home in my favorite recliner, I open the book, read the intro and within 15 minutes I am snoozing.
Yeah, in my mind I’m an avid reader. I suppose that I am doing a service for my local library by increasing their weekly circulation statistics, but, do I read much? No. However, I did find a book that aroused my interest more than most books do. Settling down to once again “practice” reading, I scanned the table of contents. “Oh, there’s a chapter that looks interesting, I’ll just peruse it before starting.”
The first paragraph of that one chapter, chapter 14, saved me several hours of reading chapters 1-13. It told me that, although an inherent alternative sexual orientation was not in itself a sin, practicing it was. “Ah,” said I to myself, “perhaps I am reading it incorrectly.”
No, I did not misinterpret the words. With closed book in hand, I then contemplated what was being proposed. A man is not to be judged for his inherent disposition as long as he abandons himself to lifetime denial, gives up truthful relationships, lies to potential partners, and lives in a world which certain religious philosophers have deemed as moral.
Hmmmm, sure sounds like ‘love the sinner, but hate the sin.’ I vividly remember those words from the times of morality preaching leveled on me. Shake my hand, hug me, welcome me, preach at me and then judge me behind my back with others in your church. Sorry, that hypocrisy doesn’t float my life anymore. Anybody wants to be a part of my life, well, I come as a package deal.
Some may ask why I’m so jazzed up over this. A judge in a nearby city overruled the city’s ban on conversion therapy. If you don’t know what conversion therapy is, you need to jump on Google and educate yourselves. The judge sided with Christian leaders who stated the ban on conversion therapy, which in some cases employs electro shock therapy on minors who professed to be gay, was an attack on their religious rights to raise their children within the moral laws of the church.
Aw, I’m over all that crap that forged my life for too many years. My buddy Gabby would say, “If y’all ain’t got nobody else to saddle up with judgement and damnation, then go for it. I’ve got broad shoulders and I ain’t afraid of your burning hell fires. EEEEEEHAW.”
But I pray for the kids. You should too. And if you agree with the judge that Tampa’s city-wide ban on conversion therapy is illegal because it infringes on your freedom of religious expression and it’s OK to use humiliation of kids as a form of treatment, and if you believe that shock therapy is a legitimate deterrent for your children, then send up a prayer for yourselves too. You’re the ones who need to worry about hell fires, not me.