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Life is like photography; we develop from the negatives…

perhaps we can not see the big picture due to over exposure from a certain experience or obstacle.

When we share the photos of our inner thoughts with the world, are they negatives or full color potentials and possibilities?

Developing a photograph begins in a dark room. A negative is taken and a process transforms the image into a colorful and recognizable photo. So, is life, in that a process must take a timely course in order to develop a positive situation. Take school or college for example; the many hours of study, enduring the class lectures and hurdling the tests lead to a rewarding finish.

Love, the process that goes from seeing each other for the first time, the first words between two souls and the days that bring them closer and closer. The first kiss, first date and the days turned into years that essentially developed into a lasting relationship. (perhaps even wedding photos)

I was preparing for this years summer vacation and came across two rolls of film that we had taken on our vacation two years ago. We never had them developed. But, the memories are alive and well. I can close my eyes and recall that vacation when we went to Padre Island and played in the surf, fed the hermit crab that had made a home under the picnic table we sat at during the day. The doves that had made a nest in a palm tree nearby and the sea gull that had flown by several times and relieved himself in flight as a bombardier would release its bombs. I still have the sand dollars we had found that summer as memorabilia.

I remember summer vacations as a child. We went to my Aunt and Uncles who owned a resort on the coast. I had my first job washing dishes in their diner making a wop ping .75 cents an hour in the early 70’s. I bought my first camera (a Polaroid) and took a lot of pictures that I still have. When I see the snap shot that takes a millisecond image, I recall a full event in a mental video that unfolds the days of that time.

Life is like an album of memories. A photograph simply reminds us of a time in our life. A picture paints a thousand words … to say the least, if memories are attached.

There is a café in town (now, allow me to remind you that our town has about 400 citizens and at least that many dogs and cats) the photos on the wall at this café are of the olden days. When the town was thriving from timber and steam boats that use to frequent the river but no longer do due to the damns and regulations that have been developed since it is ecologically unsound. The people in the pictures are no longer alive. The general store is now a cabinet shop and the mill no longer exists. Snap shots of what once was becomes memorabilia of a time long ago.

When I was driving to town this morning I saw the sun rise. I can’t recall every sunrise I have ever seen but the one this morning reminds me of so many I have been fortunate enough to have embraced. When I lived in California, (being from Texas) I was amazed every day at the beauty of the distant mountains. I would make a comment about how beautiful the mountains are and the people I worked with (who grew up there) simply would reply… “There just mountains.” They had grown up seeing them every day so to them it was no big deal, but for me they were majestic. The same is with the story of the man with the bag (a bag of happiness) you don’t really appreciate what you have till it is gone.

I don’t dig up pictures of those mountains but when I see a sun rise like the one that adorned the sky this morning, I recall the sun coming over the mountains when I lived in Arvin, California. It reminds me of the song… ‘Till I gain control again’

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(one of my all time favorite songs)

“Till I gain control again”

Just like the sun over the mountain top you know I’ll always come again
You know I love to spend my morning time like sunlight dancing on your skin…..

link to a youtube version of this song with mountain pictures (beautiful)

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In the story of  ‘Balls of clay’  ‘ we are inspired to take the time to open others up and find a gem in them. Each of us are an album of memories. Each of us have stories to tell that no one else has. We are all as unique as a photograph waiting to tell a story of a time long ago. Life is an album of memories.

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” Albert Einstein.

~today is a day for making memories~ picture it!!!

(~_~)

When a novice starts learning martial arts, he wears a white belt, symbolic of innocence. After months of practice, the white belt gets dirty and turns brown, symbolic of the first degree of attainment. After more practice, the belt gets soiled and eventually turns black, symbolic of full attainment.

If the practitioner does not stop learning even after full attainment, the black belt starts getting frayed, turning almost white, symbolic of return to innocence. The frayed white belt represents technical competence of an experienced martial artist, combined with the innocence and receptivity of a beginner. It signifies going beyond technique and embracing no-technique—coming full circle.

story source: white belt

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The original martial arts used only one belt as described above. But now-a-days the different colored belts are used to describe the practitioners growth.

At inner spirit martial arts, the white belt was symbolic of the crane. Where speed was developed and patience acquired. A crane can only survive a tiger’s attack with evasive maneuvers.

Through much practice, exercise and persistence one attained an orange belt. The symbol for the Tiger, strength.

Then comes the green belt. Where the student learns holds and throws. Agility, vitality, perseverance.

here is where many schools differ, some will have blue belts (water), purple belts (air)  and other colors before the brown belt. Many will go from brown to black as is many customary practices. At Inner Spirit Martial Arts the brown belt symbolized: Earth, well grounded, growth, deeply rooted and solid.

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as shone here…

Red belt symbolized… the dragon, full of fire, energy and the stage where one readies them self for black belt testing.

To attain the black belt one must demonstrate their abilities in their style of martial arts. One of the key elements is teaching, for a black belts primary task will be to teach others… coming full circle.

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I thought about this when I went to work the other day and I was asked to mentor a new officer. To teach them the ways of our profession. I realized I had come full circle in my employment. No matter what you do in life, when you have reached a certain point in your life, you will end up teaching others. Rather it be a profession or a grandparent. So, teach them well…

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may you pass your wisdom on to another this day

(~_~)

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

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When Eshun, the Zen nun, was past sixty and about to leave this world, she asked some monks to pile up wood in the yard.

Seating herself firmly in the center of the funeral pyre, she had it set fire around the edges.

“O nun!” shouted one monk, “is it hot in there?”

“Such a matter would concern only a stupid person like yourself,” answered Eshun. The flames arose, and she passed away.

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Gisho was ordained as a nun when she was ten years old. She received training just as the little boys did. When she reached the age of sixteen she traveled from one Zen master to another, studying with them all.

She remained three years with Unzan, six years with Gukei, but was unable to obtained a clear vision. At last she went to the master Inzan.

Inzan showed her no distinction at all on account of her sex. He scolded her like a thunderstorm. He cuffed her to awaken her inner nature.

Gisho remained with Inzan thirteen years, and then she found that which she was seeking!

In her honor, Inzan wrote a poem:

This nun studied thirteen years under my guidance.
In the evening she considered the deepest koans,
In the morning she was wrapped in other koans.
The Chinese nun Tetsuma surpassed all before her,
And since Mujaku none has been so genuine as this Gisho!
Yet there are many more gates for her to pass through.
She should receive still more blows from my iron fist.

After Gisho was enlightened she went to the province of Banshu, started her own Zen temple, and taught two hundred other nuns until she passed away one year in the month of August.

http://spiritualinquiry.com/zen-stories/

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have a zen-sational day

(~_~)

 
Fran the Frog was the best chef in the whole swamp, and all the toads and frogs of the region enjoyed coming to her very select restaurant. Her ‘Flies in spicy bug sauce’ and her ‘Caramelised dragon flies wings with honey of bee’ were the kind of delicacies that every self-respecting frog should try; and that made Fran feel truly proud.

One day, Toby came to her restaurant, ready for a nosh. Toby was a great big toad, and certainly wasn’t the brightest. When Fran’s fine creations were brought before him he complained, saying that that wasn’t food, and that what he really wanted was a botfly burger. Fran came out of the kitchen to see what the problem was, and Toby told her that these dishes weren’t good enough for – and certainly wouldn’t fill – a Smooth Newt. This made Fran so offended, and furious, that she went to the kitchen, came back with a frying pan, and whacked Toby squarely on the forehead.

A slight scuffle ensued.

Even though Fran realised she should have controlled her temper, and she kept asking Toby to forgive her, the toad was so angry that he said he could only forgive her if she handed him the frying pan so he could hit her back.
Everyone tried to calm Toby down, knowing full well that, given his strength, he could easily crack little Fran’s head open with that frying pan.

Toby would not accept an apology, and Fran felt awful for having bashed him, so she tried everything. She gave him a special cream for bruises, she poured him an exquisite puddlewater liqueur. Even better than that, she cooked him a… beautiful botfly burger!

But Toby the Toad still insisted he would not be satisfied until he got to return the blow he had received. It had reached the stage where he was almost getting out of control.

Then a very old toad entered the restaurant, shuffling along with the help of two crutches.

– Wait Toby, – said the old toad -you can give her a whack after I’ve broken your leg. Remember that you are the reason why I have to walk with these crutches.

Toby didn’t know what to say.

He recognised the old toad. It was Reddit, his old teacher. When Toby was small, Reddit had saved him from a bunch of young hooligans. In the process, Reddit had lost a leg. Toby remembered that it had all happened because he had been highly disobedient, but he had never given a thought to Reddit until now…

Toby now realised he was being very unfair to Fran. Everyone, including himself, made mistakes sometimes. And if we are to return blow for blow, wound for wound, all we are doing is prolonging the damage. So, even though his head still hurt and he thought Fran had made quite a remarkable mistake with that frying pan, seeing her feeling so sorry, and doing everything she could to put things right, Toby decided to forgive her.

Apology accepted, they spent the rest of the evening laughing at what had happened, and enjoying wonderful botfly burgers. And everyone heartily agreed that that was a rather better idea than getting into problems with pans.

story source: a frog and a frying pan

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If every one lived by the rule an eye for an eye, the whole world would be blind.

when your cup over flows with cuteness… smile!

(~_~)

A man was on the side of the road with a large birdcage. A boy noticed that the cage was full of birds of many kinds.

“Where did you get those birds?” he asked.

“Oh, all over the place,” the man replied. “I lure them with crumbs, pretend I’m their friend then when they are close, I net them and shove them into my cage.”

“And what are you going to do with them now?”

The man grinned, “I’m going to prod them with sticks, and get them really and so they fight and kill each other. Those that survive, I will kill. None will escape.” The boy looked steadily at the man. What made him do such things? He looked into the cruel hard eyes. Then he looked at the birds, defenseless, without hope.

“Can I buy those birds?” the boy asked. The man hid a smile, aware that he could be on to a good thing if he played his cards right.

“Well,” he said hesitantly, “The cage is pretty expensive, and I spent a lot of time collecting these birds, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll let you have the lot, birds, cage and all for ten pounds and that jacket you’re wearing.” The boy paused, ten pounds was all he had, and the jacket was new and very special, in fact it was his prized possession.

Slowly, he took out the ten pounds and handed it over, then even more slowly he took off his jacket, gave it one last look then handed that over too.

And then (well, you’ve guessed it) he opened the door and let the birds go free.

MORAL OF THE STORY IS . . .

Evil, was on the side of life’s road with a very large cage. The man coming towards him noticed it was crammed full of people of every kind, young, old, from every race and nation.

“Where did you get all those people?” the man asked. “Oh, from all over the world,” Evil replied. “I lure them with drink, drugs, lust, lies, anger, hate, love of money and all manner of things. I pretend I’m their friend, out to give them a good time, then when I’ve hooked them, into the cage they go.”

this story found here!

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There is an old story about a fellow who lived alone and went to a pet store to buy a parrot. He thought the bird might fill some of his lonely hours. The very next day, however, he came back to complain, “That bird doesn’t talk.”

The store owner asked if he had a mirror in its cage, and the man said he didn’t. “Oh, parrots love mirrors,” he explained. “When he sees his reflection in the mirror, he’ll just start talking away.” So he sold him a birdcage mirror.

The bird owner was back the next day to gripe that his parrot still hadn’t said a word. “That’s very peculiar,” allowed the pet expert. “How about a swing? Birds really love these little swings, and a happy parrot is a talkative parrot.” So the man bought a swing, took it home, and installed it in the cage.

But he was back the next day with the same story. “Does he have a ladder to climb?” the salesman asked. “That just has to be the problem. Once he has a ladder, he’ll probably talk your ear off!” So the fellow bought a ladder.

The man was back at the pet store when it opened the next day. From the look on his face, the owner knew something was wrong. “Didn’t your parrot like the ladder?” he asked. His repeat customer looked up and said, “The parrot died.”

“I’m so sorry,” the stunned businessman said. “Did he ever say anything?”

“Well, yes. He finally talked just before he died. In a weak little voice, he asked me, ‘Don’t they sell any bird seed at that pet store?'”

Some of us have mistakenly thought that happiness consists of lining our cages with toys, gadgets, and other stuff. Excessive consumption has become the hallmark of American life. “Whoever has the most toys wins” seems to be the likely candidate to be the bumper sticker for an entire culture. But is it so?

There is a spiritual hunger in the human heart that can’t be satisfied by seeing one’s own image reflected back in vanity mirrors, playing with our grown-up toys, or climbing the corporate ladder. Our hearts need real nourishment.

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I know why the caged bird sings…

(~_~)

 

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A Thousand Words

Last night, the wife, my little 9 year old daughter and I watched the movie, “A Thousand Words.” I was taken by the movie’s ‘zen’ appeal and of course ‘Eddie Murphy’s’ comic charm. Even my lil girl laughed and loved the movie that was charming and filled with a wonderful message of, “the power of words.”

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After stretching the truth on a deal with a spiritual guru, literary agent Jack McCall finds a Bodhi tree on his property. Its appearance holds a valuable lesson on the consequences of every word we speak.

Eddie Murphy is Jack McCall, a fast-talking literary agent, who can close any deal, any time, any way. He has set his sights on New Age guru Dr. Sinja (Cliff Curtis) for his own selfish purposes.

But Dr. Sinja is on to him, and Jack’s life comes unglued after a magical Bodhi tree mysteriously appears in his backyard. With every word Jack speaks, a leaf falls from the tree and he realizes that when the last leaf falls, both he and the tree are toast. Words have never failed Jack McCall, but now he’s got to stop talking … or he’s a goner.

A Thousand Words

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Words are a powerful tool, but not just the words but the passion and emotions that we use with them matter as much as what we say. As in the story with Buddha and the lake, where a married couple scream at each other because their hearts have become distant, even though they stand next to each other. When their love was new and fresh, their hearts were so close that they did not need words, the heart knew what the other was feeling.

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I see this movie in so many others, you can’t take a hammer and pound zen into them. No matter how many stories, parables or quotes you throw at them, they just don’t get it. Like watching a dog chase it’s own tail, never going anywhere spiritually in life, just existing. In this movie, Eddie Murphy has to go through a harsh trial to understand, passion, a better way of living and of course the power of words. Needless to say, I recommend to all, watch this movie.

 words are tied to emotions like a tree’s root reaching into the earth.

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choose your words wisely

(~_~)

A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan.  It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with people.  Cars were honking their horns, taxicabs were squealing around corners, sirens were blaring, and the sounds of the city were almost deafening.

Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”

His friend said, “What?  You must be crazy.  You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”

“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said, “I heard a cricket.”

  “That’s crazy,” said the friend.

The Native American listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a big cement planter where some shrubs were growing.  He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and  sure enough, he located a small cricket.  His friend was utterly amazed.

“That’s incredible,” said his friend “You must have superhuman ears!”

“No,” said the Native American.  “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

“But that can’t be!” said the friend.  “I could never hear a cricket in this noise.”

“Yes, it is, it depends on what is really important to you.  Here, let me show you.”

  He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and discreetly dropped them on the sidewalk.  And then, with the noise of the crowded street still blaring in their ears, they noticed every head within twenty feet turn and look to see if the money that tinkled on the pavement was theirs.

“See what I mean?” asked the Native American.  “It all depends on what’s important to you.”

this story found here

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It’s a cold day in December in New York City. A little boy about ten years old was standing before a shoe store on Broadway, barefooted, peering through the window, and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” was the boy’s reply.

The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the clerk to get a half dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the little fellow to the back part of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel. By this time, the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she then purchased a pair of shoes for him, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head, and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?”

As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand and looking into her face with tears in his eyes, he answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s wife?”

–Author Unknown

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have an incredible day

(~_~)

Handsome is as handsome does

Every morning, before leaving his home, the great philosopher Socrates used to stand in front of a mirror and gaze attentively at his reflection for several minutes.
 
One day, a disciple came upon him doing this, and was unable to suppress a smile at the sight of his master examining himself so closely. Socrates turned to him and said, “You are smiling, no doubt, at the sight of this ugly old fellow staring at himself in the mirror, are you not? I do this everyday.”
 
Shamed, the disciple bowed his head, but before he could beg pardon, Socrates continued: “On seeing myself in the mirror everyday, I become aware of my own ugliness. This strengthens my resolve to live in a way that the virtue of my work may outshine the unattractiveness of my countenance.”
 
The disciple exclaimed, “Master, do you mean to say that those who are good looking should not look in a mirror at all?”

“Nothing of the sort” said Socrates. “They should also keep looking in the mirror to remind themselves to think, speak and behave in a way that is as beautiful and striking as they are. May not their actions cast a shadow over their pleasing appearance.”

In this way Socrates left behind a profound lesson for all of us: Handsome is as handsome does.

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After his service in the war, Socrates devoted himself to his favorite pastime: the pursuit of truth.

His reputation as a philosopher, literally meaning ‘a lover of wisdom’, soon spread all over Athens and beyond. When told that the Oracle of Delphi had revealed to one of his friends that Socrates was the wisest man in Athens, he responded not by boasting or celebrating, but by trying to prove the Oracle wrong.

So Socrates decided he would try and find out if anyone knew what was truly worthwhile in life, because anyone who knew that would surely be wiser than him. He set about questioning everyone he could find, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Instead they all pretended to know something they clearly did not.

Finally he realized the Oracle might be right after all. He was the wisest man in Athens because he alone was prepared to admit his own ignorance rather than pretend to know something he did not.

Know thy self… Socrates

(~_~)

Once, an old man was very ill and lay dying in his bed. He had four sons who were al­ways fighting with each other. He always worried about them and wanted to teach them a lesson and asked his sons to come to him. When they came, the old man gave them a bundle of sticks and said, “Can you break these sticks?”

The first son tried to break the bundle but nothing hap­pened. He tried very hard and finally gave up. Then it was the turn of the second son to try his luck. He thought it would be an easy task and picked up the sticks easily. He tried his best to break the sticks but nothing happened. Then, the third son tried to break the bundle of sticks, but he couldn’t do anything either.

Meanwhile, the youngest son jeered at his brothers and thought they were very incom­petent. He thought he was very clever and took one stick at a time and easily broke all of them.

The old father then smiled at his sons and said, “Children, do you understand what hap­pened? It is always easy to break the sticks one by one. But when they are bundled to‑ gether, none of you could break them. In the same way. you four brothers should always be together. No one will be able to hurt you then.” The four brothers realised what their father was trying to teach them and forgot all their enmity and learnt that unity is strength.

From that day onwards, they never fought with each other and lived together in peace and harmony.

this story found here!

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One may be but a drop of water but ban together we can make a wave

(~_~)

The Emperor asked Master Gudo,

“What happens to a man of enlightenment after death?”

“How should I know?” replied Gudo.

“Because you are a master,” answered the Emperor.

“Yes sir,” said Gudo, “but not a dead one.”

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The master walked with his disciples. He taught using questions full of content, riddles that kept within a whole wisdom of life. And he always surprised his disciples with his wise teachings.

On certain occasion, while dusking, he asked his disciples if they knew how to tell when the night ended and the day started.

The first of them said: “When you see an animal at the distance and you can distinguish if it is a cow or a horse.”

“No,” said the master.

“When you see a tree at the distance and you can distinguish if it is a pine or an eucalyptus.”

“Not either,” said the master.

“OK,” said the disciples, “tell us, when is it?”

“When you look at a man in the face and recognize in him your brother; when you look at the face of a woman and recognize in her your sister. If you’re not able to do this, then, be whatever hour it be, still it’s night for you.”

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The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras nor indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.

His large audiences angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to debate with Bankei.

“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”

“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.

Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.

Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”

The priest obeyed.

“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”

The priest proudly stepped over to the right

“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”

“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

may your bowl be filled with zen this day

(~_~)

Art~

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Art~

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