42,500 Acts of Kindness Needed

“. . . do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections.”*

Sense the breeze of love

soothing every beating heart 

Connected as one

Haiku-Heights prompt - BREEZE

prompt – BREEZE

My father, the oldest of 5 children, was born in England where his father and pregnant mother fled to from Poland.  The story of why and how has died with all my relatives.

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha'i faith

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha’i faith

The Holocaust Just Got More Shocking

“THIRTEEN years ago, researchers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum began the grim task of documenting all the ghettos, slave labor sites, concentration camps and killing factories that the Nazis set up throughout Europe.””What they have found so far has shocked even scholars steeped in the history of the Holocaust.””The researchers have cataloged some 42,500 Nazi ghettos and camps throughout Europe, spanning German-controlled areas from France to Russia and Germany itself, during Hitler’s reign of brutality from 1933 to 1945.”

“. . . Dr. Megargee said he expected to find perhaps 7,000 Nazi camps and ghettos, based on postwar estimates. But the numbers kept climbing — first to 11,500, then 20,000, then 30,000, and now 42,500.

“The numbers astound: 30,000 slave labor camps; 1,150 Jewish ghettos; 980 concentration camps; 1,000 prisoner-of-war camps; 500 brothels filled with sex slaves; and thousands of other camps used for euthanizing the elderly and infirm, performing forced abortions, “Germanizing” prisoners or transporting victims to killing centers.”

“As Germany invaded and began occupying European neighbors, the use of camps and ghettos was expanded to confine and sometimes kill not only Jews but also homosexuals, Gypsies, Poles, Russians and many other ethnic groups in Eastern Europe. The camps and ghettos varied enormously in their mission, organization and size, depending on the Nazis’ needs, the researchers have found.”

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha'i faith

No room in my heart for prejudice, Baha’i faith

42,500 acts of kindness is a start – a tiny, symbolic start,

so that hatred and bigotry may end.

*“Love the creatures for the sake of God and not for themselves. You will never become angry or impatient if you love them for the sake of God. Humanity is not perfect. There are imperfections in every human being, and you will always become unhappy if you look toward the people themselves. But if you look toward God, you will love them and be kind to them, for the world of God is the world of perfection and complete mercy.”
“Therefore, do not look at the shortcomings of anybody; see with the sight of forgiveness. The imperfect eye beholds imperfections. The eye that covers faults looks toward the Creator of souls. He created them, trains and provides for them, endows them with capacity and life, sight and hearing; therefore, they are the signs of His grandeur. You must love and be kind to everybody, care for the poor, protect the weak, heal the sick, teach and educate the ignorant.” 
― Abdu’l-Bahá
To read the entire article click on the title or here: www.nytimes.com
 

Spirituality According to Max, Chapter 6 – Favorite Flavors, Patience & Self Control

“God, verily, loveth those women and men who
show forth patience.”

Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 43

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23

P1010875

If you missed previous chapters here are the links (they do need to be read in order to understand the thread):

Prologue & Epilogue

Chapter 1 – Instincts Rule

Chapter 2 – Love at First Lick

Chapter 3 – Chewsing Heaven

Chapter 4 – Unleashed

Chapter 5 – Our Little Angel

My husband is examining the gouged edges of the breakfast table wicker chairs. “There are no scraps of wicker anywhere.  Can you believe he swallowed it!.  Maybe we should take him to the vet?”
“Max!  That’s what I’ve decided. Max!”  Figured I’d better find an acceptable name quickly before Homer found himself back at the animal shelter.  “Max? Are you sure you want to call him Max?” My husband is now thrown off guard by my sudden decision and appropriately distracted from the gouged wicker chairs.  Max goes over to give him a lick.

I am beginning to worry about this dog’s seemingly insatiable appetite for all things previously thought to be inedible.  Wanting to avert further “incidents” and to appease my husband before Max is dog-meat,  I buy a spray , an EXPENSIVE spray “guaranteed to stop animals from chewing . Bitter apple.  Can’t be more freshly organic than that.  Do not want to harm my sweet little angel, just protect him from indigestion.

 Since he had already developed a taste for wicker in the dog shelter I spray the wicker chairs first. Max eagerly runs over to see what I’m doing, licks the bitter apple cleanly off the wicker legs, looks up at me angelically with big brown eyes, gives me a lick or two, trots back to the couch to soften up the coverlet by sucking on the tattered edge.

I re-read the fine print on the Bitter Apple.  It says chewing, no mention of eating.  No listing of wicker chairs, throws and comforters (oh yes, forgot to mention pillow cases).  Not wanting to spend more money  I try what’s on hand – cayenne pepper . . . wasabi powder  . . . tabasco  . . .  Each flavor being more tasty than the next.  We put the chairs up on the table. Throw the throw, comforter and pillow cases to the dogs, so to speak.  And wait for signs of acid indigestion.

This is a dog who now has a proper name that reflects his personality – distinct but cute, short but sweet, unique and memorable, independent but loving and a gourmand not a gourmet.

So far, so good.  He hasn’t peed in the house once.

Pepper

Dear all my best friends,

Exhausted from writing all those Maxaiku responses

I found all your comments quite inspiring and I responded to everyone in Maxaiku.   Writing all those Maxaiku left me a bit tired so I made my human write today’s prompt “pepper”.  

Speaking of pepper – when I first adopted my Humans I started training them immediately.  

They had this inexplicable attachment to things like bed comforters, sofas and shoes.  As you know, THINGS are not what is important in life.  

So their first training lesson was to break them of the bad habit of coveting.  

I chewed up their “things”.  My Humans, in a vain attempt to dissuade me, sprayed cayenne pepper on everything.  It was delicious.

* * *

Love or hate on tongue

taste buds of our perception

chili pepper us

* * *

Love, the spice of life

God peppers while we simmer

very tasty treat

Elusive Illusions

“…Your treasure–your perfection–is within you already. But to claim it, you must leave the busy commotion of the mind and abandon the desires of the ego and enter into the silence of the heart…” Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”

This is all probably too convoluted for a post but here goes a try.

Haiku-Heights posted the Saturday prompt  -” illusion”.  I spontaneously  and quickly wrote the Haiku below and then have labored how to express what prompted me BEHIND the “illusion” prompt.

I always smile inwardly when I hear “We need to live in the moment”.  Think about it!  We can ONLY LIVE IN THE MOMENT.    It’s just our conscious mind busy IN THE MOMENT worrying or thinking about the past or the future  – our ego defining what we want, what we need.  Our ego deciding what is fair and thereby defining who we are. 

Translation: Our perception of time and who we are, everything we think about ourselves is an illusion…it is our ego at work.

We are creatures of two worlds.  We make our way through this physical plane while having an innate sense of an invisible realm – something outside our conscious ego. I think that the sense there’s something “more” comes as a sense of longing. A yearning which we try to fill with relationships, possessions, things of the world. But no matter what STUFF we try to fill it with, the void is still there.

Translation: Reality is in the background patiently waiting for us to turn our focus inward, beyond our thoughts. When we choose to focus on this moment, and Be CONSCIOUSLY Present (like when we meditate) we can get a glimpse … of our real self, our spirit and let go of our ego. (Easier said than done)

As I grow older the void grows smaller the more I consciously  try to live less from ego and a more spiritual life.  Hopefully, that too isn’t an illusion.

Believe it or not                                                                                                                                                                        

Everything’s an illusion

Except God in all

 

It’s no illusion
All are connected
Accept God or not

…If you can recognize illusion as illusion, it dissolves. The recognition of illusion is also it’s ending. Its survival depends on your mistaking it for reality. In the seeing of who you are not, the reality of who you are emerges by itself…” -Eckhart Tolle,( A New Earth)

“When you wish to reflect upon or consider a matter you consult something within you….Surely there is a distinct power, a distinct ego. Were it not distinct from your ego you would not be consulting it. It is greater than the faculty of thought. It is your spirit which teaches you, which inspires and decides upon matters. ” (Abdu’l Baha’i: Baha’i Scriptures, p. 365)

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

Artwork by M.C. Escher

 

 


Sing a Song of Inspiration

Everyone knows that EXpirations – like sneezes – spread germs.  

Here’s an example of how INspirations are contagious.

Max and I just got back from our morning prayer walk.  I was singing to God while Max, well, Max was sniffing to the max.

A huge raven swooped by, landing just ahead on a light post.  It was sleek, shiny black and started calling loudly for other ravens to join him.  I wondered if that raven was the patriarch or just some young whippersnapper with a rousing call to action.

  • I wondered how you tell the age of a bird.  No tell-tail  (sorry couldn’t resist) age spots or wrinkles.
  • My mind flashed on a brilliant comment about God that Ramesh Sood had made – something about wrinkles – which I couldn’t precisely remember but I remember thinking, “How brilliant” at the time I read it.
  • When we got home I was inspired to re-read his comment and poem.
  • Ramesh was inspired to spontaneously write his poem in response to the post I wrote How to Appear Younger than You Are.
  • I was inspired to write that How to Appear Younger than You Are by that darling baby boy who came to visit me at my office.
  • And the baby was inspired by EVERYTHING!
“What an inspiring post this… yes, I have often prayed..May God never let my thoughts get wrinkled…May I continue to exude youthful energy and exuberance…And Judy, if one has to go by Photos on your page here..you don’t look 67..touch wood…let me try:”

A song waits to be written
And to be Sung
It’s so happy and joyous
To always stay young

Doesn’t matter if body belies
Let mind think fresh thoughts
Let heart with happier ones clung

 A song waits to be written
And to be sung

Be cheery always, have fun
Talk to Moon, stars and flowers
Taste the rising sun on your tongue
A song that waited to be written
I know you have just sung

Hey, stay happy and stay young..

“Judy this song didn’t exist just ten minutes back.. . . .that’s the power of inspiration.” Ramesh Sood, (author of Elephant & Ant, coming soon to a computer near you).  A Little More Than Ordinary.. 

INhale deeply where ever you are today.

I hope you catch an INspiration!

What you see is not always what you “get” – rhythm

What’s He Saying? ‘Bahh’ Or ‘Fahh’? A Brain Mystery

“I love illusions, where your brain makes weird things happen. Those of you who come here often have seen some doozies, but this one … oooh, this is one of the strangest.

The question is: Which is more powerful, your eyes or your ears? Watch this clip and experience “The McGurk Effect.” Your ears will feel ashamed.”

“The McGurk Effect is named for a psychologist from Scotland, Harry McGurk, working with John MacDonald. The experiment shows that while our senses seem separate — you wouldn’t think what you see should affect what you hear — it turns out, that’s totally wrong. If our eyes see one thing and our ears hear a different thing, when sight and sound grapple in our brains, the eyes win. Eyes tell ears what to hear. Or so it seems.

Not only that, even if your brain knows this is an illusion, you still can’t hear the truth unless you close your eyes. The illusion is that powerful.

Why Does This Happen?

Does sight always beat sound? Professor Lawrence Rosenblum in the video seems to suggest that experimental results may vary depending on which sense is “more salient.” I’m not sure what that means. Nosing around, I found some experiments where you see lips saying “gah” while the sound is saying “bah” and my brain chooses neither of them, and settles for a middle-of-the-road “dah.” But nowhere could I find an explanation for why my ears keep surrendering to my eyes.

Does anybody know?”

Sight and sound grapple

Ears surrendering to eyes

Our reality?

Earth zips through space-time

All the senses unaware

What’s reality?

Time an illusion

Eternity an unknown

The reality?

Why and what are we ?

 Breathing rhythmically with life

Only God can know

Can Compassion be Taught?

A blogger friend asked me this question.  Can compassion be taught?
My primitive thoughts:

1.  To be compassionate we have to put our egos aside.  When self-importance, personal need, greed drive us compassion fades.

2. People must be willing to learn.  What’s the saying? You can lead a human to God but you can’t make him believe.

3. Humans can be taught HOW to be compassionate toward others. 

An example that I come across every time I do couples counseling is that each partner intends compassion while the other partner experiences it as hurt or neglect.  The disparity between INTENTION and EXPERIENCE is based on how each of us PERCEIVES our “reality”.

Ex: The man is being compassionate when he tries to find a solution to the wife’s pain and all she wants is a shoulder to cry on and arms around her.  A wife is being compassionate when she expresses FEELINGS by putting  her arms around him when all he wants is her to bring him a hot meal and stop shopping.

Yes, these are stereotypes but substitute what you “do” to show compassion and you can teach yourself how to match your partners experience to you intention.  Just do what your partner wants instead of what you want.  Fill out the blanks to figure it out.

  • When I show compassion I (behavior)________________ therefore that’s what I want from my partner.
  • When my partner shows compassion he/she (behavior)______________________therefore that’s what he/she wants in return.

Almost to a fault you can believe that whatever one person DOES to show their compassion is precisely what they WANT in return.

4. The easiest way to teach compassion is to put the individual in situations with people less fortunate.  World travel, volunteering, support groups, charitable work are all ways of finding compassion.  Internet chat rooms and forums play similar roles.  (I am not yet convinced that having some kind of direct contact is still not the best way to develop compassion but technology has given us the way of behaving compassionately at a distance.)

After compassion is LOVE.

Can you teach love?

Flawed Fleas by Max

I’ve reposted several of Becca Givens’ haikus.  Becca created another memorable vision in the elegant haiku form:

Goal of Perfection

Goal of perfection
Flawed, disenchanted burden
Precious time wasted

by Becca Givens   http://beccagivens.wordpress.com

I read her haikus regularly. Today, for the first time, I clicked on the link on her blog and came upon ANOTHER blog

Haiku Heights

http://haiku-heights.blogspot.com – which gives out word prompts for haikus.

Sounded like fun so I tried my “hand” at the new haiku prompt FLAW

And Max tried his “paw” too!

Perfection no flaws
Nothing more and nothing less
Can’t tinker with God

by Judy

Flawed Fleas by MAX

Lick their little lips

When taking a bite of me

Flawed and hungry fleas

Try it yourself!

  1. First line 5 syllables
  2. Second line 7 syllables
  3. Third line 5 syllables.

Giving Gratitude

It’s November in Southern California where flowers are confused and think it’s spring.

What a day!  Cool, crisp, slight wind, clear blue sky.  Went on my daily prayer walk with Max – my way of celebrating God,  giving gratitude and Max’s way of celebrating being a dog.

Giving gratitude always includes Jim.  When I was at a crossroads,  Jim was heaven-sent.  He  taught me about Baha’i.  It was as if my eyes opened to a world I had always known and believed:

Jim, my eternal appreciation and thankfulness for Your guidance, gifts of confirmation and Your love. You’ve opened my heart, ignited my mind and elevated my soul.

with Love,

Judy

P.S.  from Max who wants you to know he’s eternally grateful for the prayer walks!

Living with God, Aliens and Pain

I was asked to give the keynote address for the 2009 Fibromyalgia Awareness Day at Cal State Fullerton.  I’ve given it many times since.  Here’s an abbreviated version:

I became symptomatic in 1996 when Fibromyalgia was considered a Hysterical Middle Aged Woman’s SYNDROME.  By the time I was diagnosed I met that criteria.  Doctor after doctor with a wink and a knowing pat on my shoulder (at least that was what I perceived) let me know nothing was PHYSICALLY wrong with me.
I decided I was inhabited by Aliens who were using me as a Southern California time-share.  It gave me comfort to find the cause.
Years passed, the Aliens stayed and the pain turned into depression, into exhaustion, into despair.  My body betrayed me, my mind fogged, the medical community  abandoned me,  family & friends were powerless. 
I was both sustained and drained by my psychotherapy practice.
Raised as a non-practicing Jew, whose father and mother were professed agnostics. I now had no faith – in my body, mind or a God. I had nothing to hold onto for comfort much less hope.
I didn’t matter.  Now THAT’S a depressing thought which I suspected was part of the Alien’s plot to render me completely helpless & hopeless in order to take over my time-share real estate.
I didn’t matter.  There was no purpose to my life.  I started making pictures: Ugly pictures, scribbling pictures, angry pictures.  I would paint and paste, scribble and scrawl without any conscious thought. 
Weeks later, months later, in some cases years later I would put words and meanings to my unconscious expression.  That body of work  turned out to be a visual document of my journey with the aliens.
I realized I had been mourning.  Grieving my loss of identity, a loss of purpose. I mourned for that energetic person: The one who worked a 60 hour week and went to school for two Master’s degrees; who jogged 10 miles in 100 degree heat; who saw 8 clients in a row and remembered the details of their lives a year later…

She was dead. I was angry. Now I had to check my appointment book to remind me of my clients’ names. I could work only for 3 hours before I had to take a nap.  Walking around the grocery store was exhausting.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone.  Holding the phone to my ear hurt my arms. Walking burned my feet. I didn’t make commitments other than work because I never knew how I would feel.

Life as I knew it was gone.  What was I?  Who was I?  Why was I here?  If there was a purpose to my having fibromyalgia it could only be an alien plot.

Without any pre-determined intent I drew a picture of my fibromyalgia:  Three eyes, three-tongues and spontaneously titled it “The Soul Slayer

Until that moment I had been focused on my body and mind, never my soul.   Since I’d been searching for the cause and a cure for my fibro for over a decade it was natural to now start searching for my soul.
Where does one look for a soul?  I went to synagogues and churches .  Found wonderful people but no soul – at least not mine.  I read about the world’s religions and searched SOUL on the internet.  I was sure that everyone else had a soul and it was only time that they discovered mine was missing.
Accidentally (maybe not?) I was introduced to a spiritual mentor, no more no less.  He was Baha’i, a faith I was familiar with but about which I knew only some basics.  He asked me to examine my life, my choices, my beliefs.  I had long known from a psychological perspective about my choices and beliefs but now that my mind and body had betrayed me it all rang hollow.
He told me to repeat out loud “Say, all are created by God” and “Thy Name is my healing.” each, 95 times every day. (95 is a sacred number to the Baha’is.)  There was nothing to lose.  Unlike everything else I had tried as a “cure” this Rx didn’t cost me a penny and had no side effects (or so I thought).   
I needed a time and place where my fogged brain would remember to repeat each of these sentences 95 times out loud.
So I started walking and repeating “Say, all are created by God” and “Thy name is my healing.” 95 times.  It took my mind off the pain in my legs & hips and burning feet as I walked.  I started talking to God.
beginnings of Faith – My Servant of God explained to me that ALL souls recognize each other in passing.  I smiled at everyone I passed wherever I went, secretly delighted their souls knew my soul, even if I didn’t.
Exercising, smiling, talking to God!  
I’m not sure I’ve mastered listening to God but suddenly at the ripe old age of 66 I discovered faith. 
Walking, talking and smiling may not be the cure for fibromyalgia but they are damn good medicine (God, forgive me for swearing  – it’s the only way I can underscore my point)  and faith that the Aliens can’t destroy me.  I’m much more than just a convenient timeshare.
My soul  knows.  I can live with that.

“Know thou that the soul of man is exalted above,  and is independent of all infirmities of body or mind. That a sick person showeth signs of weakness is due to the hindrances that interpose themselves between his soul and his body, for the soul itself remaineth unaffected by any bodily ailments.”

“Consider the light of the lamp. Though an external object may interfere with its radiance, the light itself continueth to shine with undiminished power. In like manner, every malady afflicting the body of man is an impediment that preventeth the soul from manifesting its inherent might and power. When it leaveth the body, however, it will evince such ascendancy, and reveal such influence as no force on earth can equal. Every pure, every refined and sanctified soul will be endowed with tremendous power, and shall rejoice with exceeding gladness.”