The Importance of Hope in Today’s World


 

In Wales, Nato is meeting to address the dual problems of ISIL and Russia. It is also a time of increased racism here in the United States. The world is tense, you can feel it as you go about your regular life. I want to encourage you to remember that peace starts within us. Hope and peace live within and is touched by the Divinity within. Our hearts and souls are very important in our lives. We just are not really aware of them.

 

Our hearts have been attacked more than once in the last few months. Mother Earth is screaming in pain. 16 million children live in poverty in America, we really have no idea of how many people in Iraq and Syria have been killed and or displaced. Now ISIL members are discussing moving into India. That country is filled with a billion people. They have just been served notice that the darkness is now planning moves to disrupt their country and families.

 

What can one person do? One person in France, Belgium, India or America can do a lot. We can keep giving love, peace, hope, compassion and empathy flowing out from our hearts and souls into this world. We must believe that, in the big picture, that good will conquer the hatred and bigotry that we are up against. Our spirituality can be the engine that pulls us ahead and keeps us focused on what can be done rather than what can not be done. We may suffer, I may suffer but if we lose our lives, we will return home to the Divine presence of God.

 

“At night make me one with the darkness, in the morning make me one with the light. ”   —Wendell Berry

 

“Just to be is a blessing, Just to live is holy.”   —Rabbi Abraham Heschel

 

” As we are together, praying for peace, let us be truly with each other.

Let us pay attention to our breathing.

Let us be relaxed in our bodies and our minds.

Let us be at peace with  our bodies and our minds.

Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves. Let us maintain a half-smile on our faces.

Let us be aware of the source of being common to us all and to all living things.

Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion, let us fill our hearts with our own compassion, towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters. all nourished from the same source of life.

Let us pray with ourselves to live in a way which will not deprive other beings of air, water, food, shelter, or the chance to live.

With humility, and with awareness of the existence of life, and of the sufferings that are going on around us, let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth. Amen.   —Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

 

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Truth

 

The face of truth is open,

The eyes of truth are bright,

The lips of truth are ever closed,

The head of truth is upright.

The breast of truth stands forward,

The gaze of truth is straight,

Truth has neither fear nor doubt,

Truth has patience to wait.

The words of truth are touching,

The voice of truth is deep,

The law of truth is simple:

All that you sow you reap.

The soul of truth is flaming,

The heart of truth is warm,

The mind of truth is clear,

And firm through rain or storm.

Facts are but its shadows,

Truth stands above all sin;

Great be the battle in life,

Truth in the end shall win.

Wisdom”s message its rod;

Sign of truth is the cross,

Soul of truth is God.

Life of truth is eternal,

Immortal is its past,

Power of truth will endure,

Truth shall hold to the last.   —Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

 

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Cup and Ocean

 

“These forms we seem to be are cups floating in an ocean of living consciousness.

They fill and sink without leaving an arc of bubbles or any good bye spray.

What we are is that ocean, too near to see, though we swim in it and drink it in.

Don’t be a cup with a dry rim, or someone who rides all night and never knows the horse

beneath this thighs, the surging that carries him along.”   —Rumi

 

 

 

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I Forgive You


Sacred writings usually show God as a forgiving God. The unity of the religions each show a different side of Divinity. When I was a child, I tried to grasp forgiveness. I was suspicious of why I should forgive. I had and have an alert which goes off in the face of hypocrisy and injustice. They are  the two things which I cannot tolerate. So, of course, the Universe gives me opportunities to practice forgiveness. Practice brings a healing to yourself. This is something most people don’t realize:  forgiving another heals us.

 

Buddha told a story of a man who had been slighted and who was angry with justice.  Buddha stated that the man decided he was going to remain angry. Time passed and he held on tightly to his anger. It began to worm itself into his heart and soul.  He became a different man. He was bitter, resentful and filled with hatred. Buddha says that anger that we hold on to  is like holding onto a hot piece of charcoal in our hands. The anger tightens the hold the hand has on the burning charcoal. The result is that you are left with a terrible burnt palm. The anger has left you scarred and damaged. The person who needs to be forgiven has no idea that anything has happened. Whether he feels sorry or not for the original action, has no effect on the outcome. The only thing that would change the situation would be the words, I forgive you.

 

In the Torah, there are instances of Moses talking with G-d and reminding him that he promised to forgive his people.  “Pardon  the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of your mercy, as you have forgiven this people, from Egypt until now. G-d’s answer was I have pardoned according to your word.” These words of forgiveness by G-d  become the central theme of the Jewish High Holidays. These holidays are coming up in September. Because of God’s forgiveness the Jewish people, despite its shortcomings, exists to this very day.

 

This is relevant to today because we so often hear news stories where forgiveness is the major point. I remember when the Pope forgave Ali Mehmet who shot him in Rome. It raised  tremendous controversy. Studies actually show that it is more life-changing to forgive than to be forgiven. There are many stories, though, of people who are forgiven changing their lives and becomiing the person they were meant to be.

 

One such story, is about  an idealistic California college student who won a Fulbright Scholarship to travel to South Africa to assist the anti-apartheid movement; she went there and was murdered by a black mob during a riot. Her parents grieved for years, then decided that they should honor the work that their daughter had been so dedicated to. So they quit their jobs, sold their home and walked away from their comfortable middle class life. Eventually, the parents met two of their daughter’s killers. The two men, who have been pardoned, tried to atone for their actions by doing public service for a foundation the parents established in their daughter’s name. The parents forgave the two killers and they became friends, and the young men now call the mother, “Mom.”

 

Forgiving what has been done to you,  and offering forgiveness for what you have done to another, is a concept that needs to be remembered and chosen in today’s world. It is a life-changing experience to decide to forgive. It is an important act to do in your life. It is one of the things we have moved away from in this so-called modern world. We have also left behind generosity, compassion, kindness, and gentleness. When we begin to put these concepts back into our lives, we will be on the road to peace. Peace within ourselves and throughout the entire world.

 

 

 

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Don;t let the sun go down on your anger. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012. Sunset in the Caribbean.

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Photographed and copyrighted by Barbara Mattio 2012. Sunset in the Caribbean.

 

 

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Where Has the Peace Gone?


 

 

 

My friends, let us give thanks for Wonder.

Let us give thanks for the Wonder of Life

that infuses all things now and forever.

 

Blessed is the Source of Life, the Fountain of Being

the wellspring of goodness, compassion and Kindness

from which we draw to make for justice and peace.

From the creative power of Life we derive food and harvest,

from the bounty of the earth and the yields of the heavens

we are sustained and are able to sustain others.

All Life is holy, sacred,

worthy of respect and dignity.

Let us give thanks for the power of heart

to sense the holy in the midst of the simple.

 

We eat not simply to satisfy our own appetites,

we eat to sustain ourselves in the task we have been given.

Each of us is unique,

coming into world with a gift no other can offer: ourselves.

We eat to nourish the vehicle of giving,

we eat to sustain our task of world, repair,

our quest for harmony, peace and justice.

 

We eat and we are revived, and we give thanks

to the lives that were ended to nourish our own.

May we merit their sacrifice, and honor their sparks of holiness

through our deeds of loving kindness.

 

We give thanks to the Power that makes for Meeting,

for our table has been a place of dialogue and friendship.

 

We give thanks to Life.

May we never lose touch with the simple joy and wonder

of sharing life.   —Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro

Leave the world a better place.

Leave the world a better place.

Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold. It will not remove the pain of torture inflicted on a prisoner of conscience. It does not comfort those who have lost their loved ones in floods caused by senseless deforestation in a neighboring country. Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.   —Dalai Lama

 

The only true guardian of peace lies within: a sense of concern and responsibility for your own future and an altruistic concern for the well-being of others.

—-Dalai Lama

 

As we are together, praying for peace, let us be truly with each other.

Let us pay attention to our breathing.

Let us be relaxed in our bodies and our minds.

Let us be at peace with our bodies and our minds.

Let us return to ourselves and become wholly ourselves. Let us maintain a half-smile of our faces.

Let us be aware of the source of being common to us all and to all living things.

Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion—–towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Let us pray that all living beings realize that they are all brothers and sisters, all nourished from the same source of life.

Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be the cause of suffering to each other.

Let us plead with ourselves to live in a way which will not deprive

other beings of air, water, food, shelter,or the chance to live.

With humility, with awareness of the existence of life, and of the sufferings that are going on around us, let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth. Amen                                          —Thich Nhat Hanh

 

 

What is dying inside of you?

What is dying inside of you?

How We Learn From Each Other


 

Yesterday, I  told you all the story of Ms. G. a teacher in the Freshman and Sophomore classes at Long Beach California. She was one of those people who came along and wanted to make a difference. She was officially an English teacher. She worried if they would like her or if she would seem too preppy to the kids. Last night I began wondering if there was a book the movie was based upon. Well, there is. Please be patient as there is a point to all of this.

 

She decided they were going to read the Diary of Anne Frank. After an incident in class, she asked who knew what the Holocaust was. Not one hand raised, not one child knew. That was when she made her decision that they would read Anne Frank. As she began to read to them, they heard familiar words, war, shooting, dying. This is when she made the suggestion that they keep a journal. She bought, out of her own money, one for each student. They could share what they wrote with her, or not. No one else would see or read them. At the end of every day she locked the cupboard that they kept the journals in. They decided, after finishing reading Anne Frank that they wanted to meet the woman, Miep Gies, who hid Anne Frank and her family during the Holocaust.

 

So their teacher Ms. G helped them do fund raisers until they had earned enough money to bring Miep Gies to California. She was a very old lady. She told them all about the Nazi’s and the horrors she had seen. She told them of the night the Gestapo came and took the hidden Jews away. How a gun was held to her head. Hiding Jews meant you were to be shot. A high price for being a compassionate, caring human being. For this reason, she was very surprised when the Gestapo left and she was still alive.

 

The kids told Miep Gies she was their hero but this gentle, kind woman looked at this classroom of Asian, African-American and Latino kids and told them they were the heroes. Thier teacher Ms. G. had told her about their journals and some of their stories. Miep Gies didn’t see a class of mixed colored kids, she saw them as brave because they knew so much of what Anne Frank had suffered and yet they went to school everyday, they learned to open their hearts to Ms. G. and the other kids. They even were beginning to trust each other. So damaged kids from every race, color and creed were beginning to understand each other and accept each other. They chose to break the cycle and make their positive experiences  a lesson for generations to come.

 

Now, the story becomes amazing. In the 1990’s, there was another little girl, named Zlata and she wrote a story. Now I own the diary and have read it. Zlata was in Kosovo and there was a war going on. Our students in Long Beach California read about a girl who wrote out her heart to survive the two years she was in the war. Her diary, quite like Anne Frank’s diary was full of the horrors of war. What human beings are capable to doing to each other. Zlata wrote to save her sanity and cope with the terrible war conditions. She feels there is a parallel between herself and the Freedom Writers because they had all been subjected to being felt that they were victims. They all understood that life brings good things and bad things. Zlata feels that it is easy to  become a victim of your circumstances and to continue to feel sad or angry. She continued to say that someone could continue  to stay angry and scared or that people could  choose to deal with injustice humanely and break the chains of negative thoughts and energies. She told the Freedom Writers that writing helps you look objectively at what is happening around us.

 

Zlata left the former Yugoslavia knowing what a bomb sounds like,what it’s like to hide from bombs in a cellar and what the absence of water feels like. She wants American kids to rise above what they have had to live through and not let the hate, violence and sadness become the focus of their lives, so they can make rich lives for themselves.

 

The Freedom Writers kept Ms. G. for their Junior and Senior years. Then they all went on to college. What they overcame and accomplished is very important and must be respected. They escaped the damage of the anger and hate that surrounded them in their neighborhoods. The seeds of hatred and fear that was beginning to grow. They stopped history from repeating itself.  Ms. G. is still teaching on the college level toda;, though divorced she has had many children and these children will never forget her. They would have remained “underachievers” if she hadn’t walked into their classroom on her first day of teaching. I encourage you all to remember this true story and the two girls who inspired a classroom of American kids to save their lives and make the world a better place for everyone to live.

 

 

A book tree, wouldn't it be wonderful!

A book tree, Wouldn’t it be wonderful!

 

The Essential Wisdom of the Dalai Lama


The Dalai Lama is a very special person. He is the political and spiritual leader of Tibet which was taken from the Tibetan people by the Chinese. They say that having at one time owned Tibet, they do now also. I think it is kind of like Russia saying they own the Ukraine. Greed for land and minerals and egos are behind these actions. Tibet was invaded by the Chinese back in the fifties and a teenaged Dalai Lama was secreted out of the country and took refuge in India. Many Tibetan people left with the Dalai Lama and in the weeks and months thereafter. The Dalai Lama was the spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist religion. The temples were invaded and monks and nuns were tortured, raped and murdered. The world stood by and watched it happen. They really had nothing to make them valuable to the rest of the world, so the country was devastated.

 

 

I have met him back in the eighties and I found him to be a wonderful spirit with a good sense of humor, and a sincere and peaceful energy. It would be so easy for him to be angry, resentful or to have turned away from his faith. Instead, I found a man of peace, a man who worries about his people, and a man who has never held any grudges against the countries who didn’t come to the aid of his people. His teachings are wise, peaceful and full of compassion. We are so lucky to have him and his wonderful spirit here in the world. I believe he is the source of much positive energy that fights the darkness that is also here.

 

It amazes me that a country at the top of the world would have been worth stealing from its people. To seal the immoral bargain, the Chinese people were moved into Tihet and encouraged to marry Tibetans. People who didn’t always have a choice. It is a form of genocide because  there will be fewer and fewer people who can claim they are of Tibetan ancestry.

 

The Dalai Lama has taught and spread his message all over the world and he is seldom still, except in meditation. I thought I would share some of his teachings with all of you. No matter what path you follow, you can add these teachings. They do not contradict any other teachings.

 

 

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“Love, compassion, and concern for others are real sources of happiness. With these in abundance, you will not be disturbed by even the most uncomfortable circumstances. If you nurse hatred, however, you will not be happy even in the lap of luxury. Thus, if we really want happiness. we must widen the sphere of love. This is both religious thinking and basic common sense.”

 

” Unless our minds are stable and calm, no matter how comfortable our physical condition may be, they will give is no pleasure. Therefore, the key to a happy life, now and in the future, is to develop a happy mind.”

 

“If the basic human nature was aggressive, we would have been born with animal claws and huge teeth—but our are very short, very pretty, very weak! That means we are not well equipped to be aggressive beings. Even the size  of our mouth is very small. So I think the basic nature of human beings should be gentle.”

 

“Anger cannot be overcome by anger. If a person shows anger to you, and you show anger in return, the result is a disaster. In contrast, if you control your anger and show its opposite—love, compassion, tolerance, and patience—then not only will you remain in peace, but the anger of others also will gradually diminish.”

 

“As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it. “

 

 

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“Tibet is distinguished by its extraordinary geography, the unique race and language of its people, and the rich culture they have developed over 2,100 years of recorded history. approximately six million Tibetans populate our country, which covers around 2.5 million square Kilometers, an area the size of Western Europe. In the Tibetan culture, our relations with nature, including animals, were very peaceful. We lived in great harmony with nature. At its foundation and thereafter, after the arrival of Buddhism in Tibet, Tibetan society in general was characterized by compassion and openness. It was a society where people felt at ease. For those reasons I believe it might serve as an example.”

 

“Fundamentally, the issue of Tibet is political. It is an issue of colonial rule: the oppression of Tibet by the  People’s Republic of China and resistance to that rule by the people of Tibet. This issue can be resolved only through negotiations and not, as China would have it, through force, intimidation and population transfer.”

 

” Violations of human rights in Tibet have a distinct character. Such abuses are aimed at Tibetian as a people from asserting their own identity and their wish to preserve it. Thus, human rights violations in Tibet are often the result of institutionalized racial and cultural discrimination.”

 

 

             This is a short prayer written by the Dalai Lama

 

For as long as space endures,

And for as long as living beings remain.

Until then may I, too, abide

To dispel the misery of the world.

 

 

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 The Buddha

 

 

The Dalhai Lama and his wise and love filled words.

The Dalai Lama and his wise and love filled words.

 

 

What is dying inside of you?

What is dying inside of you?  

Vacation and Children


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I have returned from the best type of vacation. It included days of  laughing  and playing with my four youngest grandchildren and going to some new places.  I ate piggies and played peek a boo, I painted a canvas and read a story. I listened to their excited stories and laughed at their antics. Though physically tired, I am relaxed and happy inside.

I can close my eyes and still hear cries of “Nana! Nana!” There was almost sixty degree weather and sun. Let me repeat that:  Sun!  I know this may not sound like a good vacation to many but the children lifted up my heart and soul. It is why we do all we do. We write and speak out for a better world for the young ones. We extend kindness, compassion and forgiveness to make the world a better place now but also to make it a better place for the young ones in the future.

Very little of the pain and the heart ache that happens in this world, happens for any reason except humans hurting other humans for greed, power, hatred and a lack of compassion for our fellow human beings.  It always comes back to our teaching positive traits and respect for others to the little ones.  Then they teach their little ones some day.

That is the plan. It is a good plan with only one flaw:  we teach more hatred than love. We live by violent means not kind, compassionate ones. Human beings provide a hell here on earth and then wonder why our children and grandchildren look at life with skepticism and disdain. We teach them of our disappointments and  our short comings. Then we wonder why the world is not what it was supposed to be.

Humans must evolve into a higher being, a being that we are meant to be. A being who lives in awareness of the Divine within. A being who would never bring harm to another for any reason. We are meant to soar. We are meant to fly with the angels. The song that fills the heart is meant to last for this entire life on this plane of existence. I think that we must care more, do more and spread more love and positive energy into the world. We need to act more and give lip service less…a lot less. Every one of us has a story. The story of our lives. Some are rich with love and compassion. Some of us have stories of struggle and survival. Some beings have stories  of despair, pain, darkness and yet they come through some way surrounded by light that they refused to give up.

What I am trying to say is that no one promised us a life of ease or monetary richness. We can and must take what we have found around us and we must fight the darkness and pain. We must use every available chance to heal ourselves…sometimes with a little help from our friends. We need to take the inner fear and pain and shake it off. Lift up your faces to the sun and be thankful for everything we have been given and pass all the blessings down to the next generation. Teach our children to triumph and to keep their hearts full of love and their determination to improve the world something that they just work to do every day.

 

 

This is a remote control helium filled Nemo.

This is a remote control helium filled Nemo.

DSC_0328                                                                              The joy of childhood. Being in motion with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair.

 

 

one world, many hearts beating as one. Love to all.

One world, Many hearts beating as one. Love to all.

The Dalai Lama


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The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of Tibet. Tibet is a very mountainous country without resources like oil. One night, in the dark, lit only by the night sky, the Chinese invaded Tibet.  Tibetian monks took the young Lama secretly out of Tibet and the Dalai Lama has since lived in exile in India. Many Tibetans have also fled the invasion. Tibetan monks and nuns were murdered and raped. The Buddhist temples were plundered. Why? The Chinese at one point in history had control of Tibet. They decided all these years later that they were  going to take it back from the Tibetans. They brought in Chinese citizens live in Tibet, taking over the villages and government of the Tibetians. The world sat back and watched.  Tibet had nothing to really bargain with and no natural resources to make them worth fighting for. So without an economic incentive to intervene, the rest of the world simply sat back and allowed this to happen.

The Dalai Lama is an amazing man. I met him twenty plus years ago. His spirituality is a part of his essence. He shook my hand and I felt as if electricity ran up my arm. My late husband was with me at the time. The Dalai Lama looked me directly in the eyes and I knew this man was a man of God. I have never forgotten being in his presence and I read much of what he writes. This man is a man of God, it doesn’t matter what you call God. He is getting older no;, he was fifteen when he fled for his life and he has been in exile ever since. I wanted to share  some of his wisdom with my readers. He is not the only spiritual teacher or leader I have met or studied with. When you dissect what I have learned it is all similar: There is one god and he/she is everywhere and within all of us.

The Dalai Lama speaks with compassion for everyone in the world. His kindness is something that he shows to everyone, He believes that these attributes are what will lead us to happiness and to peace. He has set aside the turmoil surrounding his flight through the mountains of Tibet to India,  and has forgiven the Chinese conquerors. This is a huge act that most world leaders would never even think of doing. Forgiveness for another country taking your country away from you and killing many of your people. He has attempted to use diplomacy to have the Communists leave his country, but over and over, they would not leave. So he forgave them. This man walks his talk and is a role model for all of us on this planet.

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I am going to give you some excerpts from some of his teaching and writings and speeches. These excerpts will be in quotes. Other comments will be mine.

“In essence, all beings are united by the desire to gain happiness and to avoid suffering. We are also the same in that it is possible to remove suffering and attain happiness, to which we all have an equal right.”

“No matter what part of the world we live in, essentially we are all the same human beings. We have the same basic needs and concerns. Furthermore, all of us human beings want freedom and the right to determine our own destiny as individuals. That is human nature.”

“Little children do not bother about religion and nationality, rich or poor; they just want to play together. At a young age the sense of oneness of humanity is much more fresh. As we grow older, we make a lot of distinctions; a lot of artificial creations that are actually secondary become more important, and basic human concern diminishes. That is a problem. Whether we like it or not, we have all been born on this earth as part of one great family. Rich or poor, educated or uneducated, belonging to one nation, religion, ideology, or another, ultimately each of us is just a human being like everyone else. We all desire happiness and do not want suffering. When you recognize that all human beings are equal in this respect, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Out of this, in turn, comes a genuine sense of universal responsibility; the wish to actively help others overcome their problems.”

“To those who believe in God or in a creator, I ask them to put more emphasis on the equality of all human beings. Forget about other galaxies and concentrate on this globe, this planet. If one creator created all earthly beings, discrimination has no place. There can be no differences on the basis of color, social background, or, particularly in this country [India], of caste.”

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

” The common factor among all religions is that, whatever the philosophical differences between them, they are primarily concerned with helping their followers become better human beings. Consequently, all religions encourage the practice of kindness, generosity, and concern for others.”

” All of the different religious faiths, despite their philosophical differences, have a similar objective. Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people’s suffering. On these lines every religion has more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal.”

“We must try to promote harmony among various religious traditions. It is important for followers of each tradition to  practice sincerely and seriously. Suppose we are Buddhists.  In order to promote human values, we must, first, make every effort to improve ourselves. In this way, we will prove to be a good example to others. Instead of thinking of conversion, we would think about how much we can contribute through our tradition.”

” Without accepting a religion, but simply developing a realization of the importance of compassion and love, and with more concern and respect for others, a kind of spiritual development is very possible for those persons who are outside of religion.”

“All religious traditions talk about methods of compassion and forgiveness. If we accept religion, we should take the religious methods seriously and sincerely and use them in our daily lives. Then, a meaningful life can develop.”

“Anger and hatred are our real enemies. They are the forces we most need to confront and defeat, not the temporary ‘enemies’ who appear intermittently throughout our life. And unless we train our minds to reduce their negative force, they will continue to disturb us and disrupt our attempts to develop a calm mind.”

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Everyone likes to talk about being calm. You see those new slogans Keep Calm and….. We also always talk about peace, whether within families,  national or international context, but without inner peace how can we make real peace?

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