Monday, June 24

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Blog, Elders Voice

It is the stress of life’s difficulties that creates our ‘diamond self.’ 

Without pressure, carbon can never become diamond.  If you think you cannot stand the pressure, then you do not know that you are a human being.  The human body has been made to withstand extreme pressure to crystalize the consciousness. As Buddha reminds us, we are all born to suffer, not in the sense of living a life of misery, but in recognition that we are unlikely not to experience great sorrow and painful disappointment in the course of our lives.  Loss is inevitable.  Our capacity for responding to it with resiliency is up to us. The challenge is to surrender to reality.  We can focus on what is lost, or we can put our emphasis on the possibilities that might open to us. The pressures inherent to the realities of life are ever present, as are the choices...
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Sentimentality is not the source of love

The romantic myth of Valentine’s Day would have you believe that your love is delivered in a box of chocolates or bouquet of flowers. The cards offer rhymes and flowery prose, proclaiming how wonderful it is to be in love; gushing over times together when feelings are so intense, we feel overwhelmed in bliss.  And therein lies the myth and the danger of Valentine sentimentality. It is self-love that provides the foundation for loving others. Self-love does not mean being a narcissist, overly involved with yourself and lacking compassion for others.  Self-love is about being aware of your needs, setting boundaries and believing you are both loveable and worthy of being loved. Your love for yourself allows you to feel positive about the person you are, enabling you in turn...
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Pretend you are dying; then don’t

Do you remember your life, the all-encompassing chronology of buoyant first kisses and rancorous last words, grateful births and grievous deaths, promises made and vows un-kept? Supposedly, just before you die, your entire life flashes in front of your eyes, the scenes blinking like strobe lights as the years roll by.  “My Life,” the movie, playing for the final time in Death’s screening room, unabridged, nothing left out. According to the Hindu-Buddhist philosophy of soul transmigration, the life you’re about to exit contains within it a lesson to be learned before you can take the next step along the path to enlightenment.  In the nanosecond of linear time that it takes to pass from human to humus God has to determine if you need Remedial Compassion 101 or if you’re ...
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Less Facebook, more face to face

I had a question for our accountant, a long time friend who has been doing our tax return for more than twenty years.  As if on automatic pilot I began to write him an email. Then it dawned on me.  I know this man.  I have a relationship with him.  What is keeping me from calling him personally and saying hello and exchanging pleasantries?  I admonished myself.  Yes, there was a business component to the call but also years of sharing information about family and mutual friends.  An email was hardly the medium to acknowledge our friendship and catch up with the type of information families typically exchange. It takes the spoken word to deepen our understanding of others and give personal strength to relationships.  When I was growing up a...
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Time to sum up, and move on

The value of looking back at life’s triumphs and heartbreaks comes from identifying with the yearning child and angst-driven teenager but doing so from the perspective of an adult with few illusions.  From a distance, detached from the event, we can see the nuances at the periphery of what took place.  The lessons are there. We are able to recognize how the wounded feelings of childhood influenced the modus operandi as we navigated our way through life.  And we are able to effect change going forward, choosing to behave differently rather than being stuck on automatic pilot. I’ve learned the value of making amends.  The resolution is quite different when you step up and take responsibility for your actions, rather than simply apologizing.  You own your b...
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One man’s work is everyman’s work

The world is polarized, extreme positions characterizing virtually every issue.  In politics, it’s Progressives versus the alt-Right, their viewpoints frozen and unyielding be it climate change, gun control, immigration… each side obstinately holding tight to their entrenched belief; unwilling to compromise; insisting on all or nothing.  Sadly, with this hard linein place how can there be movement toward a satisfactory resolution of any of the many crises’s the world faces? Here’s my formula for peace.  Simply blind fold the adversaries, seat them in a circle and have them share their stories. Instruct them to start with the current issues that bedevil them; then guide them to remember the traumas of their childhood and the events of the past that must be left beh...
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Mindful Monday – Hearts open at 4am

Black Friday, Gray Thursday, Cyber Tuesday, Small Business Saturday… I was struck by the onslaught of ‘special’ shopping days when stores open at ungodly early hours to offer consumers holiday bargains.  Now I’m not one to refuse a good deal when I see one, so no hectoring here about the true spirit of the holiday.  Instead, I propose we borrow a page from the big box stores and create a new day for finding the best gift in the world at a price that can’t be beat.  Let’s call it Mindful Monday – Hearts Open between 4am and 7am. The fact is, and really there is no refuting it, the gift that means the most can’t be bought.  It’s called happiness.  And it’s free.  And it’s available!  And it’s yours to enjoy on Mindful Monday (or True Self Tuesday an...
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“However fast you run, you cannot run away from your own feet”

I am trying mightily to stay on the path that leads to happiness, but that old saw of a headline is a constant reminder of how easy it is to trip myself up and fall on my ass. It is clear I am my own worst enemy, some unresolved aspect of my ego lurking in the shadows like a film noir saboteur who foils the happy ending.  Looking back on a timeline strewn with potholes of my own making I can see the pattern clearly.  So many no-win imbroglios that brought me to grief! What causes someone to knowingly trip up their chance at long term happiness? I’ve heard all kinds of theories as to why I’m prone to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, deliberately creating discord at the most harmonious of times.  My analyst came up with the Freudian triangle; my psychologi...
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Can we change who we were born to be?

Did you ever hear of the Dr. Moreof theory of aging?  “Whatever you are when you are young, you’ll be more of when you are old.” Of course Dr. Moreof is bogus.  But when some stereotype of a crabby old guy or grumpy grandma shows up on an awful sitcom, it’s no wonder we elders are thought of as cucumbers turned sour after too long in the brine; cantankerous, smelling slightly rancid and what’s more, bad drivers with small dogs. I prefer the theory of Dr. Canbealtered: “Whatever you are when you are young, can be altered when you are old.” As all of us were, I grew into adulthood ordained by genetics and shaped by environment.  The result was ill-defined and flawed, biased by childhood conditioning that created fixed ways of responding to triggers that typically...
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The annual holiday emotions

A post on Thanksgiving Day should be a slam dunk.  Conjure up the Norman Rockwell painting, make up a list of all the things we’re thankful for and dig into the turkey and cranberry sauce.  That’s the sermon we’re accustomed to, but realistically it may be less than the truthful narrative that takes place on the last Thursday of the month. More believable is this ironic quip attributed to Ram Dass, the American teacher of spirituality popular in the 1970s: “If you think you’re enlightened, go visit your family.” For me the one-liner is more than a witticism, it is wise insight and a reminder that the gathering of families, including the relatively happy ones, evokes memories, rivalries and disappointments of childhood.  And suddenly, without warning, there we are,...