Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Rules for Being Human

With my thanks to my lifelong friend Ed Galloway for posting this on's something I want to remember  now and in (a few years')  time...

1)  YOU WILL RECEIVE A BODY.  You may like it or not, but it will be yours for the entire period round.

2)  YOU WILL LEARN LESSONS.  You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called "Life".
 Each day in this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons.  You may like the lessons or think them irrelevant or stupid.

3)  THERE ARE NO MISTAKES, ONLY LESSONS.  Growing is a process of trial and error, experimentation.  The "failed" experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately works.

4)  A LESSON IS REPEATED UNTIL IT IS LEARNED.   A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it, then you can go on to the next lesson.

5)  LEARNING LESSONS DOES NOT END.  There is no part of life that does not contain lessons.    If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.

6)  "THERE" IS NO BETTER THAN "HERE".  When your  "there" has become "here",  you will simply obtain another "there", and that will look better than "here".

7)  OTHERS ARE MERELY MIRRORS OF YOU.   You can not love or hate something about another person unless it reflects to you something you love or hate about yourself.

8)  WHAT YOU MAKE OF YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU.    You have all of the tools and resources you need - what you do with them is up to you.  The choice is yours.

9)  THE ANSWERS LIE INSIDE YOU.  The answer's to life's questions lie inside you.   All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Buddhism, St. Francis and the Bat

Ah, how Buddhism has begun to influence my life.

The scene- my den at Maison Cou Rouge.  Time--about ten in the evening a couple of weeks ago.

I'm sitting there, minding my own business, watching TV and needlepointing. The house is dark except for the lights in the den.  Hey, I was the one always running behind everyone else turning off the lights....I hate changing light bulbs and wasting electricity...but I digress...

Something flits by along my peripheral vision.

You know that feeling you get?  The blink-twice....forehead-frown...."what the hell was THAT" thought. You don't move your head, but your eyes dart first to the left...then to the right.

Something black swoops down in front of the fireplace.  (Yes, swoops.  I have  a two-story cathedral ceiling in my den).

You know what comes next. Words that would make a sailor blush.

I have a ^$*#% bat in the house.

This has happened only one other time in the twelve years I have lived at Maison Cou Rouge.  That time, Alix came down the stairs (I think she was ten) and said something was in her room. I said "'s probably a worse, a roach."  Another bad mommy of the week award....Again, I digress.

The point is, I shouldn't be surprised that a bat came down a chimney.  This house has three chimneys and nine fireplaces.

What did I do?  I reacted like most women. I panicked.  I ran to my bedroom, closed the door and hid.

The next two days, I tiptoed around the house, ready at any moment to be attacked by Dracula.  No bat sightings.   I figured that, like me at my mom's house in Louisiana, it had taken over the upstairs.

Fine. You have your space, Mr. Bat....I have mine.

But the time came when I had to put on my big girl panties and deal with going upstairs (yes, in my own home).  I had to get the upstairs straightened and cleaned because I was leaving for Louisiana and not coming back until April.  And so, with great GREAT stealth, I crept up the stairs.

No bat. 

I figured it had found its way BACK up the chimney (yeah right--I'm good at deluding myself when I want to....)  I changed the sheets on the beds and cleaned the bathrooms.  All well and good.

Here is where the Buddhist part comes in.   The next  afternoon, I was getting my teeth cleaned (I know TMI) and I was listening to a teaching from Jack Kornfield's "Buddhism for Beginners". His lecture was the Noble 8-Fold Path--one element of  which is "right actions" --including respect for all living things.  He told the story of how he attended a teaching of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, on the topic of respect.  His Holiness said--- 

"Here I am supposed to be this great important teacher, but look at this ant right here.  You really have to admire this ant.  Perhaps this ant has more innocence than I.   It certainly is more patient that I. Or look at this spider. It is more sure-footed than I; and it creates a web, certainly more beautiful than I can.  You have to see something beautiful and valuable in every form of life."

Well, guess who came to visit that night?

The bat was back. And having a grand time flying around my well-lit den.

This time, I didn't panic. I prayed to good ol' St. Francis, the patron saint of animals,  for help.  To help the BAT, not to help me.  Respect for all living creatures.  Like the Buddha taught.  The ant....the spider...Jack Kornfield's story of the Dalai Lama.

Suddenly, something I had watched on National Geographic popped into my head. Cave bats fly toward the light. (See, Mama, all those years of sitting in front of the TV instead of playing with the neighborhood children pay off eventually).  The bat probably flew downstairs because it was the only light on in the house.

So I turned off the den lights, opened the french doors from the den to the patio, and turned on the outside patio and lights.  In less than a minute, the bat found its way through the door and to the outside.

What did I learn?

My first reaction (well, after I ran in panic and dove under my bed) was "Kill the bat". My second reaction was "Damn, I need a guy to fix this".  My third reaction was  "Why does all this bad stuff have to happen to me".

Look how self-centered those initial reactions were. All about ME.

When I changed my viewpoint---stop thinking about myself-- I realized the bat was just as panicked as I was.

Don't panic. 
Remember we are all living creatures and respect that. 
Use your knowledge to help another living being.

Situation resolved.

You know what else I noticed? 

Bats are very beautiful fliers.

Just one thing.  Under NO circumstance expect me to remember any of the above lessons learned if there is a snake around.

Some things just are never gonna change.