I was installing something on my computer this morning and I smiled when I remembered that, prior to meeting my husband, computers were for me something that I barely touched, using the one in my house back then only to write some paper work for university from time to time (yeah, that was a different age, we used handwriting more often 😛 – I still use it probably more than half of you, dear readers, although I discovered also that Microsoft Office is quite a friendly application :).
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that after meeting my husband I “evolved” up to the point where I’m not only capable to use the current system, but I’m able to assemble one from pieces, install the software (starting with the OS) and whatever other programs I need, and do many other things with it. In other words, “I learned”. Which is something that we ALL do, all our lives, voluntarily or involuntarily – we learn in order to adapt to the circumstances presented to us by life. Some say that we are able to learn even prior to being born from our mothers’ wombs – I don’t know about that, but for sure we are able to learn starting with the moment when we are born, and we continue to learn until the day we die.
The reasons why we learn are obvious. The reasons why we don’t learn can also be obvious, but neither ones nor the others make my topic for today. Instead I am going to mention a discussion that I had with a friend only a couple of days ago, in which he (my friend), who, coincidentally, is going to be a professor, was telling me that if I’m not able to teach someone a certain thing, maybe it’s because of the method that I’m applying.
I was tempted to reject the idea, for many reasons (pride among them), but fortunately for me I was smart enough in that moment to simply shut up, to listen to what he was saying and to chew on his words later that night. And then I realized that he was pretty much telling me what I always stated – that prior to teach someone WHAT to learn, you have to teach them HOW to learn. Ignacio Estrada said that “If a child can’t learn the way WE teach, maybe we should teach the way THEY learn”. The final goal is not for our own teaching to impose itself unto the mind of a being, but for that being to learn something from our teaching.
What my friend may not have realized at that point was the lesson that I myself had to learn that evening – and that is that the hardest to learn is when you think you already know what you’re learning. But as John Cotton Dana said, “He who dares to teach must never cease to learn”. And I myself feel lucky to have remembered such a beautiful lesson of life – and above all, lucky to have friends to teach it to me again :). Namaste!
The image used was taken from http://quotespictures.com/who-dares-to-teach-must-never-cease-to-learn-education-quote/
LILIANA NEGOI (Endless Journey and in Romanian curcubee în alb şi negru) ~ is a member of our core team on Into the Bardo. She is the author of three published volumes of poetry in English, which is not her mother tongue but one that she came to love especially because of writing: Sands and Shadows, Footsteps on the San – tanka collection and The Hidden Well. The last one can also be heard in audio version, read by the author herself on her SoundCloud site HERE. Many of her creations, both poetry and prose, have been published in various literary magazines.
STEPHEN BATCHELOR (b. 1953), Buddhist teacher, author, scholar
Author of Buddhism Without Beliefs
In this video, Stephen Batchelor presents his view of Karma and Rebirth and the reasoning that supports his perspective. In the video he mentions “dukkha,” which is an important concept in Buddhism:
“Dukkha is commonly explained according to three different categories: The obvious physical and mental suffering associated with birth, growing old, illness and dying. The anxiety or stress of trying to hold onto things that are constantly changing. A basic unsatisfactoriness pervading all forms of existence, due to the fact that all forms of life are changing, impermanent and without any inner core or substance.” Wikipedia
“Stephen Batchelor is a contemporary Buddhist teacher and writer, best known for his secular or agnostic approach to Buddhism. Stephen considers Buddhism to be a constantly evolving culture of awakening rather than a religious system based on immutable dogmas and beliefs. In particular, he regards the doctrines of karma and rebirth to be features of ancient Indian civilisation and not intrinsic to what the Buddha taught. Buddhism has survived for the past 2,500 years because of its capacity to reinvent itself in accord with the needs of the different Asian societies with which it has creatively interacted throughout its history. As Buddhism encounters modernity, it enters a vital new phase of its development. Through his writings, translations and teaching, Stephen engages in a critical exploration of Buddhism’s role in the modern world, which has earned him both condemnation as a heretic and praise as a reformer.” MORE [About Stephen Batchelor from his website]
Photo credit ~ Stephen Batchelor at Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico by ottmarliebert via Wikipedia under CCA-SA 2.0 Generic license.
– compiled by Jamie Dedes
THE CHARTER FOR COMPASSION AND COMPASSIONATE CITIES ARE ONGOING PROJECTS: To date some 99,596 people from around the world have signed the Charter, which was started when Karen Armstrong won the TED Prize and made a wish: for help creating, launching and propagating a Charter for Compassion. On November 12, 2009, the Charter was unveiled.
Among those who have given the charter their backing are Richard Branson, Musician Peter Gabriel, Sir Ken Robinson and the Dalai Lama. As of this month, some 99,500 other people from around the world have affirmed it. On April 26, 2010, Seattle became the first city in the world to affirm the charter.
Photo/illustration credits ~ Robert Thurman, Ph.D. (below) by Tktru via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike 3.0 unported license.Illustration ~ Charter for Compassion copyrighted logo and The Dalai Lama on Compassionate Cities meme are used under Creative Commons Attribution non-Commercial license.
“Tenzin Robert Thurman became a Tibetan monk at age 24. He’s a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University, and co-founder of Tibet House US, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization.
“Thurman’s focus is on the balance between inner insight and cultural harmony. In interpreting the teachings of Buddha, he argues that happiness can be reliable and satisfying in an enduring way without depriving others.
“He has translated many Buddhist Sutras, or teachings, and written many books, recently taking on the topic of Anger for the recent Oxford series on the seven deadly sins. He maintains a podcast on Buddhist topics. And yes, he is Uma’s dad..” TED.com
This just came in from Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Buddist Global Relief. Walks are happening in: San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angles, California; Willington, Connecticut; Tampa Bay, Florida; Ann Arbor, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; New York, New York; Houston, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Beanteay Meanchey, Cambodia; Nagpur, India.
Today close to a billion people worldwide face hunger as a fact of daily life. Hunger and hunger-related illnesses claim ten million lives each year, half of them children. Hunger of such magnitude is not the result of a shortage of funds or a lack of food, but of a lack of care, a lack of will. In a world where trillions of dollars are spent on weapons and wars, the extent of hunger is a blemish on the soul of humanity. To redeem ourselves, we must learn to see ourselves in others, to recognize our obligation to ensure that all humankind can flourish together.
This fall, in different cities around the U.S. and abroad, Buddhist Global Relief will be holding its 4th “Walk to Feed the Hungry.” The walk is a gesture of care and compassion by which we express our commitment to helping our brothers and sisters in need. The purpose of the walk is to raise funds for our many projects that address hunger and malnutrition. Funds raised will support such BGR projects as right livelihood training for girls in Sri Lanka; meals and scholarships for poor kids in Haiti; food scholarships for girls and their families in Cambodia; education and vocational training for kids in Bangladesh; nutritional guidance and micronutrient supplements in Côte d’Ivoire; a tuition center for women and girls in India; urban gardens here in the U.S.; and sustainable agriculture programs in Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Haiti, India, and Malawi.
The BGR “Walk to Feed the Hungry” has become an American Buddhist tradition that is growing from year to year. Our first walk took place in New Jersey in October 2010. In 2011 we held three walks and last year a dozen walks, including solidarity walks in India and Cambodia. We expect a similar number this year. A walk like this offers us a channel to express our collective compassion in solidarity with the world’s poor. It’s also a great form of exercise and an opportunity to make new friends
I cordially invite you to join us on this walk. A “Walk to Feed the Hungry” will be held at various locations around the U.S. See our website for information about walks already planned. Please join us, register early, and mobilize members of your congregation, Dharma group, or community to participate as well. By creating a First Giving Fundraising page, you can enable your friends and relatives to share in the merits of the walk by supporting you in this worthy endeavor.
If you live too far from any of these places, you can organize a walk of your own or some other event with your friends or community members, such as a day of mindfulness, to raise funds to feed the hungry. Together, let’s show that we cherish the poor and needy of the earth like our own parents, children, brothers, and sisters.
Thank you so much.
With metta and a downpour of blessings,
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
Founder and Chairperson
Photo credit ~ Ken and Visakha Kawasaki under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
I’m trying to follow the theme of an essay, which I wrote for Into the Bardo, “Fortes Fortuna Adiuvat (Fortune Favours The Bold)”, which was published here at the beginning of August. It was a deeply thoughtful piece that probably comes from my own anxieties at the state of the world. In consequence, it became an overly long and involved treatise, in which I tried to encapsulate my understanding of what needs to happen to rescue the human race from itself.
An impossible dream, you might say, and you could be right. However, a couple of weeks after publishing it, I stumbled upon something that struck me between the eyes! It was an eight hundred year old poem, which felt as if it were a personal message from somewhere unknown! Also, another article that was posted here on Into The Bardo, last Saturday, A Biassed Mind Cannot Grasp Reality: A Message from the Dalai Lama, (Excerpts from His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s address to the inter-faith seminar organised by the International Association for Religious Freedom, Ladakh Group, in Leh on 25 August), spoke of how human ‘agitation’ was the cause of many of our woes. This was a particularly enlightening read; I recommend it to you highly.
The first three verses of this poem, appeared from Rumi’s Facebook page and struck me in a number of ways, not least of all because it represents a special milestone in the recognition of so much that I believe about the human condition, which is to recognise our own individuality, our own convictions and that, I would argue, we should take responsibility for our own actions. I had, therefore to seek out its source and find the rest of the poem, written by that much revered Thirteenth Century Persian poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi mystic, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.
“Everything you see has its roots in the unseen world” – isn’t this the space between our ears?
“Why do you weep? The source is within you” – ditto
I have, for a long time, recognised that, whilst we may cover ourselves with a veneer of sophistication, we cannot hide from the frailty of our very human condition. The Industrial Revolution, the engineering and technology, which has resulted over the following two hundred and fifty years, may have produced some remarkable examples of our ingenuity, but the problems of the world that remain, which are, for the most part, of our own making, are the same in essence as they were when this poem was written nearly eight hundred years ago, when humans were still humans, but without the technology. It seems a strange irony that this could be a sign that our resultant wealth, which is far more widely distributed than it was eight hundred years ago, has blurred our vision of life’s purpose, whilst at the same time (certainly in the case of this post) aided it, with computer technology.
When we’ve learned this lesson, when we’ve learned, not just how to recognise this fact, but how to respond to it, to imbue the young minds of future generations with the knowledge that they need to discover how they are going to embrace all cultures, all religions and all manner of human personalities (because we adults have not made a great job of it so far and are clearly not entirely capable of teaching them) then, and only then, will we be truly able to move on as a race … and awaken to that much vaunted new dawn, that enlightenment.
I give you the words of one, who probably knew much more and was more qualified than most of us living today to understand the human condition …
A Garden Beyond Paradise
Everything you see has its roots
in the unseen world.
The forms may change,
yet the essence remains the same.
Every wondrous sight will vanish,
every sweet word will fade.
But do not be disheartened,
The Source they come from is eternal—
growing, branching out,
giving new life and new joy.
Why do you weep?—
That Source is within you,
and this whole world
is springing up from it.
The Source is full,
its waters are ever-flowing;
Do not grieve,
drink your fill!
Don’t think it will ever run dry—
This is the endless Ocean!
From the moment you came into this world,
a ladder was placed in front of you
that you might transcend it.
From earth, you became plant,
from plant you became animal.
Afterwards you became a human being,
endowed with knowledge, intellect and faith.
Behold the body, born of dust—
how perfect it has become!
Why should you fear its end?
When were you ever made less by dying?
When you pass beyond this human form,
no doubt you will become an angel
and soar through the heavens!
But don’t stop there.
Even heavenly bodies grow old.
Pass again from the heavenly realm
and plunge into the ocean of Consciousness.
Let the drop of water that is you
become a hundred mighty seas.
But do not think that the drop alone
becomes the Ocean—
the Ocean, too, becomes the drop!
– Jelaluddin Rumi
A Garden Beyond Paradise: The Mystical Poetry of Rumi
(translated by Jonathan Star), Bantam Books, NY, 1992, pp. 148-149
Edited by Peter Y. Chou, WisdomPortal.com
© 2013, essay and portrait below, John Anstie, All rights reserved
JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British poet and writer, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Oc casional Musician, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer. John participates in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. John is also an active member of The Poetry Society (UK).
John has been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising“. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.
* Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.
… and it being Saturday and a Sabbath celebration for many people, we are reblogging our own Terri Stewart’s Saturday post …
We are now in the twenty first century. The quality of research on both the inner and physical world has reached quite high levels, thanks to the tremendous stride in technological advancement and human intelligence. However, as some of the speakers said before, the world is also facing a lot of new problems, most of which are man-made. The root cause of these man-made problems is the inability of human beings to control their agitated minds. How to control such a state of mind is taught by the various religions of this world.” MORE
Photograph taken by an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States and as a work of the U.S. federal government it is in the public domain.
This morning we put aside our frustration and despair and spoke with the land and spirits. The mosquitoes, which had been fierce, quieted their attack, and even the birds calling stopped to listen. We like to open the altar outside whenever the weather allows, but of late have not had the heart to do so. The last time we opened the altar was the only time all summer we have heard the calls of the Hermit Thrush.
We awoke feeling sad and angry. The news on the racial, social, and climate fronts has been heartbreaking. We’ve been feeling overwhelmed, unable to see how we might contribute significantly to much-needed change. We’ve also been asked to aid others who are thinking they should do more than they possibly can. We remind others to do only what they are able. As we do so we remind our many selves to do the same, even as some selves feel frightened and desperate for change.
In the brief ceremony we spoke to the Creator, Pachamama, and the spirits about our gratitude for our lives and our concerns for the present and future. We acknowledged we humans are not caring for the futures of our grandchildren, let alone those of all species who will follow us in seven generations. This is a great sadness.
After the ceremony we came in to respond to e-mail and do other tasks. Online, we discovered a brief video posted to Facebook. In the video, a wild raven, perched on a fence, allows a woman to remove porcupine quills from its face. After each quill is removed, the raven squawks and complains, then allows the woman to soothe it and remove the next quill. How familiar! (Watch video.)
Watching the video, we were once again reminded that ravens are immensely intelligent creatures, that humans are not the only ones who seek aid from others, and that all life forms are profoundly interconnected, in life as in story. We were also reminded that small things, even removing quills from an injured animal, can be powerful ceremony, and profoundly healing to those in an ever-widening circle.
– Michael Watson, Ph.D.
© 2013, essay and photographs (includes portrait below), Michael Watson, All rights reserved
MICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World) ~ is a contributing editor to Into the Bardo, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, psychotherapist, educator and artist of Native American and European descent. He lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he teaches in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there. Recently Michael has been teaching in India and Hong Kong. His experiences are documented on his blog. In childhood he had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.
When I was first asked to write an article exploring the links between being a poet and a trumpet teacher, my first reaction was panic. How could I possibly link my poetry life and my teaching/music life together? In my head they occupy two very separate spaces. Whilst pondering this, I grumpily thought of how often they seem to leech time and energy from each other, and it was this thought that made me realise they must be linked in some way and gave me the confidence to start writing.
I’ve only just started telling pupils that I write poetry – they often just look at me strangely. Then they ask what I write about – I usually change the subject and make them play a scale or something – because what poet likes to be asked what they write about? Especially when you are asked by a ten year old who is not going to be impressed by an airy flourish of my hand and a vague reference to gender politics.
At the beginning of 2012 I told one of my teenage pupils I’d got a job working as a poet in a men’s prison for ten weeks. He looked at me in disbelief, then did that clicking knuckles thing that’s all the rage with young people, before exclaiming with delight ‘You’re gonna get stabbed!’ followed by another click of his knuckles. When I appeared the next week with no puncture wounds, triumphant, he’d forgotten about the conversation already.
I’ve been working as a full time brass teacher for seven years – but in September 2012 I decided to reduce my contract down to four days a week to give myself more time to write. I teach in about 16 primary schools a week delivering a programme called ‘Wider Opportunities’ where every child in the class gets a brass instrument as well as the teacher and teaching assistants. I also run two brass bands and teach small groups of children as well.
I think the most important part of my job is to show both adults and children that music is for them. I can relate to thinking that it is not you see – being the only child in the school not allowed in the choir age eleven. The same thing happens in poetry – people think it is not for them – but it is surprising how many people in conversation will admit they have written a poem or ‘always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument’.
As I’m writing this article, I can see more and more connections. The role of peripatetic teacher is always that of an outsider – I’m not attached to any school and this loneliness is reminiscent of the work of being a poet, or a writer. My two worlds creep closer when I think of the way I had to learn as a new teacher, that my hope of guiding young players who spent every spare minute practising (as I did) off to music college was unlikely. I had to learn to let go of what I wanted, to understand that if my enjoyment of my job, my success, was measured by how much my pupils practised and whether they went off to music college, I would be a Very Miserable Teacher. I had to learn to listen to what my pupils wanted – and this transaction is often non-verbal because sometimes they don’t know either. Doesn’t this sound like poetry? The act of letting go, of relinquishing control is precisely what writing is to me. I learnt as a poet as well, that if I measured success by publication or prizes I would be a Very Miserable Poet.
Another part of my job is conducting a junior band. This is going to sound harsh, but conducting is all about imposing your will on the group. There is no room for anyone else to be creative. In fact, rehearsing is more like editing a poem – practising the same section over and over again, breaking the band down into parts so you can hear the weakest links – is exactly like reading your own poem over and over again, to find a line that will give way under scrutiny.
Teaching music and writing poetry are ultimately an act of balance – they both have that feeling of walking a tightrope, of words being vastly important. I often find myself using the same catchphrases when I’m teaching – they almost become your own personal clichés. I made a list of mine and turned it into a poem – it made it into my first pamphlet at the last minute and on the advice of my editor, Ann Sansom rather than any passion for it on my part – maybe it reminded me too much of work – but it is often the poem that people comment on – the most surprising people will confess they used to play a brass instrument or will say ‘I remember my trumpet teacher saying that to me when I was small’. And of course, the lines in my poem are not mine at all, really. They were given to me by my trumpet teacher and I remembered them, and repeated them to my pupils, like a poem, learnt by heart.
Teaching the Trumpet
I say: imagine you are drinking a glass of air.
Let the coldness hit the back of your throat.
Raise your shoulders to your ears, now let
them be. Get your cheeks to grip your teeth.
Imagine you are spitting tea leaves
from your tongue to start each note
so each one becomes the beginning of a word.
Sing the note inside your head then match it.
At home lie on the floor and pile books
on your stomach to check your breathing.
Or try and pin paper to the wall just by blowing.
I say: remember the man who played so loud
he burst a blood vessel in his eye? This was
because he was drunk, although I don’t tell
them that, I say it was because he was young,
and full of himself, and far away from home.
– Kim Moore
© 2013, essay and poem and portrait (below), Kim Moore, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ trumpet by Benutzer:Achias under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license
KIM MOORE (Kim Moore, poetry) ~ works as a peripatetic brass teacher in Cumbria. In 2011 she won an Eric Gregory Award and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and in 2012 her first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in the Poetry Business Pamphlet competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. It was selected as one of the Independent’s ‘Books of the Year’. Kim has been published in various magazines including The Rialto, Poetry Review, The TLS, Magma, and ARTEMISpoetry. She is currently working on her first collection. You can sample more of her poetry on her blog HERE.
ARTEMIS poetry ~ the bi-annual journal (November and May) of the Second Light Network , a professional association of women poets. The journal is published under their Second Light Publications imprint. Members receive a copy as part of their membership benefits. Issues are available to non-members by subscription at £9 p.a. or as a one-off purchase at £5 a copy (plusp&p).
Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk)
I have been contemplating what it means to carry radiance within. I remember one of my favorite childhood books, Charlotte’s Web, and Wilbur, the pig, was declared by Charlotte to be “radiant.” Such a different way of thinking about a pig! And maybe it is a different way to think about ourselves.
What does it mean to carry radiance within?
How are you changed if you consider yourself radiant?
What does it look like to bear radiance into the world?
“In the beginning..
when ray and day hadn’t yet come into existence at all,
there was a kind of radiance that illuminates universe.
That radiance is the light of knowledge and goodness.
That radiance will persistently and consistently shine brightly
even after all the stars and moons in this vast universe died out.”
~Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut
© 2013, post and photographs, Terri Stewart, All rights reserved
The Irish poet and writer, John O’Donohue (1956-2008) was as moved by the landscape of the soul as he was by the landscape of his country with its Celtic spirituality. A Catholic priest, he eventually left the priesthood, but he never abandoned the mystical roots of his Christianity. He was a Hegelian philosopher, did doctoral work on the Meister Eckhart, was fluent in Irish and German, was an environmental activist, and wrote several best-selling books (nonfiction and poetry). His most notable work was Anam Cara:A Book of Celtic Wisdom. (Anam Cara meaning soul friend.) Jamie Dedes
Real friendship or love is not manufactured or achieved by an act of will or intention. Friendship is always an act of recognition.”
No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.
The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.
We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.
Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.
So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.
~ John O’Donohue, The Inner History of a Day, excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings