Recently with the squeeze on my finances, I have been looking at how much I spend on cosmetics. I don’t mean make-up which I hardly use but creams- face, body and hands. I tend to buy the best I can- organic, locally made and without any additives. The results are good- for many years worth of buying such products has been good for my skin as the skin is your largest organ and benefits from the best products used on it. However, now with the financial imperative, I began to wonder if I could replicate that quality at home using organic ingredients and save money and time.
So here is my first attempt-
I was out of face cream and looked around for what I had lying around. So here is what I found, all of which went to make this face cream-
One teaspoon of Neal’s yard Wild Rose beauty balm (you can substitute this with coconut butter and drops of your favourite essential oil)
40 grams of Shea butter (I have to admit this was 17 years old! and lying in a drawer)
One table spoon of organic aloe and rose gel (or use plain aloe gel as I did below)
I used a fork to whip these inside an old Neal’s yard jar and voila! I had my lovely soft nourishing face cream which smells of roses.
Then I used some of the Neal’s yard balm and added some scraps of lipstick and again, I have a tinted lip balm that gives me winter protection for my lips and cheeks.
For this year’s Mother’s day, I again replicated this formula to make face creams for my mother and friends. I have photos of the ingredients in this one (you can use your own), along with the empty jars I’ve used. This time the shea butter was not 17 years old!
This what one of the jars looks like now- I placed the jars on the radiators so that the shea butter would melt slowly (as per my philosophy of least work, maximum value!)
Christmas is approaching and it is a time of giving. But we need to make sure that what we give is the thing that the receiver needs and is of value to them, not to us. Often we buy things we like and present it to someone. So it is best to learn about the person first and then find a gift they need. It may surprise us that at times they don’t want any ‘thing’ at all- what they want is company, assurance, love, time, friendship- not a ‘thing’.
As Nichiren advised us, we must be careful in giving, “If a person’s throat is dry, what he needs is water; he has no use for bows and arrows, weapons and sticks. If a person is naked, he wants a suit of clothes but has no need for water. From one or two examples you can guess the principle that applies in general.”
Two projects that I had been working on for several months fell through. These were projects in the charity sector- ones that committed me to give money, labour and time. However, it appears that the people who were to be the recipient of these humble gifts did not want them now, having initially told me to go ahead. I felt like Shariputra, a disciple of the Buddha, who practiced the Bodhisattva way. One day, a Brahmin begged for Shariputra’s eye, and Shariputra gave it to him. But the Brahmin being revolted by the smell of the eye and threw to the ground and stamped it into the dirt. Following this rejection, Shariputra gave up the Bodhisattva way of life and fell into endless suffering.
Often we are willing to give anything to others and yet they reject our offer of love and kindness. Should that make you stop? You can think of the endless sacrifices you have made to get that far and appeal to their heart; or argue your case with logic and try to appeal to their head. But they won’t listen. What do you do?
Simply, you don’t stop. You don’t go Shariputra’s way and fall into endless suffering, berating yourself and others. You don’t stop being yourself- kind, good and benevolent. Why?
Because that is the way of the Universe. Josei Toda, a 19thC Buddhist philosopher, who viewed the Universe, the earth and mothers as bearers of life, said,“The activity of the entire Universe is essentially a function of compassion.” The compassionate and benevolent Universe has a way of bringing gifts to you that are not loaded or selfish. So even if you offered your gifts to someone and they were rejected, someone else will value them. The Universe does not disappoint because it is an endless storehouse of treasures for everyone.
So I replied to these people- “something else always comes along and the funding can be used elsewhere. Best wishes, Sumita.”
That way I left my heart’s door open without any criticism, any resentment or suffering for theother gifts of the benevolent Universe to come through. And as I write this, I had a telephone call which gave me a great benefit and I am sure others will follow. Please keep your heart’s door open for the rainbow of gifts that the Universe sends us.