Recent items from Daily Inspiration - Daily Quote

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monastery Housekeeping

Each of us is burdened by an unlimited number of expectations (demands) that we hold for the actions of others. We know that there is a right way to do things, and are often outraged when our expectations are not met. Usually, we are unaware that we merely have a strong opinion and point-of-view - we are sure that we know how everything is supposed to be. The following is one of the many times when my subconscious expectations have been shattered.

Monastery Housekeeping

Several years ago on a trip to Tibet, I visited a mountainside Buddhist monastery nestled in the spectacularly beautiful vista far beyond the bustle of urban Lhasa.

As the older vehicle that passed for a bus struggled up the mountain switchbacks, distant views of the monastery repeatedly flashed into my view and then immediately clicked off as we twisted and turned. Finally, we neared our goal, and slowly approached.

I was excited and joyful to be visiting this highly revered sanctuary, as my already deep appreciation of Buddhist monks had been heightened by my experience in a Lhasa monastery, where I was nearly brought to tears by the overwhelming presence of five hundred deeply resonate voices chanting their passionate connection to humanity and to the infinite. I could still feel their commitment and compassion resonating through my bones.

As we exited the bus and started walking toward the rural monastery, I was captivated by the crisp cool air, the stark blue of the cloudless sky, and the splendor of the mountains. I moved away from the group and walked to the edge of the plateau to get a better view of the vista. Above, the intense sun punctuating the clear sky; to the right, a landscape of drought-resistant plants and dwarf trees; across the canyon, a couple of mountain goats foraging peacefully; and below... the most immense pile of trash and garbage I have ever seen.

I have seen the urban garbage heaps that are euphemistically called "land fills." This small monastery's heap fully matched a small city's repository in size, and the noxious smells wafting from the canyon surpassed those of most any urban landfill. There were bottles, there were Coke cans, there were rusted remnants of ancient machinery, and there was garbage - today's garbage, yesterday's garbage, rotted garbage, and very rotted garbage - with no attempt whatsoever to cover it, compost it, deodorize it, or camouflage it in any way.

In a split second, my assumptions and expectations shattered like a stack of plates dropped by a stumbling waiter.

Buddhist monks weren't SUPPOSED to do this! These were the people who revered all life - the people who wouldn't step on an ant. These were the people who meticulously preserved manuscripts for thousands of years. These were the people whose every day was scheduled to the minute.

After a few minutes I realized that the giant garbage heap was actually very logical. These monks were focused on the divine and on compassion for all beings; they had little concern for the affairs of the world. In my value system, "natural beauty" held a place of honor; in theirs it did not.

Exercise: Think of a time when your assumptions and expectations about something or someone were shattered. Was the experience devastating or educational? Imagine the power of seeking out some of your assumptions and expectations and intentionally blowing them up.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Regrets, Resentments and the Path to Forgiveness - Stop Anger & Live Happy With Conscious Awareness

I recently received a letter that began "How glorious it must be to be truly happy inside!" and continued with a request for my thoughts on regrets, resentments and the path to forgiveness. The following is my reply.

I am not always happy inside; I actually got quite angry recently. Simply An Inspired Life is not a perfect life; it is a life of conscious awareness. Often people go through life in a sort of fog - unhappy, helpless to address the unhappiness, and unhappy about the helpless feeling. That is what the Simply An Inspired Life approach can address.

There are two steps, the first of the mind, the second of the heart.

Have a talk with your mind (it really is something separate from yourself). Lay down the law. "My life begins TODAY. I am like a newborn. I have what I have today; I have my fingers, my toes, some people in my life, some material and financial state. Yesterday is only a dream - perhaps a nightmare, perhaps a cherished memory, but only a dream - nothing more. I will make all decisions and actions based solely on what I have today as a starting point."

To put this in practical terms, think of owning stocks. I own a share of stock for which the NASDAQ bid price is $10; how much is my share of stock worth? $10 of course; and there is no special emotion associated with that statement. But if I added that I bought the stock yesterday for $5, it feels different; and if I bought that stock yesterday for $20, it feels very different. The stock is still worth $10, and it makes no difference what price I paid - that transaction is now in the dream of the past - not real - not important today.

Personalize your conversation with your mind and be clear that you just won't tolerate any thoughts or actions that are not based on today's facts.

Moving to your heart, Breathe. Close your eyes and breathe deeply - slowly - fill your lungs with love and gratitude - exhale each and every trouble - again and again - gratitude in, troubles out.

Speak to your self from your heart as you would to a newborn baby, "I love you because I love you. You are a part of me, and I need no reasons to love you. Whether you cry or you smile, I love you. When you spill your milk or burp, there is nothing to forgive, there is no fault. You are love, I am love, and we are love."

The following is the beginning of the forgiveness chapter from our upcoming book:

FORGIVENESS - For Self & All

I Forgive Myself with Compassion - I forgive everyone, especially myself, for all actions and all inactions throughout my entire life. I accept that no one else has ever been to blame for either my joy or my suffering. The entire cause of all my joys and all my sufferings is my own emotional response to the events of my life, and I am committed to consistently distinguishing between my feelings about events and the physical occurrence of those events. I declare that everyone who has ever played any role in any of the events of my life is entirely without fault.

Would you rather be right or happy?
- A Course in Miracles

don't take it personally - it's not usually about you. - mar

I forgive everyone for every "wrong" that I believe they have ever inflicted upon me. I forgive them for my own sake, that I may release the venom - the anger and resentment within myself - and regain my joy and serenity. I have compassion for everyone who has ever been a player upon the stage of my life. - jlh

I'm angry. They wronged me. They lied, they cheated; why should I forgive them?

Forgiveness is not a reprieve that we give to someone else. Forgiveness for another's act or omission is a gift that we give ourselves. We are the one who suffers the upset and the anger when we feel that we have been wronged. It is our own blood pressure that rises when we hold on to resentment.

Forgiving others is a gift to yourself, given not because they deserve pardon, but because you deserve the serenity and joy that comes from releasing resentment and anger, and from embracing universal forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Urgent? Why?

Time, like life itself, has no inherent meaning. We give our own meaning to time as to life.
- jlh

Urgent? Why?

I will not be governed by the tyranny of immediacy.
- mary anne radmacher

Sunday, November 2, 2008

7 Secrets for a Happy Life - Jonathan Lockwood Huie

We all want to be happy, but something always gets in the way. There is never enough time... or money. Somebody is always failing to do what they are "supposed" to do... or not do. Our boss, our spouse, our kids, our parents, our friends, government, big business, whoever... "They" aren't doing it right. "They" failed us. We are angry, and we have a right to be angry. But is that righteous anger making us happy?

Happiness is not something anyone else can give us... or take away from us. Happiness is what we make of our lives... or don't. Whatever our circumstances, we can create a joyful life... or a miserable life. It is up to us.

Here are 7 Secrets for a Happy Life

1. Respect Yourself: If I don't love and respect myself, who will? It all starts right here with ME. If I think that I'm a pretty good person, it doesn't much matter what anyone else thinks. And the irony is that once I like myself, most everyone else will like me too. People enjoy being around people who speak well of themselves - not in an arrogant boastful way, but with honest self-appreciation.

2. Forgive Everyone for Everything: Angry and happy don't mix. Flush out the angry, and the happy has a place to put down roots. Until we forgive everyone for everything, we hold on to anger and resentment. Once we forgive, we can become happy. Forgiving is not a gift to someone else - Forgiving is our gift to ourselves - a great gift - the gift of happiness.

3. Be Grateful for All of Life: Each of us has been infinitely blessed - beginning with the gift of life. Whatever may appear to be missing or broken on any particular day, our glass is not half full, it is 99.9% full. More practically, when we feel ungrateful, we become unhappy. When we choose to feel and express our gratitude, the act of feeling and speaking our thanks creates a happiness within us. The more we express our gratitude, the more we have for which to be grateful. Today and every day, take time to celebrate life - whether an hour's meditation in a quiet natural space, or a brief moment's conscious pause to breathe deeply and celebrate gratitude for life.

4. Choose Happiness: Everything in life is a choice. There is never anything we ever "need" to do. Every action and thought is a choice and has consequences - pleasant or unpleasant. Whether you go to work today, change jobs, smile at the bank teller, yell at your kids, complain about life, hold a daily celebration of gratitude for life - they are all choices. Happiness is a choice. Stay alert and make conscious choices for happiness.

5. Begin at the End: You can never reach your destination if you don't have a destination. Decide what accomplishments you want recorded on your tombstone. Take a whole quiet day to consider your life. Be very clear that your happiness does NOT depend on reaching your goal. In fact, it's the reverse. Your happiness depends on accepting whatever life throws at you while you walk the path toward your goal. What is important for your happiness is having a goal, and working toward it.

6. Start Today: Whatever you want in life, start today. Not tomorrow - today. Let it be a small beginning - a tiny beginning. Your happiness depends on starting today - every day.

7. Accept that Life is NOT "Supposed to be Fair": Know that there is no single way that life is "supposed" to be. Demanding that life meet our expectations is a sure fire recipe for a miserable existence. Life is a game with no rules. Life just happens to us regardless of our best intentions. Our only path to happiness lies in being open to receiving whatever life throws at us - with Gratitude. Have NO Expectations of life.