A poem about mornings

I read recently about people who write ‘morning journals’ to capture their streams of consciousness after waking up. I didn’t realise what a powerful tool it is to capture your ideas, inspirations and aspirations. I used to think that if I checked the morning news, it might give me some idea on what to concentrate on for the rest of the day. But that is reactive thinking.  Morning journals and thoughts which help me to prioritise not only my day but also a way of future planning, are a much best way.  As I am not a morning person, here is a poem that I read each morning to inspire myself.  It is not written by a new age guru or the latest ‘Tim Ferriss’, this was written in 5th Century AD-

Listen to the Exhortation of the Dawn!
Look to this Day!
For it is Life, the very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the
Verities and Realities of your Existence.
The Bliss of Growth,
The Glory of Action,
The Splendor of Beauty;
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But To-day well lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!

The most powerful life tool you have

Every lesson you have learnt about time management, decluttering, managing your work, dealing with people, healthy living and finding happiness boils down to one thing- the choices you make.  Whether you decide to spend some time reading, keep a piece of paper, do a particular type of work, the friends you have, your weight and the fun you are having is down to the choices you have made in the past.  Buddhism says that if you want to know the future, look at the choices you are making today.  And that if you want to change your future, you need to change the choices you are making today- it is as simple as that.  However, despite being simple, this can be a daunting and not everyone is ready to throw something away- whether a piece of paper or a friend.  But as I have grown older, I think it is getting easier to let go.  But if you can do, you have the most powerful tool for living your life as you want- your choices.

This powerful talk by Caroline Myss is worth listening to if you have any doubts or are feeling you need some support in this area.  It really helped me.

 

On being authentic

I saw this at a not very posh furniture shop and thought about it- a lot.  It is trying hard to be something it is definitely not.  It is new furniture trying to look as if it is old- with mismatched bits like some cheap chic but ends up looking like an embarrassed DIY effort or worse.  IMG_1133.JPG

I wondered if we also do this same thing with how we present ourselves- trying too hard to be something we are not.  When we imitate others, or present an image of us that is not authentic, not true to ourselves.  It is worth keeping this photo in mind when we look at others, celebrities and other famous people, trying to be them.  You can only be you, warts and all- that is what this photo teaches me.

A passionate life vs a contributive life

There are many books, videos, blogs, talks that urge you to follow your passion.  These talk about the person as if they have just one passion and say that if you follow that one dream, then opportunities, money, and other things will follow.  The problem with this is that there can be many passions and passions can ebb and flow.  More importantly, does your passion resonate with other’s passions?  If only can your desires bind with that of others, then will opportunities follow.  A sort of ‘Build it and they will come’ kind of thing.

The contributive life is different- it works in reverse.  So you contribute to the desires of many, instead of yourself.  It is easy to see why this will attract more opportunities than the passionate life which is more isolating.  Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, a Japanese philosopher propounded the idea of the contributive life.  He said,”Individual well-being entails cooperative and contributive existence within society,”

and

“genuine happiness requires sharing the sufferings and joys of the larger public as a member of society; and it can easily be understood that full and harmonious life within society is an indispensable element for any concept of authentic happiness.”

 

I had read these passages many years ago and had been rather dismissive of them as they seemed to me to be reeking of martyrism and sacrifice instead of ‘good’ and practical business ideas that supported you and your clients.  But last night was an a-ha moment when I realised that Makiguchi’s contributive life was not just good principled practice but also good business advice.  As a crude example, there are many sayings that echo this idea, ‘Selling coals to Newcastle’ is pointless, even if selling coals might be your passion.  There is a Youtube video by Marie Forleo which talks about this by saying,’ How to convince people to pay for your services’

and this one which explains it all (and caused my a-ha moment).  In the video seen by over two million people, Terri Trespicio, says, ‘To live a life full of meaning and value, you don’t live a life of passion; your passion follows you!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

learning from animals

Often we say, ‘Ohh, so and so is worse than an animal!” But seeing recent events of human brutality, I cannot think animals are worse.  Human brutality is based on creation of weapons that allow anyone to kill or main.  This beautiful video has recently gone viral- shows an unlikely friendship.  Watch it and see if you don’t feel humans can’t learn from animals!  This will prove it.

the reflection

reflections

“When you bow to a mirror, the reflected image bows back” (Nichiren, 13th C Buddhist monk).

Our environment including the people around us are reflections of us.  Whatever lessons they need to teach us are there, right in front of us.  It is no point blaming anyone for the people that are placed in your life- just treat them as your teachers, even if they are unpleasant, they are necessary.

I knew a doctor with a husband who was always laughing and joking. I said enviously, “Life must be must be so good with a partner who is always laughing.” She replied,”You don’t know how stressful it is to be married to a clown.” I lost in touch with her and then came across her after 20 years last month. I learnt that she was finally free of the clown (divorced) and happy! She no longer works as a doctor- so what does she do now? Clowning…life is indeed strange!  Another friend remarked after hearing of this story, not without irony, “Well, she must have learnt so much from her ex-husband.”

It is so true, we attract what we need to our lives and we learn from these people and circumstances.  Like the character in the film, Ground Hog day, we will keep meeting similar people or facing similar circumstances, until we learn the lessons that we need to learn.

 

 

 

million shades of grey

Between two extremes, lie many things- many solutions, many illuminations, many thoughts and many revelations.  People who see the world in black and white miss the subtlety of life, the sensitivity of thoughts and the delicacy of emotions.  They stand between their inflexible posts that never bend, never compromise, and consequently never see beauty in either direction.  Their world is harsh, still and really lifeless.  But all the while life moves on, in ebbs and flows, in the changing seasons that melt into each other with its own colours and smells.  Shades changing from black to grey to white, though million mutations of grey.  And those who believe in black and white miss it all.  They miss life. They miss love.  They miss learning.

Living lightly- part I

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I  am writing here after a long time- an eye operation, family upheavals and bereavement, illness and other things took up time.  But I did write elsewhere as a commitment to write everyday, although it is not as enjoyable as writing here.  For here, I write as myself and on whatever takes my fancy.  I am my own captain here.

I meant to write this post in the new year as I sorted out my stuff and seriously took up organising my life.  As I was getting rid of my stuff, mostly books- giving to charity, or people, recycling or selling, I came across this scene at my local library.  Not to let any moment go without buying books, this was so tempting for me.  So tempting until I learnt the story behind this pile of books.  They belonged to a dead man and were being sold to raise money for the library.  These books- new or second hand- were those he had bought, and never read- price labels intact.  Hundreds of boxes underneath the tables!  There were more apparently but the library ran out of space to take this generous gift.

I thought of how much this man had loved reading like I do and yet never found time to read them like I do.  I also have a big collection of books, but not as much as this.  Now that my eyes do not like the strain with the onset of glaucoma, I have started to read as little as possible.  I thought of a time, when I might have to do this or heaven forbid, my children might have to do this when I am gone.  No, no, no!  I felt the sadness of a possession that is never used.  Some people use things as a means of declaring their worth to the world.  Some use books to hide their nervousness of facing the reality.  I realised I read many books on organising and clutter and yet was afraid of actually tackling it.  I hung on to my self improvement books in the hope that I may improve just by reading them or reminding myself of their titles.  But life is lived in the reality, in the existence, in the mess of the world by learning, failing and trying again.  By holding on to a book, not only did I not have to take the action in the real world, I thought its existence on my shelf meant I possessed its qualities too.

So by releasing my ‘crutches’ of books, I found opportunities to engage with people and learn so much more than a solitary instruction of a book.  My life has become richer and my speaking and language have improved.  I feel more confident.  I have an important speech due in ten days.  Normally I would have felt nervous, but now I feel happy to welcome a new way of revealing my thoughts and communicating with people.  Life is experience, life is conversation!  In the moment.

PS- I did buy two books from that table but that is another post!

Happy invention

Daisaku Ikeda says “Everything passes. Both soaring joys and crushing sorrows fade away like a dream. However, the knowledge of having lived one’s life to the fullest never disappears.”

My life has been quite full so far and yes, I have done foolish things too and wasted time.  However, the time that I have spent following my heart have been the most joyful (including writing these blogs, which have helped me to understand myself).  Yes, I can to look back at the foolish stuff I have done, yet they were learning experiences, even though they may have been sometimes unhappy.  The present is the only moment to live, fully.  We don’t know what the future may bring but as Alan Kay says, “The best way to predict the future is invent it.”

Happy invention today to all of you!