Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Subtle Power Games We All Play...

The Subtle Power Games We All  Play...

From the dawn of time, people have been playing power games with one another.

Granted, most of us are unaware that we do it, but it does not change the fact that these power games are depleting our powers, and are the cause of many human disagreements, messy entanglements and suffering.

Once, a friend told me that he doesn’t like to visit his girlfriend's daughter and her family too often.
When I asked why, he said that he cannot stand their constant fighting.

This surprised me, since I knew the couple and they seemed to be very mellow, young and very loving.
They had two young and very sweet children, and both of them were avid cyclists and lovers of the outdoors.

“It is not that they yell or fight out loud,” my friend said, “It's all the competitive power games that they play with one another that is utterly exhausting to be around.“ 

People play subtle power games with one another and most of the time, they do so completely  unconsciously.

If you have ever seen a British person resort in a conversation to speaking in her most posh accent, you are witnessing a power game in which she is asserting that her background and education are equal to or higher than the person to whom she is speaking.

You can see it in the way a pretty woman flutters her eyes or plays with her hair, when she wishes to attract attention to herself or to assert her youth and beauty.

You can see power games when someone does not let another get a word in edgewise in a conversation, dominating the "exchange" and commanding the energy.

You can see power games when a friend asks you a question, and then stops listening the moment you formulate your thoughts in order to answer.

You can see power games when friends and family members manipulate you to do things that you do not wish to do.

There are endless examples of subtle power games. 
I advise you to become aware of them and to notice the situations in which you yourself are the one playing power games.

Awareness is power.
You do not want to diminish your powers by dimming down your insights.
It is best to become aware and to see those power games, and thus to choose NOT to play them, and to heal yourself.

I want to take you deeper into WHY we all play subtle powers game with one another.

I also wish to say that these power games deplete our own vital energy force, damage our subtle physical body and that as soon as we become able to recognize patterns of behaviors that are damaging, we are then able to stop participating in those games and to start RESTORING our subtle bodies, from behaviors which slowly but surely are deteriorating our physical bodies.

The question is....... WHY?.....
WHY do we play power games with everyone?
Why do friends, lovers and couples in a loving marriage all play power games?
Why do we play  unconscious power games with our brothers and sisters, parents, friends, and neighbors?

You may not like the answer.......

When you are READY to understand and embrace the Truth, you will actually LOVE the answer, and it will empower you to reach great heights.

But most people are not ready to HEAR the Truth, so.....allow me to take you by the hand, and start with the obvious.
Let us start walking into the shallow water by the edge of the ocean, before we dive deep into the great unknown.

The obvious answer is that people play power games because they want something they perceive they need or that will make them feel better.

Look at a person who feels the need to assert her higher education or high social position to others.
She might be feeling insecure about her life right NOW, and so she wishes to state to her listeners as well as to the world, that she is NOT a "has been," but a well-educated women with a sharp mind.

Nobody but her own inner sabotage has even suggested that she was a "has been" or an old woman.
It is her own cruel inner voice that she is hearing, that gives birth to feelings of inadequacy that make her want to "flex her muscles," to show that she is still powerful.

In effect, what she is saying is:
"I might look gray and old, but behind this old and rapidly decaying body, there is a refined woman who has done much in her life and is still very capable in many ways!"

An older man who has a need to assert his powers, or to display his money to a woman he is interested in, is actually saying:
"I may not look as handsome or as masculine as some of the guys in your gym, but I am powerful, capable and rich, and I can offer you a great life if you choose me!"

When an old mother makes her daughter cry from frustration, why is she doing this? What power games is she playing?

She might be feeling forgotten and powerless, scared and lost.
She wants to feel powerful, so she picks up the phone and calls her daughter.
By doing so, she is no longer an old woman living in a nursing home waiting for death, but she is back to her role as a powerful mother.

Even if all she can do nowadays is to make her daughter cry from guilt, sadness and frustration, she is still likely to put down the phone feeling a surge of energy that she mistakes for power.

Perhaps the oldest power game on the planet is the sexual game between men and women.

Historically, men have oppressed women, and they still do so in most of the world.

It is only in the past hundred years or so, and only in the "modern countries," that  women have gotten the right to earn an education, the right to vote, to own property and to participate in the political system.

A woman used to be considered the legal property of her father, until she was given in marriage to another man, to "serve" as his wife. 

In some cultures, men were allowed to take numerous wives, who lived as sexual slaves and servants, competing between themselves as to who will be the "favorite."

Women's comfort, well being and feelings, did not count for much.
Women needed to protect themselves and their children, so they HAD to develop powers in order to manipulate men and compete with other women.

The first set of powers that women learned to master were those of intuition, or the "Second Attention," which includes the psychic power to see what is not seen or heard by the physical senses.

Later on, women learned how to use their femininity, their youth and beauty, to manipulate men to get better jobs, or even to be granted what should have been considered basic human rights. 

Since the dawn of time, women have developed the power to manipulate men through sex.

Men are much less interested in sex than they would like to believe.
Men's sexual organs were designed in a simpler and straightforward manner, to produce a quick and simple sensory pleasure.

Women's sexual organs on the other hand, were designed with a much more elaborate and hidden sensory and sensual plethora of receptors.

This means that women are actually designed to be more sexually sophisticated beings than men.

So why is it that we have commonly believed that men are much more interested in sex than they actually are?
It is because women have manipulated men to believe that they are the ones who desire and need them.
In fact, women have programmed men to desire them in order to raise their own currency, and so to have a better life.

Women have led men to believe that they were the hunters, and that women were the prize.
A woman's beauty was considered her currency, often helping to raise her and even all of her family, out of poverty.

Nowadays, many sexual games are done unconsciously.
Young women have been systematically trained since girlhood, by observing their mothers and older sisters, to play manipulative games.

Women need to see that attracting sexual energy from men can harm their subtle energetic bodies.

I often think that the only time that it is useful to attract sexual energy to you is right before you intend to have a sexual interaction with your partner.

What's the use of looking sexy when you rush down the road at night to catch the bus?
Why would you want to attract sexual energy and lustful looks, when you are on a mountain hike or in a business meeting? 

Unsolicited sexual energy is often loaded with aggression, and those energies blend into your feminine aura and deplete its juiciness and suppleness.

The power games between men and women do not stop even after many years of marriage, in which both the man and the woman have depleted their subtle bodies so much, that sex is no longer in the equation anyway.

The power games between married couples continue even after they have grown old together.
They keep playing the same power games, only now it is about what kind of yogurt to buy, or how much money they should lend to their kids, or why you always forget to put the milk in the fridge after you put it in your coffee.....

Why do we play power games unconsciously with one another?

We play power games because we have a NEED to feel powerful and to move energy around.

For too long, we have believed that we are mortal physical and finite beings.
This belief has made us powerless, depressed and feeling impotent.

When we can make things happen and demonstrate that we can shift energy around, we remember instinctively that we are NOT just physical mortals, but that we are actually..... VERY VERY POWERFUL GODS....

Allow me to explain....

During the history of humankind, people have gotten glimpses of the Divine in humans. 
A mortal man who appeared to be just like us, suddenly wrote poetry and prose that were SO inspired, we had to admit that the SPIRIT had entered him.

In Greek Mythology, we assigned names to those inspirational Spirits and called them Gods: the God of poetry, the Goddess of the three phases of the moon, the God of war, the God of power, the Goddess of beauty etc.

It was believed that when one was possessed with a war-like spirit, Ares, the God of war, had taken over his consciousness.

In the ancient Ayuvedic healing tradition which originated in Persia and in India, it is believed that human beings are divided into three "Doshas," three groups of archetypes.
The Doshas are divided by physical or bodily attributes, and by behavioral tendencies.

A person can have more than one Dosha and often we have all three, but one of the Doshas is usually more dominant. 

The Doshas are called "Kapha," "Vata," and "Pita," and each favors certain foods and conditions, like hot or cold weather, fast or slow movement, fiery or cool temperatures, etc. 

It is believed that a person with a certain dominant Dosha can tolerate eating more spicy food than a person with another dominant Dosha, who needs to eat more "Satvic" (pure) foods with more gentle fruit juices, no garlic, etc.

It is believed that when a person gets sick, it is because their Doshas are out of balance.
In order to restore a person to balance, a special diet and behavioral changes are recommended, along with massages, light therapy and music.

In a similar manner, it is commonly believed by some New Age people, that when a women or man gets dispirited, depressed, aged, uninterested in sex or is terminally ill, it is because they have lost sight of their inner radiant God or Goddess.

In women, it is commonly referred to as the "Loss of Aphrodite," the Greek Goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, sexuality and procreation, whose Roman counterpart is Venus.

In men, it is believed that aged, fat, wrinkled and dispirited men have lost sight of their own inner Adonis or Dionysus.

People lose their Spirit by constantly dimming down the glow of their True inner light.

When a person repeatedly tells themselves they are powerless, they become more and more so until there is nothing left.

But the playing field of the Gods is MUCH bigger, full of more possibilities than we currently realize.

You see, Aphrodite is only one Goddess in the Greek pantheon, which includes hundreds of minor gods and goddesses, beyond the twelve major gods.

The Romans, the Japanese, the Norse, the Hindus and all over the world, cultures have their own pantheons of gods, in which each God or goddess symbolizes the embodiment of different powers, beauties and strengths.

When I speak about discovering the glowing Light within your own being, I am saying that you need to discover the predominant "Dosha" or the predominant attributes of the God or the Goddess within YOU.

You need to discover which God or Goddess you are destined to manifest, and what are His or Her unique powers and forms of embodiment of the Light.

It is your holy-grail quest, for the fountain of eternal life within your very own being.

To remember who you REALLY are, 
To be absorbed into the God or Goddess that is your very essence,
The God or Goddess that is at the core of all of your human incarnations- this is your life-mission here on earth.

In the "Age Of Enlightenment," your holy mind starts to make connections that make perfect sense, and you can start to heal your life.

Your mind is no longer bound to a physical brain and so it is free to soar into the infinite Mind, to see a bigger picture beyond the illusion of Maya, beyond the veil of Samsara and beyond the illusion of time.

Your mind is capable of seeing into the far reaches of this fascinating and multidimensional Universe.

Your whole life changes in the process of your Self Discovery.
You shift your focus from survival, in which you constantly pay attention to your aches and pains, to your  health, success and to the comforts of your physical body, to a higher inner purpose of solving this most fascinating universal riddle, that began with the onset of time....

Yes, you do need to find the God or Goddess within, but it might NOT be Aphrodite  that you have lost....

Some women are passionate and sexual, but still they have lost Hebe, the Goddess of eternal youth within themselves, or the goddess of gentleness or the goddess of healing....
And thus they get gray and dry and sad, constantly worrying about their looks and submitting themselves to plastic surgeries and Botox injections.

Hebe, the goddess of eternal youth is within them, but they have lost all sight of her, and thus she is powerless to rejuvenate them.

Some powerful women on the earth choose to live without a man.
They do so unconsciously, but their spirit chose it for them, so they will be able to break through the ingrained stereotype in their minds, that "a woman is not complete unless a man is by her side."

We, as a culture, have instilled in the back of our primitive minds, that a woman is naturally weak and thus she NEEDS the powers of a man, in order to survive in the world.

This damaging myth has been ingrained in all women, and those women who live alone, end up feeling unloved and lonely, constantly trying to date and be loved by someone.... Anyone.

Those women need to realize that it is an opportunity that they themselves have presented to themselves, in order to grow towards their own self-liberation from this unconscious brainwash programming.

Those women need to develop and integrate their God and Goddess powers and to bring them into harmonious balance. 

Both women and men have been programmed to believe that they NEED children in order to be loved, and thus they feel damaged somehow, or they feel the need to cling to their kids, for protection from their unexamined ideas about lovability and loneliness.

An elderly woman with an unbalanced Hebe (the goddess of eternal youth) inside of her, will constantly mourn the loss of her looks, be obsessed with her hair or give her children eating disorders, if she has kids.

My dear,
You have lost sight of your Godly powers.
You have lost your ability to love
You have lost your ability to smile easily
Your capacity for joy
You have forgotten your powers to charm people and your ability to be charmed by them....

You are guarded and you think that it is wise to be so, while you perceive yourself to be living in a world that can harm you.

You have lost your ability to make Miracles and to delight in the essence of your own being....and to remind others how infinitely beautiful life TRULLY is....

And instead, you have made people fear you or leave you alone.
You have become suspicious of people and their motives,
You have developed a mistrust of the whole human race, and you have made your brothers and sisters your adversaries.

Isn't it time to heal and to return to your true essence?

The God/Goddess within you is calling you to come home, where you belong......

So how do we fix it?
How do we stop playing subtle power games?

Stop believing that somebody else is better than you in ANY way.

Start supporting other women instead of competing with them.
Support other men as well.
Support by being kind and aware and never jealous.


You are endowed with everything you need or will ever need.
You are a glorious beautiful Goddess, won't you let her shine?
You are a glorious handsome God, won't you let him shine?

When the ship of YOUR LIFE sailed into the ocean of life, you were equipped with everything you would ever need for the journey!

NOBODY can ever keep anything away from you.

It is damaging to believe that somebody else is keeping your good away from you.

If somebody else is wealthy, they are NOT keeping anything away from you.

Think of people who hoard boxes full of sweaters, clothing and shoes.
Just because they keep boxes and boxes of shoes and clothing, it does not deplete the supply of shoes and clothing available at the stores.
Designers will always make new shirts and new shoes, and clothes will always be available at the stores.

So it is with beauty, power and energy.
Another person's power does not mean that you have less, or that less power is left to be available to you.

If you are a woman, when you see another beautiful woman, do not envy her beauty.

When you feel jealousy or play subtle power games in your own mind, convincing yourself that you are smarter or more creative, because you feel that she is prettier than you, you are missing the point that when you see beauty, it is YOUR OWN BEAUTY that you look upon.

You think that SHE is the beautiful, attractive and young one, and thus you ENVY her.

But by envying the beautiful Aphrodite within her, you are repeating the same old war of the Gods, between Aphrodite and Hera or Hebe, in which you do not allow the goddess Hebe to make YOU beautiful again and to shine her light into your life.

So it is with men.
When a man sees another very handsome or charming man, he does not recognize that it is HIS OWN BEAUTY and loveliness that he looks upon, and thus he envies that attractive man.

But by this envy,
By this jealousy,
And by the power games that you play with other men, you DEPLETE YOUR OWN POWERS.

The Adonis within YOU shrinks a little more EVERY time that you envy Heracles or Hermes in another.

The God within you, let us say it is Adonis, feels less handsome, less lovable and less powerful, every time you envy another God and His powers that you see within another.

So it is with women.
When a woman envies Aphrodite in another women and craves to know her "secrets," she SHRINKS the Goddess that lives within her.

In truth, she is saying to the Goddess within her, that she is NOT powerful enough to make her just as pretty or endlessly happy.

Let us say that the goddess within you is Lakshmi, the goddess of eternal abundance, or Hebe, the Greek goddess of eternal youth.

By being envious of Hecate (The Goddess of magic and the moon), you are blocking Lakshmi from showing up in your life, and you are minimizing her powers to flood your heart with love and happiness.

The power games that we play with one another, started WAY WAY back when we were immortal Gods.

The Greek mythology of Mount Olympus tells us that Gods always played power games with one another.

Since we fell from Divine Grace and started warring among each other over who is more powerful and more beautiful, we are bound to spend lifetimes after lifetimes on the earth, believing ourselves to be mere mortals, looking to heal the old wounds we created.

For example:
The Goddess Hera always fought with Hercules because her husband Zeus, slept with a mortal woman who gave birth to Hercules.

Hebe the goddess of eternal youth who was Hercules fourth wife, felt offended by the gods who ridiculed her for being just a minor goddess.
After all, who needs the powers of the goddess of eternal youth, when everybody is immortal and infinite?

As a result of this ridicule, Hebe pulled back her nectars and ambrosia that she used to feed to the gods, and withdrew.
The result was that the gods started getting old and feeble.

In the wholeness of Creation, every link in the chain or the puzzle, is equally important to the whole.
One missing God and everyone in Heaven suffers.

Because Aphrodite was so beautiful, other gods feared that their rivalry over her would interrupt the peace among them and lead to war, so Zeus gave her in marriage to Hephaestus, (God of fire, metalworking, stone masonry, and blacksmiths) who, because of his ugliness and deformity, was not seen as a threat to other men. 

The gods also took many lovers and created power games through complicated relationships and jealousy.

Since ancient times, the gods have been reincarnating on the earth as common men and women, each seeking to heal old wounds, find their counterparts and to remember who they really are.

Let us look at an ordinary couple, Sheri and David.
When Sheri was young, Hebe was still a very strong presence within her.
She was glowing with eternal youth, although she never made any conscious contact with the Goddess within her.

With unconscious hope to be reunited with the love of her life and together to be whole again, she married Hercules, in the form of David Smith.

They both started playing the same old power games that they had played as Gods on Mount Olympus.
They took other lovers, played power games, minimized one another, manipulated and enabled all their bad attributes, instead of helping one another to refine their characters and move together towards the light.

What happens often is that David will leave to marry a younger and hopefully sweeter woman, hoping that SHE will embody HEBE, his counterpart and the goddess he once loved so much.

Or... Hebe will leave David who is temperamental, unemployed, annoying and macho, to be with another man whom she hopes will be stronger, more athletic and more endowed with the attributes of her beloved Hercules. 

If they stay together and keep on playing power games, over the passing decades very little of the core Goddess and God will remain visible within either one of them.

Sheri is now old and wrinkled with only one breast, (she lost the other to breast cancer.)
Her stomach is lined with birth marks and she has grown bitter, vindictive and manipulative.

Hercules is not shining through David either.
By now, David is an impotent old man who is bitter, needy and can hardly tie his own shoes.

By now, it will take a miracle to convince either of them that they are not mere mortal beings.
That they created David and Sheri, and that they are playing roles, generated by the endless power games they engage in.
They had lost sight of their own inner light.

Anyway.... My time is short and my tasks are many.

I urge you to become more aware and to detect the power games that you might be playing, and that are being played around you.

These power games that you have been playing over many incarnations, date back to the beginning of time, and they are causing you to be unaware of whom you really are.

The games dates back to the garden of Eden.... When we forgot how beautiful the garden is and started dreaming that we were simple mortal beings.....

The gods are creative 
They are the very essence of creativity.
They are poets, architects, writers, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, dancers, athletes, script-writers, silversmiths and much more.

Even if you have lived your whole life as a professional artist, a writer or an architect, you do not stop being a creator just because you stopped getting paid to be an architect.

You should not stifle the creative Spirit within you, or you will stifle the very life force within you. 
Keep on viewing yourself as a powerful creative force and channel it into many other creative pursuits, even if nobody will ever pays you a single penny to do so.

You are a Creator, so create much joy in your life, and bring peace, laughter, vitality and bliss into your heart, and remember to share it with others.

With Love and warmest blessing,

Friday, April 15, 2016

Packing for our foot pilgrimage around Shikoku Island, Japan and why we walk pilgrimages....

Sunrise over the Hokianga NZ

John Lowe, a 95 years young ballet dancer 

Phyllis Sues – A 93 years young yogi

Phyllis Sues – A 93 years young yogi

Phyllis Sues – A 93 years young yogi

There is a saying among people who have walked long pilgrimages that "the size of your bag is proportionate to the size of your fears."

You carry all your fears with you, in the form of items that you put into your backpack.

You have to take rain gear because you fear getting wet, cold and uncomfortable.
You take bandages, in case you develop blisters.
You take a book, in case you find yourself needing inspiration.
The fear of pain might encourage you to pack some pain killer pills.
The fear of the sun and of getting sunburned might prompt you to pack suntan lotion.
The fear of looking raggedy and unkempt would prompt you to take extra clothes and grooming supplies.
The fear of injury would prompt you to take a first aid kit, etc.

Before you know it, you are carrying a huge load, with everything but the kitchen sink...

Since we have to walk daily with everything on our backs, we have to make do with only a few essentials, and nothing more.

It is hard enough to climb mountains and to balance yourself on narrow mountain paths, let alone be weighed down by a heavy backpack full of gear (fear) that will only make the journey more dangerous and painful.

In any case, I can never be ready and fully prepared for all possibilities and eventualities. 
The burden of going on a pilgrimage with a heavy load on my back, is NOT an idea I wish to entertain....

I simply HAVE to travel light!

I packed, repacked and eliminated things from my backpack for days before we flew to New Zealand.
When we landed in Auckland, my heart expanded.
I love this country and felt warmed up by being here, and we had not even left the airport!

The first sight that warmed my heart was seeing some big island men from Fiji wearing a traditional "Sulu," which is a sarong-skirt worn by Fijian men.
These sarongs are not made with flowery patterns, but are always made from patternless plain colors.
They resemble very much a businessmen's suit fabric, only they are much cooler because they are skirts.

Some men accentuate their Sulu with handmade belts made from woven flax reeds.

The second sight that warmed my heart was seeing a handsome Maori man in his thirties.
He had the aura and energy of a dignified, powerful and light-filled spirit.
He carried no bag with him.
He had his passport and his wallet in his pocket and he was wearing shorts and flip flops (or jandals, as they are called here.)
Just in case he might be chilly on the flight, he had socks with him, but because he did not carry a bag, he tied each long sock around one of his ankles.
He looked like a most handsome and endearing walking Christmas present, with the socks resembling the gift's ribbons.

"It will be many YEARS of walking around every Buddhist temple in Japan, before we would be able to achieve his level of lightness."... I thought to myself.

To prevent ourselves from taking too many of our fears along on our pilgrimage, we bought small day backpacks that fit only 26 liters.
These backpacks were not meant for multi day pilgrimages, but as day packs.

There is barely enough room in them for a change of clothes, a daily snack, water bottles,  toiletries, our passports, money, camera, phone, mini iPads and chargers.
Which means that many of the "essentials" that common-sense says that you MUST take on a three month long pilgrimage, will not be coming with us.

We will need to rely on the kindness of strangers, or to buy whatever we need IF and when we need it. 

Strangers have always been kind to me.
Recently, riding on one of the ski gondolas in Vail, I sat next to a couple who were taking their own selfies, against the backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
A man leaned over to them with a smile, and said:
"Whatever happened to handing your camera to perfect strangers and asking them to take your picture?"
The couple smiled shyly and handed him their phone and he kindly took their photos.

In Japanese, a pilgrim is called "Henro."
The traditional Henro attire is all white in color.
This is because white is the traditional color of death in Japan, worn mostly at funerals.

A pilgrimage is a journey unto Real Life.
A pilgrim must be ready and willing to lay aside his or her identity and to die to his old ways of being and of seeing the world, in order to be ready to gain new insights and higher spiritual vision.

I am fully willing and ready for my new transformation.
I am ready to be absorbed into the Infinite from which we all came.

Some say that when you are doing a pilgrimage towards enlightenment and Nirvana, you should be willing to "Do or Die."
In other words, you either attain Nirvana or die trying.

My pilgrimage clothing is not white.
I have a pair of yoga pants that are made from recycled plastic bottles and they are super light and airy.
I plan to wear them on rest days.

My jacket is a moisture-wicking Icebreaker marino wool hoodie from NZ, and my shoes are made by Vibram, using high tech barefoot technology.

My clothes may be more advanced technically than those worn by the pilgrims of old, but my strength and my resolve are not any better than those ancient pilgrims.
This pilgrimage started in the 700's.

Some days I feel energetic and strong, but on other days I feel weak and soft.
I hope to get stronger and to let go of my body-consciousness.

I am NOT a body, I am free, and I wish to demonstrate it in my daily life.... I wish to be carried on the wind...

A French hermit once spoke about achieving this level of consciousness:  
"To drift like a dead leaf fallen from the tree 
and be taken up by the wind, 
knowing not if the wind carries you,
or if you are carrying the wind..."

-- Michel Jourdan (a French hermit and writer)

In our house in NZ, our garden has gifted us with lots of fruit.
We have collected bags of crabapples, some passion fruit and feijoas, and the small quince tree that we planted a few years ago, has finally given us its first and most delicious quinces.

It feels so good to be here....
There is something timeless and serene about this place....
The quiet is almost palpable and it sinks deep into my soul.
The crowded world seems to be so far away...

So why do I take on this challenge?

To find out what I am really capable of.
To stretch what I think I can do.
To be liberated from the world of illusions and dreams.
To dissolve my limited body-conscious mind into the Infinite Mind.
To go beyond my "normal" physical capabilities and to see how high I can go by challenging myself.

Ch'en Chung-Shun, the Chinese Taoist hermit, spoke about his experiences in climbing tall mountains. He said:

"All that anyone needs for a pilgrimage is a six foot walking stick and a good pair of clogs. (Shoes with a thick sole)
And yet, great lords take with them escorts and much provision before they dare to set off.

When I went to the mountains, I couldn't find a servant to go with me, much less find a walking stick or clogs to borrow.

When I encountered streams, 
I did not know how deep they were.
I threw rocks or just gritted my teeth and leaped across them.
The slightest error and I would have perished.

When I encountered mud, I did not know how slippery it was.
I simply walked across it.
One misstep and I would have fallen.

Peaks that soared like hundred foot walls, 
I climbed like an ant up a tree.

Slopes that tilted like thousand foot roofs, 
I slithered down like a snake.

I had no idea I was so agile and so daring."


I am adding two links to stories of people who stretched the limits of what they could do in their later years.

John Lowe who is a British ballet dancer who took on ballet at the age of 79.
He is 95 years old now and he still dances.

The article below was written when he was 90

A link to the story of Phyllis Sues who started doing yoga in her sixties.
She is 93 now and better than ever:


For those of you who plan to do a pilgrimage one day, this is what I packed for the Shikoku pilgrimage:

Head lamp
Mini iPad & charger 
iPhone & charger (I plan to get a Japanese SIM card when we arrive in Osaka)
Camera, charger and extra memory cards
2 Collapsible water bottles
Rain pants and Rain coat
Cross trail Merrell shoes 
3 Hiking Socks, 1 to wear and 2 extra.
Vibram five finger barefoot shoes, plus socks for them.
2 Hiking pants, 1 to wear and 1 extra.
3 Hiking T-shirts, 1 to wear and 2 extra. 
1 pair of Recycled plastic bottle yoga pants, for lounging in our room or for rest days.
1 Cool-light Icebreaker hoodie.
2 Prana long sleeve shirts.
Underwear - 2 pairs.
Bras - 2 pieces.
1 Collapsible hiking pole
Wallet, passports and cash, because Shikoku island is very rural and many of the businesses accept cash only.
A bandana
A small Towel 
A hat
Shampoo, conditioner, leave in conditioner, facial cream, a bottle of essential oils, deodorant, a comb, toothbrush and toothpaste, a sun cream that I got in Myanmar.
A small knife
Small scissors 

My backpack:
After comparing many styles and models of backpacks, I finally chose the Black Diamond Nitro 26 liter backpack which weighs 956 g (2 lb 2 oz)

The backpack balance rule is 40%-60%, meaning that you carry 40% of the weight of the bag on your shoulders, and 60% is supposed to be supported by your hips, through the pack's waist belt.

The backpack has a "ReActive" suspension system which includes shoulder straps and a waist belt that moves with you as you bend on the trail. 

This innovative system provides "maximum efficiency, ensures a natural stride, balances load transfers, reduces knee stress, and eliminates sore spots and bruising."  (Or at least this is what the Black Diamond website promises the bag can do.....)

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Wheel Of Life

The Wheel Of Life

It has taken me more than a year, but I have finally finished the painting that I've been working on in my studio in Colorado.

I call it "The Wheel Of Life," and to be honest, I did not work on it the whole year.
We traveled for many months, and I also did not paint every day that we were at home, but often went skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer.

But I did spend a lot of time planning and working on this painting, and I enjoyed interpreting the traditional image of the Buddhist Wheel Of Life, to reflect my own understanding and views.

The Wheel of Life is called in Sanskrit Bhavacakra.
In Tibetan སྲིད་པའི་འཁོར་ལོ་ it is Sipé Khorlo.

It is a traditional painting representing the cycles of Samsara- the cycles of birth, death and rebirth, to which beings in the physical world are bound.

Some believe that the diagram was designed by Buddha himself.

It is a popular painting that you can see in front of almost every Buddhist monastery around Tibet, Bhutan, the Tibetan territories in China and Sikkim in Northeastern India.

One of the reasons the Wheel of Life is painted outside and on the walls of the monasteries, is to teach this profound Buddhist view of life to more simple-minded farmers and cow herders.

The painting is full of symbolism.

The fierce being holding the wheel represents the Ego.
It is the mistaken human identity which gives rise to everything that is cyclical or impermanent.

The ego is usually depicted with long teeth, a crown of skeletons, long nails and a tiger skin tied to its waist.

This is because the ego is both fierce and animalistic.
It does not understand that all creation is made of One united and gentle energy.

It is the human ego-mind which carves individual images and forms out of this unity, and then proceeds to believe that these forms are separate from itself.

The ego-mind does not see others as part of itself, and thus does not apply kindness and reason when interacting with "others."
Instead, the ego resorts to its animalistic nature, and to fighting "tooth and nail."

At the very center of the wheel are the "Three Poisons," or the three  emotions of:
Greed (empty desires)
Anger (rage and hatred) 
Ignorance (lack of understanding).

These three emotions, represented by the pig, the snake and the rooster, are at the root of all human suffering.

The Second Layer represents "Karma," or the human choice of positive and negative thoughts, feelings and actions.

The two lighter quadrants of the circle represent positive or virtuous actions, which lead to positive karma.

Those who devote their lives to doing good are believed to be more evolved, and thus tend to reincarnate in the three higher realms of "The Human Realm," "The Demi-gods Realm" and "The Gods Realm."

Reincarnating in one of these three upper realms gives a person better tools for an easier life, and a desire to practice continuously upwards, towards the final goal of Self-Liberation from the cycle of Samsara.

The darker half-circle depicts negative or non-virtuous actions. 
Negative actions lead to the three lower realms of the animals, the hungry ghosts and human hell.

Both paths are illustrated by the saints and sages on the virtuous Path of Bliss, and the demons, armed with nooses who drag the sinners along the Dark Path. 

The Six Realms of Cyclical Existence are the focus of the painting.

Buddhism divides incarnations into realms. 
They are referred to as the "Six Forms of SELF Imprisonment."

It is believed that all of us at one point have experienced or will experience each of these realms. 

A hell realm, 
A hungry ghost realm, 
An animal realm, 
The human realm, 
The Demi gods, or the jealous gods realm, 
And the Gods realm.

Below I summarize a bit about each of the six realms:

The Hell Realm

The hell realm is the lowest of the six realms, and an incarnation here is caused by extreme aggression. 

There are actually two kinds of hell in the Buddhist lexicon, a burning hot hell and one of freezing cold. 

The hot hell is a result of anger, hatred and rage, while the cold hell comes from a cold heart and an icy, heartless attitude. 

In the hot hell, beings attack and kill each other over and over again during many incarnations, seeking revenge for the wrongs that were done to them.

Beings here are ceaselessly tortured by Yama, the Lord of Death. 

All of these tortures are NOT done by external creatures like demons or  devils, they are only PROJECTIONS OF THE MINDS of the beings trapped in this realm by their own aggression.

Emotions like resentment, anger, self loathing and bitterness keep people in this emotional, psychological and physical hell.

Even though there are no external tormentors here, the beings in this realm experience a great deal of pain, sickness, death, murder, gruesome accidents and other misfortunes . 

Liberation from this realm comes when a being starts to feel deep sympathy towards others and remorse for his actions. 
The smallest glimmer of true compassion is usually enough to result in a rebirth in a higher realm.

As in all realms, the Buddha is usually painted as a reminder that the path towards full liberation is a possibility. 

All sentient beings can choose to let go of their illusions and to liberate themselves.

The Hungry Ghost Realm

The hungry ghost realm results from a life where extreme frustration, jealousy and unsatisfied desires ruled the being's consciousness. 

Again, all of this has nothing to do with external conditions. 
Even very rich, famous and successful people can have the mentality of a hungry ghost, oblivious to their blessings, full of envy and always craving things they do not need.

This is why the hungry ghosts are usually painted holding food in their hands, but with throats that are thin and constricted, leaving them unable to satisfy their cravings. 

The suffering in this realm is less intense, but the endless obsession with what they lack can lead to very dissatisfied minds.  They are depicted as beings who live as wraiths, dwelling in desolate places. 

They have no real external reason to be kept in this realm, and like all of us, they are surrounded by an endlessly abundant Universe. 

Everything they need and want IS THERE, but their delusions prevent them from seeing it.
Even when they receive many blessings, their insatiable hunger and lack of gratitude prevent them from enjoying them.

A hungry ghost can liberate himself by practicing constant gratitude, giving to others, loving everyone and choosing to feel HOPE and positivity, instead of fear.

The Animal Realm

In the animal realm, one is only conscious of the ego-self and its immediate needs like hunger, food, sex and physical comforts. 

The beings spend most of their days in activities related to the satisfaction of their survival needs and desires. 
All is instinct in this realm; there is neither reflection nor introspection.

The animal realm is always painted with symbolic rocks and lakes, because beings trapped in this realm can embody inanimate objects as well, such as rocks, lakes and trees. 

They have the range of perception that humans do, but their reasoning and intellect are underdeveloped. 

They perceive the world entirely in relation to themselves, with no deeper meaning. 

The suffering here results from the constant struggle for survival. 

It is a world where the mottos are, "dog eats dog," "only the strong survive" and "kill or be killed."  

In this realm, the Buddha appears as Dhruvasimha, holding a scroll and signaling a sacred hand gesture (mudra), representing that one can study the Dharma (the spiritual teachings) to achieve liberation.

This is significant because a gentle use of language marks a crucial stage in the evolution of consciousness. 

The ability to reason with others who try to grab your food means that you are using a higher level of intelligence than what is available to a wolf or a hyena.

The Human Realm

The human realm is often described as a "middle realm" which is not excessively burdened by negative past actions or deluded with power, as are some beings dwelling in the god realms.

In the human realm, one gets a magnificent opportunity to achieve liberation and enlightenment.

It is a reward to be born human, one that comes with a great deal of merit, growth, evolution and higher understanding. 

I painted in this realm two red-robed monks, who are practicing Self Liberation by renouncing pride, empty ambitions and the craving of power and status.

In the human realm, liberation can be achieved by controlling and understanding empty cravings and desires, getting rid of bad old habits, and attachments to manipulate others to achieve desired results. 

I also painted a spiritual warrior, who represents unwavering determination and resolution to achieve enlightenment and liberation from the human realm.

To achieve liberation, the mind must become fully awake and one must see the unity in everything. 

Humans walk daily a razor's edge between the veil of delusions and the real world.

Most human suffering stems from believing that illusions and the physical world are real, and from the belief that the body is real and solid, born but to die, subject to sickness, decay and death.

The challenges of all the other realms, like greed, craving power, anger, hatred, ignorance, unexamined desires, pride, impatience, arrogance, and physical delusions, all exist in the human realm, and need to be overcome in order to be liberated to a higher realm.

The Demi-gods or the Jealous-gods Realm

The realm of the demi-gods is also referred to as that of the jealous gods.

The realm is populated by human beings who have realized that they are creators, creating their own realities.

They have realized their powers, but they have not yet achieved Nirvana or pure bliss, and thus are still tempted to use their powers to control external circumstances instead of themselves.

The Titans in this realm are warring against the gods, fighting for the fulfillment of their desires and ambitions for changing the world or the behavior of others.

I painted in this realm two powerful Titans or Demi-gods holding swords.
They symbolize that they have become powerful enough to manifest all their desires directly from the Universal, with only a flick of their fingers.

Beings in this realm often are powerful people on earth, but they do not use their powers wisely.

They are envious of the serene Gods' realm, unaware that if they were to become motivated by the Light of love, they too will evolve to become Gods.

Fundamentally they have all the same God given powers, intelligence and a pure divine nature, but they do not understand the POWER OF LOVE and how it is the ONE and only principle at the very core of all creation.

It is NOT considered auspicious to be born in the Demi-God realm, because despite their intellect, powers, and potential, they can easily lose sight of Grace and fall into the three lower realms of hell, hungry ghost, or animal. 

Think of charismatic people like Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, or less destructive but still very power hungry political leaders.
Their tendencies are towards unloving and tribal ways of thinking, which lead to aggression and violence.

They are capable of doing great good as well as great evil, and they possess tremendous energy. 
If they are attracted to religion, it is usually not used to elevate everyone but to dominate. 

The Gods Realm

Beings in the gods realm realize their powers and godliness.

All beings are ONE with God, and are given all the power, spirit and blessings to become god-realized beings.

We arrive in this realm by removing illusions from our minds.

We reach this realm by realizing our UNITY and ONENESS with everyone and everything.

When a beings dwells in love ALL the time, she loses sight of her ego identity and of all personal needs and wants.

The gods realm is the land of perfection, of total joy and bliss.

I painted one of the gods playing a musical instrument and the other floating in the air holding a vase, containing the elixir of life. 

The gods in this realm have refined senses, and are able to see glowing energy and to smell pleasant fragrances.
They experience NO frustration and pain but live as pure spirits, free from danger and attack.

Humans can be reborn into this heaven by following the spiritual principles of unity and love in all their thoughts, emotions and deeds. 

They are still WITHIN the cycle of time, born of attachment and desire, but this is considered to be the most fortunate rebirth, the result of many lives of virtue. 

The difficulty here is that gods experience such ease and joy, that they have little motivation to advance BEYOND this point. 

Those who are advanced spiritual teachers on earth and other highly evolved beings might stay stuck in this realm.

Their egos tell them that they are making great progress and are constantly evolving, but they are blinded by the image of themselves as highly evolved spiritual beings, and do not understand that this identity blocks their further progress.

This is why famous spiritual teachers often attract terminal illness and die and need to be reborn again.

The realized gods need to become totally EGOLESS, empty and humble, seeking to live like hermits with no needs, in order to move beyond this realm.

Since these gods have transcended their physical bodies, they do not undergo death as we define it. 
They have immensely long lives, and then simply wake up in a different realm. 

The gods usually play musical instruments and speak via thought transference.
The language of music is easier for people to understand since it generates pleasure and people are more likely to listen to it. 

Liberation from this realm occurs when a god-being wishes to transcend all realms, all forms and all ideas of formlessness. 

A desire to achieve union with God, the Formless Absolute, means that one is willing to let go of the "Self" that wishes to attain this union.

It is described that at the dawn of enlightenment, the being isn't certain whether it is becoming enlightened or actually going insane.
All world views are shattered when enlightenment is achieved.

The outer layer of the painting is traditionally painted with the "Twelve Links" of interdependent origination, with their cause and effects.

I chose NOT to paint the traditional twelve pictures in the outer circle, but instead to paint the toys and trinkets that bind us to the cycle of Samsara.

In the background, beyond the ego, beyond all realms, beyond all music, is SILENCE.

I painted the Music and the Silence as geometric patterns all around the painting.

On the upper right corner is the Buddha pointing at the Moon.

The moon symbolizes the Liberation from Suffering.

The Buddha is pointing out that freedom from the cycle of Samsara and achieving Self-liberation, is possible in ONE LIFETIME to all who seek it sincerely.

The Buddha demonstrated that there is a gradual way toward the cessation of suffering by means of walking the Noble Eightfold Path. 
(The Noble Eightfold Path includes: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.)

All the spiritual teachings of humanity throughout the years, have told us the purpose of life on earth is to achieve union with our fundamental, enlightened Spiritual nature.

The only way to do this is to awaken to the Truth and to undertake the spiritual journey towards Spirit with all the strength, determination, intelligence, courage and discipline for transformation, that we can muster.