Messages of Love

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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.
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:
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".

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Secrets to a Happy Home

I agree with the author of this article in that you home should make you feel happy and relaxed. This is also the basic premise in Feng Shui. Enjoy!

Talking Makes Us Happier

The New York Times has published an interesting article: "Why Sisterly Chats Make People Happier?" on October 25, 2010.
The article compares men and women ways of communication with family members and concludes that "the key to why having sisters makes people happier — men as well as women — may lie not in the kind of talk they exchange but in the fact of talk." I think that when you talk to family members or friends who love you and are interested in your thoughts, you share support and love for each other. This is an important part of being human, so I'm not surprised to see it confirmed by scientific studies.

Doing the Best We Can with What We Have

I had to repost this beautiful piece by Oriah. I was just thinking about the same question yesterday. When we let go of judgment and blame to ourselves or others, it is often compassion and love that take their place. And when we are in that mindset of compassion and love, we are much more ready to take action in a positive and meaningful way. Judging another person from your own perspective or even judging yourself from the new perspective at a different point in time is a waste of time and resources. From someone else's perspective it may not have been the "best" decision and even that person who made it may look back and wish he or she would have done something different. But at that time, it was the "best" decision to make based on where that person was in their life's journey.

It doesn't mean we shouldn't ask what we can do resources or conditions we need to do better, but doing it from the position of blame and judgment is not going to bring desired results. Let's love each other and ourselves!
Doing Our Best
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 at 9:03am

"When I was growing up my father often said: “Everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with.” What I want you to know about this is that he did not say this lightly, did not come to this from a life of ease or privilege. He had grown up poor with an abusive alcoholic father and an exhausted mother. As a child he and his mother were beaten almost every night by my grandfather who eventually (after my father was an adult) committed suicide- hung himself in the barn of the dirt farm where my father had grown up. And still, my father held that everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with. He would occasionally add, with a sadness that made my heart ache: “Some days people don’t have much to work with.”

Consider for just a moment- what if this is true? What if you and I and every person on the planet, in this moment are doing the best we can with the inner and outer resources we have?

Let me say what this does not mean: It does not mean that “It’s all good.” Some of it is not good. Some of what is happening right now in the world- the abuse of children, the destruction of the environment, the exploitation of people, all the ways in which human beings create suffering for themselves and others- is not good.

Nor does it mean that we have no responsibility for the suffering we create. It simply means that saying we “should” do better with the resources (awareness, information, perception, education etc.) we have is a set up for blame, shame and maintaining the current level of suffering. If we could do better with the resources we have, we would.

So, if everyone does the best they can with what they have to work with in this moment, AND we sometimes create suffering for ourselves and each other- what does it mean to want to create change and alleviate suffering?

It means we have to recognize we are doing the best we can with the resources we have, and (instead of beating each other or ourselves up for not doing better) find, invite and accept more resources.

What does this look like in one small human life? It looks like open inquiry into what is. It looks like an honest evaluation of our individual and collective resources. And honest evaluations pretty much have to be free of judgement and shame to be even close to accurate. Resources can be everything from how much sleep I had last night to collective beliefs about why many are poor while some are rich. But let's stick with the small stuff- if I find myself impatient with a sales clerk and I know I have not had enough sleep in days (for this particular body/mind/heart/soul-self), I have a responsibility to get myself to bed as soon as possible so I don’t spread suffering (however minor) with sharp comments tomorrow. This might entail cancelling other plans (and letting go of my attachment to these plans) and/or asking for help (seeking assistance with children in my care, asking my neighbour to turn down the noise etc.) so the sleep I need is available. But expecting myself to be more patient and kind tomorrow with the same exhaustion I had today is a set up when I have just experienced what my “best” looks like when I am this tired.

I’m using a very simple example, and when we start to move into global collective problems and the resources needed, (for example- awareness of inter-dependence and a willingness to share material resources so that all can flourish in meaningful ways) it gets admittedly more complicated. Not impossible, just more complicated.

But it’s not about getting it perfect. Nor is it about trying harder. It’s about recognizing we are doing the best we can with what we have to work with and, if our “best” is creating suffering, seeking, asking for and receiving the resources we need to alleviate that suffering.

What would we have to lose by seeing ourselves or others this way? Justification for putting out of our hearts those aspects of ourselves or others that are causing suffering; fear that keeps us from being willing to create real change by trying something different instead of insisting that we/they just have to do better with the same inner and outer resources. And what might we gain? A doorway into deeper compassion and necessary forgiveness.

So, try out this for one week: Every time you berate yourself for not doing “better” (being more disciplined, more compassionate, more giving, more present. . . the possibilities are endless!) remind yourself, “I am doing the best I can with the what I have right now.” And if the best you can do is causing suffering for yourself or someone else, ask yourself what might help you do something different. Do you need more sleep, a bit of solitude and quiet, community, access to another’s knowledge or wisdom or support, a shift in perspective or awareness? Ask for help whether you have an idea of what you need or not. Ask others who may have resources to share or know of resources you don’t. Ask in prayer addressing the sacred presence that is both what we are and that which is large than us, in whatever words allow you to send out a voice from your heart. And then, pay attention and receive what is needed when it is offered.

Watch what happens if you try this. Where is there resistance? What hopes or fears are sparked? I will tell you the truth. When I do this, it makes my heart ache a little. To soften to ourselves and the world brings us to the knowledge of how former recrimination and hardness have perpetuated suffering. And I take another breath, reminding myself that I was doing the best I could then, and now- with the resources/awareness this insight brings- I can do something different."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gregg Braden and Drunvalo Melchezedek about 2012

Yesterday, I watched two interesting videos that talk about the changes that the humanity is going through aright now as we adjust to new frequencies that become available on Earth. 

In the first video, "The Birth of New Humanity"  by Drunvalo Melchezedek  about planetary shifts and activation of the crystal consciousness grids that surround the Earth. Also presented is the story of a special grid, often called "The Unity Consciousness Grid", that has been formed in 2008 and that connects all human beings into ONE collective consciousness. This video is important to watch to stay informed of what is happening and what about to happen soon. We are living in wonderful times, let's greet the upcoming events in full appreciation of their importance not only for the humanity, but also for the Universe as a whole!

In the second video, "Walking Between the Worlds", Gregg Braden talks about the changes we are going through as we approach 2012. I especially liked his explanation of different types of mirrors in our life. I highly recommend you to watch this video, although it is quite long.

Tara Miracles

I would like to share with you two "miracles" that has a direct connection to my decision to participate in Tara Dance Program. I found the web-site about the program very easily and at the right time. The moment I  decided that I wanted to express my spirituality through sacred dance, I found the web-site with an announcement about the classes.

1) Only a few days after I have been accepted to the program, I received an email with the word "Tara" in the subject line. I was convinced that it's an email from organizers with additional information about the classes. I was surprised to find out that the email was from a Buddhist Foundation (, where I am taking online "Discovering Buddhism" classes for the last year. This special email was devoted to the importance of relying on Tara in daily practice. It had links to useful resources and books.

2) I thought this was very surprising. First, I have never received email from this Foundation before. Second, I have not heard about Tara before. But it's nothing compared to what happened next. When I scrolled down, I saw a few statues of Green and White Tara at the end of the email. I was shocked to discover that I had a similar statue of Tara on my desk for the last two years and didn't know it was Tara. This statue was a present from my grandmother, who also didn't know anything about the existence of this deity. She gave it to me two years ago a symbol of love. This interesting synchronicity had a deep message for me, it showed me that I am on the right path!

Usually, when I see the same topic reappearing in my life, I know it must be important. So I pay more attention to it. This is too much of a coincidence, so I will treat this new sacred practice I introduce into my life very seriously.

Tara is the Divine Mother, Buddha Essence of the Enlightened Feminine?
"Shrouded in mystery, revealed in wonder, the Great Goddess has been adored for millennia. Sculptural evidence discovered in prehistoric caves of 30,000 years ago finds Her worship to be more ancient than humankind has memory.
Legends and myths of every culture praise She Who Brings Forth Life, She Who Is The Embodiment Of Wisdom, The Great Compassionate Mother, The Star Of Heaven. She has been called by many names, she has been revealed in many forms. Her worship continues to this day in ancient cultures of Asia, and in the 21st century‘s search for the lost feminine.
To the Tibetans, She is their Mother, closer than their heartbeat. She is known as Tara, a Sanskrit word meaning Star. We hear the echoes of Her name in the Latin Terra, Mother Earth.
The Druids called their Mother Goddess Tara. An ancient saga of Finland said to be 5 million years old speaks of Tar, the women of wisdom. An tribe of indigenous peoples in the South American jungles, the Tarahumara, worship the Goddess.
The Cheyenne people tell of Star Woman who fell from the heavens to the earth, and that out of Her body all essential food grew. She sent Her people to mate with the more primitive inhabitants of earth, thereby giving them the capacity for wisdom. This legend is echoed in the more modern research of Z. Sitchin who tells of IshTar who came to earth from another planetary system and instructed her people to intermarry with earthlings, making them capable of many things.
To the Tibetans, even higher than a god or goddess is a Buddha, a being who has gone beyond the rounds of birth and death. Such an enlightened one has attained the highest wisdom, compassion and capability. Tara is so highly thought of that she is said to be the Mother of all the Buddhas.
Buddhas integrate all aspects and possibilities. They are one with all that exists. They can manifest bodies of light and radiance and they can emanate bodies of form into the world in order to bring benefit to this world of challenges and confusion. Tara, Herself, is a Buddha.
Tara is known to the Tibetans as The Faithful One, The Fierce Protectoress, and to this day there are stories carried out of Tibet by refugees, fleeing from the horrors of Chinese occupation, that tell of Her intervention and assistance in their lives.
In the system of mind-training practices offered by the great masters of Tibetan wisdom, Tara is an archetype of our own inner wisdom. This wisdom speaks of a transformation of consciousness, a journey to freedom. In the teachings of Tara there are simple and direct means for each person to discover within themselves the wisdom, compassion and glory that is Tara.

More information about Tara Dhatu organization is here: 

New Manifestations and An Important Lesson

It seems that my life is taking many new turns recently. Things that I have been thinking about for a long time and dreaming about have started to manifest very fast. It shows to me that I have become more focused and more efficient in deliberate creation and in focusing my thoughts.

My social life has become more active and enjoyable recently. I found new friends, visited new places and experienced new activities that I enjoyed. Overall, I feel that my life is becoming fuller and I am at the right place in the right time more often. Here are a few examples of what has been forming recently in my life.
  1. I went to a karaoke for the first time and enjoyed it a lot. 
  2. I attended the Conference on Compassion Meditation Research with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Emory. Here is a Youtube playlist with videos from His Holiness visit to Atlanta, GA last week:
  3. I tried German food at the new German pub Der Biergarten and was pleasant y surprised by how similar it is to Ukrainian food. It was a very good night with good food, drinks, and a good company.
  4. I'm taking "World Religions and Why They Matter" course with Laurie Patton and Shalom Goldman and loved it so far. The first two weeks covered Hinduism and Judaism. We are reading the book "Introduction to World Religions" edited by Jacob Neusner. Both professors are great and complement each other's prospectively perfectly. Laurie Patton specializes in early Indian religions. Here is a link to her bio:  I'm looking forward to next two weeks, because we are going to discuss Buddhism and Islam. two religions I have been most interested in recently.
  5. I started learning the sacred Mandala dance of the Twenty-One Praises to Tara. This is an 11-week program that involves Tara teachings, mantras and learning the Mandala Dance of the Twenty-One Praises of Tara. The course will complete on January 23rd with a public dance offering. Between now and January we need to learn the dance, shop for costumes and get to now new Tara sisters and teachers. Tara is a Buddhist Goddess, which also exist in many other religions, she is the Essence of the Enlightened Feminine. I have a really miraculous story that I'm going to tell you in the next post that confirmed for me that I have planned this event for myself long time ago, maybe before I was even born. 
  6. Next week, I'm going to participate in a Book club based on Orhan Pamuk's book "My name is Red" I had this book for a long time but didn't have time to read. 
  7. Also, I have found a discount for belly dance classes at Atlanta Fusion Belly Dance. I've been thinking about taking belly dance classes for a long time. Today I saw this deal that let me buy two 6-week classes for $25 each, when the regular price $60. I read the reviews for this studio and loved everything about it - the class selection, location, the availability of different levels of classes. So I'm excited to start in the next few weeks. 
  8. Also I think it would be nice to start visiting Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta. It's a Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies that has regular weekly activities. Since I would like to seriously concentrate on learning the Mandala Dance, it's a good opportunity to connect it to studying Tibetan Buddhism in general. Other medium-term plans include meeting with the teacher of Tara Dance in Sydney during my visit there in December and participating in a workshop with Prema Dasara in January. I also have a longer term plan to participate in the annual retreat of the Divine Feminine on Kauai, Hawaii in August 12-22.
Overall, I feel that I am so blessed and loved, that I'm flowing in this love and enjoying it. Not everything has been going so smooth though. I had a powerful lesson that I needed to become more responsible and I shouldn't close my eyes to reality. What happened is I hit the curb when I was driving because I didn't see that my lane was about to end. Everything is okay with my car. Luckily, my insurance is paying for repairs and replacing the tire. However, I see it as a call for becoming more responsible. I could have avoided it by wearing contact lenses or glasses, which I didn't do on that day. I rarely wear  my contacts, because I can see well during the day, but my vision is less clear at night. I need to just accept it as a fact, and wear glasses or contact, instead of hoping for the best. So, I'm scheduling an eye exam next week and ordering new glasses. It seems that my vision has become poorer since my last exam two years ago. I don't want to risk and drive without glasses anymore.  

In the past, I had this attitude that I don't like to do things that are required by law or that other people tell me to do. This is related to my refusal to face reality and accept it as is. It seems to be quite easy for most people, but not for me. I should consider potential consequences of my every action to avoid unwise choices. I often rely on an illusion that everything should be okay by itself without me looking carefully at the situation and being present in this moment of material reality.  I don't just avoid considering the situation, I'm changing  it by creating a delusional story that everything will be okay regardless of my irresponsible behavior.  This is a very childish behavior, or just being irresponsible. Yes, some question require following mundane rules and satisfying some pre-specified requirements. Following them is like packing a bag for next day or preparing food. It may not be very exciting to do and we may not necessarily enjoy doing it at the moment, but these simple things can simplify out life in the future. So this lesson was about two things: first, the importance of facing the reality and acknowledging your limitations and second, the importance of taking necessary steps to prepare yourself to work with these human imperfections to achieve what is desired. Things are not going to disappear magically, if I choose to close my eyes on them.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

A short guide to a happy life as written in the famous poem "Prayer of St. Francis". Written by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, 
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to ...console; 
to be understood as to understand;  to be loved as to love. 
For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

A Warm Embrace - The Great Bell Chant Meditation
Read by Thich Nhat Hanh, chanted by brother Phap Niem

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Free Live Webcasts: His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Stanford University, 10/14 - 10/15

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be participating in three public events at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, USA, on October 14th and 15th, 2010. All three events will be webcast live. Event and webcast information is available at

Public Talk: "The Centrality of Compassion in Human Life and Society", from the Maples Pavilion on October 14th at 9:30-11am PDT. View webcast live at

The Rathbun Lecture: "Harry's Last Lecture on a Meaningful Life", from Memorial Church on October 14th at 2-3:30pm PDT. View webcast live at

Conference: "Scientific Explorations of Compassion and Altruism", October 15th, 9am-4pm PDT. View webcast live at

After Stanford, he will be at Emory University here in Atlanta. I can't wait to see him and absorb his wisdom as much as I can.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Importance of Vitamin D

Yesterday, I listened to Dr. Michael Holick's talk on Vitamin D,. He is the author of the book "The Vitamin D Solution". Many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency these days, which causes hypertension, problems with bones and muscles, depression, lack of energy, mental problem, etc. Dr. Holick stresses that we can't get enough of vitamin D from food, because it is very rare in food and is generated in the skin when it is exposed to sun.
He is convinced that the benefits of exposure to sun are yet to be rediscovered by the public. Also, if you are obese you need up to 10 times more units of vitamin D per day.

To summarize Dr. Holick's recommendations: a combination of healthy diet with lots of leafy greens, moderate exposure to sun light, and taking 2000 IU of vitamin D per day will do the trick. After listening to him, I decided to buy a vitamin D supplement. It appears that a typical multivitamins contains only about 400 IU of vitamin D, which is not enough according to Dr. Holick. Especially if you leave in Northern states, where there is not much sunlight during winter and fall months, you need to take vitamin D supplement.

I didn't know before that there are two types of vitamin D - D2 and D3. Both of them are equally effcetive in terms of their effects of health. Vitamin D2 is made in the skin, while vitamin D3 can be obtained from yeast. 

Any national brand of vitamin D supplement that is sold in CVS or other pharmacy is good. He recommended specifically liquid vitamin D by Wellessee. They also have liquid calcium and vitamin D3 and calcium is the mineral that Dr. Holick mentioned was very important too. He recommended taking 1200 mg of calcium per day for an adult.

Overall, it was very helpful to learn that some vitamins and minerals can't be obtained from diet only. So I will definitely do more research on this and buy vitamins for myself .

Bright Light Can Cure Depression

In this video, Dr. Raymond Lam gives a public talk on seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and light therapy at a Scientific Conference of the Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms ( held on June 28, 2008 in Vancouver, Canada.

This presentation seems to say something that we already know about winter depression in scientific terms. The most important point is that hope exists for seasonal depression - the symptoms can be reduced and eliminated by exposure to bright light.
Parts 1 and 2:
I recently found out about Ottlite light bulbs developed by John Ott:

The Science of Sex Appeal Documentary

Here is an interesting Discover Channel documentary about how we choose our partners: