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It happened with Dozo, a Zen monk. A rich man came to Dozo with ten thousand gold coins. That was a very big amount. He was going to gift it to the temple where Dozo was the priest. Dozo accepted it as if it was nothing. The rich man became agitated. He said, “Do you know these are ten thousand gold coins?”
Dozo said, “You have said it so many times, I have heard it so many times. You have said it already too many times — do you think I am deaf?”
The man was just asking for thanks, only thanks, nothing more. Then he said, “Ten thousand golden coins is a big amount, even to me. I am a very rich man, but that amount is very big.”
Dozo said, “What do you want? What are you really asking? Are you asking for some gratitude? Are you asking that I should be thankful to you?”
The man said, “At least that much can be expected.”
So Dozo said, “Take your gold coins back. If you want to really give them to this temple, you will have to be thankful to me that I accepted.”
On the temple it is written even now… it is written that the giver should be thankful; only then is it a sharing.
Somebody accepted your gift. This is such a great thing, because he could have rejected it. Somebody accepted you through your gift. He could have rejected this, there was no necessity to accept it. The giver should be thankful. Then it becomes a sharing, otherwise it is always a bargain. You are expecting something — something more valuable than you have given.
From Osho and my Facebook friend Anand Zen
Stress is one of the most important causes of child abuse and neglect. Unrealistic expectations on the part of parents and the pressure they put on kids leads to abuse. Abuse need not be beating up or physically assaulting children or partners. Putting pressure mentally and manipulating them to behave in a particular way that is against their natural tendencies is also abuse.
A nurturing parent who assures their children about how special and loved they are helps kids blossom. It is important to be a parent who can build up the confidence of a child and make them feel that they are capable of following their dreams. When a parent pushes a child to make their own dreams come true is indulging in a kind of abuse. I see this especially in music circles, in reality shows on TV. Children are prodded and pushed to behave like trained animals in a circus. I also see kids who thoroughly enjoy their music and that comes through.
It is important to respect kids. When you treat them the same way you want to be treated, children will accept your point of view. Take time to have a dialogue. Most often we tend to talk down to kids or issue them orders. In fact I see parents’ interaction with kids being just a long list of do this and do that, especially in the morning when everybody is racing against time.
When chores and regular routines need to be established consensus and mutual agreement about how things need to be done helps a great deal. Kids do tend to lie about small things because mainly they are afraid of a parent’s reaction. This tends to be built up into a big issue and in frustration can result in physical punishments. Beating, spanking, thrashing and assault only builds up greater resistance in a child and also leaves deep scars that last a lifetime.
It is extremely important to monitor a child’s television and video viewing. Watching violent films and TV programs harms young children. It scares them and falsely demonstrates that aggression is a good way to handle frustration and solve problems. Bullying and regressive behaviour, delinquency get validated by many TV programs.
Child abuse is a vast area that includes neglect, sexual, physical, psychological or emotional abuse. A great deal is being written about this and awareness is being created. Just as parents, teachers and neighbours tend to tread warily in identifying and interfering in cases where they suspect abuse, authorities tend to be over zealous in suspecting parents and taking away kids from them and involving social security measures. This is not yet a problem in the East, but we keep hearing about children being fostered in the West. A balanced viewpoint is very important especially when cross-cultural upbringing is the case.
Child abuse is a crime and finally the interest of the child must be paramount in any situation.
The A38 Foundation of International Law and A CONTRARIO will be hosting a joint online legal symposium in April 2015, titled, “The Rule of Law in addressing Violence against Children: Success or Failure?” Do take a look at
http://www.athirtyeight.com/p/events.html about how you can participate!
Vedic thought and philosophy prescribe twenty ethical guidelines called yamas (restraints) and niyamas (observances) in the observance of dharma. Compassion is an important yama, a deep awareness and sympathy for another’s suffering. This humane quality does not stop with understanding the suffering of others but also wanting to do something about it.
Compassion or daya in the Indian context is a deeply thought out and discussed topic in all faiths like Jains, Buddhists and Hindus. The Vedas and Puranas give many instances of practicing compassion. It begins with overcoming cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings. It means to see the Divine everywhere. It entails being kind to people, animals, plants and the Earth itself. It asks the ordinary human being to forgive anybody who feels remorse and apologizes. When we develop sympathy for other people’s needs and suffering, when we step forward to help those who are weak, impoverished, aged or in pain, when we can speak against and fight abuse and cruelties especially towards children and women, then compassion is the foremost emotion or quality that we exhibit.
Let us take Sita, who with Draupadi, is the leitmotif of every Indian woman’s life. There is this constant image of these women that are the basis of all the behaviour of Indian women—strong, faithful, analytical and family oriented women. Whatever the education, the situation in which we are placed, whatever the rebellion against established norms of behaviour and culture, whatever the dictates of society and the reaction for or against it, these two women lurk somewhere at the back of our minds influencing our thought processes.
Sita was the epitome of compassion. Her compassion for other women, including the women in The Ramayana who were considered enemies by the men, comes across very strongly. Sita questions Rama killing the demons in the forests and asks him why he is doing so when they have not harmed him. She cares for all the creatures in her environment. A crow attacks her again and again as Rama sleeps on her lap. She keeps quiet for two reasons—that he should not be disturbed and knowing that if Rama sees the crow he would annihilate the crow! That is compassion!
She believes that Lakshmana’s heady decision to cut off the demoness Surpanaka’s (the ten-headed King of Lanka—Ravana’s sister) nose led to her (Sita’s) abduction. This was the base for the war in Lanka. Sita says, “Violence breeds violence, and an unjust act only begets greater injustice”.
Again when Sita is a prisoner in Lanka and Ravana tortures her with his advances and lewd behaviour she keeps her cool. Sita becomes close to one of her demoness guards: Trijatha, who, unlike the other guards, feels compassion for Sita. It is Trijatha who tells Sita the story of the war between Rama and Ravana. When Hanuman wants to kill Trijatha and the other demonesses, Sita protects them saying that they are only doing their duty and are not to be blamed.
As much as Sita is overjoyed that Rama won the war, she still feels compassion for Mandodari, Ravana’s widow, as well as for all the other Rakshasa women. “They would be queens no more, and their people had met death on the battlefield–for what? For one man’s unlawful desire. . . . It was such a high price to pay.” In an instant, she forgets the one year of torture that she underwent amongst these women when not one spoke up for her.
Finally, after her banishment to the ashram of Sage Valmiki, after her delivery of her twin boys she exhibits great compassion to all creatures there. She is a vegetarian. One of the viewpoints expressed is that the Ashvamedha horse that is let loose as a sign of Rama’s undisputable sovereignty to roam the land, comes to her abode. It knows instinctively that she is the compassionate one who will give it refuge and protect her.
Compassion in the Indian mind is linked to sharing and giving. We share our food with all creatures. The crow is fed rice first before the cooked meal is eaten by the family members. Daan or sharing or donating cows, clothes, food, household goods to the needy and deserving is part of daily life, an important aspect of festivals and celebrations, rites of passage and religious rituals.
The Buddha is the symbol of compassion. Lord Vishnu and his consort Goddess Lakshmi are the last word in compassion. Lord Siva is the compassionate one who rushes to the rescue of his devotees and answers their prayers.
The Pandian King punished and imprisoned Siva’s great devotee and poet Manickavachagar. The king had to be taught a lesson. An enraged Lord Shiva flooded the Vaigai river. The Pandiyan king ordered every family in Madurai to send one man from each family to build embankments to contain the waters of Vaigai. Prisoners, including Manikkavasagar were conscripted and he used his basket to throw lumps of mud to build the embankment.
There was an old lady called Vanthi, who used to make a living by selling ‘Pittu’ or balls of sweetened broken rice. She could not send anyone from her family as she was alone. The lady was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and prayed to him. He appeared as a labourer in front of her and the poor lady offered to pay him with the Pittu instead of money. He accepted the condition and carried mud on his head to throw into Vaigai. After his great labour, he would sleep off his exertion after eating the heavy to digest Pittu.
The Pandiyan King heard reports about Vanthi’s servant sleeping through his soldiers. He ordered that this fellow who was shirking his work be brought to him. Shiva was sleeping and refused to move. The angry king felt insulted and began to whip Shiva on his back. Lord Shiva got up laughed, threw a basket of mud into Vaigai that immediately stopped the flood and disappeared. The king then realised that it was Lord Shiva who came as servant to rescue the old lady and Manikkavasagar.
There are any number of stories told to children from the cradle to inculcate the quality of compassion. All religions talk about their Divine beings representing compassion…the most important quality in any creature or human.
This is a blog dedicated to a blogging initiative, ‘1000 Voices For Compassion’ http://1000speak.wordpress.com/ that goes live on February 20, 2015.
When you think of sleep, the word association is automatically lullabies. The lullaby has existed since ancient times and is a soothing song played or sung to young children to help them sleep. Lullabies are used to pass down cultural knowledge or tradition. Lullabies also tell stories, especially in India where the baby Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu the protector of the universe in Vedic traditions, is the quintessential target of the song. Lullabies help to develop communication skills, describe emotions and capture the undivided attention of babies and kids.
The most important uses of lullabies is as a sleep aid for children. So the music is often simple and repetitive. Lullabies tend to be paired with the rocking of the child in a cradle. This is repeated in the rhythmic swinging beat of the music. The image of the cradle—in reality or in the gestures–during the singing of lullabies, helps the infant and the viewer of music and dance performances to associate the songs with falling asleep and waking up.
In classical Indian music the lullaby is an important feature of both music recitals and dance performances. Folk music has a great deal of lullabies in its repertoire as well. The soothing effect of music on the foetus has been talked about in the classical literature (story of Abhimanyu in Mahabharata) and has been re-discovered by modern day scientists and medical research. All the great Bhakthi singers and poets like Surdas, Kabir, Meera, Tulsi, Bharathi, Purandaradasa, the Carnatic trinity have written beautifully tuned and evocative lullabies. Lord Rama and Krishna have been the characters on whom the most emotional and soothing lullabies have been written.
In Indian music certain ragas have been identified for curing sleeping disorders by working on the nervous system of patients. For instance Neelambari, according to the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology (1998), has sleep promoting qualities. Most lullabies in south Indian classical music are based on this raga. Mohana raga cures headaches and induces sleep in the process.
The following is a lullaby from an Indian movie…it is sung by the son on his mother’s death anniversary. He was alienated from his father because he wanted to take up music as a profession. He leaves home and comes back years later and sings…if somebody would sing a song, a lullaby, I would just drop off to sleep.
So, for people with sleep disorders, soothing music especially lullabies are Rx-ed!!
Common sense is a way of thinking that needs constant nourishing and application. Common sense is simply a way of getting across your point of view in such a way that everybody understands and is able to think of as a simple way of doing things.
Common means something that is applicable to a greater part of a group or society. In Indian folk lore we have characters like Birbal and Tennali Raman who were courtiers in the administration of great kings. They had great common sense and kept their rulers grounded. Their common sense was laced with wit.
King Akbar was very fond of Birbal and this made other courtiers in his very jealous. One courtier always wanted to be chief minister, but this was not possible as Birbal filled that position. One day Akbar praised Birbal in front of the courtier. This made the courtier very angry and he complained that the king had praised Birbal unjustly. He then set a challenge and said if Birbal could answer three of his questions, he would accept the fact that Birbal was intelligent. Akbar was always wanting to test Birbal’s wit readily agreed.
The three questions were
- How many stars are there in the sky?
- Where is the centre of the Earth?
- How many men and how many women are there in the world?
Akbar asked Birbal these three questions and arned him that if he could not answer them, he would have to resign as chief minister.
Birbal answered the first question by bringing a hairy sheep into the court. He said, “There are as many stars in the sky as there is hair on the sheep’s body. My friend the courtier is welcome to count them if he likes.”
Birbal answered the second question simply. Birbal drew a couple of lines on the floor and placed an iron rod on it and said, “This is the centre of the Earth, the courtier may measure it himself if he has any doubts.”
In answer to the third question, Birbal said, “Counting the exact number of men and women in the world would be a problem as there are some specimens like our courtier friends here who cannot easily be classified as either. Therefore if all people like him are killed, only then can one count the exact number.”
Tenali Rama and his wife were deciding on what colour to paint their house.
Wife : I want pink!
Tenali : Are you serious? We better leave it white and bright!
Wife : I have made up my mind. I will be happy only with pink.
Tenali (giving her a pair of pink-coloured glasses) : Fine. Have it your way. Wear these glasses and not just these walls, even I will be pink!
A girl born in India is fed the concept of DUTY with her mother’s milk. It is more often what her duties are and what is expected of her than what her family, her partner, her kids or society owes to her.
This is the story of my generation and it is still prevalent in many societies in India, especially rural and traditional households. A girl is taught everything with one goal in mind..how she will conduct herself in her parents-in-law’s house…in fact any mention of her life with her husband comes secod. Her behaviour is first judged on the scale of what her Mother-in-law would judge her by. You can’t do this is and this will be part of your duties is continuously dinned into her mind and psyche.
A wife’s duties began with her waking up before her husband and going to bed only after he went to sleep. She was expected to bathe, decorate the frontage of the home with a pretty geometric pattern called kolam or rangoli. Then she had to start the home fires, get the puja or altar ready, make coffee and tiffin or lunch. She served her in laws and husband and very often had just a bit to satisfy her hunger. Then the chores of the house would make time fly past and then it was the evening chores and dinner.
My generation of urban girls were educated and many took up a job teaching or working in offices. I am talking here about the middle class girls and now they had to balance the duties of a professional career and their duties as a homemaker, wife, mother and daughter/daughter-in-law. The husband’s needs and dictats were sacrosanct and many women did not even have the choice of saying what they could do with the income they brought into the family kitty. This was the stereotype though many women gradually established their independence to some extent.
Today’s urban girls are rebelling against this stereotype. They have been brought up to think themselves to be equal to boys and demand this balance. They are not willing to accept the fact that duties in the home and to family rests greatly on their shoulders. Many accept the fact that their mother’s duty to the girl’s father or in laws is in place, but they reject the idea that they will behave in a similar manner to their own partners or in laws.
A word about TV serials..many still try to keep alive this retrograde attitudes with independent thinking girls painted as shrews and villains. The viewers are older women and the mother-in-law—daughter-in-law negative vibes and issues find support in TRP’s. The younger generation have switched on to Western sitcoms or reality shows that focus on different subjects.
Girls in the rural milieu are breaking out of obedient, duty bound stereotypes. The strong grip of patriarchal panchayats (village and community leaders) on the girls, their behaviour and the choice of partners is desperately trying to cling onto their hierarchical and traditional authority. The tectonic shift in women’s liberation and demand for equality is spreading rapidly and fuelled by media reports.
The sense of duty is now being equally assigned to both partners. Women get up late and even go to bed early or at midnight! I do……