Shantideva’s Prayer

ShantiDeva Prayer
The idea of Avalokitesvara resides with the notion of a Buddha postponing his own enlightenment for the sake of humanity. This Buddha is very close to enlightenment but remains attached to this world and helps us.

This is one of the Dalai Lama’s favourite prayers. It is extracted from “A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life” by Shantideva, a Buddhist master from the monastic university of Nalanda, India. It was composed in the eighth century, inspired by an Avalokitesvara:

May all beings everywhere
Plagued by sufferings of body and mind
Obtain an ocean of happiness and joy
By virtue of my merits.

May no living creature suffer,
Commit evil, or ever fall ill.
May no one be afraid or belittled,
With a mind weighed down by depression.

May the blind see forms
And the deaf hear sounds,
May those whose bodies are worn with toil
Be restored on finding repose.

May the naked find clothing,
The hungry find food;
May the thirsty find water
And delicious drinks.

May the poor find wealth,
Those weak with sorrow find joy;
May the forlorn find hope,
Constant happiness, and prosperity.

May there be timely rains
And bountiful harvests;
May all medicines be effective
And wholesome prayers bear fruit.

May all who are sick and ill
Quickly be freed from their ailments.
Whatever diseases there are in the world,
May they never occur again.

May the frightened cease to be afraid
And those bound be freed;
May the powerless find power,
And may people think of benefiting each other.

For as long as space remains,
For as long as sentient beings remain,
Until then may I too remain
To dispel the miseries of the world.

The Dance Of A Thousand Hands
Dalai Lama’s Favorite Prayer

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Is Meditating Selfish?

Meditation Selfish

Many wonder if it is remarkably insensitive to sit quietly and mediate while the world burns. Isn’t meditation akin to Nero playing the fiddle? Isn’t meditation selfish?

The short answer to this is: Yes. Meditation is selfish.

The long answer is that under normal consciousness everything we do goes through the ego. So in some sense everything we do is “selfish”. The ego has a vested interest in our every action. It colors our every thought and act.

For centuries Yogis have grappled with the following problem: How does one come out of the ego when our every action is controlled by the ego? They discovered that it was not productive to think of actions as selfish or non-selfish. Instead the lens they used was: Does this action make me more selfish or less selfish?

Actions that make us less selfish are called “Sattvic” actions by Yogis. These are actions that come from beauty, purity, silence, creativity, and intense focus.

Action that take us deeper into the ego are classified as being either “Rajasic” or “Tamasic”.

Rajasic actions are those that come from greed, ambition, passion, and the excited ego.

Tamasic actions come from defeat, depression, inaction, and an ego that has given up.

When we meditate or do yoga, we indulge in Sattvic actions. This puts us on the path to reduce the hold of ego on our consciousness. It puts us in an upward spiral where our ego-centered desires are diminished and we become more empathetic to needs and feelings of others.

The impact of yoga and meditation does not end when we get off the yoga mat or stop meditating. These go on to inform our every action. If we allow ourselves to be drawn into an upward spiral then we perform our day-to-day tasks in such a way that minimizes the role of our ego. This then in turn improves our yoga and meditation. Eventually we reach states where the role of ego in our lives becomes increasingly diminished. The fingerprint of ego on our actions becomes increasingly subtle.

As our ego diminishes so do our desires. But there is one desire that continues to push us forward, and this is the desire to reduce the interference of the ego in our lives. Eventually even this last desire falls away and we reach a state of utter unselfishness, a peace that passes all understanding.

Related: Aging With Grace

Peace That Passes All Understanding
Getting Started With Meditation In Nine Easy Steps

Related: Aging With Grace

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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Meditation And Yoga Reshapes Brain

When neuroscientists Sara Lazar first took up yoga she was amused by the tall claims made by her yoga teacher that yoga would make her feel more compassionate and happy. But to her own amazement Sara found these very changes happening to her in a few weeks. How could this be she wondered? Can these effects be measured? These questions led her to actually change her field of research and what she found has been path breaking. Her discoveries have led to confirmation that Yoga and Meditation can reverse aging and grow certain important regions of the brain, while shrinking areas associated with stress.

Related: Change Brain Structure With Meditation

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Delta Flight 15

Delta 15
Here is an amazing story from a flight attendant on Delta Flight 15, written following 9-11:

On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, we were about 5 hours out of Frankfurt, flying over the North Atlantic .

All of a sudden the curtains parted and I was told to go to the cockpit, immediately, to see the captain. As soon as I got there I noticed that the crew had that “All Business” look on their faces. The captain handed me a printed message. It was from Delta’s main office in Atlanta and simply read, “All airways over the Continental United States are closed to commercial air traffic. Land ASAP at the nearest airport. Advise your destination.”

No one said a word about what this could mean. We knew it was a serious situation and we needed to find terra firma quickly. The captain determined that the nearest airport was 400 miles behind us in Gander, New Foundland.

He requested approval for a route change from the Canadian traffic controller and approval was granted immediately — no questions asked. We found out later, of course, why there was no hesitation in approving our request.

While the flight crew prepared the airplane for landing, another message arrived from Atlanta telling us about some terrorist activity in the New York area. A few minutes later word came in about the hijackings.

We decided to LIE to the passengers while we were still in the air. We told them the plane had a simple instrument problem and that we needed to land at the nearest airport in Gander , New Foundland, to have it checked out.

We promised to give more information after landing in Gander .. There was much grumbling among the passengers, but that’s nothing new! Forty minutes later, we landed in Gander. Local time at Gander was 12:30 PM …. that’s 11:00 AM EST.

There were already about 20 other airplanes on the ground from all over the world that had taken this detour on their way to the US.

After we parked on the ramp, the captain made the following announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, you must be wondering if all these airplanes around us have the same instrument problem as we have. The reality is that we are here for another reason.”

Then he went on to explain the little bit we knew about the situation in the US. There were loud gasps and stares of disbelief. The captain informed passengers that Ground control in Gander told us to stay put.

The Canadian Government was in charge of our situation and no one was allowed to get off the aircraft. No one on the ground was allowed to come near any of the air crafts. Only airport police would come around periodically, look us over and go on to the next airplane.

In the next hour or so more planes landed and Gander ended up with 53 airplanes from all over the world, 27 of which were US commercial jets.

Meanwhile, bits of news started to come in over the aircraft radio and for the first time we learned that airplanes were flown into the World Trade Center in New York and into the Pentagon in DC.

People were trying to use their cell phones, but were unable to connect due to a different cell system in Canada . Some did get through, but were only able to get to the Canadian operator who would tell them that the lines to the U.S. were either blocked or jammed.

Sometime in the evening the news filtered to us that the World Trade Center buildings had collapsed and that a fourth hijacking had resulted in a crash. By now the passengers were emotionally and physically exhausted, not to mention frightened, but everyone stayed amazingly calm.

We had only to look out the window at the 52 other stranded aircraft to realize that we were not the only ones in this predicament.

We had been told earlier that they would be allowing people off the planes one plane at a time. At 6 PM, Gander airport told us that our turn to deplane would be 11 am the next morning.

Passengers were not happy, but they simply resigned themselves to this news without much noise and started to prepare themselves to spend the night on the airplane.

Gander had promised us medical attention, if needed, water, and lavatory servicing.

And they were true to their word.

Fortunately we had no medical situations to worry about. We did have a young lady who was 33 weeks into her pregnancy. We took REALLY good care of her. The night passed without incident despite the uncomfortable sleeping arrangements.

About 10:30 on the morning of the 12th a convoy of school buses showed up. We got off the plane and were taken to the terminal where we went through Immigration and Customs and then had to register with the Red Cross.

After that we (the crew) were separated from the passengers and were taken in vans to a small hotel. We had no idea where our passengers were going. We learned from the Red Cross that the town of Gander has a population of 10,400 people and they had about 10,500 passengers to take care of from all the airplanes that were forced into Gander!

We were told to just relax at the hotel and we would be contacted when the US airports opened again, but not to expect that call for a while.

We found out the total scope of the terror back home only after getting to our hotel and turning on the TV, 24 hours after it all started.

Meanwhile, we had lots of time on our hands and found that the people of Gander were extremely friendly. They started calling us the “plane people.” We enjoyed their hospitality, explored the town of Gander and ended up having a pretty good time.

Two days later, we got that call and were taken back to the Gander airport. Back on the plane, we were reunited with the passengers and found out what they had been doing for the past two days.

What we found out was incredible…..

Gander and all the surrounding communities (within about a 75 Kilometer radius) had closed all high schools, meeting halls, lodges, and any other large gathering places. They converted all these facilities to mass lodging areas for all the stranded travelers.

Some had cots set up, some had mats with sleeping bags and pillows set up.

ALL the high school students were required to volunteer theirtime to take care of the “guests.”

Our 218 passengers ended up in a town called Lewisporte, about 45 kilometers from Gander where they were put up in a high school. If any women wanted to be in a women-only facility, that was arranged.

Families were kept together. All the elderly passengers were taken to private homes.

Remember that young pregnant lady? She was put up in a private home right across the street from a 24-hour Urgent Care facility.There was a dentist on call and both male and female nurses remained with the crowd for the duration.

Phone calls and e-mails to the U.S. and around the world were available to everyone once a day. During the day, passengers were offered “Excursion” trips. Some people went on boat cruises of the lakes and harbors. Some went for hikes in the local forests.

Local bakeries stayed open to make fresh bread for the guests.

Food was prepared by all the residents and brought to the schools. People were driven to restaurants of their choice and offered wonderful meals. Everyone was given tokens for local laundry mats to wash their clothes, since luggage was still on the aircraft.

In other words, every single need was met for those stranded travelers.

Passengers were crying while telling us these stories. Finally, when they were told that U.S. airports had reopened, they were delivered to the airport right on time and without a single passenger missing or late. The local Red Cross had all the information about thewhereabouts of each and every passenger and knew which plane they needed to be on and when all the planes were leaving. They coordinated everything beautifully.

It was absolutely incredible.

When passengers came on board, it was like they had been on a cruise. Everyone knew each other by name. They were swapping stories of their stay, impressing each other with who had the better time. Our flight back to Atlanta looked like a chartered party flight. The crew just stayed out of their way. It was mind-boggling.

Passengers had totally bonded and were calling each other by their first names, exchanging phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses.

And then a very unusual thing happened.

One of our passengers approached me and asked if he could make an announcement over the PA system. We never, ever allow that. But this time was different. I said “of course” and handed him the mike. He picked up the PA and reminded everyone about what they had just gone through in the last few days. He reminded them of the hospitality they had received at the hands of total strangers.

He continued by saying that he would like to do something in return for the good folks of Lewisporte.

“He said he was going to set up a Trust Fund under the name of DELTA 15 (our flight number). The purpose of the trust fund is to provide college scholarships for the high school students of Lewisporte.

He asked for donations of any amount from his fellow travelers. When the paper with donations got back to us with the amounts, names, phone numbers and addresses, the total was for more than $14,000!

“The gentleman, a MD from Virginia , promised to match the donations and to start the administrative work on the scholarship. He also said that he would forward this proposal to Delta Corporate and ask them to donate as well.

As I write this account, the trust fund is at more than $1.5 million and has assisted 134 students in college education.

“I just wanted to share this story because we need good stories right now. It gives me a little bit of hope to know that some people in a faraway place were kind to some strangers who literally dropped in on them.

It reminds me how much good there is in the world.”

“In spite of all the rotten things we see going on in today’s world this story confirms that there are still a lot of good people in the world and when things get bad, they will come forward.

Credit: Though this is a true story, the source of this article is not known.

Passengers raise scholarship funds for Canadian Hosts
The Greatest Gift

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Five Reasons For Yoga At Work

Yoga At Work

Yoga at work is an idea whose time has come. Here is why:

1. Better decisions: Yoga and Meditation have been shown to reshape the brain. The size of the amygdala is reduced. This is the region that controls stress. It means that in as few as six weeks participants who regularly practice yoga will begin to feel less stressed. In addition areas in the brain associated with decision-making are expanded. Participants also report better sleep and waking up well rested. All this translates to less drama at work, a calmer and less emotional decision-making environment, and better decisions. Most companies have to live and die by the choices made by its employees, and improved decisions translate directly to improvements in the bottom-line.

2. Less absenteeism: Two big reasons for absenteeism are both related to stress. Employees feel stress and pressure at work and choose to stay absent. The other reason is that due to stress employees fall ill frequently. By reducing stress levels and reshaping the brain to better cope with stress, yoga addresses these and helps reduce absenteeism.

3. Happy workforce: Imagine a place that is productive, where there are few emotional outbursts and where employees have great ability to cope with high-pressure situations. Wouldn’t such a place be fun to work at? By having employees practice yoga regularly the workforce is gradually transformed and the working environment becomes fun and challenging.

4. Fewer Workers Comp Claims: Practicing yoga regularly has been shown to strengthen the back and address issues relating to upper and lower back chronic pain. Improved balance, better hand-eye coordination, improved posture, increased flexibility, and strengthened back all mean lower work related injuries and fewer worker compensation claims.

5. Improved retention: Regular yoga practice for as less as six week has shown to increase the sense of well-being and happiness of participants. When these good results happen from an activity provided at work, it creates an association in the mind of the employee that the organization they work for is caring for them. This creates a sense of loyalty in employees and improves retention.

Yoga at the work place is a win-win-win. It is great for the bottom line, it is great for employees, and it helps transform the working environment. Why not introduce a few classes throughout the day at work, allowing employees to fit yoga into their daily schedule, and reap these benefits?

How Does Yoga Work?
Meditation And Yoga Reshapes Brain

Credits:This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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