Reaching Sunward

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

My Easter Meditation

Père Henri: Do I want to speak of the miracle of our Lord’s divine transformation? Not really, no. I don’t want to talk about his divinity. I’d rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life, here on Earth. His *kindness,* his *tolerance.* Listen, here’s what I think. I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do; by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude.  I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we *embrace,* what we *create* … and who we *include.* ~ Chocolat

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The Golden Rule – Versions from many religions & philosophies

Recently I’ve encountered several articles, websites and conversations discussing the universality of The Golden Rule, also referred to as the “ethics of reciprocity.”  Whenever I get that kind of synchronicity I feel that it’s a prompt to pay attention and share the wisdom…. so here you go.   Talk amongst yourselves.

Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.” The Dalai Lama

Versions of the Golden Rule from different Wisdom Traditions:

Buddhism – Hurt not others with that which pains yourself.   Udanavarga 5.18.

Christianity – Always treat others as you would like them to treat you.  Matthew 7:12.

Confucianism – Do not unto others what you would not they should do unto you.  Analects 15.23.

Hinduism – This is the sum of duty: Do nothing to others which if done to you, would cause you pain.  Mahabharata 5.15.17

Islam – No one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.  Traditions.

Jainism – In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self, and therefore should refrain from inflicting upon others such injury as would appear undesirable to us if inflicted upon ourselves.  Yogashastra 2.20.

Judaism – What is hurtful to yourself do not to your fellow man.  That is the whole of the Torah and the remainder is but commentary.  Go learn it.  Talmud.

Sikhism – As you deem yourself so deem others.  Then you will become a partner in partner to Heaven.  Kabir.

Taoism – Regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.  T’ai shang kan ying p’ien.


“OK – Yes”


There’s an Italian man who says “OK – Yes” to almost every situation in Under the Tuscan Sun. When the wall he is working on starts to rumble and crumble and begins to fall down, he runs outside with everyone and says, “OK – Yes.” Now, those may not be the first couple of words you hear yourself saying when things are stressful, or crumbling around you. But, if you can manage to say “OK – Yes” to any situation, it enables you to recover and move on more quickly than if you resist, complain, curse, or punish yourself or others. Eckhart Tolle has a metaphor for this too. He says, if you find your self stuck in the mud, you can curse it and complain about it, try to figure out why the mud is there in the first place, and flail around, but you will still be in stuck in the mud – and you’ll just be a bit dirtier. Instead of resisting the mud, say “OK – Yes, I see that I am stuck in the mud, I don’t like it, and now I’m going to do what it takes to get out.” Coming from a place of acceptance allows you to move forward more constructively, and freer of the psychological pain that comes with being opposed to the present moment. Acceptance allows you to deal with it and move on, while resistance keeps you stuck.

“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Yesterday a friend described how her rowing team works together. She’ll be competing in a world-wide competition, and her coach has taught them that “rowing like a jackass” will not win the race. In rowing, the forward motion of the boat not only depends upon the exertion of the rowers, but also on the alignment of the rowers with the forward movement of the boat. If you’re “rowing like a jackass,” you are not only wasting energy, you are creating negative momentum by pushing your body toward your feet while the boat is moving in the opposite direction. Teams who win are not the ones rowing hardest, but the ones in which each team mate is rowing in alignment with the boat and with her team mates. This seems like a great analogy for living a peaceful life – stop rowing like a jackass, for one. Also, it helps to have good team mates. And finding your sense of alignment, and staying with it, will move you forward.


Beannacht (“Blessing”) by John O’Donohue

A poem for healing, grace, generosity and strength of spirit for a friend in need….

Beannacht (“Blessing”) by John O’Donohue

On the day when
the weight deadens
on your shoulders
and you stumble,
may the clay dance
to balance you.

And when your eyes
freeze behind
the grey window
and the ghost of loss
gets in to you,
may a flock of colours,
indigo, red, green,
and azure blue
come to awaken in you
a meadow of delight.

When the canvas frays
in the currach of thought
and a stain of ocean
blackens beneath you,
may there come across the waters
a path of yellow moonlight
to bring you safely home.

May the nourishment of the earth be yours,
may the clarity of light be yours,
may the fluency of the ocean be yours,
may the protection of the ancestors be yours.
And so may a slow
wind work these words
of love around you,
an invisible cloak
to mind your life.

John O’Donohue also wrote Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

A Book of Celtic Wisdom  

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Meditation practice from The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh

Breathing in, I feel myself as a mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid

Breathing in, I see myself as still water

Breathing out, I feel myself reflecting clearly

Breathing in, I feel space inside me and around me

Breathing out, I feel free


To live in forgetfulness means to get lost in the past and in the future, to be possessed by anger, hatred, fear, and therefore you are not ready to enter the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is available to you in every moment.

To get rid of forgetfulness, you practice breathing in and out and the result is mindfulness. And with mindfulness you get in touch with everything that is wonderful, that is refreshing, that is healing in the present moment.

A brief paraphrased summary of each practice is written below:

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower

Breathing out, I feel fresh

Humans are born as flowers. We are fresh and beautiful. You can offer someone a flower with your eyes, when you smile at them with your eyes. Your smile is another flower you can offer to anyone at anytime. When you look at someone and you smile with your eyes you offer them two flowers. When you smile with your lips you offer another flower. With my hands I can form a flower – a lotus flower, and when I bow to someone, I make a flower with my hands and I say, “a flower for you, the Buddha to be.” So my hands are flowers, capable of making someone happy. We are born as flowers but we must take care of our flowers or we will wilt. When you breathe in deeply you make every cell in your body smile like a flower, and for your sake and for the happiness of others you should be fresh. If you are grouchy and irritated, people around you cannot be happy. So practice refreshing yourself. The Buddha sits on a lotus flower – it means anywhere he sits, he sits with peace, happiness and freshness. If we have too many worries, we cannot sit on a flower – we sit on burning coals. But if we practice taking care of our flower, we can have peace with us anywhere.

Breathing in, I feel myself as a mountain

Breathing out, I feel solid

From time to time a very strong emotion overwhelms us – it can be anger or despair or fear. When this happens we feel very vulnerable, breakable. But we are more than our emotions. We are more solid than we may think. So practice being solid like a mountain. When we look at a tree during a storm, we see the top of the tree swaying – it is not solid. You see the leaves and branches and you have the impression that the tree is vulnerable and fragile. But if you see that the tree is firmly rooted in the ground, the impression that the tree is vulnerable will vanish. You see that the tree is more solid than it looks at the top. We are like these trees. Emotions pass over us at the top but we have the trunk down here…. a little below your navel. Bring your attention down to this level, and breathe in and out. Then your emotion will not be able to destroy you anymore. We should practice this every day so that when emotions overwhelm us we know how to handle it.

Breathing in, I see myself as still waters

Breathing out, I feel myself reflecting clearly

When we are not calm we distort things. We cannot receive the message of other people; we cannot receive the truth from others. Suppose the moon wants to reflect herself in the water of your pond, but the water of your pond is not calm. How can the full moon reflect herself in you? It’s not the fault of the moon, it’s the fault of the water. If the pond of the mind is still, the moon will reflect herself in it. If you are still then your perceptions will be correct. We will understand what people are trying to tell us. The moon, the mountains, the rivers, the trees, everything is trying to tell us the truth. But because the water of our mind is not still, we cannot receive the truth from the cosmos. We must calm ourselves for true understanding to be possible.

Breathing in, I feel space inside me and around me

Breathing out, I feel free

If you don’t have space, how can you be happy? We all need space around us in and inside us. We have to move and have liberty, and we need space to do that. The refreshing moon of the Buddha travels in the sky of the utmost emptiness. The Buddha has a lot of space inside and outside. Those who have more space are happier. Give your loved ones some space. When you arrange flowers, each flower needs some space around for the flower to radiate its beauty and its freshness. Human beings are like flowers; they are flowers, and each one needs space around. Offer freedom and emptiness to yourself and others. Don’t be so busy that you have no space.

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The River by Thich Nhat Hanh from “Peace Is Every Step”

The River by Thich Nhat Hanh from Peace Is Every Step


Once upon a time there was a beautiful river finding her way among the hills, forests, and meadows. She began by being a joyful stream of water, a spring always dancing and singing as she ran down from the top of the mountain. She was very young at the time, and as she came to the lowland she slowed down. She was thinking about going to the ocean. As she grew up, she learned to look beautiful, winding gracefully among the hills and meadows.


One day she noticed the clouds within herself; clouds of all sorts of colors and forms. She did nothing during these days but chase after clouds. She wanted to possess a cloud, to have one for herself. But clouds float and travel in the sky, and they are always changing their form. Sometimes they look like an overcoat, sometimes like a horse. Because of the nature of impermanence within the clouds, the river suffered very much. Her pleasure, her joy had become just chasing after clouds, one after another, but despair, anger, and hatred became her life.


Then one day a strong wind came and blew away all the clouds in the sky. The sky became completely empty. Our river thought that life was not worth living, for there were no longer any clouds to chase after. She wanted to die: “If there are no clouds, why should I be alive?” But how can a river take her own life?


That night the river had the opportunity to go back to herself for the first time. She had been running for so long after something outside of herself that she had never seen herself. That night was the first opportunity for her to hear her own crying, the sounds of water crashing against the banks of the river. Because she was able to listen to her own voice, she discovered something quite important.


She realized that what she had been looking for was already in herself. She found out that clouds are nothing but water. Clouds are born from water and will return to water. And she found out that she herself is also water.


The next morning when the sun was in the sky, she discovered something beautiful. She saw the blue sky for the first time. She had never noticed it before. She had only been interested in clouds, and she had missed seeing the sky, which is the home of all the clouds. Clouds are impermanent, but the sky is stable. She realized that the immense sky had been within her heart since the very beginning. This great insight brought her peace and happiness. As she saw the vast wonderful blue sky, she knew that her peace and stability would never be lost again.


That afternoon the clouds returned, but this time she did not want to possess any of them. She could see the beauty of each cloud, and she was able to welcome all of them. When a cloud came by, she would greet him or her with loving kindness. When that cloud wanted to go away, she would wave to him or her happily and with loving kindness. She realized that all clouds are her. She didn’t have to choose between the clouds and herself. Peace and harmony existed between her and the clouds.


That evening something wonderful happened. When she opened her heart completely to the evening sky she received the image of the full moon–beautiful, round, like a jewel within herself. She had never imagined that she could receive such a beautiful image.


There is a very beautiful poem in Chinese: “The fresh and beautiful moon is traveling in the utmost empty sky. When the mind-rivers of living beings are free, that image of the beautiful moon will reflect in each of us.”


This was the mind of the river at that moment. She received the image of that beautiful moon within her heart, and water, clouds, and moon took each other’s hands and practiced walking meditation slowly, slowly to the ocean.


There is nothing to chase after. We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment.


-picture from




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If there is to be peace…

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

chinese philospher – lao-tse – 6th century bce



Tonglen for Peace

Tonglen is Tibetan for ‘taking and giving’, and it refers to a meditation practice practiced in Tibetan Buddhism.

In the practice, one visualizes taking onto oneself the suffering of others, and giving to others, one’s own happiness and success. As such it is a training in altruism in its most extreme form.


Wage peace with your breath.

Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and flocks of red wing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.

Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.

Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.

Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.

Make soup.

Play music, memorize the words for thank you in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.

Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the outbreath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.

Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:

Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

wage peace – judyth hill – september 12, 2001

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