The willow and the oak tree

The willow and the oak tree……

I love the anology of the willow bending in the wind,whether it be to a a mighty storm or a gentle breeze….the willow simply bends as low as it will be according to the wind’s gusts and stay down as long as it has to!

And till the winds ease off its fury…it will spring up again and dance and be joyful and grateful for being adaptable to adversities and know that ‘this too shall pass’ .…

For the willow to me represents the strength of humility and the forebearance of resilience……..it accepts its fate of the unknown and uncertain arising of the natural phenomena of the wind element which it cannot control or have power over…

So with its own flexibility and softness it does not resist and try to fight back or struggle against but instead it sees its courage to bend and flow and rise up again and again …so too in our human life,we will face uncertainties of life situations and if we practice humility(not humiliation)and kindness and benevolence,we can be prepared,we open our hearts to resiliency and courage to cope and deal with each present given moment whatever life throws at us…good or bad,sad or happy,praise or blame,gain or loss………

On the other hand the mighty oak tree lives with the arrogance and ignorance of thinking it being undeafeatable, unrelenting and powerful and able to control any circumstances…it is not flexible,it is not prepared for the fiercest rage of the most furious windstorm….so it breaks into two under the blow of the mighty wind and is unable to get up, enjoy and be grateful to rise up again and dance even to the slightest breeze!

Advertisements

Cleaning our inner house!

 

Jesus says….”why look at the speck in your brother’s eye,when there is a log in your own eye!”

Look not at another to see into their faults and flaws and point the finger of blame but instead,look within ourselves when someone criticises, taunts us, hurt us and our feelings and speak out harshly directly at us.Its so easy to get riled up in a negative reaction towards the other,its so easy to get angry and in a split second….all hell can break loose,as the saying goes!We can either create a bad scene and fight back,fight back within ourselves and accumulate bitterness/resentment within the being,allowing further anger and hatred to brew….then manifest all kinds of ‘illness’ physically,emotionally,mentally and spiritually….

Or we can choose the noble and wise way which is the hardest/toughest way but indeed,the most efficacious and potent way to diffuse suffering and attain peace and healing ……….to practice pausing and to look honestly towards our own self….to check and see if our own house needs some cleaning to do.Yet our initial reaction is not wanting to be made a fool and the strong-willed ego(pride and arrogance) is blocking our way towards the wisdom to choose humility,understanding forebearance in order to find healing resolutions and utilising the power of forgiveness and compassion(kinder positive actions)…..

What good will it do,if we do not try to go within ourselves and understand who we truly are,of what we carry inside ourselves….we too react the same way as the others when we resist, defend,fight back and if we can be honest with ourselves,we too hold grudges,animosity,bitterness/anger,retaliate and speak out criticisingly and are also capable of hurling subtle abuses that we might not be aware of. Even when we allow ourselves to be humiliated(made used of),we do no good for others as well as ourselves.

Yes, when we can practice being aware,stopping and looking into ourselves to check our inner states instead of protecting the ego(pride and arrogance and selfishness),our hearts will keep breaking over and over as the ego is being beaten,the diminishing pride and arrogance is slowly giving way to humility(not humiliation),tremendous inner pain is felt,there is nothing to fear,the heart is resilient,it will withstand and make a final break to enter into the purification process and healing,the inner self cannot hold on to too much debris and ‘ugliness’.…..as Sufi poet and mystic Rumi says..”keep breaking the heart,until it opens”………When the heart breaks,a higher spiritual consciousness is born and we learn to take responsibilities and make amends and changes to benefit ourselves and others positively!

The True Self is pure and brilliant….the heart must break to allow light in and be drained of the impurities of un-necessary sufferings!When we hold on to more pain of resentment,anger and bitterness, retaliation and inner/outer aggression,jealousies and greed and maliciousness,we harden the heart thus making it harder to break!We want a soft,fertile and tender heart so the seeds of love that has already been planted can bloom beautifully………….

As humans on this human journey,we always find ways to justify our negative actions,words,feelings,intentions eg.being defensive(using cynicism,chiding,taunting,provoking,abusive language),denying our mistakes and protesting against the ‘other’ when it comes to protecting ourselves.Who or what are we truly protecting?It is most common to look outwardly at the other when something goes awry but if we truly want healing and peace, we look within to find the answers,the true understanding and knowing of ourselves in order to know that the other also suffers the same spiritual malady as every single one of us……..only when we can be sincere and courageous enough to face the truth….that truth will set us free from the chains of illusion, delusion, falsehoods and un-necessary suffering……..as Jesus and all awakened/enlightened teachers from all spiritual traditions will attest …….look within and seek the truth!

I knew what is was like to be taunted, made fun of,provoked,put down,abused,looked down upon,betrayed, hurt,dissappointed and called so many different types of ugly names,yes, I admit when I was ignorant, and not yet spiritually awake(prior to the year 1998), I used to fight back and retaliate and hurt back as much as I could,then I realised I was hurting myself the most driving me into an abyss of miserable suffering.Is it all worthwhile to keep unhappiness and suffering buried within our being?
Sometimes,in those desperate state of unhappiness,I would look at myself and feel unworthy and useless and ask myself if I had deserved to be hurt and why. Why did I have to hurt and hit out so much,I truly did not want to hurt others neither do I want to be unhappy and miserable and I would strive as much as I could to better myself.

At that time, I had no one to teach me how to look within myself or to find true love, peace and contentment within………I thought I was a good practicing Catholic,doing what I believed was righteous as taught by the church.I had to realise that readily believing in any religious teachings is only a small portion of the whole picture of truth…I had to see deeper into the truth of empirical experiences,applying and relating to spiritual teachings to my daily life by subjecting and being open to be hurt over and over,to be vulnerable to all kinds people and various circumstances without retaliation and escaping(running away in worldly pursuits and addictions).In other words I had to encounter the various faces of demons and angels and acknowledge their lessons they had to impart,good or bad and remained with them until they left without any clinging to good situations and rejecting bad ones….all was,is accepted, embraced and given thanks,forgiven and let go…………
I had to learn to sweep my inner house(being) and keep it clean thru rigorous, devoted and disciplined practises of meditation and other spiritual exercises,teachings,and the purification journey to go within myself to learn the truth……………….I am,who I am,no different,a human being like everyone else…….I open the door to everything and everyone who knocks on it with Awareness and Presence!

Moving to the unknown

Moving to the Unknown

January 1991……..my 6 weeks vacation in British Columbia,Canada.I had just gone thru for the 2nd time around……a heartbreaking divorce.I knew it was not something drastic that would make my life crumble and wither away but instead a painful situation that I had to go thru in order to better myself…

So at the constant invitations and beckoning from my sister Angela and her then husband Iain(who both have become Canadian citizens and live in British Columbia at that time)…….I took the courage to take some time off work(mostly unpaid leave)from nursing at the emergency department in a Singapore hospital and fly to this far away land for a long holiday where I thought I could try to regain my strength and inner vitality after struggling thru the broken-ness and betrayal of somebody I thought I had invested my life and so called love in…………….I was going thru mental and emotional torments/anguish.…as what could be called the roller-coaster effect….ups and downs,highs and lows.Despite my active social and ‘fun’living life at the time to drown the pains….there was an inner fire as I will always remember being felt within me…….I would find myself enjoying the comforting quietness of an empty church,sitting in silence and allowing myself to mentally speak of finding relief for all the pains of my life and asking for guidance and strength ………..

I have come to the crossroads of my life,a time for deep reflection and adjusting to life’s directions.I was filled with fear but knew there was fearlessness existing inside of me….something I knew I had to exercise in order to overcome this ‘bad’time.

 

While on this holiday in British Columbia,I went with my sister and Iain to the world famous ski resort of Whistler/Blackcomb mountain where they have a time share cabin………..on the way up there,I heard this popular song playing…”From a distance”by Bette Midler……my heart was beginning to open to its words,I was being moved,being touched,being called.A picture of me standing on top of Blackcomb……..I felt on top of the world surrounded by these glorious,majestic mountains…my mind was singing with the Bette Midler’s song,playing over and over,especially so the words….”from a distance,God is watching me”…”there is hope,there is harmony,there is peace.”

‘YES’….I said to myself…..I said yes to the calling to come and live in BC,Canada and felt a surge of relieve swell in me at that moment,I  knew I would make all efforts to take a big step for transition to move in this direction.More than a year later………in May 1992……I was in BC,a chance for new environment to begin my life…unknown challenges,openings and opportunities …..ahead to face!

 

Prior to my moving to this beautiful new land,Canada……I was plagued by fear,fear of the unknown,fear of my own insecurities,fear of leaving all those who are close and dear to me, my family, my friends,fear of leaving familiar surroundings,life and living,fear of adapting to a new climate and way of life….fear of not being to enjoy my favourite Asian foods….fear,fear,fear of almost everything…..and of course the fear of failure……………….I had to make a decision….do I drop the whole idea and plan to move or take up the challenge to move and start anew.It was heavy on my mind and heart!I was crying out for help to make a decision.

 

One very early in the morning before dawn,while still dark……I took a walk to the beach close to where I lived……I sat on the sand while the sun was coming up…..the sea was so still and everything seemed so quiet,I was in reflective contemplation of my decision to move…….I felt so loved,so blessed and with a stick I picked up I wrote so boldly and hugely on the sand……the word…”GOD”and beamed with joy and walked back home.That very night,I had a significant dream pertaining to my decision………..in that dream,I remember……..I had to make a decision,there were 2 doors and I was to open the right one,if I opened the wrong door,I would be blown into bits…….so in my dream,I felt so scared too and chose to open the door on the right with feelings of trepidations,felt even while in my dream……as I opened the door….it felt good and relieving and I went thru……I got up and immediately I knew I had to move to Canada without a doubt….and here I am in Canada still today 25 years later…after so much excitements,adventures and life changing challenges….the door opens and we walk in and experience each realm ……there is no failure or success……its all about the experiences,lessons to learn and teach and grow from and to be of help!

 

We all have stories to share,we all face challenges,we can choose to allow challenges to disable us trapped in our fears or we can choose to transcend all sufferings and be of help to others who might be quietly or openly seeking for affirmations and encouragements on each our life journey…..

 

Fear of the unknown is a genuine fear….when we dare to face it….we overcome fear itself,we experience courage and find it within ourselves,no one can give it to us………………………..

 

The Queen’s bed

The queen’s bed

…….there is a story of a servant girl in ancient India who cleaned the queen’s room…one day she wanted to feel what it was like to lie on the queen’s bed which looked very comfortable and grand……….so she climbed onto the bed and fell asleep.The queen came into the room to find the girl asleep on her royal bed………she was furious!”how dare this servant girl sleep on my bed!”.The queen took the girl’s broom and started beating her…….at first the maid cried and screamed in pain from the blows………after a few beatings,the girl started to laugh…the queen stopped beating and was puzzled….she asked the girl why was she laughing instead of crying…..the maid answered……..”I only slept in your bed for a few minutes and I got several blows,I laughed because I thought how many blows you must have suffered sleeping on this bed for years!”………….

The ‘blows/beatings’we all suffer in life are the same for everyone….the rich and poor,the ugly and beautiful,the clever and ignorant,the good and bad..etc.Whether we sleep on a fancy expensive mattress or a cheap simple mattress,whether we enjoy the extravagance of riches or the lack in poverty,no one escapes the inner states of suffering….worries, anxiety,envy,torments,fears,guilts,shames,desires and attachments.When we can have a true understanding of our inner self and strive to see the beauteous Within ourselves….there can be no envy or hatred or anger or judging or misunderstanding of another…when we know ourselves,we know the other.True happiness comes from the wisdom of knowing the Self!

 

Blockades on the path to peace of mind and heart!

Blockades on the path to peace of mind and heart

 

“peace comes from within,do not seek it without”

~~~~ Buddha ~~~

 

 

The uncontrolled mind/ego

 

Unless the mind becomes still and fully absorbed in the Present moment in meditation,it will remain in chaos, disturbed and in the agony of wandering,unattended and defiled.It cannot focus and will be unclear and languid.There will be no clarity of vivid understandings and deeper insights of the truth of the nature of life.The realizations of unconditional Love and wisdom will be difficult to pierce into,it will remain only on the outer periphery waiting continuously for stillness of mind to commence.

 

When the mind lacks attentiveness and stillness, it runs ‘wild’,there is no attention span,there is no discipline….it goes berserk, it gets out of control with thoughts,thoughts,thoughts….no presence! The mind in continuous mode of chatterings and wasteful dispersal of thoughts will be become tired and drained,the body soon becomes lethargic and lacks enthusiasm…..depression/joylessness(undetected) set in.So for some people they start building up body vitality by way of exercises and other physical prowess………this is only a temporary regiment to keep the mind in control,for others,the looking for temporary reliefs in external stimuli…………enjoyments, amusements,activities,work and staying busy,busy,busy(this is where addictive behaviours tend to develop)…………when we are constantly keeping ourselves occupied,we might find we tend to be easily agitated,frustrated,exhausted,and a feeling of ‘worn-out’and meaninglessness ensue…then the cycle repeats in a selfish adaptation of needing attention for ourselves incessantly…………………thus we cannot be there,present,we can become unhappy doing anything for ourselves and others!

 

Have we taken any notice that while we can be in the company of someone or at a party enjoying ourselves,the mind is wandering, thoughts run to thinking about work tomorow,what to wear to work,what to bring for lunch to work,etc.etc.Then while we are work, the mind seems to be replaying pictures/sensations of the previous night rendezvous with our partner or the unfinished angst of an ‘ugly quarell we had with someone.Even while we might appear to be praying, in church/temple/mosque,or at home, do we find our minds running loosely,thinking of what to cook, to eat,the children’s needs,my hair is in need of a haircut etc.etc…………………..the influence of the world of multitasking,being efficient and more productive,puts more stressors on our already chaotic mind state……..

 

And if we bother to become further aware of the mind and its erratic ways, we find it will always swing back and forth between past activities(hurts,regrets, anger,disappointments,happy times,etc.etc.)to future endeavours(in need of another home,bigger car,latest techno gadget,etc.etc.)

……..the mind does not seem to stay present where we are,who we are with or whatever situation we are in,although,we may seem that we are doing so……………….The mind tends to get stucked in stories of past guilts and fears and shames and regrets and illusory happiness and then gets caught in anxiety and worries of future desires, fantasies/dreams and undertakings.

 

The mind can be the agitator as well as the platform for peace……….which will we allow it to be?Notice how the mind can be triggered to agitation,eg.when we see a zit/pimple on our face….what is our reaction?……we might hate the way we feel about ourselves at that time and might also throw a tantrum with something so trivial as seeing a pimple on our face…….how more ‘dangerous’ the mind becomes when we don’t get what we want in a more demanding or serious situation of life?

 

So to add fuel and more chaos to the already distracted mind,the ego-centered entity comes into play to annoy our lives further……the ego is that small,lower self( that unawakened/unaware consciousness within) with a limited,conditioned mind-set based on fear.It is that part of us that is stubborn,constantly putting up a barrier,defensive and retaliative.It might act boisterously to cover up its fear mode or act ‘demurely’to show goodness(the pretender).It is that part of us that is the attention seeker,a part that is needy,wanting to be right and recognised,to be made important…. in truth it is that insecure part of us that wants to be in control.It is that selfish persona that is all about the ‘I’,’me’,and ‘mine’………..we do things not for a higher selfless purpose but out of conditions and false motivations to feed our selfish needs and behaviours……….we tend to identify with what we think(the chatterings of the mind).For example,look at how we react when someone turns us down to go have fun,go for a drink or travel,etc.etc. see how quick we get upset,how we judge without any clue of understanding/respect for another and think that person ‘useless’ and unfriendly leading to an unnecessary falling-out of a relationship.

 

There is a saying…..’starve the ego and feed the soul!’……..in other words,nourish the being with goodness and loving, kind intentions, deeds and speech.See how it feels when we do something benevolent without the need of approval or needing anything back!Allow kind actions to soften and open the heart………………..

 

A Zen story

 

A student went to visit his zen master for spiritual teachings.While there,the student kept questioning and asking the master for answers,the master quietly served the student with tea and kept pouring the tea in the student’s cup until it overflowed………the student yelled for the master to stop pouring as it was overflowing.The master replied…..”how can I teach you unless you first empty your cup”…………………….(in other words to be humble and willing to make the effort to be taught)

 

If we don’t admit mistakes and in need of help,how will we learn to find healing and learn the truth and how can the heart be open to love unconditionally?

 

In order for the mind to be stilled we have to acknowledge and be aware of our disturbed mind and how it is creating unhappiness and unease in our lives(we might be in denial and think that we are absolutely happy in our lives).We can learn mindfulness practice of watching our thoughts,actions,speech and feelings.The breath is another tool to help keep the mind in harmony…………………….to be in the Now………..