Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
When I was a freshman a the University of Texas at Austin in 1968 I was an idealist. I was a folk singer, hum dinger. I protested the war in Viet Nam and civil rights atrocities. We thought that an egalitarian, high minded society was just around the corner. We thought the empire of fascist evil would end as soon as Barry Goldwater died. We knew less about world affairs then, but we knew that war was not only the only true sin amount nations, but also unconstitutional in the way it was being waged with no declaration. Since 1968 the United States has been at war with at least one part of the world all the time. Peace has not been achieved, and civil rights have been all but forgotten. Now we have the for profit prison system to mass incarcerate people of color, and laws designed specifically to feed that system. Our war on drugs has produced an epidemic of cheap heroin and an addiction crisis.
I was too young to march on Washington in 1963. I was busy living as an ex-pat petroleum princess in Venezuela. I spent a lot of time listening to Radio Havana because it was the only station that we got with a strong signal on the radio. I usually turned it off when Fidel went off on his speeches, but I liked the music from Cuba. Back in those days Venezuela had a natural contempt for Cuba and Fidel, and dependence on oil companies for their entire economy. This worked very well for the preteen petroleum princess, but not so well for the impoverished worker class. Like the historical Buddha I was exposed to suffering I never could have imagined in the world. The really interesting part was that my parents had no problem with the semi slavery and obscene show of wealth we enjoyed. I didn’t either until I thought about it. Now my own country has almost the same level of income disparity I observed in 1963 in Venezuela. The hippies have not yet accomplished our mission. I wonder if in the chaos and violence of this time, so similar to 1968, we might finally see the ship come in. The whole wide world is certainly watching.
Memory and spirit linger after our friends pass into the next realm. The spirit is hard to define or capture during a lifetime, but after death the history of facts is distilled into an essence. I don’t communicate, as in converse, with the dead, but I spend time savoring the essential qualities they represent. This week a young woman who was our friend died from a raging melanoma in her bloodstream. She dedicated her time on earth to healing animals and people with her massage skills. When our dog was on hospice she helped our family immensely by providing love and care during her last months.
1 The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. 2 Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.
I feel the loss of her presence on this earthly plane, but have a strong assurance that she has gone to a sweet rest. Living had become too much for her, perhaps because she gave so much of herself to others. The details of making a living, paying taxes, doing the daily tasks that ground us to the earth slowly became more difficult. I had my own agenda about teaching her simple life skills that I thought were the solution to the slipping away from here syndrome I had observed. I could not have been more wrong. Self care is not always the answer for every situation, as I tend to believe. I have no knowledge of the supernatural energies that give and take life. My simplistic view that everything can be healed has been transformed by her passing. Wounds inspire healing, and in some languages the word for wound is the same as the word for healing. The complicated process of healing is not within our control. I am not in charge of it, nor do I understand it.
Living people feel robbed by the loss of our loved ones, but each of us has a private and unique gift of life. We must accept that those who leave us in their prime have fulfilled their own mission and are ready to go at some basic level. I accepted this fact when my dog gave up her life, and now I am certain that crossing the rainbow bridge may be scary, but it is a relief. I am grateful for the good times and calm in the knowledge that peace is welcome when the end arrives.
Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life;
That I, considering everywhere
Her secret meaning in her deeds,
And finding that of fifty seeds
She often brings but one to bear,
I falter where I firmly trod,
And falling with my weight of cares
Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
That slope thro’ darkness up to God,
I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
And gather dust and chaff, and call
To what I feel is Lord of all,
And faintly trust the larger hope.
Yoga and meditation are designed to focus the mind and keep it focused when distraction happens. The very nature of being alive involves change and the unknown. We may have habits and patterns, but we have no way to predict what is just around the next bend. Our futures collide with destiny and fortune to become our realities. Much unnecessary stress is created by attempting to control too much. We can educate and improve our minds, train and feed our bodies with the best nutrition, and stay within strict guidelines for safety and still meet with disaster. It may also be true that through no real effort of our own we may be lucky, blessed, and well loved. If we ascribe good and bad labels to each of our experiences we may find that what seemed the best at the time was a prelude to downfall, and vice versa. We are not 100% in charge of our fates.
Dependent arising is the awareness that desire and fear are driving forces in human evolution. These strong emotional forces dominate our thinking, leading to suffering. The Buddha became enlightened while sitting under a tree eating sweets. His realization liberated him from all his previous desires and fears. He taught his followers saying:
“Whoever sees Dependent Arising sees the Dhamma.
Whoever sees Dhamma sees Dependent Arising”
This essential teaching of the Buddha explains how one thing leads to another when the untamed mind is permitted to ramble. Dependent arising is cause and effect. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. I think it also explains how we create suffering for ourselves and others by refusing to accept things as they are. If we start by accepting ourselves as we are we can extend that good feeling to others. Once we can stay grounded in a practice of acceptance we develop the power to change. Certain traits are present in a soul still striving to control rather than accept:
To live happy free lives we must find acceptance for ourselves as well as others. We must see that we are dependent on all of our ancestors and everyone alive who contributes to our well being. Nobody exists without a great deal of help from others, many who will remain anonymous. The worldwide supply chain now means we depend on folks in distant lands to make our goods and provide our services. When Amazon delivers a package to your door hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people have been involved in making and delivering what you want. To create a world with more compassion and less violence and terror each of us can start where we are to accept ourselves the way we are. By reaching a state of self compassion we can light the way for others still struggling to find acceptance.
On the 20th of each month bloggers join to speak up for compassion. Click here to visit more posts on acceptance or add your own.
“1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is a blogging initiative started in response to violence and alienation in our world. If you would to be part of a movement for loving change, join our Facebook Group, like our Facebook Page, or look for our posts on Twitter with the hashtag #1000Speak.”
There are several goddesses involved in different aspects of peace. Spring was a season in ancient Greece associated with military campaigns, therefore a time when peace was hard to achieve. Irene is a daughter of Zeus and Themis, one of the Horai. Along with her sisters she rules natural timing and seasons. Her season is Spring. She is a peace goddess who guards the gates of Mount Olympus. Conscious clear peace is a result of coming into alignment with Divine Time. Peace and harmony are results of staying in tune with natural rhythm and seasonal harvests.
As mistress of timing and peace Irene is a natural diplomat. She has the skills and power to negotiate differences between sides to reach solutions. Her symbols, Herme’s staff, corn and the infant Ploutus, represent wealth and abundance. In times of peace prosperity can flourish and progress can be made. Now, as in ancient times, war is devastating to both civil and economic success. In personal ways we can employ the wisdom of Irene to bring more peace into our existence. Take note of the phases of the moon, the seasonal changes around you, and the longer cycles of global warming and dramatic weather. You don’t have to be a farmer to feel the power of nature’s timekeeping. How do you fit into the seasons, Gentle Reader?
The Roman goddess Pax is in charge of peace. When I think of Romans the first words that come to my mind are army, Latin, and empire. We did not translate Latin peace poems in school. We studied the Gallic Wars. We think of Roman soldiers at the crucifixion of Jesus, and building aqueducts and roads to Rome. They were strategists and conquerers the likes of which the world had never seen, and some might argue we have not seen since. They were organized. They believed in slavery and blood sports. They are famous for gluttony and excess. The United States is often compared to the Roman empire for some pretty obvious reasons.
Celebrations were a big part of Roman culture, and Pax has three holidays a year dedicated to her. The olive branch, a symbol of protection, safety, and peace was used to crown citizens’ heads for this holiday. She is the daughter of Justice and Jupiter. She is often depicted with a cornucopia, a symbol of abundance. The Romans believed that prosperity and peace reside together and depend on each other. The days dedicated to honoring Pax included processions, music, poetry, and olive branches for everyone. Today when we march for peace we are actually expressing anti-war ideals. We stop short of truly giving honor to the power of peace. The Romans managed to conquer the known world and hold processions for peace at the same time. If we look deeply into our current ideas about peace we might notice that we mean peace on our own terms, or peace by conquest of our enemies. This is a core issue that could shatter our empire.