Messages of Love

Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you enjoy reading it!
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Friday, December 31, 2010

Some Things are Always True: A Speech Charlie Chaplin Gave on His 70th Birthday

Today, I found these profound words of wisdom that are a perfect inspiration to start the New Year. It’s the speech that Charlie Chaplin gave on his 70th birthday.

As I Began to Love Myself

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering
are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.
Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY.”

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody
As I try to force my desires on this person,
even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it,
and even though this person was me.
Today I call it “RESPECT.”

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,
and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.
Today I call it “MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,
I am in the right place at the right time,
and everything happens at the exactly right moment.
So I could be calm.
Today I call it “SELF-CONFIDENCE.”

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time,
and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.
Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do
and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm.
Today I call it “SIMPLICITY.”

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health—
food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself.
At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.
Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF,”

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right,
and ever since I was wrong less of the time.
Today I discovered that is “MODESTY.”

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future.
Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening.
Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT,”

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me
and it can make me sick.
But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.
Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART.”

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems
with ourselves or others.
Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.
Today I know THAT IS “LIFE”!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year Resolutions for 2011

Putting Knowledge into Action
The end of 2010 is very significant for me. It marks the end of a period of accumulation of knowledge and preparation and the beginning of a new era of conscious, responsible, and productive life. I am setting new goals and developing new ways of achieving them. The new year is going to be focused on putting knowledge into action, practicing what I have learned and taking responsibility for my thoughts and deeds.
Up to this point in my life, I have been reading and collecting knowledge piece by piece, until I got to this point where I know intuitively what works and what doesn’t work for me. I also have a list of favorite authors and people who inspire me and whose teachings are a constant source of wisdom and guidance. I know which thoughts, feelings, and activities I enjoy. The only missing part is putting all this knowledge into action. How can I do this? This is a challenging question that I want to find answer to.  

Sources of Inspiration: Pieces of a Puzzle
One of my recent realizations is that it is extremely important to know who and what inspires you the most and helps you to stay connected to your true self. It is true that our sources of inspiration change over time. What inspired me yesterday may not work today or tomorrow. I would like to mention a few authors and people that inspire me right now.
  1. I recently read the book “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill and was very inspired by his scientific approach to studying the elements of success. I had this book for a long time and just couldn’t start reading it until now. I think I am ready now to start practicing his findings.
  2. Klaus Joehle, the author of a series of “Living on Love” books, has a special place in my heart. I feel so close to him and share many of his beliefs and experiences. He is a true blessing and inspiration. I am extremely grateful that he is a part of my life. It has been four or five years since I read his first book, “The Messenger”. About a month ago, I had a strong desire to read his books again. I think I can get something new out of them right now.
  3. Abraham-Hicks teaching has been a part of my learning process for the last 4-5 years. I find them helpful because of the detailed and specific instructions of how to shift your thoughts from a destructive to a constructive pattern quickly and effectively. 
  4. Lilou Mace and Lincoln Gergar are both great visionaries who provide a great service to humanity by posting their videos on Youtube and their web-sites. Although the material they share with public free of charge is very different, they are a great example of a self-less service. Lincoln connect to his Higher Self in a meditative state and delivers messages that can help spiritual seekers to connect to their true selves. The quality and energy of the materials are very high and transformative. Lilou’s mission is to interview people who can “inspire, motivate and empower millions of people to pursue their dreams” and to “help spread joy, freedom and empowerment”.  Both of them have posted hundreds on videos on their Youtube channels.
As an additional motivation tool, I have signed up to participate in 100-Day Reality Challenge. This is an online community, created by Lilou Mace and her two partners. Participants begin by declaring what they want to create in their lives and for the next 100 days practice Universal Laws & Principles, such as the Law of Attraction, Law of Deliberate Creation and the Law of Allowing. After stating their goals, members of the community document the process of their achievement by posting video and text posts, watch and comment on each other’s posts, interact, and encourage each other.

Cultivating Harmony
For me, participating in 100-Day Reality Challenge is related to material in the books of Napoleon Hill and Klaus Joehle, as well in the Abraham-Hicks teachings. I think it will help me to stay on track with my goals. My own practice will combine recommendations in all these sources and introduce something new. I believe that the more I am in harmony with my inner self the more the outer world will reflect my true self, and therefore, the happier my life and the lives of those around me will become. So cultivating harmony within and without is going to be the biggest theme for the next year.

Taking Responsibility for My Life
Some people associate the idea of consumerism with the concept that we create the life we want with our thoughts. I see our material creations as a consequence of happy, purposeful, and harmonious thoughts. An important difference between these two points of view is that the material object is not the primary goal, but taking responsibility for all of our thoughts is. I recently found that taking responsibility for my life has a magical effect. It gives me power to change my life, instead of waiting for it to change as a passive observer. I know that everything I experience is a result of my own thoughts, emotions, and actions. Even though I can’t see the direct relationship immediately, because the causes are often far in the past, knowing this helps me not to react in the same way to outcomes that are perceived as negative. This breaks the cycle of similar causes and effects, and creates a new more productive and healthy pattern of thinking. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Just the Way It Is

"The world is one big bowl of soup
Spinning around
And if peas and carrots
don’t like each other
That’s too bad.
Because they’re sure going
to see a lot of each other
And nobody is leaving until
We are all nice and tender
That’s just the way it is"

from "The Messenger" by Klaus Joehle If you would like a great read that can also answer many of your questions about Life, Love, and how to create the life you really want, you can download the book for free here: http://k.livingonlove.com/books.shtml#Messenger

I'm reading the book for the second time, but have much more appreciation for it now. Because I know how much heart was put in the book to make it alive and to translate all the magic into words. It can't be expressed with words fully, but the book takes you into the mood and creates the atmosphere where you can suddenly imagine that you are with Klaus everywhere he goes. Just wanted to share this adventure with you! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old Cherokee Story about Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that was going on inside himself. He said, "My son, it is between two wolves. One is evil: Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good: Joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith". The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied: "The one I feed".

Live Webcast: Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva on Nov. 29th at 10.30 pm EST

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will teach on Gyalsey Thokme Sangpo's "37 Practices of A Boddhisattva (laklen sodunma)" His Holiness will be teaching mainly in Tibetan with Russian, Chinese and English translations.

The teaching will be from the main Tibetan temple in Dharamsala on November 30th, 2010 from approximately 9-11:30 am Indian Standard Time. For timings in your region 9 am Indian Standard time on November 30th is the same as 10:30 pm November 29th Eastern Standard Time in New York, USA.
Watch English live webcast here.
Watch Russian live webcast here.
Watch Chinese live webcast here.
Watch Tibetan live webcast here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Time to Create with Love

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving week-end filled with good food, movies, music, and conversations! Onur could come from Houston to spend a week here in Atlanta. The weather was perfect and we spend a great week together. Here I am enjoying seafood dinner at Carpe Diem. Our last night together has ended with some very nice blues music.


And the week-end is not finished yet. Today I spent some time thinking about my plans for the future. I need to focus on what I want to achieve. I have collected many tools that work for me. I think what has been so far missing is the direction towards one goal. And I believe I have determined this one goal that I am going to focus all my efforts on. The goal is simple, but at the same time challenging for me. Learning to love myself completely and unconditionally is going to be my new lesson.

I'm planning to discover gradually a way of life that I find myself most happy living. This should include tall aspects of life - the choice of food, exercise, spiritual practice, meaningful service, etc.  Most peaces of the puzzle are already in place, I just need to polish them, and focus towards my bigger goal.

To start with, I decided to read again Klaus Joehle’s books and start creating unconditional love for myself. I would like to learn to love myself fully and unconditionally, regardless of what I do, think, or say or regardless of what happens around me. I believe this is the key to creating the best possible life I can live. I have read his books on working with love about 4-5 years ago in Russian. I would like to read them again in English. I think I can reinterpret them for myself in a new way after I have read many other books and lived through different experiences. It might help me to complete the circle of looking for unconditional love to myself. So I downloaded all his books today from here: http://k.livingonlove.com/books.shtml  . I have also downloaded Klaus’ meditations on the same web-sites. I’m excited to start and will post my reflections here.

Here is Klaus Joehle’s blog on sending love, where he answers questions and provides additional instructions on sending love: http://klausjoehle.blogspot.com

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Peace Pilgrim

What an amazing woman!!! She said: "I am a pilgrim, a wanderer. I will remain a wanderer until manking has learned the way of peace, walking until I am given shelter, fasting until I am given food." Her words are full of energy, enthusiasm, and wisdom. Everyone could learn the most important lessons of life from just listening to her talk over and over. So much experience is in her words, so much kindness and pure intentions. Enjoy! 

You can download an e-book about her titled "Peace Pilgrim : Her Life and Path in Her Own Words" here: http://books.google.com/books?printsec=frontcover&id=1T6u5l3Xi1YC#v=onepage&q&f=false 

I was just thinking yesterday that it would be helpful to have a few role models whose way of life feels inspirational to me. She is a wonderful role model! In a 20-minute interview, she talked about everything I spent years trying to understand and still couldn't fully integrate into my life, like the power of positive thoughts, the importance of controlling thoughts and living in the moment, creating our life with these thoughts and many more. And she didn't have the benefit of reading Eckhart Tolle and didn't know anything about the Law of Attraction and "The Secret". She "just" walked for 25 years or more around the country...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

This week I watched a great movie "Eat, Pray, Love". After being told about the book by many people, I went for an easier option first. I will still read the book soon... I think the movie is good, but have heard that the book is much better. I can understand how the book may have the benefit of learning from first hands the story of self exploration through visiting different places and meeting different people. There is a beautiful analogy between the story of the main character and the life-long search for truth that everyone is going through. Of course, in the movie it is taken to extremes, when the main character feels completely lost and leaves her job, family, and friends for a year to go to Italy, India, and Bali. We all go through period of inner crises or conflicts, and how well we transcend these difficult situations determines how much we can learn from them. Overall, I found the main message of the movie very powerful. We need to appreciate balance in our lives much more, and be easier on ourselves, love and cherish our inner drives and desires.   

13 Indigeous Grandmothers

Today I found out about a group of spiritual women from around the world, who met back in October of, 2004, with a purpose to form International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. These women are from the mountains of Tibet, the Arctic Circle, the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico, Brazil, South Dakota, the Americas, Amazon rainforest Africa and Asia. These wise women have formed a global alliance, committed to working together for common global goal of bringing balance back into the world, respecting the ancestors, whose traditions served us all for thousands of years.

 A few of their current Projects include a documentary entitled "For the Next 7 Generations" about their work which was in the Amazon rainforest, the mountains of Mexico, North America, and at a private meeting with the Dalai Lama in India. They have  developed an innovative philanthropic model “Flow Fund Circle” www.flowfunding.org. The Center for Sacred Studies, www.sacredstudies.org (CSS), a non-profit school, dedicated to educating people about indigenous ways of life and cross-cultural spiritual practices. The book entitled "Grandmothers Counsel the World: Women Elders Offer Their Vision for Our Planet" by Carol Schafer provides more information about each of these wonderful women and their teachings. To find out more go to www.grandmotherscouncil.com

You can also watch these videos about them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASE0Ri_0F8g


Compassion Meditation Conference - I Was There!!!

This was such a surreal experience - seeing His Holiness the Dalai Lama so close. I was sitting quite close to the stage, and could see him well.  He is an inspiration to all of us!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyvo-G2G_YM

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gateway Experience Journal - Wave 1 - Discovery 1-Orientation-2

Today, I have listened to the 1st exercise for the 4th time. I fel much more than in the previous three times. I felt movement of energy, saw colors or just "clouds" of different energies going through my mind. For a few minutes I felt the pulsation in my third eye, and the feeling in the throat chakra that can be described as too much energy. And I felt that my heart is opening. I take it as a signal that my system is adjusting to the new energies. I wanted to continue meditate a little longer, but decided to stop when Robert Monroe said that the "Exercise is complete". 

I did something different today and I enjoyed it more. Instead of waiting for a change or an effect, I just relaxed and stayed open as much as I can. Also I decided to think about these meditations as my spiritual practice, a sa form of prayer and connecting with the Source/Creator/Universal Mind. It helps me to think this way. My motivation is to free myself in order to be of great benefit to others, which is also the motivation in Buddhist meditations or in any prayer practice. I'm sure that whatever meditation technique you are using you will achieve the results with the right motivation. So far Gateway Experience meditations combined for me devotional/traditional meditation/prayer approach with an esoteric approach.

Today, I had a greater appreciation for the "energy conversion box" idea. It does create an idea of how many unnecessary thoughts we have that are eventually so irrelevant.

How to be Yourself All theTime

After watching Lincoln's video on "Removing Addictions and Addictive Behaviors"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdgRQOWOFmE&feature=channel , I had only one question: "How to practically come back to your true self?" So posted this question on Youtube. 

I wrote: "Another great video! Thank you, Lincoln. The big question is how to be yourself all the time and how to find this strength. I guess recognizing that it's important to find is the first step. But I feel optimistic that we will all find how to be always present with our feelings and emotions and how to love ourselves instead of trying to run away. The fact that videos like this are available now means we are ready for this change."

Lincoln has kindly recommended to watch these three videos of his that clarified it for me.They reminded me what I have forgotten. I know the way to my true self. I just need to go inside my heart, allow the reality to be as it is, and keep my main goal firmly in my mind.
He wrote: "Watch my video: 3 Step Path to Authentic Spirituality
3 Step Path to Authentic Spirituality. This video will explain very clearly the simple process.
Then these videos will help you to integrate it into the world:
1) How to spiritually surrender while living in this world?
2) Staying in Love, Peace, and Presence within this world humanity"

All these videos are available on Youtube. After watching the videos, I have responded: "Thanks, Lincoln! These videos helped me to remember what I forgot. They are so charged with love and eternal wisdom!" Just watching these videos is enough to get back in alignment with the source of Love and Light. I'm going to watch more of Lincoln's revelations. I believe 100% that this messages are from the Higher Self, because otherwise they could not be so full of love and compassion to everybody and everything.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gateway Experience Journal - Wave 1 - Discovery 1-Orientation

After chanting 108 mantras last night, I was inspired so much that I have started to listen to the Gateway Experience CD. I don't know for how long I should stay on the first exercise. I also would like to try listening to it with headphones, which may have a different effect than the speakers.

Overall, I like the structure of the meditations. I also like that there is breathing exercises and chanting part of meditation. I'm not sure the analogy of a box where you put all your attachments is useful for me. It sounds too childish to me. Maybe I'll get to appreciate it more later.

I felt very relaxed. It feels like the time is flowing differently when I listen to the tapes I can't describe how different without contradicting myself. When in the meditation, I feel that the time passes quickly, I'm not bored an dnot waiting for it to be over. But when I wake up or come back to the world I feel that a lot of time has passed, much more than 35 minutes because I feel that some things have changed, can't say which ones though.

I don't know how I'm supposed to feel in focus 3, and I'm not sure I felt very different. I think I need some time to see these differences.

I did the first exercise one time last night and two times today. Today I feel sleepy, which probably means something is happening inside. Also, my head is heavy, I can feel energy or something else circulating inside.
I will stick to the experience to see where it takes me. Probably, I will do this exercise for a week and then move to the next one. 

My First Chanting Experience and Mantras

Yesterday, I had my first chanting experience in a group of 12 people. To say that I liked it would sound stupid. It cannot be easily described in words. It was a unique experience. I realized how powerful sound is. It can improve concentration, affect our body through its vibrations, and probably can affect our soul as well if it is coupled with the right motivation.

We were doing 108 OM mantra recitations after a short introductory meditation. I listened to the sound and enjoyed synchronizing my voice with everyone in the group and feeling the resonance in my body. Reciting the mantra helped me to completely focus on the sound and calm my mind effectively. By the middle of the 108 mantras, I felt that the Earth is breathing and we are breathing with her in unison when we breath in and breathing out the sound OM. THis was the most important activity that everyone participates in, breathing together in the act of creation and distraction, expansion and contraction, very beautiful and essential nature of everyone and everything. I felt the love of the Earth and oneness with her and with everyone in the group.
Towards the end of the recitations, I felt movements of energy in my lower back, and my hands, especially the left one. When we finished reciting the Mantra, Jeff was leading the meditation. I was in a state of bliss and deep relaxation. He said that we should open our hearts and feel love and joy in our hearts. I tried to open my heart, but found pain there instead of joy. I was surprised and asked "Why do I have this pain?" and received the answer immediately: "This is unused love to yourself". It made perfect sense to me, I accepted the answer, understood that I need to love myself more, and the pain went away. Then I felt something that I have never felt before. My body became very light, I almost didn't feel it at all, and I was almost floating or ready to leave the body. It was like a desire to leave the body. It felt very good too. Then we had to come back to the room, unfortunately.
Today at the Tara Dance class we talked about the power of Mantras. I thought that it would be nice to meet regularly with friends to recite different mantras. I send some information about mantras to my friends from the class. 
So far I don't know much about mantras. I only know three of them
OM
Om Mani Padme Hum
Om Tare Tutare Ture Soha
All three are great and very powerful. I like the concentrated power of this words. Below are a few links about each of them I found useful.

3. Another explanation on the Tara Mantra: http://www.fpmt.org/teachings/lzr/tara.php

Jeff (teacher) gave us a very powerful motivation to do chanting. In addition to helping with concentration and focus and having health benefits, singing mantras helps to remove Karma or shift Karmic focus. I like this explanation because it makes sense to me. I've heard people who said that after meditating for a while they quit smoking, or stopped overeating. Because they have burnt Karmic seeds that were created by repeated ly craving food or cigarettes in the past. I want to be free of the influence of past thoughts and emotions.   
I will definitely use chanting in my daily practice!
 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Open Heart Series with Ram Giri and The Work

This week I found out about an interesting book by Byron Katie, "The Work".  The book gives explicit and simple instructions about how to eliminate destructive thoughts and emotions. There are many videos on Youtube about The Work Process. It is very well described in free materials available in different languages at the official web-site:  http://www.thework.com/thework.php
The first step is to download and fill Judge You Neighboor Workbook focusing on one person or one issue at a time. It may be worth focusing with your mother and father, as the relationships with them determine a lot of other relationships in our life.

I found out about this book from Lilou Mace videos. She interviews Ram Giri, who is practicing and teaching the exercises in the book in her Open Heart series: http://liloumace.com/Open-Heart-Series_r117.html 
In this series, Lilou applies the tools offered in the book to her own persoal issues and Ram Giri is guiding her through this process. I found it very useful for myself, especially because Lilou's childhood experience reminds me my own so much and I admire her courage and openness with which she shares and expresses her deepest fears and exposes her old beliefs. As Lilou's parents, my parents also got divorced when I was 9 and my mother immediately moved in with another guy. I loved my father a lot and blamed her for not staying with him and not explaining to me what happened. My situation was different because my father was drinking too much and it was mostly his fault, but I always took his side, because I felt he is more emotional and my mom is stronger and more materialistic. It was easier for me to connect and share love with him when he was there than with my mom. I think I still have issues with both of my parents, but I  hope to change this in the nearest future using  the techniques described in "The Work" and in Lilou's videos.


Byron Katie has created many resources about "The Work" process in Russian: http://www.thework.com/russkiy/  I am very excited to announce a great news that I'm going to translate Lilou's videos into Russian starting with Ram Giri's Open Heart series. Hopefully it will help many other people to get access to these powerful techniques!

Tara Practice and the Meaning of the Tara Mantra

Excerpt from "Tara the Liberator" by Lama Zopa Rinpoche  
http://www.fpmt.org/teachings/lzr/tara.php

Relying on Tara
There are so many inner obstacles to the development of your mind, and these inner obstacles create many outer obstacles. Therefore, for the success of your Dharma practice, of your actualizing the graduated path to enlightenment, you must rely upon a special deity, or buddha, such as Tara. All the actions of the buddhas have manifested in this female aspect of buddha, Tara the Liberator, in order to help living beings to accomplish successfully both temporal and ultimate happiness.
Many Indian yogis relied upon Tara. By taking refuge in Tara, they completed the path and did great works for the teachings and for living beings, leading uncountable numbers in the path to temporal and ultimate happiness. For example, the great pandit Lama Atisha, who completed the whole graduated path to enlightenment, relied upon Tara.
Lama Atisha was invited by the religious king of Tibet, Yeshe O, to re-establish and spread Buddhadharma in Tibet. Lama Atisha also wrote the text, Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment, which established the term graduated path to enlightenment. By listening to, reflecting and meditating on Lamp of the Path of Enlightenment, so many people have achieved enlightenment.
Besides benefiting the Tibetan practitioners who are experimenting on and accomplishing the path to enlightenment, Lama Atisha's text is nowadays even benefiting extensively in the West. The light of this lam rim teaching has dispelled so much ignorance, even in the minds of many thousands of people living in the West. Because Lamp of the Path to Enlightenment integrates all the teachings of Buddha into a step-by-step practice by which anyone can achieve enlightenment, many practitioners have been able to use it to train their minds in the path to enlightenment.
Even though Lama Atisha passed away a long time ago in Tibet, he is still benefiting us by having given us the opportunity to understand the teachings of the graduated path to enlightenment. Understanding and practicing this path gives you confidence and much happiness. By understanding the cause of happiness, you have the opportunity to obtain whatever happiness you wish. These are Lama Atisha's actions benefiting all living beings.
Lama Atisha was able to offer these extensive benefits to living beings and the teachings through depending upon Tara. Throughout Lama Atisha's life, Tara always gave him advice. When Lama Atisha had to make decisions about doing works for living beings—such as traveling to Tibet—he always asked Tara, and then followed Tara's instructions. Like this, even present-day Tibetan yogis who are actualizing the graduated path to enlightenment, having great success in developing their minds, also rely upon Tara.
The benefits of Tara practice
Tara is quick to grant success in obtaining the ultimate happiness of enlightenment. You receive much good merit, or cause of happiness; it prevents a suffering rebirth in your next life; you receive initiation from millions of buddhas; and you achieve enlightenment. Besides these, however, Tara practice has many other benefits. Reciting the Twenty-one Taras' prayer with devotion, at dawn or dusk—or remembering Tara, singing praises and reciting mantras at any time of the day or night—protects you from fear and dangers, and fulfill all your wishes. If you pray to Tara, Tara is particularly quick to grant help.
There are also many temporal benefits from Tara practice, either reciting the Tara mantra or the Twenty-one Taras' prayer. Tara can solve many problems in your life: liberate you from untimely death; help you recover from disease; bring you success in business; help you to find a job; bring you wealth. When you have a really serious problem, such as a life-threatening disease, if you rely upon Tara, very commonly you will be freed from that problem; you will recover from that disease. If you eat poison, if you rely upon Tara, the poison will not harm you. By doing Tara prayers and mantras, couples with difficulty having a child can have a child—and whichever they want, a son or a daughter. These are very common experiences. Through Tara practice, you can obtain any happiness of this life that you wish.
If you recite the Twenty-one Taras' prayer once every evening, it is impossible—I can put my signature to this!—for you to die of starvation. It is also a very common experience for lay practitioners, monks and nuns with financial difficulties to have such problems relieved by doing Tara practice. In my personal experience, I have seen many instances of people who have prayed to and taken refuge in Tara and been saved from the danger of untimely death from disease without taking medicine.
THE TARA MANTRA 
The meaning of TARE
The Tara mantra is OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. To explain the meaning of TARE TUTTARE TURE: TARE means liberating from samsara. This samsara means these aggregates: the aggregate of form, or the physical body; of feeling; of recognition; of karmic formations; and of consciousness. These aggregates, on which the I is labeled, are caused by the contaminated seed of karma and disturbing thoughts. Under the control of karma and disturbing thoughts, the past-life aggregate of consciousness circled to this life. Because these aggregates are contaminated by the seed of karma and disturbing thoughts, on meeting desirable and undesirable objects, the different disturbing thoughts such as attachment and anger arise. As the seed of the disturbing thoughts is there, you again create karma. And the karma and disturbing thoughts again cause the aggregate of consciousness to circle, or join, to the aggregates of the next life.
Even though this gross body has no continuum into the next life, the aggregate of consciousness does continue to the next life. From life to life, it continuously circles. From one life to the next, from the past life to the present, the aggregate of consciousness circles. It joins to these present aggregates, then later joins to the aggregates of the next life. This is why these aggregates are called samsara, or cyclic existence.
So, TARE shows that Mother Tara liberates living beings from samsara, from true suffering, or problems. You can relate this to the particular sufferings of human beings: birth, old age, sickness and death; meeting undesirable objects and experiencing aversion; not finding desirable objects or finding them but gaining no satisfaction. No matter how much pleasure you enjoy, there is no satisfaction. No matter how much you follow desire, there is no satisfaction at all.
Also, nothing in samsara is definite. You have to leave the body again and again, and take another body again and again. Like this, again and again you experience the suffering of joining to another body.
Your present-life mother came from her mother, your grandmother; your grandmother came from another mother; and that mother came from another mother. It is the same with your father. You can see this body that you have now as a collection of all the sperm and blood that has continued from parent to child for inconceivable generations since this earth evolved, since human beings began. This collection of sperm has come to you through your father, your grandfather, your great-grandfather, and so on. It is the same with the blood, which has come to you through your mother, your grandmother, and so on. Since this body you have now is a continuation of all this sperm and blood from all these other beings, there is no essence to cling to; there is no reason to get attached to this body, this samsara. The waste from all the toilets in a big city is collected into one big sewer—the body is just like this sewer.
By joining again and again to the body like this, again and again you experience problems. If you have high status, you fall down to low status. Again and again this happens. When you are born, you are born alone without any companion; when you die, you also die alone. Even this body does not accompany the consciousness; the consciousness has to go alone to the next life. All these are the problems of true suffering. If you rely upon Tara by taking refuge in her and doing Tara practices—such as the recitation of mantra or praises—with TARE, Tara liberates you from all these true sufferings.
The meaning of TUTTARE
The second word, TUTTARE, liberates you from the eight fears. There are eight fears related to external dangers from fire, water, air, earth, and also from such things as thieves and dangerous animals. However, the main dangers come from ignorance, attachment, anger, pride, jealousy, miserliness, doubt and wrong views. These eight disturbing thoughts that you have in your mind are the main dangers. By taking refuge in Tara and doing Tara practice, you are liberated from these eight internal dangers, these eight disturbing thoughts. In this way, you are also liberated from external dangers, as these external dangers come from the inner disturbing thoughts.
This second word, TUTTARE, which liberates you from the eight fears, frees you from the true cause of suffering: karma and the all-arising disturbing thoughts. All-arising means that disturbing thoughts bring all the sufferings. By taking refuge in Tara and doing Tara practice, you are liberated from the true cause of suffering: this is the meaning of TUTTARE.
The meaning of TURE
The third word, TURE, liberates you from disease. Now, of the Four Noble Truths, TURE shows the cessation of suffering, which is the ultimate Dharma. In terms of liberating from disease, the actual disease we have is ignorance not knowing the absolute nature of the I, and all the disturbing thoughts that arise from this ignorance. These are the actual, serious diseases that we have. With cessation of all these diseases of disturbing thoughts, all the true sufferings, all the resultant problems, are also ceased. By liberating us from disease, TURE actually liberates us from the true cause, disturbing thoughts, and also the true sufferings.
How can we achieve this ultimate Dharma, this true cessation of the cause and result of suffering? What can lead us to this state, the cessation of suffering, which is the meaning of TURE? You achieve this by practicing the true path. As revealed in the Lesser Vehicle paths of the Hearer-Listeners and Self-conquerors, and in the Mahayana path, the true path is the wisdom directly perceiving emptiness. This is the absolute Dharma. Actualizing this wisdom within our mind leads us to the state of cessation of suffering. This true path is contained in TUTTARE, which liberates us from the eight fears—the word liberates indirectly indicates the true path. And as I have just explained, the third word, TURE, liberates you from the actual disease, the disturbing thoughts.
The conclusion is that by taking refuge in Tara, doing Tara practices such as recitation of the Tara mantra, and practicing the path contained in that mantra, you can achieve the fully enlightened state with the four kayas, which is the cessation, liberated from the two obscurations. In short, OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA means "I prostrate to the Liberator, Mother of all the Victorious Ones." Tara is the mother of all the Victorious Ones, or buddhas. Why are buddhas called Victorious Ones? Because they are victorious over the two obscurations.
Tara the Mother
Tara is called Mother because it is the mother who gives birth to children. The actual meaning of Tara is the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, which sees the absolute and conventional truth of all existence. This is the absolute guru, the real guru—and we should understand this real meaning of guru. Now, even though they have different aspects and different names, all the buddhas are born from this transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, which is the dharmakaya. In reality, every buddha is the embodiment of this absolute guru: one manifests in many; many manifest in one. The absolute guru manifests in all these various aspects of buddha; the essence of all buddhas is the absolute guru. The real meaning of guru, the absolute guru, manifests in ordinary aspect as the conventional-truth guru, the lama from whom you receive the teachings directly.
As Khedrup Sangye Yeshe explained: "Before the guru, there is not even the name 'Buddha'." The whole Guru Puja expresses that the foundation is the guru, the dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness. From the very beginning, while experiencing great bliss, we manifest as the guru-deity. Even the front-generation merit field comes from inseparable bliss and voidness, and from this merit field we take initiation; we request to be granted blessings to generate the realizations of the graduated path to enlightenment from beginning to end; and we also make the four types of offering (outer, inner, secret and absolute). We train our mind with these meditations, which evolve from non-dual bliss and voidness.
First we meet the guru externally and separately. After receiving teachings, we listen, reflect and meditate on the path that is revealed by this guru. On the basis of correct devotion to the guru, we gradually actualize the remedy of the path and remove our obscurations. When our obscurations are completely removed, we meet the guru mentally.
On the basis of actualizing the Three Principles of the Path, we receive the four perfect Highest Yoga Tantra initiations, which definitely plant the seeds of the four kayas within our mind. This allows us to practice the unification of the clear light and illusory body. By gradually actualizing this path, we can completely cut off even subtle dual view, ceasing even the gross minds of the white, red and dark visions, which are more subtle than the preceding gross minds but gross when compared to the subtle mind of clear light.
When you achieve dharmakaya, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, you have achieved the guru. You have achieved the wish expressed in our usual dedication prayer: "Due to all these merits may I quickly achieve the guru-Buddha's enlightenment, and lead every single living being to the guru-Buddha's enlightenment." In reality, by training your mind in these meditations, developing your mind in the path, your mental continuum actually becomes that of the guru. In the future, you actually become the guru you have been visualizing.
So, all the buddhas are born from the absolute guru, the transcendental wisdom of non-dual bliss and voidness, which is the actual meaning of Mother. This transcendental wisdom, this completely pure subtle mind, manifests in this female aspect that is labeled "Tara".
Normally children feel much closer to their mother than to their father. When they have some trouble, most children seem to scream for their mother. I don't know about in the West, but in the East even adults, when they have some severe pain or problem, rely on their mother.
My father died when I was small, and I don't remember at all what he looked like. People say that he had a beard, was very good at reading texts, and did not speak much. All I can remember clearly is my father's sheep-skin chuba. Everybody in the family slept under that big chuba—it was our blanket. The whole family tried to get underneath it. I can remember that very clearly. I was introduced to my father's chuba—that is all I remember.
So my mother was the only adult in our home. My sister, because she was a little older, was able to help my mother a little by taking our animals out on the mountains and bringing them back home. Otherwise, the rest of us—there were three, including me—were useless. Since my sister had to look after the animals, all the hard work was done alone by my mother.
One day my mother had to go into the forest to get firewood. We waited outside the house. Because none of us could cook, we waited outside for her to come home and give us some food. She came back very late from the forest with a very heavy load of firewood. After she returned, she could not make a fire because she was sick, with much pain. There was no fire in the stove, and no food. She lay down next to the fireplace, screaming for her mother: "Ama! Ama!" My grandmother, who was still alive at that time, lived quite near to us, maybe five or ten minutes' walk away.
The three of us—me, my brother Sangye, and another young brother who had a small piece of tail, and later died—didn't know what to do. We just sat around the fireplace looking at our mother. There was no fire; none of us could make a fire. We just sat and watched our mother.
Like this, somehow, naturally, even grown-ups call their mother when there is some really serious pain or problem. However, Tara is much closer to us than our mother.
The meaning of OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA
This female aspect, Tara, Mother of all the Victorious Ones guides you and other living beings from the danger of falling into samsara or the lower nirvana, and leads you to the perfect state of enlightenment, which is qualified with the five transcendental wisdoms and the four kayas.
The rough meaning of these three words TARE TUTTARE TURE is: "To you, embodiment of all the buddhas' actions, I prostrate always—whether I am in happy or unhappy circumstances—with my body, speech and mind."
All the paths (Lesser Vehicle, Mahayana, Paramitayana, tantra) from the beginning up to enlightenment are contained in TARE TUTTARE TURE. The remedy of the path and all the obscurations it removes are contained in TARE TUTTARE TURE. In regard to the lam rim, TARE is the graduated path of the lower capable being; TUTTARE, of the middle capable being; and TURE, of the higher capable being. All the outlines of the lam rim meditations are contained in this mantra. In the mantra TAYATA OM MUNI MUNI MAHAMUNIYE SOHA, MUNI MUNI MAHAMUNIYE can also be related to the lam rim in the same way.
The final word SOHA means establishing the root of the path within your heart. In other words, by taking refuge in Tara and doing Tara practice, you receive the blessings of Tara in your own heart. This gives you space to establish the root of the path, signified by TARE TUTTARE TURE, in your heart. By establishing the path of the three capable beings within your heart, you purify all impurities of your body, speech and mind, and achieve Tara's pure vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind, which are signified by OM. Your body, speech and mind are transformed into Tara's holy body, holy speech and holy mind. This is the rough meaning of OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA.
Visualizing Tara
When you recite the mantra, visualize Tara in space in front of you, level with your forehead, at a comfortable distance of about one body-length. As I mentioned when explaining the mantra, first think of the transcendental wisdom of great bliss of all the buddhas, which fully sees all existence. Think of this holy mind of dharmakaya, the absolute guru. Because the holy mind of all the buddhas, the absolute guru, is bound by great compassion for you and all living beings, who are obscured and suffering under the control of karma and disturbing thoughts, it manifests in this particular female form of Tara. This happens due to compassion. Just as you act under the control of anger and attachment, the buddhas work for you and other living beings under the control of compassion.
The holy mind of all the buddhas manifests in this female aspect, Tara. What does this aspect look like? Tara is in the nature of green light, with one face and two arms. Her face is very peaceful, with a slight smile. Her hair is very dark, half tied up and half loose, and decorated with an utpala flower at the crown. Tara is adorned with jewel ornaments of necklace, bracelets, armlets, anklets, and so on. Her eyes, very loving and compassionate, are not opened widely but are fine and a little rounded. Tara's eyes express compassion for you, like the look of loving kindness a mother gives her beloved only child. Tara's right hand, holding the stem of an utpala flower, is in the mudra of granting sublime realizations. Her left hand holds the stem of another utpala flower, with three fingers standing upright to signify refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.
With fully developed breasts, Tara is adorned with a jewel necklace and also with jewel garlands and various scarves. Her right leg is stretched out, and the left one contracted. Behind her is a moon disc. Tara is adorned with the complete holy signs and exemplifications of a buddha. On her forehead is a white OM, essence of the vajra holy body; at her neck, a red AH, essence of vajra holy speech; and at her heart, a blue HUNG, essence of the vajra holy mind.
White nectar beams come from the OM, strike your forehead, and enter inside you to purify all the obscurations and negative karmas you have accumulated with the body from beginningless rebirths until now. From the AH at Tara's throat, red nectar beams are emitted and strike your own throat; all obscurations and negative karmas accumulated with your speech are completely purified. Then, from Tara's heart syllable HUNG, blue nectar beams are emitted and enter your heart; all the obscurations and negative karmas accumulated with your mind from beginningless rebirths until now are purified. Out of compassion for you and all living beings, Mother Tara has purified you. Concentrate on this as you recite the mantra: OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA. Or if you wish, you can visualize Tara on your crown as in the short Tara sadhana.
When you finish the meditation, pray to Tara: "Without delay of even a second, may I become Tara and in each second free uncountable numbers of living beings from all their sufferings and lead them to full enlightenment."
Pray to achieve this through generating bodhicitta, the wish to achieve Tara for the sake of other living beings. Because you are not following the selfish mind but have changed your attitude to one of using your life to serve others, to obtain their temporal and ultimate happiness, Tara is extremely pleased with you. Your practicing the loving, compassionate thought of bodhicitta and morality, which means keeping your vows, please Tara the most. These essential Mahayana practices are the best offerings you can make to Tara; these bring you closer to Tara, so that she quickly helps all your actions to succeed. How much Tara helps you depends on how much you practice the essence of the Mahayana teachings.
So, because of your attitude of bodhicitta, Tara is extremely pleased with you; she melts into green light, enters through your forehead, and absorbs into your heart. Think: "My body, speech and mind have been blessed to become Tara's vajra holy body, holy speech and holy mind." By receiving the blessings of Tara with a calm, devoted mind, you plant the seed to develop your mind and actually achieve Tara.
After the absorption, if you wish, one-pointedly concentrate on the nature of Tara's holy mind. Then conclude your practice by dedicating the merits to the generation of bodhicitta and to your achievement of Tara, in order to lead every living being as quickly as possible to Tara's enlightenment.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Themes Emerging in My Life

I love observing new themes emerging in my life. I don't take enough time sometimes to think about why they form and which questions they answer. Maybe I should do it this time. I do take it more serious right now an dtry to respond to every opportunity from my heart. Sometimes (in the past, I hope) these common themes used disappear if I don't pursue them. But it's definitely true for me that a theme, ususally something I have thought about before in one way or the other, expresses itself in different forms repeatedly, until it captures my attention. New themes that has recently emerged in my life are all connected with my old passions, some of which are coming back from my childhood.
  1.  One of them is literature and poetry. I enjoy reading a good book of a writer who can feels the world, who lives in his characters and expresses their feeling with powerful honesty that changes the reality for the better. I found Emory Book club, which reintroduced me to Orhan Pamuk. I an discovering the world of sacred poetry, starting with sufi poets, such as Rumi. It brings me so much joy to see profound truths expressed in words. 
  2. I started writing again myself, reflecting on these poems. Right now I am writing an article about "The Sun in Sacred Poetry", which can turn into a book easily. It is so fascinating to see many sacred texts mentioning the Sun and often trying to convey the same meaning. I'm going to post my article here when I am done. Another topics that I found fascinating and would like to explore in more details include the divine feminine in sacred texts, rituals, initiations, and sacred dance. As a continuation of this theme, I found interesting web-site Abbey of the Arts (http://abbeyofthearts.com/) that offers transformational classes that connect creativity, arts (writing and photography)  and spiritual growth through contemplative practice and meditations/prayers. So far I loved what I'm learning there. 
  3. The second new-found passion is photography. Here, I am a complete beginner. Photography is a new medium of expression for me, which hopefully will become my friend. I intend to use photography as a tool for seeing the world through my heart, noticing new things, being present and reflecting on the mundane things that are sometimes the most powerful. Extracting hidden energy everywhere is an art of life. And photograpgy is a useful tool in this process. Again photography is showing up in my life partly as my own interest through the course that I'm taking, and partly as something I would like to contribute to the place I work at by creating a video that will feature Emory as a place to work and study. This is a new project that I'm very excited about.
  4. The last theme that shows through several activities that I recently started to engage in is sacred dance and celebrating the Divine Feminine. I'm taking the class on sacred dance. Also, I have started learning belly dancing. I'm only making the first steps here too and am very excited about it. I bought a DVD to practice at home that has both yoga and belly dance routines. And I will attend regular classes too. For me learning to belly dance is a way to connect with my femininity and I feel that I can show deep reverence and praise towards the feminine force in everything.      
  5. The theme that emerges vividly right now, and is still in the process of forming  is dream interpretation. I see many videos about interpreting dream and one of them is actually so good that I would like to share it with you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCKEJTgzRCU&feature=player_embedded Another great video gift from Lilou Mace. She is a great visionary, author of the book "I Lost My Job and I Liked It", and a web-TV host who interviews many interesting people and posts her video on Youtube and on her web-site (http://liloumace.com/) free of charge. I have also received an email from somebody organizing a group on dream interpretation. There must be something I can learn from the "science and art" of dream interpretation, which I think is very much related to psychoanalysis of Carl Jung. So I'm going to observe how this unfolds.
All this could manifest in my life only because I think I became more open and allowed it to happen. I didn't do anything special except just saying "yes" to possibilities when they offered themselves. I didn't spend almost any time searching for any of this opportunities. Also all of these things I deeply enjoy manifested only because there was a subtle change in the way I think.

I still have a few things to work on. First, I need to keep my vibrations steady at this high level to see a sustainable change in my life for the better. To do this, I need to feel appreciation for every day and every moment I enjoy, so that more enjoyable moments could manifest easily attracted by my gratitude. I also feel that I need to be more focused and committed to a practice or a goal that I choose to pursue.

In addition to keeping up with the current flow, there are some areas in my life that I still need to make improvements in. And it would be boring if there weren't any. I need to completely release my fear of being judged and stop judging myseld. I have made the first step by acknowledging that I do it sometimes and it happens more often than I would like. Second area I intend to change is lack of trust. I don't trust people and the world in general. I don't believe the Universe will take care of me and will bring everything I need easily without me struggling and working hard. I don't trust that I can have open intimate relationship with other people, because I have this belief that people don't understand me in general. I avoid getting too close to people. Probably this is because I'm afraid of commitment. This is exactly what Gay Hendrick is talking with Lilou Mace about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgA-km8ySMI Listening to it is really transformational experience. I'm watching it for the second time and plan to do more work on this segment.

I am going to make a few resolutions:
  • I intend to feel joyful and content all the time.
  • I intend to release all judgment and allow the world to be as it is.
  • I intend to replace lack of trust and fear of commitment with expectations of intimacy and joy of sharing
Gay Hendricks recommends to playfully ask yourself the following questions, he calls "wonder" questions while breathing deeply and paying attention to feelings and sensation in your body:

  • Can I learn how to feel great all the time? Am I willing to feel great all the time?
  • Can I allow things to go well in my life all the time?
  • In my relationships, can I live in harmony and intimacy all the time?
He explains that this questions are "wonder" questions because they are so big that they can only be answered by your life. Willingness and commitment are the keys because willingness is open up the heart to a new way of thinking and commitment helps us to get there.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Google Talk: Change Your Mind, Change Your Brain

If happiness is an inner state, influenced by external conditions but not dependent on them, how can we achieve it? In this Google talk Matthieu Ricard examines the inner and outer factors that increase or diminish our sense of well-being, dissect the underlying mechanisms of happiness, and lead us to a way of looking at the mind itself based on his book, Happiness: A Guide to Life's Most Important Skill and from the research in neuroscience on the effect of mind-training on the brain.
 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_30JzRGDHI&feature=related
Matthieu Ricard, a gifted scientist turned Buddhist monk, is a best selling author, translator, and photographer. He has lived and studied in the Himalayas for the last 35 years...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Orhan Pamuk, Rumi, and Myself

Last Monday I went to the first meeting of the Book club on one of Orhan Pamuk's greatest novel "My Name is Red". I am so happy I could enroll in the book club in the last day. I had this book for about a year and couldn't proceed too far. After getting to know more about Orhan Pamuk, his family and background, I feel like I can understand his writing better.

Especially, I found useful knowing that he wanted to  be a painter before switching to literature. This explains his deep understanding of colors and attention to visual description. To me, he is a true writer, a challenger who feels the reality around him deeply and has an ability to convey his feelings and thoughts using words.
After the meeting, I listened to a few of his interview on Youtube. I especially liked this talk he gave at the University of California: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUPGV1u9bdshttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqVBGv2hpQ4&feature=player_embedded
While listening to his short stories and the description of how he writes, I was reminded of my own passion to writing. I felt so close to this person I don't even know. There is something common in how we perceive the world, and I could see this connection while listening to him. 

Today, I saw this video that include a poem of a sufi poet, Rumi. It reminded of  Orhan Pamuk's "My Name is Red". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqVBGv2hpQ4&feature=player_embedded