Messages of Love

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Two Free E-Books on the Sun

Here is a link to a free e-book created by a student of Michael Aivanhov, also known as Omraam. It is a collection of his thoughts on Sun and Sungazing. http://www.liveyourquest.com/ecrits/sun.pdf

This free e-book, "Living on Sunlight",  can answer your questions about sungazingand related practices: http://www.scribd.com/doc/378210/The-Art-and-Science-of-Sun-Gazing-Living-on-Sunlight

Change the Way You See It

Excerpted from "Taking the Leap", by Pema Chodrön

A few years ago, I was overwhelmed by deep anxiety, a fundamental, intense anxiety with no storyline attached. I felt very vulnerable, very afraid and raw. While I sat and breathed with it, relaxed into it, stayed with it, the terror did not abate. It was unrelenting after many days, and I didn't know what to do.

I went to see my teacher Dzigar Kongtrül, and he said, "Oh, I know that place." That was reassuring. He told me about times in his life when he had been caught in the same way. He said it had been an important part of his journey and had been a great teacher for him. Then he did something that shifted how I practice. He asked me to describe what I was experiencing. He asked me where I felt it. He asked me if it hurt physically and if it was hot or cold. He asked me to describe the quality of the sensation, as precisely as I could. This detailed exploration continued for a while, and then he brightened up and said "Ani Pema, that's the Dakini's Bliss. That's a high-level of spiritual bliss." I almost fell out of my chair. I thought, "Wow, this is great!" And I couldn't wait to feel that intensity again. And do you know what happened? When I eagerly sat down to practice, of course, since the resistance was gone, so was the anxiety.

I now know that at a nonverbal level the aversion to my experience had been very strong. I had been making the sensation bad. Basically, I just wanted it to go away. But when my teacher said "Dakini's bliss," it completely changed the way I looked at it. So that's what I learned: take an interest in your pain and your fear. Move closer, lean in, get curious; even for a moment, experience the feelings without labels, beyond being good or bad. Welcome them. Invite them. Do anything that helps melt the resistance.

Then the next time you lose heart and you can't bear to experience what you are feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. That's basically the instruction that Dzigar Kongtrül gave me. And now I pass it on to you. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering - yours, mine, and that of all living beings.

Sungazing Technnique by Hira Ratan Manek aka HRM

Master Omraam said:“When you contemplate the sun in the morning, you are contemplating the center, the spirit, the eye of God. This is why you must be animated with the desire to draw nearer to the center, to your own center. The simple act of looking at the sun brings you closer to the heart of the external solar system as well as to that of your own being: your consciousness draws closer to your own center, your spirit, from which it draws light, peace, freedom, and strength. The day you decide to work at this in all consciousness, you will sense the movement of currents and waves flowing between you and the sun, creating forms and colors and a whole new world." 

1. Preparation

It requires preparing the night before by going to bed early in a good frame of mind with no negativity. If you feel any irritation toward a person or a situation you heard about in the news, do the Ho’oponopono ritual, violet flame, and Astreas before going to bed.

Meditation and Pranayama: Take a bath or shower. Breathing technique can be combined with meditating on the thought of the day. Begin with with alternate-nostril breathing. Inhale through the right nostril, hold your breath for a few seconds, close it, and then exhale through the left nostril. Then inhale through the left nostril, hold your breath for a few seconds, close it, and then exhale through the right nostril. That's one complete round. Begin with 5-10 rounds and add more as you feel ready. Remember to keep your breathing slow, easy and full. Contemplate the meditation for up to 20 minutes. Focus on the words of the meditation. Your thoughts should remain on the thought for the day. The thought for the day is like a seed. Our meditation is like watering it to stimulate it to sprout, and the sungazing afterwards is like the warmth and light of the sun which causes it to grow and blossom into beautiful flowers and fruits of contemplation. The fruit of each person’s meditation will be different even though the seed is the same because the ground or consciousness of each person is different.

After sungazing, do the palming exercise and continue meditating. If you still have a few minutes left before the 20 minutes is up, finish the meditation in a dark room, such as a walk-in closet. Write down in your journal any thoughts that came to you during your meditation.
Long-time sungazer Seekverta wrote, “In your planning for your SunGazing, always reserve a little time for a short 'dark retreat,' after you leave the Presence(of the Sun). Go somewhere alone, somewhere completely dark, completely silent (maybe your closet). The Essenes used desert caves. The Egyptians went into rooms of the pyramids or temples (dark rooms) built for that purpose. The ancient Druids always had a cave-'barrow' dug next to the stone circles or man-made hills (like Silbury), or a stone cairn (Ireland) with a dark room. Sit there quietly in the silent darkness, and meditate upon your SunGaze. It is here (alone, in the dark) that you will get your answers, your direction, and your resolve. Go into your Mind and read the answers written there. See the Light embedded there. It is here (alone, in the dark) that you will connect to the Mind of God, and that Source will show you the way forward.”
    
2. Sungazing

Here is the sunbathing technique by a sun yogi, Hira Ratan Manek, also known as HRM.

Time: Once a day either within the first hour after sunrise or in the last hour before sunset. Morning sunlight is more beneficial.

Position: Stand or sit with your spine erect and as straight as possible with bare feet on sand, dirt, mud,
pavement or concrete in that descending order of desirability. If the ground is too cold, wear wool socks, or sungaze barefoot from inside.

Drink water: It’s important to drink a glass of sun-charged water before and after sungazing because sungazing can be very cleansing and the water helps remove toxins. Also, it's advisable to take one gram of vitamin C, one vitamin A capsule and a pinch of sea salt. 

How: Gaze at the sun in a relaxed manner; don’t strain. It’s important to blink the eyes to keep them moist. If your eyes tear, don’t wipe them dry, just blink. If the glare is too strong, you can reduce the glare by closing the eyes so that you're gazing through the eyelashes.

How long: Begin with ten seconds. Increase by ten seconds a day. When cold, do it indoors through a window that doesn't have UV protection on it. Otherwise, do it through an open window or door. If you take a vacation from sungazing, even if it’s for years, you don’t have to start from scratch at 10 seconds; just pick
up where you left off.


Stage 1: Between 10 seconds and 15 minutes, which can take from three months if your sungaze every day to several months, sungaze in silence with arms hanging loosely by your sides. Use a timer to time your sungazing. During Stage 1, your may find that you become less tense, spend less time worrying, are happier, more self-confident and compassionate. During this time it’s important to be passive and receptive, and allow the sun to heal your mind. Don’t engage in prayer, mantras, visualization, or contemplation; just be.

Stage 2. Between 15 and 30 minutes, your body will begin to be purified of disease and addictions because all the different color pranas are going to their respective organs to address any deficiencies. To facilitate this process, sungaze with arms outstretched to the sun, palms facing the sun. As you breathe deeply in, visualize healing rays of light coming from the sun and entering your left palm and traveling to areas of your body that require healing or strengthening. If you have no problems, visualize the light going to your heart. Mentally affirm that the light is healing or strengthening you on a cellular level. Then, as you breathe out, visualize the light returning to the sun through your right hand. Express love and gratitude for your healing. Establish a continuous flow of energy. Use of this posture was called “fire blooming”.

Stage 3. Between 30 and 44 minutes, begin with the energy circuit, but instead of visualizing light going to problem areas in your body, visualize it creating a miniature sun in your heart and see the light from your heart radiating out to problem areas in the world. Mentally affirm that the light is bringing healing, sustenance, peace or whatever is needed in those situations. Also as you look directly at the sun, send intent, visualizations, thoughts, and feelings of love, hope, gratitude, and faith to bless all, and send any specific requests to the sun. In this way, blessings travel along rays of light to the sun and the sun amplifies them and broadcasts them to all humanity.

After sungazing: Rub your hands together to get them warm, then press your palms to your eyes and gaze at the afterimage of the sun until it fades away.

Bear foot walking: After or before sungazing, or at some point during the day, walk barefoot for 15-45 minutes. Barefoot walking on sun-warmed sand is another means of absorbing solar energy. It also massages
the pressure points on the soles of the feet and helps balance the yang energy from the sun with the yin energy from the earth. The time you spend barefoot walking is also a good time to sunbathe.

When you reach 44 minutes of sungazing, reduce sungazing time 1 minute per day to 15 minutes and stay there for a year. After that you are fully charged and all you require to maintain your charge is to expose yourself to the sun for a few minutes a day. However, if you enjoy sungazing, then continue with 15 minutes of sungazing every day.

If you follow the method provided above, you will have excellent results in general health and well being. If shortcuts are taken, such as increasing time too fast or not standing on bare earth, then the benefits are reduced. For most people, sungazing according to the above instructions is safe. Mental attitude is very important. If you have a quiet faith that the sun will help you and express gratitude to the sun, results will be quicker. But don’t be impatient, don’t aspire or push, or results will be delayed. Be as a little child and just enjoy the beauty of the sun without expectations or demands, but only with love and gratitude. When you
receive energy and wisdom from the sun, use them only in loving service to life

3. Sun-Charged Water

Put whatever amount of water you need in a glass jar with a glass cover. You can get two-gallon glass apothecary jars at WalMart. Use only purified water but not distilled water. Leave it out in the sun for four hours in the summer or six to eight hours in the winter. You can write positive words like “love,” “gratitude,” “peace” and “joy” on your container, so the water takes on these positive vibrations as was demonstrated by Masuro Emoto. It's best if you drink it hot, or if you want, you can cool it by pouring it into clay or earthen vessels. Never refrigerate because the compressor would discharge it. Also, don’t keep your cooling vessel near anything electrical. You can also use the water for ear drops, eye drops, skin wash, and enemas. Use it up within 24 hours as it loses its charge after this time. If accidentally left in the moonlight, leave it out till the following afternoon to be recharged. Never drink moonshine water as it contained extreme yin energies. Tea leaves can be added to the water to make sun tea if desired.

Sungazing 101

Yesterday, I have unexpectedly discovered very interesting information about sungazing. Usually, if I see that I keep getting the information about the same topic from different sources, I pay attention to it.

So yesterday, I felt that I want to spend time outside and enjoy the sun. So I made green tea and read for about an hour on my balcony. I really enjoyed it and decided that I need to do it more often. Later that day, I learned about the web-site that collects comprehensive information on the benefits of sungazing: http://sunlightenment.com/ A friend of mine mentioned he maintains this web-site, I know him for a long time but didn't know he had this web-site. An idea that took my interest was that worship of the Sun was at the heart of every religion on Earth.

I went to the web-site and found out about people who practice sungazing, gradually eat less and satisfy their needs for energy from their communication with Sun. Also I found out that One of the sungazers the founder of the Sun Center of Phoenix http://www.angelfire.com/moon2/isisaz/ , Wayne Purdin is organizing an online course on "Solar Health- Solar Wealth" at Meru University and the course starts today and lasts for 6 consecutive Sundays.

Since I was intrigued and wanted to learn more, I decided to give it a try. I always loved Sun and spending time outside. I felt that I need to do it more often recently. This might be a good opportunity to do this, while at the same time learning about sungazing. So I enrolled in the class. Here is a link to the course page: http://www.heartscenter.org/tabid/557/Default.aspx

You can learn more about Sun Yoga and sungazing by visiting these links:
http://mintaka.sdsu.edu/GF/vision/Galileo.html 
http://www.heartscenter.org/Teachings/SpiritualPractices/SunYogaBasics/tabid/73/Default.aspx
http://www.heartscenter.org/Teachings/WisdomTeachings/CreatingaGoldenCrystalAgeofAquarius/tabid/468/Default.aspx
http://www.heartscenter.org/Teachings/SpiritualPractices/ImbibeYourSolarPresenceforaSupernaturalHigh/tabid/360/Default.aspx

Every Step Counts

Today, a friend of mine has posted this information about a powerful practice to explore. It took my attention, so I'm re-posting it here.

  1. Think of a project or goal you are working on. Find the simplest, smallest action to take towards the fulfillment of this project and fall in love with that one step.
  2. Give your FULL SELF to this step. Do not underestimate its importance.
  3. This paves the way to success and removes fear more than anything I know.
"Better than a thousand hollow actions, is one action, done well, that brings peace." ~ The Buddha (560-483 B.C.)

What is one simple step for you to take towards the fulfillment of a goal? Please share it if inspired. It does not have to make perfect sense to anyone but you.


I think I know what is mine. Right now, I would like to start by cleaning my body in order to clean my mind. So I would like to start eating right, going to bed on time, and doing yoga or Qi Gong regularly. Starting tomorrow...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Enjoying the Process


I understood an important point. Achieving something for the sake of achieving is not a very good motivation. It doesn’t bring much joy or happiness. From now on, I will make an effort to do everything just to enjoy the process and fully engage in it. This is very different than trying to achieve something because I think it would be nice to add one more achievement. I think this is the distinction between living in the moment and serving the ego. Ego just wants to achieve and conquer everything. It doesn’t care about enjoying the process. It doesn’t care about feelings at all. It cares about quantity, but not quality. It takes all your energy, or you give it all your energy voluntarily. 

It’s important to own your world and take responsibility for everything that happens in it. Feelings are a good indicator of whether you are in sync with Life or working against Life and, therefore, trying to satisfy your ego. It’s ok to notice it and switch the thinking process. There is no need to get irritated or angry at yourself.  It may take time to get used to take full responsibility for everything that happens and everyone you meet, because it’s like breaking your old habit.

Today, I was reminded about the importance of our emotions. They are important indicators of the directions of our thoughts. Negative emotions only show that we need to change our thoughts and start living in the moment, instead of fighting against Life.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Things I Want to Learn More about in the Near Future: 1-2 Years

Yesterday, I discovered that I have a lot in common with Carl Jung ). He believed that many religions have a lot in common, even in the areas where they could never influence each other, like African tribes and native American in Latin America. This led him to develop a theory of unified consciousness that we all can access and where the archetypes that we all share are stored. This was not his only discovery, he also talked about synchronicity, and was interested in paranormal events. Synchronicity is something that I've seen a lot in my own life, when you think or talk about something and see a physical manifestation of your idea in real life. It's like a confirmation that you are on the right track. Sometimes it can show the significance of your thoughts or lead you to some other direction. Besides this Jung was fascinated by astrology, the Book of Changes (the I Ching), and  numerology.
Here is a documentary on Carl Jung: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5drUNviakdk&feature=player_embedded
My list of things that I want to learn more about include:
  1. The books by Carl Jung
  2. The psychology of religion. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Taoism and the connections between them. - That's a very long term goal. Right now I'm taking a course on Qu'ran at Emory and Buddhism online: http://onlinelearning.fpmt.org/course/category.php?id=2 I'm looking forward to the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Atlanta. I think next I can learn more about Taoism and the mysterious Book of Changes. This connects well with my interest in Feng Shui.
  3. Astrology
  4. The I Ching
  5. Numerology
  6. Painting
  7. Feng Shui
  8. Tantra Yoga and Yoga in general. Related to this also Qi Gong and Ti Chi.
  9. A Course in Miracles and similar books.
  10. Learn Turkish better and possibly some other language, not sure which one yet
I think a good question to ask is "Why do I want to learn this?" I think a simple answer is to live a more harmonious life and to be able to help others how to do the same. I think these old teachings complement each other nicely and if you try to take only what feels right to you from each of them, your life becomes more harmonious and joyful. After all, religions are only forms, and God or Creator is one for all. There are different ways to God or to Love, or to Happiness, Joy, and Piece, which is our ultimate goal in life.

Course on The Qu'ran and Christian Texts: Assignment 2

Assignment #2: The Prophetic pattern. Read Surahs 11, 29, 37, 54.
  1. Make a detailed outline of Surah 54, "The Moon", giving specific verse numbers.
Verses 1-8 describe the story of people who “denied (the Truth) and followed their own lusts” before Noah.
Verses 9-16 The story of the flood and Noah’s arc
Verse 17 says: “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?”
Verses 18-21 tells how “the tribe of A’ad rejected warnings” and was destroyed by gusts of “raging wind on the day of constant calamity.” 
Verse 22 refrains: “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?”
Verses 23-31 describes how the people of Thamud “rejected warnings” and were destroyed by turning them into “the dry twigs (rejected by) the builder of a cattle fold.
Verse 32 refrains: “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?”
Verse 33-39 describes how people of Lot except Lot himself were destroyed by “a storm of stones”
Verse 40 refrains: “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?”
Verses 41-42 describes how “the house of Pharaoh” was destroyed with a “grasp of the Mighty, the Powerful”.
Verses 43-55 warn other disbelievers that they cannot escape the same destiny, because “every small and great thing is recorded”.

  1. How did you determine when one section ended and another began? Give examples.
The sections are separated by a rhetoric question “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?” which repeats in verses 17, 22, 32, and 40.

  1. How are the middle sections in the outline related to each other? Explain in detail.
The middle sections are separated by the question: “And in truth We have made the Qu’ran easy to remember, but is there any that remembereth?”

  1. How is the introductory section related to the middle sections? Explain in detail.
The middle section is preceded by a description of what awaits the disbelievers after their death. Verse 7 says: “With downcast eyes, they come forth from the graves…, and verse 8 continues: “Hastening towards the Summoner, the disbelievers say: This is a hard day.”

  1.  How is the final section related to the middle sections?
The final section is related to the middle sections by a question: “Are you disbelievers better than those, or have you some immunity in the Scriptures?” The examples of non-believers who were destroyed are used to warn the readers: “And verily We have destroyed your fellows; but is there any that remembereth?”   

***This Surah is a good example of a typical pattern of the Qu'ran, which is discussed in previous post.

Next assignment is very interesting, because it is related to the comparison between the Bible and the Qu'ran.
Assignment #3: Review Surahs 3, 4, 5, 19; the Gospel of Mathew from the New Testament,
The Child Gospel of Thomas, and answer the following questions.
1. How many Gospels are there, according to the Qur'an? How many parts are in the
Hebrew Bible, according the Qur'an? How do those revelations relate to this one?
2. What are Jesus' miracles, according to the Qur'an?
3. Was Mary a virgin when she conceived Jesus, according to the Qur'an?
4. Was Jesus crucified, according to the Qur'an?
5. What does the Qur'an say about the Christian doctrine of the Trinity?
6. Compare and contrast the Qur'anic Jesus with other prophetic figures in the Qur'an.

Course on The Qu'ran and Christian Texts: Assignment 1 and Commentary


Assignment #1: Surah 27. “The Ant”
Here is my first assignment. It appeared that I got a few things wrong, but still posting it for future reference.
1.      Why is the Surah called "The Ant"?
When Solomon with his army of men, birds, and jinn, approached the Ant Valley he saw the ant who asked her fellow ants to hide in their dwellings not to be unwillingly destroyed by the magnificent army of Solomon. Seeing and hearing the ant made Solomon smile and pray to Lord for greater appreciation of what He has given him: “My Lord, Arouse me to be thankful for Thy favours …” The small ant wanting to hide from a massive army also demonstrates complete surrender to the will of Allah, which is the nature of the Qu’ran’s teaching. Another interpretation may include the representation of the potential danger of material possessions. I don’t think the latter is the main point here.
****Although I found the meaning in this encounter, Prof. Stewart explained that Surah's often got their names as a mnemonic device, so that it would be easier to remeber what the Surah is about. It doesn't have to have a meaning. This is because many people memorize Qu'ran, and names like "The Ant" or "The Cow" are easy to remember, although they don't bear much significance. 
 
2.      How does the Surah begin?
The Surah starts with the words “In the name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful”. Verses 1-5 declare that these revelations of the Qu’ran are supposed to provide guidance for believers in “the Hereafter”, and warning that the non-believers “will be the greatest losers”. It is also attested in verse 6 that Muhammad “verily receivest the Qu’ran from the Presence of One Wise, Aware.”

3.      How does the Surah end?
The Surah ends with Muhammad saying: “I (Muhammad) am commanded only to serve the Lord of this land, which he hath hallowed, and unto Whom all things belong, And I am commanded to be of those who surrender (unto Him); And to recite the Qu’ran…”
***This is a conventional outline in the Qu'ran. If you are familiar with the logic and the format of the text, you know what to expect and it becomes easier to read. Most Surah's have an introduction and conclusion that are written in the present time and addressing the prophet. There is also the narrative part, which refers to stories which happened in the past. The stories don't have to be consecutive. In the Bible, there is only the narrative or stories. The genre of the Qu'ran is different from the Bible. It has fewer numbers, dates, locations, and personal names. Surah take a form of a sermon.Because the sermon is usuallu short, it doesn't let you talk about too many details.
   
4.      Does the Surah proceed chronologically?
No, the Surah does not procced in chronological order. The first character mentioned in the Surah is Moses, who was lived in the 13th century BC. Pharaoh who mentioned then, has probably reigned at the same time. Solomon, the son of David, is mentioned after Moses lived around 10th century BC, and reined around 960s BC. The Queen of Sheba most likely lived in Northwest Arabia in 10th century BC as well. The chronological order is destroyed starting in verse 45, when the story of Thamud and Salih is told. It is not clearly established when and where Thamud and Salih existed, allegedly they were located somewhere in eastern and central Arabia much earlier than Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, and Moses. It might be that Thamud and Salih dated even earlier than Lot, whose story is revealed further. Lot was a nephew of Abraham and lived much earlier than both Solomon and Moses, presumably around 1900 BC.

5.      Do we know anything about the date when it was revealed?
We know that the story was revealed to Muhammad in Mecca Muhammad was born Muhammad was born in Mecca in Saudi Arabia in 570, and started receiving revelations that later formed the Qu’ran in 610 BC.  So the Surah was revealed sometime in the 7th century BC.

6.      Who is speaking?
The first observation we can make is that, as it seems to be a collective entity. For example, verse 4 says “We have made their works fair seeming unto them so that they are all astray” referring to non-believers. Verse 15 says: “We verily gave knowledge to David and Solomon, and they said: Praise be to Allah, Who hath preferred us above many of His believing slaves!” Are “They” who taught David and Solomon and who now speak to Muhammad the Angels, messengers of the Allah? Further, verses 57-58 describe the destruction of the town where Lot prophesized the word of Allah. “We saved him (Lot) and his household save his wife; We destined her to be of those who stayed behind. And We rained a rain upon them, Dreadful is the rain of those who have been warned.” Also, “They” reveal in verse 60 “Is no He (best) Who created the heavens and the earth, and sendeth down for you water from the sky wherewidth We cause to spring forth joyous orchards, whose trees it never hath been yours to cause to grow.” I think it is either the Angels who are speaking to Mohammad or Allah himself is referring to himself in plural. 
***We talked about this in class and agreed that "We" usually refers to God.

7.      What characters or figures does the Surah mention?
In verses 7-14, the Surah mentions Moses, who received a vision from Allah. The people of Pharaoh are mentioned as “evil-living” and those who are in need of special “tokens” from Allah. Solomon, the son of David, is mentioned after Moses. In verses 17-19, the Surah describes his encounter with a female ant that made him realize that he needs to be more grateful to Allah for what he has. Solomon also finds out about the Queen of Sheba, who worships the sun instead of Allah. In verses 23-44, the Surah describes how he tried to convince her that she should “surrender to Allah” and finally succeeds by impressing her with glass flooring in his hall, which she confused with water.
Then, verses 45-58 tell the story of people of Thamud and Soddom and Gomorrah, who didn’t listen to the warnings of Salih and Lot and were destroyed.   

8.      How does the language of the translation strike you?
It strikes me the most that the Surah is written in the form of a direct dialogue between Muhammad and the entities, who deliver messages from “One Wise, Aware”. The address him by name and ensure him that he receives the true message from Allah in verse 6: “Lo! As for thee (Muhammad), though verily receivest the Qu’ran from the Presence of One Wise, Aware.” Allah’s messengers give him an advice in verse 79: “Therefore (O Muhammad) put thy trust in Allah, for thou (standest) on the plain Truth.”
 ***In class we discussed that most translation don't translate the word "Allah" as God, although this is the correct translation from Arabic. This makes people think that Muslims believe in a different God, which is not the original message of the Qu'ran, because the God of Muhammad is the same as the God of Moses and Abraham, and other Biblical prophets. Some translations also go further and use Arabic names for Moses (Musa), Abraham (Ibrahim), etc.

9.      What are the topics treated in the Surah?
One topic the related to prophets who try to warn “evil-liking” people about their wrong-doing. Another topic is illustrated using an story of the encounter of king Solomon and the ant. The topic is the importance of being grateful of what you have and the danger of destruction from wealth. Solomon also converted a pagan Queen of Sheba into monotheism. 

10. Can you divide the Surah into sections by content or theme? Outline the Surah.
Verses 1-6 declare that these revelations of the Qu’ran are supposed to provide guidance for believers in “the Hereafter”, and warning that the non-believers “will be the greatest losers”
Verses 7-14 describe Moses’s revelation
Verses 16-19 describe the encounter between Solomon and the ant
Verses 20-44 describes how Solomon convinced the Queen of Sheba to “surrender to Allah”
Verses 45-58 tell the story of people of Thamud and Soddom and Gomorrah, who didn’t listen to the warnings of Salih and Lot and were destroyed.  
Verses 59-93 praise the Allah and warn the wrong-doers

11. Does the Surah have a central theme?
The central theme is the theme of places and people that were destroyed when they didn’t hear the warning.

12. From your reading of this Surah, identify five important questions for further investigation in the course of reading the rest of the Qur'an.
1. The greatness of God and how His believers should behave
2. Warning the non-believers through prophets and “tockens” and punishing them if they don’t change their ways
3.  How non-believers become convinced of God’s power
4. The importance of being grateful for everything that God gives us, whether it’s material wealth or other abilities
5. The importance of complete surrender to the will of God

Instructions for Life by the Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s: -  Respect for self, -  Respect for others and -  Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
  20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Horoskope for Today

Just came back from the class on the Quran and Christian Texts. In one word -AMAZING! More details later...
My horoskope for today from the onion.com says "You'll finally stumble upon a copy of the secret book of the Jews only to find it bears an uncanny similarity to the first few chapters of the Bible." Syncronicities or God's way of making me laugh? If you don't believe me, it's here: http://www.theonion.com/articles/your-horoscopes-week-of-september-14-2010,18084/ Probably, I'm thinking too much about the connections between different sacred texts :)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Mediterranean Tilapia with Couscous

I just cooked tilapia with couscous using a modified recipe from here: http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2009/04/15/mediterranean-tilapia-couscous/ . Instead of almonds I added walnuts. Also, I didn't have shallot, olives and capers and used prosecco instead of white wine. Despite of all the changes I made, it was a delicious and healthy dinner. And it only took me about 30 minutes to cook. I thought couscous will take longer to cook. I like to experiment when cooking, and usually it works. You can see for yourself.


After visiting Turkey this summer, I decided to learn more about Mediterranean cuisine and bought a cooking book with the most popular dishes from every Mediterranean country. So far the book is standing next to the stove and waiting for its turn. I think I will cook something from this book soon. Here is some of the food I ate in Turkey.

When I miss Turkish food or want to try something new, I use this online store to buy Turkish grocery products. They ship fast and have a large selection of goods. tulumba.com

How to Make the Most of Your Day

We only have 24 hours in a day, and only that many days to live. Why wasting our time on petty worries and unproductive thoughts? Each day can be filled with interesting events, positive thoughts, and energized with loving energy. All we need to do is open your hearts and let that energy flow through you by making your life full and affecting everyone around you. Life is not supposed to be a struggle, it is a joyful ride. The secret is to trust that the Source or the Creator will provide everything we ask for. When we life in the present moment without thinking about the past or worrying about the future, we can truly make the most of each day.

Here are a few simple principles that could help to improve your life and make it more joyful! 
  • Accepting and Loving Myself for Who I am 
I gradually learn not to judge and criticize myself, but admire my own unique talents and skills. I also learn about my limitations without being too stressed about them. I learn to love my body the way it is and provide it with healthy food and necessary physical activity. I learn a lot from my body. It leads to the next healthy principle 
  • Eating Healthy and Exercising
I choose only the food that I enjoy eating and that would be beneficial for me body. Physical exercises that I do bring joy and are not an obligation, but a pleasant way to learn more about my body’s strength and limitations and get in touch with my body. I want to be best friends with my body. So I don’t want to do anything potentially hurtful to my best friend.
  • Taking Time for Meditation and Prayer
Meditation is an important device I use to train my mind to be mindful and open for receiving guidance from the Creator. When my mind is fully trained, it will stop sending conflicting messages and will be more efficient. Also prayer and meditation is a tool to clear myself to communicate with the Source energy and receive guidance.
  • Being Grateful
I am grateful for everything I have and everything that happens in my life. I know that each situation presents an opportunity for me to learn. And these circumstances were created specifically for me. I’m accepting everything and everyone I meet as a special gift, regardless of how it looks at first.
  • Making an Effort to Practice Mindfulness
I listen to my thoughts with interest and don’t let my mind to wonder on counterproductive and inefficient negative thought patterns. I know that each thought is important, because it is charged with creative energy. I only want to give this energy to something that I want to create.
  • Trusting the Universe and Releasing Fears
I know that I am in good hands and nothing bad can happen to me. I release my fears. If they occur I don’t push them away, just carefully observe them and lovingly acknowledge their presence. Eventually, they will stop arising, because the old habit of fearful thinking is replaced by trust and love.
  • Taking Responsibility for Everything that Happens to Me
I am responsible for what happens in my life and nobody else, because everything in my world is a consequence of my thoughts in the past. The situations that I find undesirable can give an interesting insight about how my thoughts should be adjusted or corrected. If I made a mistake, I’m ready to accept it, apologize for it, and move on.
  • Being Open to Receive
I am in constant communication with the Universe. Universe is communicating with me too through people, events, and situations in my life. I am willing to accept the gifts that the Universe is trying to give me.
  • Doing Something Fun and Being Playful
I try to learn what I enjoy doing and do it as much as I can. I also minimize the number of things I do that I don’t like. I surround myself with things I like, people I like and places I like. My life is my playground!

Means vs. Ends


While reading "A Course in Miracles" (ACIM) yesterday, I realized that an important first step that is often ignores is being convinced that the goal you are trying to achieve is important and worth achieving. Very often we want to skip this step and go directly to doing something without a firm belief in the goal and a commitment to it. It leads to us being unstable is our efforts, when even small failure can discourage us form moving forward.

 “...unless you regard an end as worth achieving, you will not devote yourself to the means by which it CAN be achieved.” ~ACIM

How can the material in ACIM be incorporated in our everyday life? Another very important suggestion is when you use the questions about “WHAT do you treasure, and HOW MUCH do you treasure it?” as a criteria for your behavior, the means will be automatically clear.So, it is important to know what is important for you and how far you would go to defend your values.

Another quote I lied is about finding comfort in trust.
“The Children of God are entitled to perfect comfort, which comes from the sense of perfect trust. Until they achieve this, they waste themselves and their true creative powers on useless attempts to make themselves more comfortable by inappropriate means." ~ACIM So far I am not clear about which means are appropriate? I suppose the answer is in learning to love yourself and others perfectly.

Notes on Fear from "A Course in Miracles"

"All aspects of fear are untrue, because they do not exist at the higher creative levels, and therefore do not exist at all.
If perfect love casts out fear,
And of fear exists,
Then there is no perfect love.
But
Only perfect love really exists.
Therefore, if there is fear it creates a state which does not exist.
Believe THIS and you will be free."
 ******************************************************************

“Remember that where your heart is, there is your treasure also. You believe in what you VALUE. If you are AFRAID you are VALUING WRONG”
 ******************************************************************

“Whenever you are afraid you are deceived. Your mind doesn’t serve your soul. This literally starves the soul by denying its daily bread.”
 ******************************************************************

“Both Separation and the fear were MISCREATIONS of the mind, which have to be undone. This is what the Bible means by “Restoration of the Temple”. It DOES NOT mean the restoration of the building, but it DOES mean the opening of the altar (heart?) to receive the Atonement.”

A Day at the Singapore Retreat, September 8-12, 2010

Yesterday, I enjoyed the morning chant by Thay Phap Khoi’s and the talk by Thich Nhat Nanh's, the Nobel Laureate and a great spiritual teacher, from the Singapore Retreat, September 8-12, 2010 http://stream.pvweb.org/

He provided a very good explanation about the origin of fear. Fear is the topic that I currently find interesting and I think I'm making progress in understanding how to deal with it.   I think if our mind produces fear or anger today, we shouldn’t close our eyes on it and run away from it, or blame or punish ourselves for it. Instead we should love every our creation and take good care of it. Thich Nhat Nanh used a powerful analogy in his talk. A good mother never abandons her child, even if she thinks it creates too much trouble for her. Similarly, every our thoughts, emotion and action is our beloved children. We must love all of them. As we learn to love them equally, the number of errors and fearful thoughts will go down, and we will learn to create more perfectly.

God on TV

I decided to talk today about a series of TV programs that cover fundamental questions about the existence of God. I think it is a big positive change in our collective consciousness that conversations like that became possible. These are the questions that should be asked and answered. It is also good to hear the position of both sides of the debate. All of the programs I mentioned below invited both scientists, members of the Church, and spiritual teachers, like Deepak Chopra. Could discussions like this happen, say 20 or even 10 years ago?
  •  Did God Create Man or Did Man Create God?
The most interesting example is a discussion that happened this Friday, September 10 on Larry King Live. The question discussed was quite unusual for this program -“Did God Create Man or Did Man Create God?" The guests on the show were the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking and a diverse panel made up of spiritual author and  medical doctor Deepak Chopra, physicist and co- author of Hawking’s latest and controversial  book “The Grand Design”, Leonard Mlodinow and Jesuit Priest, Father Robert Spitzer.

Here’s the interview -
Stephan Hawking with Larry King
Panel discussion including Deepak Chopra
More panel discussion AND the BIG Question

ABC Nightline Face Off is another program that broadcast a series of curious debates on the following topics:

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Louise Hay's New Baby

Louise Hay, the author of the book I'm reading right now, an influential figure in the "spiritual community", and a wonderful human being, has announced the opening of her new Heal Your Life web-site: http://www.healyourlife.com/?utm_id=3198 The site is created as a one-stop shop for all your daily spiritual needs and is described as a "part of your daily routine" in this introductory 35-second video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ToyvjXq3jw&feature=player_embedded
The site currently features 7 blogs by Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, Christine Northrup, Loretta LaRoche, Chris Prelitz, Hay House, and Marcelle Pick.
This post by Christine Northrup talks about the importance of accepting yourself as a prerequisite for achieving happiness. http://www.healyourlife.com/blogs/christiane-northrup-blog/happiness-now I liked a short poem Christine shared about self-acceptance:

Without self-acceptance, you are always hiding.
With self-acceptance, your spirit is gliding.

I'm learning to fully love and accept myself these days. It is not that easy as it may sound to really love yourself. Love means no judgment, no expectations, no fear, or control. How often do you wake up and admire your reflection in the mirror? Believe me you are beautiful, but you find little flaws that you don't like or would want to go away magically. There is no point in being overly critical with yourself. It doesn't serve any useful purpose. Will the little flaws go away if you think about them every morning? No. You will only practice thinking about them over and over, which eventually creates a habit of criticizing your look constantly. These "flaws" are what makes you unique and other people may find them attractive, which is often the case, or they don't care about them at all. We are our own only judges. And we often treat other people with more kindness, love, and acceptance then we do ourselves. Isn't it ironic?  


Music from Heaven - Das

Today, I have heard the sounds of many instruments I have never even saw before. Das is another living example of someone who does what he truly enjoys, and it happens to bring joy to other people as well. He is a true musician and poet. He writes music, poetry and lyrics for his songs. He could be a stand up comedian as well, as someone jokingly mentioned in the audience. Here are a few pictures of mysterious musical instruments he played, and he played ALL of them, or almost all!
Here is the artist in  the process of creating:
Cool stuff!

A Course in Miracles

I recently found out about a book that was dictated to a Professor of Psychology in Columbia University in the 1970s. I started to read it and it makes a lot of sense to me. Intuitively, I believe every word it says. I also believe that if everyone read the book and applied the principles offered there by following the workbook with 365 exercises for each day of a year, there would be no fear and we would love and respect each other.

Recently, A Course in Miracles gained much more attention in popular media. Oprah Radio translated 365 lessons by Marianne Williamson http://www.oprah.com/oprahradio/A-Course-in-Miracles-Lesson-1
There is a very good documentary about how the book was created on Youtube. Here is a link to part 1 out of 16: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wvY9KkOXUY Although the documentary is long, it is worth watching and very well made. There is also a movie "A Course in Miracles Unleashed" that I haven't seen yet, but that has very positive reviews. The trailer can be found here: http://www.acourseinmiraclesunleashed.com/.

When I was thinking about the material in the book, which is dictated (presumably) by Jesus Christ, I thought that there is a lot in common among all channeled or prophesized books. As a research, it would be interesting to compare all of them and unite somehow. Not sure what it means yet. I guess my thought is that if people see that all these sacred texts are saying the same things, they will be more likely to follow these common prescriptions or advices.
Besides the sacred texts that we all know, like the Bible, the Qu'ran, the Tora, the Bhagavat Gita, Taoist texts by Lao Tsu and others, there are less known modern prophecies, or channeled texts that deserve attention and contain useful information for us. Here is a list of channeled books that I know of:
  1. "The Law of One" or (The Ra Material) channeled by Carla L. Rueckert and written with the help of Don Elkins, and James McCarty. The book can be downloaded here: http://www.llresearch.org/library.aspx
  2. "The Law of Attraction", "The Astonishing Power of Emotions", "The Vortex" and other books writen by Esther and Jerry Hicks. Esther channels Abraham, "a group consciousness from the non-physical dimension". More information and introductory videos are available here: http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/index.php
  3. Kryon books channeled by Lee Carroll. Free audio files of his channelling can be found here: https://www.kryon.com/
The material in the "The Law of One" resembles that in "A Course in Miracles" the most because of its comprehensiveness and multiple layers of information. When you read both books, sometimes you feel that if you come back to this particular idea topic later you will understand something new and equally useful. The Bible has many layers too.

These are just a few thoughts about it...I'm only on page 61 of 1049 page of "A Course in Miracles", but I am determined to graduate. I also have found a group of people, who are studying the course here in Atlanta. It would be nice to meet like-minded people. One question that I had is whether I should finish reading it first and do the exercises later, or do both simultaneously. I'm thinking about starting the exercises that are supposed to help your mind to get rid of old destructive pattern that are based on fear and replace them with love and connection to everything else and the Creator. That would be nice to have in every moment!