jump to navigation

What is the sound of silence? January 20, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , ,
1 comment so far

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to pray in and play in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
—John Muir

“May we try to listen and be silent in order to make space for the beauty of God.”
—Pope Francis @Pontifex

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”
—Zen proverb

It’s not easy to be quiet, or be in quiet, these days. Unless you live in a monastery, it’s practically a lost art. We all know it’s good for us. At some point, we’ve all heard someone say “It’s so loud in here I can’t hear myself think!” We know we must find quiet to recharge, to be able to truly hear the people who need our attention, to hear birdsong. But we’ve become part of a culture that tries to fill every second with sound, activity, excitement. How can we find “the beauty of God”?

The enlightened carry quiet within them wherever they go, as a lamp carries its flame. But those of us who have not yet reached that place can still find our own quiet, at least for a while. We can give up shopping at malls for entertainment. We can keep the TV turned off unless there’s a show we really want to see, rather than having it on at times as background noise. Ditto for music. We can walk away from the computer and laptop and iPad and smartphone, from Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. (It’s not like they won’t still be there when we get back.) We can, as John Muir suggests, seek beauty in nature, whether we’re in the mountains or just looking out the back door or sitting on our deck watching the sunset.

Once you’ve chosen your spot and turned off as much noise as possible, just sit. This is the hardest part. If you’re out in nature, but you’re hiking, or you’re skiing, or you’re sketching, or you’re taking photos, you’re not being quiet. You may not be singing or shouting or chasing people, but your mind is busy doing whatever you’re doing. It’s not quiet. You’re not quiet. This is true if you’re sitting on your deck as well. You’re not out there to take an inventory of repairs that need to be made. You’re there to just sit.

This is not the time to recite one of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) or another stirring passage silently, either. Your goal is to just sit. Even doing Reiki self-healing, wonderful as it feels, is inappropriate, since it will focus your attention on your hands and body rather than on just sitting. Your goal here is “for mind and body to drop away,” at least while you sit, and for quiet to gather within you. Every time you do it, it becomes easier to drop into silence. And when you come out, it becomes easier to hold that silence in yourself.

Silly as it sounds, here’s what I do: I am absolutely addicted to those small white holiday lights. These aren’t the ones that blink on and off, they just sit there quietly twinkling. We have them on our back deck, and for the winter holiday season, we have them on our tree and in clusters in our living room. For me, they’re magic! In warm weather, if it isn’t raining, I love to go sit on the deck and watch the twinkly lights and a fire burning in our firepit as sunset gathers and darkness upon us. And indoors this time of year, I so love to just sit in the living room and watch the little white lights. Okay, it’s not sitting on the beach watching the surf, but you can find your own quiet wherever you like, a quiet that will delight you and help you grow in Reiki and in the good, compassionate life.

Advertisements

Love them all the same. January 5, 2015

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Try to treat with equal love all the people with whom you have relations. Thus the abyss between ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’ will be filled in, which is the goal of all religious worship.”

—Anandamayi Ma

It’s easy to love the people who love us—our family, our spouse or partner, our beloved dog or cat. But Anandamayi Ma is telling us that we need to offer everyone we meet the same love—the mailman, the cashier, the server, our boss, our administrative assistant, the guy who prunes our trees—everyone. That only when the barriers between us fall will we find enlightenment.

It is the separation between us that is the cause of fear and strife, or, as the Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) would have it, anger and worry. And the more we can separate someone or something from ourselves, the more justified we feel in abusing, fearing, and/or using it. We spin ever farther from connection, from harmony.

“It is the attainment of harmony which is called heaven,” says Hazrat Inayat Khan. The attainment of harmony is also enlightenment, satori, anshin ritsumei. But how do we get from here, sitting in a restaurant where everyone’s bellowing into their smartphones, the service is abominable, and when your food finally comes, they’ve sent the wrong order and it has meat on it, so you have to send it back, to there? How easy is it to listen respectfully to the boss as she loads you down with another project, explaining that she doesn’t have time for it since she’s going on a fabulously expensive cruise, so you’ll just have to work overtime without extra pay so you can get it done over the holidays?

Yet if we cannot let go of our anger, our frustration, and get past our sense of separation from these people, we can never reach that state of joy and harmony that is our goal. What to do?

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know what I’m going to say next. I can’t tell you if our Founder, Mikao Usui, struggled with these emotions or this sense of separation himself. But he certainly was an excellent judge of character, and doubtless saw his students and the people he met letting disharmony and separation keep them from their goals. So he established the Five Reiki Principles to help us set (and reset, and reset) our feet on the Reiki path, the path to enlightenment.

The Principles look easy. “Just for today,” we’re asked to not worry, not get angry, be grateful, work hard, and be kind. But if they were so easy, if all of us could do them, we’d all be enlightened. That’s why they’re a practice, a daily practice, something you can remind yourself of every time you need to bring yourself back into harmony. It is hard work, as Usui Founder reminds us, but it is also progress, progress on our path.

Just for today, practice your Reiki Principles.

A lesson in humility. October 6, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

—James M. Barrie

This must have been especially true for Barrie, whose character Peter Pan never wanted to grow up, instead preferring to live in Neverland. “I know a place where dreams are born and time is never planned.” Sounds pretty idyllic to us overworked adults, of whom Barrie was one. (The movie “Finding Neverland” was an interesting biopic of Barrie, showing a far more complex character than the creator of cartoon classic Captain Hook.)

Far from never being planned, it seems like all our time is double- or triple-planned, resulting in stress and stress-related illnesses that arise inevitably when we’re continually asked to take on more, to multitask, until we know that actually completing all our tasks, much less completing them well, is an impossibility, and we’re sinking, sinking, while Captain Hook’s crocodile is waiting for us just below the surface. Now who will we say we are when we encounter a new acquaintance who asks what we do for a living and can’t say we’re the manager or executive or VP or whatever, just somebody who was laid off and is trying to scramble along? How quickly they look away, not knowing what to say! A lesson in humility.

If you’re a parent, now expected to accompany your kids to all the post-work activities they’re expected to attend and get meals on the table and take them to buy all the latest fashions and gadgets, the pressure builds even higher. And now they’re supposed to be overachievers, multitaskers from the day one. What if you’re caring for children or parents with disabilities, people you’ll be responsible for until your death or theirs, people you may be responsible for providing care for after your death? And what if someday you’re reduced to the nursing home, the adult diaper, and the wheelchair in the hall?

James Barrie probably wasn’t thinking of such dire situations when he said “Life is a long lesson in humility.” He was possibly thinking of getting bad reviews for his writing, or great beauties who were celebrated in their day fading to wrinkled (now Botoxed) parodies of their younger selves, or performers and athletes aging and no longer being able to do what was required of them. Now, they had to sit on the sidelines and watch while the next generation dazzled with their beauty or talent. And by the next generation, no one even remembered who they were. Films like “Stage Beauty,” TV series like “Game of Thrones,” and songs like Mark Knopfler’s “Punish the Monkey” all address this.

Well, isn’t it a great thing that Usui Founder gave those of us who follow the Reiki Way a method to turn the humiliating times of life into opportunities to strengthen our practice: the Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals). Every time we’re able to pass humiliation by, to see what we can learn from it, rather than to become enraged and set all our focus and strength on fighting it, “defeating” it, we take another step forward in defeating our ego, the “I,” and coming closer to merging with the All. This is the secret of attaining enlightenment, satori, anshin ritsumei.

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” Things change. It’s up to you to decide whether that change is for better or worse.

Just for today, embrace the change.

The right way to teach Reiki. October 4, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki Tips, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , ,
add a comment

“You can preach all you like, but actually most of the important things in life are caught, not taught.”

—Jane Livesey, General Superior of the Congregation of Jesus

What a great quote! The next time you teach a Reiki class, make sure there are plenty of things for your students to “catch,” that you’re interacting, not just sitting or standing there pontificating. Rather than reciting (or worse, reading) a rote set of class notes, make sure you, as well as your students, get something new out of every class you teach. Encourage your students to open up: Sometimes their questions will open new doors for you.

Of course, you hope that every student will catch Reiki fire. It’s why they are there, why you are there. But who knows what else they might catch? Perhaps a burning desire to volunteer giving Reiki in animal shelters or hospices or assisted-living facilities, or working with handicapped kids, or going on to become a Reiki teacher themselves. Maybe they’ll want to establish Reiki as a modality at a local wellness center or spa, or create a Reiki share at their church or college. Maybe they’ll catch on a book title and go on to read a book you think is a great help on the journey, or they’ll start a Reiki journal or blog, or they’ll catch one of the Reiki exercises or Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) that can help them conquer one of their demons.

So, how do you help your students catch “the important things”? Keep learning yourself. Read, watch, take notes, including notes on how various images or passages made you think or feel. I think it’s important to keep up with new Reiki developments, but I also think that books and films on spirituality in general, such as the marvelous movie “Zen,” Sri Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and Shunryu Suzuki Roshi’s Not Always So have the ability to inspire and empower.

Make sure you keep the focus on the Reiki Principles first, always first, but don’t forget the importance of daily Reiki self-healing. Teach your students to recite the Principles, hands in gassho, in both Japanese and English, and give them copies of photos of Usui Founder, Hayashi Sensei, and Takata Sensei so they can recite in front of them if they wish. (Add photos of Chiyoko Yamaguchi Sensei, Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei, and any other Senseis in your lineage if you wish.) Make sure they can remember and do simple exercises like Hado breathing after their Reiki hands-on self-healing sessions to center themselves and deepen their calm. Encourage them to write essays on each Reiki Principle after (or even during) the first class, and again several months later; reading and talking about each of them with the class, comparing them, should be eye-opening. Have them repeat this exercise every time they take a new class so they can watch themselves grow. There is so much to offer, so much to do, so much to learn!

Just for today, start pitching.

We are infinite. October 1, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , ,
1 comment so far

“The power of imagination makes us infinite.”

—John Muir

Think about this quiet statement the next time you need to boost your spirits. The great naturalist is telling us that we don’t actually have to go to the beautiful places he saw with his own eyes to experience them. Instead, we can go there in our minds. Everyone who’s lost themselves in a book or movie knows that this is true, because when we lose ourselves, we can time-travel, whether it’s back to Jane Austen’s day or forward to the world of Star Trek. When we lose ourselves, we are infinite.

I was reminded of this last weekend when I went to a tribute lunch for a wonderful character and good friend. My partner Rob and I were seated across from a couple who’d been privileged to live all over the world in the course of their careers, and they were telling us many stories of their experiences abroad, and the many holidays they’d shared in Rome, Colombia, Nambia, and etc. with their friends. Rob’s father, now 93, is embarking today on a 73-day cruise of the Pacific, revisiting many places where he’d worked abroad in the course of his international career. Rob himself was enthusiastically telling tales of the many cruises he’d taken to and from Hawai’i as a child en route to his father’s postings at Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

A couple of months ago, a good Reiki friend had been telling me about how she and her boyfriend were going on a Caribbean cruise this fall. She and her husband (now sadly deceased) had also gone all over the world, and even lived in Hawai’i a couple of times. After his untimely death, she determined to keep going abroad, traveling with family and friends to Italy, Poland, and the like.

It seems like everyone I know, including members of my own family, are constantly traveling, while I sit here imagining what it would be like to eat Indian street food or experiencing Usui Founder’s Japan or spending a month in Tuscany or Normandy or Greece or Provence. Or just being on the ocean, sitting on the deck and looking out into infinity. But I know it will never happen unless I win the lottery. I’ll never even make it to Hawai’i, much less abroad. It’s beyond our budget to take a train trip across Canada, a weeklong trip to the Southwest, a tasting tour of the Great Lakes or the Napa Valley, a trip to Key West, even my dream of a Christmas at Colonial Williamsburg. A cruise is out of the question. A meal at Ottolenghi’s in London? A pipe dream.

But I do have a good imagination. I love to cook, and I love to read. To read a Baedeker Handbook to the Paris of the 1890s, a Collected Traveler’s Guide to Paris (excerpts from famous writers and other people and their experiences in Paris), accounts of the Rabelaisian meals of Balzac and his fellow writers and artists, and cooking advice from the great Escoffier, helps me place myself there. Reading Julia Child and seeing the wonderful scenes of Julia in France in the movie “Julie and Julia” shows me another face of Paris, as does reading about our Founding Fathers (Ben Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Gouverneur Morris) and their adventures in pre- and post-revolutionary France. (Jefferson, America’s first real gourmet, brought back a love of good wine, cheese, and pasta from Paris, along with a pasta machine. One of his favorite dishes was macaroni and cheese.)

Thank goodness we live in an age when beautiful nature scenes are available on the back pages of calendars, and, of course, online. We don’t have to go to the Rockies or Alaska when the wildflower meadows are in bloom, or to the fjords or the Alps or the Aegean, to see breathtaking photos of them. We can see fabulous images of archaeological digs from Israel to Macedonia to England to the Maya jungle as each new treasure comes to light. We don’t have to be on the ground digging as the body of Richard III or the potential tomb of King Philip of Macedon or even his son, Alexander the Great, is discovered at last.

Point being, nobody needs to feel confined by budget, family obligations, a heavy workload, physical disability, age, illness, or any other reason from achieving their dreams. Yotam Ottolenghi may never make a meal for me, but I have two of his inexpressibly beautiful cookbooks and can look at them whenever I like. You may never find yourself treating your family to a ski and spa week in Aspen or at the Grand Hotel Pupp in the Alps, but you may have a ski resort and spa in your area as we do. You may not be able to afford to sign up for a tour of Mount Kurama in Japan, or you may not have the physical stamina to climb the mountain, where our Founder was enlightened after a 21-day fast.

But whatever the case, you can go there in your mind. You can smell the food, taste the food, cook the food. You can smell the air, see the view, pick up (virtual) seashells. You can picture the terrain and culture as it was seen by people who went there decades or centuries before you or as it’s being seen by those who are going there now. You can travel virtually with Anthony Bourdain and Michael Palin (whose “Himalaya” series is one of my favorites).

Don’t think about what limits you. Think about what makes you infinite. What and where are you in your imagination?

Just for today, be infinite.

Don’t get angry. September 24, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty.”
—-Proverbs

It was no coincidence that Usui Founder made the first of his Five Reiki Principles “Just for today, don’t get angry.” Given the power that anger has to focus attention, ramp up the ego, get adrenaline going, and charge single-mindedly towards a goal, I’m surprised there isnt a bestselling book, The Anger Diet, taking its place alongside all the paleo and other low-carb diet books. I’m sure staying really angry must burn a lot of calories!

We who follow the Reiki Way are also pursuing a goal, trying to focus our attention. But our goal is to leave the ego behind, the true source of anger. (“How could you/he/they do this to ME?!!!” “I’m going to get you for this!”) Catching ourselves when we start to become angry, and asking why we’re becoming angry, what this anger has to do with anything, what it has to do with us, why we’re wasting our time on it, can help us progress along our Way. It can also help us let go of old, corrosive anger.

As the Buddha so graphically said, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” What a word picture! You can just imagine frantically tossing the coal from hand to hand, trying to avoid the pain without dropping the coal, while the other person obliviously goes about his or her business. Obviously, trying to keep the coal in motion becomes a full-time job, leaving no room for anything worthwhile. Ouch!

Language changes, and now, when we think of coal, it’s a mined fuel, not a chunk of red-hot wood from a banked fire that can be used to start another fire. But the phrase “hot potato” survives in our culture, sort of in the sense of the Buddha’s hot coal, an awkward situation or issue, usually related to business or politics, where you want to pass the “potato” instead of getting burned yourself. The phrase passed down to us from agricultural and industrial times, because the humble potato was cheap, filling, and able to retain heat. A worker could be sent to the fields or factory with a potato pulled hot from the coals of the fire, and it would still provide him with a warm, filling meal at lunchtime. But I digress.

Follow Usui Founder and stop anger when it first comes up. Let the Lord Buddha’s burning coal image help you let go of old anger. Free yourself to move forward.

Just for today, don’t get angry.

Walking with God. September 15, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Whoever approaches Me walking, I will come to him running.”

—Mishkat Al-Masabih

“The Lord always forgives us and walks at our side. We have to let him do that.”

—Pope Francis, @Pontifex

The concept of God is so variable, from a vengeful old man taking personal revenge on everyone in sight to the serene Self within that is seamlessly connected to the All, to All That Is, through the experience of enlightenment, satori, anshin ritsumei. Nature worship, the realm of the shamans and medicine men and vision quests of the indigenous people of so many countries, is another way of connecting to the All.

It fascinates me that these two quotes, divided by centuries and cultures, both depict God walking with us. “Whoever approaches Me walking, I will come to him running.” What an image! “The Lord always…walks at our side. We have to let him do that.” What a concept! In both images, we are first of all walking. We aren’t just sitting there texting on our smartphones or watching an episode of “Orange Is the New Black.” We are walking towards the Lord, or we are allowing the Lord to walk by our side.

Even if we’re speaking of the Lord within, we had better get moving. Walking Zen, walking (even virtually) with Thich Nhat Hahn, a brisk walk as recommended by Sri Eknath Easwaran to clear negative emotions and tone the body, walking meditation, walking in general, all are wonderful for body and soul. Those of us on the Reiki path might repeat (silently or aloud) one of Usui Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) as we walk, in synchrony with our breath. Who knows? We might see God running towards us, or walking by our side.

Just for today, start walking.

Losing what you have, finding what you’ve lost. September 13, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“You can only lose something that you have, but you cannot lose something that you are.”
—Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

On the surface, Eckhart Tolle’s comment sounds straightforward and reassuring: We may lose our possessions to fire, flood, theft, repossession, tornado, hurricane, or what have you, but nothing and no one can take away our essential self.

But a deeper meaning lies beneath the surface: What ARE you? Are you filled to the brim with turmoil, anger, fear, worry, jealousy, hatred, resentment, selfishness, and other destructive feelings? Are you filled with remorse for past actions, or a crippling sense of inadequacy because you don’t feel as smart, attractive or successful as your friends and coworkers? Do you fill up on self-hate, flogging yourself mentally if you stopped for ice cream or fast food on the way home or if you skipped the gym or your usual 5-mile run or made up yet another excuse to avoid visiting your great-aunt in the nursing home?

Fortunately, our emotions may distract us, but they aren’t us. And because they aren’t us, we have the opportunity to overcome them. For those of us on the Reiki path, Usui Founder has given us the way to dump all our emotional garbage, to shed all the baggage that we call “ourself” but that has nothing to do with ourself, to walk the path to enlightenment, satori, anjin ritsumei: the Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals).

If we try our best, every minute of every day, to put Usui Founder’s Principles into action, the junk that hinders us will drop away, and the “something that you are” that Eckhart Tolle references will emerge, the thing that no one and nothing can take away.

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

Don’t worry. September 11, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”
—Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

Worry is fear turned inward, as anger is fear turned outward. Usui Founder gave us his first two Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals), “Just for today, don’t get angry” and “Just for today, don’t worry,” so that we could get fear out of the way and free ourselves to feel gratitude, focus on our work, and be kind.

So all right, “don’t worry” may sound simple enough on the surface. But what if your bills are overdue and you can’t pay them, your kid is supposed to be in college but you wonder if he is or is just taking your money and lying to you, your mom keeps telling you she’s okay but she seems weaker and weaker, your best friend’s battling breast cancer, your house needs major repairs you can’t afford, your company’s downsizing and you’re afraid you’ll lose your job? How could you possibly not worry?!

Usui Founder tells you to let go of worry. Eckhart Tolle tells you that worrying accomplishes nothing. It seems to be important, but in the end, it only damages you without moving you forward. In my Reiki lineage, Hawayo Takata Sensei told our lineage bearer, the Reverend Beth Gray, that “Just for today, do not worry” was actually the first Reiki Principle. Beth was an intuitive, and her lineage has focused on that, and I think Takata Sensei was spot on with putting worry, internal fear, before anger, external fear. Controlling internal fear will control its outward manifestation.

Eckhart Tolle gives us all a great tool for shutting off fear and worry. He tells us to ask ourselves if whatever we fear is happening now. Is our car skidding off the road now? Are we meeting with the angry boss now? Has our electricity gone off now because we’re late paying our bill? If none of that is true, then we should enjoy the precious NOW rather than worry about the future, since worry simply paralyses us and serves no useful purpose. Quite the opposite.

Just for today, don’t worry.

Giving up anger. September 10, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

“Hostility is like an infectious disease. Whenever we indulge in a violent act or even in hostile words, we are passing this disease on to those around us. When we quarrel at home, it is not just a domestic problem, we are contributing to turmoil everywhere.”

—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

“Anything that you resent and strongly react to in another is also in you.”

—Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

—Maya Angelou

Those of us who follow the Reiki Way should never forget that anger is a choice. Teachers of all religions and all philosophies have said that mastering yourself—that is, your reactions to the outside world—is the key to serenity, to enlightenment. The Lord Jesus was particularly clear on this, moving far away from the “eye for an eye” of the Old Testament. He told his disciples to turn the other cheek when struck, and when compelled to do something or give something, far from trying to get out of it, to do or give even more.

Sometimes it seems that we’re surrounded by hostility: road rage, bullying, random acts of violence, brawls inside (or outside) clubs and bars, rapes. Perhaps the culture of violence we’re constantly subjected to on television and video games encourages this. Perhaps too many people crammed in too little space, under too much pressure to rush to work, encourages this. Perhaps the stereotypes of the angry comedian, the angry politician, the fire-and-brimstone minister encourage this. But we need not encourage this. We have a choice.

Sometimes we seem so small and the world seems so large, so out of control. We see corporations buying up our government, polluting the earth with their monstrous GMO crops and then dumping herbicides on them, and ultimately on all of us. We see the reckless abandonment of animals at shelters, or animals simply dumped off on the roadside or stuffed in garbage bags. We see children and pets left to die in hot cars. We see, increasingly in the age of selfies, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter, the victims of domestic violence, their crushed and swollen faces. We see the horrors of war and fanaticism, the beheadings, the mutilations, the disenfranchisement of whole peoples, every day on the news. It’s enough to make anyone angry!

I got very angry today when I read two anti-vegetarian articles. One was talking about the outrage of making American schoolchildren eat a vegetarian lunch for “Meatless Monday.” Mind you, this was one meal in a whole week, and the kids were offered such delicious fare as mac’n’cheese, pizza, and chili. But going without meat for a whole meal? Intolerable! Horrific! How dare the school system inflict such torture on children!

The second article, a blog post, was oblivious to the ultimate point it was making, unlike the first article. The author’s point was that French school lunches were so much better than American school lunches because they were made from scratch. Great! But it turns out that every single meal is meat-based—no vegetarian options—and worse still, one meal a week is made from veal, calves trapped in tiny enclosures so they can’t move and their muscles don’t develop, and force-fed milk to ensure soft, tender flesh. This cruel, hateful practice is hardly a surprise in a country that force-feeds geese until their livers expand to the extent that they make the delicacy foie gras (literally, “fat liver”). But it is a surprise that the author praised the fact that the French were teaching their children not to care about the well-being of animals along with their other school lessons.

So yes, I was mad enough to cry. What wouldn’t I have liked to say to those wretched people! But as Sri Eknath says, any act of hostility contributes to turmoil everywhere. And as I’m sure you’ve all noticed, there’s rarely a good outcome when we respond in kind, rather than responding by being kind. PETA and well-meaning groups like them make themselves targets for endless ridicule, and worse, by doing things like throwing red paint (for blood) on celebrities’ fur coats.

There was a time when people who lived in cold climates had to wear fur coats to survive, had to eat meat to survive. That time has passed, and now both are expensive luxury items that our world can’t afford. But throwing paint on people or firebombing A-list restaurants won’t make that point.

Instead, one response might be making videos of happy, free-range, heirloom-breed chickens who are allowed to live full lives and fed all sorts of grains, veggies, bread, and fruit. Comparing them to factory-farmed chickens, raised in tiny cages stacked on top of one another with their beaks cut off, with lights glaring at them 24/7 to encourage egg production, might possibly turn on a few lightbulbs in human viewers, such as, being stuck in a tiny, windowless cubicle under artificial lighting day in, day out, with an inconceivable production schedule and all trace of individuality cut off: after all, you’re just a “worker bee.” And that’s just for those “lucky” enough to hold white-collar jobs, or jobs at all, for that matter.

Let it go, let it go, let the anger go. Usui Founder made “Just for today, don’t get angry” the first of his Reiki Principles, aka Precepts, Ideals. He knew you could only control your response to the provocation, not the provocation itself. This doesn’t mean you can’t fight for a cause that you believe in. Just don’t do it in anger.

Just for today, don’t get angry.