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Editorial Ianuarie-Profesor Aurel ROMILA
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Art Therapy January
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New Zen Story

Daily Zen

On The Way          



Transmission of Mind

           Part 2


    Huang-po (d. 850)


The Mind is no mind of conceptual thought, and it is completely detached from form.  So Buddhas and sentient beings do not differ at all.  If you can only rid yourselves of conceptual thought, you will have accomplished everything.  But if you students of the Way do not rid yourselves of conceptual thought in a flash, even though you strive for eon after eon, you will never accomplish it.

The building up of good and evil both involve attachment to form.  Suppose a warrior, forgetting that he was already wearing his pearl on his forehead, were to seek for it somewhere else?  He could travel the whole world without finding it.  But if someone who knew what was wrong were to point it out to him, the warrior would immediately realize that the pearl had been there all the time.  So, if you students of the Way are mistaken about your own real Mind, not recognizing that it is the Buddha, you will consequently look for him elsewhere, indulging in various achievements and practices and expecting to attain realization by such graduated practices.  But, even after eons of diligent searching, you will not be able to attain to the Way.

Our original Buddha Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any atom of subjectivity.  It is void, omnipresent, silent, pure; it is glorious and mysterious peaceful joy—and that is all.  Enter deeply into it by awakening to it yourself.  That which is before you is it, in all its fullness, utterly complete.  There is naught beside.  Even if  you go through all the stages of a Bodhisattva’s progress towards Buddhahood, one by one; when at last, in a single flash, you attain to full realization, you will only be realizing the Buddha Nature which has been with you all the time; and  all the foregoing stages you will have added to it nothing at all.

This pure Mind, the source of everything, shines forever and on all with the brilliance of its own perfection.  But the people of the world who do not awake to it, regard only that which sees, hears, feels and knows as mind.  Blinded by their own sight, hearing, feeling, and knowing, they do not perceive the spiritual brilliance of the source-substance.  If they would only eliminate all conceptual thought in a flash, that source-substance would manifest itself like the sun ascending through the void and illuminating the whole universe without hindrance or bounds.  Therefore, if you students of the Way seek to progress through seeing, hearing, feeling, and knowing, when you are deprived of your perceptions, your way to Mind will be cut off, and you will find nowhere to enter. 

Only realize that, though real Mind is expressed in these perceptions, it neither forms part of them nor is separate from them.  You should not start reasoning from these perceptions, nor allow them to give rise to conceptual thought; yet nor should you seek the One Mind apart from them or abandon them in your pursuit of the Dharma.  Do not keep them or abandon them now; dwell in them nor cling to them.  Above, below and around you, all is spontaneously existing, for there is nowhere which is outside the Buddha-Mind.

Students of the Way should be sure that the four elements composing the body do not constitute the self; that the self is not an entity; and that it can be deduced from this that the body is neither self nor entity.  Ordinary people look to their surroundings, while followers of the Way look to Mind, but the true Dharma is to forget them both.  The former is easy enough, the latter very difficult.  People are afraid to forget their minds, fearing to fall through the Void with nothing to stay their fall.  They do not know that the Void is not really void, but the realm of the real Dharma. 

This spiritually enlightening nature is without beginning, as ancient as the Void, subject neither to birth nor to destruction, neither existing nor not existing, neither impure nor pure, neither clamorous nor silent, neither old nor young, occupying no space, having neither inside nor outside, size nor form, color nor sound.  It cannot be looked for or sought, comprehended by wisdom or knowledge, explained in words, contacted materially or reached by meritorious achievement.

Question:  What is the Buddha?

Answer:  Mind is the Buddha, while the cessation of conceptual thought is the Way.  Once you stop arousing concepts and thinking in terms of existence and non-existence, long and short, other and self, active and passive, and suchlike, you will find that your Mind is intrinsically the Buddha; that the Buddha is intrinsically Mind, and the Mind resembles a void.  Every day, whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down, and in all your speech, remain detached from everything within the sphere of phenomena. Whether you speak or merely blink an eye, let it be done with complete dispassion.  This is not something which you can accomplish without effort, but when you reach the point of clinging to nothing whatever, you will be acting as the Buddhas act.


If you would spend all your time-walking, standing, sitting, or lying down-learning to halt concept-forming activities of your mind, you could be sure of ultimately attaining the goal. Since your strength is insufficient, you might not be able to transcend samsara by a single leap; but, after five to ten years, you would surely have made a good beginning and be able to make further progress spontaneously.

Anything possessing any signs is illusory.  It is by perceiving that all signs are no signs that you perceive the Tathagata.  “Buddha” and “sentient beings” are both your own false conceptions.  It is because you do not know real Mind that you delude yourselves with such objective concepts.  If you will conceive of a Buddha, you will be obstructed by that Buddha!  And when you conceive of sentient beings, you will be obstructed by those beings.  All such dualistic concepts as “ignorant” and “Enlightened,” “pure” and “impure,” are obstructions.

Question:  If our own Mind is the Buddha, how did Bodhidharma transmit his doctrine when he came from India?

Answer:  When he came from India, he transmitted only Mind-Buddha.  He just pointed to the truth that the minds of all of you have from the very first been identical with the Buddha, and in no way separate from each other.  That is why we call him our Patriarch. Whoever has an instant of understanding of this truth suddenly transcends the whole hierarchy of saints and adepts belonging to any of the Three Vehicles.  You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can attain to this oneness by various practices.

Discuss it as you may, how can you even hope to approach the truth through words?  Nor can it be perceived either subjectively or objectively.  So full understanding can come to you only through an inexpressible mystery.  The approach to it is called the Gateway of the Stillness Beyond All Activity.  If you wish to understand, know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity.  Those who seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get further and further away from it.


Were you now to practice keeping your minds motionless at all times, whether walking, sitting, standing, or lying; concentrating entirely upon the goal of no thought-creation, no duality, no reliance on others and no attachments; just allowing all things to take their course the whole day long, as though you were too ill to bother; unknown to the world; innocent of any urge to be known or unknown to others; with your minds like blocks of stone that mend no holes—then all the Dharmas would penetrate your understanding through and through.  In a little while you would find yourselves firmly unattached.

Thus, for the first time in your lives, you would discover your reactions to phenomena decreasing and, ultimately, you would pass beyond the Triple World; and people would say that a Buddha had appeared in the world.  Pure and passionless knowledge implies putting an end to the ceaseless flow of thoughts and images, for in that way you stop creating karma that leads to rebirth—whether as gods or men or as sufferers in hell.

The Void is fundamentally without spatial dimensions, passions, activities, delusions or right understanding.  You must clearly understand that in it there are no things, no people and no Buddhas; for this Void contains not the smallest hairsbreadth of anything that can be viewed spatially; it depends on nothing and is attached to nothing.  It is all-pervading, spotless beauty; it is the self-existent and uncreated Absolute. A perception, sudden as blinking, that subject and object are one, will lead to a deeply mysterious wordless understanding; and by this understanding will you awake to the truth of Zen.




Nu se poate preciza cite psihoterapii exista, situatia este practic incontrolabila. Rezultatele mereu discutabile. Un lucru e sigur : psihiatrul nu poate ramine doar la somatoterapie, trebuie sa completeze dela caz la caz cu psihoterapie, pe deasupra metodelor, orientarilor, testelor un cuvint mi se pare privilegiat printre zeci de mii de cuvinte ale vocabularului. Este cuvintul OBLIGATIE. Psihoterapia are ambitii enorme, vrea restabilirea persoanei, vrea resocializare. Toata lumea crede ca sensul istoriei, dela revolutia franceaza pina astazi nu e decit cistigarea drepturilor omului. Asa este dar cu urmatorul compliment obligatoriu. Nu ajungi la drepturi fara sa respecti niste obligatii. Acesta e continutul oricarei psihoterapii. Nu place dar TREBUIE.

                                                                     Profesor Aurel ROMILA

Visual Arts January 2010

In cazul in care ati `Save` (salvat)  slideshow ( .pps) pe pc/laptop-ul dvs.deschideti cu click dreapta pe slideshow si apoi alegeti SHOW.



1. Faimosi pictori rusi


2. El Greco


3. Alexandru Darida


4. Daniel Gerhartz



Palate, muzee, cladiri

1. Castelul Pena Portugalia


2. Hermitaj


3. Palatul Akshardha


4. Muzeu egiptean


5. 50 edificii




1. Culoarea alb


2.Nuduri aritstice


Muzica Ianuarie 2010

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Diversitatea muzicii

1. 14 cantece de craciun Bing Crsoby Dean Martin Perry Como


2. Vocapeople


3. Dansul focului


4. New York New York


5. Julio Igresias Tango


6. Chitare


7. And so is Christmas (John Lennon)


8. Tombe la neige Adamo


9. Pasarii ii place muzica egipteana


Visit the World!

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1. Sibiu


2. Poiana Brasov vara


3. New York


4. National geographic


5. Opera nationala din Paris


6. Kandovan


7. Junii Brasovului


8. Hurtigruten Norvegia


9. Namibia Botswana


10. Franta din avion


11. Garmisch Partenkirchen


12. Balcic


13. Parcul cu flori din Ashikaga




15. Valencia


16. Patios Cordobeses


17. Paradis


18. Noua Zeelanda


19. Madeira


20. Chiparosi Florida


22. Carnaval Venetia 2009


23. China


24. Chile




1. Natura uimitoare


2. 61 fotografii


3. Curiozitati


4. Extreme


5. Ikebana


6. Mambo dog


7. 55 poze frumoase


8. Bhagavad Gita


9. Bonsai


10. Fa-ti timp - Kipling


11. Piano


12. Poem pentru prieteni


13. The Crash


Antidepressants Linked to ...


Antidepressants Linked to Increased Risk for Death, Stroke in Postmenopausal Women
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-22

Risks and Predictors of Stroke ...

Risks and Predictors of Stroke After Transient Ischemic Attack
Medscape Neurology & Neurosurgery , 2009-12-15




High Leptin Levels May Protect Against Dementia
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-15




Improving the Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
MedscapeCME Psychiatry & Mental Health , 2009-06-30



How to Deal With Missed Appointments
Dermatology Nursing , 2009-07-01

No Link Between Antiepileptics and Suicidality in...

Dabigatran Can Replace Warfarin in Venous Thromboembolism: RECOVER Results
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-07






No Link Between Antiepileptics and Suicidality in Patients With Bipolar Disorder
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-11





Brain Function Differs Markedly for Patients With PTSD and Comorbidities vs PTSD Alone
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-09






Body-Mass Index and Waist Circumference Equally Predictive for CV Events, Mortality
Heartwire , 2009-12-07






WHO Issues New HIV Recommendations
Medscape Medical News , 2009-11-30


Month's Best Articles: PsychLinx

November 2009

This month's most-read articles by US physician subscribers

Is Monotherapy as Good as Polypharmacy in Long-Term Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry   11/16/2009
Clinical trials support new algorithm for treating pediatric bipolar mania
Current Psychiatry   11/16/2009
Impact of real-world ziprasidone dosing on treatment discontinuation rates in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder
Schizophrenia Research   11/18/2009
Depression, anxiety and obsessive?compulsive symptoms and quality of life in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) during three-month methylphenidate treatment
Journal of Psychopharmacology   11/30/2009
Effects of Olanzapine and Haloperidol on the Metabolic Status of Healthy Men
Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism   11/25/2009
The contribution of active medication to combined treatments of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for adult depression: a meta-analysis
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica   11/23/2009
Intranasal Oxytocin Improves Emotion Recognition for Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Biological Psychiatry   11/17/2009
Clonidine versus Withdrawal Using an Opioid in In-Patient Opioid Detoxification
European Addiction Research   11/16/2009
Antipsychotic Prescribing Practices Following Withdrawal of Concomitant Carbamazepine
Journal of Psychiatric Practice   11/24/2009
Clinical guideline recommendations for antipsychotic long-acting injections
British Journal of Psychiatry   11/13/2009
Use of Antidepressants in the Treatment of Chronic Pain
Annals, Academy of Medicine, Singapore   11/30/2009
Increased Prevalence of Obesity and Glucose Intolerance in Youth Treated With Second Generation Antipsychotic Medications
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry   11/23/2009
Early- and Delayed Antipsychotic Response and Prediction of Outcome in 528 Severely Impaired Patients with Schizophrenia Treated with Amisulpride
Pharmacopsychiatry   11/20/2009
Acamprosate and Prevention of Relapse in Alcoholics
European Addiction Research   11/16/2009
Inhibition of specific adenylyl cyclase isoforms by lithium and carbamazepine, but not valproate, may be related to their antidepressant effect
Bipolar Disorders   11/24/2009
Duration of untreated illness and suicide in bipolar disorder: a naturalistic study
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience   11/17/2009
The role of ceramide in major depressive disorder
European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience   11/12/2009
Pro-inflammatory biomakers in depression: Treatment with venlafaxine
World Journal of Biological Psychiatry   11/23/2009
Second-generation antipsychotic long-acting injections: systematic review
British Journal of Psychiatry   11/10/2009
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of maintenance treatment with adjunctive risperidone long-acting therapy in patients with bipolar I disorder who relapse frequently
Bipolar Disorders   11/23/2009

Augmentation of atypical ...

Augmentation of atypical antipsychotics with valproic acid. An open-label study for most difficult patients with schizophrenia (>> click to go to the journal's website)
Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 12/01/09
Suzuki T et al. – While these preliminary results need to be tested against tenacious monotherapy or polypharmacy involving clozapine, augmenting atypical antipsychotics with valproic acid can be useful for very severe schizophrenia.

Receive more summaries like this by joining MDLinx. We provide free daily digests of top journal articles in your field. >> Click here to choose your specialties.

Other articles in Psychiatry

>> Click here to see the complete list

Medicare cracks down on false claims
Medical Economics, 11/02/09

2009 earnings survey: How do you compare
Medical Economics, 09/29/09

An algorithm for the pharmacological treatment of depression
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 11/04/09


Treatment Success in ...

Early Response to Aripiprazole May Predict Treatment Success in Adolescents With Schizophrenia
Medscape Medical News , 2009-11-12



Use of Antidepressants for Management of Hot Flashes
Pharmacotherapy , 2009-11-01

Radiation Exposure from....

Radiation Exposure From Annual Mammography Increases Breast Cancer Risk in Young High-Risk Women
Medscape Medical News , 2009-12-02




Diet Rich in Processed Food Linked to Increased Risk for Depression
Medscape Medical News CME , 2009-11-10



On a lone winter evening, when the frost Has wrought a silence.
- John Keats

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
- Dr. Seuss

I have found that if you love life, life will love you back.
- Arthur Rubinstein

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
- Annie Dillard

It's one small step for man ... one giant leap for mankind
- Neil Armstrong sets foot on the moon

Issue a blanket pardon. Forgive everyone who has ever hurt you in any way. Forgiveness is a perfectly selfish act. It sets you free from the past
- Brian Tracy

Every human has four endowments- self-awareness, conscience,
independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate
human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change.
- Stephen Covey

You're only given a little spark of madness. You musn't lose it.
- Robin Williams


Turning 102 is crap, and there is nothing to commemorate.
- Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil's leading architect, has no time for celebrations with his workload

Our basic problem is systemic corruption.
- George Papandreou, the Greek Prime Minister, admits to his fellow European Union leaders that his country's public sector is riddled with corruption



"When we take control of our mental state by deliberately choosing our thoughts and attitudes, we can alter the meaning we associate to the experiences we have and results we see in our life." Clayton J. Moore



"Our minds become magnetized with the dominating thoughts we hold in our minds, and these magnets attract to us the forces, the people, the circumstances of life which harmonize with the nature of our dominating thoughts." —Napoleon Hill



"Consult not your fears, but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do." —Pope John XXIII



"Our destiny changes with our thoughts; we shall become what we wish to become, do what we wish to do, when our habitual thoughts correspond with our desires." —Orison Swett Marden


 It's rest I want--there, I have said it out--
From cooking meals for hungry hired men
And washing dishes after them--from doing
Things over and over that just won't stay done.
By good rights I ought not to have so much
Put on me, but there seems no other way.
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through--
Leastways for me--and then they'll be convinced. 
-Robert Frost, A Servant to Servants, 1914



Some people see French as sacrosanct, like it comes down from God and is immutable. But it's created by humans. And it can change.
-  Chantal Contant, a linguist at the University of Quebec, New spelling rules bring French purists to tears (Canada)


Most people, though, the ones with great jobs, are in the business of dancing with entropy, not creating it. Take what comes, sort it, leverage it, improvise and make something worthwhile out of it. -- The secret of dancing is that you must respect and admire your partner. Thus, entropy isn't the enemy, and the goal isn't for "everything to be all right." -- Without random events, there is no dance. -- There is no good, there is no bad, there's just what happened. Dance with it.
- Seth Godin, blog December 16, 2009


Logic will not change an emotion, but action will.
- Zig Ziglar


You know a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows.
And a dreamer's just a vessel that must follow where it goes.
Trying to learn from what's behind you and never knowing what's in store
makes each day a constant battle just to stay between the shores.
And I will sail my vessel 'til the river runs dry.
Like a bird upon the wind, these waters are my sky.
I'll never reach my destination if I never try,
So I will sail my vessel 'til the river runs dry.
Too many times we stand aside and let the water slip away.
To what we put off 'til tomorrow has now become today.
So don't you sit upon the shore and say you're satisfied.
Choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tides.
- Garth Brooks and Victoria Shaw, song "The River"


The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he's always doing both. 
-James A. Michener,


She put herself completely in the hands of the director more than any other actress I have worked with. Jennifer took what you gave her and made it distinctly her own.
- John Houston, about Jennifer Jones, 90


Motivation is everything. You can do the work of two people, but you can't be two people. Instead, you have to inspire the next guy down the line and get him to inspire his people.
-Lee Iacocca


We know that the increasing concentration of CO2 [in the air] is making the oceans more acidic. It affects marine life, it affects coral, and that in turn could affect the amount of fish in the sea - and a billion people in the world depend on fish for their principal source of protein. It doesn't get as much attention as the other problems; it is really important.
- Hilary Benn


Character isn't something you were born with and can't change, like your fingerprints. It's something you weren't born with and must take responsibility for forming.
- Jim Rohn


The internet is at the level of black-and-white televisions.
- Tim Richardson, E-commerce lecturer

Famous Quotes....

When planning for a year, plant corn. When planning for a decade, plant trees. When planning for life, train and educate people.
- Chinese Proverb

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
- Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790

Never before in the history of American business has the role of the corporate director been more important or more
- Martin Lipton, a legendary Wall Street lawyer

The goal was to streamline the organization, remove the number of layers and enable quick and faster decision making.
- Terrie Tweddle, Rogers spokeswoman in Canada, in an interview Thursday.

I love golf, I'm addicted it. When I was younger, I was addicted to other things like alcohol; now I'm addicted to healthy things.
- Alice Cooper, rock star


I loved beating Dizzee Rascal to No. . . 1, even though I'm not quite sure who he is.
- Dame Vera Lynn, 92, who surpassed the rap
star in the charts

Those senators who don't believe in global warming need only step outside Parliament House today to experience the reality of
37-degree heat, weeks before summer has even begun.
-  Peter Marshall, national secretary of Australia's United Firefighters Union, pleads for action on climate change

Science doesn't work because we're all nice. Newton may have been an ass, but the theory of gravity still works.
- Gavin Schmidt, National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist, whose e-mail messages were hacked by global-warming skeptics, contends that they just prove scientists to be human

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.
- Kate Moss, fashion model, gives her take on dieting


The first obligation of a country. . .is to save the lives of its countrymen.
- Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister, after his country paid a ransom to Somali pirates in exchange for 36 crew members of a Spanish tuna boat who had been held for more than six weeks


Maybe it is healthier, but that should be peoples choice and not because a pop star thinks farting cows and pigs herald the end
of mankind.
- Paul Nuttall, Liverpudlian, European parliamentarian, criticizes Sir Paul McCartney's campaign to encourage meat eaters to go without flesh one day a week, to cut greenhouse gases emitted by livestock


I'm looking forward to that debate, but I hope I've got the key to the door and [will] not let the buggers out until they've done a deal.
- John Prescott, climate-change envoy for the Council of Europe, says leaders of the United States, China and India should be "shoved" into a room at the Copenhagen summit until they reached an agreement


My main objective for climbing Everest was for world peace. I was determined to either climb the peak or die trying.
- Min Bahadur Sherchan, 76, the oldest man to climb Everest, didn't make the ascent just for exercise.
 76, the oldest man to climb Everest, didn't make the ascent just for exercise.


Eventually, the administration of painkillers must be stopped if patients are to get back on their own two feet.
- Jean-Claude Trichet, of the European Central Bank, on weaning banks off easy credit


I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior
my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect.
- Tiger Woods, It's an apology, but not an admission

Rediscovering Dance

Rediscovering Dance
Healing with Movement

As children, most of us were encouraged to dance on a regular basis, freely and openly, in whatever way felt best. A few of us may have retained or regained our ability to engage in dancing unselfconsciously, but by the time we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped dancing altogether. We may have hang-ups about our bodies, or we may fear being judged. Then again, we may simply have fallen out of the habit for so long that we don't even realize we never dance anymore. Whatever the case, there's no time like now to rediscover the healing pleasure of moving your body to music—alone, as part of a couple, or in a group. Opportunities to dance abound, once you start looking for them.

If you haven't danced in a long time and feel too self-conscious to start in a public situation, find some time alone to reintroduce yourself to the joy of listening and responding to music with your body. Turn the lights down low and remember that it's much more fun when you're not thinking about what you look like. It won't take long before your body remembers how much it loves to move. Feel the music in your soul, feel the vibrations healing your body. Treat the time like a meditation session in which you agree to allow yourself to fully inhabit your amazing body.

If you feel awkward, remember that every culture since time immemorial has celebrated life and the body with dance. All people carry the memory of dance in their blood and bones. In other words, you were born to do this, it is in you already; all you have to do is start moving. If you prefer more interaction, take a class one night a week. In most cities, you can find everything from modern dance to African dance to ballroom and salsa. Whatever you choose, you won't regret choosing to rediscover your birthright—the healing, joyful thrill of dancing.








Connecting with the Divine

Forging a spiritual connection with the divine is the ultimate goal of many forms of worship. In our devotions, we transcend the limitations of our humanity using prayers, rituals, and invocations, or we seek the celestial in sacred items such as statuary, imagery, or natural objects. In the Hindu tradition, worshipers bond with the divine through the puja ritual. The purpose of the ritual is to create an atmosphere in which humans and spiritual beings can enjoy communion with one another. Though participants show reverence for their chosen deities, puja serves to bring the former and the latter together on an energetic level. Performing a puja ritual is thus a wonderful way to experience direct communication with the divine.

There are no limits as to whom may serve as the focal point of your puja. You need only choose a spirit guide to commune with and an object to represent them. Preparing for the puja ritual, however, can take some time, depending on the number of devotional acts you will perform. A classic puja includes 16 acts, including meditation, chanting, the reading of sacred texts, offerings of food and drink, and cleansing. You may also wish to present gifts of incense, flowers, and jewelry during the ritual. An altar or table covered by an altar cloth provides space for the representation of the divine and the seat of the puja. To begin, prepare your offerings and place them to the right of the altar. Then center yourself and release any stress you may feel葉he puja is meant to be a joyful experience. Typically, the ritual begins with the ringing of a bell and an invitation, and progresses from chanting to the cleansing and dressing of the deity to the offerings to meditation. You ca! n modify your puja in any way you wish.

Though the elaborate puja rituals performed in Hindu temples take place at sunrise, noon, sunset, and midnight, puja performed in the home primarily takes place in the mornings and evenings. When your intention is to invite your spiritual guides into your home and heart, however, the time of day matters little. With practice, you will create a direct path to spiritual oneness that allows you to experience an amazing sense of closeness that reinforces your connection with the divine.







Magical Things
Tangible Enchantment

Though the universe as a whole is imbued with an undeniable aura of magic, we can further fill our lives with magic by creating a collection of magical things. More than being simply beautiful, such objects can potentially play an active role in the shaping of our experience as each magical object serves a unique and multifaceted purpose. Some inspire us to reflect while some have the power to positively influence our moods. Others take us back in time, capturing in their essence memories locked in history or helping us reaffirm our connection with the universe. Magical objects can be found almost anywhere and can be practically anything, from gifts of nature to manmade artifacts. You?l know an object is truly magical when it touches you deeply, awakening some primal part of yourself that is more profoundly connected to the ethereal.

There is no right or wrong way to introduce a magical object into your life?he collection you create can be large or small, kept in private or publicly displayed. You may already be in possession of such objects. Perhaps you keep a smooth river stone next to your bed because its presence is soothing. Or you find yourself intensely drawn to certain antique items that seem to radiate light and energy. Whatever the nature of the objects you deem magical, there are many ways to utilize them. Those that help you reach a contemplative and relaxed state may best serve their purpose on your personal altar or in some special place in your home. Objects that bring you comfort can be kept in a small pouch and carried throughout the day. Or you may feel compelled to infuse your collection with beauty by making it into a collage that naturally draws your eye and stimulates your soul.

Everyone can benefit from surrounding themselves with magical objects. Our lives are made just a little more light and fun when having magical things in our presence. If you feel you don? have anything magical in your life, ask the universe for help, and it will not be long before a meaningful artifact, a simple feather, a special stone, or another powerful item reveals itself to you and fills your life with enchantment.






Knowing Better Now
The Past in Light of the Present

When we look back at the past, knowing what we know now, we often find it difficult to understand how we made the mistakes we made. This is because once we learn new information, it is nearly impossible to reenter the headspace we were in before we learned that information. And so we look back at parents who spanked their kids, for example, and wonder how they could have thought that was a good idea. Similarly, our personal pasts are full of mistakes we can't believe we made. We did things then that we would never do now, and this is precisely because we have information now that we didn't have, or weren't able to access, then.

From ideas about how to raise children to how to treat the environment, our collective human past sometimes reads like a document on what not to do. In many ways, this is exactly as it should be. We learn from living and having experiences. It is from these past actions that we garnered the information that guides us to live differently now. Just so, in our personal lives, we probably had to have a few unsuccessful relationships or jobs, learning about our negative tendencies through them, in order to gain the wisdom we have now.

In order to live more peacefully with the past, it helps to remember that once we know better, we tend to do better. Prior to knowing, we generally do our best, and while it's true that from the perspective of the present, our best doesn't always seem good enough, we can at least give our past selves the benefit of the doubt. We did our best with what knowledge we had. Beyond this, we serve the greater good most effectively by not dwelling on the past, instead reigning our energy and knowledge into our present actions. It is here, in this moment, that we create our reality and ourselves anew, with our current knowledge and information.

Treasures of Friendship

Treasures of Friendship
Letters from the Heart

Sometimes it's hard to come straight out and tell our friends how much we love and appreciate them. We might feel awkward expressing deep feelings, even to our nearest and dearest, because it is not a common practice. We might get choked up or embarrassed in the process, or we might fear we will embarrass them. Still, we all have those moments when we realize how fortunate we are to have the friends we have, and we may long to express our gratitude. Moreover, it may be of tremendous benefit to our friends to be at the receiving end of our appreciation. At times like these, writing a letter can help us say what we want to say without feeling self-conscious. Additionally, a letter gives your friend the space to really take in your expression of love and the gift of being able to return to it time and again.

As you sit down to write to your friend, take a moment to consider the qualities you most value in your friendship. It might be the fact that you always laugh when you talk or that you feel safe enough to confess your worst problems and always leave feeling better about everything. It might be the new ideas and experiences you've been exposed to throughout the course of your friendship. Whatever it is, really take the time to express to your friend their unique impact on your life. You don't have to use big words or fancy metaphors; all you need to do is write from your heart and your friend will feel the love in the words.

Letters, which used to be somewhat common, are now rare. A handwritten letter makes a wonderful gift to be treasured always. You might simply send it or hand deliver it out of the blue. Whatever you choose, your letter will no doubt be received and treasured with a grateful heart.





The Pursuit of Conscious Wholeness

Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual aspects is one of the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dual beings by nature, spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order. We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings.

If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.

The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person on the planet to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole.

Competing with Yourself

Competing with Yourself
Winning Isn't Everything

The urges that drive us to compete with others tend to be straightforward. Years of both evolution and societal influences have shaped us to pit ourselves against our peers. The needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, however, are entirely personal and thus far more complex. A need to outdo our earlier efforts—to confirm that we have grown as individuals—can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We are capable of using our past achievements as a foundation from which we venture confidently into the unknown. Yet if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth or a need to prove ourselves to others, even glowing successes can feel disheartening. Examining why we compete with ourselves enables us to positively identify those contests that will enrich our existence.

There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.

Consider, too, that successful efforts that would be deemed more than good enough when evaluated from an external perspective may not satisfy our inner judge, who can drive us ruthlessly. In order to attain balance, we have to learn the art of patience even as we strive to achieve our highest vision of who we are. When we feel drained, tense, or unhappy as we pursue our goals, it may be that we are pushing ourselves for the wrong reasons. Our enthusiasm for our endeavors will return as soon as we recall that authentic evolution is a matter not of winning but of taking pride in our progress at any pace.






Intention and Intuition
The Purpose of an Altar

If you didn't grow up with an altar in your home, having an altar now may seem like an exotic and unattainable idea. Yet having an altar does not have to be complicated or difficult, nor does it need to be based on a religion or a set of ideas that don't seem to relate to you. An altar can be a simple, personal expression of what you want to focus on right now. You do not have to build anything or take up a lot of space. You do not have to buy anything new or follow a complex set of instructions to create your altar. All you have to do is have a general understanding of what an altar is and the willingness to allow yourself access to this wonderful, ancient tool of transformation.

At its most essential, an altar is simply a raised structure that serves as a resting place for meaningful objects. It focuses the eye and provides a place for contemplation and, if so desired, ritual. All of these elements can be quite simple. One idea for a simple altar is a pot with a bulb planted in it, set on a box. This altar to growth can act as a reminder to you that all living things bloom in their time. A simple ritual might be to write down dreams you would like to see come to fruition on scraps of paper. You might place these scraps of paper in the box, or under the flowerpot, or in an envelope you prop against the pot. As the flower grows, so will your dreams.

If you look around your home, you may find that you have already created altarlike arrangements without even really thinking about it; this is something we humans do quite naturally. A candle, a decorative box, and a vase of flowers are just a few of the common household objects that lend themselves naturally to the creation of an altar. Simply add intention and intuition, and you have created your first altar. Remember that it isn't necessarily about the objects you place at your altar—it is the time you spend with it daily, taking the time to be with it for your sacred time.





Of Equal Worth

The notion of humility as a virtue brings numerous images to mind. We tend to envision those rare individuals who humbly bear life's struggles while downplaying their own strengths. Yet humility is also associated with people whose insecurities compel them to judge themselves unfavorably as a matter of course. The true definition of humility, however, does not correspond precisely with either of these images. Humility is not passivity. Rather, it is an utter lack of self-importance. The individuals who embody the concept of humility appreciate that each human being on the planet occupies a unique place on an infinite spectrum of development. Though they can take pride in their own accomplishments, they also understand that the people they interact with each day are as valuable and have as much to offer the world as they themselves do.

To be humble is to accept that while there will always be individuals more and less advanced than yourself, those on all parts of the spectrum of development can provide you with insights that further your personal evolution. Recognizing these insights is a matter of opening yourself to the fact that not only do others think and feel differently than you, but their life experiences have shaped them in a very different way than yours have shaped you. This means that while you may have a greater understanding in some areas, others will always be able to teach you something. When you cultivate a genuine yearning to know what skills and talents those you encounter have been blessed with, you cannot help but learn humility. You instinctively understand that emotions like envy breed resistance that prevents you from growing, and that being flexible in your interactions with others will help you connect with unexpected mentors.

When you practice humility, you want to become as accomplished and evolved as you can possibly be, yet you are willing to submit to the expertise of others to do so. You understand the scope of your aptitudes yet you choose to eradicate arrogance from your attitude, and you can distinguish the value you possess as an individual while still acting in the interests of your fellow human beings. Humility, simply put, is a form of balance in which you can celebrate your own worth while sincerely believing that every other person on the planet is just as worthy as you.

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