10 Chinese proverbs of value

  1. A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

It reminds us to be aligned to our more authentic nature and sing when we have a song to sing from our heart rather than give an answer to satisfy our ego or intellect.

  1. Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Do not fear when things do not move as fast as you expect. As long as you are taking actions in line with your heart, speed doesn’t matter anymore because it is only a matter of perspective.

  1. When you drink the water, remember the spring.

It invites us to look at the larger picture and the source of our nourishment, which is life and all its beautiful connections. We constantly do things or consume things unconsciously without thinking about what they are or where they come from.

We don’t feel connected anymore to the general wheel of life, to the earth and to the cosmos. We constantly drink the water without remembering the spring.

  1. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.

. It shows us the value of educating and teaching people life skills instead of just giving them the means without being able to provide those means for themselves. Once again it is symbolic of our times. In smaller and simpler societies, the roles of people were different.

  1.  Dig the well before you are thirsty.

This proverb reminds us to be proactive and do things ahead of time. It tells us to be pre-emptive and think ahead before the need arises. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the proverb above.

  1. Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

This is a beautiful proverb telling us that there is only so much a teacher can do for us and so much we ought to do by ourselves. A teacher can guide us in the right direction and open up the doors of knowledge but ultimately it is through our own will and action that we must enter through those doors and reach wisdom.

  1. If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

A very powerful sentence. Anger is one of the strongest emotions and can stir up many negative energies. It is very easy to lose control through anger. Being patient, or rather being conscious when the emotion of anger arises will save you a multi-fold of repercussions for which you might be sorry in the future.

  1. The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.

This is perhaps one of the best known of the Chinese proverbs. It is simple, powerful and encouraging. It tells us that even the longest of life journeys starts with a single step or with a small action that kickstarts the whole thing. It also tells us that even that little step that might seem insignificant compared to the whole journey is the most important since it gets us into motion.

  1. Try to save a dead horse as if it is still alive.

Sounds like a strange thing to say but it essentially means to try your best no matter what and not to give up because nothing is impossible. I think it somehow has also got to do with the Chinese character—being resilient and determined as they are. It’s a good motivator.

  1. When we get to the mountain, there will be a way through.

Simply put, it means that there is a solution to everything. I think that it’s also one of the most motivational of the Chinese proverbs and that is empowering and good to keep in mind when facing challenges throughout life.

From Gilbert Ross (edited) in ‘wisdomtimes’

 

“Of mice and morality – a parable for adults” (Part 5)

The path to peace

Taking House aside, Whicky explained that he was a member (even as a cat) of a Western family that had adopted Buddhism, the fastest growing faith in Australia. Together with Virginia, whose intuitive understanding of all things material and spiritual and whose grasp of the language of mice and cats implicitly indicated that she is the reincarnation of an old soul, he knew that Buddhist beliefs, like those of yoga, did not conflict with the teachings and rituals of the other major religions.

Whereas doctrinal differences have separated one religion from another – and such differences represent merely the egoistic pretensions of the guardians of the institutionalized faiths – Buddhism, by emphasizing the moral obligation of sentient beings, one to the other, encompassed the ethical teachings of Christ and all the other known religious and spiritual teachers. When one bypasses the gongs, drums, bells, chants, and the other rituals which had grown as encrustations to the Buddha’s original guidance – like the rituals purveyed by the priests of all the faiths – there is only one simple exhortation for one and all. And that is to offer love, protection, care, and compassion to others whose existence is also due to the universal Creator.

House was flabbergasted. Here was his old mate displaying so much wisdom, which also explained his tolerance of the tribe of mice sharing his home. Like Virginia, he too might be an old soul. Together, they would surely light the way for those not privileged to be so enlightened.

Whicky went on to explain his plan, which had been agreed to by Virginia. Both would lead House and his tribe in meditation – daily. Out in the open with the sun (another product of the Creator) bestowing its blessing upon them all, Virginia and Whicky would lead the Buddhist chant, “Om Mani Padme Hum.” This was only a variation of the “Om Nama Shivaya” chanted by the adepts of yoga or the simpler “Om.” Uttered through the back of the throat and drawn out over a few seconds, Om would reflect the primeval hum which preceded the Big Bang of the modern physicists’ cosmology.

With the support of the Committee of Wise Mice, House put Whicky’s plan to the tribe. Intrigued, a little confused, anxious, but desperate, the tribe agreed. The next day, out in the open, within sight of Max, the meditation program started. Max was intrigued. Closer and closer he came to the mice each day – merely to see what was happening. The closer he came, the more he was influenced by the aural aura of the chant. The more the chant engulfed him, the more he realized the peace which enveloped the mice. The more effective this peace on the mice, the more Max became absorbed spiritually. A warm, caressing, mist-like atmosphere bonded them all in a cocoon of mutual acceptance and tolerance.

Can mice and cats become imbued with spiritual peace or was Whicky’s plan an aberration? On the contrary, both mice and Max eventually became submerged into that ocean of consciousness from which the physical Cosmos arose. Thus was Max conditioned to change his ways; that is, not to eat mice. Thus did peace reign over the mice, the cats, and little Virginia. So says Virginia, the old soul.

…………………………………………..

Here ends the parable of mice and morality. Virginia’s sojourn into another improbable world awaits another day.

 

A bobbing nothing

I am nothing, a nobody. Yet, I am a thing, an object, floating on the tide, the tide of time. But, I may be mistaken. I am, perhaps, being carried on my personal river of destiny, which takes me to where it must. So, is time a river or a tide?

It has, however, nothing to do with space. Hence, space-time is fundamentally, ie. operationally, a misnomer – with no meaning. Time is just a yardstick of where I have been, or what I have experienced, sequentially. Mathematical equations do not necessarily reflect reality; like that clever fellow who ‘demonstrated’ that 2×2 is not necessarily 4!

To avoid further digression, I accept that my ’river’ of destiny is necessarily a strand in a mesh of destinies, of implicit pathways. This mesh will, again necessarily, begin with the destinies of my human Significant Others; then, the destinies of those with whom I would interact – by planning on someone’s part, mine included, or by chance, or by unseen but unavoidable intersects. These could arise from the past (including past lives), the present, or the future. How would we know?

At a more macro level, the mesh would include a nation – or even the globe on which humans scrabble for a living; but with about 1 to 10% of us temporarily ‘owning’ material wealth (which would need to be left behind eventually). A larger proportion is likely to possess that insubstantial, intangible, and more valuable spiritual wealth – with or without the guidance of religious teachers.

Am I flotsam or jetsam? Or, as some people ridiculously believe, were we puny humans created – or allowed to evolve – to occupy a special niche on a totally insignificant molten rock, in infinite space filled with blobs of burning gas everywhere – even as all of it keeps spinning and rushing around – for no purposive outcome?

Just like human objects bobbing up and down on the tide of time!

More quotes on re-birth

“My sun sets to rise again.” ― Robert Browning

“She died–this was the way she died;
And when her breath was done,
Took up her simple wardrobe
And started for the sun.
Her little figure at the gate
The angels must have spied,
Since I could never find her
Upon the mortal side.” ― Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems

 

“Love taught me to die with dignity that I might come forth anew in splendor. Born once of flesh, then again of fire, I was reborn a third time to the sound of my name humming haikus in heaven’s mouth.” ― Aberjhani, The River of Winged Dreams
“Life is an endless cycle of souls, swirling along the path of the universe, being reborn, but never truly dying before being reborn again.
As long as this cycle continues, we will never really die.” ― Ameila Wolfe
“I am dead because I lack desire,
I lack desire because I think I possess.
I think I possess because I do not try to give.
In trying to give, you see that you have nothing; Seeing that you have nothing, you try to give of yourself;
Trying to give of yourself, you see that you are nothing: Seeing that you are nothing, you desire to become;
In desiring to become, you begin to live.” ― Rene Daumal
“After a thousand years pass, it builds its own funeral pyre, lining it with cinnamon, myrrh and cassia. Climbing to a rest on the very top, it examines the world all throughout the night with the ability to see true good and evil. When the sun rises the next morning, with great sorrow for all that it sees, it sings a haunting song. As it sings, the heat of the sun ignites the expensive spices and the Phoenix dies in the flames.
But the Phoenix is not remarkable for its feathers or flames. It is most revered for its ability to climb from its own funeral pyre, from the very ashes of its old charred body, as a brand new life ready to live again once more. Life after life, it goes through this cycle. It absorbs human sorrow, only to rise from death to do it all again. It never wearies, it never tires. It never questions its fate. Some say that the Phoenix is real, that it exists somewhere out there in the mountains of Arabia, elusive and mysterious. Others say that the Phoenix is only a wish made by desperate humans to believe in the continuance of life.
But I know a secret.
We are the Phoenix.” ― Courtney Cole, Every Last Kiss

 

(From ‘Grateful Living Practice’ on the Internet)

DEATH – quotes from Buddhism

DEATH – Quotes from Buddhism

With mind far off, not thinking of death’s coming,
Performing these meaningless activities,
Returning empty-handed now would be complete confusion;
The need is recognition, the spiritual teachings,
So why not practice the path of wisdom at this very moment?
From the mouths of the saints come these words:
If you do not keep your master’s teaching in your heart
Will you not become your own deceiver?  Tibetan Book of the Dead

 

From a Buddhist point of view, the actual experience of death is very important. Although how or where we will be reborn is generally dependent on karmic forces, our state of mind at the time of death can influence the quality of our next rebirth. So at the moment of death, in spite of the great variety of karmas we have accumulated, if we make a special effort to generate a virtuous state of mind, we may strengthen and activate a virtuous karma, and so bring about a happy rebirth. The Dalai Lama

 

Life is uncertain; death is certain.

Death carries off a man busy picking flowers with an besotted mind, like a great flood does a sleeping village.

There are those who do not realise that one day we all must die.
But those who do realise this settle their quarrels.

Here will I live in the rainy season, here in the autumn and in the summer: thus muses the fool. He realizes not the danger (of death).

The Buddha

 

My delight in death is far, far greater than
The delight of traders at making vast fortunes at sea,
Or the lords of the gods who vaunt their victory in battle;
Or of those sages who have entered the rapture of perfect absorption.
So just as a traveler who sets out on the road when the time has come to go,
I will not remain in this world any longer,
But will go to dwell in the stronghold of the great bliss of deathlessness.
The Last Testament of Longchenpa

 

(From ‘A view of Buddhism’. On the Internet)

Can we humans ever know?

With only 5 senses and their ‘processor’ the brain, we human are obviously limited in our capacity to perceive this exceedingly complex world in which we live. For instance, there may be maths ‘out there’ which even the best minds may not be able to access. Further, when more than 90% of the known (estimated?) matter in the universe is said to be dark matter/energy, of what use is the Hubble Telescope in seeking to peer into infinite visible space?

I conceive the scope of Hubble’s vision to be equivalent to the size of my little fingernail, relative to (at minimum) the totality of all the space in this our own universe (assuming that one could place a defining perimeter to infinite space).

Then, from our new learning from quantum physics, when a particle can apparently be in more than one place at any one time, and an electron can be both a particle and a wave (so I have read), what can one say about matter, non-matter, and all the other unknowns on the dance floor, in terms of the symbolic and ritualistic relevance of the dance being performed?

Then, from a Western cultural point of view, Plato suggests that what we perceive is not really what is being observed (that is how I understand this great philosopher). As well, the ancient Hindus have postulated that our perception (not the object observed) is (normally?) maya – neither real nor unreal. I am inclined to disagree with both views. When I stub my toes on a near-buried seaside rock, both the material and my pain-filled perception of what happened are quite real!

However, as a simple speculative philosopher myself, I applaud all those – including the scientists who tell us that what they know is what is – for attempting to perceive reality as it might be! But then, in this perceived universe of fog and mirrors, should one listen to those ancient thinkers who profess that, only in deep meditation could one experience Reality?

Regrettably, the bottom line here is that, when those who have thus come to know what Reality actually is, cannot tell us, because such an experience as theirs is beyond words! How frustrating for us Seekers! Of course, those who seek to tell us about the same Reality cannot thereby possibly know. Quo vadis?

Returning to the Ocean of Consciouness

The following excerpt from Ecknath Easwaran’s The Upanishads views life’s as “ … a kind of school in which the individual  self is constantly evolving, growing life after life towards a fully human nature.”

The world is the wheel of God, turning round

And round with all living creatures upon its rim.

The world is the river of God,

Flowing from him and flowing back to him.

On this revolving wheel of being

The individual goes round and round

Through life after life, believing itself

To be a separate creature, until

It sees its identity with the Lord of Love

And attains immortality in the indivisible whole.

(Shvetashvatara I.4-6)

I offer to share this inspiring view to other Seekers of understanding of reality. But, I am not seeking to ‘sell’ Hinduism, or to argue that there is only one path to God. Ultimately, we are dealing with beliefs – unproven, unprovable – no matter how many theologians stand on the head of a thumbtack claiming that they have an inside track or the only track to God.