Prayer along the Path of Life

I said a prayer………………..

May your mind be calm and peaceful

May you always be safe and guided to safety in your human travels

May your path be protected

May you be healed from all affictions

May you find joy and contentment in daily life.

 

Praying is such a simple charity we can offer to ourselves and others……

 

When we are about to sit or undertake an exam…..we might say a prayer asking to pass the test,but if we have not made any effort to prepare and study for that endeavour,how are we to pass the test?….perhaps we might!

There is a saying….’be careful what you pray for,it might come true!”…..why is this said…..can we undertake the commitment and responsibilities of change and making way for the new and keeping our word and integrity to living a renewed life after receiving the favours we prayed for? Eg……in desperation,we pray,ask and promise to change our unhealthy ways if our loved one recovered from an illness……..and if they did recover,will we keep the promise to change?

 

Likewise the Buddha said…..in order to cross a river,we have to find the wood to build a raft first………he also said, once we have crossed the river……we discard the raft,otherwise we would be carrying unnecessary burden dragging the raft along the way!So too is prayer like a raft to help us cross each river, lake and sea on our human journey.

 

To say a prayer is not reserved for people with any traditional religious background, neither do we need to go to a church,temple or mosque to pray.We do not have to be religious or spiritually inclined to pray.The truth is that we all as sentient beings at some point or on a daily basis in our lives do pray,and do pray in earnest.

 

We usually pray when we need something,some boons,when we go thru a difficult time,when we see loved ones struggling with challenges,when we are plagued by obsessions of a disturbed mind,we do pray also for others we do not know who we witness going thru natural disasters of sorts thru the media or by word of mouth.We do hear of people asking for prayers and we do seem to respond.We might even see on the media of the President of a country or a high profile statesman asking for a few minutes of silent prayer for victims of violence and terrorism and natural disasters.So yes,prayer is very much the thing people do in times of crisis.

But do we only pray in times of challenges and difficulties and depressing moments?

 

When we hear of someone’s plight or distress(it could be someone we may not like or even a stranger),we notice,an immediate reaction in our thoughts,in our being and a twinge in our hearts……we find ourselves silently responding with a thoughtful wish for the afflicted person/people to be well.That spontaneous twinge of concern might be a feeling of sadness or a fear,a fear of our own perhaps,that that distress could also be ours in reality?

 

But why do we only seem to go in prayer in times of need and not in happy/joyous moments?Because it seems that prayer is likened to a lighted candle to only help brighten a dark room so as to help us see where we are trudging along…so while we are in elevated mood….prayer doesn’t seem to be necessary or be a given priority.

 

Even when things in life seem to be smooth sailing, we need the constant practise of prayer to keep us focused and aware without being side-tracked and distracted so that we don’t be caught off guard when things take an unpleasant turn around and we loose our balance and fall.

 

Does prayer really work,does it help create miracles/changes…….?

When we pray,it is better to not ask for any favours,or to expect that our prayers be answered but rather pray for the strength and courage to face any given circumstances and to be grateful for whatever outcome…….to accept it to be the greatest good for all to learn,grow and evolve.Yes, when we pray the only miracle we would expect to witness is to see ourselves making positive and healthy changes within and without.

 

When we have offered a prayer intention, we have sent it out to the Universe(God,Higher Power,Allah,Jehovah,etc.)and we learn patience, trust and let it be………..

 

To some people to use the word prayer/ praying might be something shameful or unknown for them to do,for others they feel it doesnt work and totally disbelief in its efficacy.We might often hear people saying these phrases……”I prayed so hard but yet my loved one passed away of…..”…….”I prayed so hard but still lost my job”……..”I prayed and prayed for my child to get out of drugs but he died of an overdose”…..and we will hear more of people who have attested to praying but have not had their prayers answered!And therefore we pray to find strength to accept all circumstances that we don’t and cannot have the power to be in control of……..

 

On the other hand,there are occassions where people have testified that their prayers were answered and it seems like a miracle had happened! But do we continue in sincere devotion to praying or remember to give thanks and strive to make our lives a miracle itself to be a blessing to self and others,or do we very quickly forget the gift and enthusiasm of that miracle and turn cold again and go back to our reckless unwholesome ways?

 

What is prayer/praying about?Prayer is a mental and heartfelt comunication we make either saying out loud or in quietutde.It is a willingness to surrender,to learn to trust,to have faith and be open to whatever may be! It is usually a wish,a good and kindly intention asking for help,comfort and to open the path for hope for ourselves or for others.Prayer is also thought of as a pleading or an intercession from an external Divine source…so that it helps us focus and become reverent and respectful with sublime intentions………

 

How do we pray?…………….yes,we often pray in a quiet manner privately by ourselves forming our own words mentally/heartfully,some may pray in unison with a prayer group(various religious traditons) in order to be of support to each other and find peaceful connections,some pray by means of a text from a religious prayer book or leaflets,some chant mantras and others by using prayer beads and rosaries.Whatever and however we pray,our prayers could be so simple,altruistic and easy.

 

A Prayer when said simply,short and humbly,such as ‘help me’,’give me strength and courage to go through this painful time’,’thank you’,’help me to face the truth’,guide me’,’help so and so’,’may I be safe,may so and so be safe’,’may I find peace’etc….when a prayer is said and repeated like a mantra and easily…it can become a positive affirmation to help oneself gain presence,courage,relief,calmness,clarity and insight to face all difficult events.It helps transform the negative energies into positive ones.

Therefore it is said that a child’s prayer is powerful….due to its purity, simple and unadulterated supplication!

 

In my own example of praying very simply……… When I travelled to the Holyland,Middle-east beginning of the year 1998……I carried my heavily burdened suffering life together with my tormented,wandering/restless mind with me……….in the course of my visiting all those sacred/holy sites,all that could come up in my mind and heart were the 2 words…”help me!”………….I knew I was asking and pleading sincerely.That very end of the same year, I underwent an intense spiritual awakening and transformation!

 

When we sincerely pray for someone else, we are truly praying and blessing ourselves….for the good intentions extended has a boomerang effect to give us strength and courage to witness our benevolence,goodness and the sacredness of all beings.In that praying intention,we have the chance to cultivate compassion and tenderness for ourselves and in return back to others.

 

All form of prayer is truly an invocation,invitation and remembrance to seek the shelter and protection from pain, suffering and also to give thanks…..an opportunity to help remind ourselves to open the heart to seek sincere help and be humble to see oneself in the throes of needing assistance and guidance for direction along the path of our lives.

 

Just as the body needs food and liquids for energy to function in daily life,the inner being(the soul) also need spiritual food for comfort,nurturing,cultivating compassion and loving kindness.With simply saying a prayer we can find some form of relief and alleviation for a broken,painful,grieving and hurting soul.

In his memoir,Eric Clapton: The Autobiography, the musician writes about a rock-bottom moment he had in rehab in 1987:

“I was in complete despair,” wrote Clapton. “In the privacy of my room, I begged for help. I had no notion who I thought I was talking to, I just knew that I had come to the end of my tether . . .  and, getting down on my knees, I surrendered. Within a few days I realized that . . . I had found a place to turn to, a place I’d always known was there but never really wanted, or needed, to believe in. From that day until this, I have never failed to pray in the morning, on my knees, asking for help, and at night, to express gratitude for my life and, most of all, for my sobriety”

There have been scientific research done to prove the efficacy of prayer usually done in a medical setting and there have been positive outcome showing that praying does help with the healing process of sick people rather than those left without any prayerful concern.

Yes, in truth we all have the power to pray,irrespective of having any one particular religious belief,agnostic or atheist,the illiterate or the rich and famous,we all have at one point or other have asked quietly within ourselves for help and guidance, we know our vulnerabilities,weaknesses, uncertainties and limitations.We need the power of prayer to keep our hearts and minds open for help,hope, relief and comfort,not only for ourselves but to also connect us to the hearts and minds of others on this journey through Life.

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Sharing the human journey

I love you for who you are……..

because who you are is also who I Am…..

When you suffer…..I suffer too,because I recognise my own suffering and weaknesses so I feel compassion and relate to your discomforts and un-ease………

 

When you are happy….I rejoice,because the environment Is joyful and light-hearted and I too have experienced and know what’s its like to feel happiness.

When we behave kindly,joyfully and respectfully,the atmosphere around is blessed,people feel at ease and unburdened…..adversely,people can become jealous and malicious,because they are suffering and don’t like to see or believe in happiness,thus they unconsciously and deliberately sabotage others’happiness and goodness…because they are suffering,they want others to suffer too and the cycle goes on…..hurting begets more hurting……unhappiness creates more unhappiness…………….hatred and anger agitate more hatred and anger……..the wheel cannot seem to stop!

 

When the world suffers in wars,nuclear threats,natural catastrophes,materialism and greed,unjust control of power,bullying/terrorism,abuse and cruelty of sorts to humans,animals and nature,famine/poverty and together with each our own personal unrest at home,with friendships,society,at work,educational places,religious organisations etc………..we are all affected to some degree.

 

We might not realise it but when we look deeply within ourselves we react disturbingly to suffering around.We react through our thoughts/intentions……….we may resent someone(it could be someone we say we care for) and unreasonably get mad,blame,taunt and wish ill-will upon them simply at the way they look,they dress,they laugh,they walk,even when they are sick etc.etc………….

 

We may react adversely to suffering through our words,speech and voice……sometimes we might find ourselves being agitated for no apparent reason,we might pick on someone close and say something harsh,hurtful,sarcastic,offensive,rough,obnoxious and unreasonable without understanding and thinking through.We not only hurt another but resist to soften up to sincere apologies and making amends even after realising the wrongdoing.

 

Another way we react to suffering is through our action or inaction……..we can become bullies,needy and needing to control without even becoming aware of what we are doing to others or even to ourselves.We allow anger and aggression to overcome us,anger and aggression doesnt necessarily have to be physically violent but a subtle violence of witholding care and concern for another and self by way of not wanting to nourish the body,mind and spirit,not wanting to seek help eventhough,life is being more and more miserable and unhappy and depressive.We run away into a world of delusion by way of addictions….anything done obssesively without any care for the well-being of self and others……drugs,alcohol, sexual pleasures,entertainment,fun,work,food,etc.etc….we retreat into a selfish realm of self hatred,hardness and meanness…………

 

We react to suffering through our feelings and emotions…….feeling drained and helpless,life is meaningless,sadness,worst still,we overcome ourselves with self hatred and anger at the suffering we see and hear and than unconsciously we punish ourselves by putting ourselves down,not feeling good about ourselves,treating ourselves and others badly sometimes rudely and inconsiderately for all the guilts and shame and fears we face…and thus we need an outlet……we need to feel good superficially and temporarily……..we need to pretend and generate lies that we are happy,we want others to think that we are busy enjoying life,we are afraid to ask even if we don’t have any idea about the truth,we don’t want to look foolish,we need to be seen as clever.We hide our vulnerabilities and true essence of goodness/kindness and generosity to avoid being taken advantage of.On the other hand,our physical demeanor might appear hardened and tough and rigid/cold,aggressive to appear of being in control/or having control of our lives and to give a feeling that no-one can ‘play the fool’with us.

 

 

We have a heart,we can feel,we can care…..we have a physical heart like everyone which can be afflicted with various medical ailments…..whether with a healthy or unhealthy heart condition,it will stop some day and we will inevitably face death!

 

We have a mind,we can think and reason,we are able to recognise and be cognizant..……. there are millions who are afflicted with mental illnesses…we all might relate to one in particular …..the wandering/restless mind!

 

We have a body,we have sensations,we have some form of physical strength and vitality……………there might be a time when the body gives way to bad health,cancers,diseases of bones and skin,etc…..one in particular,we all share is aging!Some may want to slow the aging process of way of all kinds of chemicals,drugs, surgical implants and operations,but can they?

 

We each have a soul,a sacred space for goodness and a Higher purpose…………..innately within each human is the potential for awakening to the truth of ourselves and enlightenment.Every sentient being has the inherent capacity to unfold the Highest Good within themselves for the benefit of oneself and the whole of humanity…….

 

But we all think we are different from each other …..we may be different in our skin color,our culture,our climate,our gender,our status in family/society,our religious/educational beliefs,our personal,physical,mental and emotional outlook.

In truth….we suffer the same mental/emotional anguish and torments,fearfulness,worries/anxieties,resentments,bitterness,upheavels,depression and lethargy,anger/frustrations,jealousies,selfishness,/greed,need for control/attention, lust and covetousness,excitements and mood swings,unhappiness,addictive behaviours……..underneath all these afflictions….we as sentient beings are craving for love and happiness……..

 

 

What is the root of happiness….it is in the dissolution of ignorance and un-necessary suffering.

 

 

When we become dependent upon external factors for happiness and love,when we are expecting others and various excitements to fulfill our selfish needs and dissatisfactions,we will constantly be going through the wheel of samsara(suffering).But when we strive to see who we truly are within,we witness the truth of our existence and there find our divine essence of love,peace and happiness.

 

Strangely enough,we say we want happiness and love,but yet we do not allow ourselves the courage to change to be creators of love and happiness.We wallow in self doubts and put limitations on ourselves to go beyond our mundane everyday duties and activities.We tend to be judgemental and critical of our own capabilities to do something phenomenal such as opening our hearts to its full potential! And we go about our lives finding faults with everything and everyone else and with ourselves too.What have we got to be afraid of in seeing our own true nature….don’t we want to know who we truly are?What are we doing to make for ourselves and others a happy,peaceful and loving atmosphere?

 

All of us on this human journey are here to be of help and support for each other,to be teachers and students,to learn and to teach till we awaken to our true nature.In life and various living situations,we have been gifted with all kinds of people…….. strangers,people we love, people we don’t care for, people we avoid,people we are inevitably connected to,people who pass us by only once,people who make trouble for us,people, we have a tendency to resent and even hate,people who make us happy and comforting,these are our true teachers on this journey……….we have to face each one and learn from them…we too in return are teaching life lessons back to each one of them.We each are given a chance to be learning and teaching patience,forgiveness,to be generous,kind, humble,courageous,tolerant,trusting,accepting,faithful,compassionate,loving,understanding, respectful,simple and helpful until the heart opens its full capacity to Love without expecting any gains in return…in other words until it becomes unconditional!

 

In truth we cannot change anyone or any traumatic situation around the world,we have only our own self to change first.As the saying goes…..’we cannot change the course and direction of the wind but we can adjust the sails accordingly’,for if we try to go against the wind,the boat will surely capsize!

 

 

No good or positive actions in words, thoughts/intentions,emotions and deeds will be ever be wasted…..the seeds have been planted,we don’t go digging up to see if its taking root or wilting away……..everyone and everything will evolve accordingly to ‘karma’….as the Buddha and Jesus said,we reap what we sow. If we want happiness and peace and love,we have to be the happiness, peace and love!

 

We can begin to sow and cultivate good seeds by starting within ourselves,by taking responsibility to be aware of how we go about our lives and how we interact with others,we can nurture goodness by way of changes to ourselves to all that we do not deem caring and beneficial to ourselves and others…..we have to start with ourselves for no one will come and give us happiness,peace or love…..and even if they did try to,we sabotage its potency with the false perception of our human frailties,unworthiness and unwholesomeness…………we can always make a conscious effort for changes and growth to help ourselves and humanity!

 

We are sharing this journey with others,what is the use of complaining and making life on earth more difficult and harder and tedious and energy draining for all but rather instead use our human potential for positive transformation….we have the breath,the mind and heart to work with to restore harmony within ourselves and towards human life and living……………….the ultimate truth is that we will leave everything we have,we love and possess behind,why not make this human journey a beautiful loving commitment to live by while we walk on this earth……..we can start with our family, our friends,our society, at our workplace,places of fellowship,nature and while we are having fun and pleasantries….we can be aware to not hurt and cause more suffering to ourselves and others!

 

Unnecessary suffering is an option we can consciously choose to do away with,love, happiness and wisdom are inherent within each human being,we can and need to uncover ……enjoy and share them unceasingly………………..

 

Resurrection of the Self!

After the death of the ego-centered self,there comes an arising……

A new consciousness,an awakened state of heightened awareness.The state of waking up 1--sunrise-with-clouds-nattapon-wongweanto the absolute truth.

 

In this state there is the feeling of losing everything,being nothing,being no-one,yet it feels at the same time like having everything and being everything…..the Oneness and totality of existence is experienced.The body,mind and soul have integrated to become One…..there is no fragmentation of thinking and feeling,the mind has been quelled and the heart has regained its purified status and capability of loving without conditions and limitations….it has become Infinite,Eternal…..an end to reincarnation!

 

This is the meditation of Self awakening………..to be reborn….as Jesus says..”unless anyone be born again,he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven”.Here Jesus talks about being born in the Spirit…..in today’s version,its about transformation of the self,a new growth,a shift of consciousness ,a renewed life,death to the old habituated ways of life/living and deluded perceptions.Death to the old-self has occured!

In the dying process,it has emptied and purified itself of all afflictive states……its innate states of love and wisdom are restored!

 

Like a child being born into the light after being in darkness in its mother’s womb for all those months………..

 

Contemplate a child at play….the purity of heart at the way it runs and plays carefree and unburdened,the innocence of the child as it looks at everything in awe and wonder,it laughs and giggles when it sees a butterfly flitting by…it is not afraid to simply be,to trust,to know that it is being taken care of and guarded.It carries no worries or anxieties over what to eat or where to sleep……….

 

So too is the new Self,is child-like(trusting) and pure of heart(sincere) in all endeavours.Like a snake that has undergone the painful process of shedding its old worn out skin,it is triumphant to show the new one.

 

After its rebirth,in stillness the new Self will only live in the Present…it has died to the past and knows that the future is unpredictable,uncertain and unknown……..everything is impermanent……its status is in the constant Now!

 

The new Self does not partake in the influences and chaos of the world,it understands and feels compassion towards it…as Jesus said…..”be in this world but not of it”…………………

 

The tomb is empty…….do not look for the old self there…it has Risen(transcended)!

Forgiving Power

Humility is the key within us that can aid to unleash the courage and strength needed to sincerely bow to the power of forgiveness for ourselves and others……humility doesnt mean we stoop and succumb to the whims and fancies of others..to please,to be taken advantage of,to be bullied,to be needy,to be made foolish,that is humiliation!..…

 

Instead, humility is a tremendously effective powerhouse supply of positive and creative energies helping and guiding with an alive and awakened consciousness leading us to find our way inwards towards the Source of Love where we can access that power to forgive……when the Source is found…….the power can be unleashed and utilised…it is a tender and flexible and soft energy ready to offer mercy and compassion to ourselves and others………….…

 

We claim back our humanity, dignity and integrity through humility………we simply cannot find our way into the Source of Love and Truth with pride and arrogance and self righteousness,sloth,doubts, ill-will and fear……..there will be no direction and surrender to the building of trust and faith to lead the way!

 

Still very early on(sometime December 1998) in my journey of spiritual revelations, I used to spend occassional times with an elderly nun of the Grey sisters…one time ….I poured out some of my past transgressions to her……she asked me if I was willing to put down the heavy load that I was carrying…….without hesitation I said ‘YES’….she then asked if I would like to make a personal confession with her friend, a Monsignor at the chancery office of the Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver….I agreed.
I remembered it was December 23rd 1998……..I must have spent more than an hour in confession(it was my last Catholic confession) with Monsignor Smith,crying and terribly remorseful of my past actions…….Monsignor was very humane and understanding towards me…….he pointed to a framed picture on the wall depicting a Jesus throwing a life saving bouy to a drowning man in a perilous sea………..I remembered feeling freed and relief on looking at the picture……………………I walked out of his office and into the Vancouver December rain and felt washed and JOYFUL and the peace gave me the courage to say …..I want to make amends and never be that same person again!!

 

During that confessional time…. I was looking at how my ignorance, selfish desires and anger/hatred had caused suffering upon myself and others and not how others have caused me to suffer…..it is the same….it is a vicious cycle…we get hurt and hurt others in return,unconsciously and deliberately………when we can start with ourselves first in any given situation of difficulty and misunderstandings……..when we can examine our conscience and see where does all these differences arise from…………..…

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From our painful experiences of long standing pains and suffering,we can look deeply into ourselves…and from that looking,if we can try to find just one piece of our own self-inflicted misdeed,regret,flaw,bitterness,resentment and hatred then start from there to try to understand where it came from and why(usually from the past).For many people,it seems very difficult to forgive,especially to forgive ourselves first and to ask for forgiveness.
In our human weaknesses, we learned how to protect our past mistakes, we justify our misdeeds,we exonerate ourselves from responsiblities,we usually harden ourselves to blame the other or the situation and keep spinning stories in our minds to protect our rights and the fear of looking into our faults and vulnerabilities……..unconsciously,we are building a hard-packed ice wall around our hearts and block its power to forgive and find peace and joy and seeing the unconditional Love we are within!
We learned to keep repeating these patterns as though it is our human right to do so and thus forget to see our own faults and flaws and past mistakes and regrets etc……so the vicious cycle continues on and disturbs our inner being…making us feel unworthy,underserving of spiritual growth,feeling devoid of goodness and humane aliveness,we thus feel unable to forgive sincerely and compassionately.

 

Why are we afraid to forgive or ask for forgiveness?We have this tendency to think that forgiveness is a sign of weakness, that we loose ‘face'(our dignity and our rights)….that it will make the other/others feel good and right if we ask for their forgiveness,it will mean that it is our fault.And if we forgive,the other/others might make a mockery of us or reject and hurt back…so we repress and allow the stucked energies to fester within….and all these festering could surface as illnesses and continued hatred/anger which could/would lead to abuse and violence and jealousies and greed and neglect of self and others….like a broken record it spins out of control……..…

 

When we come to understand and realise where our inner conflicts arise from…we can feel a true sadness,remorse and repentance for ourselves……we can allow ourselves to become awashed with that wellspring of mercy and learn to forgive ourselves first and in return others…..it doesnt matter if forgiveness reaches or is accepted by other/others…………its the heart’s true and sincere intentions and effort to purify,make amends and heal that will bring peace and joy to oneself and others.Forgiveness empowers and restores harmony within us.Forgiveness also brings gratitude for the teachings of suffering and the graces to open ourselves to positive changes and healthy lifestyles….beneficial to self and others………………

 

Forgiveness is a pain-reliever….we feel joy and relief,when the pain is lifted,we feel peaceful to function again with renewed vitality and energy,just as when we have body pain and find  great relief on taking an analgesic.We can feel gratitude and joy flowing in………………….

 

We all have made mistakes,so too can others do the same but do we allow ourselves to wallow in the guilt,shame and fears which creates more and more tension within ourselves,we loose sleep over the anxieties and this goes on to be a cause of disruption to being able to live a peaceful life for ourselves and others.Why punish ourselves when we can open the door of our being and let the afflictive emotions drain away by way of forgiveness.We can then create a clean slate to change and start again…………………When we forgive,we can reclaim our sense of well-being and self-worth…to feel whole again!

 

Simple meditation to forgive oneself and others

 

Sit calmly with the back straight up, know we only have this moment….become aware of why we sit…. to allow the free flow of forgiveness to open,bring the focus on the breath,become aware of our breathing through the nostril,feel the air in,note the expansion of the abdomen,hold that breath for a few seconds…”breathing in I am calm”……..slowly breathe out,notice the air releasing,the abdomen flattening……”breathing out,I am letting go of tension”.It is imperative to remain focused on the breathing,very soon the thoughts will come to play……simply be with the breath,when we feel agitation …..bring the focus back on the breath……….train the mind to come back each time it wanders through the breath.We don’t have to practice sitting for a long period of time,start with 3minutes and increase the time when we see our tolerance and adaptation to sitting.No need to be hard on oneself.

 

Emotions might flare up,watch, note it and see what it is trying to say,do,indicate.Note the emotions eg, sadness, unhappiness,anger,resentments,guilts,shame,fears,lust,jealousies,regrets,etc….do not identify with the thoughts or emotions and be caught in its trappings………they are energies within the body needing to surface.Always simply breathe and be with the breath……..when practiced fervently, it will help still the mind.

 

Remenber the breath is the sustainer of life….

 

The body too might become agitated with pain and irritation…discomforts arise, twitching, itchiness,move a little but don’t get caught in its distraction,be mindful only of the breath.Most importantly don’t be hard on oneself.One can start to learn patience and forbearance without being critical or judging anything…….every little ounce of effort we put in and make,we are coming closer to the truth,there is no need for any hard and fast rule to follow………….simply be present and sincere to all that we do…..nobody can heal us or is going to do the healing for us except ourselves……..when we find healing….we can then help others find their way too!

 

When we are ready we can then bring our attention to our inner states.We can start by recognising and acknowledging our pains….we have to be sincere and honest about it,We can see our sufferings,our heartaches,our feelings of self unworthiness,confusions,despair and heaviness.See where within us that carries the most weight in pain, the heart area,the abdominal area,the upper body/facial/head,pelvic area,the lower body/feet area and see how it feels like,can we put a description of it.What disturbances are felt in those areas.We might identify with lots of hatred,self loathing and resentment and anger and regrets for making mistakes and foolishness,for causing hurts to others and ourselves or seeing others hurting us.We might witness a lot of inner conflicts…..we might see our goodness,yet be confused with all the anger and aggressions going on within.Remember always that our true innate states are love,peace,and joy,everything else are afflictive negative energies collected over time which can be eradicated.

 

Don’t identify with anything that surfaces, be with it,it cannot do any harm…..it wants only healing,forgiveness, letting go and to be loved.If we feel an inkling to cry and express remorse,do so,allow the self to feel the movement of remorse to surface.In my own experience, I have cried buckets over doing this meditation in seeing how I have hurt myself and others.Doing this meditation is not about staying down feeling sorry(pity) for ourselves or others but to let go and make amends if possible.If making amends is not possible,do it symbolically….writing a letter to oneself then crushing or burning it,doing small charitable deeds,offerings of prayer or kind intentions for healing for others/oneself,etc…

 

While doing this,we can recite these words,or any words of expression to evoke repentance and to soften the heart…

May I find the strength to forgive myself

May I forgive myself for having hurt others

May I find courage to forgive others who have hurt me

 

In sincere forgiveness,we find ourselves opening up to the softness in our hearts and we experience the self changing for the better,we also see ourselves being aware and trying to not create the same mistakes.We start recognising how others are suffering the same and we develop an understanding and empathy for them,although we don’t condone the hurtful actions of others,we can generate compassion towards them.We will soon learn to love ourselves for being sincere,open to being humble,noble and courageous to participate in the act of contrition.Even if we fall again into temptation,we try not to beat ourselves up but earnestly try again to avoid that which offends….over and over…till it goes away eventually!

 

Stories of forgiveness

 

  • I had read a true story of a mother in India whose very young son was murdered by his friend.At first the mother was suffocated by the pain of intense grief,anger and resentment for the boy who murdered her son but after a while,she could no longer bear the suffering of her pain,she asked to visit the boy in prison….while there,she told the boy….”I am going to kill you with love!”….from that time onwards she started to live what she had said to the boy…..she started to nourish within her forgiveness and compassion toward this boy and visited him regularly.The boy at first resented her and felt unworthy but later adapted to her kindly demeanour and started to develop a respectful relationship with her.Much later,after being released from prison,he went to live with her,the mother adopted and accepted this man as her own son…….

 

  • A story of saint Maria Goretti,the year was in late 1890’s,Italy………..she was eleven years old,her family and another family shared an old house together,while one was living upstairs,the other lived downstairs.Both families, helped the owner of the house mind the fields in exchange for accomodation.One day, while Maria’s mother was tending to the fields,Maria was looking after her very young siblings.Her neighbour Alessandro, a young man of 19years of age,tried to seduce her to sexual acts but Maria refused and told him that it was sinful and that she would not do what he wanted.In a rage, he stabbed her 14 times,she managed to survive all the way to the hospital.While at the hospital bed,she said that she forgives Alessandro before dying.Alessandro was caught and imprisoned but remained hardened and unremorseful about his actions,not until years later when he had a dream of Maria Goretti giving him 14 stalks of flowers each for the wounds he had inflicted upon her,that he felt total repentance.He asked for a visit from Maria’s mother and begged forgiveness from her.She forgave him!They lived to witness Maria’s canonization years later.Upon release from prison,Alessandro spent his last days in a monastery doing menial works for the friars and monks.Pictured is Alessandro in his old age venerating the image of  St.Maria Goretti.
  • Praying

 

  • The greatest story ever told……….the story of Jesus,an enlightened being,simple and a great teacher of Love, humility and peace who wandered the land healing and showing compassion, encouraging peace and brotherly/sisterly love.While he was innocent propagating peace and love,there were religious people who were jealous and angered by the way he was teaching and portraying himself to be.For his innocence he was condemned to die a cruel and shameful death,death on the cross which was meant for criminals and slaves and those against Roman authority.While dying on the cross…….he still managed to breathe his last significant teaching…..forgiveness to his captors, to his friend(Judas) who hastened his capture,to the religious group of people who mocked his credibility,to Pontius Pilate who approved his condemnation to death,to his executioners who nailed him to the cross,and to the jeering crowd who heard him preaching love and peace,Jesus uttered these compassionate words …..”Father forgive them for they do not know what they do”……………………..
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On being humble

The last day before his death,Jesus spent that evening as we are told in the gospels with his closest and dearest friend,his so called disciples(twelve of them,probably more which could have included his mother Mary as she is known and Mary Magdalene).

 

That night,his heart must have been heavy,troubled and filled with a mixture of tenderness, sadness and fear for he knew the tragedy that would befall him very soon…….his sense of awareness was on high acuity as to all the happenings and the plottings against him.The deepest sorrow and heartache Jesus must have felt that night was for that one friend who was about to hand him over to his captors.

It was not a night of light enjoyment with his companions but instead it was a night of celebration of a great lesson to be learned and experienced……….Humility,the  annihilation of the ego!

 

While sitting down to having supper with his followers,he filled a washbasin with water and took a towel and began to wash the feet of the disciples……………all of them must have been in shock and perhaps feeling disgust,they couldn’t believe that this man whom they called Master could perform such a lowly gesture.Yes they taunted him saying to not only wash their feet but their bodies as well.They did not understand the truth behind this noble sacrificial action.They did not know,what Jesus quietly knew within himself…………………his action was not one of showing -off,it did not come from ego-centeredness but an open-hearted,spontaneous act moved by courage.He recognised his intense suffering and had to soften his pain by way of humility.

 

To Jesus it was an act of absolute surrender(especially in the knowing of his final hours left before his upcoming imminent demise)…….the letting go…to be completely free from any residual pride and arrogance and attachments…………dying to himself before his physical death.He had to humble and empty himself in order to accept and not resist or reject the agony that awaits him….it was a way of feeling a lightness of being,a knowing of the truth of his innocence,yet a willingness to face unjust accusations and consequences.He showed no distinction between master and disciple but displayed an understanding of the human frailties and potential for spiritual growth and the relatedness to each other on the human level.

 

His humanly sublime action came from a place of inherent love(compassion),wisdom and peace….he had to exemplify this form of humility in order to justify all that he had taught during his short ministry…..to love,to forgive,to be peacemakers,to find joy,to be kind,to be wise as a serpent yet gentle as doves,to be meek and pure of heart(sincere and child-like) and be free from transgressions………………

 

Could we be one of them whose feet Jesus washed?What would our reaction have been?How would we react in truth even if someone we knew,humbled themselves sincerely with these simple words….”I am sorry”and was willing to make amends?Will we be humble enough to allow the chance and be sincerely reconciled to make peace and grow in a better direction with it or will we be petty and immature to be disgruntled and vexed by the the other’s honesty to make changes?Could we truly be courageous to express contrition and vulnerabilities to another and change for the benefit of ourselves and others even without the other’s acceptance or approval?or will that seem as having low esteem and no dignity?

 

When we hear of the word humility………what and how do we feel about it?Do we tend to associate the word humility with humiliation and see it as a sign of weakness or see it as allowing ourselves to be abused and belittled and being taken advantage of?Do we allow fear to keep our hearts frozen and be cut off from forbearance,fortitude,courage, pliability and to be humble?

 

To be humble doesnt mean we bend backwards to please another/others for another’s selfish needs,whims and unwholesome intentions.

 

True humility is a soft,gentle,flexible yet positively strong,powerful,wise and transformative energy that allows one to be resilient and subdued in difficult and challenging circumstances.When we can take courage to be humble in the truest sense at times of trials and difficulties,we allow ourselves to be open to learn,to take responsibilities with mindfulness(we avoid blaming),we loosen the rigidity in our hearts and minds and are able to make it easier to access the wisdom of the heart in seeking potential answers and to make positive transformational changes to find comforts that are beneficial to all parties/situations and a way out of further suffering.When we exercise true humility,there can be no humiliation involved,there will be only beneficial lessons to be learned,taught and experienced.

 

Are we able to be strong to be humble in order to allow ourselves to transcend suffering and make life better for ourselves and others especially so to start with the ones we care for and say we love?True humility allows for helping each other grow and learn from our mistakes, transgressions and sufferings.

 

From Buddhist texts,it is related that the Buddha practiced humility all of his life.He was an Indian prince,married and had a son,lived in a palace,surrounded by glitz and glitter and dancing girls and had everything made easy for him,but he was not allowed outside the palace walls.Yet deep down he was not satisfied,he felt like a prisoner,he wanted to know what was happening beyond the palace walls.One night he did venture outside and witnessed very disturbing truths………from that night he was determined to find out the truth of these sufferings,old age, sickness and death.

 

So he left his palace,wife and son………….wandered in the forests mingling with ascetics,spiritual seekers and simple minded people.This was a great act of humility by the Buddha….to give up all comforts of life in a palace and the pain of leaving his wife and son to go seek for the truth of life.He too had to die to ego…to selfish desires and attachments.How intensely hard it must have been for him to give up all the comforts that he had and to live simply and frugally in the forest.

 

After he attained enlightenment,he never went back to his palace to take up position and former title,although he did go back to visit his father,wife and son.He went on wandering the country instead teaching the truths of suffering and how to find a way to end it.

 

In his wanderings,he was humble enough to befriend murderers,thieves and prostitutes and charismatically making them his disciples.While many were following earnestly to hear the Buddha’s teaching,he formed the sangha(community).It is told that the Buddha practiced serene acts of humility in the sangha by nursing his followers when they were sick and even sweeping the floors to keep it clean…….again we see no distinction between a master and his disciples and in this case,a prince and his subjects!

 

Are we willing to learn true humility from these two great Masters……..Jesus who washed the feet of his disciples and Buddha, who left the comforts of his rich palace and royal title to live among the common people.Both taught the same thing,humility,love,peace,freedom from suffering and wisdom.

 

 

 

….……….Humility is a sublime virtue!

….……….it can bend before the mighty wind,

….……….yet arise with courage.

….……….It can bow before a powerful sovereign,

….……….yet remain his equal.

….……….It can be intimidated by the unjust,

….……….yet not be humiliated.

….……….It can be gentle before injury,

….……….yet have the strength to forgive.

….……….Humility brings the antidote to pride and arrogance

….……….and allows the openness to learn and accept.

……..csh…pray

Picking up the cross

Picking-up-Your-Cross

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

 

 

In those days,Jesus must have seen many people carrying a wooden cross to be crucified by the Romans.It was a form of capital punishment/execution meant for slaves,criminals and those who created dissension against the Romans.Crucifixion was the most terrible and shameful type of punishment the Romans inflicted upon those they deemed wronged….it caused excruciating physical suffering coupled with mental and emotional anguish.

 

I can imagine Jesus felt deep compassion as he witnessed those suffering the torments of crucifixion,he must have seen them carrying their crosses to be crucified.  Deep down within himself, he had an inkling that he would himself go through the pangs of this type of physical death.As much as he was teaching and propagating love, peace,forgiveness and healing……..he knew that there were those who were jealous, angry, resentful,ignorant,against,taunted and hated him for all the goodness that he taught.Yet he remained steadfast,unafraid and continued to teach what was true and poignant within himself.He was also aware of an impending plot to get rid of him….by people who called themselves religious,people who taught religiosity and scriptures.

 

His heart must have been filled with the deep ache of sadness and sorrow,witnessing so much wasted and unnecessary suffering,violence,terrorism,hatred,rage and anger brewing around him at the time.We in the here and now of the 21st century are suffering the same predicament,the suffering never ends…….globally and individually!

 

Jesus knew pain and suffering and the root causes of suffering….therefore his teachings,mostly in parables were only about finding love,peace and forgiveness leading to freedom within ourselves.He had to go out into the desert(for forty days) to be lost,to fast himself of worldly needs,to lose his ego, to purify himself,to face his demons,to be tested in temptions and to triumph over it,he must have encountered so many dark nights of the soul! and finally to find himself,whole and complete his true self,his Divine self and his Oneness with all of creation.

 

There was a time about 18 years ago,still early on in my spiritual quest for truth and to find an end to my unnecessary sufferings……….I took 10 days off work, locked myself in my simple small apartment with the bare necessities of living,I had no Tv/stereo/internet,I shut off the phone and had some food to give me strength but no cooking.I only had spiritual books as guides.Then I began my self meditative purification retreat……….five days into this retreat…….I could feel my face and body tremble( the purification process,cold turkey in lay man’s term), I felt like I was plunging into hell,I was facing all the fears and isolation,the dark nights of the soul loomed.I was aware I could not escape into doing what I wanted or liked to…..I had to face the fear! It could be easier to escape,I could let myself out,go for a drive or go to a movie or go to the music shop and buy cds or anything else!But all I had was this moment…no running away,I learned to be present to simply watch myself where I am with all that I am going through.By facing situations this way, I learned to not suppress or bury fear and afflictive emotions.

 

This dark night felt like I was walking on a tightrope, midway,the safety nets were taken away from below me,I had to make it across to the other end alone with no help and no comforts of worldly sort,I felt that even the Divine has left me,there was only darkness and to make it across, I learned courage and trust and faith and strength to be my guide…………

 

Yes I was thrown into temptations…….the ugly call of luring me to give up all this so called ‘nonsense’of self punishment and go back doing what I used to do and be.It was a terrible struggle within me….fighting to go back to being who I was or push on to change and face the unknown………I had to continuously call upon Divine help for strength and guidance to go through this challenge…….I felt like all my living energy was being utilised for this purpose.

 

I knew I had made a conscious effort to not want to go back to the old self and unhealthy habitual patterns/living…..I had to die to myself………from then I knew the true meaning of‘death of ego.’I knew what it was like to be imprisoned by my own foolish sufferings….the sufferings I self inflicted upon myself….I learned during these ‘alone in the desert days’ was a time I faced the so called demons of suffering in order to get out of it and know where it all came from….the restless unattended mind! I saw all these while in silent meditation…………………..here I had to learn about renouncing worldly amusements,enjoyments,things,detaching and letting go……..its not about not being able to enjoy again,the people and things of this world but to be able to enjoy people and worldly things with a sense of balance(equanimity) in awareness, not getting caught up in being obssessive,not falling into addictive behaviours and most importantly not hurting oneself or others.

 

It was truly difficult for me as I did not have a spiritual teacher but the spiritual books I had chosen from the library helped to be of guide on this path.The following days of that self retreat got better as I understood more and more of my own sufferings and as I surrendered to forgiveness in myself and for others and opened up to the wisdom of my heart to see love,peace and joy all reside in there! It was a time of knowing,being in awareness and grace to be with my ownself to open and own up to all the past mistakes/regrets/lies/hurts/inner dark secrets and dissapointments of my own doing…..it was then I claimed responsibility for all actions and reactions done in the past………..and also to have courage and have compassionate understanding to face all forms of consequences in future endeavours………….

 

10 days felt like 100….but it was not all gloom and doom but wondrous too as I saw my own innate goodness and capacity to love and be loved,I learned how to love people and things without being attached to anything, for attachment is another source of suffering……when people hurt us, we feel emotional pain,when things breakdown or get lost we lose sleep over it,thus we suffer.I saw peace and joy emanating from me and how wonderful and beautiful forgiving power is…….

The transformation process is like how when a snake sheds its skin but first it has to suffer before it enjoys a new body! I learned from this self retreat that in order to end suffering one must undergo intense suffering and to learn to understand and embrace that suffering before letting it all go…………………….

 

On the 10th day, I hooked the phone back on and the first phone call came from my sister(she did not have any understanding of what I was going thru or had been going thru!),she invited me to go on a day trip to the Sunshine coast BC….it was such a heavenly treat,I felt like a child again,the joy that was filling up my heart was so blissful and fresh……………..as I opened the door to go out after 10 days locked in, peace and tears of joy flooded my being!

 

And so we come back to what Jesus said to his followers asking them to pick up their crosses,deny themselves and follow him……….the cross which represents pain and suffering that Jesus asks to pick up are our daily,moment to moment sufferings and difficulties,our losses,our dissapointments and hurts,our pains…physical, emotional turmoils and mental anguish….to face them all with courage and to take responsibilities for all our actions/mistakes, in other words, to not look at external factors to point fingers at or inflict blame upon,but to look within ourselves and to do something to end suffering.He speaks of self denial……to put an end to ego-centered neurosis and pursuits,selfish desires and needs,to die to old habits,addictions and unhealthy behaviours.

 

To follow him means to be willing to surrender to/accept our sufferings and not run away from it,like how he had to face all consequences leading to his death on the cross.To practice self discipline and austere observances of following in the path to love,peace, forgiveness, healing, joy and to share with others that this enlightened path is possible and atttainable.

 

Jesus did not say to follow or believe in him blindly but to take part in active action of experiencing the pain and suffering of picking up the cross with total understanding and experiencing the joy of healing from it with forgiveness and kindly charitable actions………

 

His teachings did not include ritualistic rules to practice,nor did he give any religious doctrines and dogmas to follow……….his teaching was one of looking inward to find that kingdom of heaven within oneself in love,forgiveness, peace and joy.

 

Jesus did not go into the desert to punish himself or run away from the world(during his time)……he chose the desert as it was the closest place where there would be no distraction,a place of solitude,away from the crowd,he could be alone.In Israel,there are lots and lots of desert/barren space/areas………just as in Tibet or India, ascetics would go to the mountains/caves/forests to find themselves and their peace.Jesus went to the desert to lose himself in meditation,reflection and contemplation,ascetic practices,praying,fasting,sacrifices in the harsh conditions of the dry/hot/cold desert….to look deep within himself,to purify himself and finally find/know himself.He took however long he needed to be there to complete this self purification/transformation process……he took forty days as told in the new testament gospels.

 

Being alone in the desert,Jesus taught about the significance of taking time to quiet ourselves,time to reflect,renew and make changes…to not be afraid of witnessing our inner selves.We can start this moment by doing however little where we are……we can strive to make time in the later part of the night when all are asleep or getting up early on in the morning or any ‘down/break’ time during the day to sit and reflect/breathe in and out/learn to meditate/pray/say mantras,visualise (all in the knowing to end unecessary sufferings and finding peace of mind)a few minutes, no need to be hard on ourselves….always flexible and easy to simply be.By starting out this way, we can learn to be aware and find some comfort to retreat to in difficult moments.Whatever we may be doing,we can practice the awareness of bringing gentleness and kindness towards ourselves and to others…..remembering to always be flexible with ourselves is a factor so we wont ‘break’when things don’t go as we expect or that we don’t expect too much of oursleves and others…………

 

In dying on the cross,Jesus exemplified his own acceptance of suffering….he showed no resistence or defensiveness nor did he portray any hint of aggressiveness and arrogance/toughness towards his captors….instead according to the gospels, he was humble,like a lamb to the slaughter(remembering, that he was innocent and yet condemned to die like a criminal)………he was in total surrender and submission to whatever his fate destined.

 

Jesus left all of humanity(not only Catholics and Christians) a beautiful legacy and teaching when he uttered his final words……”forgive them for they do not know what they do!”…………..compassion(love),forgiveness,kindness and joy was all that was left within his being when he finally took his last breath on the cross!

 

Are we willing to put the swords of anger, hatred, bitterness,selfishness,greed,maliciousness and control down and find that path to healing……………………….?