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#1647 - Monday, December 15, 2003 - Editor: Jerry

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  • Jerry Katz
    Calla Visage The following digital oil paintings and notations are originals by Calla Visage, used with permission.
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 16, 2003
      Calla Visage
      The following digital oil paintings and notations are originals by Calla Visage, used with permission. http://www.livejournal.com/users/callavisage/2003/09/08/
      Moments in love...
      Do you remember
      our heads catching crab apples
      that were thrown in love?

      Franklin Cider Mill - Franklin, Michigan
      The Apple Stand


      Angels among us

      In the presence of a Spiritual Maharajah

              'Om Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram' - chanting of the holy name accompanied by the jingling of cymbals soothes our ears and a divine atmosphere engulfs us as we get down from the autorickshaw. A line of trees, varieties of flowers, big banyan and peepul trees and others on the sides of pathways give a green cover to the surroundings. A little away, chorus sings prayer songs in the shrine. The place is Anandashram, five km away from Kanhangad railway station in Kasaragod district in Kerala.

      Swami Satchidananda flanked by devotees 
      chanting 'Ram nam' at an evening sitting.
             After staying in the Ashram for five days participating in the non-stop spiritual activities keeps our mind most of the time thinking of the Almighty and our mind naturally wonders about the kind of love and service offered to the devotees.

              The striking experience one would undergo without fail is in the presence of Swami Satchidananda, head of the Ashram.

              The Swami, speaks in a low but loving tone, draws our attention fully to him. Whenever new devotees and itinerant monks visit the Ashram, he welcomes them warmly with a divine smile and his eyes sparkle with love.

              The morning schedule at the Ashram commences at 5 a.m, with the chanting of Vishnu Sahasranamam followed by Ram nam. At the Samadhi mandirs of Swami Ramdas, founder of this abode of bliss and Mataji Krishnabai, his disciple, Ram Nam chanting goes on throughout the day from dawn to dusk (6 a.m to 6 p.m).

              In the morning, the Swami goes for a walk followed by devotees and later arrives at the shrine, participates in the prayer and distributes flowers to the devotees to be offered after aarati.

              The manner in which Swami Satchindananda handles the multifarious actitivities and tackles the issues brought before him every minute reminds one of a Maharajah under whose very presence itself, everything takes place in order.

              A king should not only command respect from his citizens but also have easy accessibility irrespective of his or her social status.

              The Swami commands respect apart from being easily accessible. Any one in the Ashram - a visiting devotee or a servant can stop the Swami on his way and tell his or her requirements and get instructions. There is no hierarchy to pass on any information to him.

              As the Swami returns to him room after completing his visit to a part of the Ashram, a woman worker stops him and asks something in Malayalam. He patiently listens to her and suggests something. This goes on for around five minutes and he moves on only after giving a satisfactory solution to the problem.

              Amidst all the work, the Swami meets a number of visitors. In the evening, the Swami goes for a walk, of course accompanied by devotees. Either he sits somewhere on the way or visits the 'Goshala' or the organic manured field.

              'Out of purity and silence, come the words of powers', says Swami Vivekananda. Swami Satchindananda makes meaningful the conversations of the devotees with enlightening words. A devotee narrates the ordeal he underwent during his treatment for an ailment. 

      Devotees chanting 'Ram nam' 
      at Mataji Krishnabai's 
      samadhi mandir.

              As he completes the narration with the words 'no medicine worked', the Swami, himself a homoepathy practitioner, says with a smile: 'If the right medicine is administered, cure is sure. But one can get the right medicine only when the time comes. Till then, one should undergo the suffering as per the law of Karma'.

              On another day, during an evening sitting, absolute calm prevails for a couple of minutes as everyone was looking at him. Taking into account the crux of the situation, the Swami says: 'So... you are all now experiencing the bliss of silence.... Have you ever attempted to observe silence for a couple of months and find out the result?'

              There is no answer. But one devotee asks whether silence is possible even while we utter the holy name of the Almighty (nama japa). The Swami answers: In absolute silence, everything comes to a standstill. But one cannot achieve it all of a sudden.

              There are several grades of silence. First one has to control his or her tongue. Then try to avoid unnecessary gesticulations and then go on to achieve total silence. In fact, some people indulge in more activities when they observe silence than during normal times, he said amidst laughter from the audience.

              As the Swami gets up for attending the evening Aarati, an inmate of the Ashram introduces a North Korean girl who has just arrived. The Swami fondly asks her whether she had taken her lunch and whether she was given room for stay and enquires about her profession, etc.

              The girl says she was a member of an NGO in Orissa and she came to know about the Ashram from one of her friends. 'Are you following Buddhism or any other path of spirituality', the Swami asks and her answer is: 'I do not follow any system'. After a meaningful pause, the Swami with a smile tells her: 'So, you are following your Own Self. Is not it ?' bringing a smile on her face.

              The Ashram holds 'Universal Love and Service' as its ideals and it is echoed in each and every activity there. Portraits of all great souls and monks adorn the walls of the Ashram shrine and the large dining hall which could accommodate hundreds of devotees at a time.

              And the Swami engages himself in all transactions and routine work with all humility and love as service to the Almighty which presents itself in the form of human beings and other living beings.

              'Holiness is the greatest power. Everything else quails before it', said Swami Vivekananda' and one can feel it in the presence of Swami Satchidananda.

              There are innumerable places to visit. But there are very few places to feel and enjoy the divinity. Anandashram is a place to
      experience - The Experience.

      Love and service is the watchword

              Universal love and service are the bedrock of Anandashram and it is involved in a number of service activities following the path shown by its founders Swami Ramdas and Mataji Krishnabai. Swami Satchidananda holds aloft the torch handed on to him by his Masters.

              Construction of a magnificent temple of Sree Rama in Ramnagar to serve the aspirations of the local people, forming Swami Ramdas Charitable Medical Mission and Mataji Krishnabai Rural Development Trust for constructing shelter for the homeless and inspiring the formation of Lions Millennium Seva Trust for the care of the aged people are some of the landmarks that have come up during the last decade. 

              The Ashram since its inception has been providing shelter to the homeless, water supply for the needy and aiding villagers for laying of roads, culverts, etc. Initially, this was restricted to areas in and around Kanhangad. It is now being extended to other parts of India.

              To rehabilitate the villagers affected by the devastating earthquake in Gujarat in January 2001, the Ashram constructed 120 houses in Mota Dahisara village of Rajkot district, and completed in a record time in April 2002.

              The Ashram has also taken up a project to provide water facilities to 100 poor villages across the country in 2002-2003. 

              Vishwa Seva Educational Trust (VSet) of the Ashram promotes value-based education in selected educational institutions.

              A homoeo dispensary functions on all weekdays. Besides, a mobile homoeo clinic visits remote villages to cater to the medical needs of poor patients. Once a week, patients can avail of Ayurvedic medication and nature cure therapy. Nominal cash assistance is given to very deserving cases for surgery, hospitalisation etc. 

              Anandashram is located in Kanhangad, in the Mangalore-Shoranur sector. Several important trains halt at Kanhangad. The nearest airport is at Mangalore, about 100 km away, with regular services linking all major cities. More details on Anandashram is available at: www.anandashram.org.



      Interactive I Ching


      Osho Zen Tarot


      Taoist Jigsaw Puzzle


      Hard puzzle: http://www.taoism.net/fun/jigsaw2.htm

      Peace Activist and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in Southern California January 4-March 28, 2004

      ESCONDIDO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 15, 2003--

      Three Retreats with over 200 Monastics, Public Talk in Irvine, and Alms Rounds in Del Mar and Fountain Valley

      One of the world's foremost spiritual teachers, Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, will make a historic, three month visit to Southern California accompanied by his peace delegation of over 200 monks and nuns.

      Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and is the author of dozens of books selling millions of copies on how individuals, families and communities can transform violence and suffering to create peace and joy. His best-known books include "Peace is Every Step," "The Miracle of Mindfulness," "Being Peace," "Living Buddha, Living Christ" and most recently the New York Times bestseller, "Anger and Creating True Peace." "Touching the Earth: Intimate Conversations with the Buddha," a guidebook to one of Thich Nhat Hanh's most popular and transformative practices, will be released in March 2004. He also served as the Chair of the Buddhist Peace Delegation to the Paris Peace Talks during the Vietnam War. He collaborated with Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in drafting the "Manifesto 2000," distributed by UNESCO, which offers six points on the practice of peace and non-violence. A Zen Master, poet and peace activist, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches and writes in Plum Village, a meditation center in Southern France.

      Rainy Season Retreat: This will be the first time that Thich Nhat Hanh will observe the three month Rainy Season retreat, a tradition dating back to the time of the Buddha, in the United States at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California. During the retreat, monastics and lay practitioners led by Thich Nhat Hanh will have the opportunity to practice "peaceful dwelling" in order to deepen their practice of mindfulness. Practitioners may attend from one to ten weeks of this retreat from January 2-March 14, 2004. On Sundays during this period, Days of Mindfulness will be held and are open to the general public. For more information, contact 760-291-1003 or deerpark@....

      In the Footsteps of the Buddha: An Alms Round Procession: From the time of the Buddha, monks and nuns have traveled to nearby villages to receive offerings of food and to give teachings. The profound nature of the inter-dependence between the monastic and lay communities will be experienced on this special day in Del Mar at San Dieguito County Park on Saturday, January 31, 2004 and on Saturday, February 28, 2004 at The Groves in Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. The Alms Round processions will begin at 10 a.m., followed by a mindful lunch. Guided relaxation and a sharing in Vietnamese and English on the art of mindful living by Thich Nhat Hanh will follow. Both events are free to the public. For more information about the Del Mar Alms Round, please contact 858-646-9695 or sandiegoalmsround@.... To inquire about the Fountain Valley Alms Round, contact: 949-715-1066 or ocnuhong@....

      Public Talk at UC Irvine Bren Events Center: A public talk entitled, "Creating True Peace: Transforming Violence in Ourselves, Our Families and Society" will be offered at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 22, 2004 at the Bren Events Center on the campus of the University of California at Irvine in Orange County. Tickets for "Creating True Peace" are available through the Bren Events Center box office at 949-824-5000, Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.com. General admission tickets are $25.00; student and senior citizen tickets are available at $18.00. All seating is general admission; the doors for this event open at 1 p.m. Subject to availability, parking is available for $5 at the Mesa Parking Structure on Mesa Road adjacent to the Bren Events Center. All proceeds benefit the event's sponsor, the Unified Buddhist Church, founded by Thich Nhat Hanh.

      A Retreat for Entertainers: Nurturing the Creative Heart will be held at Deer Park Monastery from March 19-21, 2004. In this first ever retreat for entertainers, Thich Nhat Hanh will draw upon his experiences as an artist, poet and writer, and discuss how to work in the entertainment industry without transgressing ideals of creativity, peace, love and compassion. For more information, contact 760-291-1003 or deerpark@....

      Retreat for People of Color: Colors of Compassion: Embracing Our Heritage, Honoring Ourselves on the Path will be held at Deer Park Monastery from March 25-27, 2004. In this first ever retreat specifically for people of color, Thich Nhat Hanh will teach practitioners how to cultivate reconciliation and peace in their daily lives as individuals, families, communities and as a society. For more information, contact: 760-291-1003 or deerpark@....

      Press: We would welcome media coverage of the public events and encourage the press to view our online press packet at www.esangha.org.


      Ben Hassine
      Zen Essence - Ch'an master Hongzhi

      I would like to introduce Ch'an master Hongzhi to NDS. I found this chapter in the book "Classics of Buddhism and Zen - the collected translations of Thomas Cleary" subsection "Zen Essence" and from that section page 188 - 191. I chose it for it's friendly and welcoming simplicity. I typed it from the book -not copied :-) - for all the singing birdies flying around in the sacred and wondrous forest of NDS. Enjoy!
      Zen Master Hongzhi
      The Subtlety of Zen
      To learn the subtlety  of Zen, you must clarify your mind and immerse your spirit in silent exercise of inner gazing. When you see into the source of reality, with no obstruction whatsoever, it is open and formless, like water in autumn, clear and bright, like the moon taking away the darkness of night.
      Finding Out for Oneself
      The mind originally is detached from objects, reality basically has no explanation. This is why a classical Zen master said, "Our school has no slogans, and no doctrine to give people." Fundamentally it is a matter of people arriving on their own and finding out for themselves; only then can they talk about it.
      Zen Mind
      Just wash away the dust and dirt of subjective thoughts immediately. When the dust and dirt are washed away, your mind is open, shining brightly, without boundaries, without center or extremes. Completely whole, radiant with light, it shines through the universe, cutting through past, present and future.
      This is inherent in you, and does not come from outside. This is called the state of true reality. One who has experienced this can enter into all sorts of situations in response to all sorts of possibilities, with subtle function that is marvelously effective and naturally uninhibited.
      Everyone's Zen
      Ever since the time of the Buddha and the founders of Zen, there has never been any distinction between ordained and lay people, in the sense that everyone who has accurate personal experience of true realization is said to have entered the school of the enlightened mind and penetrated the source of religion.
      Zen Experience
      When you are empty and spontaneously aware, clean and spontaneously clear, you are capable of panoramic consciousness without making an effort to grasp perception, and you are capable of discerning understanding without the burden of conditioned thought. You go beyond being and nothingness, and transcend concievable feelings.
      This is only experienced by union with it - it is not gotten from another. 
      Zen Life, Zen Action
      The worldly life of people who have mastered Zen is buoyant and unbridled, like clouds making rain, like the moon in a stream, like an orchid in a recondite spot, like spring in living beings. Their action is not self-conscious, yet their responses have order. This is what those who have mastered Zen do.
      It is also necessary to turn back to the source, to set foot on the realm of peace, plunge into the realm of purity, and stand alone, without companions, going all the way through the road beyond the buddhas. Only then can you fully comprehend the center and the extremes, penetrate the very top and the very bottom, and freely kill and enliven, roll up and roll out.
      Autumn and Spring
      When Zen practice is completely developed, there is no center, no extremes, there are no edges or corners. It is perfectly round and frictionless.
      It is also necessary to be empty, open, unpolluted, so "the clear autumn moon cold, its shining light washes the night. Brocade clouds flower prettily, the atmosphere turns into spring."
      The Light of Mind
      When material sense doesn't blind you, all things are seen to be the light of the mind. You transcend with every step, on the path of the bird, no tarrying anywhere. You respond to the world with clarity, open awareness unstrained.
      Spontaneous Knowledge
      All realms of phenomena arise from one mind. When the one mind is quiescent, all appearances end. Then which is other, which is self?
      Because there are no differentiated appearances at such a time, nothing at all is defined, not a single thought is produced - you pass before birth and after death; the mind becomes a point of subtle light, round and frictionless, without location, without traces.
      Then your mind cannot be obscured.
      This point where there can be no obscuration is called spontaneous knowledge. Just this realm of spontaneous knowledge is called the original attainment. Nothing whatsoever is attained from outside.
      Zen Mastery
      The action and repose of those who have mastered Zen are like flowing clouds, without self-consciousness, like the full moon, reflected everywhere. People who have mastered Zen are not stopped by anything: though clearly in the midst of all things, still they are highly aloof; though they encounter experiences according to circumstances, they are not tainted or mixed up by them.
      Aloof of the Tumult
      When you understand and arrive at the emptiness of all things, then you are independent of every state of mind, and transcend every situation. The original light is everywhere, and you then adapt to the potential at hand; everything you meet is Zen.
      While subtly aware of all circumstances, you are empty and have no subjective stance towards them. Like the breeze in the pines, the moon in the water, there is a clear and light harmony. You have no coming and going mind, and you do not linger over appearances.
      The essence is in being inwardly open and accommodating while outwardly responsive without unrest. Be like spring causing the flowers to bloom, like a mirror reflecting images, and you will naturally emerge aloof of all tumult.
      The time when you "see the sun in daytime and see the moon at night," when you are not deceived, is the normal behaviour of a Zen practitioner, naturally without edges or seams. If you want to attain this kind of normalcy, you have to put an end to the subtle pounding and weaving that goes on in your mind. 
      Enlightened Awareness
      Buddhas and Zen masters do not have different realizations; they all teach the point of cessation, where past, present and future are cut off and all impulses stop, where there is not the slightest object. Enlightened awareness shines spontaneously, subtly penetrating the root source.
      Shedding Your Skin 
      The experience described as shedding your skin, transcending reflections of subjective awareness, where no mental machinations can reach, is not transmitted by sages. It can only be attained inwardly, by profound experience of spontaneous illumination. The original light destroys the darkness, real illumination mirrors the infinite. Subjective assessments of what is or is not are all transcended. 
      With love and kindness,


      "You laugh at your dream's absurdities, and at the same time you feel that in the fabric of those absurdities some thought is hidden, but a thought that is real, something belonging to your actual life, something that exists and has always existed in your heart." 
      Dostojevski, taken from "The Idiot"
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