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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.

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Things happen for a reason. August 4, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in Reiki.
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I live near Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where every year I remind myself to avoid going near it at this time of year at all costs. That’s because every August, Bethlehem hosts Musikfest, a big, sprawling, mostly-free event with lots of music, lots of noise, huge, rowdy crowds, choked traffic, and a not inconsiderable amount of inebriation as Festers stagger through the streets availing themselves of the abundant food and drink.

Crowds, traffic, noise, sickening heat: It’s my recipe for a nightmare. Yet last evening, I found myself seated in the grass before a stage listening to the opening ceremony. (And yes, if there’s one thing more horrible than the crowds and noise, it’s an opening ceremony. Aaaarrrgghhhh!!!) How on earth did I get here?!

Well, as it happened, the monks of the Tibetan Lamasery of Drepung Loseling were performing at Musikfest’s opening ceremony, sharing music, dance and chant. Really, this just has to be a first. I was dying to go see, but would never have braved the 93-degree heat and at least 93% humidity, to which I have zero tolerance, to watch an open-air performance if a dear friend hadn’t been coming down on another errand and suggested that we go. Serendipity? You betcha.

I have amazing CDs of unearthly Tibetan chanting, but had never seen a live performance. Sweltering in the sun in my tee-shirt, I wondered how the dancers could bear performing their marvelous steps wearing layers of silk. The dance was mesmerizing. But the best part came last, when the monks blessed all of us in the audience in a sonorous chant and performance on traditional Tibetan musical instruments. As their voices soared out over us, I felt myself flying, yet centered. It was a journey that I knew would bring me safe home.

Things happen for a reason: The monks coming to Musikfest this year, my happening to read about their appearance in the local paper, my friend wanting to go and happening to be in the area at precisely the right time. I feel so blessed to have been given this opportunity.

If you’re within driving distance of the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area, the monks will be remaining at Musikfest through Monday, dancing, chanting, playing their instruments and leading meditations, as well as creating a fabulous sand mandala and selling traditional Tibetan crafts.

Just for today, be grateful.

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