Banyan Tree - Banyan Tree - Aug 2006
by Life Positive
-Thich Nhat Hanh
When by my solitary hearth I sit,
And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul
When no fair dreams before my "mind's
And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;
Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!
Whene'er I wander, at the fall of night,
Where woven boughs shut out the moon's bright ray,
Should sad Despondency my musings fright,
And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,
Peep with the moonbeams through the leafy roof,
And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof!
Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,
Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;
When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,
Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:
Chase him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,
And fright him as the morning frightens night!
Whene'er the fate of those I hold most dear
Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,
O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;
Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:
Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,
And wave thy silver pinions o'er my head!
And as, in sparkling majesty, a star
Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;
Brightening the half veil'd face of heaven afar:
So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,
Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,
Waving thy silver pinions o'er my head!
An excerpt from a poem by John Keats
A seven-year-old boy has become one of the youngest people to swim the choppy, chilly waters from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore.
Braxton Bilbrey took 47 minutes to swim the estimated 2.25 km from the notorious island prison, which once housed criminals including Al Capone.
Despite several escape attempts, no prisoners are known to have made the swim by the time the jail shut in 1963. "I could have done it again," Braxton said, once back on dry land.
Coach Joe Zemaitis, who accompanied the boy on the swim, said good conditions had been helpful but insisted Braxton was "one in 10 million" who could undertake the challenge.
Pillars of Life
The scriptures declare four goals in a human life, called purusharthas. This not only denotes what the objectives of life should be but it also says they exist as a result of the psychological tendencies in humans. The purusharthas consist of dharma, artha, kama and moksha in the same order.
First, every human being needs to obey the law of nature by following dharma, which is the stability of society, the maintenance of social order, the general welfare of mankind, and whatever conduces to the fulfillment of these.
Artha is the acquisition of wealth. The acquisition of wealth is through dharmic actions and wealth should be used to preserve dharma.
Kama means desires of varying degrees. It is from dharma that artha and kama result. Artha and kama satisfy the psychological tendencies of man and they form essentially the two fundamental aspirations of every individual. It is implied that what one desires needs to be within the threshold of one's wealth and within dharmic values.
Moksha means the ultimate freedom from birth and death or the deliverance of the soul from bondage. It results from the extinction of false knowledge (ignorance). Self-knowledge is the aim and end of man's misery and bondage. By placing artha and kama inbetween dharma and moksha, it is clear that the rishis who devised this framework of human activity implied that both must be pursued keeping dharma in mind while ensuring that they moved progressively towards moksha.
Walking on Water
A holy man was once meditating on the bank of a river, when another holy man wanted to impress him with the extraordinary powers he had achieved through his ascetic practices. So he came towards him, walking on water.
When he reached the place where the first holy man was quietly sitting, he said, "Did you see what I just did?"
"Oh yes, I saw you walked on water. Where did you learn that?"
"I practiced yoga and penances for 12 years in the foothills of the Himalayas, standing on one leg, fasting six days of the week. And so I acquired this power."
"Really?" said the first holy man. "Why did you go to all that trouble to do this? Our ferryman here will ferry you any day for two pennies."
(Folktales from India by A K Ramanujan)
The Hungry Tiger
A Buddhist monk was caught by a tiger in the jungle. His fellow monks were unable to help him physically, but from a distance, they yelled encouragement to him: "Stay aware! Pay attention!"
In the extraordinary intensity of being mauled, pulled down and eaten, this monk attained all the stages of enlightenment in rapid succession before he died...
All too often, hungry tigers come to our minds, in one form or other...
Then it is simply a question of whether we will use them to spiritual advantage or not...
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