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Shine on. January 4, 2015

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“The good shine like the Himalayas, whose peaks glisten above the rest of the world even when seen from a distance.”

—The Buddha

Seeing this quote again really resonated with me, since my partner Rob and I have been having a “visual cleanse” after a season of Christmas movies by watching Michael Palin’s “Himalaya” travel series. Of course it’s charming to see the various incarnations of Scrooge and “A Christmas Carol,” not to mention the classics from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s, but eventually it all gets old and you find yourself longing for something else.

I have never seen such beautiful scenery as in the “Himalaya” series. I can’t imagine going there, high above the world as the Buddha says, which is why I love our DVDs. But I love the thought of going there, or on the ocean, or any other beautiful Neverland.

Lord Buddha is saying that all of us can look like the Himalayas, that even the least likely of us can shine like the Himalayas. It’s not easy to be good, but by practicing Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) every day, we can at least get closer.

Just for today, practice your Reiki Principles.

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Rejoice wherever you go. August 17, 2014

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“Those who are selfless rejoice here and rejoice there; they rejoice wherever they go.”

—The Buddha

Just for today, rejoice.

Becoming grounded. April 14, 2014

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“The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.”

—The Buddha

This is one of my favorite quotes. To me, it says that the foot does not know itself—does not even realize it is there—until it touches the ground. Just as those of us who follow the Reiki Way don’t truly know who we are until, in our practice, we touch the Ground of Being, the All, the union with all things at the most primordial and most cosmic level. Then we realize that separation is the great delusion, “the greatest trick the Devil ever played,” to quote Kaiser Soze in “The Usual Suspects.”

I love going barefoot so my feet can feel the grass or the rug or the wood or the cool stone floor. The sheer physical pleasure of the contact with these surfaces reminds me of this quote, reminds me to carry on with my daily Reiki practices, to continue to try to follow Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) “just for today.”

As I dig my toes into the plush carpet or slide them over the smooth tiles, I think about how we don’t find enlightenment, satori, by floating isolated in our little bubbles, but by engaging with the world. It is when our Reiki toes come in contact with the rest of the world and feel the connection that we move forward.

Just for today, take your shoes off.

The secret of health. February 22, 2014

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“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”

—The Buddha

Mikao Usui, the Founder of Reiki, was raised as a Buddhist and spent time in a Buddhist monastery before the enlightenment experience in which he received Reiki. No doubt he was aware of this saying, and no doubt it inspired him to shape his Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) to help his followers achieve health of mind and body. He described them as “The secret art of inviting happiness, the miraculous medicine for all diseases.”

At their most basic—and therefore most powerful—these directives are:

Just for today:
Don’t get angry.
Don’t worry.
Be grateful.
Work hard.
Be kind.

These sound simple, but, as any Reiki practitioner knows, are very hard to put into practice for longer than a few minutes at a time. The “secret art” is, as the Buddha says, living fully in the moment. Then it’s easy to practice the Principles, since nothing is making you angry, there’s nothing to worry about, and you can focus your attention on being grateful, working hard, and being kind.

Just for today, be healthy.

The saving grace. December 29, 2013

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“The good shine like the Himalayas, whose peaks glisten above the rest of the world even when seen from a distance.”

—The Buddha

“It is a simple law of human nature that we love the highest…. This is the saving grace of human nature.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

Just for today, look to the peaks.

Difficult to perceive. December 24, 2011

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“Let the wise guard their thoughts, which are difficult to perceive, which are extremely subtle, which wander at will.”

                      —The Buddha

I’d not encountered this quote before, and am extremely impressed by the part where the Buddha says that our thoughts are difficult to perceive. All of us know that our thoughts wander, often when we’re trying our hardest to focus. If we’re at all self-analytical, we also realize that our thought processes can be extremely subtle, leading us in a direction or to a conclusion or action we hadn’t anticipated and perhaps would not have consciously chosen.

But difficult to perceive? Hey, these are our thoughts, of course we’re aware of our own thoughts! Aren’t we?

Most of the time, probably not. John Lennon famously wrote that life is what happens while you’re busy doing other things. I’ve never found that true or compelling, since life is what happens, period. But substitute “thoughts” for “life” and you’ve pretty much summed up the human condition.

We charge along, doing this and that, and meanwhile, we’re thinking all the time. Every waking moment, and even in our dreams. Our thoughts may not be profound, they may be irrelevant or even stupid, but they’re rushing along on their own course even as we’re rushing along on ours. Our conscious awareness is a tiny brook compared to the Niagara Falls of our thoughts, pouring, tumbling, cascading over one another in their momentary millions, droplets that quickly merge back into the torrent.

We ignore our thoughts, instantly forget them, are oblivious, because we’re simply too busy to bother to pay attention. There are too many of them. As the Emperor complained to Mozart in Amadeus, “There are too many notes!” 

We put most of our thoughts, and our observations, in a lock box somewhere in the darkness of our mental storeroom, so we aren’t overwhelmed and can function. I once read a description of idiot savant twins by Oliver Sacks. The two men were incapable of living on their own or doing anything to support themselves, of having what most of us think of as a life. But they could recall, recall exactly, every single thing that had ever happened and had come within the realm of their perception. Sacks finally tested them by “accidentally” dropping a large open box of wooden matches on the floor. “518!” both men cried at once.  “518?” Sacks asked (he later counted them and found the number to be correct). “There are 518 matches,” the twins replied. “How could you count them all at a glance?” Sacks asked. “We didn’t count them, we saw them,” they responded. 

This is a characteristic that is attributed to God. (“Every hair is, hair of the head, numbered.”) And it must be a characteristic shared by all of us, the ability to see and know the number of blades of grass in a lawn, of eyelashes surrounding our eyes, of threads in a bedspread. But unlike God, we can’t both keep this knowledge in our conscious awareness and function, so we shut it away. Out of sight, out of mind. What other thoughts and perceptions do we shut away?

Lord Buddha says the wise must guard their thoughts, a two-step process: First, you must be aware of them, and then, you must regulate them.

Why bother? As the bumper sticker says, “Thoughts become action, action becomes habit, habit becomes character, character becomes destiny.”

This is, obviously, not easy. It is unbelievably hard, the end point of meditation, the gateway to enlightenment. Observing and controlling our thoughts, remaining sane while doing so, remaining functional, reaching, like Usui Founder, satori in the process, touching God?

Yowie zowie. Yet it is exactly this that we are called to do.

Just for today, be mindful.

Excerpted from Living Reiki. All content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.