Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stitch Off for Pakistani Flood Victims

Assalamu Alaikum Everyone!!!!!! 
Peace be upon you / peace and health!!!!!!

Get your needles moving!!!!
For all of those who wanted to
knit warmth and love around the world,
now is your chance!!!!
We are posing a challenge
to all those who know how to use a needle!

Click on "read more" learn how to donate knits
to children in Pakistan who have suffered from the flood.
The below post has been created by my sister Mary.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Going to the Places that Scare You

I started a new job yesterday and have a buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, and my friends to thank for it.  I left teaching philosophy behind to return to my roots, working directly with people who truly need support.  Its been a while since my stint working as a case manager for people without homes in Chicago.  I was younger then and had more verve, or, at least, nerve.  This time around, I was offered a job working as a case manager for people with a dual diagnosis of a developmental disability and a mental illness.  Despite my past work experience, I hesitated.  I wasn't sure if I was up to the task.  My friends, however, had confidence for me.  With that belief in my ability and Pema Chodron's advice in Going to the Places that Scare You audio book, I took the plunge.  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Buddhist Bravery, Camus' The Myth of Sisyphus, & Humor

For the past 5 years, my version of bravery has been putting on a stiff upper lip as I marched gently into a room of surly defiant teenagers hell bent on hating philosophy.  It was a war I often won by the middle of the semester, the peace flag murmurings of self-directed philosophical student reflection wafting in the collegiate air.  It takes a great deal of a certain kind of bravery to perform such a feat, knowing full well how critical and resentful students can be of their professors in these irreverent times. 

But, it seems, there is another sort of bravery, one that may require even more courage than this.  According to Shambhala, The Sacred Path by Chogyam Trungpa the "key to warriorship and the first principle of Shambhala vision is not being afraid of who you are."  Bravery is "not being afraid of yourself;" being "heroic and kind at the same time."  Now, the heroic and kind thing I had down with my students, but once you ask me to take this attitude toward myself, my knees get weak.  Well, they did until a couple days ago.  Now, everything has shifted and I genuinely get what it means to say that each one of us is at root basic goodness.  This doesn't mean that we all have the capacity to act the right way if we want to (although it doesn't preclude this either).  It means that at root life itself is good and we are blossoms of goodness in our appreciation of it. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American Haiku for Beginners

American haikus are full of surprises and this may be why I like them so much.  The trick to appreciating one of these haikus is taking time to read each line on its own.  Haikus will do nothing for you if you speed through them like any old romance novel.  Let an imagery-filled feeling be solicited by the first line of the poem, then read the next line.  Usually, the pow of the poem hits you in the last line.  Sometimes all three lines are so well balanced with imagery that you can delight in each line separately--then hold them together in a way that fashions an entirely new meaning.  If you participate in the creation of the meaning of the poem by giving your imagination time to fill in the meaning, the poem becomes something like a magical flourish.  The meaning morphs before your eyes with each passing line because you allow it to capture your imagination.  Try the below poems out for size!  I have modified the structures of the first couple to give you some practice on focusing on one line at a time.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Way of Grandma

Between the two of us, Marcus and I own three or four Tao de Chings.  What is so appealing about this slight but hefty booklet for Chinese leaders?  The paradoxical truths offered open up a type of wisdom usually understood only by those who have lived a long life.  The verses teach that the path to strength is a yielding one.  The path to dignity is through an investment in what presents itself to you.  My favorite passages do this with a few turns of phrase that beckon you to sit back and contemplate the paradoxical nature of one's own efficacy.  Below are some of my favorites.  If I were to rename this book, I would call it "The Way of Grandma."  

"Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water,
Yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong,
For they can neither control nor do away with it.

The soft overcomes the hard,
The yielding overcomes the strong;
Every person knows this,
But no one can practice it."

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Homemade Rosaries Photo Diary

There is a former Tibetan Buddhist monk who sits with anyone who will come to his gift shop, Little Moon, on Wednesday evenings.  Several people that I know have met him on separate occasions; it seems that some of my friends simply like to go in and have a chat with him every once in awhile!  He is always open for a conversation, deep or otherwise, even with perfect strangers.  As a thank you for the opportunity to sit with others so close to my home, I picked up several wooden prayer braclets from his shop one night.  On another occasion, I bought fair trade turqois beads from India at the Lark Street Festival.

Every month or so I would take the beads out and appreciate their natural beauty, knowing that the money was given to the craftswomen and men who made them.  I hold them in my hands, feeling the smooth substanital weight of the wood and the cool rough of the stone, and wonder what they would become.  Well, this week, I realized that they were to become a handmade rosary for my sister's birthday.  Here are the steps it takes to make a handmade rosary!

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Buddhist Nun Explains Buddhism

Let's think about Buddhist compassion for a minute, and, since we were on the subject of nuns earlier, let's do it through the thoughts of a Buddhist nun.  The question is: how can we best be compassionate?  I would love to hear your response to this question since compassion seems to be at the root of ethics and I think we can all learn from each other.  I do not think you have to be a Buddhist to have immense amounts of compassion, but Buddhists do, I think, turn it into a challenging art of life, which I deeply appreciate.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Buddhist Quote

"Everything inside and around us wants to reflect itself in us.  We don't have to go anywhere to obtain the truth.  We only need to be still and things will reveal themselves in the still water of our heart."  Tich Nat Hahn

Friday, January 8, 2010

Use Hankies!

O.K. so the word "hanky" conjures up visions of 1930's unemployed farm workers trolling the streets for free biscuits, but I have succeeded in putting all that behind me.  Once I learned that my tissue habit was contributing to the clearing of ancient Canadian forests, I had to put the ca-bash on dependency.  Kleenex has been renamed Kleercut in certain circles in the know.  Kleenex's argument: people want strong tissues and recycled fibers don't cut it.  Add this to the problem of sewer's overflowing into natural bodies of water when it rains because the systems are overtaxed and the problem of too much waste going into our landfills and this was a no-brainer. 

How did I get over the glamor of Kleenex?