"Peace... comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us."
When people ask me to define spirituality, I would tell them, remembering what the American Indians have taught me and what great Indian leaders like Black Elk had taught: It is your connection with the Universe.
That is why rupture in any close relationships bring us sadness. It is sad to loose a friend.
Do you remember the paragraph from The Little Prince?
For I do not want any one to read my book carelessly. I have suffered too much grief in setting down these memories. Six years have already passed since my friend went away from me, with his sheep. If I try to describe him here, it is to make sure that I shall not forget him. To forget a friend is sad. Not every one has had a friend. And if I forget him, I may become like the grown-ups who are no longer interested in anything but figures . . .
dimanche 14 décembre 2014
GREETINGS TO MY MALAYSIAN, INDONESIAN, AMERICAN INDIAN FRIENDS AND FAMILY, ALSO TO MUSLIMS EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD
I send these greetings to you because I consider my relationship with you to be important.
This long winded thoughts put down on paper is my way of wishing you a
MERRY CHRISTMAS, BEST WISHES FOR THE SEASON, AND FOR MEMBERS OF MY TRIBE, HAPPY CHANUCCAH. FELIZ ANO NUEVO 2015 BONNE ANNEE FELIZ ANO NOVO
GOOD WISHES TO CHRISTIANS, MOSLEMS, HINDUS, BUDDHISTS AND JEWS
MERRY CHRISTMAS. HAPPY NEW YEAR HAPPY CHANUCCAH
TO MY GOOD FRIEND JOE; THE BUDDHA OF BOGOR, GRATITUDE AND THANKS FOR YOUR FRIENDSHIP
Peace in the world, in our villages, at our work, in our families, begins with us. What works?
Whatever works to free the soul from suffering?
Whatever works to allow the heart to have compassion?
What works to awaken our minds from ignorance?
Love Compassion Peace
In all the ancient philosophies, Compassion is repeatedly mentioned as the source of Happiness, compassion towards others, compassion towards oneself.
When I was in Burma, I repeatedly heard the word Mitta, which is the Pali word Metta or the Sanskrit word, Maitri meaning Loving Kindness.
Attitude of Friendliness
Who does personify better than our own Joe, the loving kindness of a human being?
Our wish, to take it from Joe: May all beings be happy.
I asked him when I met, on a flight from Omaha to Los Angeles in the USA, why are you doing these things for your workers? Is it to increase their productivity?
No, sir, he said emphatically, I do it because I want them to be happy. If they are happy their families are happy and their villages are happy.
May all being be happy.
American Indians would include in ALL: not only human beings but also Animals and Birds and Trees and all living things
They would wish: May all living beings be happy.
Yoga sutra would speak of a love that does not seek self benefit.
In the business circles, whether Asian or European, networking is an artificial show of affection in which self benefit is sought. It is much more prevalent among Asians than Europeans.
Whereas, unusual individuals like Joe in Bogor, or enlightened Europeans would not seek self benefit in their actions. I have witnessed this personally among the Native Americans, for whom, networking means, what can I do for you, rather than what can you do for me?
If I were to say to Joe, I will be in Singapore early February 2015, he would ask: What can I do for you?
Loving kindness arises from the purity of the heart not associated with anything harmful.
Let us wish, May you be happy, now and in times to come
Issa, the Japanese poet had said:
In the cherry Blossom’s shade, there is no such thing as a stranger.
This is very reminiscent of what Joe would say:
Smiling is a must.
On that misty early morning at OMA airport, I saw this oriental gentleman smiling at me and I returned the smile. Just that exchange ended up in such a good friendship.
If we consider other people as strangers, then we can hide our prejudices. If we smile at them, it is difficult to have inferior feelings about them. You can try this when you are at the Abu Dhabi or Dubai or Doha airports, full of indentured workers from all over the world, and give a bit of yourself by smiling at them. They would be happy you smiled at them, so would you be.
I was thinking of the Buddhist concept of Mitta, loving kindness towards others, when I entered the Inipi ceremony of the Indians, where you subject your body to very high temperatures and at the moment of extreme suffering you pray for the welfare of others, without sacrifice of some sort, one cannot wish successfully for the good of others, just thinking about it alone is not sufficient.
Recently at the SFO airport, I wanted to experiment on myself how I would feel if I were to ignore every one that was present there. I realized then, shamefully, that I do not wish to have “neutral” feelings towards people around me, even if I don’t know them. When I do that, I feel that somehow I am denying them their status as human beings, as if I am insulting their presence by ignoring them.
How we feel about other people, whether at Sentul City or at the crowded airport in Doha, full of indentured labourers going home with huge bags, depends upon us.
A smile is full of good will and you reassure your heart that your heart does not harbor ill feelings about the humanity so removed from your daily life.
In our lives we have noticed that love with attachment or desire can turn into ill will or anger or irritation. But loving kindness does not fill our hearts with ill will or anger or irritation, exactly opposite.
What are the moments of distress in our lives?
Each of us has different sources of distress.
As Kahlil Gibran had famously said: the source of sorrow was once the source of pleasure.
How can you deal with distress? If a loved one is causing this distress in you?
See the situation that caused it in the larger context.
Remember, before you condemn anyone, that they have 10 000 reasons to behave the way they did, and we don’t know all the 10 000 reasons and until we do, we shouldn’t react in a negative fashion.
See the difficult people in our lives including our enemies as human beings. With loving kindness you expect to have Peace, to find happiness and not to suffer, in the same way they too have their claim to the very same things in their lives. They also have the right not to suffer, they also have the right to find happiness.
The third insight also reminds me very much of my friend Joe, it is about humility. While many Chinese businessmen around that part of the world, parade their wealth or accomplishments, our humble friend from Bogor, is exactly the opposite. You could easily mistake him for anything you wish to mistake him for when you see him at the airport but very quickly his true self would be revealed to you, if you take the time, if you decrease your own pride. Pride leads to a sense of self importance and that creates suffering for others which would end up as your own suffering.
(Just this week, the daughter of the CEO of the Korean Air, sitting in First Class, wanted the Chief Flight Attendant off the aircraft because he did not serve the macadamia nuts to her in a plate! Think of all the sufferings caused, to the poor soul as well as other passengers as well as her father, her company and in fact, she cast a bad light on all Korean people, behaving in such a way of entitlement)
Get rid of self-righteousness! This is truly a bad characteristic to have and I am amazed, whether educated or not, how prevalent it is in our societies whether it is Asian or American or European. No one race seems to be harbor this characteristic any less than the other. I have seen this in all continents where I have travelled, much less so among the Indigenous peoples of all continents.
(The best example of this self righteousness, Cornell West, a Black Academic in the USA, calling Barack Obama all sorts of names, very insulting, saying he is righteously indignant at Barack Obama because of Obama’s lack of courage.)
Hatred never ceases through hatred, it ceases only in response to love.
You can apply this in your own lives or in the conflicts, big and small in the geo political arena.
Native American Indians have a concept of Harmony and Balance, which are related. Your mind is in balance when there is harmony in your life as well as you live in harmony with your environment, connected with the universe.
You can do that only with humility, with an open heart towards to all not only those you know but also strangers. Once you consider all living things as part of your large family, your own self importance would decrease. Man is not the superior creation of the Great Spirit, Indians would say, but only one fo the superior creations of the Great Spirit.
Yoga Sutra of Patanjali lists
Five structural defects of the mind, which needs to be under control if one has to lead a happy, philosophically content, spiritually fulfilled life. He stresses the importance of ignorance which aggravates our need to be Egoistic, and the other defects such as attachment, fear of change and aversion to things or people.
As you can see, all the above philosophies concur on what needs to be done to be happy. It does not matter whether you are a Buddhist, Hindu or Yogic or American Indian, all the ancient cultures thousands of years old stress these essentials facts about life of happiness, without suffering and in peace.
In Tibetan Buddhism, this concept is Bodhi Chitta , an awakened heart, to awaken from the depths of ignorance.
Dalai Lama says: I cannot pretend I always practice Bodhi Chitta but it gives me tremendous impetus. His thoughts on this are explained by Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
“Bodhicitta is your acting, your thinking, your selfless thinking for others,” says Tsoknyi Rinpoche.
As His Holiness the Dalai Lama always says, promote human values: love, compassion, tolerance. We have human intelligence. Use that intelligence inside as well, not always outside. Make it happy and healthy. And then within that intelligence, then you operate or connect with the outside world.
Individuals or countries as a whole can be involved in lessening the suffering of others. Medicins sans Frontiers is an organization intent on lessening suffering. Cuba is a country which is devoted to decreasing the physical suffering of millions of people, they were the first country to send doctors and medical personal to fight Ebola in West Africa. We as individuals can do our bit to alleviate suffering; that impulse comes from Compassion.
The Cuban born Polish Jewish Communist told me soon after my arrival in Cuba, if you are primarily interested in yourself, then USA would be a good choice as a place to live; but if you are interested in helping others, you have arrived in the paradise, here in Cuba. His prophetic words turned out very true for me, as I consider my years in Cuba to be the golden epoch, which by the way is still continuing.
Look around our fast paced societies, you would see everything that creates suffering, the list is long enough. Just because you live in USA or Indonesia, you don’t have to be a part of it.
Here is a partial list:
All of which can lead to suffering.
What can we do as individuals?
When we feel a person suffering physically, we don’t feel smug that we are not suffering physically but we try to do something to lessen that suffering.
In this situation of suffering, from causes outlined above, in our societies where we suffer as individuals and collectives, what should we do?
Be mindful of the presence of suffering.
I was sitting on a bench at the ferry terminal at Bremerton in Washington State. I looked around and believe it or not, it was a panorama of human suffering. There were mentally ill, homeless, poor, neglected people, hanging around the pier or the bus stop. Appropriately, a warning from the nearby café stated: Please remove your hoods, your bandanas and face coverings before you enter this shop.
You have to be mindful of these suffering human beings, not to feel righteous (about those neglected or abandoned by the society) but to be aware that these are human beings, they too deserve a shot at happiness and peace and lack of suffering.
Be mindful of your feelings
Of when you see a homeless person or a mentally ill person, hanging around aimlessly in our big cities (I am proud that in Cuba there are no homeless in the streets! Even with such a scarcity of abodes in Cuba), be mindful of their presence, acknowledge them as human beings.
If any of the following feelings arise: (in any situation)
Greed, envy, jealousy, fear, enmity, hatred
Look at them with mindfulness
Remember these feelings within you cause suffering for yourself and our duty is to relieve suffering in others as well as ourselves. If we are not at peace within ourselves when we are full of these ill feelings, no action based on them would be beneficial, would not lead to the lessening of suffering of any one and also the peace of anyone concerned.
Instead of feeling superior in these situations, we have to acknowledge our own vulnerability, of mind, body and spirit, only then we can connect as human beings. With those people who surround us, we can connect to each other with our hearts.
It is our hearts we see, how often we have heard that, from Antoine San Exupery of The Little Prince to many of my Indian teachers, it is with the heart we take care of others and not with our minds. Those in the caring and healing and curing professions might want to take note of that, with the heart one never fails but with the minds, we may make errors.
This is what Jiddu Krishnamurthy, the Indian Philosopher had to say:
When one gives one's heart, it is a total action. And when you give your mind, it is a fragmentary action. And most of us give our minds to so many things. That is why we live a fragmentary life, thinking one thing and doing another; and we are torn, contradictory. To understand something, one must give not only one's mind but one's heart to it.
Having a series of pleasant feelings one after another may not contribute to genuine happiness, however good it may feel.
This was brought to my attention one at the clinic when my teacher came to see me as a patient. He is an UmonHon Indian.
Did you see the clear sky? On your way over here to the clinic? Did you see the lone eagle?
Doctor, he continued in his soft voice, Be happy with all the things we have, and don’t be unhappy with things we don’t have.
How often I have read about these words, from Dalai Lama to European philosophers, but here is, an Indian, sitting in front of me, at the small consulting room at an isolated Indian reservation telling me that.
Material things do not bring happiness. They may make your life comfortable.
Only Relationships brighten your life, of all the things, the relationships with others, in all forms, is the essence of happiness. And pay attention to those relationships and nurture them, without relationships, a human becomes sole and lonely, abandoned by all, in one way or another, now or at some other time, eventually.
This is what Black Elk of the Lakota Indians had to say about relationships:
While I was writing this my friend, the Buddha of Bogor, the humble man called me from Terminal 3 of CGK, Soekarno Hatta airport in Jakarta. He was only his way to Johor via Singapore and then on to HoChiMinh city and back home via Singapore.. He will be home for dinner the next day, it was early morning in Indonesia.
His conversation showed his concern for others, he never mentioned about himself or his business or his personal problems but all questions related to his relationships with others that we knew in common.
I made up my mind, to fulfil and demonstrate the great value I place over this friendship with this very humble man, I will make every attempt to spend a week with him in between work and travels in the new year, before the busy lives of others interrupt the travel universe, before the Chinese New Year on 19 February 2015 sets in.
more than once I have stood at this very spot, remembered my UmonHon Indian Family and Friends. We are UmonHon Indians, said the two sisters, one of whom played at a playground of tepees and kayaks at this very same site.