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Speak up, act out. December 30, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
—Edmund Burke

Several posts ago, I quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s comment, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” In that post, I also quoted the Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller’s devastating comment about his failure to speak or act out against the Nazis, “Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

The Burke quote is another one to add to the list. All these men are talking about what they or those they cared about didn’t do, not that they themselves did some bad deed. How many people do you think would have gladly given their bus seats to Rosa Parks? Yet not one of them did. How many people would have been glad to give Mohandas Gandhi a seat on the train instead of watching him be pitched to the boardwalk when he had a first-class ticket and every right to ride?

Yet the onlookers were worried. What would their peers think of them if they stood up for what they knew was right? Would some roughnecks beat them up? So they just watched; they “did nothing,” they remained silent. This has been the horror of history. As the poet W.B. Yeats says, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.” Pope Francis has spoken again and again about this lack of conviction, about our duty to help the poor and destitute, to get out in the streets and engage with them, rather than turning our backs and remaining silent while others suffer.

There’s a lot of misery in our world. Rather than turning our backs on it, rather than pretending we’re some different species, let all of us who practice Reiki send it to those in need. Let all those who see injustice speak out. And let all of us who encounter need head-on meet it with compassion, with fellowship, with recognition that we’re looking at ourselves. For it’s only when we’ve pushed prejudice, violence, and separatism to the curb the the world can know peace.

Just for today, practice your Reiki Principles.

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Saying goodbye. December 15, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“If your heart were sincere and upright, every creature would be unto you a looking-glass of life and a book of holy doctrine.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“All things by immortal power
Near or far,
Hiddenly
To each other linked are,
That thou canst not stir a flower
Without troubling of a star.”
—Francis Thompson

Pope Francis got in big trouble this past week by daring to suggest that animals went to heaven. He was trying to console a distraught little boy whose dog had just died by saying that his beloved pet was now in heaven and that he, the boy, would meet with him again when he got there. Immediately, an outpouring of outrage from conservatives and spokespeople for organizations like the Pork Producers Association came pouring out like a pile of slaughtered pig guts.

All of us who’ve ever had a pet know that the cost of loving them is losing them, since their lives are so short compared to ours. Every time I get a new dog, cat, bird, or what have you, I know that in the moment of saying hello I’m also starting to say goodbye. But I get them and I love them anyway, because I can’t imagine life without pets to love, without pets to love you, even for a short time.

But how do you explain that to a little boy who’s just lost his first pet, his beloved dog? I suppose that for many of us, the first faces we’d like to see after Saint Peter’s are those of the pets we loved, the pets who loved us, the pets who, possibly, saved us when we were in physical or emotional crisis, watching over us with their endless loving concern. Telling a heartbroken little boy that he’d see his dog in heaven, as Pope Francis did, was an act of charity. It might also have been true.

Having not been there, I can’t tell you if there’s a heaven. But if there is, I want my pets to be in it, or it won’t be worth going to. I want all the plants and animals and water features that make our world an earthly paradise to be in it. And I want those pigs who believe that God gave them the earth and everything on it to despoil for their own enrichment to re-read their Genesis, which they always use to justify barbarous acts of greed and savagery, where God Creator says that He gave His Creation into man’s care, to stand for him as its protector. Not its destroyer.

Just for today, cherish the dog, the flower, and the star. For we are all linked, no matter what we are.

Give love this Christmas. December 9, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“Wheresoever we seek our own, there we fall from love.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“There is the tendency to place ourselves and our ambitions at the center of our lives. This is very human, but it is not Christian.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

Yesterday, I received a Christmas card from my Aunt Betty. At this season of the year, most of us are either thinking about what we want for Christmas or what our family and friends might want for Christmas, or what we’d better get the boss and the office gang, or our kids’ teachers and coaches, or our secretary, or God-knows-who for Christmas. Or how we’ll ever afford Christmas, with all these ever-more-expensive presents for everybody and shipping costs getting more outrageous every year.

But not Aunt Betty. She gets presents for those in need and sends them in our names. In past years, we’ve gotten cards saying that a needy family in, say, the Andes has received a (live) chicken in our name through Heifer International, so they can get nutritious eggs. (You don’t need a rooster to get eggs.) This year, she donated to Doctors Without Borders, those brave individuals who risk their lives to share their expertise where it otherwise wouldn’t be available. People we’ll never see or know will have a better Christmas this year. Thank you, Aunt Betty!

What I think she’s trying to tell us is that she thinks we have enough “stuff” and don’t need any more from her. (And she’s right.) Whereas these organizations help people who lack food, shelter, warmth, medical care, and other basic necessities, much less toys, video games, the latest athletic shoes, and the like. I suggest that you think of an organization that speaks to you this Christmas, be it a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, The Salvation Army, The Southwest Indian Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, or any of the hundreds of others, and donate in a family member’s or your office’s name this Christmas. (And don’t forget that you can volunteer your time as well, including giving free hands-on Reiki sessions.)

Obviously, I’d never suggest doing this when children are involved. But you could get them a book or toy and donate in their family’s name, and the family could start teaching them the meaning of sharing and giving. Think how much better you’ll feel knowing you’re helping others on Christmas than ripping open package after package of stuff for yourself.

Just for today, don’t fall from love.

The silence of our friends. December 8, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
—Martin Luther King, Jr.

“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
—Martin Niemoller, Lutheran Pastor

“The Church is called to draw near to every person, beginning with the poorest and those who suffer.”
—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

Just for today, remember that everyone is our friend. Do not ever remain silent while others suffer.

I accept with joy. December 1, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
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“Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart—a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water—I accept with joy.”

—Bhagavad Gita

I love the images that spring to mind when I read this passage—a leaf holding a single drop of water, a bowl of water with a leaf, flower, or even petal floating on the surface, a perfect cluster of grapes or a ripe apricot set off by a handful of sparkling cherries. The simple yet colorful offerings are so delightful that it makes it easy to overlook the other two aspects of this passage, the pure offering and the joyful receiver.

The Gita makes it quite plain that the receiver doesn’t need to be overwhelmed with offerings, that a small gift offered with a pure heart brings as much joy to the recipient as a castle overflowing with gold and jewels. More, to my mind. Gold and jewels can never be fresh like a dewdrop on a leaf or a plate of ripe fruit.

In this case, the receiver of the offering is clearly the Lord. But it needn’t be. It could be you, or the Lord in you. In either case, it’s up to you to recognize the offering and accept with joy. Once you start this practice, looking for small, even hidden, jewel-like offerings and accepting them with joy, you’ll start to find more and more of them.

Just the other day, I received a package from an old friend with the most wonderful gift inside. But let me backtrack a minute first. You know how the Dalai Lama’s monks travel the U.S. trying to raise awareness of Tibet’s plight? Well, as part of their presentations, they typically will perform traditional Tibetan arts. A few years ago, the monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery came to a town not far from me, and a friend and I went to see them perform traditional Tibetan dances (which were wonderful).

Later in the week, they were going to create one of the fabulous sandpaintings for which they’re renowned. Made of numerous brilliantly colored sands, these take days to create, and when they’re finished, they look like elaborate tapestry mandalas. After performing the closing rituals, the monks sweep all the sands together, leaving nothing of the sand mandala. A truly ephemeral art!

I wasn’t able to get back for any part of the sandpainting process, which made me very sad. But, unbeknownst to me, another friend did go. Getting back to my story, the package I received contained a lovely mandala to hang anywhere. But what really delighted me was that it also contained a small package of sand from the monks’ mandala! The sand is very fine, but if you move the little packet, you can just discern the many colors.

To me, this was a treasure. And certainly, my friend was offering it with a pure heart. I accepted it with joy! The lesson for me was that sometimes, simply allowing yourself to accept with a joyful heart can be every bit as important as making an offering.

Just for today, be grateful.