Friday, July 28, 2006

St. Francis of Assisi

After I read the book "My life with the saints", I felt like to know more live stories of some of the saints mentioned in the book. The first book I got from the library is "God's Fool - The life and times of Francis of Assisi". It was written in French @ 1983 and was translated in English @ 1985.

Francis was quite eccentric and extraordinary in his path to sainthood. He was born in a wealthy , middle class family. His father owned a clothier store that had clientele included medieval nobles and knights. Because of his well-to-do, pampered life, his youth and adolescent was filled with comfort and indulgent with wine, women and songs.

The story told of how he had dramatically changed his perspective of life and the world was every bit fascinating. I suspect there was inner transformation taking place gradually that was inconceivable to other people. One day he traveled and stayed overnight in San Damiano church and God spoke to him and asked him to restore the rundown churches. That was the spark that eventually ignited the holy fire of his renunciation of the worldly pursuit.

His vow of poverty, chastity and obedience was quite extreme from our modern measure. But he was a man of action and a man with tremendous faith, he lived by what he preached. All his life he had never wavered from his own harsh discipline.

Most of us have read or heard a famous St. Francis Prayer. Although I do not know it came from St. Francis until I read an article from my
metaphysical study introducing great spiritual teachers.

Peace Prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument for your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving, that we receive,
it is in pardoning, that we are pardoned
and it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.

Friday, July 21, 2006

In a Golden Pond - A Dream

I felt agitated when meditating. After about forty five minutes, I thought I can't continue, so I lied down.

After a while, I noticed that my left hand was lifeless. I poked it with my right hand, lifted it and dropped it down. There was no sign of life. I started to panic.

At that very moment, I had the floating sensation, I was round and round floating all over my room. It was just about running out of steam, I floated out of the window, and next thing I knew, I was floating in a pond. I saw red, yellow and blue fish swimming by me. I thought to myself, since I was in the water I might as well swim. I was awkwardly splashing with my two hands a few times. The water was yellowishly clear, seaweed and other sea plants swirling graciously in synchronization with the movement of water current. It was beautiful and refreshing, then the scene gradually faded...

This is the first time that I astral travel to a pond. I have no trouble breathing in the water. As a fact, It seemed natural enough to breathe in the water. In the real life, I don't swim, and never know how. I will probably drown if I did. But I was not panic while in the pond. Thanks to astral travel, I got the experience of swimming even just a little bit.

May be I should go bungee jumping next time !

Monday, July 17, 2006

Heaven and Hell

If someone deserve to go to hell, then that could be me. However, hell is not a place, but a state of mind and environment that we surround ourselves. If nothing that happens is truly random, then I deserve all the hellish experiences that unleashed last several years until now and on going. This is not to condemn myself, but to acknowledge that there is a reason of why something happens to us. Whatever happens to us is not as important as how we react or how we proact to the situation.

A story told by Dr. Jonathan Parker conveyed vivid picture of what is heaven and what is hell.

There was a Samurai visited a Zen Master and asked "Does heaven and hell really exist?"

Zen Master said, "who are you? How dare you ask this question?"

The Samurai said: "I am a Samurai, a warrior"

"A samurai ? !" Zen Master exclaimed. "Why, you have a face of a beggar."

The Samurai was very angry and ready to draw the sword!

The Zen Master said: "So you have a sword. I bet your sword is too dull to cut off my head!"

The Samurai drew the sword!

The Zen Master looked straight into his eyes and said: "That is Hell !"

Understand what Zen Master is trying to teach him, the Samurai humbled, bowed and withdrew his sword.

The Zen Master said: "Now, this is Heaven"

"All you may know of heaven or hell is within your own self" - Edger Cayce

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Enrique's Journey - The story of a boy's dangerous Odyssey to reunite with his mother!

This is an astonishing, gripping true story of a Honduran boy who braves unimaginable hardship and peril to reach his mother in United States. It was heart breaking reading this book. Due to the grinding poverty in Central Americas, mothers are willing to sacrifice the family's separation and journey into US soil to work as manual labors so they can send money home for their young children to survive.

The story do not end with Enrique's finding his mother after treacherous ninth attempt. After the reunion, years built up of psychological problem surfaced and caused friction and depression between mother and son. Happily ever after only exist in novels and in movies. In real life, the psychological trauma of abandonment for those young children stay with them through the adulthood and beyond. It is the emotional scar that will not easily go away!

On his epic journey, he was robbed by Bandits, tortured by notorious Central America gangsters. He dangerously rode on the top of the freight train and constantly in fear of being discovered and deported back to Honduras after so many arduous attempts. Enrique is not a lone case. There are hundreds of Central America young men and women taking up this journey each year either looking for work in US or wanting to join their mothers. Some make it , but some got killed along the way.

It makes me wonder, what these kids did that deserve this kind of hard life? I also wonder is "God" in any of these?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hong - Sau method of meditation

My meditation practice gets very erratic lately. There are good, long undistracted practices, but most of time I will abandon the practices half way just becuase too much random and distracted thought.

I started the "Hong-Sau" method taught by Self Realization Fellowship , and found that it is useful but also difficult to implement in the meditation. Here is the abbreviated version that I think I can live with it.

1. Breathe deeply to get body and mind in relaxed state. Inhale count to 5, pause count to 5 and exhale count to 5 for 6 to 10 times

2. Focus attention between the eyebrow ( the third eye)

3. Inhale and mentally chant "Hong", exhale and mentally chant "Sau" while focusing on the third eye for the next 10 to 15 minutes

4. Let go and still focus on the third eye, stay calm and quiet for the rest of the meditation.

I found it difficult to stay focus between eyebrow and mentally chant "Hong" "Sau" at the same time. I sometimes abandon the chant and just focus on between the eyebrow.

This morning, I have one hour and forty five minute meditation. It is the longest time I spent in the last month.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

All the Catholic Saints that I have met

I am so delighted that I took up reading the book: "My Life with the Saints" from James Martin SJ. The whole last week that I was off from work I was and still mesmeric by the story and life of the saints that were introduced to me by James.

The book is entertaining, engaging and humorous. I don't have any western religious background, normally I have no desire reading Catholic Saints. Somehow, I was drawn to the book that afternoon while casually browsing on " new book " section on Rowland Height library.

Some of the Saints were not ancient, there were fellows from contemporary nineteenth and twentieth century. Therese of Lisieux and Bernadette Soubirous were from nineteen's century, Thomas Merton early twenties century, Pedro Arrupe and Mother Teresa from mid to late twenties century. I never knew that Catholic church sponsored many programs to help the poor and the underprivileged all over the world.

"Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary" ! It demonstrates that Catholic missionary teaching is action oriented, using thought, speech and action to do good for humanity all around the globe. The Jesuits will travel to Africa, Asia or any troubled spots of the world as part of their spiritual training. I found out surprisingly they are much more open, loving and actively engaging in the world community than the Buddhist monks.

I used to have a very rigid view about Catholic church. Consider the scandals happened in the past of catholic priests, I have stereotyped the catholic churches or similar organization as a powerful political organization that using God as a shield for their worldly gain. By reading this book, I have somewhat broaden my view about catholic church.

All these Saints are alive and well in author's prayer. It is amazing that sometimes the author's prayer was instantaneously answered. I wish I had half of the response rate from my long drawn meditation. I will guess in some way God is discriminative in answering prayer.

I found some of the sayings are very true:

  • For those with faith no explanation is necessary; for those without faith no explanation is sufficient.
  • God write straight with crooked line.