“Groundhog Day” is the movie starring Bill Murray who visits Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where he is destined to live each day over and over for what seems like eternity. It’s message is one of Karma and reincarnation, particularly when one realizes that the director and co-screen-writer was a practicing Buddhist named Harold Remis. Continue reading
Joy filled my soul as I read that the 12 boys trapped in a flooded cave in Thailand were thinking of entering a monastery in honor of the former Navy Seal that gave his life in an effort to save them. Continue reading
I heard the word “Satsang” yesterday and it reminded me of a journey I started a half a lifetime ago when I had hit rock bottom and sought answers to the meaning of life.
Satsang is a Sanskrit word that means “gathering together for the truth” or, more simply, “being with the truth.” According to sources from India, Truth is what is real, what truly exists. Continue reading
Thích Nhất Hạnh looked at me from the most sorrowful eyes I have ever seen and I understood what it was like for a person to feel all the suffering the world is experiencing.
I had attended a five-day silent retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate New York with some thousand others who meditated morning, noon and night. Someone would ring a bell as you walked through the monastery grounds and just like clock-work, everyone would stop what they were doing and rest in the present moment. Continue reading
There is a message I receive every time I travel to the IKEA store and visit the “As Is” department. I get a feeling that the Universe is telling me to open myself to the message the Swedish furniture store wants to share with the rest of the world.
Accept life “As Is,” it softly calls out to me. Continue reading
“I don’t know” is soon to become my life-long mantra.
It has helped me immensely in calming the “monkey mind” after a wonderful Korean woman introduced it to me and it took a full day for me to understand its profound ramifications.
For me, saying “I don’t know” is a way of humbling myself and admitting that I know very little about the world I live in and what really matters in the scheme of life. No matter how hard I try to “get it right” through searching and throwing myself into one spiritual path after another, the end result brings me no closer to any definite answer and it’s okay to let it go and simply say “I don’t know.” to the world
I don’t know how electricity works, but I know that it exists and provides for so many of our heating and transportation needs, not to mention that hair dryer that vain men (some women, perhaps) depend on for their appearance. I don’t know how God (or some other Source by a different name) created us, or how many days it took for Him to create the world, but I know that it manifested from the same substance that you and I are made of and will one day return to.
Yes, I believe in a force that is higher than myself, a divine spiritual “something” that ties us all together like the atoms that we share and the oneness we truly are. It is this small kernel of faith I have been fortunate enough to cultivate that allows me to now say with a firm conviction: “I don’t know.”
The woman that shared this phenomenal truth was a WON Buddhist minister who served as mentor for the minister of the WON Buddhist Temple of Philadelphia. She appears angelic although there are a few silver strands in her dark hair that’s pulled straight back and tied up in a professional-looking bun in the back of her head. Wearing glasses, nothing seems to separate the love that shines from her eyes for other beings like me who are lucky enough to have come into contact with her.
Like all female ministers, she wears a black gown or dress (or whatever you call the lower part of clothing covering a woman’s torso). The top is covered by a pure white blouse with a big white bow tie. At first glance, it reminded me of the outfit worn by the Catholic nuns of a by-gone era, but without the heavy starch and the tough, drill sergeant demeanor and firmness that could scare a kid with eternal damnation for speaking out of turn in second grade.
“I don’t know” is also a state of mind. It is similar to the “beginners’ mind” that Zen Buddhist monks recommend practitioners assume when studying the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, also known as Siddhartha Gautama.
But “I don’t know” surpasses that in WON Buddhism, in my opinion. Once you truly admit this, you’re better able to tame the mind. To rid it of unnecessary thoughts that plagued you day and night.
Once that occurs, you can move into the next level, which is “no mind.” It is the “emptiness” that you hear talk of by holy men and women – the sages of all walks of life and forms of religion – who experience life without any judgement whatsoever. You become void and see things through the eyes of equanimity.
I have a long way to go, and I may not reach that high mountain top of a enlightenment, but I’ve learned to take the first step, thanks to those I’ve met during the 100th anniversary this week for WON Buddhism.
It’s a baby step, one I am proud of announcing to the world when I assert that “I don’t know!”
“I am the wisest man alive for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.”— Socrates
“I know nothing.” — Sgt. Schultz, of Television’s Hogan’s Heroes
I’ve been to some ten different Buddhist temples in the mountainous regions of Korea taking in the rustic, centuries-old magnificent works of art and spiritual creations of man. I felt uplifted when entering doorways that millions, perhaps billions, of others walked through in search of peace and calm on their way to a potential enlightenment.
None however, have inspired more of a majestic feeling inside than the new WON Center in Seoul, Korea, where a bolt of soft and pure lightning once again struck me with what I can only describe as a divine presence that’s humbling and elevating at the same time. Continue reading
“Namuamitabul” is a Korean Buddhist chant that means “The Buddha of infinite light, infinite life, and infinite wisdom.”
This chant is recited numerous times by participants in a WON Buddhist meditation as part of a routine that involves chanting, sitting meditation and walking meditation. Continue reading
Pride cometh before the fall.
Korea awaits me next week as I travel more than a thousand miles to find myself and discover reasons why I am still here on planet earth.
Yes, I’m joining a group from Philadelphia, New York and Chicago that will fly to Seoul, South Korea, to take part in the centennial celebration of the WON Buddhism founding by its master on April 28th, 1916. Continue reading
Carly Simon sang it . . .
The Heinz ketchup bottle illustrated what it could look like . . .
And I have fallen victim to it whenever I try something new and start to visualize what could possibly go wrong. Continue reading
I’m having fun.
I’m enjoying life and and feel a peace and calm I didn’t know I’d ever experience again. It’s like falling in love for the very first time. I look forward to each new day filled with hope and a smile for whatever life presents to me. Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I envisioned what the coming year would be like in a “Vision Board.” I got together with a small group and pasted magazine pictures and bold 48-point type letters to a cardboard placard showing what we would like to see enfold in 2016.
I placed the Vietnam War book at the top, adding lots of spiritual and meditative symbols along side of it. On the bottom line I pasted “Love to Travel” and displayed two large pictures of my son and I on a cruise to Alaska some two years ago.
Little did I know then that writing about the war would take a backseat while my traveling plans would enlarge and grow immensely! Continue reading
The smell of lavender and a hint of myrrh greet me as I walk into the meditation room. I had not expected my sense of smell to be the first one to experience such a warm and inviting welcome. I should not have been surprised. The olfactory system is the first sensory organ I usually use, and I’m not too proud to state I am usually lead by the nose. Continue reading
Listen to yourself.
Close your eyes and go within and listen to the sounds of silence. Continue reading
I believe that I have become a “spiritual soldier of fortune” and would travel anywhere my heart beckons me to learn, to pray and to find answers about the universe.
I got an inkling of this calling when I was a teenager. It came about when I was 18, just out of high school and experimenting with grass and LSD. Timothy Leary enticed me with his message in the 1960s, advising all to “turn on, tune in and drop out.” I turned on and tuned into the message, but couldn’t afford to drop out because I was from a working class family that saw work as a way out of poverty and into the middle class. Continue reading
What do you tell a person who wants to know about Buddhism?
What books do you recommend? What authors?
Should she look into mindfulness first, or jump right into a form of Zen Buddhism or the Tibetan Buddhism of the Dalai Lama? Continue reading
Is “letting go” a feminine trait?
Is it in the same category as “surrender” or “submit” — actions deemed by some son of a bitch to be “unmanly”? Continue reading
What gifts can I offer the world today? What insight, wisdom or thought could I bestow on others seeking the healing we need for our mutual pain and suffering?
I am no psychic. I’ve never seen an angel or felt the tingling sensation from a spirit wanting to use me to provide a message or a sign. I’m no medium. Continue reading
The guru then made the following announcement, quoting the feminine deity: Moor Jani:
We all have the capacity to heal ourselves as well as facilitate the healing of others. When we get in touch with that infinite place within us where we are Whole, then illness can’t remain in the body. And because we’re all connected, there’s no reason why one person’s state of wellness can’t touch others. Elevating them and triggering their recovery. And when we heal others, we also heal ourselves and our planet.
There is no separation except in our own minds.
Simply knowing that I wrote a book is one helluva experience.
Seeing it on amazon.com is breath-taking! Continue reading
Well, I told you my first book would soon appear. And it did.
Just as I went on a cruise in a boat up to the new frontier of Alaska.
Francis of Assisi is on sale. It has one error which I found today. It has to do with Esther of the Bible and her relationship with a fellow who was her uncle but was identified by me as as her father. Not bad for a 266-page book, if I do say so myself.
Check it out. It’s called: “Francis of Assisi, A Novel Awakening to Lady Poverty”
Oh yeah. My name doesn’t appear anywhere on the cover. You see, I “discovered” the manuscript which was actually written by the 13th century monk and I arranged for it to be published after it was hidden in an old castle on an island of Greece. It is novel of an historic book. I think you’ll like it!
Michael j Contoveros
For a look at the book, click on Francis of Assisi
Good enough is the lazy man’s way to enlightenment . . . There’s nothing more to do . . . Your job is good enough . . . Your spouse is good enough . . .Your life is good enough . . . Your meditation practice is good enough. . . You don’t need anything more, and what you now have is good enough. — This is all according to a young monk, – Ajahn Khemavaro, who spoke on Impermanence, in a 2008 presentation, “Everything Will Be alright.” Continue reading
North to Alaska!
That’s where I’m headed next week and I’ll start checking off the newest box of my “bucket list,” the list of things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.” Continue reading
When you’re down and feel like nothing, God is usually up to something just for you.
That’s a saying on a church sign outside of Philadelphia hat I edited and slightly changed and can safely say is now mine. Continue reading
How may I serve you?
That’s the key to a happy life, you know. Learning to serve others selflessly with no expectation of a reward other than the knowledge you are doing unto others something you’d want them to do . . . unto everyone else.
I am about to be an author!
Well, a “published” author, that is . . .
I just learned that my book about Francis of Assisi, a historic novel, will be available at Amazon sometime in the next two months, September and October (2014). Writing it was a true labor of love. I mixed in Catholicism with Sufism and lots of Buddhism. I also introduced Francis, aka Giovanni di Bernadone, his real name by the way, to the Wisdom of Kabbalah and a belief in what I call “angel therapy.” Continue reading
I’m down to just two more days now . . . Two more days in which to become enlightened through the 21-Day Meditation Experience of Deepak & Oprah. Today is the 20th Day. Tomorrow, I’m afraid, it will end for me and you.
No matter what happens though, I’ve been exposed to what Buddhists called the Dharma. That is, the “teachings” of meditation by Siddhartha Gotama, the person most of us call the “Buddha.”
It reminds me of a story I heard recently. It’s about a frog. Continue reading
- the lovely garden beside a Thai Buddhist Temple
- the freshness of post-meditation
- the purity of post-meditation
- the high of talking dharma with a new friend Luke
- surrounded by Bonsai trees Continue reading
When you touch that part of me that has never been touched, a dormant thing erupts.
I am observing this thing for the first time.
Did it exist inside of me or did you put it there when I wasn’t looking?
When I noticed it, it hid behind my ear. I tried to find it, put a name to it, and store it in a folder where everything is orderly and safe. It wouldn’t go.
It was quick like a fox, creeping down my left arm while I examined my right, hiding under my knee when I thought I felt it brush the side of my face.
I am barren without it, yet all the happier to have seen it, if only for such a brief time not long enough even to know what to call it.
— Melanie Kriebel 2013
Sometimes the only way for me to understand something is to try to put it into my own words. Particularly, if I want to memorize or “imprint” something so that I can keep it near and dear to me like an inspirational poem or saying I still remember from my earliest days.
And so, thanks to the kindness of WordPress, I will use my meager intellect to place into words something my heart has tried to understand and permit to grow from one lifetime to another. It is the four truths that can enable those noble among us to overcome what is wrong in our lives and how we could set things right. Continue reading
It took several hours for the effects of the Sweat Lodge ceremony to kick in, but when it did I realized the control I always thought I needed was not in my hands, but in what the Greeks called the Fates; the Christians, God; and the Buddhists, Karma.
A Divine source, refered by some as the “Force,” the Divine Feminine,” the Creator, has dealt a hand to play with our own free will. We get to choose which cards to keep and the ones to discard. By standing pat or by seeking new ones to “change our luck” or to improve our hand, we cast our lot to the future. None of us expect to lose or to face tragedy or a financial crisis. We hope for improvement, to enrich ourselves through our card-playing skill and years of studying the game of life. Continue reading
I am a shape-shifter. I’ve developed the ability over the past five years to shift from one form to another by simply manipulating my mind to do the bidding of my higher self. Continue reading
The thought of going to prison never bothered me. I’d survive and flourish behind bars where I’d have more than enough time to reflect and write which I have found is my true love in life.
No, I could kill without worrying about the consequences. It would be my first offense. I am certified as a Vietnam veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I don’t see any judge or jury putting me to death for the crime.
All of this went through my mind when I was waiting at the train platform and a rather tall, white guy walked in front of me. I was standing near the tracks. I was close enough and in line with others stranding on either side of me that I never thought someone could make their way between me and the tracks. But the man did. He walked around me. He stood directly in front of me. No one else stood that close. I recall thinking how totally inappropriate and rude his actions were.
That’s when I planned to kill him. Continue reading
What is a monk to do when he is lonely? When he is blue?
When you reach that low point where you feel you are the loneliest person in the world, who or what do you turn to for relieve? Continue reading
It’s an affirmation I can live with over and over, day in and day out, from one lifetime to another, without ever getting tired of saying it.
It is in the giving of love that I’m twice blessed. I got so much of it when I come into your presence that I can’t keep it in and I must share or I know that I could die. And so, I tell you that “I Love You,” and hope that you never stop listening to me. Even if you blush and say that I’m only kidding and scold me, saying “Stop that, Michael. Quit playing around.” Continue reading
I’m so scared because I don’t know what to do, nor who to turn to. Flashes of insights, intuition and a “knowing” that borders on the psychic has arisen in me and I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse. Continue reading
On February 5th, 2012, a friend who calls herself, the Frugal Xpat, commented: “I always wanted to meditate . . . ”
I didn’t respond to the comment until now, but want to share how everyone could enjoy this exercise the frugal expat spoke of in Daily Meditation Desperately Needed. As she describes her life’s quest, she is on “An expat’s journey in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.” Continue reading
Shifting into cruise control, I let myself glide through many of life’s activities nowadays. I relax, take several deep breaths and seek a place inside where there are no thoughts, no worries, and no frets. Continue reading
I’ve taken compassion on the road. Literally!
I send affection to motorists cut off by a speeding car that winds in and out of lanes. I feel for the driver who was never told by the operator of a car in front that that operator was going to turn, despite what appears to be working lights that turn on and off when you press the turn signal lever up or down. Continue reading
I am complete.
I am finished.
I’ve done what I have done and everyone can be satisfied with my efforts, including — and most importantly — me. Continue reading
I didn’t want to go back to Omega Institute this year. Each time I travelled to this land of Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle, I’d get high from the holistic experience. But then I’d change into an Ichabod Crane feeling chased by the Headless Horseman who’d tell true life stories that caused so much pain I couldn’t hold it inside. Continue reading
Cleaning a pot can be very meaningful, particularly if you block out all thoughts and concentrate on nothing but you and the instrument that has helped provide you with so much nourishment. Continue reading
Death entered into my life recently and I have never felt more alive than with — and in — its presence. Continue reading
Purity. There’s something in it that resonates with me. In my private moments, I try my best to connect with it, but once I start to analyze it, it vanishes. Continue reading
There is a tradition in Eastern philosophies where you’re taught to view each person and other sentient being as if he, she – or it – is your mother. I never knew how nurturing this could be until I allowed the child in me to reciprocate and bask in the most secure and loving place. Continue reading
After chanting a non-English mantra for some time, I finally learned its definition and discovered a gem of wisdom while contemplating its meaning. Meditating will never be the same, and I want to share with others a little of the enlightenment it’s provided me.
Om Mani Padme Hung. Continue reading
Reality shifted on me the other day, and it helped me realize that I have more control than my “preshifted” thoughts allowed me to see. Now, with a “time-control outlook,” I can try to change my world for the better. Continue reading
It’s time for my disappearing act to begin. I close my eyes, wave an imaginary magic wand, and slowly begin to vanish from existence here. All thoughts and fears come to an end as I find protection beneath a cloak of invisibility, safe from the savages outside and the demons within. Continue reading
Anger. It hits like a poison arrow causing me to drop what I’m doing and focus on the pain it inflicts. Continue reading
I got high again. I didn’t know how much I needed a “fix” until my head slumped on my chest and I “awoke” to a restful, calm and peaceful world I had been away from for what seems a lifetime. I felt refreshed, clean and somehow right despite what others might say. Continue reading
I love women. I’ll take them in all shapes and sizes, the old and the young, the rich and the poor.
If it wasn’t for women, I — and a lot of guys I know — wouldn’t even be here! Continue reading
Am I un-American or anti-religious when I tell you something I’ve been trying to say for years, but have been afraid of hurting your feelings?
I want nothing for Christmas! Continue reading
(Caution: Exposure to this post could be hazardous to your health, particularly if you were raised Catholic with a taste of Buddhist and Kabalistic ingredients thrown in the mix.)
Indulgences are some things I never thought I’d think about once I finished with my Catholic upbringing and moved onto Eastern Studies and the spiritual advice from the Kabbalah. But, there I was reading how someone could limit their time in purgatory by performing certain acts and saying prayers. Continue reading
No matter how hard I try, I can never count to 20 before an unbidden thought arises from inside of me. I get to three or four while meditating and images pop up on an internal screen capturing my attention. I dare not try this counting method until my body and mind are both well-settled and I can “let go.” Continue reading
Thank God for Buddhism. What’s that you say? I can’t have one in, and of, the other?
Are you telling this red-blooded American veteran that I cannot follow the teachings of the Buddha and still believe in the God of Abraham? Continue reading
I am as dependent on you as you are on me, as we all are on the kindness and labor of others we too often take for granted.
As I look around, I see that my fortune is dependent on the cooperation and contributions of others. Continue reading
On this Veterans Day, 11-11-11, what would you tell yourself if you could go back in time and greet that young man recently returned home from the war?
War is never the answer, but only a failure on all sides to reach an answer. Continue reading
Is there a noble banker in the world? Only someone in the lending business who sees his calling as a “service for the people,” I believe, could correct past abuses and recommend changes for, and in the best interests of, us “99 percenters.” Continue reading
“We all dream of a kinder, happier world. But if we wish to make it a reality, we have to ensure that compassion inspires all our actions. This is especially true with regard to our political and economic policies. Given that probably half the world’s population lacks the basic necessities of adequate food, shelter, medical care and education, I believe we need to question whether we are really pursuing the wisest course in this regard. Continue reading
(From Part I, These are true signs of our Times/)
The greatest protest of our generation is seeking change in all shapes and sizes. You can see it in the signs the demonstrators carry, writing the letters out really big with magic markers so that passersby need not squint to get the messages.
There is not just one message, but many, which all have one thing in common: a belief that our world can do better for all and not just the few Continue reading
Ah bliss! It’s so wonderful to welcome your visit. You return when I least expect you, embracing me and bringing peace and calm just when I still myself and end needless thoughts.
Are any thoughts actually needed when I go within? I need but seek a quiet moment with no thought save the intent to be free of the past and the future, Continue reading
Tone it down America. You are cutting off your nose to despite your face. The face of the body politic, that is, and we are creating needless hurt for the countrymen we’d like to lead to our mutual goal: the pursuit of happiness. Continue reading
I never took my eyes off the gun. The man’s hand shook. I was afraid it would go off. Raising my own hands, I prayed that he would not shoot, and said “I’m coming out,” slowly climbing out of the window, placing one foot on the ground and then the other as I exited the ACME supermarket warehouse building two blocks from my home. Continue reading
Saigon Lady taught me about Life and Buddhism tonight. Continue reading