Thursday, February 23, 2006

Harmony in Nature

My surroundings are an extension of me and harmonious surroundings can calm my mind and my body and help me create peace. Just as realizing that I am part of my government, I am also part of nature around me. I am an extension.

Feng Shui is the ancient Asian art of "right placement" to help create more harmony in life. A feng shui practitioner does more than just interior design. They look at the shape of the house and the balance of elements and try and bring that into alignment. While there are many books with "rules" for feng shui, the one I liked best was a quote in a small book that reminded me I must love whatever I was putting into my environment and therefore if I wasn't drawn to the traditional symbols, I shouldn't use them but rather a symbol that made sense to me.

Peace is about harmony within ourselves. We can only do so much. If we can create a peaceful surrounding, we can go a bit farther into peace inside ourselves. There are many good sites to read up on feng shui and I am not a practioner. I do know the chi-doc and he's got a site that can help those who are looking for more information on feng shui.

Remember, our surroundings are an extension of who we are. If they are not harmonious and peaceful, how can we expect to be?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

We the People

I've been called a blog that has political observations and I want to talk about that issue. Creating peace is about creating peace inside ourselves first and letting that move throughout the world. I feel it's important to talk about political issues as in the US the government is BY the people. I, as a citizen of the US, along with everyone else who is also a citizen (by birth or naturalized) is the government. We can't all just go and sit in on meetings as that would be difficult, so we hold elections and allow other people to represent out interests.

Having compassion for all sentient beings is an important part of what creates peace inside of me. Alone I can help perhaps one other person. However, if I elect other like minded people who can create programs that are compassionate in nature, many more people can be assisted by that compassionate outreach. Certainly I can also (and do) choose to be involved in non-political organizations because of the service they offer to other sentient beings.

A government by the people, of which I am one, means the government is an extension of who I am. I need to be part of that and work on making it reflect who I am. I have to realize that I can't always get exactly what I want because the government, like the world, is made up of many other human beings who have different feelings and beliefs. The most important thing is to approach the compromises that are required with as much compassion as possible.

To not be involved in a government made up of the people of the nation is chosing to stand outside and not be part of your world. We all have an important place and a part to play in the world. We need to realize that we too should be reflected in the larger institutions. If we don't want to be reflected, then perhaps we need to look inside and find out why we are making that choice.

It is for these reasons that I believe it is important to take a stand in both national and world events and to respond with compassion. It's not always easy. Now, having talked about government, I'll be moving on to nature and our living spaces, but that's a blog article for another day.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

14 Precepts of Thich Nhat Hanh

After reading the blog I talked about yesterday, I found a link in her blog to this wonderful page on Thich Nhat Hanh. At the end of the brief biography are his 14 precept which I think are worth noting.

"Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout our entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of you life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

Do not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise, practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understand the persons who have caused anger and hatred. Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion.

Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Learn to practice breathing in order to regain composure of body and mind, to practice mindfulness, and to develop concentration and understanding.

Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest of to impress people. Do not utter words that cause diversion and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things you are not sure of. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice, and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to life. Select a vocation which helps realize your ideal compassion.

Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and to prevent war.

Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others but prevent others from enriching themselves from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only and instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. Sexual expression should not happen without love and commitment. In sexual relationships be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

Do not believe that I feel that I follow each and every of these precepts perfectly. I know I fail in many ways. None of us can fully fulfill any of these. However, I must work toward a goal. These are my goal. No words can replace practice, only practice can make the words.

"The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."

Again this a webpage written about Thich Nhat Hanh.

Monday, February 20, 2006

More New Sites

I found another site last week. I found it surfing blog explosion. It's been awhile since I've seen something really new that says, "Bookmark Me!" but this one did. I liked it because she's asking the same sorts of questions I do but her focus is general life improvement and I'm about creating peace.

Check out Inside First Mentoring. I found a nice link to a site quoting Thich Nhat Hanh. Nice surprise and a good place to quote all on it's own.

I hope that for most people this Monday is a day to get some rest and rejuvenation. I don't have the day off so I'm running because so many others DO have the day off! Still it's kind of fun. Enjoy.