Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman – Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity

Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman - Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity A mind of equanimity is a mind without distinctions; in other words, there is no rest and no activity. Some people think that Zen advertises moral indifference, that Zen practitioners in general are free to ignore ethical principles. Discombobulating is the raw material of sapience. The problem of being prey to someone else’s power is reinforced, of course, by one’s own infantile desire to be taken care of. There is nothing outside of your mind.

Progress is measured in terms of time, but when faith and mind are not separate, these distinctions are abolished. However, if nothing is real or lasting, what is the point of coming to retreat and practicing Zen? The point is that during the course of practice, you may come to realize that everything around you, as well as whatever you seek out of life, is illusory. Just as fish cannot live without water, compassion cannot develop without agelessness. For the practice of Zen, you must pass the barrier set up by the ancient masters of Zen.

To attain to marvelous enlightenment, you must completely extinguish all the delusive thoughts of the ordinary mind. We run into trouble only when we close down and couldn’t care less—when we’re too cynical or depressed or full of doubt even to bother.

Zen Koan: “Happy Chinaman” Parable

Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America with observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.

This Hotei lived in the T’ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples about him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: “Give me one penny.” And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach others, again he would reply: “Give me one penny.”

Once he was about his play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: “What is the significance of Zen?”

Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.

“Then,” asked the other, “what is the actualization of Zen?”

At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.

Buddhist Insight on Human Dignity

Buddhism does not support passivity in the face of violence and evil. Beings by karma are bound to the individual human dignity. That blankness is connected with mindfulness. All of these parts are the path and bring a certain joy, certain strength to our practice. You have to relate to your country, its politics, its culture. It came to life after several hundred years of philosophical development. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

Enlightenment means to experience with complete clarity the fact of dukkha – the travail of being born, working, relating to others, growing up, growing old and so on – is part and parcel of human dignity; that all attempts to run away from it are undignified and that this applies just as much to spirituality, psychologically or socially sophisticated forms of escapism as it does to worldly or primitive ones. People are not made happy by an endless supply of pleasures. many rich people are miserable. People are happy when they live noble lives. Misery is not created by lack of pleasure, but by resentment, bitterness, and the degradation of character. Rich people do not generally accumulate their wealth in order to have pleasures. They accumulate wealth because they think this will make them respectable. In this way they hope to set their minds at rest. Of course, in reality quite the opposite often results. The means by which wealth is accumulated often involves action which leaves a stain of guilt that the person never manages to live down.

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The Best Leaders Model Their Stated Priorities

Leaders Model Stated Priorities

Everyone is a boss-watcher. “Other people take their cue from the leader—not from what the leader says, but what the leader does,” says Colin Powell.

The leader is always in a glass house. People listen to the words, but what really interests them is what the boss does. People carefully track what questions he asks, what reports she asks for and reads, what meeting agenda priorities he sets, what resources she allocates, whom he criticizes, what thrills or angers her, whom he lauds, whom she promotes, whom he assigns to which project, and whom she visits and hangs out with.

People observe these things, and then, regardless of the boss’s words they draw conclusions about what’s really important, what’s truly urgent, what must be the top priorities, and who the leader is. When the leader’s words and deeds match, the leader’s credibility and influence go up in their eyes. When they don’t, credibility and influence are diminished. This is such a powerful and predictable process that leaders have no neutral actions. Each action or decision has great symbolic impact.

Too often, leaders aren’t aware that they’re being observed, and that colleagues have long memories. Some leaders think nothing about promising something and not delivering, or stating a priority and not “living” it. If an executive states that being customer-centric is a priority, but he is not spending more time with customers, then he’s not walking the talk He’s not doing the work of leadership. If she doesn’t personally insure that capital allocation, performance metrics, sourcing, logistics, scheduling, information systems, and compensation reflect a customer-centric priority, she’s not walking the talk She’s not doing the work of leadership. In both cases, it’s not likely that innovative, proactive customer-centric work will be done.

In contrast, effective managers know that their glass house offers enormous leverage in boosting performance, as well as their own credibility and influence—but only if they become the ultimate role model. For example, if a leader talks about honesty, candor, open-door communication, collaboration, or risk-taking, then that leader more than anyone else—must model and support those virtues. The leader must not only be honest and candid, but also ensure that employees who do the same are properly acknowledged, rewarded, and protected. When people see these actions, they know that they can count on their leader, and are more likely to cultivate those virtues themselves. The leader’s power and integrity are enhanced in the process.

Effective managers become the ultimate role model

How powerful is the “glass house effect”? Well, consider how it might be applied to a current vexing national problem. Over the past 24 months the integrity and liquidity of our capital markets have been assailed by a wave of scandals revolving around fraudulent financial reporting, sleight-of-hand accounting, piracy in the executive suites, and incestuous self-serving relationships among accountants, consultants, analysts, and investment bankers. The effect not only extends the economic recession, but it also breeds doubt and cynicism about the market system.

When President Bush spoke about corporate malfeasance, about righting wrongs and putting the bad guys away, few question his sincerity. But to take advantage of the “glass house” effect, he could use the “bully pulpit” of his office to do the following:

  • Talk frankly about honesty, full disclosure and transparency in reporting.
  • Decry phony revenues, bogus earnings, spinning IPO’s, cozy analyst investment banker relationships, and risk-free executive compensation.
  • Cite high-profile examples of greed and deceit, express serious concern, and offer inspirational alternatives.
  • Refer to abuses in governance and underscore the fiduciary responsibility.
  • Discuss accountability for illegal activity, including civil litigation, criminal prosecution, and imprisonment.
  • Tell new SEC head William Donaldson to aggressively pursue corporate corruption and market abuses to avoid conflict-of-interest charges.
  • Tell us that his new team will be packed with people of impeccable independence, integrity, and competence.
  • Raise the SEC’s annual funding as the agency copes with many cases. Leaders define their agenda by the resources they allocate to it.
  • Insist that the agency aggressively pursue corporate corruption.

Great leaders mobilize people to do extraordinary things with simple ideas. During the 20 years that Jack Welch transformed GE, he was only committed to a few strategic priorities: globalization, total quality, boundaryless, de-bureaucratization, and e-commerce. None of these initiatives were new. Many companies had similar objectives. But Welch demonstrated a fanatic obsession with driving each initiative, and held his managers accountable for achieving results. GE people knew where their CEO stood. Welch’s approach was aligned with Powell’s advice: “Figure out what is crucial, and stay focused” When people see that resolve, they “get” what their mindsets and behaviors ought to be.

Great leaders clearly state their principles and goals and follow through. They live the principles, own the goals, and ensure that everyone is aware of it. If you’re a leader, learn to use your visibility to your advantage.

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Saints Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas Vilified Women in Their Writings

You can find other disparaging remarks about women throughout the history of philosophy. Consider what seminal Catholic thinkers like Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas had to say about women:

  • “Woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from defect in the active force or from some material indisposition…”
    Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, q. 92 a. 1
  • “Good order would have been wanting in the human family if some were not governed by others wiser than themselves. So by such a kind of subjection woman is naturally subject to man, because in man the discretion of reason predominates.”
    Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, q.92 a.1 reply 2
  • “I don’t see what sort of help woman was created to provide man with, if one excludes the purpose of procreation. If woman was not given to man for help in bearing children, for what help could she be? To till the earth together? If help were needed for that, man would have been a better help for man. The same goes for comfort in solitude. How much more pleasure is it for life and conversation when two friends live together than when a man and a woman cohabitate?”
    Source: St. Augustine, Genesi Ad Litteram, 9, 5-9
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The Traditional Celebration of Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving (1912--1915) by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Thanksgiving is a traditional celebration to mark an auspicious event.

Religious celebrations of gratitude took place among many settlers in the Americas in the 1600s. In the United States, the traditional celebration of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November is associated with the Pilgrim settlers of the Plymouth colony in present day Massachusetts.

The most common account of the first Thanksgiving links the celebration to 1621, when the Pilgrims joined with indigenous people to give thanks for a particularly good harvest after a difficult year within the settlement. Several other settlements in the Americas around this time also have claims for celebrating early Thanksgiving.

The idea of the Thanksgiving event had its origins in England during the Protestant Reformation, when reformers were anxious to replace Catholic public holidays with feast days of their own. A tradition began of celebrating fortuitous events with a special thanksgiving meal; conversely, adverse events were marked by a day of fasting. It was hoped that giving thanks to God might bring further good fortune, while fasting might prevent additional disasters.

Even though several of the symbols and traditions of Thanksgiving are taken from the story of the Pilgrims at the Plymouth colony, the holiday is now a celebration of a spirit of gratefulness rather than a commemoration of a particular day or event. As a religious celebration, Thanksgiving is intended to remind those who celebrate it of God as the provider of all good things. Thanksgiving in the United States is also celebrated with a secular appreciation of the work ethic and perseverance of the early U.S. colonists.

Happy Thanksgiving

Here is the Proclamation of Thanksgiving by Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America. It was issued by William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State on October 3, 1863.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,

Secretary of State

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19 Types of Leadership Styles

Types of Leadership Styles Which means we all have the ability to provide leadership in some way: as professionals, as parents, as spouses, and as friends. To find a reason to want to lead we only need remember that when we provide leadership, we create value. And value creation creates happiness. Few things bring as much satisfaction as a job well done. They opposed the centralization of authority in the revolutionary leadership, agitating for moderation and “democracy”, and they enacted a number of important social reforms.

We are re-evaluating leaders, downgrading those who are guided by history, not vision; by what they know, not what they can find out; by what has worked before, not what works now; by a sense of power, not a sense of people. From experience, I draw these 19 types who are less than real leaders:

  1. Manipulator. He believes everyone has a price. He exploits the system and mistrusts people who have no hidden agenda or naked ambition or who appear to be straight arrows. Whatever his self-indulgence, he expects it to be reflected in his people. He is attracted to those who display similar inclinations. Using fear and intimidation, he manipulates people.
  2. Types of Leadership Styles: Frustrated Participant Frustrated Participant. He wants to believe in the system and sees himself as dedicated, loyal, and ambitious. He absorbs inconsistency in policy, flagrant violation of fairness, and blatant duplicity without protest or complaint, feeling he must protect the company’s image. He anticipates his boss’ needs, whether appropriate or not, feeling that it is safer to go along to get along rather than to challenge a boss.
  3. Inside Outsider. He experiences inclusion, but not as a player. Ever the outsider, he is a specialist with skills but never with line authority. He may have impressive credentials, pay his dues, and be initiated into the culture of the elite, but he is never identified by it as “one of us.” Much as he tries to enhance his status, his unique skills only exaggerate the difference, eclipsing his perceived effectiveness. So, he experiences being needed but not wanted. If he can handle this, he will be tolerated. If not, he will lose his influence and his station.
  4. Winning Side Saddler. He is a pyramid climber, pleaser, anticipator, and executer, dispatching issues before they become problems, endearing him to his bosses. He is a chameleon with no coherent point of view, a hunch player who knows every verse of the “CYA” book. He tells you what you want and expect to hear. The more uptight people are, the more prominent his role, as he provides a buffer to the ugly edges of reality. In case of a power shift, he has already saddled the winning horse.
  5. Types of Leadership Styles: Nostalgic Elitist Nostalgic Elitist. He is a vestige of past glory who lives in a black-and-white world of workers and managers, thinkers and doers, educated and the ignorant. He takes cynical delight in the vocabulary of “social change,” as he sees it changing nothing, merely manipulating fads and slogans with smoke and mirrors. He prefers fixed structures and closed systems. He can’t fathom why his authority is challenged, why the less gifted are to be treated as equals, or why his superiority is not self-evident.
  6. Waiter in the Wings. He appreciates both his potential and obstacles to success. While others complain about change, he is husbanding his resources, planning tactics, and developing strategy. he has no plans to tie his future to a sinking ship. Operationally, he makes himself indispensable, balancing stealth with openness, insouciance with results. He is waiting in the wings to make his move. As relaxed as he seems, he is wound as tight as piano wire. He can only wait so long before he moves on.
  7. Happy in Harness. He accepts his role because he loves what he does, never wanting to be anything else. Each promotion is a genuine surprise. By nature, he is appreciative and generous, easy to work with or for, competent without being righteous, confident without being arrogant. He creates a climate for growth. He is trusted and fair, consistent and honest. He would never countermand an executive order or bad-mouth a superior. He takes pride in his position.
  8. Quiet Soldier. He is more comfortable as a follower and identifies with the aspirations and frustrations of his subordinates. By inclination, he is a doer rather than a thinker, an implementer rather than, an innovator. He is a frustration to those in charge. They see him having the talent but not the resolve to accept risk or do more. Moody and taciturn, he is apt to accept untenable situations rather than do something about them. His predilection to wait for orders can derail projects and miss deadlines.
  9. Victim. The victim has a martyr complex. He expects to be trusted without being trustworthy, given cherished assignments without being dependable, and taken at his word without being credible. Call it tunnel vision, myopia, or hindsight, he has it. He delights in the failures of others, but finds no humor when others delight in his. When others fail, they’re incompetent; when he fails, others let him down. He claims other people ban him because of his race, religion, ethnicity, status, education, accent, or origin. If that fails, he is discriminated against because he is too fat, thin, short, tall, old, young, quiet, or loud. He justifies his performance—and he wants blame put on everything and everybody.
  10. Types of Leadership Styles: Unbending Idealist Unbending Idealist. He idealizes life and lives in a dream world. He is a product of film and television and prefers to see the world as it should be and himself as a savior of lost causes and lost souls, explaining away failures and suspect conduct. Consequences are suspended, forgiven, or ignored. The idealist suffers incurably from naivete, failing to see it as compassionate condescension. With every failure he reinvents himself, never seeming to register the folly of his ways. His idealism drops like a stone into cynicism once brutal reality meets unbending idealism.
  11. Adventurer. Consumed with the adventure, he is out to push the envelope. When cornered, he comes out swinging with a “red pencil,” a caustic remark, or an exception to the rule. He can lie with a straight face, looking his accuser in the eye. He has no sense of consequences, as it never occurs to him that he might be caught, humiliated, and terminated. Constantly challenging himself to be more sensational, he cuts corners, fakes results, doctors the books, invents fictitious deeds, and musters the support of legitimate doers by guile, vanity, and flattery.
  12. Spin Doctor. As the public relations conduit, he is the eyes and ears and voice of authority. His concern—to put a good face on a bad situation—requires him to be a good liar. He tends to reduce everything to PR speak with cavalier flamboyance, dismissing the facts, often believing in his own rhetoric or press release. He is apt to be a quick-witted, congenial, backstage performer.
  13. Reluctant Soldier. Neither leader nor follower, he simply is. Everyone knows and tolerates him. No one expects anything from him, and nobody does anything about him. He’s been at the same job at the same level for years and received increased compensation and entitlements for doing less and less. Survival is his sharpest tool.
  14. Types of Leadership Styles: Unforgivable Prodigal Son Unforgivable Prodigal Son. This person once stumbled badly. His faux pas was of such magnitude to embarrass the company but not warrant dismissal. Once he was punished, he returned to his job stigmatized, and became a pariah with his guilt whispered behind his back. New people are told to stay clear of him. He tells new people of his crime before they ask. Gossip and innuendo are his weapons of mass emotional destruction.
  15. Over Achiever. By educating himself beyond his intelligence or by pushing his ambition to the brink, he is exposed to situations beyond his capacity to cope. Action is his call and shooting from the hip is his modus operandi. He has a surface acumen that is engaging and catches the eye of his superiors. His intensity is contagious. He is likeable and agreeable. He has lived so long with his limitations, which he hides in a swirl of activity, that they have become assets. He is better suited to manage things than people.
  16. Messianic Manager. He sees himself as a savior. His approach to modify reality is to create the culture that supports the interests of the organization and fulfills the needs of workers and, voila! Leaders and workers get off the dime, move on to the same page, and work gets done. He thinks that giving workers everything but the kitchen sink will cause them to applaud leadership with high-level performance. This does not happen. Rather, the culture stumbles into a permissive complacency, where workers waffle in terminal adolescence.
  17. Pained Participant. He is able, but the world is organized against him. A tragic figure, he is like a Dante who has lost the keys to his own inferno, caged in the pain of self-pity, seeing his situation as unique and his dilemma untenable. He wrestles with his confusion in dialectic, which he will gladly share with you. Life is against him because he doesn’t have the right parents, proper education, or the breaks. He is in a cage of his making with an invisible ceiling enclosed in invisible walls. Life, the system, the company, circumstances have all wronged him. His anxieties plague operations.
  18. Types of Leadership Styles: Missionary Missionary. He spreads the gospel according to the corporate fathers to the masses. He does this without question or reflection. He is an acolyte, and they are his knowing masters. When this mission is consistent with what is needed, everything works smoothly. When the mission conflicts with need, derailing momentum and causing tension, he takes responsibility. He is on a mission to help people be in sync with policy. He has a strong character but a narrow point of view.
  19. The Professional. The professional’s degree and title are often used to justify his pay grade and benefit package. He is rarely schooled in the discipline of his charges but believes that he can manage anything. He feels ordained to position, power, and perks. He has this romantic notion of being instantly gratified with affluence, prestige, privilege and trust without earning any of it. Lost on him is the import of experience and the benefit of failure in learning. For him, acquiring credentials is a way to avoid struggle and pain. He wants a position, not a job; desires authority without accountability; and expects to be measured in terms of time spent doing rather than results. To him, having presence is more effective than purpose; making an impression more defining than making a difference; having a winning personality more the focus than winning performance. He is programmed to behave in learned helplessness.

Contrast these types of leaderships with someone who genuinely believes themselves to be a capable leader. Such a person can recognize their mistakes without succumbing to paralyzing insecurity. They can counterattack pleas for inappropriate special treatment lacking fair justification because to give in wouldn’t fit with their vision of good leadership and because they can survive being disliked. Others may disagree with their decisions, disapprove of their vision, but seldom question their skills as a leader.

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Core Challenges to Contextual Leadership

Core Challenges to Contextual Leadership

Leadership is a socially constructed phenomenon and that organizational members act to co-create leadership.

Leadership is a vibrant, contextual phenomenon that occurs in a multitude of different organizations or systems. Mostly, we can learn from them that leadership is more multifaceted than standard business contexts imply, and that precious lessons can be gained from the characteristics and foibles of leadership in many contexts.

On the one hand, contextualizing leadership in modern organizations, which are complex systems, is more than conventional approaches can encapsulate. On the other hand, leadership theory and research in nonstandard contexts are too vague and imprecise about their contributions to the general field of leadership.

  • Pressure and competition. Leaders are under high, individualized pressure to be successful, while they can only create empowering conditions for organizational effectiveness
  • High risk. Navigating the boundaries of “life or death” contexts, leaders’ actions have possibly devastating consequences for themselves and others
  • Creativity and innovation. Leaders are challenged with the paradox between basically striving for creativity and innovation, while eventually having to meet specified targets
  • Care and community. Contextual conditions hamper leaders’ attempts and responsibilities to take care of others’ wellbeing
  • Adaptability. Leaders who plot a course through complex contexts need to be flexible in their approach to leadership, tailoring it to the idiosyncrasies of each context
  • Perseverance. Leaders need persistence to surmount drawbacks and failure in order to ultimately grow and succeed. Organizations nurture this process by providing leaders with a supportive environment, while leaving room for personal growth
  • Handling paradox. In complex contexts, paradox may arise in many different forms. Leaders can handle it, perhaps, by using formal and informal structures, and managing internal processes and external views of an organization concurrently
  • Leading with values. For the sake of their own and others’ wellbeing as well as sustained organizational success, leaders need to reflect and act based on their fundamental beliefs and moral values
  • Inventing the future. Leaders nurture creativity through socially determined processes. New approaches such as play enable leaders to envision potentialities of the future
  • Sharing responsibility. The complexities of modern organizations require leadership in the collective, for example, in the form of shared values-based leadership in communities
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Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai – Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength

Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai - Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength Your first impulse toward spirituality might put you into some particular spiritual scene; but if you work with that impulse, then the impulse gradually dies down and at some stage becomes tedious, monotonous. This is a useful message. Everything is absolute in the sense that there is no separation between you and others, between past and future. In reality, all realms lie within us. The one conveyance is the Buddha Way. She mentally conceived of an expeditious method: Afore she genuinely indicted anything down, she would first skim through the entire test to weed out the answers she did not understand. To be in bondage to your thoughts means to be influenced and carried away by various conditions in your surroundings.

Love can’t be exclusive. It is boundless, empty, open, and free. Spiritual friendship is too. One of them was rejoicing that his term was ending for the reason that the next day someone would be replacing him. Therefore, this interpretation does not hold here. At the tip of a fine strand of hair all the Buddha of the three times and the ten directions are turning the Dharma wheel. When you approach the practice with any expectations, you will not be able to sit well. Neither extreme is salutary.

Zen Koan: “Story of Shunkai” Parable

The exquisite Shunkai whose other name was Suzu was compelled to marry against her wishes when she was quite young. Later, after this marriage had ended, she attended the university, where she studied philosophy.

To see Shunkai was to fall in love with her. Moreover, wherever she went, she herself fell in love with others. Love was with her at the university, and afterwards when philosophy did not satisfy her and she visited the temple to learn about Zen, the Zen students fell in love with her. Shunkai’s whole life was saturated with love.

At last in Kyoto she became a real student of Zen. Her brothers in the sub-temple of Kennin praised her sincerity. One of them proved to be a congenial spirit and assisted her in the mastery of Zen.

The abbot of Kennin, Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was severe. He kept the precepts himself and expected the priests to do so. In modern Japan whatever zeal these priests have lost for Buddhism they seemed to have gained for having wives. Mokurai used to take a broom and chase the women away when he found them in any of his temples, but the more wives he swept out, the more seemed to come back.

In this particular temple the wife of the head priest had become jealous of Shunkai’s earnestness and beauty. Hearing the students praise her serious Zen made this wife squirm and itch. Finally she spread a rumor about that Shunkai and the young man who was her friend. As a consequence he was expelled and Shunkai was removed from the temple.

“I may have made the mistake of love,” thought Shunkai, “but the priest’s wife shall not remain in the temple either if my friend is to be treated so unjustly.”

Shunkai the same night with a can of kerosene set fire to the five-hundred-year-old temple and burned it to the ground. In the morning she found herself in the hands of the police.

A young lawyer became interested in her and endeavoured to make her sentance lighter. “Do not help me.” she told him. “I might decide to do something else which will only imprison me again.”

At last a sentance of seven years was completed, and Shunkai was released from the prison, where the sixty-year-old warden also had become enamored of her.

But now everyone looked upon her as a “jailbird”. No one would associate with her. Even the Zen people, who are supposed to believe in enlightenment in this life and with this body, shunned her. Zen, Shunkai found, was one thing and the followers of Zen quite another. Her relatives would have nothing to do with her. She grew sick, poor, and weak.

She met a Shinshu priest who taught her the name of the Buddha of Love, and in this Shunkai found some solace and peace of mind. She passed away when she was still exquisitely beautiful and hardly thirty years old.

She wrote her own story in a futile endeavour to support herself and some of it she told to a women writer. So it reached the Japanese people. Those who rejected Shunkai, those who slandered and hated her, now read of her life with tears of remorse.

Buddhist Insight on Inner Strength

In Zen Buddhism, there’s something in us, in our nature, which compels us to discover. By that, the meditation will gain the advantage of freshness and grow in inner strength. The opposite of generosity is parsimony, holding back—having a poverty mentality. Mere appearance without assertion and denial does not produce attachment. Hence their inability to see the truth. The American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes in Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,

You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself. Loving-kindness for yourself does not mean making sure you’re feeling good all the time – trying to set up your life so that you’re comfortable every moment. Rather, it means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate, self-honesty. In this way you become more attuned to seeing when you’re biting the hook, when you’re getting caught in the undertow of emotions, when you’re grasping and when you’re letting go. This is the way you become a true friend to yourself just as you are, with both your laziness and your bravery. There is no step more important than this.

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Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires

Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires In examining the Forbes’ list of the wealthiest, one is astonished by the concentration of so much wealth in so few hands. Such excessive inequality is indeed bothersome: because not only it is an ethical outrage but also it is undercutting growth and creating one of the most significant hurdles to ending poverty.

Observe the “humble beginnings” of many on the Forbes lists. Much of the self-made fortunes are ascribable to vibrant entrepreneurial capitalism. Few become billionaires by exploiting others … most get rich through millions of happy customers.

Intersting Trivia About the Forbes’ Billionaires List

  • Of the Forbes’ billionaires, John Paul DeJoria, Richard Branson, and Leonardo Del Vecchio never attended college. Ross Perot attended community college.
  • Many individuals going to great lengths to keep their finances discreet. Public companies are required to disclose information. Private companies can be trickier. Forbes calculates net worth by trying to determine the value of every asset and use only what they can prove. They also always give the billionaire a chance to provide input.
  • There are possibly many billionaires that aren’t on the list, whether due to secrecy or lack of evidence. It’s hard to amass that much money and hide its source or where it’s parked without drawing attention.

Secrets of the Self-Made Billionaires

  • President Donald Trump’s contrarian advice: “Screw ‘em back. If someone screws you, nail them to the wall.”
  • Telecommunications mogul Kenny Troutt‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Money does not buy happiness.”
  • Media proprietor and investor Mortimer Zuckerman‘s greatest guilty pleasure: “There used to be guilt associated with most of my pleasures and now there is none.”
  • Media proprietor and investor Mortimer Zuckerman on the correct amount to leave to children: “Enough to support them, but not enough to leave them without ambition.”
  • Banker Sanford Weill‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Recognizing a problem and addressing it right away before it becomes a bigger problem.”
  • Sports promoter O. Bruton Smith‘s contrarian advice: “Hard work overcomes a lot of incompetence. You can talk about trying to be highly qualified with an MBA and all of that, but hard work seems to overcome so many negatives in life.”
  • Investor and money manager Ken Fisher‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “That others usually don’t see me as I see myself.”
  • Retail entrepreneur John Catsimatidis‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Some people may just not like you for no reason at all.”
  • American attorney Joseph Jamail Jr.‘s contrarian advice: “Don’t trust politicians who are convinced they have the answer and who say “trust me.””
  • Sports team owner Michael Heisley‘s greatest guilty pleasure: “Stealing an hour or two to be completely alone and not reachable.”
  • Sports team owner Michael Heisley‘s hardest lesson he had to learn: “Wealth is one of the most corrupting influences in my life.”
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Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

The Wisdom of Living

The Wisdom of Living The finger on the dock of time turns inexorably. We are sometimes saddened when we realize that time moves on, that the years are slipping out of our hands, yet these thoughts need not really depress us. Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers on the road.

The wisdom of living consists in making the most of what we are given. We cannot weave without threads, but it is our skill with the threads that determines whether we shall fashion a beautiful tapestry or labor without producing anything of use or beauty.

God does not fashion life for us. He does not determine the shape of our dreams, or our accomplishments, but He gives us the threads… He has endowed our hands with energy, our minds with power to reason, our hearts with the power to feel, and He placed us upon the scene of nature abounding in the raw materials with which we can build to our heart’s desire. Both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived. Both of these, when their nature is examined, are equal.

Cultivating Gratitude Makes Each Day Worth Living

Only a fortunate few experience unadulterated synchronicity of such allegiance. Given this four ways gratitude can profit us, we have some very good reasons to return thanks more than once a year. Cultivating gratitude makes each day worth living and might even give us more days. Although some students take more than four years to discharge their degrees, most juniors and seniors are comparatively young compared with students in urban communities where working masses take part-time loads and evening classes.

An artist who has spent his days fashioning a thing of beauty rejoices in his labor when it is done. He does not fret that the days, which have passed, have made him older. Only empty days, futile days, wasted days, are a tragedy. Only the passing of days such as these is depressing. Alan Garner wrote in The Voice That Thunders,

The purpose of the storyteller is to relate the truth in a manner that is simple: to integrate without reduction; for it is rarely possible to declare the truth as it is, because the universe presents itself as a Mystery. We have to find parables; we have to tell stories to unriddle the world … The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so the story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the cosmos is so rich, simply throbbing with bountiful treasures, beautiful souls and interesting citizenry. The only well-founded ground of judgment of conviction would be that with the personal tastes and self-regarding concerns of individuals the public has no business to interpose.

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live How are we using the threads that the Lord has given us? At the New Year, we ask this question. It is a disturbing question, because on its answer depends the sum of meaning in our lives. Investing a fixed sum of money at regular intervals prevents you from buying too many shares when stock prices are over-inflated, as many market seers consider them to be right now, thereby threatening your average cost per share and increasing your return. The latter tells of a German who showed various feats of this kind at Greater London, and who performed before the king and a part of the imperial family. Anyone who is perfectly certain about a belief is likely to be wrong.

Wasted threads, badly used threads, show up in the final design, but when we weave with skill, and fashion life into a pattern of harmony and goodness, and then our existence becomes permeated with serenity and peace. We can laugh though die days pass and the years go, for then we have given only time in exchange for achievement.

During this season of the year, we often recall the Psalmist’s prayer, “O teach us to count our days that we may get us a heart of Wisdom.” No, it does not really mean to count days. Anyone can do that. It is rather a prayer to make the days count. That is indeed the supreme wisdom of living.

In short, a great and brilliant plan of Almighty administration is in part opened; and nothing is omitted that may give humanity the mystifying sense of their being all the subjects of the moral regime of God. The company of concordant friends will be the best medicine in an evening; and good broth his primed supper. The risk of taking one or a handful of circumscribed experiences and generalizing them across our aggregate life.

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Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #11: Thomas

Apostle #11 Thomas

The holy apostle Thomas is perhaps best remembered as “Doubting Thomas”—the apostle who, when told of the emergence of the risen Christ, declared, “I will never believe it unless I see the holes the nails made in his hands, put my finger on the nail-marks and my hand into his side” (John 20:25.)

Thomas’ reaction was definitely practical; perhaps the others overcome with grief were deluding themselves. He had witnessed the tragic death of his beloved master; how was he now to believe that Jesus was alive? Thomas wanted the same astonishing experience as the rest; he wanted proof. When Jesus did appear to him, and Thomas saw the same tortured body that had suffered on the cross, he was overpowered, and cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28) Thus, Thomas was one of the first to explicitly express Jesus’ divinity.

Apostle Thomas in India Yet Thomas was not only clearheaded, but also brave. During the winter, Jesus was forced out of Jerusalem for his teachings. Now, Jesus and his apostles were aware that if he returned, he and perhaps they would be killed. (John 11:8) Then a few months later word came that Jesus’ great friend Lazarus was gravely ill. The message spoke of illness, but Jesus knew that by the time the news arrived, Lazarus was already dead. Yet Jesus prepared to go to his friend in Bethany, some two miles from the city of Jerusalem, regardless of the risk to himself. Alarmed, the apostles argued against it; why go, they reasoned, if Lazarus was dead? It was Thomas who rallied the others, insisting, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16) Here Thomas is not a man of doubt, but of great courage and loyalty.

Several Apocryphal works have circulated under Thomas’ name. The Apocryphal works of Thomas: Acts of Thomas, Apocalypse of Thomas, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Book of Thomas, and the Gospel of Thomas. There is much written about his fearless evangelical work and more speculation about his extensive missionary travels than any other of the Twelve. The church of the East and Assyria trace the succession of its bishops back to Thomas.

Apostle Thomas in India

Western India claims him as the founder of the early Christian church. The Acts of Thomas opens with a gathering of the apostles in Jerusalem. They are dividing the world by lot to evangelize. When Thomas receives India, he objects on the ground of his ethnicity: “How can I,” he protests, “as a Hebrew man, go among the Indians to announce the truth?” As a follower of Jesus in India, he is a minority of one, not just linguistically, but spiritually too. Eventually, his goal is to bring that huge majority of unbelieving Indians over to his side, to transform isolation into predominance, into a network to which all can belong. According to tradition, Saint Thomas was supposedly killed at St. Thomas Mount, near Chennai, in 72 A.D. and his body was entombed in Mylapore. Ephraim the Syrian states that the Apostle was martyred in India, and that his relics were removed then to Ede.

  • His symbol is a T-square.
  • Holy days: October 6 in the Eastern churches; July 3 in the West.
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