|Dr. Robert Puff|
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#1436 - Wednesday, May 21, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
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BY KAY HARVEY
Some of these children don't yet know their ABCs.
Sunday-morning classes at Clouds in Water Zen Center in
St. Paul's Lowertown, preschoolers are learning mindfulness
another skill their parents believe will help them negotiate
life. "How does the apple taste?" teacher Robbie Gunther asks as
Natalie Parker bites into a slice . "Sweet," the girl answers
in her tiny 5-year-old voice.
"How does it
feel?" the teacher asks students perched on
cushions on a wooden floor. "Squishy," says Cassidie,
Natalie's twin sister.
Flynn devours his slice except for the
skin, which he carefully returns to the plate. "It tastes
fresh," he chimes in.
In Zen Buddhist
tradition, mindfulness is the foundation for
developing awareness for waking up to the fullness of life,
says Sosan Theresa Flynn, a priest in training and the
center's assistant director.
Tools for teaching
mindfulness are simple, and most of them
are free: breathing, emotions and the five senses, for
example. As students of mindfulness mature, they build the
ways they practice mindfulness with the goal of applying it in
every part of their lives. What's most difficult, Flynn says,
is mastering the self-discipline of mindfulness in a
helter-skelter world. The basics may come easiest for young
naturally mindful," Gunther says. "They focus on
one thing at a time."
preschoolers at the Zen Center, lessons in
mindfulness stretch beyond those that center on themselves.
The apple exercise blossoms into a lesson about their
connection to the Earth.
apples come from?" Gunther asks the children.
Cassidie knows. "An apple tree," she replies.
"Did you taste
the sunshine?" their teacher asks. The
children's heads shake from side to side, indicating a
negative. "Be sure to taste the sunshine and the rain,"
Gunther instructs. "Now you can just eat the apple. But it's
always good to taste it mindfully."
On this May Sunday,
students in classes through junior high at
the Zen center are crafting "peace dolls" of clothespins and
slips of fabric to send to children in war-torn countries.
For third- and
fourth-graders at the Zen center one of at
least four in the Twin Cities the project spurs a discussion
of mindfulness about peace. There is no published curriculum
at the center for Zen Buddhist youth programs at the center
beyond lesson plans and activities inspired by Katharine
Krueger, children and youth practice coordinator. "Maybe
there's something in Sri Lankan," she says, "but nothing in
English" that she knows of.
In this class, the
lesson springs from a story they read about
two girls who post "Keep out" signs to express their dislike
for each other before forging a bond of friendship.
"A part of
mindfulness is asking yourself what the sign you're
wearing says to others," instructor Jeff Kelley says. "What if
we had a big sign that says 'Welcome'?
"Do you know
where peace starts?" he asks the class. "With
us," answers 8-year-old Maia Gumnit.
They're learning to
be mindful, too, about how to deal with
frustrations like those that come with a feeling of being
disliked. Teacher Mari Maack-Magnusson instructs them to stand
in a circle and "shake all those ickies out. Just get rid of
it," she says.
"Scoop up love
and kindness and move it through your entire
body," she says as the children reach to gather good feelings
that can replace the hurt. "Now send loving kindness and peace
through all of eternity."
GIVING UP WORLDLY THINGS
Before starting work
on their peace dolls, older students sit
quietly with eyes closed for a guided meditation session. The
smell of burning incense fills the room.
As they dig into a
pile of clothespins and fabric scraps,
teacher Bob Fleming reminds students how they can integrate
the practice of mindfulness into the project. "Be aware of
your emotions while making the dolls. Think about your
feelings that are broader than us. Think about our place in
Among the challenges
of practicing mindfulness is giving up
attachments to worldly things, and to a central focus on one's
self, says priest-in-training Flynn. (Flynn's husband works
for the Pioneer Press.)
completed and gathered for their trip half a world
away, 9-year-old Jasmine Maack-Magnusson says the project made
her feel happy. Jack Zeglovitch, 12, says he felt what he was
doing would make someone else happy, too. For Jenna Ballinger,
it was a reminder of how fortunate she is.
"It made me
think about peace and how it's not what a lot of
people have in this world," says Jenna, 11.
also ask students to talk during class about
how awareness of feelings and its link to mindfulness
works in their real lives:
"When I didn't
do my homework, I felt bad about it," says
Annabelle Marcovici, 11. "When I did it, I felt better. Most
people don't realize homework can make you happy!"
Jenna Ballinger says
being mindful about what she's doing and
thinking helps to calm her in stressful situations. "I settle
down. I don't have a hissy fit."
Jack Zeglovitch uses
meditation techniques when he gets
stressed out. "I just try taking deep breaths and being alone
in my own space," he says. "I tell myself I'm going to be OK.
I find a way to get through it."
in Summerside, during his walks across Canada by SARAH CRANE, Journal Pioneer
You may have seen a tall, bald man walking the (Prince Edward)Island roads over the last few days dressed in orange robes.
He's not a hitchhiker looking for a ride, he's a Hare Krishna monk from Toronto who is walking across Canada to promote spirituality.
Bhaktimarga Swami started walking in Cape Spear Newfoundland on May 3. Yesterday he finished walking the Island after three days on the Trans-Canada highway.
In 1996, Swami walked across Canada from British Columbia to Newfoundland. He reversed the direction this time because he says he likes to do things in loops.
Swami says he finds Islanders conservative at first, but after speaking with them he says they are very nice people.
He says he does not want to preach his religion to people, but the purpose of his walk is to get in touch with his own spiritual roots and to remind Canadians of the need to remember their own spirituality.
He appreciates a honk or wave as people pass in their cars, and what he likes the most is people who take a moment to stop for a friendly chat.
The monk also says he would consider it an honour if people could find the time to join him on foot for a few minutes.
Swami says he feels very strong, but at the end of the day and after almost 50 kilometres he starts to feel stiff.
Explorer on Initiative to Document Cultures on the Edge
for National Geographic News
May 22, 2003
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0522_030522_humandiversity.html Author, anthropologist, and botanical
explorer Wade Davis is a
National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. Together
with National Geographic Cultures Initiative photographer
Chris Rainier, Davis recently embarked on the first of a
series of expeditions over the next five years to study the
web of cultural diversity around the Earth. In the essay
below, Davis describes the National Geographic Cultures
Initiative and its vital mission.
One of the intense
pleasures of travel is the opportunity to
live among peoples who have not forgotten the old ways, who
feel their past in the wind, touch it in stones polished by
rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants. Just to know
that Jaguar shamans still journey beyond the Milky Way, that
the myths of the Inuit elders still resonate with meaning,
that the Tibetan pilgrim still pursues the breath of the
Buddha, is to remember the central revelation of anthropology,
and that is the realization that our particular cultural world
does not exist in some absolute sense, but rather is simply
one model of reality; the consequence of one set of adaptive
choices that our particular intellectual and spiritual lineage
made, albeit successfully, many generations ago. The Penan in
the forests of Borneo, the Vodoun acolytes in Haiti, the
Tuareg nomads in the searing sands of the Saharaall these
peoples reveal that there are other options, other means of
interpreting existence, other ways of being. This is an idea
that can only inspire hope.
Together the myriad
cultures of the world make up an
intellectual and spiritual web of life, an "ethnosphere" if
you will, that envelops and insulates the planet. You might
think of the ethnosphere as the sum total of all thoughts,
beliefs, myths, and intuitions brought into being by the human
imagination since the dawn of conciousness. The ethnosphere is
humanity's greatest legacy. It is the product of our dreams,
the embodiment of our hopes, the symbol of all that we are and
all that we have created as a wildly inquisitive and
astonishingly adaptive species.
Just as the
biosphere, the biological matrix of life, is today
being severely compromised, so too is the ethnosphere. And at
a far greater rate of loss. No biologist, for example, would
dare suggest that 50 percent of all species are moribund or on
the brink of extinction. Yet this, the most apocalyptic
projection in the realm of biological diversity, scarcely
approaches what we know to be the most optimistic scenario in
the realm of cultural diversity. The key indicator is language
loss. There are at present, roughly spoken, 6,000 languages. A
language, of course, is not merely a body of vocabulary or a
set of grammatical rules. It is a flash of the human spirit,
the means by which the soul of each particular culture reaches
into the material world. Every language is an old growth
forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an entire
ecosystem of spiritual possibilities. Of those 6,000 extant
languages, fully half are not being taught to children. Unless
something changes, effectively they are already dead. What
could be more lonely than to be enveloped in silence, to be
the last of your people to speak your native tongue, to have
no way to pass on the wisdom of the elders, to anticipate the
promise of the children. This tragic fate is indeed the plight
of someone somewhere roughly every two weeks. For on average
every fortnight a leader dies and carries with him or her into
the grave the last syllables of an ancient tongue. What this
really means is that within a generation or two, we are
witnessing the loss of fully half of humanity's legacy. This
is the hidden backdrop of our age.
The ultimate tragedy
is not that archaic societies are
disappearing but rather that vibrant, dynamic, living cultures
and languages are being forced out of existence. At risk is a
vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the
imagination, an oral and written literature composed of the
memories of countless elders and healers, warriors, farmers,
fishermen, midwives, poets and saints. In short, the artistic,
intellectual, and spiritual expression of the full complexity
and diversity of the human experience. Every view of the world
that fades away, every culture that disappears, diminishes a
possibility of life and reduces the human repertoire of
adaptive responses to the common problems that confront us
all. Knowledge is lost, not only of the natural world but of
realms of the spirit, intuitions about the meaning of the
cosmos, insights into the very nature of existence.
Our goal at the
National Geographic Cultures Initiative is to
focus global attention on the plight of the ethnosphere. To do
so, we will be launching a series of journeys that will take
our readers and viewers to places where the cultural beliefs,
practices, and adaptations are so inherently wondrous that one
cannot help but come away dazzled by the full range of the
Above all, we hope
to encourage our audience to understand
that these cultures do not represent failed attempts at
modernity, marginal peoples who somehow missed the
technological train to the future. On the contrary, these
peoples, with their dreams and prayers, their myths and
memories, teach us that there are indeed other ways of being,
alternative visions of life, birth, death, and creation
itself. When asked the meaning of being human, they respond
with ten thousand different voices. It is within this
diversity of knowledge and practice, of intuition and
interpretation, of promise and hope, that we will all
rediscover the enchantment of being what we are, a conscious
species aware of our place on the planet, and fully capable
not only of doing no harm but of ensuring that all peoples in
every garden find a way to flourish.
Our first stop in
this long journey will be Mali, and the
dunes of the Sahara. We'll report from there
Look for more National Geographic News coverage on Wade Davis and Chris Rainier's expedition starting on Tuesday, May 27.
from the I Am list:
Questioner: I find
surrender is easier. I want to adopt that path.
Sri Ramana Maharshi: By whatever path you go, you will have to lose yourself in the One. Surrender is complete only when you reach the stage '`Thou art all' and `Thy will be done'.
The state is not different from Jnana (knowledge). In Soham (the affirmation of `I am He') there is Dvaita (dualism). In surrender there is Advaita (non-dualism). In the Reality there is neither Dvaita nor Advaita, but that which is. Surrender appears easy because people imagine that, once they say with their lips '` surrender'' and put their burdens on their Lord, they can be free and do what they like. But the fact is that you can have no likes or dislikes after your surrender; your will should become completely non-existent, the Lord's will taking its place. The death of the ego in this way brings about a state, which is not different from Jnana (knowledge). So by whatever path you may go, you must come to Jnana or oneness.
Hari Aum !!!
of the time we moved to boulder with $500
and a 20 year old green van
and we stayed for 10 years
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|Dr. Robert Puff|