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Drinking poison. June 29, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

—The Buddha

Just for today, don’t get angry.

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You can’t shut other people’s mouths. February 18, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“Do not let your peace depend on the hearts of others; whatever they say about you, good or bad, you are not because of it another, for as you are, you are.”
—Thomas a Kempis

“Go placidly in the midst of praise or blame!”
—Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei, founder of Komyo Reiki

“Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.”
—The Buddha

“Even if you have ninety-nine people cheering you, there will always be a hundreth to boo. That is the nature of life, and to deal with it, we need simply to learn not to be always on the lookout for appreciation and applause.”
—Sri Eknath Easwaran, Words to Live By

“You can’t shut other people’s mouths.”
—Sri Eknath’s spiritual teacher

“We never see ourselves as others see us.”
—Jill Connor Brown of the Sweet Potato Queens

“I yam what I yam.”
—Popeye

I’m sure all of us who follow the Reiki Way have been taken aback by negative, even abusive, comments directed at us while we were trying to do our best, to help others and to progress on our path. Criticism can be crushing to those who depend on others’ opinions to shape their self-image. But for those of us who are secure in ourselves, it provides an opportunity for reflection rather than a slap in the face. It gives us a wake-up call, a precious opportunity to see ourselves and our views in a new light, the light of someone who doesn’t know us and love us but who comes upon us cold.

This is a great gift in disguise, a prod to keep us alert and aware rather than becoming complacent. It challenges us to review our practices and beliefs and either reaffirm them or change them. It helps keep our practice fresh; it stimulates us to grow. Praise is an invitation to complacency. It is blame, abuse, attack that wakes us up and moves us forward.

Don’t take it personally; these people don’t know you. Do take it as an opportunity to grow. Above all, know yourself, and be true to who you are. Stay on the path!

Just for today, go placidly in the midst of praise or blame.

All original content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.

Transcending time. February 3, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki exercise, Reiki wisdom.
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“Time is what keeps the light from reaching us. There is no greater obstacle to God than time; and not only time but temporalities, not only temporal things…but the very taint and smell of time.”
—Meister Eckhart

“Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise unshaken by praise or blame.”
—The Buddha

“Just for today…”
—Mikao Usui, Founder of Reiki

What do these three quotes have in common? It may not look like it on the surface, but all three of them are about time, and the need to free ourselves from the constraints of time if we are to progress on our spiritual path.

Obviously, God exists outside of time. And Reiki exists outside of time. But most of us are bound and chained by time; it hangs on us like the chains wrapped around Marley’s ghost, which Ebenezer Scrooge found more terrifying than the apparition itself. We do not live in the now, the present moment; most of us are almost never fully mentally present, as our minds dart back and forth between past and future with such dizzying speed that we’re unable to focus on what is before our eyes.

Fortunately for those of us on the Reiki path, Usui Founder gave us two tools for transcending time. One is the second symbol, which we learn during our level II/Okuden class and which enables us to send distant healing, transcending time and space. The other, available to all of us at all levels, is the set of rules to live by that are known as the Five Reiki Principles (also Precepts/Ideals). Usui Sensei asks us to recite (actually chant) the Principles aloud, morning and evening, with hands in gassho (prayer position). And to break time’s grip on us, the recitation begins with “Just for today” (Kyo dake wa).

The point of both the second symbol and the Principles is that they force us to focus, to concentrate, to be present in the now, which is, after all, the only time we actually have and the only way to transcend time. Have you ever wondered why the days seemed so much longer when you were a small child—time seemed to stretch out, to stand still—and then, as the years went by, it gathered steam like a freight train, rushing by faster and faster? Small children, with their innocent, uncluttered minds, are much better than we are at living fully in the present.

I find all the Reiki symbols helpful focusing tools, but for me, the Reiki Principles are like living meditation. With that “Just for today,” they bring the mind back again and again. You can repeat them silently or aloud, as often as you need. You can bring your mind back to the relevant Principle if you find yourself getting angry or starting to worry, if unkind thoughts arise or you find yourself bemoaning your lot instead of feeling grateful, if you need to bring your focus back to the work at hand. They are a gift from Usui founder to us.

So far, so good. But what does being unshaken by praise or blame have to do with time? Think about it. You’re praised or blamed for actions that occurred in the past. You may also be praised because of an action someone wants you to perform in the future, or blamed in advance because another person is afraid their future actions won’t measure up and is setting you up to take the fall. In either case, praise and blame have nothing to do with the present moment, the now. And they contradict the Five Reiki Principles by contributing to feelings of anger, worry, self-importance (which flies in the face of “Be grateful” and “Be kind”), and distraction (which keeps us from our work). The person who can accept praise or blame with equanimity is breaking one more link in the chain of time.

Just for today, be here now.

All original content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved

More thoughts on thoughts. January 12, 2013

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom.
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“All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”—The Buddha

Following up on my last post, “We are our thoughts,” is this wonderful (dare I say thought-provoking?) quote from the Buddha. And as so often happens on the Reiki Way, just this morning I found another quote to support it in a startling and unexpected way. But before I share that one, let me talk a bit about how we become the result of what we have thought, and what Usui Founder, himself a Buddhist, would have to say about it.

I am sorry to say that I know people who relive every real and imagined misfortune that has ever befallen them from cradle to grave. It’s as though their minds are nothing but an endless tape loop that replays the many supposed wrongs done them in mind-numbing detail, taking up so much brain space that they have little room for anything but their oft-repeated tales of woe. They perceive themselves as martyrs, and with good reason: They have become martyrs to their own thoughts. They are the most miserable, and consistently miserable, people I know, and because they’ve built their self-identity on this and cling to it for dear life, it’s impossible (in my experience at least) to spring the trap and free them.

I can understand the process all too well, since I used to relive, not wrongs, but every humiliation that had ever befallen me—in other words, every embarrassing thing I’d ever done or mortifying situation I’d found myself in—in excruciating detail when my mind was idle. But at least I never identified myself in those terms, it was rather more like a waking nightmare. (Thanks be to Reiki, or perhaps brain fade, this has happened less and less with every passing year. What a relief to free one’s mind from such a narrow prison.)

My own beloved Grandma’s attitude toward this type of toxic thinking is the best antidote I know. She said, “I try to forget the bad things.” Good idea! Usui Founder expressed this when he began his Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) with “Just for Today.” With that statement, he was urging all of us who follow the Reiki Way to live fully in the now, where there are no recriminations, no resentment, and no regrets, where every moment is new and fresh and offers us an opportunity to leave the past in the past and fully embrace the now. What a gift, what a precious gift. Thank you, Usui Founder!

And now for that second quote. It’s from Kelly McDermott-Burns, commenting on a post, “Reiki Dog,” by Kris Azzarello on the International House of Reiki blog. (I urge you all to read the moving story of Kris and Frosty, the Reiki dog, at http://www.ihreiki.com/blog/.) Kelly shared this: “An old friend once told me, ‘I want to be like my dog. He doesn’t care who stepped on his tail yesterday.'” The now is all we have. Our life’s too short to harbor resentments, grudges, hatred. Reiki people, be here now, be open to the wonderful reality of this fresh, new moment. Leave the past, embrace the present, and may you find joy in it.

Just for today, be here, be fully here, now.

All original content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.

Go placidly. September 23, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki, Reiki wisdom, Uncategorized.
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“Go placidly in the midst of praise or blame.”

This is the motto of Komyo Reiki Kai, the Reiki of Enlightenment, and its founder, Hyakuten Inamoto Sensei. This is the Middle Way, a way espoused by everyone from the Buddha to Sri Eknath Easwaran to Eckhart Tolle to Usui Founder. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not simple for us.

In the modern world, at least, we humans don’t “go placidly” at all. We not only get excited and puffed up when we’re praised and angry and depressed when we’re blamed, we’re constantly rushing around, trying to do an impossible amount of work in an impossibly small time, worrying about how we’ll make ends meet, tossing and turning at night as we think of all we have to do tomorrow. The to-do list never ends.

This is where our Founder’s Five Reiki Principles (aka Precepts, Ideals) can come to our rescue. When we’re blamed, we can remind ourselves not to get angry. When a work deadline’s looming or a bill is coming due, we can remind ourselves not to worry and to work hard. When we’re praised, we can remind ourselves to be kind and to be grateful rather than letting our egos take over. Above all, we can remind ourselves that we don’t have to take the high road and be some kind of noble hero or saint: We just have to try to take it one step at a time, one minute at a time. “Just for today.”

The Principles are a gateway to the Middle Way, as they are a gateway, ultimately, to enlightenment, to satori. Those of us who follow the Reiki Way should be grateful for the gift Usui Founder gave us when he wrote them and try to embody them, to personify them. When we do, we can finally go placidly in the midst of praise and blame and anything else our world chooses to throw at us.

Just for today, try to live the Principles.

All original content © copyright Red Dog Reiki. All rights reserved.