MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

Archive for November 2010

Whistling in the Dark

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I think of faith as a kind of whistling in the dark  because, in much the same way, it helps to give us courage and to hold the shadows at bay.

Frederick Buechner

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November 27, 2010 at 9:20 am

A Flash of Insight

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A flash of insight

On a warm summer morning

Sweeps all illusions.

Matt

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November 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Lessons From Pacquiao Vs. Margarito

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Manny Pacquiao does more than make Filipino hearts swell with pride and lower the crime rate to almost zero during a fight.

On a micro-scale—the family unit, the level that matters the most—he opens the opportunity for kids to learn what winning is all about, especially in this time and age when victory means crushing the enemy and gloating.

Sensing the frenzy online and my furious following of tweets on the fight, my twin sons asked me: “Why does Pacquiao always win?” “Because he practices like crazy!”  I answer instantly.

According to Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, successful individuals—The Beatles, Bill Gates, for example—have spent at least 10,000 hours of their lives doing what they have become famous for.

Make this fact relatable to your children by pointing out what they like to do, or what skill or talent they have. One of my sons, Mateo, is heavily into origami—not just the paper boat and and plane stuff, but the hardcore, intricate creations: trilobytes, crane with feet, five-petalled lily, frog. He even gave “lessons” recently at Expo Kid in Rockwell. He began last year on his own, sans teacher, and was hooked.

Lesson no. 1: Practice, train, and rehearse your skills every chance you get.

 

But Pacquiao didn’t ALWAYS win. In 2005, he lost to Erik Morales. After, Freddie Roach came into his life and has since been unbeatable. I point this out to Marco and Mateo. “To also win, you have to have a good coach or mentor.”

Sports journalist Allen Barra writes in The Daily Beast: “(Roach) has worked with dozens of champions over the years and learned his training skills from the great Eddie Futch. He told me Pacquiao is, ‘Maybe the greatest two-handed fighter I’ve ever seen. You see a lot of great fighters who have one great punch and a good second punch. Joe Louis had the greatest jab I’ve ever seen. Joe Frazier had a great left hook, Mike Tyson had a killer right. But Manny has the best punch of anyone in boxing with either his right or his left.’”

Lesson no. 2: Choose a teacher that will help you excel.

 

While many get caught up in what people think of them, putting image before purpose, Pacquiao remains focused on his goal: winning the fight. Training with a single-mindedness chronicled in other reports, he also remains unfazed by criticism and trash-talk.

Marco sums it up: “You mean he believes in himself?”

Exactly. Stand your ground.

Lesson no. 3: Be strong within so you can be strong on the outside.

 

Pacquiao is also known for “lifting up” his fights to God and country. I point this out to the boys.

We are not a religious family, but—I like to believe—a faithful one. Mateo considers his good night prayers a powerful call to a Divine Force to protect him. This is the same God that allows (because He could very well NOT) Pacman to win.

Lesson no. 4: When you call to God to help you in a fight, you’ll know you’ll win; and if you don’t, there’s a really good reason why.

 

In the last rounds, I show the twins how Pacquiao is just prancing around, when he could have easily battered Margarito into a human burrito.

Post-fight, the 8-time Welterweight Champion tells the commentator: “Boxing is not for killing each other.”

Marco, struggling for the words in his 6-year old vocabulary, remarks when I ask him what he thinks about Pacman letting Margarito go. “It’s only a game…it’s about compassion.”

Lesson no. 5: The gracious and merciful victor is the best kind of all.

–  Gina Abuyuan

Coping With Depression – A Story

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I had folks coming to me, of course, who wanted to be helpful, and sadly, many of them weren’t. These were the people who would say, ‘Gosh, Parker, why are you sitting in here being depressed? It’s a beautiful day outside. Go, you know, feel the sunshine and smell the flowers.’ And that, of course, leaves a depressed person even more depressed, because while you know intellectually that it’s sunny out and that the flowers are lovely and fragrant, you can’t really feel any of that in your body, which is dead in a sensory way.

There was this one friend who came to me, after asking permission to do so, every afternoon about four o’clock, sat me down in a chair in the living room, took off my shoes and socks and massaged my feet. He hardly ever said anything. He was a Quaker elder. Somehow, he found the one place in my body, namely the soles of my feet, where I could experience some sort of connection to another human being. And the act of massaging just, you know, in a way that I really don’t have words for, kept me connected with the human race.

And it became for me a metaphor of the kind of community we need to extend to people who are suffering in this way, neither invasive of the mystery nor evasive of the suffering but is willing to hold people in a space, a sacred space of relationship, where somehow this person who is on the dark side of the moon can get a little confidence that they can come around to the other side.

Parker Palmer

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November 10, 2010 at 8:56 am

Happiness: A Pursuit or a Practice?

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spiritual happiness is never merely personal in nature. It is linked to an awareness of the suffering and pleasure of others.

A basketball court transformed by flowers and incandescent light. Four thousand people in attendance. Four global religious leaders. I have never concentrated as hard as I did in the two hours I spent on that stage. But it was, in the end, a delight. And it was fascinating as an encounter as much as a conversation. The Dalai Lama’s embodied joy, his radiant and playful presence, was as defining as the words he spoke.

The biggest challenge with discussing “happiness” in this culture might be finding our way back to the substance of that word itself — a substance that has been hollowed out by its uses in culture. I found myself very much planted in the definition of happiness that the French-born Tibetan Buddhist scientist/monk Matthieu Ricard offered on this program and podcast in 2009. He defines happiness as “genuine flourishing” — not a pleasurable sensation or mood, but a way of being in the world that can encompass the fullness of human experience — joy and pleasure as well as suffering and loss.

Professor Nasr, Bishop Jefferts Schori, and Rabbi Sacks all added to that definition as they laid out the virtues and habits, the spiritual technologies, that their traditions have carried forward in time. They all described corollaries, in a sense, to the Dalai Lama’s joyful yet disciplined teachings on cultivating compassion and calmness in the mind as way of flourishing in and amidst all of life’s experiences. But the most exciting part of interreligious encounter, for me, is not rushing to hear similarities but savoring particularities — the distinctive vocabularies of thought and practice, the beautiful and intriguing differences that come to light even as we may seem to be circling towards the same goal.

And so among my favorite moments are Prof. Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s explication of beauty as inextricably linked to virtue and happiness in Muslim tradition. Beauty, he says, makes the soul happy. Bishop Jefferts Schori talked about the long tradition in Christianity of practicing gratitude and “the presence of God” in the midst of ordinary activities of life. Rabbi Sacks evoked sabbath as a space to focus on the things in life that are “important but not urgent.” He described the extraordinary power of pausing to let life’s “blessings” — an awareness of the deepest sources of our happiness — “catch up with us.” Such reflections unsettle notions of happiness as a “right” and as something to be “pursued.”

A discussion of happiness is intrinsically serious, too. As we were also reminded in the course of this discussion, spiritual happiness is never merely personal in nature. It is linked to an awareness of the suffering and pleasure of others. And at the same time, it is something we cultivate in our bodies as well as our minds. It communicates itself in our very presence.

There was, fittingly, a great deal of laughter on this stage of religious dignitaries seated center court at Emory. There was a festive atmosphere in the room altogether. Listen, and watch, for yourself. Ponder, and enjoy this dynamic discussion to get a full flavor of the physical and engaged presence of these prominent religious leaders as they contemplate the meaning of happiness.

Source: blog.onbeing.org