29 December 2010
Happy New Year!
Hi Friends,

I wanted to wish you all a Happy 2011!! It’s seems like only yesterday we were worried about Y2K and hanging chads with the presidential election in the balance. How has a decade already come and gone?

So much in our world changes, and yet, what unfortunately stays the same year in and year out are the New Year’s resolutions to diet and lose weight. In the beginning of my novel, Syd Arthur uses holidays as a focal point for her weight loss goals. Eventually, Syd learns to let go of dieting as part of her her exploration of the Buddha’s teaching of the Middle Way. As she follows a path avoiding the extremes; neither overindulgence nor deprivation, she realizes she has finally stepped off the diet roller coaster. By the following New Year, her resolution is not to diet.  Syd learns to trust herself and her own experiences rather than relying on external notions of how to be and what to think. This too, is in keeping with Buddha’s teaching of “being a lamp unto yourself.”  

Buddha's wisdom is timeless, speaking across the ages in language that speaks to the body, mind, and spirit. The path of the Middle Way is a path of balance. When I’m out of balance, when my yin is bigger than my yang, I feel it. I get stressed, cranky, and out of sorts.

If I were having a New Year’s party this year (which I’m not; I had one last year and in the spirit of balance took this year off) I’d love to invite Buddha. Really, just think about it. He’d be a great guest. His very presence would serve as a reminder of the wisdom in following a life based on the eight-fold path: With right understanding, right thoughts, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, and right mindfulness as guiding principles, he would show by example what it means to be present in the moment and how to leave a party not with remorse (i.e., why did I eat so much, why did I have that last glass of champagne, I can’t believe I said such and such out loud), but with a feeling of love for himself and the people with whom he shared the evening.

But maybe this New Year’s, wherever we go, perhaps Buddha will be there too. Buddha means “one who is awake,” and he taught that all of us have the potential to awaken, all of us have a Buddha nature within. If we bring with us our truest self, that part of us that is awake with wisdom and compassion, if we allow our inner light to shine forth, we too can enjoy being in the present moment, in balance, and ring in the New Year with a joyful heart.

So here’s to wishing you a happy, healthy and joyous New Year and may your heart be full and your stomach satisfied.

Namaste B’Shalom,
Ellen

Posted by emfrankel at 8:39 PM | Link | 1 comment
 
15 December 2010
The JuBu's Sacred Text
There are sacred writings that help guide us on our spiritual journey. Jews hold fast to the Torah, Christians to the New Testament, Muslims to the Koran, Buddhists to the Dhammapada and Hindus to the Bhagavad Gita. While these ancient writings have had and continue to have a profound influence upon people across the world, there is a more recent spiritual text which is equally profound but perhaps less well known. It is revered by JuBus (Jewish Buddhists) for its concise spiritual insights that speak volumes about the human condition. Unlike the other great spiritual texts from thousands of years ago, this gem, called: Zen Judaism: For you, a Little Enlightenment, was written in 2002 by David M. Bader. Though some might debate whether he is truly a prophet or a holy man, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School, and that, I think, is enough to kvell (Yiddish: to be extremely proud; to rejoice) over.

The great sage, David M. Bader, begins his teachings with the caveat that though the path of the JuBu is a spiritually enlightened one, the road can be difficult. For it is written:

“It’s sacred teachings combining ancient Eastern meditation techniques with traditional Jewish lower-back pain, are not easily mastered. And yet, properly understood, Zen Judaism is capable of bringing about an enlightenment experience so pure, so elevating, and so intense, you could plotz (Yiddish for burst or explode).” (pp.11-12)

JuBus the world over can benefit from studying this great text. While a thorough exploration of Zen Judaism can take a lifetime (or many lifetimes, depending on your current incarnation and the direction your karma is heading) I offer some truths revealed by David M. Bader for you to ponder.

On Forgiveness it is written:
Let go of pride, ego and opinions. Admit your errors and forgive those of others. Relinquishment will lead to calm and healing in your relationships. If that doesn’t work try small-claims court.

On the Golden Rule it is written:
The Torah says, “love thy neighbor as thy self.” The Buddha says there is no “self.” So maybe you are off the hook.

On Renunciation is it written:
The path of Enlightenment begins with renunciation. When you come of age, depart from the house of your childhood like a swan abandoning a lake. Later, you may return, like a swan that needs laundry done.

On the Spiritual Journey it is written:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single oy.

Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.

If you meet the Buddha on the path, show him the photos of your grandchildren.

On Idol Worship it is written:
Thou shalt not bow down before false idols. You may, however, rent a Buddha statue for your Zen-theme bar mitzvah.

On Inviting in the Spirit it is written:
Make room for the spirit of the Buddha at your dinner table. At Passover, make room for the prophet, Elijah, too. And that’s it. Two invisible guests are enough.

On Enlightenment it is written:
Enlightenment is a sudden, wordless understanding. Stop telling everyone already.

So much wisdom, who knew? I invite all of you JuBus out there, or any combination thereof (Ju but no Bu, or Bu but no Ju) to pick up a copy of Zen Judaism and study these sutra-like nuggets. Let their ageless wisdom speak to your present moment, and guide you in leading a pure and noble life. But before you follow this link, there are important questions to ask yourself:

Should you first have something to eat?
Did you call your mother?
Do you need a little nap?

Now you are ready: http://goo.gl/rGpXE

Namaste B’Shalom,
Ellen
 

 


 

Posted by emfrankel at 12:08 PM | Link
 
14 December 2010
Tis the Season

Hi Friends, 

I want to welcome you to my new blog with the proper greetings, but tis the season to be confused on the best way to convey those well wishes. There’s Happy Hanukkah for some, of course, but it came early this year and so that only worked for those who celebrated the holiday during the first eight days of December. Now, the Hanukkah wrapping paper and dreidels are in the 50% off bin and the smell of the potato latkes that hovered for days in the kitchen has finally been rendered neutral from the scented holiday Yankee Candle. So Happy Hanukkah is now out.

There’s Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate Christmas. Certainly the ringing of the Salvation Army’s bells, the lights on the trees and the echoes of Christmas carols reflect this holiday season. But not everyone celebrates this holiday.

And then, the day after Christmas, it’s Kwanza, but I haven’t heard many people offering Kwanza salutations. And I’m guessing that most of us missed Diwali, which this year was celebrated from November 5th through the 9th

Sometimes, people become offended if they are wished a happy holiday referencing a date they do not celebrate. Lawsuits are filed in cities where there are decorations on public property reflecting one holiday of the season, but not others (the whole separation of Church and State will have to wait for another blog post). Feelings are hurt, tempers flare. 

What people want, I think, is to be seen for who they are. They want to be seen as authentic, and they want to matter. We get caught up in language, and in assumptions about what someone means in their greetings. People mean well in their wishes, but too often people walk away feeling invalidated, for not being seen for who they are. Maybe this season is about moving beyond the words and into the heart. As the days grow darker, it is our own inner light than can brighten the way for those with whom we cross paths. Perhaps it is enough to put our palms together at our heart, and, with a slight bow of our head, acknowledge and honor the person whom we wish to send greetings. Or maybe it’s about asking the person what holiday they celebrate this time of year, and wishing them accordingly. Or maybe it’s about responding with reciprocal wishes, even if it’s not our holiday, knowing that the wishes themselves matter more than the particular brand in which they were sent. 

Maybe it’s about letting go of the need to be wished perfectly or the need to wish someone else perfectly. Maybe it’s just about stopping and seeing what is right in front of us— the grandfather zipping up his grandson’s coat and taking his hand, the woman holding the door open for us, the smile of a friend inviting us to sit and share a latte—and being grateful, truly grateful for just this, this present moment and sharing it with the people around us.

It is with these thoughts that I welcome you to my blog, and send you wishes of joy during this season in all of its many manifestations.

Namaste B’Shalom,

Ellen

 

 

 

 

 


Posted by emfrankel at 3:23 PM | Link
 
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