14 June  2016      

Hello, and welcome to mid-June!

 The Power of the Sensitive (an excerpt)
Benjamin Hoff

 Spontaneous Living
Beth Burns

Spreading My Blessings
tom walsh

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They who are too busy doing good
find no time to be good.

Rabindranath Tagore

People are made by their beliefs.
As they believe, so they are.

the Bhagavad Gita

Children are likely to live up
to what you believe of them.

Lady Bird Johnson

First say to yourself what you would be;
and then do what you have to do.



The Power of the Sensitive (an excerpt)
Benjamin Hoff

Now we come to the power of the Sensitive, the Modest, and the Small--a power that all Piglets have in potential, whether or not they have anything to do with it.  Of all the teachings of East or West, Taoism places the greatest emphasis on that power, which in Taoist writings is personified in its varying aspects as the Child, the Mysterious Female, and the Spirit of the Valley.  Significantly, these are also personifications of the Tao itself.

Let's begin our examination of the Sensitive, the Modest, and the Small by considering Sensitivity.  In the West, sensitivity is considered a Minus rather than a Plus.  ("Oh, you're just too sensitive!")  But even in denouncing it as something to get rid of, the West acknowledges a little of its tremendous power.  For example, it is widely recognized that being negatively sensitive about one's health through worry-imagery and pessimistic self-talk can make and keep one sick.  What is not so widely recognized, however, is that being positively sensitive about one's health--"listening" to the body, avoiding damaging influences, imagining and directing healing energy, visualizing perfect health, and so on--can make and keep one well, as an increasing number of people are discovering, some of them through curing themselves of "incurable" illnesses.

Sensitivity and skill develop together--as one of them increases in the process of learning something, so does the other.  A skilled ballet dancer is aware of his or her muscles as they stretch and contract, tighten and relax, through exercise, practice, and performance.  Applying that sensitivity, the dancer leaps, twirls and lands without apparent effort.  A skilled athlete of any sort is aware of just how to move, how to hit or throw a ball in the right way at the right time, how to do this or that in order to score a point.  Our last T'ai Chi Ch'uan teacher had developed his awareness to such an extent that he would immediately know when anyone was trying to sneak up on him.  In their areas, at least, the masters of any such skills are very sensitive--and therefore very alert.  As Chuang-tse wrote:

Those of perfect Virtue cannot be burned by fire, nor drowned by water.  Neither can they be harmed by heat or cold, nor injured by wild animals.  It is not that they are indifferent--it is that they discriminate between where they may safely rest and where they will be in danger.  Watchful in prosperity and adversity, cautious in their comings and goings, nothing can injure them.

The word for Taoist sensitivity is Cooperate.  As Lao-tse wrote, "The skilled walker leaves no tracks"--one is sensitive to (and therefore respectful toward) one's surroundings and works with the natural laws that govern them.  Like a chameleon, he or she blends in with What's There.  And one does this through the awareness that comes from reducing the ego to nothing.  As Chuang-tse put it:

To those who dwell not in themselves,  the forms of things reveal themselves as they are.  They move like water, reflect like mirrors, respond like an echo.  Their lightness makes them seem to disappear.  Still as a clear lake, they are harmonious in their relations with those around them, and remain so through profit and loss.  They do not precede others, but follow them instead.

The Te of Piglet . . . in which a good deal of Taoist wisdom is revealed through the character and actions of A. A. Milne's Piglet. Piglet? Yes, Piglet.  For the better than impulsive Tigger? or the gloomy Eeyore? or the intellectual Owl? or even the lovable Pooh?  Piglet herein demonstrates a very important principle of Taoism:  The Te--a Chinese word meaning Virtue--of the Small.


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Spontaneous Living!
Beth Burns

Statistics tell us that one of the most prevalent indicators of job satisfaction is the ability for an employee to use his/her creative skills on the job.  That is, the opportunity to figure things out in one's own unique way and make a meaningful contribution. Sometimes a routine, even with all it's merits, takes away the spontaneity that is an integral part of that innovative process.  How creative are you in your job?  How about in other aspects of your life? 

Rosamund and Benjamin Zander have written an EXCELLENT book (BIG recommendation!) called The Art of Possibility.  The authors are both highly influential people. Roz is a landscape painter, writer, and family therapist, while Ben is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, a professor and a motivational speaker.  (WHEW!) Even with all those roles, they have discovered the joy of living fully in each moment.  Just as the title indicates, seizing spontaneous opportunities opens the door for new and marvelous possibilities!

My favorite chapter in the book, as those who know me well might expect,  :-)   is called Rule Number 6.  What is Rule Number 6?  It's just this:

Don't take yourself so seriously.

And I suppose you are wondering what the other rules are?  There are none!!!   :-)

With that thought in mind, I'd like to invite you to step outside of your routine, and enter into the realm of possibility.  The mode to transport you there is SPONTANEITY.   It's time to break out of that office cubicle (or wherever you work and live) and jump-start yourself into "possibility thinking."  Here are some suggestions to get you started:

1. Be a kid!  They are the best teachers!  Go barefoot in the grass; play in the rain; watch the clouds; swing as high as you can on a swingset; wear your pajamas all day; savor a lollipop; play with a dog; color a bright picture (and it's OK to go outside the lines!); play football, basketball, soccer and baseball; build a fort; paint a picture; sing at the top of your lungs; laugh aloud from your belly; and dance in front of the mirror!

My son, the one who is 14 now, is teaching me to skateboard.  I have to tell you that I am really baaaaaaaad at skateboarding.  I have fallen on my you-know-what more times than I can count.  But man, do we have fun and do we laugh when I am clinging to him and screaming for fear of busting my butt yet again!  What can you do to be a kid again?

2. Create something exquisite and different.  How about cooking a special concoction? Make it spicy, sweet, and bold!  Let go of any expectations that it has to be perfect.  Share it with someone wonderful.

My very special guy prepared a decadent meal for me on Valentine's Day.  Knowing the love that went into the meal far outweighed any value a restaurant could offer.  He loves creating and sharing in this way (and he's darn good at it too, which really works out well for me!).   ;-)

3. Call up someone for no reason at all other than to reconnect with them.  Who cares how long it has been since you last spoke?  It will be much longer, or maybe forever, unless you take the initiative.  Share yourself!

I love to call old friends or to get an unexpected letter in the mail.  I have a friend who loves to drop by my house, and just come in on a whim.  I love that about her -- she's quirky and fun!  We have a glass of wine and get caught up.  It's just great when she gets me out of "work" mode and into fully appreciating the moment.

4. Appreciate the miracles found in nature. Take a long walk outside at night time.   Look at the moon and drench yourself in a glorious "moonbath."

I have a friend who I call long distance whenever there is a full moon.  I encourage him to step out and look at the brilliance and splendor of the moment.  I am sure he thinks this is a strange thing to do (and perhaps it is!), but it makes me feel great to share the wonders of the universe.

5. Take a nap.  No, not the kind where you guiltily steal 20 minutes and doze.   I mean, take a NAP!  Get naked under the covers, get cozy, unplug the phone and savor the peace.  Yep, right in the middle of the day.  Here's a secret:  you are ALLOWED to do this!  This kind of nap produces some great dreams!

I like naps in front of the fire too.  Warmth is the fundamental element in a really awesome nap.  Last summer my kids and I took a nap on the front porch of an old house down near the beach.  It was fabulous to feel the breeze and the heat from the sun.   What a nice memory -- what a way to rejuvenate the spirit!

6.  Give some money away.  Yep--just give something for no apparent reason, other than to be of service to someone else and to trust that the money is being used in a way that is needed.  It need not be a fortune, but it sure feels good to help someone else.

From time to time, I will pick a name out of the phonebook.  I will anonymously send the person money--not a lot, but an amount I am comfortable with.  I enclose a little note saying they don't know me but I was drawn to their name and I hope this money is of a special use for them.  I also say that if they are blessed, perhaps they can pick a name out and send something on to another person, thus keeping the chain going.   After I mail the letter, I never know what happens to the money or with the people, but I fully trust it is something terrific.  The neat added benefit that I have discovered is I am always blessed with some type of financial reward myself when I do this.  I encourage you to give it a try!  Giving is a wonderful way to be spontaneous and keep one mindful of his/her blessings.

These are some ideas to get you started in your quest for spontaneous living.  What other ones can you think of?  Keep in mind Rule Number 6 -- don't take yourself so seriously!!!  Permit yourself to have fun because life is, indeed, short.  Enjoy the richness of who you are and of all those you meet.  Lighten up and go have some fun!!!

Soul Restoration Tip

Happiness comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to enjoy simply, to think freely, to risk life, and to be needed.   -Storm Jameson

Go a little crazy, go a little insane; come out and play with me, barefoot in the rain.    -Anonymous



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To become different from what we are,
we must have some awareness of what we are.

Bruce Lee



Spreading My Blessings

"God bless you," we say often when people sneeze, usually without thinking about the actual meaning of the words.  What does it mean to bless someone?  Do blessings have to come from God, or are we able to bless each other?  And must blessings be specific in their intent or result, or can they simply be the positive thoughts and energy that we wish to share with others?

I can think of several people who have been tremendous blessings in my life simply because they are who they are.  I can think of others who have helped me in very concrete, tangible ways, and that help has also been a blessing to me.  And thinking about these people in my life got me to thinking about how--or even whether--I spread blessings to others myself.

I believe that I can spread blessings to others by spreading encouragement, but sometimes I think that other people don't really need my encouragement, that they're doing fine as they are and that they're okay without it.  I talk myself into not encouraging someone because of my own insecurities, I suppose, and I lose the chance to bless someone else with some kind, positive, and loving words.  When I do encourage others, though, I often see them grow just a little bit stronger as the result of some simple words from me to them.  I see them grow in confidence and I often even see the appreciation they feel as a result of my words.


I am larger, better than I thought; I did
not know I held so much goodness.
All seems beautiful to me.
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me;
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall
be blessed, and shall bless me.

Walt Whitman

I can also spread blessings by sharing the material gifts that I've been given.  I'm not wealthy, so I can't give tons of money to others, but I can give some money to people who could use it.  I like to tip more generously than normal when a server has done an exceptional job; I like to donate things that I have that are in very good condition to thrift stores, where they'll become available to someone who needs them at a very low price.  I like to give away books that I've read and music that I've listened to.  If someone sees something of mine and really likes it, I often like to give that thing to them--sharing such a thing does something positive for them and allows me to avoid becoming too attached to that thing.

And what a blessing it is to be loved!  How can I let others know that they are loved and that that love is unconditional.  I can't go around telling people "I love you" all the time, of course, especially in situations in which such a thing would be entirely inappropriate.  And what about those people whom I don't even know, but whom I love (which should be everyone, shouldn't it?)?  I read an essay once by a man who was in a bus when he noticed a woman who seemed to be having a hard time, both with her infant and with life in general.  He was sitting behind her, and he concentrated on sending loving, caring thoughts to her without saying a word.  He was a bit surprised when she turned around and thanked him as she was leaving the bus--he hadn't said a word to her.

Can we send blessings without words or obvious actions or the exchange of any property?  I believe we can--I believe that we can look at another person and send love his or her way, and that the love actually arrives.  Whether or not the person is able or ready to accept it is another matter, of course.  Our thoughts have energy to them--we all know what it feels like when a positive person walks into a room in which the energy is negative.  Things brighten up and they don't look so dark.  That person's thoughts and emotions have a very positive effect on the atmosphere and on the other people in the room, and love is the most important element of that type of effect.

Can I be that kind of person?  I can if I love enough, and consistently enough and broadly enough.

But can one be a blessing merely by being cheerful? Yes;
moral beauty of any kind exerts a silent influence for good.
It is like a sweet flower by the wayside, which has a
benediction for everyone who passes by.

James Russell Miller

We all have gifts that are unique to us.  One of my gifts is that of teaching and helping other people to learn.  I think that I can be a blessing in other people's lives if I share that gift with them without being overbearing or having exaggerated expectations about what or how much they should learn.  I can share my gift without causing others stress.  If my gift were music, I could easily find ways to share that; if it were cooking, I could also find ways to share my gift.  The thing with gifts, of course, is that it's important that we find ways of sharing them without expecting anything in return--not even thanks.  Sharing with the expectation of thanks is simply barter, not giving, and your sharing has a price on it.

We've all probably heard someone make the joke about "blessing us with their presence."  To me, this isn't a joke.  If a person is kind and caring and compassionate, then their presence really is a blessing, and I'd like to think that there are ways that my presence can be a blessing in the lives of others, too.  This depends, of course, on things like my attitude and my actions and the way that I treat others.  What would it take for my presence to be a blessing to others?  I think first of all, I'd be a person that is at peace with myself and who doesn't bring conflict with me wherever I go.  I also would not be judgmental and unforgiving, for then people would dread my presence and not look forward to it.  I'd smile a lot rather than being stern, and I'd be helpful rather than demanding.  In short, I'd let people be themselves without judging them and I would help them to see the beauty of this world instead of causing them to worry and criticize.

You don't bless what you love.  It's when you want to love
and you can't manage it. You stretch out your hands and
you say God forgive me that I can't love but bless this thing
anyway.  We have to bless what we hate.  It would be
better to love, but that's not always possible.

Graham Greene

Graham Greene brings up two interesting points, though.  First, do our blessings that we spread have to come from or through God?  When we bless another person, are we doing so only through the intervention or help of God?  If this were the case, it seems that a person who doesn't believe in God--or who doesn't believe in the same ways as us--would be unable to bless others, and I just can't accept this possibility as true.  People are full of love and compassion and energy, and we can spread these things willfully and helpfully no matter what our religious beliefs happen to be.

Graham also talks about blessing things that we hate, too.  Blessing horrible things seems contradictory, of course, but it does make sense in several ways.  If we get angry at someone who does something awful, for example, our anger isn't going to do anything to change the person or his or her actions.  If we ask for a blessing for that person, we're recognizing the need for love to work in certain situations and trying to provide a bit of that love ourselves so that we can contribute to a change rather than allowing the status quo to continue.  We must remember that a blessing is positive energy, and we cannot defeat negative energy with more negative--positive energy and love are the ways that we can overcome negative in life.

My blessings are mine to give, but they're useless if I don't give them at all, if I keep them to myself or neglect them.  Other people can benefit greatly from the blessings that are mine to give, and while I neglect them sometimes, I do try to spread blessings as much as I can, even if I do so in very, very small or seemingly insignificant ways.  You have blessings to give, also, and it's up to you to decide just whom you're going to bless today and tomorrow.



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God does not make clones.  Each person is different, a tribute to God's creativity.  If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, we must accept people as they are and not demand that they conform to our own image.

Henry Fehren


Blessed are we all. . .

Blessed are the poor--we can help them.

* Blessed are they who mourn--we can console them.

* Blessed are the meek--we can strengthen them.

* Blessed are the wanderers--we can give them refuge.

* Blessed are the merciful--we can benefit from them.

* Blessed are the clean of heart--we can imitate them.

* Blessed are the peacemakers--we can receive gentleness from them.

* Blessed are the joyful--we can relax with them.

* Blessed are the patriots--we can get loyalty from them.

* Blessed are the clergy--we can get spirituality from them.

* Blessed are the children--we can listen to them.

* Blessed are the elderly--we can gain wisdom from them.

* Blessed are the family members--we can love them.

* Blessed are the least deserving--we can pray for them.

* Blessed are we all.  God can work great things through us.

Mary Ann Herman


In times of adversity, I remember I am strong enough to meet the challenges
of my life.  I am equal to every situation, a match for every difficulty.  Sourced
in the power of the Universe, I allow that power to work through me.  I meet
calamity with strength.  I have stamina.  Rather than draw on limited resources,
I draw on the infinite power within me that moves through me to accomplish
its good.  I am fueled by all the love, all the strength there is.  Loving strength
melts mountains.  I am ever partnered and supplied by the universal flow.
Knowing this, I do not doubt my strength.  I am strong and secure.

Julia Cameron


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