100 Days of Gratitude starting Now

I love watching Nature.

I love watching Nature.

This is a short post to let ppl know that a new 100-day gratitude challenge is starting now. Here is a link to the first post for those who wish to join me or follow along for the last 100 days of 2014 [click here].

“Gratitude is an opener of locked-up blessings.” ~ Marianne Williamson

Learning about Love: Day 75 – Teachings from the Dalai Lama

Cardinal HE Donald Wuerl welcomes His Holiness...

Cardinal HE Donald Wuerl welcomes His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My one hundred day learning about love challenge is three-quarters over. It seems like it was just last week that I posted part two of teachings from the Dalai Lama. I was shocked to realize it was twenty-five days ago.

But even though one hundred days is only twenty-five days away, I’ll continue this learning about love challenge beyond and see what miracles unfold.

Most of you know the last two posts focused on the teachings of the Dalai Lama.  In Learning about Love:  Day 48, we learned that according to His Holiness:

  • The purpose of life is to be happy.
  • We achieve happiness through mental peace.
  • Mental peace comes from the development of love and compassion.
  • Love and compassion is developed through caring for the happiness of others and cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others.
  • Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is, we are interdependent with one another.
  • Mutual cooperation is evident in nature.
  • When babies and children are raised in unhappy homes where affection, cuddling and love are withheld they have impaired development and lack the ability for love.
  • “the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.” Dalai Lama

Then, we learned in Learning about Love:  Day 50:

  • Our need for love is the foundation of our existence because our existence is dependent on the help (love) of others.
  • The main cause of depression is lack of the affection (compassion/love) from others.
  • Obstacles to the development of compassion are; an innate self-centeredness, desire and attachment, personal neediness.
  • Compassion is not only an emotional response. It’s a reasoned firm commitment toward another that doesn’t change when they behave negatively.

Now, we learn how to develop compassion.

First off, the Dalai Lama is quick to point out that developing this kind of compassion is not easy at all.

His Holiness appeals to the power of human reasoning. Regardless of the vast differences in personality, character traits and behaviors, each one of us is a human being. Each one of us has a desire for happiness and wishes to avoid suffering. Each one of us has a right to happiness and avoid suffering. All human beings are equal in their right to obtain happiness.

“Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all. As long as they are human beings experiencing pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.”

He states that we have such trouble developing this kind of compassion because we are attached to feeling independent and self-existent. (I think the Dalai Lama is saying that we think we are the only ones that matter. It’s all about ME way of thinking.)

How do we start developing compassion? The Dalai Lama answers:

  • Remove anger and hatred.
  • Develop faculties of reason and patience.
  • When a problem occurs, remain humble. Be sincere and concerned the outcome is fair.
  • It is possible to adopt a firm stand while maintaining compassion. One may act strongly without anger.
  • Help prevent others from suffering the consequences of their own acts.
  • Consider enemies your best teacher. Be grateful for this.
  • Practice makes perfect.
  • Be concerned for your friends. Help them. Serve them. Make more friends.
  • When we loose our status, health and finances, we learn what true friendship is.
  • Greet all people you meet as a brother or sister because we all share an identical need for love.
  • A sincere and open heart brings self-worth and confidence.
  • Develop good human qualities.

This brings me to the end of writing about love and compassion from the Dalai Lama. I think it’s time I went out and practiced now.

I hope you enjoyed this post as well as the last two posts on the teachings of the Dalai Lama. Please visit the link below (source) to read the entire article as I have only provided a summary here on the blog.

Source: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet website.

I wish to express my sincere thank you to His Holiness for the work he does in this world. I have a much better understanding of how to develop my capacity for compassion now.

Learning about Love: Day 50 – Teachings from the Dalai Lama

English: Ursula Goodenough with His Holiness t...

English: Ursula Goodenough with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, ASCB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in the previous post, I’m learning about love and compassion from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

In addition, I’m reading a book titled, “Owning Your Own Shadow”, author, Robert A. Johnson (1991).  I plan to outline some of the ideas explored by Johnson who is an acclaimed Jungian analyst and best selling author in a future post.

It will be interesting to see how the two topics meld, or not.

By the way, the reason I’m reading the shadow book is to fulfill a requirement to write a reflection paper on the topic of Psychology and Spirituality for a year long spiritual deepening program I enrolled in last June.

I am thrilled to participate in the program because it’s exactly what I was looking for; a focused way to deepen my spiritual journey. The program began in June with a five-day retreat which was phenomenal. It will end next June with a four-day retreat and in between we have a number of requirements to fulfill. I may write about it in more detail in a later post.

To get back to the Dalai Lama teachings, I’ll recap a few points from last post;

  • The purpose of life is to be happy.
  • We achieve happiness through mental peace.
  • Mental peace comes from the development of love and compassion.
  • Love and compassion is developed through caring for the happiness of others and cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others.
  • Whether we want to admit it or not, the truth is, we are interdependent with one another.
  • Mutual cooperation is evident in nature.
  • When babies and children are raised in unhappy homes where affection, cuddling and love are withheld they have impaired development and lack the ability for love.
  • “the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.” Dalai Lama

The preceding points are summed up by the following statement from His Holiness;

“It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

If interdependence is a fundamental law of nature, then why do many of us live isolated from others with an emphasis on self-reliance and self-sufficiency?

“Recently I met a group of scientists in America who said that the rate of mental illness in their country was quite high-around twelve percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion that the main cause of depression was not a lack of material necessities but a deprivation of the affection of the others.”

Do we as a society refrain from the display of human affection in our daily life?

“whether or not we are consciously aware of it, from the day we are born, the need for human affection is in our very blood. Even if the affection comes from an animal or someone we would normally consider an enemy, both children and adults will naturally gravitate towards it.”

What are some obstacles to the development of compassion?

  • “we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others.”
  • “Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.”
  • “love (that is) motivated more by personal need than by genuine care for the other individual.”

What exactly is compassion?

“True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.”

Wow! It seems to me, from reading this, that it takes a high degree of awareness to consistently demonstrate love and compassion in all affairs.

The next post will address how to accomplish this task.

Source: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet website.

Learning about Love: Day 48 – Teachings from the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings togeth...

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings together Buddhists and Western scientists every two years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I felt drawn to study teachings from His Holiness the  Dalai Lama. While I am still in the early stages of study, I felt called to share what I’ve learned thus far.

According to the Dalai Lama, the purpose of life is to be happy and the way to achieve happiness is through mental peace. His Holiness states,

“From my own limited experience, I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”

So − how do we develop love and compassion and what are the benefits?

“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.”

Why does love and compassion bring happiness?

“Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another. However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must depend on the support of others.”

The Dalai Lama further explains that interdependence is a fundamental law of nature.  He mentions that the smallest insects are social beings who survive through mutual cooperation innately knowing they are interconnected.

In fact; oceans, forests, clouds, and flowers, arise because of the interaction of subtle energy patterns.

“It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

The Tibetan teacher points out;

“If the child is not held, hugged, cuddled, or loved, its development will be impaired and its brain will not mature properly.”

He observes and surmises;

“Nowadays, many children grow up in unhappy homes. If they do not receive proper affection, in later life they will rarely love their parents and, not infrequently, will find it hard to love others.”

And, the conclusion is;

“the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.”

But it doesn’t end here. Part two will follow next post.

Source:  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet website.

Learning about Love: Day 14

In nature.

“Happiness is when I am loving!” ˜ Lester Levenson (1909 – 1994)

This is another story that some of my blog readers may already be familiar with as I wrote about Lester Levenson in an article I posted on my other blog, Miracle Mama.

Lester experienced a serious heart attack when he was forty-two years old. The doctor’s told him there was nothing they could do for him and sent him home with advice telling him not to exert himself. By my calculations that would have occurred in 1951.

Deeply depressed, Lester thought about ending his life. Thankfully, he began to contemplate the meaning of his life. Lester wondered, “What is happiness?”

He pondered all of his past relationships and incidents where he was happy and it dawned on him, “Happiness is when I am loving!”

Lester noticed that when he was unhappy he felt a lack of love and expected others to make him feel happy and loved.

During his contemplations he noticed times when he felt hate toward others. Lester wondered if he could turn this hate into love toward the other, not for the other, but for himself.

Over the course of a few months, Lester dissolved all of the hate and negativity he harbored from past scenarios. He worked at dissolving all of his resentments and hurt feelings.

He worked through his entire life bit by bit and as he did he became stronger and stronger, happier and happier.

Within three months, Lester had released so much of his negativity that he experienced a blissful state of joy that made him feel light and everything became extremely beautiful.

Lester continued to work with the blissful state until he fell into a state of undisturbed stillness and quietness where he found the essence of every living thing − Beingness. “Everything was It; every person was It.”

Lester’s story (click here to read) is so much in line with Anita Moorjani’s near death experience (click here to read) and so many other stories that have crossed my path.  It’s hard to ignore their experiences.

Do you know of stories like Lester’s and Anita’s? Do you experience or has anyone you know experienced the state of Beingness as described by Lester and Anita?

Information update:  I’ll be taking a short break from the blogosphere for a few days to focus on my spiritual practice, health and catch up on some work.Will let you know how thing go when I get back later in the week. Thank you so much for accompanying me on this journey to learn about love. I really appreciate it! Wishing you a wonderful love-filled week.

In the End, Only Love Matters

Life lesson 20,622.

Some of my blog readers know that seven months ago, I experienced a serious health emergency due to rheumatoid arthritis and/or RA drug induced complications (click here to read).

The events that occurred on that day as well as the two months that followed turned into a life altering experience that I haven’t shared much about.

I’m ready to share now.

The story goes like this: In 2009, I realized that while it was true that I was breathing, I wasn’t really living. For years, I wasn’t engaged with Life. On the outside, I went through the motions doing the things I had to do each day. On the inside, life was hard, full of disappointments and burdens. There wasn’t much about life that impressed me.

Something had to change. Being stuck in the drudgery was no longer an option. I had to find a way to live happily engaged to loving Life.

So, I began this blog in 2010, called it “Grandeurvision” with the sub-heading “a woman’s journey to a meaningful life” and set out to change my life.

Throughout 2010, good fortune came my way. I was able to experience coaching by a couple of really great life coaches. I attended some very empowering workshops and met some really awesome positive people (including blog neighbors).

Headed in the right direction, life was changing. I felt enthusiastic about living.

Unbeknown to me, the best was yet to come.

The best was the serious health emergency that occurred seven months ago. That’s when the “full monty”, “the whole nine yards” came to light.

The shock, at first, felt like I ran into a brick wall. My world suddenly stopped. There was nothing to do, except lie in the hospital bed. It was the closest I’d ever come to death.

Funny thing is, I lived most of the years prior not really wanting to live. Now, I had a close to death experience. It called my name to say, “Pay attention here, Marianne, this is really important.”

So—I was lying in my hospital bed in the cardiac ward unable to sleep at 4 a.m. when the man in the bed next to me began talking in his sleep. I listened intently to hear what he was saying, but disappointed to realize it sounded like gibberish. In fact, it sounded totally alien, like he was having a bubbly conversation with a being from another planet. His pitch rose and lowered in a melodious kind of way.

It seemed like his conversation went on for a really long time. Eventually, the night nurse heard him. She went to his bedside, called his name several times while gently nudging him. Still dazed, he mumbled something about the bathroom. He wasn’t able to stand up, so the nurse called other nurses to help sit him on the commode.

The nurses had him half out of his bed when he collapsed into unconsciousness. A code blue alerted hospital staff and within seconds  a team of  8 or 10 health care workers arrived with equipment to resuscitate him. It took an awfully long time to stabilize him. Then, they moved him to the intensive care unit where his needs would be cared for better.

Throughout the entire time, I was in the next bed, shaking and praying to God, “Please don’t let him die.”

This is where the “attention” part came in.

Within a handful of days, two serious life and death situations  presented; one that happened to me (hence the reason I was in the hospital in the cardiac ward) and one that I witnessed (the man in the next bed).

It was as if Life would make sure I wouldn’t miss this lesson. I was afraid that I would die and I was afraid the man in the bed next to me would die. In the grip of the fear of death, a  gift emerged. It was a clear realization that I wanted to Live and I wanted the man next to me to Live.

The experience opened my eyes to view Life differently.

Life is no longer about having stuff, doing stuff or being a “somebody”. Life is about the fact that I’m being Life Itself. I’m not Marianne living Marianne’s little life. I’m Life acting out Life through a physical body experiencing events. I’m experiencing Life living and being Life. It’s the most sacred thing I’ve ever felt.

On a sensation level, the shift in perception is huge. On a thinking, writing or speaking level, the shift can hardly be explained.

It doesn’t matter what I’m doing or what I’m having. It doesn’t matter whether this body is diseased or healthy. All that matters is that I’m living and loving in this moment. That’s all that matters.

By pleading and praying for the man in the bed next to me, I was loving him — a man who was a total stranger. I wanted the same for him that I wanted for myself — Life. I wanted Life for both of us.

Microsoft Images

While we are here, experiencing Life in this body, it is a privilege and an honor to spend time with others, to share, to give, to help.

In the end, when faced with death, all that really matters is how loving and kind we were to ourselves and to others.

Is it really possible to live with the awareness of this truth in each and  every moment?

What’s up?

A snail's pace.

Time fly’s, but as for me, I’m traveling at a snail’s pace. Sometimes I feel that if I were any slower I’d be movin’ backwards (which is actually the truth some days).

I don’t know about you, but I feel that there is just SO much to do and so much I want to do as well. Sometimes overwhelm is just a thought away. I try to avoid that thought.

I blame the rheumatoid disease for the lethargy I feel which is true because when the disease is under control more so, I have a lot more energy. Over the last month I’ve chipped away at stuff I need to get done and stuff I want to get done in between periods of intense pain and inflammation.

Sometimes I’m okay with the snail’s pace because it gives me a chance to pause and be present in the moment. Other times, it just frustrates me. The frustration can quickly lead down a spiraling path to you know where, so I’ve been considering resurrecting my 100 day gratitude challenge. Would anyone like to join in?

There are a couple of new developments in my life for which I’m really really grateful. One is that I’ve got a new juicer. I’ll post a blog with more on that topic later. The other is, I have a guest post on Bliss Habits.

The topic at Bliss Habits this week is “moxie”. I wrote a personal story about the year I fought for my son’s life. The title is, “It takes Moxie to confront the school board and follow your Bliss.” (click here to read).

Bliss Habits, is where Kathy Sprinkle is conducting an experiment to cultivate the habit of bliss. Her goal is to add more bliss to everyday life and help others who want to play along. Bliss is defined as;

 supreme happiness; utter joy or contentment.

Kathy determined there are 13 virtues that lead to bliss. Each week Bliss Habits explores one of the 13 virtues. Here they are;

My Thirteen Virtues of Bliss are:

joy, order, creativity, passion, whimsy, serenity, inquiry,

community, romance, gratitude, moxie, humility, and surprise

Kathy states on her welcome page;

Each week I concentrate on one of these virtues. I find resources for study, sources of inspiration and I come up with games to play. I create “Bliss Initiatives,” which are concrete things anyone can do in their own life to foster a particular bliss virtue. Some of these things will be simple; perhaps something like Smile at three strangers today and others will be more time-consuming; make a list of the things that bring you joy today, or more complicated: hand make a greeting card and deliver it in person.

Bliss Habits is chock full of inspiration and practical ideas to bring happiness, joy and contentment to ones life. It has its basis on an idea from Earl Nightingale’s book, The Strangest Secret.

We become what we think about.

Kathy reckons that;

It is not possible to do everything I come up with. We all have busy lives and this project is intended to inspire not overwhelm! Some weeks I have a dozen lofty ideas but am unable to even complete one. I believe in Earl Nightingale’s old adage that we become what we think about so even the inquiry has an effect.

I agree with Kathy, as long as we keep trying that’s all that really matters.  Someone once said;

Progression, not perfection, is the goal.

So if you want to be inspired and add some bliss to your day check out Bliss Habits. If you want to read my guest post check it out here.