As I’m sure you will agree!
Have a loving weekend.
The power of re-finding oneself.
If you do a search on Learning from Dogs for Terry Hershey you will find that his name comes up from time to time. Way back in March, 2011, I published a post announcing a visit by Terry to Payson, AZ where Jean and I were then living. Having had the opportunity to listen to Terry speaking and to meet him in person, I have maintained a subscription to his weekly Sabbath Moment ever since.
Thus it was that last Sunday in came the regular missive from Terry. They are always good but last Sunday’s was spectacularly good. In response to my request to publish the full Sabbath Moment here on Learning from Dogs, there was a prompt reply to the affirmative.
Thus with no further ado, here is Terry’s Sabbath Moment for May 5th, 2014, in full.
May 5, 2014
It seems that in the spiritual world, we do not really find something until we first lose it, ignore it, miss it, long for it, choose, it, and personally find it again–but now on a new level. Richard Rohr
Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise. Julia Cameron
I was born fragile, farther said. I was just born that way. He said I was a nervous baby. Just born like that. David Helfgott
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson began her career as an accomplished viola player. While on tour in Europe (in the late 1980s), her viola was stolen. She could have replaced it. As would be imagined, the theft threw her into a state of feeling lost and uncertain. She stopped playing. After awhile, Lorraine began to work with only instrument she had, her voice.
When asked, Lorraine stresses that her decision to go into singing happened quite naturally. “There were a lot of encouragements along the way, but no individual, earth-shaking event that made me change,” she says. “But, back in 1988, when my viola was stolen, I took that as a sort of omen.” (And although she hasn’t yet replaced her stolen viola, she avows that “the viola is always with me in spirit when I sing.”)
Interestingly, Lorraine is shy about being interviewed; she has no press agent. But when she sings she is known for an ever-widening swath of ardor and awe that she leaves in her wake. An intensity. Her voice–her singing–touches hearts and lives. The irony is that the gift–the artistry–she has given us all, began when life turned left.
Ask any class of kindergarten students, “How many of you are artists?”
How many raise their hands? Every single one of them.
Ask fourth graders. Maybe half.
Seventh graders. A handful.
Seniors in high school. Maybe one.
It’s quite the educational system we have created.
We begin with artists, and we slowly wean it out of them.
I do know this: it is easy to lose sight of that artist that resides inside of each one of us. Whether lost or buried or stuck or forgotten or dismissed or ignored… or “stolen.” (Whenever I lead a retreat, Crayolas are mandatory–because it is an unwritten spiritual principle that you cannot learn about life unless you color. It is curious then, how many–otherwise secure adults–will say, “I’m not very good at coloring.” I will say, “Who said anything about being ‘good’ at it?” Our mind has already morphed from play and wonder to mastery and proficiency.)
When we tag or label or describe ourselves, “artist” is seldom used. Where I was raised, artist was a phase you went through (a dream), you know, to grow out of, to, move on to something more useful and sensible–in order to get a real job.
Yes, of course we are all inner artists, but the cynical part of me tells me that it all sounds too much like a mantra meant to be chanted standing in a circle at a “be all you can be” conference. Sure, it all sounds good.
But I’m not sure what it really means.
In the opening scenes of Shine, we first meet the middle-aged David Helfgott (played by acclaimed Australian stage actor Geoffrey Rush), babbling to himself incessantly and wandering in the rain, in a state of transition. Behind him is the isolated existence as a child piano prodigy whose emotional turmoil led to a nervous breakdown, and a series of stays in various mental institutions. Ahead of him is his eventual reconnection with the world around him, guided by both love and his virtuoso talent that has been long abandoned. We witness the awakening of the artist. In the movie (and in real life), David eventually moves toward that which gives life.
So, what is this artist? It is the place in our spirit that births…
There is no doubt that we hide it. We don’t believe it. Or we judge it as inadequate.
But here’s the deal: The artist in David did not reside only in the talent or prodigy or genius, but in the spontaneity, vitality, innocence, passion and delight. And the artist in Lorraine wasn’t detoured by life’s unkindness.
For me, the tragedy is that (in the name of love) David’s father (Peter) squeezes the artist out of the prodigy. But in truth, it doesn’t always require a pathological “love” to hide or extinguish the light.
In the movie rendition, there is a scene that stops my heart. David and his father are walking home after a competition. David has placed second.
(In his father’s eyes, anything other that first is a failure.) The father is seething, and there is no hiding his disgust. David has lived his entire life absorbing his father’s pathology, doing his very best to make his Daddy happy. The father walks ahead, hurried, his spirit heavy. David follows. On the sidewalk, in chalk, there is a hopscotch pattern.The camera follows from behind, and we see young David unconsciously, intuitively, childlike, hopping and skipping and jumping — the joy and the light (and the artistry) of his childhood still alive.
I don’t want to lose sight of that childlike artistry inside of me. I’m home for a week or so, and the garden is abounding and teeming with life and color and enchantment. The peony buds profligate, the bearded iris blooms beguiling, the columbine exquisite. The branches of the Japanese Maple, heavy with spring rain, deferentially bow. I once asked my analyst why I was in therapy. He told me it would make me a better gardener. Gardening can be strong medicine–an elixir that nurtures and shapes the soul. For that reason, it is a tonic seldom taken straight with no ice. Gardening has way of seeping into your soul, and one day you find yourself, in the words of poet May Sarton, spending the first half hour of the morning “enjoying the air and watching for miracles,” the joy and the light still alive.
I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I’m not afraid of falling
into my inkpot. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Hope you all enjoyed this just as much as I did!
But I can’t close without mentioning something that struck me the very first time I read the essay. It is this.
That list that describes artistry: creativity, enchantment, imagination, play, risk and wonder. It’s not a million miles from describing the way our younger dogs behave when we take them for a walk around the property most days after lunch.
Dogs playing without a care in the world!
Once again, Terry’s website is here.
The courage of sharing beautiful thoughts.
In a post published last Monday under the title of Having yourself as your best friend, I presented a poem from Kimberly that was published on her blog: Words4jp’s Blog. As regular readers will recall that poem was an expression of personal sadness.
Then two days later, there was a further poem from Kimberly that just bowled me over with its beauty. Kimberly generously allowed me to share it with you.
The tears of a rhapsody
glide slowly along the strings of a violin
a single vision
under a dimly lit spot light
for an essence of grace
to float by and awaken his spirit
breathing life into his limbs
the whisper of satin pointes wafting
gossamer fingers embrace his hand
him forth into a world which transcends reality.
Our horses, Ben and Ranger, now graze in our main pasture.
Nearly six weeks ago, we welcomed our two rescue horses to our home. Then a week ago I reported that Ben and Ranger had settled in. The final part of embracing these two wonderful horses was to offer them grazing facilities out in the main area of grassland.
Thus as soon as an electric fence had been installed, Ben and Ranger faced a great deal of fresh grass! Admittedly, for just a couple of hours a day to prevent them from getting fat.
So three photographs of two very happy horses!
Ben is to the left in the above picture; Ranger head down nibbling grass as if it was going out of fashion!
This time it is Ranger looking at the camera in the above picture, with Ben filling his chops!
Unlike Jean, I have had no previous experience of horses. I have been bowled over by the speed at which these two wonderful creatures, both with a background of suffering cruelty from humans, have embraced me. And Jean; of course.
Six weeks ago I could hardly touch them. Now they will nuzzle my hands and let me rest my face against their heads.
We have so much to learn from our creatures.
Even millions of ‘juniors’ would struggle to match this!
On the basis that today, the Monday after Easter Sunday, is a holiday in many countries, it seemed very apt to keep the theme relaxed.
The following video was sent to me by our neighbours, Dordie and Bill, with the comment, “Paul and Jean, This is incredible….you must watch this on the big screen!”
However, big screen or not, this video will have you gasping with admiration.
The Britain’s Got Talent website can be found here.
We interrupt your life to bring you a moment of beauty, part two.
Last week I published the first set of pictures sent across by John Hurlburt. Here is the second set (but do look at the postscript).
Now a bonus.
I was reading Naked Capitalism earlier on Saturday and came across the link to a story in Huffington Post about a young man who jumped into a swollen river in Bangladesh to rescue a young fawn in danger of being swept away to it’s death. This how that story opens:
Courageous Teen Risks His Life To Save Drowning Baby Deer
This is pretty incredible.
A wildlife photographer visiting Noakhali, Bangladesh, was able to witness — and document — an amazingly courageous teen risk his own life to save a drowning fawn, Caters News Service reports.
The boy waded into the fast current of a surging, swollen river in Noakhali, holding the deer above his head, even as he, himself, disappeared beneath the water at times.
The link in the last sentence takes you to the article as it appeared in The Daily Mail newspaper (online version).
Two of the photographs from that article.
Here’s that article in The Daily Mail newspaper.
OK, I know I have a tendency to get a little sentimental but here’s my closing thought. That is that while there are people in the world such as young Belal who will not hesitate to rescue a vulnerable creature then there’s hope for all of mankind.
A guest post.
Whenever someone signs up to follow Learning from Dogs, it seems right and proper for me to thank them directly. In the majority of cases these new subscribers have their own blog site and I go across to that site and leave a thank you message. Almost without exception, I include an invite for that new follower to consider writing a guest post for me.
That’s how the following story came about. Mrs. G., who has the blog site Love Me, Trust Me, Kill Me contacted me and offered a guest post. If that wasn’t sufficiently special Mrs. G. is a teenager with a talent for writing beautiful prose and poetry. Thus the link is not only across the ‘blogosphere’ but across more than fifty years of age difference. I find that deeply humbling.
So without further ado, here is the short but very beautiful post.
“A dog is a man’s best friend”.
For me, this phrase represents the incontestable truth. I say this for I, too, have one of those wonderful creatures called dogs and I know how much love and comfort they offer. I treat my dog as I would treat a human because, in a way, they are like us just without the complicated emotions and insecurities. To know that there is someone who loves you unconditionally, someone who will never betray you as a human would, someone who will always be there for you when you need them the most, helping you, protecting you, is an indescribable and heartwarming feeling.
They are intelligent, loving, protective and they were, are and will be our companions for a very long time. We must love and protect them just like they love and protect us; unconditionally. If you hurt a dog it will still love you, no matter what. We can learn many things from them, things like loyalty and affection, what it means to care for someone, and they take away the feeling of loneliness. Dogs do not need to learn anything from us, we need to learn from them and they need to teach us how to be better persons.
I see my dog as my friend, I see him as a family member, and I love him with all my heart. I know that one day he will be gone and I’m afraid. I cry when I think about it, but that’s the way it is. Just like humans, dogs are born, they live, they die, and we must treasure them, love them, protect them and learn from them while we still can, because one day dogs may be gone forever.
Kind regards, Georgiana
Georgiana’s dog is called Shony and she shares it with her sister. You may see the loving animal here.
I’m sure that you, as with me, was greatly moved by Georgiana’s feelings for Shony so beautifully expressed in her words. Further writings from Mrs. G. would be wonderful.
Closing off today’s post was difficult. There are a number of videos on YouTube showing dogs loving people but, in the end, I couldn’t resist a video that was first published on Learning from Dogs last March. It was included in a post called All it takes is love.
Not only is it a beautiful video of a dog loving a cat, the musical backing track is gorgeous – there will be tears, I guarantee you!
A route to be free of hate and ill-will and a guarantee of happiness – read on:
The Brahma Viharas are also known as the Four Divine Emotions or The Four Divine Abodes. They are the meditative states, thoughts, and actions to be cultivated in Buddhist meditation. They are the positive emotions and states that are productive and helpful to anyone of any religion or even to the one with no religion.
The result will be a good person, free from hate and ill-will. Those who cultivate the brahma viharas are guaranteed to happiness. Those who further cultivate equanimity, may reach insightful states and wisdom of enlightenment experiences.
The Four Divine Emotions
1. Loving-kindness (Pali: Metta)
2. Compassion (Pali:Karuna)
3. Joy with others (Pali: Mudita)
4. Equanimity (Pali: Upekkha)
The Four Divine Emotions are known in Pali (Pali is a literary and liturgical language only) as the Brahma-viharas and are also known as the divine abidings or the divine abodes. They are emotional states to be strived for. By practising and developing the divine emotions, we will have a peaceful and patient daily life practice.
Loving-kindness is a soft, affection and care for others and yourself.It is not a hard, romantic type of love and not a love that includes extreme attachment or controlling feelings.
Compassion is like an open heart that cares for everyone. It includes empathy, being able to see the other person’s position and caring for and about them.
Joy with others, sometimes is called sympathetic joy or appreciative joy. It is the ability to be happy when you see others happy. Their joy becomes your joy as you welcome less suffering and happiness of others.
Equanimity is the balanced state of mind. It is the middle way state of mind that is neither clinging nor pushing away.
The above was an excerpt from the best selling book The Complete Book of Buddha’s Lists — Explained, by David N. Snyder, Ph.D., with a Foreword by the Venerable Madewela Punnaji. The full version can be downloaded for free from here.
By Jon Lavin
Hero rescues canyon-trapped canine
Using a cat carrier from a local animal hospital, outdoorsman Zak Anderegg was able to save a dog left for dead in a remote cavern in the canyons along the Arizona-Utah border.
Amazing story picked up off Facebook from Daniel Caride of The Daily Tail. Really worth watching.
By Paul Handover
Conscientiousness isn’t all it’s cracked out to be!
(Foreword from Paul.)
Jon is one of those rare individuals who not only has been committed to a path of self-awareness for more than 30 years but who has also studied incredibly hard so as to be able to help others and do so from a base of real competence, as his own Blog describes. I can speak as a current ‘client’ of Jon who is assisting me in my own journey.
But then I realised the great strength in what Jon has written. It is this.
There are many notable teachers out there who thousands upon thousands have turned to for a deeper understanding of what life is all about. As far back as time itself teachers have surfaced and given spiritual guidance to those that come in need. But it’s very difficult to read or listen to these great teachers and connect with the fact that they were born, as we are all born, with nothing. And all of them, like many of us, went through Hell on wheels to come out the other side with a greater self-awareness and a deeper understanding of the real truths in nature. Like all of us who wish to rise above our present place they first acknowledged their own frailties. It is the starting point.
So, let me get to the point. Jon has the awareness and understanding to offer real help to those that seek answers that are currently beyond reach. Jon’s article is an wonderful illustration that he experiences the same fears and feelings of helplessness that you and I feel. You and I and Jon and all of humanity are much more closely connected than we realise.
I’ve been running my own business for about 12 years now. In the beginning it started because I had a thirst for wanting to make a difference in small business in our local area and a passion for wanting to do it through working with people directly, on their behaviours. Still have, really.
I think this came as a form of acknowledgement to the few exceptional people managers I experienced while I was employed, and the all too common, terrible ones.
I was also mentored by a group of people to whom no developmental tool was barred. My eyes were well and truly opened to how a change of view could change outcomes.
The final boot up the backside was redundancy in the late 90s. I was all ready to go and just needed a kick.
My work ethic, trained at home and then through an engineering apprenticeship, was to conscientiously work hard and try hard and to treat people the way you want to be treated. Nothing wrong with that. I assumed automatic reward would follow as long as I did those things.
Over time I wised up and became a bit less idealistic and a little more politically aware but carried on in much the same way.
Much later I found myself embarking on a whole new adventure, with a lovely wife and family, all dependent on me, with a few contacts to start getting work from!
It took a year before the first jobs came in that didn’t necessitate robbing the almost non-existent savings and redundancy payment just to keep food on the table. Then, work slowly picked up and it started to get quite good for a one-man band. We were able to go on holiday once a year, camping, but still great, and then abroad.
All the time, I beavered away, trying hard, being very conscientious, as I’d been brought up to be, but slowly getting very stressed.
Time was when it took Friday night to de-stress, then 3 days, then 10 days and recently, not at all.
So faced with this present downturn, which is likely to go on for much longer than any of the others I’ve seen and survived, I’m wondering just what new strategy to adopt. Money is already getting very tight and everything is feeling very ‘hand to mouth’. Can’t really see one month in front of the other.
I notice our local farmer who I went to school with but didn’t really know.
I’ve got degrees, lived abroad, can speak Finnish fluently, (what use is that, I hear you say!), and can turn my hand to most things, but I still feel quite dis-empowered and at a bit of a loss.
My farmer friend is always smiling, he’s got a flock of geese he’s fattening up, the same with his beef cattle, does livery for half a dozen horses or so, has fields planted with various cereal crops, and has his finger in lots of different pies – and definitely does not look stressed. He is also renting his land plus another farm.
I honestly don’t know what to make of this all except for a few really important things – the importance of diversification, relationships and appreciating what you’ve got, especially people things, here, in the now.
I have also come to the realisation that I still haven’t cracked the main thing with being self-employed, and that is replacing fear with trust.
It’s been said by various enlightened people that we see a reflection of the world we hold in mind. Going forward into this brave new world I would like to see opportunities rather than fear, I will diversify into things which make more use of my wide range of talents, and I will swap fear for trust.
By Jon Lavin