If I Eat Rice

Zen Koans are short questions, riddles, or dialogue designed to help us find the truth. A catalyst to awaken awareness that’s hidden behind the mind, Koans aren’t logical questions with rational answers, so oftentimes they’re left unanswered. Below is an example:

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Photo taken at the Idaho Botanical Gardens — a short bicycle ride from our home in Boise

The student Doken was told to go on a long journey to another monastery. He was extremely upset because he felt the trip would interrupt his studies, so he said to his friend, the advanced student Sogen, “Please ask permission to come with me on this trip. There are so many things I don’t know, but if you come along we can discuss them and I can learn as we travel.”

“All right,” said Sogen. “But let me ask you a question. If you’re hungry, what satisfaction is it to you if I eat rice?”

Is anyone eating rice for you?

© Laurie Buchanan

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K is for Karma

What goes around comes around - the boomerang effect

What goes around comes around – The Boomerang Effect

You’ve heard the saying, “What goes around comes around,” on a surface level, that’s one way of defining karma. Often referred to as The Law of Return the Sanskrit word means action. I call it The Boomerang Effect.

There are multiple camps of thought on this topic, but my perspective is that we’re spiritual beings on a human journey; we’re here on a temporary layover in the classroom called life for the specific purpose of learning lessons before continuing on. Some people refer to these lessons as karma.

Enzo, the old soul and canine narrator of Garth Stein’s book, The Art of Racing in the Rain said, “I know that karma is a force in this universe and that people will receive karmic justice for their actions. I know that this justice will come when the universe deems it appropriate and it may not be in this lifetime but in the next, or the one after that. Their current consciousness may never feel the brunt of the karma they have incurred, though their souls absolutely will. I understand this concept.”

K is for Karma — otherwise known as The Boomerang Effect. What's coming back at you? Click To Tweet

The philosophical explanation of karma differs somewhat between traditions, but the general idea is basically the same. Through the law of karma—cause and effect—the result of every action creates present and future experiences, making each of us responsible for our own life and the pain and joy it brings to those in our sphere of influence.

I believe the karmic litmus test is to examine the motive that underlies our present actions. Despite how the past may account for many of the inequalities we see in life, the measure of a human being is not the hand dealt. Rather, it’s how the hand is played. Because we’re all interconnected, our decisions affect everyone.

What’s coming back at you?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

E is for Elements

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Each of the traditional elements—earth, air, fire, and water—is associated with traits, meanings, and a direction on the compass. The information in this post is for readers in the Northern hemisphere. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, please use the opposite correspondences:

Earth is associated with the north, the season of autumn, and the colors green and brown. Zodiacally speaking, the element of earth corresponds to Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo. Considered the ultimate feminine element, the Earth is fertile and has the aspects of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The Earth element is thought of as nurturing, stable, and full of strength and endurance.  

Air is associated with the east, the season of spring, and the colors yellow and white. Zodiacally speaking, the element of air corresponds to Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra. Considered the ultimate communication element, this masculine energy is wise and has the aspects of intellect, focus, and telepathy. It supports the powers of the mind—intellect and claircognizance.

Fire is associated with the south, the season of summer, and the colors red and orange. Zodiacally speaking, the element of fire corresponds to Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. Considered the ultimate masculine element, fire is associated with strong will, vitality, and endurance. Fire creates and destroys; it can heal or harm; it purifies. And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it can transform.

Water is associated with the west, the season of winter, and the color blue. Zodiacally speaking the element of water corresponds to Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. Considered the most cleansing of the elements, this feminine element (Goddess energy) is associated with emotional healing. It is used in many spiritual traditions for consecration—setting something apart as holy.

Spirit is sometimes referred to as the fifth element. Spirit transcends, yet is part of all the other elements; it has no direction, yet encompasses all directions; it’s beyond seasons and times, yet is all seasons and time. It is the source of human love and compassion.

Depending on the culture and tradition, elements are used in ceremonies, rituals, meditation, and Zen practices. And while sometimes identified differently than I’ve described here, the basic meaning is the same.

Which of the elements do you resonate with the most?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com.

© 2010 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved

My Bar Room Brawl Look

My bar room brawl look

Yesterday morning at 8:30 I was in the final throes of getting ready for work. Most everything I do is backed with a great deal of energy—including brushing my teeth. I’d just spent a good 5 minutes gargling and leaned forward enthusiastically over the sink to spit when WHAP! I slammed my head into the shelf on our medicine cabinet.

My glasses went flying, I’m surprised they didn’t break. The impact made my knees buckle, which slumped me to the floor, clunking my chin on the basin counter on the way down. Tears sprang from my eyes as a natural reflex. Len heard the THUNK! followed by the fall, and came running.

“What happened?!” he shouted.

“I just knocked myself silly.”

“Your forehead’s bleeding and it’s starting to swell.”

While applying Neosporin it occurred to me… “Get the camera, quick!”

“Why?” he asked.

“This is tomorrow’s blog,” I said with a grin.

I’d just been writing a piece about chronos time and kairos time as it relates to memory and was so caught up in it that I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing and nearly knocked myself out.

The moral of the story? Be mindful. What's the rush? There’s a Zen proverb that says: When walking, walk. When eating, eat. Click To Tweet

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Tonglen

Tonglen by Len Buchanan

Tonglen by Len Buchanan

Tonglen is an active practice of loving-kindness; a breathing meditation of sending and taking. Performed by Tibetan Buddhists and other spiritual traditions, Tonglen is a positive, uplifting, constructive, and healing way to care for other people. The heart of this practice is compassion; to breathe in another person’s pain—physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual—and breathe out strength, joy, and peace of mind; whatever gives relief.

Tonglen can be done for people individually—a person who is ill, fearful, in sorrow, or in pain. Or it can be done for people collectively—people in a geographic area that has been struck by a natural disaster such as tornado, earthquake, flood, or famine. Tonglen can be done anywhere, anytime. It can be formal like you see me doing in the photograph, or it can be done while you’re driving, or in bed.

Tonglen — the active practice of lovingkindness. Here's how it's done. Click To Tweet

When the Dalai Lama was touring the United States, he recommended the practice of Tonglen. He made it very simple. “Tonglen is giving and taking. As you inhale, take on the suffering of others. As you exhale, give out to them all your gifts, virtues, and positive qualities.”

He suggests beginning the practice with equalizing, which means, “To realize that each and every sentient being wants happiness and does not want suffering, just like you.”

With that in mind, he imagines that this practice actually reduces suffering in the world, but he says that “Whether this meditation really helps others or not, it gives me peace of mind. Then I can be more effective, and the benefit is immense.”

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Being Still

Being Still by Laurie Buchanan

Being Still by Laurie Buchanan

The University of Life — Being Still Course Description

On a recent flight I took a photo of the propeller through the window. It was spinning so fast that it appeared motionless. It looked that way not because it wasn’t moving, but because it was spinning so fast.

Physics tells us that everything—without exception—is in motion. Even the massive rock you see in the photograph I took in Nova Scotia. Stillness is dynamic; it is un-conflicted movement (no friction). It can be experienced whenever there is total, unrestricted participation in the moment we’re in; when we’re unreservedly present with whatever we’re doing.

Stillness is a natural rhythm in the cycle of life. In the space that stillness creates—sacred space—we have the opportunity to quiet the mind and body; to re-group, re-charge, re-connect, and to find a point of reference; something to measure against. To find the wisdom we need to move forward. It’s here we’re embraced by the strength of calm serenity.

When we enter stillness, we drink deeply from the well of Divine Love. From this place, we can move back into the busy world refreshed.

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               ~ Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness by Laurie Buchanan

Mindfulness by Laurie Buchanan

The University of Life — Mindfulness Course Description

Mindfulness is simple, but it’s not easy. Mindfulness is the open-hearted energy of being aware in the present moment. It’s the daily cultivation—practice—of touching life deeply. To be mindful is to be present with, and sensitive to, the people we’re with and the things we’re doing, whether it’s raking leaves, tying our shoes, or preparing a meal.

John Kabat-Zinn said, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” He shared that above his desk sits reminder given to him by one of his friends:

Am I awake
And fully present
And living my life
Intentionally

It is my perspective that mindfulness is more than paying attention; it’s paying intention. Paying attention engages the mind. Paying intention additionally engages the will.

Here’s a link to the actual course syllabus at Brown University for their Mindfulness class.

Here’s a link to an article I wrote for Evolving Your Spirit magazine, “Don’t Miss the Gorillas” after attending a presentation given by Jon Kabat-Zinn (pg 10).

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               ~ Laurie Buchanan

www.HolEssence.com
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

Inner Ecology

Inner Ecology by Laurie Buchanan

Inner Ecology by Laurie Buchanan

Our physical body systems are interdependent with our emotions, thoughts, and spirit. They operate as a whole. What we think, how we feel, our actions, what we ingest, where we work, the people we associate with, and our environment all have an impact—positive or negative—on our inner ecology.

Inner ecology includes the mind (thinking), emotion (feeling), and spirit (essence).

Do you nurture your inner ecology? Click To Tweet

I believe that when we make the time to explore and nurture our inner landscape—cultivate our inner terrain—some of the many dividends include peace of mind, a healthier physical body (the package we currently reside in), and inner wealth.

We may not have large sums of money, but we are rich beyond compare.

Do you nurture your inner ecology?

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

HeartLight

HeartLight by Len Buchanan

HeartLight by Len Buchanan

HeartLight is the term I use when I refer to the practice of holding heart-based intent — Light, Divine Love, Sacred Space — for myself or others. Weaving together aspects of stillness, Reiki, and the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen, HeartLight can be used individually or collectively; locally or globally.

When was the last time you held heart-based intent? Click To Tweet

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com

Forgiveness

Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia by Laurie Buchanan

Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia by Laurie Buchanan

Like the path we walk, giving and receiving forgiveness is a fundamental part of life’s journey. Reminiscent of falling leaves, offenses may scatter the pathway of our heart—the seat of our outlook. This attitude determines the terrain of our path and forgiveness keeps the pathway clear.

It is my perspective that the place to start—the place to launch joy, hope, positive aspirations, and healing begins with forgiveness.  Until that bit of housekeeping has been taken care of, everything else is futile.

 

© TuesdaysWithLaurie.com