Friday, April 29, 2011

anticipating liberty

i was buying some bread for breakfast at our nearby bakery store. it was wednesday morning, about 5:30. i  always go at this early hour to avoid the queue later. people flock to this bakery because the bread is freshly baked and you'd be able to bring home the bread still hot.
i was third in line so i sat down at the nearby bench while the two others ahead of me were being attended to. i noticed this handsome dog lying serenely by the fence outside the house opposite the bakery. he is not a local breed. it's very evident his owner cares for him so much as he is well-groomed and very clean.

two stray dogs came by cavorting. they were so thin and their filthy fur is shedding in places. one even has this very red welt near his right thigh. i suspect some unkind soul might have whacked him hard. when the dog lying by the fence saw the playful romp of this pair he immediately stood up on his hind legs and barked at them loudly.  it was not a menacing bark or a threatening bark. rather, it was an invite. he wants to play with them. he struggled hard to be near the two dogs which abruptly halted their play to ogle at him. yet, he could not move another inch closer. his leather tether's already stretched to its full length. his neck was outstretched. i felt his metal collar might choke him. he kept barking.

the two dirty dogs might have understood him for they went near him. the three dogs stayed close together sniffing each other the way dogs do. pawing each other in recognition. i imagined i stared long enough to somehow see the dogs smiling. then suddenly from nowhere, a young man, presumably the tethered dog's owner, came out shouting angrily and shooed the stray dogs away,  flailing wildly at them with a broom he was holding.


the frightened dogs scampered away past the bakery. the young man went back inside after seeing that the stray dogs were already far off.

the beautiful dog was again standing by his hind legs. pawing the air, whining, as if pleading for his newfound friends to come back. his leather tether was again stretched to its full length, his metal collar again choking his outstretched neck. his eyes were fixed to where the stray dogs were cavorting, romping freely. one of the dogs looked back at him then carelessly dumped his bony body down on the paved road and furiously licked the red welt on his thigh.

i stood up when the bakery guy cued me it was my turn to be served. he had just taken a tray of freshly baked bread from the oven. lucky me! they were piping hot. i am already anticipating the sight of butter melting on my bread, then oozing slowly down its browned sides. a visual delight!

the handsome dog, anticipating liberty, but,

liberty is not like butter on hot brown bread.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

finding our life's music

that great Sage don juan matus once told carlos castaneda that each of us has our own unique song. the song of our life. this we must search for. it was intimated that finding the True Self will lead us to our unique Life Song.

this is probably what prompted that other great Sage, walt whitman, to write his poem, Song of Myself. part of it goes --

A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child? I do not know what it is any more
than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green
stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropt,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see
and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child, the produced babe of the

i am in my own journey of finding my own song of myself.

early yesterday as i browsed through the yahoo tidbits there was this item about the song how great thou art performed by carrie underwood and vince gill. i curiously viewed the video clip. here's the link --

oh, how i unshamedly wept by myself.

i know why.
i felt that in this great hymn of praise, rendered most solemnly by two amazing performers, within its prayerful lyrics and sublime melody is my own unique song.

i shall find it, the song of myself.  in the meantime, O Infinite, how great Thou truly art!

Monday, April 25, 2011

boxing happiness

shift's over. i went out of my office building and i can't help but blink my eyes several times as my gaze caught the brilliant sunlight outside. it is morning and we have a happy sun overhead. it is easter sunday now here. i pity my wife that she can't see this wonderful daylight and feel it's invigorating warmth. she's been complaining of the cold of winter where she is now. she thought winter should be over now but spring has somehow been delayed.

well, how i wished i could UPS her a boxful of today's daylight and warmth. i'm pretty sure she'd be very, very glad. she thinks it's been so long since she saw mister sun.

come to think of it, this is probably because we want to box happiness that's why we thought of gift giving.

some may deny it, but i believe, inherent in all of us is this wonderful trait of sharing with others whatever joy or gladness or happiness we are experiencing. we want others to be happy as well we do, to experience the same lightness of heart, the same bounce of the spirit, that we have.

boxing happiness.

we  know this is difficult, yet, we do it. we know boxed happiness will not be lasting, but, we still give it. a momentary joy is better than none. one should never tire of sharing.

still, we must remember. there is lasting happiness. we only need to go back to its source. the Old Sages have pointed the way.  the way is inside each of us. lasting joy will be rediscovered once we remember our True Selves. when we are able to do this, Old Sages have assured that there will be no need for us to box happiness,  because our entire being will automatically radiate Joy.

our smile will bring warmth and daylight to everyone. without any box.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

when days are holy

most of christendom, especially those in the catholic religion, is well on the way to completing the celebration of the Holy Week. it began last monday and will culminate this easter sunday. it is traditionally a commemoration of the passion of the Christ, Jesus, from the time he entered jerusalem, to the crucifixion and then easter, or Jesus' rising from the dead.

much has changed now in the remembrance of these holy days. the kids of today have already lost the essence, the spirituality, that is supposed to mark these days. perhaps, we adults are to blame because we also have not fully kept the essence of the traditions. i am not talking only of those in christendom. i am also referring to those other religions that observe holy days. traditions are really difficult to preserve now. much is lost from generation to generation. the rituals, the acts, the accoutrements, may be there but the inner message, the inner meaning, the relevance to people's lives are so much reduced. of course, these rituals to have meaning must be internalized individually. what is most important to get this done is for people who have been inured in these traditions and rituals to guide others in the internalization of these so that they will find meaning and value with these in their own lives and in turn bequeath these to others as well.

when i was kid and even well up to my early university years, i was constantly exposed to the catholic traditions and rituals that my paternal grandmother was practicing especially during the holy week. she was a very religious person and i can sense her deep and sincere spirituality. since i exhibited genuine interest in what she was doing she made it her duty to teach me these traditions and rituals. she explained the meaning and the relevance of these to a person's life as she understood it and perhaps as what was bequeathed to her likewise by her old folks. i tried hard to imbibe these lessons. i tried to internalize all these. however, as time passed on and i was exposed to other spiritual modes of thinking and points of view, my internalization and interpretation of these traditions veered to a different path. yet, though i followed a path different from hers, the value and meaning of these traditions and rituals were never reduced as far as i am concerned. up to this time, these greatly help me internally as i face the tests of life. i thank my grandmother for imparting to me these valuable lessons. i will, in turn, find my own little way in bequeathing these to others.

times have changed now.

holy days are now holidays.

more people are wont now to celebrate these days in pursuing the "glamour of the outer life". that is why beaches are teeming with people during these times, and parties are being staged left and right where people lose themselves in sensual pleasure. the "glamour of the outer life", the enticement of  the "life of the senses" is so strong and it has greatly eroded or diminished the meaning and the spiritual value of the traditions and rituals.

the traditions and rituals are there to make us remember. the days that are marked as holy days were reserved for us to have time to rethink and reevaluate ourselves, to relearn what is true and what is important, to realize that the "glamour of the outer life" is a fleeting thing,

to affirm that if we declare so, each day of our life is a Holy Day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

my piece of cake ...

i was offered a piece of cake once during a birthday celebration i attended. that birthday cake, it was, oh, so sumptuous looking.  there's no denying the fact that the celebrant, or whoever it was who gifted it to him, spent a lavish amount for it. it was just basically a chocolate cake but  with all the elaborate garnishes and decorations it was way so luxurious. that's why when it was being cut up you can hear a lot of oh's and ah's from the guests who admired its construction. i was also therefore of the mind to either eat my piece of the cake or just stare at it, marvel at it and just let it be.

a cake is first and foremost food. so its main function is to satisfy the palate and the appetite. ordinarily, i don't fancy cakes but on this occasion it was the celebrant himself who offered it to me so i must oblige him. there were at least about four layers of special toppings or garnishes above the main chocolate flavored base. i forked a chunk of it toppings and all. as a whole, this bite was very satisfying. i am not a cake connoisseur but i thought that bite was great! i experimented. i tasted my cake layer-by-layer. as i expected, as i went down each layer, my taste buds were treated to differing degrees of flavor mainly hinting of sweetness and bitterness. also my nose quivered as there were also these subtle fragrances i could not identify which added to my enjoyment. then, finally, i reached the main cake base. i forked  a piece of  it and slowly lifted it to my mouth. i was sure this was going to be the best part of this cake adventure.

surprise! it was not what i had expected. 

unlike the other topmost layers, there was no special aroma. and the taste was, well, in my opinion, bland. not sweet. not bitter. just plain baked flour and eggs mixture. maybe, this was how the cake was constructed to be so. plain, simple base and it is just the toppings that will bring the cake to life. maybe, most of the money was spent to buy the garnishes and toppings. maybe, that's what this cake was commissioned for -- to be, foremost,  visually entertaining.

i know someone who makes her cakes differently. she does not garnish her cakes so much, but, what she does is she sees to it that her main cake base will be unforgettable. and her cakes always are. unforgettable. even without any decorations.

on my way home, i had this thought --

we are like cakes too. the Old Sages had taught that we also have layers or sheaths or coverings. we  have generally accumulated "garnishes or toppings" as we went through life, as we go through life. these garnishes and toppings hide our "main cake base", our Self Divine. we are lost in our savoring of these outer layers.  in fact, most of us are consumed on building upon these outer layers, to garnish them more. and the more we focus on adding on these, the more our True Self becomes hidden.

we forget that the Divine Cake Maker saved the best of His ingredients for our main cake base.

we are already complete. we need no more garnishing. we only need to remember.

Friday, April 08, 2011

where two or three are gathered ...

inside the mall several days ago, i decided to pass the time away while awaiting my daughter by having some coffee in one of its several doughnut parlors. it was one of those little doughnut nooks perched right in the middle of the mall's main aisle and its several small tables are spread over an allotted area of the aisle. this allows diners to have a view of the nearby shops and to see and be seen by the mall visitors going by that route.

i chose to sit at the table farthest from the cashier. this parlor has quite a lot of regular patrons and there is always somebody doing a transaction at the cashier's spot. i really don't mind them but most times my daughter takes too long to arrive so i learned to make use of  the waiting time either to read a book i brought or to quietly do some impromptu meditation after i've consumed my coffee. coffee's rather  pricey at these doughnut parlors i can only allow myself a cup except of course if there's  free refill. what's great about these shops is that they allow you to stay longer even if there are just four drops of coffee in your cup and half-a-hole of doughnut in your plate. they know you're waiting for someone. perhaps the owner knows most of his regulars will be "waiters" that's why he opted to situate his shop in this part of the promenade.

after a while, i noticed three men sitting at the table near me. one has a crew-cut hair almost gray all over, the other has his long hair in a ponytail topped by a red baseball cap, the third is your typical retiree with horn-rimmed glasses and the usual folded business paper tucked underneath his right armpit. i believe it is a good guess to say all were retirees. the way they hold their cup of coffee and the way they sip, taking all the time in the world to do it, tells me that they most probably have stashed a good chunk of material acquisitions to be this confident and secure.

i could not help but tune in into their conversation. they talked about members of their families: wives going on a foreign country and doing some unnecessary shopping, a son or a daughter still adjusting to married life and life away from home, grandkids having a blast every time they come over for a visit. they relished exchanging these personal notes. a good portion of their conversation though focused on two things: health and wealth. they exchanged experiences on what their state of health is now, what maintenance pills they are taking and how much of their good fortune goes to the drug store and the doctors they regularly visit now. how they could have avoided this had they followed a different lifestyle in those days bygone. there is much shaking of heads as they go over their health issues. then, this concern for their good fortunes, their material acquisitions. there is this fear of leaving these behind unsure whether their families will be able to sustain and maintain these. they went over the various means on how their families can do this once they are no longer in control. the longer they talked about these, the more they uncovered issues that might cause further problems. there is also so much shaking of heads over these.

exhaustedly, the guy with the ponytail blurted out loudly and seemed to have wrapped up their solution, "WE'RE DEAD BY THEN, RIGHT? SO, WHY DO  WE BOTHER WORRYING?"

i believe he hit the nail on the head. as the Old Sages had taught and reminded, one cannot carry the products of the material world after death. so why bother to fray one's nerves about them. let those who will inherit these be the ones to think about these. if they will not be able to preserve these or build on these, that will be their burden.

i remembered i myself had just recently met with long time friends some weeks ago. like these three men, my friends are also well-off and well-established now in their lives. secure and confident in their material acquisitions. no, we never talked about material gains and how to preserve them or acquire more. we focused on what we need to do on these coming years of our lives. we talked about the Divine Spark. what we are doing to make It more manifest in our lives. we talked about getting a "culture" -- go back to doing Music, or learning Painting, write Poetry. things that we love to do, which we were doing only half-halfheartedly before should be done wholeheartedly now. the remaining years of this existence must be devoted to expressing the True Self.

we are Divine and we should be able to fully realize this. there's still time.

when we were young, we formed a band but we never got to play good rock and roll. we promised to practice during these forthcoming months and hopefully get-together by december this year.

we're looking forward to Rock, to Roll, to sing the Blues, to enjoy ...