Gifts we are Given

A Gift is something that is given to you without payment or a talent you were born with. Either way it is something that has come to you with seemingly no effort on your part. Have you ever stopped to identify the gifts that you have as an individual? Do you ever wonder what you are going to do with them? 

The Big Gifts  

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The Biggest gifts that comes to mind are literally huge.  Our amazing planet with all its inhabitants revolving around the sun in a perfectly orderly solar system, within a galaxy of wonders, in an even Greater Universe. We are all a apart of this amazing Cosmic Play. An incredible divine expression of intelligence, beauty, science, art and mystery. This alone is a reason to wake in the morning. 

“Our talents are the gift that God gives to us… What we make of our talents is our gift back to God” – Leo Buscaglia

On the personal tip – I was thinking about my parents and my spiritual teacher when this title came to mind. My parents gave me the gift of Life. My teacher gave me the direction to use my gifts as means of contributing to the world around me. The greatest emotion associated with these realizations is gratitude. 

Allow me to enumerate some of these personal gifts. I hope this starts to stir your memory bank so that you too can feel the glow of such recollections. My mother passed on her amazing ability to cook, be a generous and gracious hostess. There is something about caring for others that brings a sense of accomplishment. In addition to her love of animals and children, she was a great beauty, proficient swimmer, sketcher and dancer. My father passed on a fierce tenacity and drive. He gave me the gifts of singing, humor, entrepreneurship, keen intellect and directness. He was a pioneer in business, dashing, clever, self-starter and never gives up. He can learn almost everything he decides to pick up. Were they perfect parents – No. Did they do their best – Yes. I love them for everything they are and their gifts were given freely. 

My teacher – PRT gave me the guidance on how to use my gifts, self-confidence, complete unconditional love, clear insight into who I was and what I was capable of. His counsel sits in my mind like pearls of wisdom that rest in the realms of the conscious and unconscious. Even more importantly he gave me my meditation practice. I rely on it to keep my mind to clear and steady. The first time I met him I felt like my entire soul was on fire and my heart blew wide open. He saw me as a realized and accomplished person. The gift of someone else seeing you for who you are and what you can become is priceless. He has managed to combine his gifts as an adept Yogi, scholar, father, teacher, community leader and contribute to philanthropic and academic achievements.  He has taught me how to bring my talents to the world and enjoy it all at the same time. This gift is still being unwrapped. 

Life is Rich.

Recognize Your Gifts

Take the time to look back on your life and see the gifts that you have been given, by your parents, family, teachers, friends and strangers. Recognizing them will bring a smile to your face and a glow in your heart. Think about other folks that had less than you and still manage to gleam hope and gratitude for what they did have – more importantly they overcame so-called set backs and used the talents they were born with to excel in life in spite of the obstacles. 

There are plenty of things in our lives that we could look at and think that we are being burdened by our mishaps, but when we turn the lens in a different direction you can get a glimpse of life and notice that even the mishaps were gifts. They were an opportunity to learn something about ourselves and other’s.  We may find ourselves crossing paths with people who have something to teach us or bring a ray of sunshine in the form of hope and inspiration. Almost every encounter can be an opportunity to receive a gift. Even the difficult folks in our lives give us the opportunity to practice compassion and discernment. 

A Gift we take for Granted

Stop – look at your hands, feet, limbs, eyes and ears. Now place your hand over your heart and feel the breath moving in and out  of your lungs as your heart beats.  Next – close your eyes with your hand in place and listen to your mind start to swirl with thoughts now use your steady breathing as a focal point. Do you have any idea how many things happened in this short time. You used your eyes to look at yourself, you used your hand to feel your incredible heart that keeps beating without you having to think about it. Then you utilized your mind to steady your breath and focus your mind upon your breath. Our body is a miracle. It is our vehicle and means of experiencing the greatest pleasures in life. Think about it!!!! I get dazzled by how fast I can type this. The nerves are firing back and forth from the brain to the fingers in a matter of seconds Crazy, right…

One of the greatest tools we have inside of these miraculous bodies is our mind. Imagine if we actually took the time to make friends with our minds instead of trying to kill it. It sounds drastic I know, but given the amount of drugs people are on, inordinate amount of time in front of TV & computer screens, texting, excessive alcohol and crappy food consumption. It’s a wonder our brains and minds work at all. If you’re not thinking clearly how does that affect one’s level of happiness or decision-making? Does our level of happiness weigh into how well our lives look and feel? I think you would all answer yes. Then why wouldn’t we invest in this gift we already have? 

The Little Gifts 

Friendship is one of the most amazing gifts I have had the good fortune of cultivating. It brings me an immense amount of joy to share life, stories, laughs, hugs and deep thoughts. We exchange gift of time, love, books, clothes, perfume, music, money, food and knick knacks. 

Today I was given a gift by a dear friend during a phone conversation.  He is an older gentleman recently retired from a life of serving as a professor in a university. I have always admired him and our conversations are always full of life and insights, in addition to a great deal of laughter. We met at the Himalayan Institute almost 2 decades ago. Right before we hung up he asked me if I remembered giving him a blanket. I said honestly no, I asked him to describe the blanket. He said he was nondescript, but that it played a special role in his life. He has been using this blanket to wrap around his shoulders while he meditates every morning. It lies by his meditation cushion awaiting his arrival every morning. He said he brought it up because he wanted me to know that I was an important person to him and that every time he puts this simple blanket around his shoulders it was a reminder of our friendship. 

Simple gifts that we share between strangers or dear ones leave a lasting impression sometimes without us being aware of it. It is the small things in life that can make a huge difference when we add them up over the course of a lifetime. 

Enjoy Your Gifts and Share Them with The World around you. 

Peace,

VL

Ma

MA!

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. 

William Makepeace Thackery

In addition to this quote – Mother is the name of the Goddess that nourishes and animates the Universe.

Your Mother 

Think of your Mother. The emotions that come forward. Are we the kind of children she would be proud of now… Do we have anything we need to forgive or be forgiven… Can we see the sacrifices that were made throughout our lives made by our Mother’s in order for us to have a better life. Do you recall the little things that you learned like kitchen dancing lesson that included the cha-cha, or how to iron, take care of plants, shovel snow, food shopping, cooking…

Remember the things that would come out of her mouth in response to your smart ass remarks in the middle of a disagreement.

You – So!!!!  Mom – Sew Buttons – and you would walk away feeling like an idiot.

Or how about the these lines-

Mom – I said stop doing that, you’re going to get hurt

You – No I won’t – la la la la

Mom – When you get hurt don’t come crying to me

Of course we wound up getting hurt and came crying to Mom – she’d clean the wound and bandage us Again, shaking her head and sending us off to our next adventure.

I never got mothers who would actually hit their kids after they had already gotten hurt. Such an abusive thing to do, as if hitting the child would stop them from getting hurt again. Anyhooch….

The Mother’s Around You

Now think of all the Mother’s you know, the children they have, married, single or divorced. Do you see the things they do for their children, the challenges of learning how to juggle work, life and maybe 5 or 6 children at a time. These were the Mom’s that would have everyone else’s children at their home. Food, toys, space to be crazy and kind words. These mom’s seemed to have it together or maybe they had gone crazy from all the children they had. They just seemed very at home with being everyone’s mom and always serving with a smile. Got a kick out their own children and everyone else’s. 

Your Other Mother

Now to the Mother figures in your life that never have had children of their own, but nourish those all around them.  These women are mentors, role models they fill the gaps in our development especially if our relationship with our mother was challenging. These women are beacons and sometimes a bit stronger for the sacrifice of not having their own children. They know that having children is a huge responsibility and realized if they could not provide a stable and loving environment for their own, they would rather not do it at all. They also know that they can be of far more service, because they have the freedom to do so. I have known such women throughout my life and I am very grateful. 

Throughout history we have been given great examples of this type of devotion and care. 

Here are two of my favorites. 

Mother Theresa
Mother Theresa
Sri Sarada Devi Ma
Sri Sarada Devi Ma

 

The Mother’s Role

The role of a mother is to protect, serve, nourish, teach, learn, provide stability, guidance and room for growth. It’s an ever-expanding role, mother’s are some of the fiercest warriors that I have ever known. She is a selfless person who also knows how to preserve herself and demonstrate the values and principles that are required for a stable, healthy and thriving community.  She is also a bit brazen, outspoken, full of mirth  and laughter. Her presence is felt when she walks into a room.

Ma recognizes the divinity in all things and bestows love & affection to her beautiful children. She can also be a stern disciplinarian when need be, we all need a little booty spanking or ear tugging from time to time.   She provides us with clear and concise guidance in ways to live a happy and fulfilling life. She lets us know how well we are doing when need be and leaves us to our devices otherwise. She has faith in us and our abilities.

Their is nothing like the lap of the Mother. Her animating force of Nature enlivens everything, from art to music, dance, writing, singing and the care of flora and fauna. Taking the time every day to give thanks for such nourishment and guidance is vital to a happy life. These are the ideals that come to mind when I think of Ma!.

Gratitude and Grace for another Day Devoted to Mother’s All Around Us.

Jai,

VL

Heroes – They still exist

Who’s your Hero?

First thing I think of is Andy Kaufman lip syncing the theme song for the Mighty Mouse cartoon. Dating myself here; nonetheless It still makes me smile and laugh out loud.

When we were young the first people that we looked up to were our parents if we were fortunate enough to have them around and if they had their stuff together. The veil of childhood was lifted a bit too early for me and yet I remained hopeful that heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman in some shape or form did exist. The myths of Gods and Goddesses are what eventually became are comic book heroes of today.  By the time I was in my 20’s I had met a few heroes in the shape of mentors and they were older folks – not ancient, but they definitely had some experience under their belts. These Men and women came into my life to help me along. I knew each time I met them that they had something to teach me.

What is a hero? I don’t think of it as someone who has bravado, but of someone who has courage. Courage – all heart and common sense to match. They are people that overcome obstacles or rather move around them as if they weren’t there.  They come out of the trenches of life with a brilliant twinkle in their eyes. You know they hold secrets that are gems just waiting to be shared.  There are more and more of them coming out of the wood work and it gladdens my heart. They are usually people that stay away from the ‘victim’ status. They take accountability and responsibility for where they are in life and go about changing it. Sometimes they are people that don’t have a particularly high ranking in society nor are they famous.  They’re the kind of folks that help moms carry the baby carriages up the stairs from the train platform to street level or stop traffic so that a cat can cross the street.They are just living seemingly ordinary lives.

I leave you with this quote by Joseph Campbell. I could listen to him speak on the subject for hours.

“The agony of breaking through personal limitations is the agony of spiritual growth. Art, literature, myth and cult, philosophy, and ascetic disciplines are instruments to help the individual past his limiting horizons into spheres of ever-expanding realization. As he crosses threshold after threshold, conquering dragon after dragon, the stature of the divinity that he summons to his highest wish increases, until it subsumes the cosmos. Finally, the mind breaks the bounding sphere of the cosmos to a realization transcending all experiences of form – all symbolizations, all divinities: a realization of the ineluctable void.”
Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces

Keep an eye out for them and when you meet them – Thank them.

Ciao for Now

VL