Sanity and Serenity in a Selfish World

Each day after reading or listening to the news I want to jump on my blog and rant. I’ve restrained myself, but maybe the world situation is why I’ve been remiss blogging this year (– or maybe that just an excuse). To gain some serenity I’ve been studying Buddhism recently and this is what I’ve gleaned.

Buddhism is not a religion, but interfaith and a spiritual lifestyle. You can start anywhere to understand this way of life, but there are principles to guide ones path and open our outlook:

• Your thoughts, conscious conduct (do the right thing) and speech (how often do we speak ill of someone?) are key
Suffering is part of life, but needless suffering comes from dwelling on it (especially when it is over or out of our control)

Karma – moral cause and effect.
Meditation, which is the attraction for many to Buddhism. I was never very good at this, but I do practice Tai Chi especially when stressed – that counts doesn’t it? In the same vein, is mindfulness.

Who remembers the book “Be Here Now” from the 70s? That book made me realize I was often living in the past or worrying about the future. Be Here Now is essentially mindfulness and reminded me to stop and be with my children in the moment.

Everything is connected. John Muir  came by this on his own with the environmental movement: When one tries to tug at a single thing in nature, we find it is attached to everything else in the Universe.”

“…in every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations”                         The Iroquois Confederacy

Going back to the interconnectedness of religions, most teach values such as human dignity, equality, freedom, and peace and encourage the faithful to act with empathy to others. There are many prophets who have said similar things, like the “Peace that passeth understanding” which relates to meditation and prayer and is akin to Nirvana…and the Golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a common theme.  We turn to systems of beliefs that provide a more meaningful world.

Treat others with compassion and generosity. Avoid “toxins” like greed, ignorance and ill will.           Mahatma Gandhi said There is enough in this world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”

Accept Change: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap…” from the biblical book Ecclesiastes; turned into song by Pete Seeger who ended with “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late” (later adapted by The Byrds) https://www.youtube.com/watch

Buddhism doesn’t have many ceremonies, but I read about a Tibetan center in Colorado with a rite-of-passage where parents and children face each other, bow, and vow to be kind to themselves, to each other and all beings. Isn’t that lovely?

The Kindness of Strangers

I recently visited Damyanti Biswas’ post on We are the World Blogfest a blog devoted to “spread peace and humanity on social media.”

It reminded me of several incidents I will share with you regarding the kindness of strangers. The first occurred when we were living in Dunedin, New Zealand, poor as church mice and my husband lost his wallet.

Dunedin, NZ

 

 

 

 

 

To make matters worse, it was pay-day and he had just filled it with cash meant to last for at least two weeks. We never expected to see the wallet much less the cash, but later that day the police phoned with the news that a good Samaritan had turned it in. It was such a relief. Thank you kind lady, whoever you are, you saved a young couple in distress! You don’t know us, but I still think of you. Hard to imagine this happening in many cities of the world.

Some years later on our first trip to France we arrived in time  – we thought – to find our train to Charles De Gaulle.  While searching in the huge station however, we had apparently missed the one we intended to be on and now were in fear of missing our overseas flight.  In a state of agitation, I  approached a young Frenchman and asked if he knew which the track we should be on.  He cocked his head and listened intently to my inadequate French, looked around at the  signs, then held up one finger and took off at a run.  Several minutes went by and we thought he must have caught his own train and left by now.  But no, there he was running towards us, he grabbed my bag in his free hand (the other held a briefcase full of books) and off the three of us jogged to the far side of the gare.  “Voila!” he gestured with his chin, “La!”  I grabbed his hand and thanked him profusely as we got on the train.  “Oh, but I must,” he told me quite seriously. “Or you will miss your airplane!”  No, Monsieur you didn’t have to but, I will never forget how you took time to help a couple of hapless tourists.  I’ve tried to follow your act when people ask me for help.

Parisian train station

 

Wait it gets better. Last winter in our California town, a taxi cab driver picked up two teenage sisters going to a party on a Friday night. They were dropped off looking forward to their evening and asked the young cabbie to come back after midnight.

However a call came only an hour or so later and when the taxi arrived the girls were walking up the street with their arms around one another, one without her coat, the other virtually naked; they were both shivering and in tears. The driver jumped out, took off his jacket and wrapped it around the naked girl; he drove them home and walked them in to make sure an adult was there to deal with the situation. The parents went to the Taxi company the next day to express their gratitude for taking care of the girls – and to return the jacket. (The cabbie must have been cold the rest of the night.) I’m sure that family will never forget that sensitive young man either.

We all have stories like these that make us want to live up to their standards of kindness and regard for others. Note these stories and pictures are from around the world. They may seem like small acts, but they create a rippling effect and restore our faith in humanity.

A couple rescue a small dog from a culvert in Brazil.

Bits and Quotes from 2015: amor, salud y pesetas

According to a Harvard psychologist,Steven Pinker, a long term downward trend in violence is continuing. Wars are less common and deadly than in the recent past, terrorism is rare. Really?  Hard to believe, but there it is: good news just doesn’t sell.  (Yet the terrorizing of Parisians on a Friday evening as they went about their lives, dining, enjoying a concert or a soccer game, stays with us grimly. It came on the heels of Amsterdam-Paris train attack and reminded us of 9/11 in NYC. We are sadly united in the fight against terrorism; we seem sadly divided on the refugee crisis.)

3candle   ‘It is true that the world had to confront moments of darkness this year, but ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it….There are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today.” Queen Elizabeth

“We are not a country of angry white guys. Eighty-one percent of the {US} electorate are female, people of color, or young people {under 35}. I was raised to believe that we are all each other’s brother and sister, regardless of race, creed or color. If you want to ban Muslims, you are going to have to ban me. We are all Muslim… we are all Mexican, we are all Catholic and Jewish and white and black and every shade in between.” producer Michael Moore  2015-12-17-1450364949-3651573-moore

 

In the USA and Ireland marriage equality prevailed and same sex couples could tie the knot.

 

U.S. jobless claims near 42-year low as labor market tightens and boosts the economy. (Reuters News)

In 1915: The average life expectancy for men was 47 years; the leading causes of death were pneumonia, tuberculosis, and influenza. (Did you get a flu shot – if not I hope you are good about washing your hands!)

Olympic athlete transitions from Bruce Jenner to Caitlin Jenner and becomes the spokesperson for transgender youth.

Bye Bruce....

Bye Bruce….

Hello Cait...

Hello Cait…

 

 

 

 

 

Mandi Barnes, a Utahan Hairstylist heard about a hairdresser giving free haircuts to homeless people in New York City and organized a “free haircut day” at a homeless shelter in her own town. Local businesses got into the act and made donations including free meals.

This reminds me of Rosa’s Pizza in Philadelphia where for $1 you can donate a slice of pizza to a hungry person.  Rosa’s serves 40 homeless customers a day. One said, “The fact that it is a gift makes it taste just that much better.”  (The idea took off and was “copycatted.”)

This is the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro that they were ending a half-century of U.S.-Cuban enmity. The United States and Cuba are close to an agreement on restoring regularly scheduled, commercial flights between the countries. Associated Press

Raul Castro and Barack Obama - something to smile about.

Raul Castro and Barack Obama

I started off this post with a recap of the year, but it was too disheartening. Now in the deep of winter, I decided we needed to remember our humanity. Hence these unrelated, but uplifting events. Go hug someone – even yourself – you deserve it; start the year with a random act of kindness. Take a deep breath and wish the world a good year. Hoping yours is full of – as they say in Spanish “*amor, salud y pesetas y…”

finyn-wolf-northern-lights

I want to end with this stunning photo of the Aurora Borealis in Lapland by Marja-Terttu Karlsson. Isn’t it magical?!  She says people “think it is fake, but I can assure all skeptics that it’s genuine.” Aurora Borealis howl of the wild

*Love, health and spending money… and time to enjoy them all.

GOOD NEWS

And now for something completely different: Good news. Almost an oxymoron these days when reading the news is so depressing. I think it is time to report a few cheerful headlines.

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 05:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF looks on during the UEFA Champions League semi final match between Juventus and Real Madrid CF at Juventus Arena on May 5, 2015 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during a 2015 match in Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo dug into his pockets in support of those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, and he’s asking fans to do the same. Ronaldo donated 7 million euro (did I read that right?!) to a group providing food, water and hygiene kits to families in Nepal.

With the sincere and caring humility Pope Francis has brought to Rome, he is a gift from the heavens. His non-judgmental leadership on contentious issues is cq5dam.web.800.800refreshing, as is his stance on Vatican banking etc. He reaches out to the poor and downtrodden, he prays for “grace, love, joy and freedom” for all. (No, I’m not Catholic, but billions are and the Pope has tremendous influence.)

The U. S added almost 600 thousand jobs in the first quarter of 2015; unemployment is low. Hurray!….. Likewise the Affordable HealthCare (Obamacare) is a success. 16.4 million Americans are covered. (Yikes – that many without previous health care?) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/obamacare/

imagesIrish voters approve same-sex marriage by vote (62%!). Nevada bans therapies designed to turn young gays straight (this would be funny if it were not so sad).

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary of the United Nations, has commended the Government of Tonga for its decision to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.                    images

The government of Japan announced a $5 (USD) million donation to the United Nations World Food Programme to support the most vulnerable Palestinian families living in Gaza.  Then Japan pledged $450M to aid Pacific island nations battling rising sea levels and calamities as a result of global warming.

Raul Castro and Barack Obama

Raul Castro and Barack Obama

Raul Castro and President Obama took landmark steps to normalizing relations.

That’s a start. Have a nice day!

Girls w Beary_0694Here’s my gallery of cheer:

Smile………

 

Hang out with Friends…

Get plenty of sleep…

Play nice…. 

Enjoy your family….

           Got any good news to report in your country or any other? Please post here and bring some cheer to your fellow citizens of the world. We also accept personal triumphs and anything that will make us smile!