Tag Archives: forgiveness

understanding parents

a few semi random musings on parents …

through my parents, a lot of challenges came my way. but through them, i also learned how to build the tools to overcome those challenges. for example, creativity was highly encouraged.

parents irrevocably shape most of the way we view the world. some of that can be changed. we can add to it. we can move the furniture of our world view around. we can accept the limitations of our worldview and strategize around them. but the basic neural pathways that our parents influenced in our first years cannot be completely changed.

parents are people, first and foremost. as adults, we need to acknowledge that. it’s hard to do that, both intellectually and emotionally. it’s much easier to comprehend intellectually. our parents muddle through their lives, they understand only a fraction of what’s going on inside and outside of themselves, most of their mistakes are honest mistakes, they are sexual beings, they want to feel useful, they want to feel loved – just like everyone else. on an emotional, subconscious level, it’s difficult to grasp that they are not particularly powerful, that they can’t read our minds, that looking after us is not their primary task.

if parents don’t look after themselves emotionally, they have a hard time looking after and appreciating the emotional needs of their children, whatever their age may be. yet 99% of all parenting books are about the feeding and caring of the child. a parent who never understood, when you were a child, how to feed and care for themselves as parents, may have a hard time understanding your needs as an adult.

parents make big mistakes. miss-takes. they honestly think that grounding you was a good idea when you kept coming home after midnight. little did they know that being cooped up in your room was one of the major things that contributed to your depression. how were they supposed to know? so much of human development is a mystery; there are just so many forks in the road, all day long. yes, there could have been more communication; perhaps much more communication, and that’s maybe how they could have known. but the truth is that we live in a culture where honest, in-depth, loving, peaceful communication is not supported, and we all get swept up in that culture – some more, some less.

kids drive parents crazy. even the best parent pulls out their hair when little lance or teenage tom or college colleen whine, play blaring headbanger music and leave jam on the counter for the 1,482,487th time. because wanting to pull out your hair is a fabulous memory anchor, most parents find it hard to forget those lovely character traits and still interact with you as if you whined all day long, even when you’re 42 and have become a university professor specializing in rational communication.

forgiving your parents is a tricky thing. you need to figure out for yourself what you mean by forgiving. is it acting as if the thing (the incest, the yelling, the stony silence) never happened? is it behaving civilly, without engaging in behaviours of the past? is it stopping punishing your parents? is it creating your own little truth and reconciliation roundtable? something else completely? whatever it is, i recommend to put off forgiving them until you actually mean it. in the meantime, behave like an adult.

a buddhist carnival – june 2008, part 2

temple of forgiveness at burning manhere, friends, is the second part of this month’s buddhist carnival. the first part is here. enjoy!

andrew, on his blog rants of a gay lunatic (i have to confess that such a title immediately makes me perk up my ears) does not directly mention buddhism in his article why we must forgive president george w. bush but i’d say it is exactly in line with buddhist thinking:

we are trying to change the world and re-create a great country. i have said that george w. bush has failed as president, and i have said that i forgive him. i will take that a step further and say, “thank you for trying.” i am convinced he did a better job than i could have done. i appreciate his ambition and bravery in accepting – indeed, pursuing – such a responsible position. i don’t envy that responsibility and i don’t envy bush’s lack of popularity. but i do appreciate his attempt, and i wish him well in his retirement.i hope that we will all be able to forgive president bush. not everyone can be a great president – or a great anything for that matter. but in order to create and re-create and continue to create a great and a good nation, we must move past our anger and move on to love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

self-expression, self-less expression
wayne always has something interesting to say, although one of these days i have to get around to asking him why his zen blog has become so insanely busy visually lately (or i guess i’m doing this right now). one of wayne’s interests is how we live in our bodies. this article, self-less expression, is part of that series:

the goal is not to figure out we have a body, only to “give it up,” and become all spiritual. it’s about accepting ourselves exactly and precisely as we are. and then, finding a way, or multiple ways, to be the totality of who we are.

and here, from the tao of simplicity:

ever since i became interested in simplicity, minimalism, and the present moment, i have become more sensitive.

the most powerful number is zero! excess information causes paralysis and represses you!

i see that people (including me) have a tendency to take too many notes, hold onto too many emails and paperwork.


what else do we have? “glowing face man” wants to awaken the badass within (a worthy goal, wouldn’t you say?) and says “pause and look at the world around you: it will end in a moment.” the daily mind proposes that we meditate at work:

we spend most of our lives at work. some of us will have the same job we have now til the day we die and we will be there from nine til five every single day. if we do not use our work time carefully we will waste a significant portion of our existences doing something that we resent. the way to change that is with meditation.

and our friend anmol, who has also been seen here numerous times, shares his experience with raising enlightened children:

the one thing that children need, is your simple, unadulterated egoless presence and attention. it is the most important thing for them to have, and is the key to providing them the right atmosphere to grow freely and fully. here are some important highlights of what this translates into.

other submissions included

and that’s it for now. the next edition will come out on july 15, 2008. remember, if you have an article about buddhism you would like to see featured here, please use this submission form. also, if you’d like to host a buddhist carnival, talk to me!

(image of temple of forgiveness at burning man by almost jaded)

mental health week: empowerment in the workplace

hawaii: lava tubeyesterday i had a wonderful conversation with dr. matthew b. james about the hawaiian spiritual system of huna. since this is national mental health week and the focus of this year’s mental health week is workplace mental health, i asked him about huna in the workplace.

what is huna?
first of all, what is huna? it appears that huna derives from an ancient art and science of healing and spiritual development. dr. james believes this ancient system to be as old as 35,000 years. it is said to be a part of the original teachings of the peoples of a place which no longer exists. what remains physically of that land are the mountain peaks of the island chain called hawaii. huna is a modern label for certain spiritual and/or energy practices in the islands prior to western influences.

the term huna, i am learning, seems to be connected to something called ho’omana. ho’o means to make. mana means life force, equivalent, for example, to ki. “taken together,” says dr. james, “the word ho’omana means empowerment”.

pono – standing in the light
another important concept appears to be pono. literally, pono means “just beneath the surface”. it also means something like a wonderful form of righteousness: “standing in your own light, you are congruent with who you are”.

the way i am starting to understand this is that ho’omana can be seen as the practice of empowerment – an action towards empowerment – whereas pono is the result of that action.

pono and negative emotions
“when a negative thing occurs, we put it put it in a black bag'”. this black bag absorbs energy – the light of pono – and then prevents a person’s energy from creating what they want.

i was happy to hear that dr. james was quick to point out that there is no need to vilify, deny or suppress so-called negative energies. negative emotions are sometimes really good barometers. the trick is to acknowledge them, do whatever is necessary, and then let them go. problems only arise when we hold on to these “negative” emotions.

when a person holds on to negative emotions, they are pushed out of balance. in ancient hawaiian terms, nothing can be done well unless all three parts of a person, the unihipili, uhane, and aumakua (roughly translated, the subconscious, the conscious, and the superconscious) are in alignment.

and if you hold on to anger for an extended period, it’s bad for your body.

someone who is pono (stands in the light, is empowered) does not hold on to anger. how does that play out in the workplace?

huna and pono in the workplace
first, if you truly dislike your job, quit it. you can’t survive on sitting around thinking happy thoughts all the time. being spiritual doesn’t throw out intelligent thinking. if something is harmful and you keep allowing it to happen, you don’t stand in the light.

and if the workplace is not horrible but has some problems?

here are some ideas.

we don’t make positive decisions when we stand in the negative. try to forgive the person and forgive yourself. this is part of the practice of ho’oponopono, which means literally (or as literally as any translation of hawaiian concepts can get) “to make things right”. it is also often translated as forgiveness.

change your language
in ancient hawaii there was no word for sorry. “‘i’m sorry’ is blunt, and it ends the conversation. it encourages no interaction.” in hawaiian, one would say, “i humbly ask for your forgiveness. i forgive you, too.” this encourages interaction, and turns the exchange into a give and take: you receive, you give. energy or mana flows like an alternating current. we have to make a complete circuit. language follows energy; it acts like energy.

rethink how you communicate
once you change your language, your thinking changes. george naope, a hawaiian elder and master of chanting and hula, says, “think not that all wisdom is in your school”. often we think we know everything but all we know is how it works for us at this moment, not for someone else. george naope says, “i know you are masters, as well, and i respect that. this just happens to be the way i do it.” if you can’t recognize that, you set yourself up for confrontation. realize the other person may be there to teach you just as much as you want to teach them (or simply tell them what to do or think!).

dr. james has a masters in organizational management and does a lot of teaching in that area. the best way to manage is through team building. this closely mirrors ancient approaches to teaching. teachers/managers are not there to tell you what to do, they are there to increase the chance for success of the people they are managing through support, effective delegation and inspiration. most successful companies give their employees a lot of responsibilities.

good managers cultivate their employees’ pono – standing in their on light, accountable, empowered, productive. by empowering others they empower themselves and the organization. huna teaches that if you give someone responsibility, you have to give it to them 100%. you have to let them go through their learning curve.

if something comes up, you just express it. and then together you come to a solution. however, first you must let the other person fully express what went wrong and not say anything until they have completely expressed themselves.

(go here for a glossary or some hawaiian terms and concepts)

(the interesting image of the lava tube is by timothy)

a buddhist carnival – february 2008 (part 2)

good morning! here is part 2 of the february 2008 edition of a buddhist carnival.

sunrise in japan - a picture of enlightenment?enlightenment

two people speak on this topic. matthew spears presents an interesting contemplation on the nature of enlightenment. among others, he compares three concepts of enlightenment. he argues that enlightenment is a perception and “because it is a perception, from this state there is nothing that happens to you (an external force operating upon you) but rather simply experiences of you meeting your self.”

let’s follow matthew’s writing with what anmol in 4 word sacred mantra to trigger enlightenment has to say. it’s a different perspective. or not? perhaps true, 100% heart-felt sincerity is only possible with an enlightened heart?

these 4 words are the greatest mantra in the universe. if you can chant this mantra sincerely, enlightenment is yours. in fact if you can chant this mantra sincerely, you have completed your evolution and nature will no longer include you in the cycles of life and death. here is a story to demonstrate the incredible power of this mantra.

come into the present

thomas sweeney asks us to come into the present…, quoting words by buddhist jack kornfeld:

most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations ambitions for the future, in regrets, guilt or shame about the past. to come into the present is to stop the war.

open hearts

nicole presents ghetto houseguest posted at makeitbetter’s weblog. this story doesn’t reference buddhism at all but it talks movingly about something that i see at the core of my (limited, imperfect) buddhist practice: opening our hearts to those that are very, very different from us.

wanting, needing

matt talks about wants vs needs

many years ago i was interested in world religions and spent a considerable amount of time studying various religions. for part of these studies i went to a buddhist temple and had the good fortune to speak with one of the monks there. in studying buddhism the one part i always had trouble grasping was separating a want from a need. for things like fancy dinners out and exotic trips it was easy to place those firmly in the category of want. but it became complicated with some issues. do i need a house? i certainly want one.. but is it a true need? if i wouldn’t be happy without something wouldn’t that make that a need?


albert foong has an interesting series on compassion. this article is entitled the life that has gone on before: the perils of compassion, part 2

this will sound even more extreme. forget teaching, or advising. just the act of helping others could be a slap in the face. perhaps we shouldn’t even consider any kind of charity or volunteer work or kindness – not until we find this inner peace. i am not saying, don’t do charity work, or never volunteer at the local shelter, for many of the kindest men and women can be found there. all i’m saying is – it may be wiser to wait until you have found your own inner peacefulness.

“why does he say this?” you might think. “even external charity? even helping others out?”

additional articles you might find interesting are akemi’s forgive, not forget, tupelo’s how to accelerate manifestation and sam zoranovich’s discernment vs judgment.

ok, folks, that’s it for february. please submit your buddhist post for the next edition on march 15 using this submission form. you can submit your own article or some you’ve come across and found worthy.

(image by jeff epp)

a gallery of compassion

you may remember that a little while ago, i participated in the compassion project put together by the three monks. we were all asked about presenting our unique thoughts, definitions and views of compassion. i wrote about compassion and social media.

this group writing project has come to an end. i’d like to present to you some of the ideas that came up, and give you the list of all the people who participated.

so first, here are some samples:

at the new horizons project, a challenge to reach further with our compassion

how many people notice when others are struggling and suffering at home or at work and consciously do something about it? if you answered yes to that question then think how often you extend that same compassion to others outside of your normal relationships.

paula talks about “i am that“, an important buddhist approach.

this particular brand of i am that awareness started while i was listening to the radio (something i rarely do) while driving my daughter to preschool one day. a popular song written by meredith brooks in the nineties called, “bitch”, came on.

i’m a bitch, i’m a tease
i’m a goddess on my knees
when you hurt, when you suffer
i’m your angel undercover
i’ve been numbed, i’m revived
can’t say i’m not alive
you know i wouldn’t want it any other way

dreambuilders gives us this to think about:

we all conceal love behind the shadow we create for ourselves. we aren’t meant to turn our back on it. we need to learn to work through it.

at good life zen, the connection between compassion and forgiveness is investigated. are some things too hard to forgive?

the four young men who killed amy were pardoned and released from prison in 1998 after serving four years. soon after that, two of them, easy nofomela and ntebecko penny, made contact with amy’s parents. you can imagine how hard it was for linda and peter to meet face to face with the killers of their daughter. but when they saw how bleak their prospects were, they decided to offer help and support to easy and ntebecko. they started training as builders in one of the biehls’ programmes and have since been involved with a construction company that the biehls started.

evan remembers the lessons wecan learn from early christians, the desert fathers:

compassion embraces truth – it doesn’t allow us the luxury of sentimentality and illusion. we do not have the luxury of pretending that our society is better or worse than it is. compassion demands that we deal with the practical details of suffering and the nitty gritty of what creates suffering.

i really enjoyed samir’s post, who looks at the connection between art and compassion.

compassion is a deep awareness of, and a sympathy with, someone else’s suffering. that is the traditional definition, but really compassion is much broader than that. compassion is an innate sense of empathy with things and people outside of ourselves ” not just their suffering but their feelings, their thinking, and their situation. to be compassionate is to see, feel, and sense beyond yourself. it is this broader sense of compassion that truly makes us human. what would such a thing have to do with the ballet of swan lake and musical fountains? i thought you’d never ask.

read on! samir will tell you what it is …

finally, of course i had to go to this blog – you know how i feel about fractals! “compassion,” says this artist, “begins with myself.”

compassion, for me, is about one simple thing: allowing, instead of trying. it is accepting situations as they are, and just letting things flow naturally. yes, in such a state a deep empathy for all living beings arises within, but that is just a byproduct of allowing oneself to see the world from a natural and accepting viewpoint. compassion is also about embracing creativity, expressing the self naturally without any restraints.

so, friends, i this was a little glimpse into this beautiful gallery of compassion. now please, come on in, take your time, and savour all of these delicious posts:

ben lumley at the new horizons project.

kris vockler at beyond zen.

corinne edwards at personal growth with corinne edwards.

paula kawal at journey inward coaching.

liara covert at dream builders.

david bohl at slow down fast.

deb estep at deb_inside.

swami nirmalananda giri and reddyk at the atma jyoti blog.

mary jaksch at goodlife zen.

takuin minamoto at daily action and natural expression.

robin at reflections on compassion, posted at yogini myspace blog.

karen zara at abaminds.

jenny mannion at heal pain naturally.

evan hadkins at wellbeingandhealth.net.

shawn williamson at do you live or simply exist.

patricia singleton at spiritual journey of a lightworker.

alex blackwell at the next 45 years.

akemi gaines at gratitude magic.

vitor bosshard at the fractal forest.

cg walters at into the mist.

john torcello has also contributed an entry by email, i’ve included it in the comments below.

brightdays at brighter days for you and me!

karen at loving awareness.

krista at lucid amphibology.

karen lynch at live the power.

andrea hess at empowered soul.

waters at waters: the last thing i wanted to give.

eric grey at deepest health.

stephen hopson at adversity university.

em dy at pulse: intention to treat.

iain hamp at follow your passions.

rahul at raw speak.

stephen miracle at altnoise.net.

pearl at interesting observations.

mark at my tropical escape.

matthew at loving awareness.

daylle schwartz at lessons from a recovering doormat.

charities link at charities link.

mihaela lica at pamil visions ewritings.

david at virginia breeze.

jerry summers at nothing like now.

wishbone at wishbone.

arvind devalia at make things happen.

samir bharadwaj at samir bharadwaj dot com.