Category Archives: Uncategorized

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

With Lips Gone, Teeth are exposed to Cold

(From: Spring and Autumn Annals)

 Re-written by BoSt

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Long ago, Duke Xian of the state of Jin wished to expand his realm and power; the Duke hence, bade Xun Xi to launch an expedition against the powerful State of Guo. The great distance however was of some concern and the campaign’s success depended on traversing the State of Yu. At the time there was a tentative alliance with Yu so Duke Xian asked Xun Xi for his counsel on this matter.

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“In order to secure Duke Yu’s promise to let our army pass …. Hmm…” Xun Xi remained hesitant for a moment, before resuming, “The surest way My Lord, would be to present Duke Yu with our Chuji Jade and good number of Quchan steeds.”

(Note: Xhuji in Xhanxi Province was famous at the time for producing excellent jade stones and Quxhan in Shanxi Province was renowned for its fine breed of horses.)

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“Is there no other way?” The Duke Xian was displeased with the suggestion. “The stone is an inherited treasure and should remain so for the next generations. And the idea of losing my steeds to that loathsome, pompous Lord is quite unacceptable. “Duke Xian grumbled, “Perchance, what if Duke Yu accepted our gift but refused our request, what then?”

Xun Xi braved Lord’s fury with this quick riposte: “Well my Lord, if Lord Yu refuses the fine gifts, we can be certain of his veiled hostility and look elsewhere for the safe passage. If however, his Lordship does accept it, we’d only be allowing his Lordship temporary custody of the treasures. What is there to be worried about?”

Duke Xian nodded with approval and soon after sent Xun Xi to the State of Yu to negotiate the army’s safe passage.  

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Xun Xi was quick to gain admittance to the Yu court.  He presented a splendid figure in his fineries holding the large precious stone before him.  Many courtiers gasped witnessing the magnificent steeds that were corralled into the courtyard, dazzling everyone. 

Duke Yu greedy for the fine gifts, was about to make the emissary of Jin Xun Xi a rash promise when one of his loyal subjects, Gong Ziyi, came forward to protest: “My Lord, I beg a private council with you, if you please.”

“What, now?” Duke Yu was annoyed.

“How preposterous an intrusion! Has propriety and good sense left Gong Ziyi” Many courtiers grumbled under their breath.

Nevertheless Guo Ziyi was a well respected, loyal minister and Lord Yu was bit intrigued. He signalled Guo to advance and gave him permission to speak his mind.

Guo Ziyi was most direct. “There shall be no promise of any kind, your Grace.” His strong, resounding voice simply ripped through the stone cold silence that had enveloped the court.

“What Yu is to Guo is like gums to the cheeks. Gums are closely related to cheeks and cheeks to gums; which is exactly the present situation of Yu in relation to Guo. As the old ancestral saying goes, ‘If the lips are gone, the teeth will be exposed to cold.’  The fact that Guo is able to exist depends on Yu while Yu’s ability to survive hinges on Guo.  This inter-dependency will be jeopardized, if we make way for Jin army, allowing Guo to perish.  Their demise will transpire in the morning to be followed by Yu in the evening.”

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Guo again spoke in good strong voice: “Why should we ever let Jin pass?  Why seek a small gain, only to harm vital interests?”

Duke Yu, however refused to listen to reason and, blinded by greed, in the end still gave the Jin army convenient access to Guo.

Thus Xun Xi attacked Guo and conquered it, and on the way back attacked Yu and conquered it too.

Xun Xi then triumphantly returned to Jin. The jade and the horses were once again restored to Duke Xian who, greatly pleased, said in good humor: “The jade remains the same, but he horses have got some more teeth!”

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Fin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s maturity

What’s maturity

(Definition provided by Buddhist Lamas)

The Twelve steps of maturity

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Cyclamen – the Love Flower

Cyclamen – the Love Flower

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Officially we are still in winter. At glance outside one is greeted with gales and snowflakes dancing in the air. It is a beautiful time in which pristine white color blankets the ground, trees, shrubs, hiding all imperfections. It is picturesque beauty despite the cold shiver that forces one to turn away from the window and withdraw back to that cosy seat by the fireplace. Indeed, most houses still have actual working fireplaces, but more and more in densely populated cities, where many dwell in tall high-rises piercing the sky, the choice fireplaces are often electronic simulations. These images of fire with its flames licking the air still cast a romantic atmosphere that warms the heart.   

Speaking of romance, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and those of you wanting something other than the ordinary should perhaps consider the Cyclamen flower to present to your beloved. 

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Move over Roses for the Cyclamen flower is also considered the flower of deep love and affection perhaps because the leaves are heart-shaped.  In the language of flowers, giving someone cyclamen expresses true love and sincere tenderness for that person.

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Love comes in many forms; there is love of parents, children, friends and so forth. So this can be an innocent presentation to express love for one’s children or to a friend, without the connotation of amorous intent, here cyclamen affirms sincerity and lasting feelings.

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Likewise, Cyclamen could be given as a representation of maternal love. This is symbolized by the stems from its flower which bend elegantly and with reverence leading the fruit towards the ground.

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And if you are superstitious, here is some folklore for your amusement:

One time it was believed that if a woman walked over cyclamen while pregnant she would abort. It is a very powerful purgative.  Meanwhile, those who ate cakes made with cyclamen pieces would fall violently in love. Consequently, Cyclamen was often used in spells and in potions for love. Eating the raw root can cause violent purging, but this effect disappears after it is roasted. It can then be pounded into a sort of flour for use in cooking and baking. Small cakes made of the roasted tuber are said to cause the one who eats them to fall violently in love with the one who bakes them, or become violently ill, therefore if you are of a mind to do so, caution is warranted. Nevertheless, it is used sometimes as an addition to wedding cakes.

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 It is certainly a suitable houseplant for adorning the bedroom as it is supposed to increase the libido and fertility. It is also supposed to keep away nightmares and prevent negative spells cast at household members from taking effect. The oil or the flower itself may be worn to protect one against a broken heart. It is also useful for candle-magic love spells. Its best use, either the oil, the plant itself or the powdered, roasted root, is in spells designed to build confidence and self-esteem.

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In homeopathic medicine Cyclamen is used to bring on late menstruation and for treatment of vertigo, dizziness and various other ailments involving the head.

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Be warned, Cyclamen is considered to be poisonous to cats and fish. Pregnant women should never use this plant, internally or externally, for any purpose!

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Here’s a Greek Myth about Hyacynth (which is another name for Cyclamen)

Hyacinth was a beautiful boy and lover of the god Apollo. His problem was that he was also loved by the wind sprite Zephyr. Apollo and Hyacinth once played game of discus throw. Hyacinth ran to catch the disc in order to impress Apollo but Zephyr blew Apollo’s discus off course so Hyacinth was struck by the discus and died. When Hyacinth died, Apollo didn’t allow Hades to claim the boy; he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. According to Ovid’s account, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower’s petals with the sign of his grief.

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And finally here are some interesting facts about Cyclamen:

– Cyclamen, with the columbine, was one of the flowers of choice for Leonardo Da Vinci at the beginning of the 16th century, and he often covered the margins of his manuscripts with it.

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-The 17th century Flemish painters scattered cyclamen on the meadows where Jesus had just picked some flowers under the watchful eye of the angels.

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-Jean-Jacques Rousseau spoke in his Promenades of the wild cyclamens he discovered in the Alps.

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-Louis XIV received them in bunches, along with many other flowers, to decorate the lounges of Versailles.

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-After a period of obscurity in the 18th century, the cyclamen made a comeback in fashion, when gardeners in the 19th century cultivated it in Grenelle, near Paris. Its popularity as a symbol of western modernity was exported as far as Japan.

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Here are some scientific facts about Cyclamen: They are a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region and Northeast Africa.

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The leaves are green, heart-shaped and variegated and generally appear in late winter.

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Flowers appear in autumn on 4-6 inch stalks above the leaves. The flowers are fairy-like consisting of five united petals in white, red, purple with pink being the most common.

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 They wither during the hottest part of the summer. They are followed by a five-chambered fruit containing sticky seeds.

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Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone.

Fin.

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the Whole

Part of the Whole

 

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us “the universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical illusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest to us.

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening the circle of understanding and compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

– Albert Einstein

 

 

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WHY THE CHIMES RANG

WHY THE CHIMES RANG

 (Adapted from Raymond M. Alden-   Re-written by BoSt)

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All acts of kindness however minuscule do not escape the notice of Heaven, even though they may go unnoticed here on Earth.

Once upon a time in a far off land there was a magnificent church set on a hilltop. Tall stained glass windows, placed specifically to catch best angles of the sun’s rays, depicted brilliantly executed religious scenes praising God Almighty’s power and extolling the virtues of the saints. Pious carpenters had painstakingly carved magnificent wooden reliefs above and to the sides of the main entrance. The Church’s most prominent feature however was the gray stone tower with ivy growing over it as far up as the eye can see. In the steeple an array of Christmas chimes was housed.

 

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Every Christmas Eve all the inhabitants of the city, re-enacting an old tradition, flocked to this church bringing with them many offerings to the Christ Child.  Legends told of a time when, after the greatest and best offering was laid on the altar, there arose above the voices of the choir a beautiful sound, emanating from the top of the tower the most divine music of the Christmas Chimes.

 

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Some claimed it had to be the wind that rang them, while other more pious ones believed in their heart of hearts, and exclaimed loudly so,  that it had to be the angels that set the bells  swinging to produce that heavenly  sound.

 

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Then came a time when, however great the offerings were, the chimes never again created blissful melody. As a result people were saddened, feeling there must be something amiss. Yet many Christmases came and went and no chimes were heard.

It so happened that there was an old man living modestly with his wife Madonna, in a ramshackle hut not far from the notable church. This kind old man recalled a time when his mother had spoken to him of hearing the chimes when she was but a little girl.  In her waning years she mourned the fact that people had grown less generous in their hearts with their gifts for the Christ Child.  Love and compassion for their fellow man had diminished; pomp and ceremony, hand in hand with greed and ambition taking root instead.  As a result, when an offering was made without the purest heart and intentions and it became only a show, it did not move the angels and justly did not merit the music of the chimes.  If the old man voiced this mournful insight it unfortunately fell on deaf ears. Everyone dismissed him as a senile old man. When he died some years later his poor old widow Madonna was left to fend for herself in a cruel, cruel world.

 

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In a remote country village a number of miles from the city there lived a boy named Pedro and his little brother Pepito. Their parents had been dead for more than a year and Pedro as the sole provider had done his best to support them.  Pepito had overheard so much about the city’s Christmas celebrations that he pleaded and pleaded with his elder brother to take him to the church.  Not having the heart to say no, Pedro bundled some dry rations, mainly hard bread, a clump of hard, moldy cheese and some grain, in a cloth then tied its ends and slung it over his shoulder. They set out at dawn, both dressed in several layers to escape the bitter, bone chilling cold and skins of water hung at their waists. The day before Christmas was bitterly cold with frigid temperatures plunging below zero and made worse by thrashing winds that whipped and punished any wayward soul who dared venture outside.

 

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For untold hours the boys trudged to cover the great distance to the city. Huddled together, they walked hand in hand bending their backs to brace themselves against the strong winds. The icy drizzle mercilessly chilled them to the very marrow of their bones.  By dusk they were tired, famished and exhausted, almost unable to take another step, yet the lights of the big city now visible just ahead, egged them to soldier on.

 

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Panting, they at long last approached the gates of the city. Fortunately the gates were still wide open, expecting more visitors. As they were about to enter, Pedro spotted something dark on the snow off to the side of the road, and so veered off to take a closer look.   It was a poor beggar woman who had obviously suffered a mishap and fallen into the shallow ditch.  Stranded, she lay there half-dead, too sick and shivering with cold to rise up or call for help. Rushing over, Pedro helped her to sit up and draped his threadbare coat over her shoulders to bring her some warmth. She looked so pale and had difficulty speaking. He helped her take some tentative sips from his water skin. Then, looking up, he addressed his little brother, “It’s no use, Pepito. I can’t leave her in this condition. You go on ahead to the church.”

“Alone?” cried Pepito in a fearful voice.  “No, I can’t.  I can’t let you will miss the Christmas Festival.”

“You are brave, just go on by yourself. I’ll be here when you come back.  I can’t leave her.” Pedro answered sternly. He looked at her face and smiled encouragingly. “Poor old lady, her face looks like the Madonna in the chapel window.”

“Madonna” the old woman opened her tear stained eyes slightly and smiled at Pedro.

 

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“Go on. I can’t leave her in this state; she will surely freeze to death if nobody stays with her.”  Then Pedro reached deep into to his inner pocket and withdrew a treasured object for his little brother to take. Then with the choking sound of disappointment he added: “If you get a chance, little brother, to slip up to the altar without getting in anyone’s way, please take this little copper piece of mine and lay it down as our offering when no one is looking. That way it will be the same as me going there. “

 

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Pepito reluctantly left Pedro with a heavy heart.  The great church was truly a magnificent place that night. The decorations, lights and glitter, all the displays, riches he’d never seen the like of before simply took his little breath away. A small urchin like himself was virtually invisible amidst the procession as they took their gifts for the Christ Child to the altar.

 

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Some worshipers laid down wonderful jewels; some gave baskets with massive amounts of gold so heavy they could scarcely carry them down the aisle.  A famed author laid down his prized work, a book he had, after many years, just completed.  

 

 

Then the King appeared in all his majesty hoping, like the least petitioner, to win for himself the music of the Christmas chimes. A great murmur rippled through the church as the people witnessed the King taking his priceless golden crown, set with diamonds and rare precious gems, from his head and laying it to  gleam on the alter as his offering to the Christ Child.

 

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“Surely, “They intoned in unison, “Surely we shall hear the bells now.” But the chimes did not ring. Not even a whimper was heard.  When the gifts were all on the altar, the choir began the closing hymn.

 

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The disappointed crowd grumbling under their breath slowly began to disperse. Suddenly the organist stopped playing, and everyone looked aghast at the old Priest, who was holding up his hand for silence.  

“What’s this?”

 

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When the people strained their ears there came resonating through the air, softly but distinctly, the heavenly music of the chimes in the tower!

The divine music seemed so far away and yet so clear.  The notes were so much sweeter than any sound they had ever heard.  Melody rising and falling in the sky was so entrancing that the people in the church held their breath and stood perfectly still.

 

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Then they all stood up together and stared at the altar, wanting to see what great gift had awakened these long-silent chimes. But all the nearest of them saw was the figure of Pepito, who had crept softly down the aisle, perfectly unseen and placed Pedro’s little piece of copper on the altar.

The End

 

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Merry Christmas  Everyone

 

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Song of the Flower

  Song of the Flower

(Poem by XXIII by Khalil Gibran)

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I am a kind word uttered and repeated

By the voice of Nature;

I am a star fallen from the

Blue tent upon the green carpet.

I am the daughter of the elements

With whom Winter conceived;

To whom Spring gave birth; I was

Reared in the lap of Summer and I

Slept in the bed of Autumn.

                              

At dawn I unite with the breeze

To announce the coming of light;

At eventide I join the birds

In bidding the light farewell.

                              

The plains are decorated with

My beautiful colors, and the air

Is scented with my fragrance.

As I embrace Slumber the eyes of

Night watch over me, and as I

Awaken I stare at the sun, which is

The only eye of the day.

I drink dew for wine, and hearken to

The voices of the birds, and dance

To the rhythmic swaying of the grass.

I am the lover’s gift; I am the wedding wreath;

I am the memory of a moment of happiness;

I am the last gift of the living to the dead;

I am a part of joy and a part of sorrow.

But I look up high to see only the light,

And never look down to see my shadow.

This is wisdom which man must learn.

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Dealing with Grief

Dealing with Grief

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A loss can be many things, such as loss of ideals, job, house or status. A loss of a being and the resulting grief has to be one of life’s hardest experiences however, that every human without exception sooner or later must undergo. The bereavement period and the steps of grief leading towards recovery may vary for each individual. In this information age there are ample resources that are readily available to all, particularly those that have, albeit temporarily, lost their bearing and are in need of some healing compass.  It may be that they are an introvert or a loner who do not wish to share this hard experience with anyone. What needs to be done then?

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It’s fair to say that this angst, the depth of sorrow and the length of its endurance is far too complex an emotional journey for it be pigeonholed or categorized. However here are some tell-tale signs of grief. When identified it may help one towards resolution, acceptance then desired inner peace:

It may be that the aggrieved would feel shocked, feel fear. This type of loss can often trigger fears of one’s own mortality, of facing life without that person and the added responsibilities that need handling all by one self. With this feeling of anxiety and fear one could have difficulty in concentrating or one could feel numb, lack energy and motivation or have a hard time feeling any emotions at all.

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Some may feel like they are “going crazy”. They therefore begin questioning religious beliefs, experience guilt or remorse (feeling guilty about things one did or didn’t say or do).

It’s normal to feel frustrated or misunderstood.

The feeling of sadness, that profound sadness, is probably the most universally experienced symptom of grief. Additionally one could experience wounding feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or deep loneliness.

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 Let us not discount the feeling of anger… Yes anger; even when the loss was nobody’s fault, one may feel angry with oneself, God, the doctors, or even at the deceased for abandoning them. The need to blame someone for the perceived injustice is very real.

Long after the loss, the mind may persist in being confused and muddled way past the initial stages. Or one may feel relief or peace after a loss.  Yes, that too is a possibility.

Then the period where disbelief sets in or the time-frame in which the aggrieved can only focus on the manner of loss, focus incessantly on how other died, or the life that was spent together before the loss.

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 Even those that are blessed with many supportive family members and friends need to be patient in the face of the well- intentioned onslaught of advice or words such as, “Be strong!”, “It’s part of life”, “We all sooner or later undergo this,” or “Yours is not to question The Will of God!” or “Get on with your life!”, “Don’t waste what precious time you have left!” Patience and tolerance is to be exercised here even though all one needs is to be given time and the gentle nudge towards allowing one to have one’s grief to run its natural course.

The hardest to bear will be the milestones, specials markings of time, celebrations and so forth. Time is an effective healer however, the intensity of which, will gradually abate over time.  Also, whilst lives are often transformed by grievous loss, it does not necessarily need to be for the worse. Focus instead on dealing effectively and positively with grief as it is essential to one’s recovery process and one’s ability to continue on with a fulfilling life in future.

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Physical reactions such as upset stomach or intestinal disturbances like frequent diarrhea are to be expected. Responding to grief may manifest in the form of tightness in one’s throat, heaviness across one’s chest and sudden onset of breathing difficulties, or pain in heart region. Headaches and feeling of vacillating body temperatures, hot or sudden chill could also occur.  One may undergo changes in one’s behavior, such as excessive need to sleep or lack of it and then there is that sudden wakefulness at odd hours. One may experience strange dreams or frightening nightmares. During the day one may be perpetually uneasy driving oneself to initiate one project after another or be cast into mere distractions just to avoid handling deep thoughts. Some may deal with it by sitting idly by and with a blank face staring into space and doing nothing for extended periods.

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Usually grieving people opt to spend more time alone. They’re drawn to the quiet and in so doing seek safety in the experience. This could be their way of dodging other people and groups; for crowds and any size gatherings make them feel ill at ease. Some however are driven to crowds craving to be in midst of multitudes more than before.  Once lost in a crowd however, an odd sensation of jealousy may materialize, being envious of people around who aren’t grieving. Then resentment may set in observing how callously others take so much for granted when nothing should ever be taken for granted. One may become even critical in ways that are uncharacteristic and mean spirited. Fortunately, this shift in character and outlook is usually temporary.

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Let us not overlook those supernatural happenings that many may also experience. Such as going about usual routine only to have an auditory or visual experience of the dear departed close by. During meditation or in a dream sequence the departed may offer a special message.  Rest assured, these phenomenons are far more common than one might think. Usually this is  a person’s way of assimilating advice that the departed person would have given in life but now resides only in that person’s memory.

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 In summary, a healthy grief has many possible outlets. Some people are naturally more feeling-oriented as they grieve, while others are more cerebral. Some respond outwardly, while others keep it to themselves. Some want to have a close network of friends around them, and others prefer to be independent. Each individual’s experience is unique therefore one should not expect to have a “one-size-fits-all grief”. It’s common to feel listless and lifeless, discouraged and sometimes depressed long after this process of grief and many strong emotions can still resurface.   But then after a while there comes a time when the pain ceases in intensity, gradual reawakening takes root and then eventually the lost energy is renewed and reinvigorated along with hope and the new transformed life.

It is said that through this process of grief, that one has traversed the difficult path to reach eventual healing.  

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Finally, here are some succinct points for overcoming grief:

-Connect with caring and supportive people.

-Offer support to other loved ones who are grieving also; this is sometimes the best way to overcome personal grief.

-Give yourself enough time. Everyone reacts differently to a loss.

– Allow yourself to feel sadness, anger, or whatever you need to feel. Find healthy ways to share your feelings and express yourself, such as talking with friends or writing in a journal.

-Recognize that your life has changed. You may feel less engaged with work or relationships for some time. This is a natural part of loss and grief.

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-Holidays and other important days can be very hard.  Consider new traditions or celebrations that support healing.

-Take care of your physical health.

-Be honest with young people about what has happened and about how you feel, and encourage them to share their feelings, too.

-Work through difficult feelings like bitterness and blame. These feelings can make it harder to move forward in your life.

-Make a new beginning. As the feelings of grief become less intense, return to interests and activities you may have dropped and think about trying something new.

-Think about waiting before making major life decisions. You may feel differently as your feelings of grief lose their intensity, and the changes may add to the stress you’re already experiencing.

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 A Letter to a Dying Man

Bassui wrote the following letter to one of his disciples who was about to die:

“The essence of your mind is not born, so it will never die. It is not an existence, which is perishable. It is not emptiness, which is a mere void. It has neither color nor form. It enjoys no pleasures and suffers no pains.

“I know you are very ill. Like a good Zen student, you are facing that sickness squarely. You may not know exactly who is suffering, but question yourself: What is the essence of this mind? Think only of this. You will need no more. Covet nothing. Your end which is endless is as a snowflake dissolving in the pure air.”

(Zen Koan)

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Nothing is for certain. Nothing lasts forever therefore one must make the most of what one has and truly appreciate life’s precious gifts.

What is life? What is its purpose? Answering these questions might motivate us to live a more meaningful existence and investigate the deeper truths of life.

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The End