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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Spirituality and Music: Matisyahu, "One Day."

I happened upon the music of Matisyahu by chance when he first hit the scene and immediately fell in love with his style. It's fresh, original, hip and very catchy. His style is an exceptional hybrid of reggae, rap, beat-box, hip-hop and rock. There is something there to his music, however, besides amazing talent and a unique sound, which I quickly figured out--He has a deep passion for the music, which stems in large part from a deep well of spiritual energy.

Matis is a Hasidic Jew who mixes positive, uplifting messages about Jewish and other spirituality into his songs. The spiritual messages he infuses into his music are very universal so that despite not being Jewish or even monotheistic I really connect with it on a profound level. One such song is from Matisyahu's new album, "Light" and it's titled, "One Day." Anyway, below the video box I've typed out some of the lyrics that I like most from this song about peace, love and non-violence. If the video is disabled click here for the link to the video:

sometimes in my tears I drown
but I never let it get me down
so when negativity surrounds
I know some day it'll all turn around
all my live I've been waiting for
I've been praying for
for the people to say
that we don't wanna fight no more
they'll be no more wars and our children will play
one day

it's not about
win or lose
because we all lose when they feed on the souls of the innocent blood drenched pavement
keep on moving though the waters stay raging
in this maze you can lose your way (your way)
it might drive you crazy but dont let it faze you no way (no way)

one day this all will change
treat people the same
stop with the violence
down with the hate
one day we'll all be free
and proud to be under the same sun
singing songs of freedom

James: Music can provide inspiration to see the world, the day or one's life in an entirely different way. Sounds are some of the most effective ways of conveying spirituality because they touch a place deep within our essence that isn't always accessible by words alone. A lot of times too the essence of words can be lost in translation from one language to another but the sounds themselves cross all boundaries, barriers and cultures. It can inspire us toward great heights of being, doing and seeing.

In addition, music is a great way to relax and prepare for meditation but it is also a very good meditation by itself. I have sat down to listen to music with an angry or depressed mood only to have it lifted and calmed through meditating on the beautiful sounds of a song. So don't forget to use music to help you explore your states of mind and consciousness. It's important to take time in our busy lives to stop, listen and enjoy some good music to help us release less helpful energy and replace it with a rejuvenating feeling.

~Peace to all beings~

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Earth: The Pale Blue Dot.

Concerning what Buddhism thinks toward the universe the Buddha has said, It is so large that it has no exterior, and so small that it has no interior.” “It means that at the Tathagata level, in terms of largeness, you can’t see the edge of the universe, and in terms of smallness, you can’t see the smallest microscopic particle of matter."

James: Whenever this perspective comes into focus it always humbles and reassures me that the bigger picture of reality is unfolding as it should. How could it not be unfolding at it should for we don't have much control over anything let alone our fate in the unfathomable totally of the Universe. We have learned a lot as a species but we still probably don't even know a tenth of what the Universe is about and we will most likely never know. Perhaps that's the way it is meant to be because how can something so immense and ever changing ever be pinned down and completely understand by a mind, which we know is flawed to begin with? Catching up to the consciousness of this vast experiment is in my view a glimpse into the state of parinirvana, which in totality is impossible to grasp until, (it seems to this humbled mind) until one no longer longs to grasp at all. Perhaps we'll "know" it when our desire to know is exhausted.

How lucky to have been born on this pale blue dot of dust hurtling through the vast expanse of a living Universe at all? How even luckier is it then to have been born as a human with the ability to understand that we're living on a pale, isolated blue dot of dust hurtling through the vast expanse of a living, breathing Universe!! And that on this pale blue dot once walked a man called Buddha who changed this dot forever. Whole civilizations of ants live and die generation after generation with no knowledge whatsoever that they live on such a miracle of a rock floating and spinning around a bright, giant, star of nuclear reactivity.

We can try to act like we are in control with our super smart, fast computers but in the totality of it all those are just blimps on a inconceivably massive time line. We're along for the ride so while pursuing science and looking beyond our current limitations is something we should always pursue we need to remember the less flashy parts of the puzzle. Black holes, red dwarfs, spiral galaxies and massive, multi-colored planets are enthralling and awe inspiring to be sure but so is the most delicate, humblest blade of grass that we often pass as we rush our way across this pale blue dot. Some of the most amazing moments in existence don't take place in a lab, aren't seen through the lens of a telescope or measured with the most high-tech satellite. As my master Thich Nhat Hanh says:

“I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child--our own two eyes. All is a miracle...

James: I am content to just be apart of it all and to share a few spins around the sun with you all on this miracle rock called, Earth. That makes me smile.

~Peace to all beings~

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Haiku Heaven.

I recommend listening to each video for a few minutes to relax and center yourself before reading each corresponding haiku below it. Trust me, it's worth it. Also, try turning up the volume for a more realistic experience:

crashing thunder roars
rain drops softy rush downward
tan leaf floats rapids

clear shimmering stream
gurgles bamboo wind chime song
veiled destination

jungle leaves pulse green
natural orchestra plays
enjoy being lost

-Haiku by James R. Ure

~Peace to all beings~

CREDIT: Hiyeizan Temple, Kyoto, Japan by Okinawa Soba

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Humor Sutra.

I have a pretty good sense of humor--I like to laugh a lot and make other people laugh. I think that laughing a lot is an important part of living a happy life. I have noticed over time that there are are quite a few Buddhists who take themselves a bit too seriously. I have been to meditation sessions where you try to joke and laugh a bit and get grumbles and frowns in response. As well as people who seem a bit attached to the "letter of law" in Buddhism who often walk around obsessed with trying to "ensure" people are, "Doing it right." (It, meaning Buddhism). Well to those who think that humor has no place in Buddhism and that we must always be serious, reserved and well-mannered all the time then you need to re-aquaint yourself with His Holiness the Dalai Lama:

Metro News-Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama jokes with his nasal spray after being asked his opinion on the swine flu epidemic as he gave a lecture at a Swiss stadium. during a press conference. (AFP/Getty Images)

~Peace to all beings~

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh's Disciples in Vietnam Facing Turmoil.

By BEN STOCKING Associated Press Writer

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