Sunday, 29 June 2014

Another Dabbling in Zen

Another Dabbling in Zen

A monk asked Fa-yen: “As for the finger I will not ask about it. But what is the moon?”

The Master said: “Where is the finger that you don’t ask about?”

So the monk asked: “As for the moon, I will not ask about it. But what is the finger?”

The Master said: “The moon!”

The monk challenged him: “I asked about the finger. Why did you answer, ‘the moon’?”

The Master replied: “Because you asked about the finger.”


Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever 

you are doing. This is the ultimate.


“What is the Tao?” a monk asked.

“It is right in front of your nose!” the Master answered.

“So why can’t I see it?” the monk continued.

“Your Me is in the way,” the Master answered.



Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Osseo, The Son of the Evening Star


(From: The Indian Fairy Book , The Original Legends

Author: Cornelius Mathews)

There once lived an Indian in the north who had ten daughters, all of whom grew up to womanhood. They were noted for their beauty, especially Oweenee, the youngest, who was very independent in her way of thinking. She was a great admirer of romantic places, and spent much of her time with the flowers and winds and clouds in the open air. 

Though the flower was homely, it was fragrant—though the wind was rough, it was healthful—and though the clouds were dark, it embosomed the fruitful rain. She knew how, in spite of appearances, to acknowledge the good qualities concealed from the eye. She paid very little attention to the many handsome young men who came to her father's lodge for the purpose of courting her.

Her elder sisters were all sought in marriage, and one after the other they went off to dwell in the lodges of their husbands; but Oweenee was deaf to all proposals of the kind. At last she married an old man called Osseo, who was scarcely able to walk, and who was too poor to have things like others. The only property he owned in the world was the walking-staff which he carried in his hand. Though thus poor and homely, Osseo was a devout and good man; faithful in all his duties, and obedient in all things to the Good Spirit. Of course they jeered and laughed at Oweenee on all sides, but she seemed to be quite happy, and said to them, "It is my choice and you will see in the end who has acted the wisest."

They made a special mock of the walking-staff, and scarcely an hour in the day passed that they had not some disparaging reference to it. Among themselves they spoke of Osseo of the walking-staff, in derision, as the owner of the big woods, or the great timber-man.

"True," said Oweenee, "it is but a simple stick; but as it supports the steps of my husband, it is more precious to me than all the forests of the north."

A time came when the sisters, and their husbands, and their parents were all invited to a feast. As the distance was considerable, they doubted whether Osseo, so aged and feeble, would be able to undertake the journey; but in spite of their friendly doubts, he joined them, and set out with a good heart.

As they walked along the path they could not help pitying their young and handsome sister who had such an unsuitable mate. She, however, smiled upon Osseo, and kept with him by the way the same as if he had been the comeliest bridegroom in all the company. Osseo often stopped and gazed upward; but they could perceive nothing in the direction in which he looked, unless it was the faint glimmering of the evening star. They heard him muttering to himself as they went along, and one of the elder sisters caught the words, "Pity me, my father!"

"Poor old man," said she; "he is talking to his father. What a pity it is that he would not fall and break his neck, that our sister might have a young husband."

Presently as they came to a great rock where Osseo had been used to breathe his morning and his evening prayer, the star emitted a brighter ray, which shone directly in his face.

Osseo, with a sharp cry, fell trembling to the earth, where the others would have left him, but his good wife raised him up, and he sprang forward on the path, and with steps light as the reindeer he led the party, no longer decrepit and infirm, but a beautiful young man. On turning around to look for his wife, behold she had become changed, at the same moment, into an aged and feeble woman, bent almost double, and walking with the staff which he had cast aside.

Osseo immediately joined her, and with looks of fondness and the tenderest regard, bestowed on her every endearing attention, and constantly addressed her by the term of ne-ne-moosh-a, or my sweetheart.

As they walked along, whenever they were not gazing fondly in each other's face, they bent their looks on heaven, and a light, as if of far-off stars, was in their eyes.

On arriving at the lodge of the hunter with whom they were to feast, they found the banquet ready, and as soon as their entertainer had finished his harangue—in which he told them his feasting was in honor of the Evening or Woman's Star—they began to partake of the portion dealt out, according to age and character, to each one of the guests. The food was very delicious, and they were all happy but Osseo, who looked at his wife, and then gazed upward, as if he was looking into the substance of the sky. Sounds were soon heard, as if from far-off voices in the air, and they became plainer and plainer, till he could clearly distinguish some of the words.

"My son, my son," said the voice; "I have seen your afflictions, and pity your wants. I come to call you away from a scene that is stained with blood and tears. The earth is full of sorrows. Wicked spirits, the enemies of mankind, walk abroad, and lie in wait to ensnare the children of the sky. Every night they are lifting their voices to the Power of Evil, and every day they make themselves busy in casting mischief in the hunter's path. 

You have long been their victim, but you shall be their victim no more. The spell you were under is broken. Your evil genius is overcome. I have cast him down by my superior strength, and it is this strength I now exert for your happiness. Ascend, my son; ascend into the skies, and partake of the feast I have prepared for you in the stars, and bring with you those you love.

"The food set before you is enchanted and blessed. Fear not to partake of it. It is endowed with magic power to give immortality to mortals, and to change men to spirits. Your bowls and kettles shall no longer be wood and earth. The one shall become silver, and the other pure gold. They shall shine like fire, and glisten like the most beautiful scarlet. Every female shall also change her state and looks, and no longer be doomed to laborious tasks. She shall put on the beauty of the star-light, and become a shining bird of the air. She shall dance, and not work. She shall sing, and not cry.

"My beams," continued the voice, "shine faintly on your lodge, but they have power to transform it into the lightness of the skies, and decorate it with the colors of the clouds. Come, Osseo, my son, and dwell no longer on earth. Think strongly on my words, and look steadfastly at my beams. My power is now at its height. Doubt not, delay not. It is the voice of the Spirit of the Stars that calls you away to happiness and celestial rest."

The words were intelligible to Osseo, but his companions thought them some far-off sounds of music, or birds singing in the woods. Very soon the lodge began to shake and tremble, and they felt it rising into the air. It was too late to run out, for they were already as high as the tops of the trees. Osseo looked around him as the lodge passed through the topmost boughs, and behold! their wooden dishes were changed into shells of a scarlet color, the poles of the lodge to glittering rods of silver, and the bark that covered them into the gorgeous wings of insects.

A moment more and his brothers and sisters, and their parents and friends, were transformed into birds of various plumage. Some were jays, some partridges and pigeons, and others gay singing birds, who hopped about, displaying their many-colored feathers, and singing songs of cheerful note.

But his wife, Oweenee, still kept her earthly garb, and exhibited all the indications of extreme old age. He again cast his eyes in the direction of the clouds, and uttered the peculiar cry which had given him the victory at the rock. In a moment the youth and beauty of his wife returned; her dingy garments assumed the shining appearance of green silk, and her staff was changed into a silver feather.

The lodge again shook and trembled, for they were now passing through the uppermost clouds, and they immediately after found themselves in the Evening Star, the residence of Osseo's father.

"My son," said the old man, "hang that cage of birds which you have brought along in your hand at the door, and I will inform you why you and your wife have been sent for."

Osseo obeyed, and then took his seat in the lodge.

"Pity was shown to you," resumed the King of the Star, "on account of the contempt of your wife's sister, who laughed at her ill fortune, and ridiculed you while you were under the power of that wicked spirit whom you overcame at the rock. That spirit lives in the next lodge, being the small star you see on the left of mine, and he has always felt envious of my family because we had greater power, and especially that we had committed to us the care of the female world. He failed in many attempts to destroy your brothers and sisters-in-law, but succeeded at last in transforming yourself and your wife into decrepit old persons. You must be careful and not let the light of his beams fall on you, while you are here, for therein lies the power of his enchantment. A ray of light is the bow and arrow he uses."

Osseo lived happy and contented in the parental lodge, and in due time his wife presented him with a son, who grew up rapidly, and in the very likeness of Osseo himself. He was very quick and ready in learning everything that was done in his grandfather's dominions, but he wished also to learn the art of hunting, for he had heard that this was a favorite pursuit below. To gratify him, his father made him a bow and arrows, and he then let the birds out of the cage that he might practice in shooting. In this pastime he soon became expert, and the very first day he brought down a bird; but when he went to pick it up, to his amazement it was a beautiful young woman, with the arrow sticking in her breast. It was one of his younger aunts.

The moment her blood fell upon the surface of that pure and spotless planet, the charm was dissolved. The boy immediately found himself sinking, although he was partly upheld by something like wings until he passed through the lower clouds, and he then suddenly dropped upon a high, breezy island in a large lake.

He was pleased, on looking up, to see all his aunts and uncles following him in the form of birds, and he soon discovered the silver lodge, with his father and mother, descending, with its waving tassels fluttering like so many insects' gilded wings. It rested on the loftiest cliffs of the island, and there they fixed their residence. They all resumed their natural shapes, but they were diminished to the size of fairies; and as a mark of homage to the King of the Evening Star, they never failed on every pleasant evening during the summer season to join hands and dance upon the top of the rocks. These rocks were quickly observed by the Indians to be covered, in moonlight evenings, with a larger sort of Ininees, or little men, and were called Mish-in-e-mok-in-ok-ong, or Little Spirits, and the island is named from them to this day.

Their shining lodge can be seen in the summer evenings, when the moon beams strongly on the pinnacles of the rocks; and the fishermen who go near those high cliffs at night, have even heard the voices of the happy little dancers. And Osseo and his wife, as fondly attached to each other as ever, always lead the dance.

The End

Friday, 13 June 2014

Omens of Insects and Other Cold Blooded Creatures

Omens of Insects and Other Cold Blooded Creatures

Belief in supernatural or omens is subjective. For fun sake however on this Friday 13, I’ve explored some of the omens regarding our encounters with certain insects and other cold blooded creatures.

Ant- To be bitten by an ant foreshadows enmity and quarreling. If ants make their nest near your threshold prosperity is indicated. 

Bee- If bee flies into the house it is thought to bring luck to the inmates of a house particularly if it is detained for a short time. In some regions fisherman believe that the sight of a bee will bring them a good catch if it is flying in the same direction, as their boat is moving. Meanwhile, to kill or dispose of a bee presages bad luck.

Strangely enough, in ancient times the Romans considered seeing a swarm of bees, especially prior to a battle, to be a very ill omen. The calamitous defeat of the army of Pompey by Caesar at Pharsalus in 48 B.C. was foretold by a swarm of bees which settled upon the sacred altar.

Beetle- Ever since ancient Egypt, the scarab has enjoyed divine honours and along with them other beetles as well had been attributed with omens of fortunate significance. If a beetle runs across your path when you are on a country walk, regard it as a very lucky omen and the bigger the beetle, the greater the good fortune that it portends. It must be understood, however, that we are not referring here to the common black-beetle, or cockroach, which has a very different significance.

Butterfly- Who doesn’t love a colourful butterfly? For they stand for beauty and metamorphosis. As far as omens are concerned, a butterfly denotes renewal and rejuvenation, the ability to bounce back from setbacks or disappointments, a transformation of spirituality. It also symbolizes the human soul.

In Japan, the butterfly symbolizes young womanhood. To see two butterflies dancing about one another, it portends marital happiness. In China, the butterfly symbolizes long life and beauty.

Cockroach- Back in olden days the presence of this contemptible pest in a place where it was not generally seen held to presage illness or even death.

Cricket- In contrast to the Cockroach, a Cricket is always been greeted with happy acceptance in all parts of the world for these delightful little critters have always been regarded as omens of luck. What’s more they betoken peace, prosperity and domestic felicity. If crickets mysteriously abandon a house which they have inhabited for a long time however, illness or death is to be feared.

Cicada- (The tree cricket.) The sound denotes 'elevated' poetry, immortality or life after death. A stylized cicada form represents "loyalty to one's principles.

Fish- To see a large fish swimming by itself in the water promises a life of happiness and general prosperity. Fish also denotes spiritual aspects or people in one's life, and spiritual achievements. Fishing represents the spiritual purposes of life and man's search for the higher consciousness. It also represents fertility and the life giving principles of the maternal. To catch a fish suggests growth of the divine self. To catch an ugly fish may imply spiritual weakness. To have an ugly fish appear denotes seeing spiritual weakness in a situation. To see a frozen fish denotes that one's spiritual life is frozen and not used as it should be. To see beautiful multicolored fish represents the joy and peace in one's spiritual life. Saving a fishes life represents the need to save those principles in oneself. In China, the fish represents happiness and plenty. It also stands for courage, strength, and endurance.

Fly- Swarms of flies are usually considered as harbingers of disaster. A fly denotes an irritation in a life situation. To swat the flies therefore, indicate needing to kill or stop the negative irritations.

It’s interesting to note that in most cultures the invincible swarms of flies are considered the embodiment of demonic powers. Particularly in Christianity, Flies are considered predominantly as symbols of satanic beings.

Frog- The frog denotes an impaired mental or physical condition. Again in most Christian societies the frog is considered as symbol of impurity, a plague upon one's house or simply the spirits of evil. It could however represent unintelligent and ugly speech.

On the more positive note, the frog represents fertility, genesis, and reproductive life. In Fairy Tales, the kissed frog always turns into a handsome Prince, a great transformation.

Grasshopper- These cheerful insects, symbol of summer and fun, favour travelling and foretell good news.

Ladybug- Ladybugs are good little helpers for every gardener for they eat aphids and spare plants of the ensuing damage. As far as the omens are concerned Ladybugs are pretty little beetles that are viewed everywhere with favour as a harbinger of good fortune. Moreover, a ladybug bearing seven spots on its back is considered particularly lucky. On the negative note, in some regions ladybug denotes an irritating situation in one's life.

Lizard- To find a lizard in a place where it is unusual to do so is an omen of disappointment.

Snail- It denotes a slow, cautious attitude. 

They are considered self-sufficient because they carry around their own houses and have all of its own belongings with it every moment.

Snake- An encounter with a snake foretells of treachery, betrayal and jealousy, directed against yourself if the creature is coming towards you, but against your enemies if it is going away from you.

Snapping Turtle- Foreshadows a person who will retaliate in a negative situation.

Spider- Too see a spider in the evening portends money losses; to see one in the morning is an omen of grief; while at noon it presages trouble and anxiety. To discover a spider upon one’s clothes or person is an omen of prosperity. To come upon one that is spinning its web means that a plot is being hatched against you. To kill a spider, particularly at night, is very unfortunate.

Tadpole- It denotes spiritual immaturity

Toad- To kill or injure a toad will bring anxiety or grief upon your head.

Tortoise- A tortoise is a lucky animal, and to encounter one casually is an omen of tranquility and protection.

Turtle- Turtles represent quiet strength and long life because they live a long time. It is a symbol of fertility and unwavering vitality, and great patience. The negative aspect is a fear of facing responsibility or reality.

Viper- To encounter a viper, or adder, indicates meeting with a woman of questionable character.

Wasp- To be stung by a wasp is a warning to be on your guard against jealousy, deception and danger.

The end

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Reason We Love Jade

The Reason We Love Jade

The term jade is applied to two different metamorphic rocks that are made up of different silicate minerals: nephrite and Jadeite. Simply put, Nephrite consists of microcrystalline interlocking elements of calcium, magnesium and iron; the higher the iron content the greener the colour. Jadeite on the other hand is a composed of sodium and aluminium-rich pyroxene. 

Jadeite, measuring between 6.0 and 7.0 Mohs hardness, is about the same hardness as quartz. It is more fragile and more difficult to carve. Nephrite ranking between 6.0 and 6.5 Mohs hardness scale, though slightly softer, is nevertheless tougher than jadeite and therefore can be worked with quartz or garnet sand, and polished with bamboo or even ground jade. 

Canada provides the major share of modern lapidary nephrite. The most valuable Nephrite however comes from Hetian in the southern part of present day Xinjiang Province. It has been mined from the mountains and is found as pebbles in the river beds. The most desirable Hetian jade is translucent and has an oily surface sometimes referred to as "mutton fat". Nephrite can be found in a creamy white form (known in China as "mutton fat" jade) as well as in a variety of green colours; whereas jadeite shows more colour variations such as white, green, black , blue, lavender-mauve, pink, and emerald-green colours that can be translucent to opaque.

Of the two, jadeite is rarer. Translucent emerald-green jadeite is the most prized variety, both historically and today. Burma (Myanmar) and Guatemala are the principal sources of modern gem jadeite. In the area of Mogaung in the Myitkyina District of Upper Burma, jadeite formed a layer in the dark-green serpentine, and has been quarried and exported for well over a hundred years. 

Wearing a jade bangle that fits close to your wrist and bumps the bones on your wrist stimulates acupuncture points that are located around the wrist bone, and keep the qi flowing smoothly for health and youthfulness.

The rarest are the colors of white, lavender, red, often described as "hong", and yellow. Black jade is often very dark green jade, but black jade color is rare, often seen as charcoal. Jade is a natural stone, has lots of lines, fissures that look like small cracks but are not signs of damage. As moisture carries other minerals through the jade the different colors are deposited.

 Jade is valued for its intrinsic qualities; for one thing it is believed to be closely related to the human body, and the jade qi energy and the body qi energy flow between each other. Jade qi helps to balance the body. If the wearer is healthy and happy, the jade they wear will become more beautiful each consecutive day. If however one sees their jade is looking dull or flat, take heed and be extra vigilant in preserving good health.

It is interesting to note also that the minerals that make the colors are part of the qi energy and represent different energies: 

- Green jade has energy for healing mind and body, calmness and balance and love. Light green is more yin qi, and darker green is more yang energy.

- White jade has the pure energy of the universe, and helps us develop deep wisdom from within, and calms our spirit.

- Lavender jade is often reserved for older women in Chinese culture, and has energy for inner peace, spiritual awareness and is often used for meditation and balance, and is a teacher of all things.

-"Hong" jade, red/orange color, has energy for protection and safety, success, confidence, courage and happiness.

-Yellow jade qi augments happiness, prosperity, spiritual growth and satisfaction in life.

- Black jade is very yang, and the carvers try to make each piece with only a small amount of black. Black jade is used by martial artists, those who practice Tai Chi and Qigong, to build up the body qi.

Jade is also believed to protect the person who wears it. Caught in an accident or other such, the jade bangle bears the brunt and gets broken or destroyed sparing the wearer from any harm. Here’s one such story: A women was once being treated in a hospital with serious cardiac illness she’d not been expected to survive. She happened to be wearing her always-present red jade bangle bracelet. As the doctor thought she was going to die, suddenly her jade bangle spontaneously broke in several pieces, and her health miraculously rebounded and she made completely recovery. There many such stories about jade protecting a person who wears it.

It is any wonder why it is considered quite fortunate to give or receive a gift of jade. Jade is a popular gift particularly around the New Year, with both the giver and receiver being blessed with good luck for the year, and even longer.

When jade is worn for a long period it is believed to become part of the wearer, therefore giving such a gift to a family member or a close friend carries the connotation that the presenters are giving the other a part of themselves. 

So do wear a jade, in full knowledge that wearing this beautiful stone will enrich one’s life, balance the body, mind and also the spirit.

Good Luck.