The bridges of understanding...

By Vichara

Engage – disengage – engage – disengage – apathy – empathy – apathy – empathy. The line can be so thin and yet seem so vast. The perception we have of situations that cross our paths from moment to moment is of course determined by our resource of knowledge. If we have continued to fill the reservoir with enough variations and viewpoints we can hopefully evaluate and articulate a viewpoint based on moral values. Where we get into trouble is pure reaction. Reactionary decisions will be fraught with hues of miscommunication. Are we clear on this? I know, I know a little too wordy. Let’s make it real clear then. We are vessels of information calculated and disseminated by our brain. In order to engage the full spectrum of ideas we need to consume a field of information. While in prison Nelson Mandela observed, read and devoured information on the people that put him in that small cell of his. Not to seek revenge but to better understand his captors and find the bridges of understanding. Not to destroy the bridges but to meet them on unity on the bridge and shorten its length.

Shadow...

By Vichara

We can either cast a giant shadow on a day or we can provide a window to receive and create a clearer vision not only for ourselves but for others as well. The shadow will only create darkness and confusion. It might be felt that the shadow is needed to make a point to create a statement of authority but it only creates more darkness & doubt. Bt creating a window of communication and a sense of transparency the corner once filled with doubt is now illuminated with knowledge and cohesiveness. Your choice - darkness and misunderstanding or light and a clearer vision.

The new day...

By Vichara

The Day just tumbled out of bed in a reluctant haphazard way. The slippers were not there it stubbed its right big toe on the post of the dresser. After the dance of “ouch” the Day groggily shuffled out in the kitchen to retrieve the morning cup of coffee. There to meet Day in the kitchen was all of us. I mean every one of us. The Day has a big kitchen. Some of us were grumpy with dread of the appearance of Day and teetered in our chairs poised either to run back to bed or cry. Others had a sense of compliance and greeted the Day with the resolve to do their best. At some of the tables there were those who wore big smiles excited with the appearance of the Day. Of course there was those who wanted to slap those cheery faces but some how knew better and just took another gulp of coffee. Did I mention that the Day has a big coffee pot? The Day will roll out regardless of whatever you are doing. It is up to you and what level of engagement you bring to the table. However justified you feel your aversion to the Day it will be up to you if you wish to waste it.

A new book for all...

By Vichara

We have a very clever “universe”. At a certain time in our lives we all search for a bit of meaning of why we are “here”. In our faiths and religions we seek answers from the pages and voices that are around us from the past. One will tell you that their “path” is the one to follow. On will say that their knowledge is more direct and closer to the source than others. Another will ask you give up worldly possessions and others will advocate acquiring more. Each feels that they are right. What if…and I’m just thinking out loud here…that everyone is right. What if each branch, each faith, each doctrine, each path has the answers? What if each one was just a single page that fits into a much larger book? This book has never been put together before because each one has been holding on tightly to the single page of their faith. What if all of these could be bound together? I believe that if it could be done we would all find the key element that will bind all of these together is, Love. Yes that can sound a bit na├»ve and simple but you look at the faces of people when they are truly happy. No matter what the belief when Love is apparent all the walls and barriers of faiths and religions are transcended and love and compassion bind our hearts into on giant congregation.

A bump is just a bump...

By Vichara

There is astrology, numerology, phrenology but what about commonsenseology? We will sometimes seek answers from sources that we are led to believe will put us on the path to the right answer. The trouble is that this can be circuitous and vague paths that may lead only back to more speculation. Sometimes the most obvious can be the right answer but that is where we will need to do the hard work of trusting in our intuitive nature more and less what people are telling to think and feel. I know this may not be easy but it will produce results that will exceed all the charts and speculation others will give you and defiantly define the path that you walk more clearly. Sure try these other paths but I guarantee that coming back to yourself, your thoughts and your own path will be more fulfilling than trying to figure out if Mars is in retrograde with your sign or if that bump on your head will portent great fortune. Sometimes a bump is just a bump.

The empirical boat...

By Vichara

We need empirical proof. As much as we romanticize about living or having faith we ultimately need to have empirical proof on many levels. We want to assume and believe that things will be done and entrust others with tasks and responsibilities but because things are interconnected we need proof. Most of the time on a physical level the empirical proof is relatively easy to produce but on the metaphysical level far greater. We need a meal to eat, so we gather the ingredients, cook them and a meal appears. Try to have a greater understanding and that there is meaning and guidance to all of “this” is much more difficult. It is not like you can purchase a GPS unit that leads you to the esoteric answers. Of course this presumes that you want answers but I would venture a guess you do. So were does this lead us? With the need of the empirical – painted in the corner with faith. However consider faith being a boat. You know that by trial and testing that the boat floats (for the most part). So you climb on board given that understanding and as you push off from the dock you ultimately realize that the boat is only as sturdy as you built it. You are the draftsman, carpenter and captain and sometimes that is all the empirical proof you will have.

New heros...

By Vichara

I may run against the acceptance of most but we need new heroes for this generation. The athletes, singers and actors are flawed for the most part. Yes I know they are human and the elevation of their status through manipulation of the media makes their fall even more dramatic. I think t-shirts, web sites and hoopla should be created for those that actually contribute to the human condition, not chip it away with unhealthy indulgences and indiscretions. I don’t believe just because you can put an object in a net or hole or spray expletives in a gratuitous manner should give you solely the spotlight to influence others. We need to give the spotlight and attentions to those that create hope that will inspire others. There are of course the classics of Gandhi, King, Dalai Lama, Marie Curie and Desmond Tutu but there are others like Aung San Suu Kyi, John Pilger, Mary Robinson, Noam Chomsky and Bill Oddie. There is even someone that might live in your neighborhood that helps out in a small way. These are the true heroes. Let’s give them the spotlight to inspire the new generations.

A new angle...

By Vichara

There is a tendency to view things from one vantage point for the majority of the time. It can come from force of habit or just plain comfort. For me I notice it a lot being around other photographers. You may notice in your family photos when taking a picture of friends and family you try to corral them together and you stand straight on and snap away. If you go back you may see the same kind of photo in your collection. As with life and with photography there are times you need to break out and look at things from a different angle. For me I’ll crouch down at times for a different vantage point and in a way you can do this with your observations. When faced with a challenging situation, hunker down and force yourself to get a new angle on things. Give yourself an opportunity for a new perspective and to hear things differently. Making a decision is like pushing down on the shutter of the camera. Once it is done the decision has been made, the moment has been captured. Try to have things framed and thought through before releasing the shutter.

Time...

By Vichara

There is 525,600 minutes in a year, what are you going to do with them? This is not a question to place pressure on you to ensure you do something worthwhile with these minutes, just curious. What should be considered is if you want to contribute or remain neutral? Do you want to add to the recipe of just consume? Do you want to add you voice to the chorus or remain silent in your corner? There will not be a re-set button and you will not be able to rewind. Some of you out there will already have come to this realization but if you are stuck in neutral now is the time to shift gears. For some I recommend moving slowly. In this instant gratification world it can be hard if you do not see results right away and you can get discouraged. Small steps with conviction are better than grand gestures without substance.

In one great inhalation...

By Vichara

In one great inhalation a few hundred thousand are born and in one great exhalation a couple hundred thousand die in one day. In one breath an idea is formed and on exhalation the idea is gone. In one inhalation love is found and in one exhalation it is gone. What matters here is not so much the igniting or the extinguishing of any of these, this will happen regardless. What is important is the in-between part. In one moment your heart is awakened to another heart and the freefall of events and experiences catapult you into years of heartache and joy. In a flicker of the moment the idea that you needed turns the corner and it greets you with a smile. With the manifestation of this idea hopefully many will be inspired by yours and ignite their idea. In one great moment a cry of life starts a journey that will hopefully ignite both love and ideas and then on the other side of the world the last breath occurs and the baton is passed. The objective: when it is passed – just do your best.

Our personal legacy...

By Vichara

All our daily actions are tempered by knowledge and guidance given to us by others who have helped or hindered us and of course what we have read and see. All of our senses ingesting and digesting the best and the worst of humanity on a daily basis. If one were given only violence, one would only know violence. If one were only given compassion, one would only know compassion. Unfortunately and fortunately the world does not work that way. It is a collection of competing contrasts that present themselves to us and ask us to judge and act accordingly. How we act will be how the world sees us. How do we want to be seen and remembered? Our personal legacies may not be as large as people like Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Einstein and others but it is no less important. Each step, word and deed counts and will be counted.

Many rivers to cross...

By Vichara

I woke up this morning with the song “Many Rivers to Cross” as sung by Harry Nilsson in my brain. One line says “And it’s only my will that keeps me alive” and that line became reflected in all of our daily journeys. Perhaps not so dramatic some days but we all have “bridges” that we cross everyday. Decisions that need to be made in a few seconds and others that will percolate and resolve with some patience and time. Regardless of their complexity we all have many rivers to cross and it is how we get to the other side that will matter. We could use harsh deceptive ways to cross over but more than likely some karmic residue will be brought over with you and to the next bridge. This residual karmic baggage will accumulate and increase the weight of your load for each bridge to cross. Try to travel unencumbered by jettisoning the excess before you cross and make the journey with honesty and integrity not only for your own heart but for the world around you. See you on the other side.

Fear...

By Vichara

Everyone is scared. No matter how much confidence one shows. No matter what bravado is brandished about in order to retain some alpha-male or alpha-female position, they are all scared…just like you. In our working pods of life there will always be those individuals that will be compelled to be in control in varying degrees of success. It is unfortunate for those individuals that are in control fail to recognize the basic commonalities that we all share and work from a position of frenetic unfocused degrees. With these somewhat ingrained methods it is difficult to change with force from the outside. One of the keys is for us all is to step back, recognize fears (which by the way are mostly based in our impermanence) and attempt to make that connection based in calm understanding & compassion and find answers together. Calm rivers carry great weight and strength without constant churning.

Meet Mr. Day...

By Vichara

The Day just tumbled out of bed in a reluctant haphazard way. The slippers were not there it stubbed its right big toe on the post of the dresser. After the dance of “ouch” the Day groggily shuffled out in the kitchen to retrieve the morning cup of coffee. There to meet Day in the kitchen was all of us. I mean every one of us. The Day has a big kitchen. Some of us were grumpy with dread of the appearance of Day and teetered in our chairs poised either to run back to bed or cry. Others had a sense of compliance and greeted the Day with the resolve to do their best. At some of the tables there were those who wore big smiles excited with the appearance of the Day. Of course there was those who wanted to slap those cheery faces but some how knew better and just took another gulp of coffee. Did I mention that the Day has a big coffee pot? The Day will roll out regardless of whatever you are doing. It is up to you and what level of engagement you bring to the table. However justified you feel your aversion to the Day it will be up to you if you wish to waste it.

No room for...

By Vichara

One day on this very sunny and pleasant afternoon a few friends were out for a picnic near a lovely lake. The lake wasn’t that big, in fact you could see the other shore quite clearly and you could almost yell to someone on the other shore if you chose to do so. Among these friends none would do so. Anyway everyone was having a wonderful time, telling stories, laughing, enjoying the flora and fauna and reveling in each other’s company. At one point as they were snacking on the wonderful strawberries one of them saw a boat full of friends having a great time and one said “oh let’s rent a boat and take this fun out on the water”. So in the rented boat they went. Enthusiasm carried the basket and helped Gratitude into the boast first. Then Frivolity reached out a hand for Sensibility. Fortitude had no trouble getting in but watched over Escapism as he gingerly balanced his way aboard. The boat sunk down a little more when Experience got on board which made everyone’s head turn and they all looked to the dock as the last friend was stepping forward. With a weary look Doubt looked to the eyes of his friends and stepped back. That is why when you are traveling Life’s waters and things could get rough; there is no room for Doubt.

It does have a purpose...

By Vichara

We hold on to that one cup of water so tight in fear that we sometimes don’t realize that there is a whole ocean right behind us. We assume limitations when there is the contrary that is ever-present. We hang on to the “fear” because for some that has been the most tangible thing that has been present. With fear you will always have limitations and restrictions on how far your heart and mind will travel. I would venture a guess that you do not want these limitations. So let’s start with a basic premise. Your sheer existence here on this planet is not to just be here and disappear. Your presence here is to learn, discover, experience and to teach, share and unite all of this with others. If you focus on the fears and limitations you will miss out on all that you were entitled to experience. Yes entitled but not in the gimme, gimme, you owe me kind of way. You are not just a weed that springs up and disappears. Even a weed has a purpose to return the nutrients back to the soil that it was given.

The leftovers of the day...

By Vichara

If we welcome the day without expectation will there be fulfillment or dissatisfaction? Without the needs and desires placed on what is going to happen will it allow the opportunities to be more abundant or less because there is little interest? I know a lot of questions and things to think about but sometimes this is the stuff tat rattles around in the pinball machine in my head. I try to wake up to each day on a fresh page, a clear open field but we all know there is always remnants of the previous chapter, a previous day that lingers around. Sometimes it is like writing on a piece of paper that has been written on and then partially erased. There is always something left hanging there. What do you do with the leftovers? Make a sandwich! Take the morning slice of bread, pile on what was left, and garnish it up with understanding and compassion with a thick slice of equanimity. Warm it up with insight and with each bite try to digest what was left to gain perspective and answers. Oh yes, remember to leave room for desert.

The marathon...

By Vichara

We are all given stewardship of many and important things in our lifetime, our thoughts, the environment, love, wisdom, the tangible and the intangible. And like a marathon runner with this “baton”, we must safeguard that which has been given to us and safely pass it off to the next generation / runner. If we inadvertently drop the baton we need to find the strength and resources to pick it up and rise to the occasion until our segment of this race is done. Realize and be cognizant that you are not alone. There are many other runners, some in front, some behind and some right next to you. Cheer and encourage all that are around you for this is not a race to be won, but to survive.

The blender of "life"...

By Vichara

Let’s crank up the blender of life and make us a cocktail. There are some people that believe that they only need one item in the ol’ blender, some ice and churn things up to have a good, happy and successful life. Well if that is what you think we need to send you back to the Life Bartender School. This hopefully long cool drink that is given to us needs several ingredients in order to make a tasty blend. In the beginning we may only have a couple of ingredients to start with but with an open heart, mind and spirit we’ll receive other ingredients to toss into the blender. Of course the essentials are needed like love, compassion, laughter, empathy and equanimity. But as years go by you will get things like disappointment, silliness, death, revelations, sadness, absurdity, music, arts, literature, resourcefulness, jealousy, happiness and many more. One by one toss them in and mix them up. By taste you will learn the right amount to balance and make your life full. One ingredient makes for a boring cocktail while many create a fiesta in which life should be. Drink up!

Symbols...

By Vichara

You can adorn yourself with crucifixes, amulets, talismans, bobbles, babbles, beads and other spiritual accouchements but they will be simply weights of vanity unless they are equaled or surpassed by the presence of love, patience and compassion inside your heart. Wear what you like but these three elements must be able to stand on their own; strong, open and committed to equal unification of all people.