Sunday, 30 November 2014



Author: Frank Bird Linderman (1869-1938)

Published 1915

Public domain in the USA. 

Another night had come, and I made my way toward War Eagle's lodge. In the bright moonlight the dead leaves of the quaking-aspen fluttered down whenever the wind shook the trees; and over the village great flocks of ducks and geese and swan passed in a never-ending procession, calling to each other in strange tones as they sped away toward the waters that never freeze. 

In the lodge War Eagle waited for his grandchildren, and when they had entered, happily, he laid aside his pipe and said:

"The Duck-people are traveling to-night just as they have done since the world was young. They are going away from winter because they cannot make a living when ice covers the rivers.

"You have seen the Duck-people often. You have noticed that they wear fine clothes but you do not know how they got them; so I will tell you to-night. 

"It was in the fall when leaves are yellow that it happened, and long, long ago. The Duck-people had gathered to go away, just as they are doing now. The buck-deer was coming down from the high ridges to visit friends in the lowlands along the streams as they have always done. On a lake Old Man saw the Duck-people getting ready to go away, and at that time they all looked alike; that is, they all wore the same colored clothes. The loons and the geese and the ducks were there and playing in the sunlight. The loons were laughing loudly and the diving was fast and merry to see. 

On the hill where Old Man stood there was a great deal of moss, and he began to tear it from the ground and roll it into a great ball. When he had gathered all he needed he shouldered the load and started for the shore of the lake, staggering under the weight of the great burden. Finally the Duck-people saw him coming with his load of moss and began to swim away from the shore. 

"'Wait, my brothers!' he called, 'I have a big load here, and I am going to give you people a dance. Come and help me get things ready.'

"'Don't you do it,' said the gray goose to the others; 'that's Old Man and he is up to something bad, I am sure.'

"So the loon called to Old Man and said they wouldn't help him at all. 

"Right near the water Old Man dropped his ball of moss and then cut twenty long poles. With the poles he built a lodge which he covered with the moss, leaving a doorway facing the lake. Inside the lodge he built a fire and when it grew bright he cried:

"'Say, brothers, why should you treat me this way when I am here to give you a big dance? Come into the lodge,' but they wouldn't do that. 

Finally Old Man began to sing a song in the duck-talk, and keep time with his drum. The Duck-people liked the music, and swam a little nearer to the shore, watching for trouble all the time, but Old Man sang so sweetly that pretty soon they waddled up to the lodge and went inside. 

The loon stopped near the door, for he believed that what the gray goose had said was true, and that Old Man was up to some mischief.

The gray goose, too, was careful to stay close to the door but the ducks reached all about the fire. Politely, Old Man passed the pipe, and they all smoked with him because it is wrong not to smoke in a person's lodge if the pipe is offered, and the Duck-people knew that. 

"'Well,' said Old Man, 'this is going to be the Blind-dance, but you will have to be painted first.

"'Brother Mallard, name the colors--tell how you want me to paint you.'

"'Well,' replied the mallard drake, 'paint my head green, and put a white circle around my throat, like a necklace. Besides that, I want a brown breast and yellow legs: but I don't want my wife painted that way.' 

"Old Man painted him just as he asked, and his wife, too. Then the teal and the wood-duck (it took a long time to paint the wood-duck) and the spoonbill and the blue-bill and the canvasback and the goose and the brant and the loon--all chose their paint. Old Man painted them all just as they wanted him to, and kept singing all the time. They looked very pretty in the firelight, for it was night before the painting was done. 

"'Now,' said Old Man, 'as this is the Blind-dance, when I beat upon my drum you must all shut your eyes tight and circle around the fire as I sing. Every one that peeks will have sore eyes forever.' 

"Then the Duck-people shut their eyes and Old Man began to sing: 'Now you come, ducks, now you come--tum-tum, tum; tum-tum, tum.'

"Around the fire they came with their eyes still shut, and as fast as they reached Old Man, the rascal would seize them, and wring their necks. 

Ho! Things were going fine for Old Man, but the loon peeked a little, and saw what was going on; several others heard the fluttering and opened their eyes, too. The loon cried out, 'He's killing us—let us fly,' and they did that. 

There was a great squawking and quacking and fluttering as the Duck-people escaped from the lodge. Ho! But Old Man was angry, and he kicked the back of the loon-duck, and that is why his feet turn from his body when he walks or tries to stand. Yes, that is why he is a cripple to-day. 

"And all of the Duck-people that peeked that night at the dance still have sore eyes--just as Old Man told them they would have. Of course they hurt and smart no more but they stay red to pay for peeking, and always will. 

You have seen the mallard and the rest of the Duck-people. You can see that the colors Old Man painted so long ago are still bright and handsome, and they will stay that way forever and forever. Ho!" 

The End

Sunday, 23 November 2014

State of Inner Tranquility

State of Inner Tranquility



A Buddhist text describes the state of inner peace as such: "Tranquility of mind comes from having successfully transcended greed, hatred and ignorance."

The state of inner peace can therefore be achieved by bringing all deluded impulses or inner poisons under control.

The greatest achievement is selflessness. The greatest worth is self-mastery. The greatest quality is seeking to serve others. The greatest precept is continual awareness. The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything. The greatest action is not conforming to the world's ways. The greatest magic is transmuting the passions. The greatest generosity is non attachment. The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind. The greatest patience is humility. The greatest effort is not concerned with results. The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go. The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.


Here’s a Breathing Meditation, one of several ways to achieve peace of mind:

When you start to meditate, you may want to focus the mind by using some kind of external object of concentration. It need not be a physical object—the most common meditation ‘object’ is the breath—but it should be something simple and still. If moving, then it should be something repetitive, like the breath.

A good practice is to count to 21 breaths in and out, and then rest your mind by letting your attention wander for a bit. Then, gently bring your attention back to your breath, counting to 21 again. Rest again, and then repeat this cycle for the duration of your meditation session. You will develop quickly if you focus on counting your breaths in this way. 

After a while, once you are accustomed to concentrating, you can stop using an external object of focus. Instead, you can then start to focus on mind itself. At this point, you can also focus on the passing moments of mind. Before starting this more advanced practice, you should first go through the concentration training of shamatha. Later, once your concentration is stable, then you can begin to meditate on mind itself.
Shamar Rinpoche 

Upon rising, when you are most rested, before you get out of bed, quietly tune in to the mind. Listen to what your mind is telling you. Is your mind filled with the dream you had just before waking? What is the feeling tone of your thoughts? Are you geared up for the day with a list of things to do? 

Whatever is on your mind, begin your day with an intention to be mindful, to pay attention to one thing at a time, one task at a time. Take a few deep breaths and remember that no matter what you are doing, no matter where you are, you can breathe and quiet your mind for a moment.

Each time you do this, you are training your mind to be still, and with practice, those still moments make a big difference.


Friday, 14 November 2014




Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont



With the arrival of cooler weather, many gardeners turn to fall chrysanthemums to provide color for the spots left vacant by tired summer annuals. What most don't realize is that they are planting a species whose relatives go back centuries, even millennia, and whose origins are buried in legends.

Chrysanthemums are said to have first come from China although they are more often associated with Japan. According to an ancient Chinese legend, about 3,000 years ago, an emperor was told that the Dragon-fly Island in the Sunrise Sea (Japan) had a magic herb that would restore his youth. But since only youth could collect it, he sent a dozen young men and a dozen girls to the island.


They arrived at the islands after surviving perilous storms and attacks by sea serpents, and finding neither magic herb nor inhabitants on the island, they decided to stay. The prized possession they brought for trading, and now nurtured as a tie with their homeland, was the golden chrysanthemum.

Of course, Japanese mythology provides a different version of how the chrysanthemum came to be found in Japan.

Legend has it that in the beginning, there were so many gods in heaven that some, including the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami, were sent to the earth on a cloud-bridge.

Once on earth, the goddess created the gods of the winds, mountains, sea, and others, finally dying upon creating the god of fire. Izanagi missed Izanami and so followed her to the place of Black Night where she had gone, only to see vile sights and be pursued by the Old Hag of Black Night.

Narrowly escaping back to the earth, the god Izanagi went straight to the river for a purification bath. As he shed his clothes and they touched the ground, they turned into twelve gods. His jewels became flowers--one bracelet an iris, another a lotus, and his necklace a golden chrysanthemum.

Japan's imperial emblem for ten centuries featured a golden chrysanthemum with sixteen petals. In the War of Dynasties, which began in 1357 and lasted for 55 years, each warrior of the South wore a yellow chrysanthemum as a golden badge of courage.

There is only one place in Japan, according to legend, where the chrysanthemum is not grown.

  Long ago in the city of Himeji, a nobleman lived in a large castle with many treasures. Trusting no one, he allowed only his serving maid O-kiku, whose name means chrysanthemum, to handle and dust his possessions.


 One day she discovered one of his ten precious plates was missing. Not being able to find it, and fearing she would be blamed, she drowned herself in the well.

 Every night her ghost would come up to count the plates. Her repeated screeching upon finding one missing drove the nobleman out of the castle, which then fell into ruin. The people of Himeji, delighted by his departure, thereafter refused to grow the chrysanthemum in honor of O-kiku.

The word "chrysanthemum" comes from the Greek words meaning "golden flower," but a German legend refers to another of the many colors of chrysanthemums.

One cold, snowy Christmas Eve in Germany's Black Forest, a peasant family was sitting down to a meager supper when they heard a wailing. At first they thought it was the wind. But upon hearing the sound repeatedly, they opened the door and found a beggar. They ushered in the poor man who was blue with cold, wrapped him in blankets, and shared their food.


Instantly, the blankets were shed, revealing a man in shining white clothing with a halo around his head. Proclaiming himself the Christ Child he fled.

The next morning, outside the door where he had stood, were two white chrysanthemums. Today, many Germans bring white chrysanthemums into their homes on Christmas Eve, believing that by doing so they are sheltering the Christ Child.


So when you see chrysanthemums in gardens this fall, think of these rich legends from other cultures. And mark your calendar now to remind yourself to buy some white chrysanthemum cut flowers or a potted plant this Christmas season.

 Read the original story of the Yellow Chrysanthemum here:

The End.