“Love Is Not Love Until Love’s Vulnerable” – Wisdom Inside a Chocolate Wrapper

“Love is not love until love’s vulnerable.”  The Dream by Theodore Roethke, as found on the inside of a Trader Joe’s chocolate bar wrapper

Theodore Roethke (1908-1963) was an American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, for his book The Waking.  His other best known books include The Lost Son, The Far Field, and Words for the Wind.  His poetry is noted for its rhythm, imagery and focus on nature.

The Pamela Positive: “UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

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There are many images that come to mind when we think of Asia, from dragons to beautiful beaches, spanning varied cultures. One of my favorite views is that of the banyan tree, for it must be strongly grounded in the earth, which also allows its larger branches and leaves to provide overreaching shade.

It was under a banyan tree where the Buddha felt his calling to a new level of enlightenment.  Under these same trees, Gujarati businessmen hold their meetings.  It is even used as a place for political meetings: recently in Malaysia, the state assembly met underneath the welcome atmosphere of the banyan tree.  So, for much of Asia, spirituality, entrepreneurship, politics are taking place in the outdoors.

The banyan tree represents solidity, rootedness, and strength.  At the same time, it also represents comfort, shade and welcome.  It is a source of power, balanced with peace.  It represents firmness, as well as welcome.

Is America’s Banyan Tree the Conference Room?

It is interesting how in America, and in many places across the world, most of our meetings take place in walled, sterile conference rooms.  Chairs are uniformly around the table.  The walls are usually plastered with notices about the company’s achievements.  Pens and pads are available so we can write and record and get our business done. Gosh darn it, I can hear the executives say, in this room we’re going to get to the solution, get down to business and ‘make it happen.’

Yet what if we looked at doing all of our business, or even holding all of our meetings, under a banyan tree?  This return to nature might help conversations flow more easily.

Perhaps this atmosphere would allow us to be more authentic. If we are surrounded by nature’s occasional stirring winds, visionary clouds floating across the sky, and brilliant beckoning sun, would we not also settle into a more authentic course of conversation? Could it lead to more natural, comfortable (and no less impactful, but rather moreso) solutions?   Within this reframing context of nature, we can discuss our goals and hopes and plans and perhaps achieve even greater goals.

Here’s a thought… We can replace the pen, paper and busy scribbling of notes, with more eye contact.  We supplant the flurried white board scrawls with more thoughtful listening. What a profound impact this has to have on any business relationship, business decision, and especially, with any personal matter.

Until we can “Unconference Room” your meeting space, perhaps we can imagine all of our conversations thoughtfully taking place under a Banyan tree.  A place where comfort, understanding, and right relationships result under its strong, rooted and peaceful presence.

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The banyan tree originally received its name from the merchants who gathered beneath it to do business; in the Gujarati language, “banya” means “merchant/grocer.” Western visitors to India observed the merchants meeting beneath the tree, and the name evolved to refer to the tree itself.  The banyan trees are given great symbolism in both Hinduism and Buddhism. Banyan trees can grow to cover hundreds of feet, and live for over a thousand years.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Do Good, Feel Good

meadow-680607_640Do Good, Feel Good. What Kind of Ethics is That?

It’s straight from our esteemed President Lincoln, who is referring to that still small voice that tells us right and wrong. Everyone has it within…and we hear that gentle voice urging us one way or not.  So President Lincoln is not calling for a marvelous free for all where anyone follows their whim.  He’s calling us to listen to an internal guide of Truth.

It’s about truly doing good, authentic, down home, core, natural goodness.   This is something which is in all of us.  And it’s available to us all.   Do Good, feel that confirmation in your heart that it is the right thing. Then you feel good, and you know it is right. And then I’d add, keep on doing whatever is good!

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.”

– Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States, during the Civil War.  He was instrumental in ending slavery and is admired for his commitment to national unity, equal rights, liberty, and democracy in America.  He is also known for his humble background, self-education, and skill with writing and rhetoric.  He was not a member of any one organized religion, but he frequently used Biblical imagery and references in his writing and speaking, and referenced a Providence who had a higher purpose.  The Civil War and the deaths of two of his children led him towards the end of his life to more frequently speak of dependence on God.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Give A Gift Every Day

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I hope you enjoy a new audio version of this blog!

Give a gift every day.

Send your friend’s birthday gift early.

See a gift that would be meaningful for someone you care about, and just buy it. Give it to them now.

Take the time to cook a meal for your partner or your roommate.  Take the time to cook a meal for yourself.

Smile at a person walking down the street.

Smile at a homeless person and stop and learn their name. There is the gift of knowing someone. Of acknowledging you care.

Be kind to yourself.

Get in bed early.

Say three gratefuls before you fall asleep.

Say three gratefuls when you wake up.

Believe today is special.

Take time at lunch to be grateful for three more things.

Pay the phone bill for your roommate.

Drop off banana bread for your neighbor.

Give a lot. Expect little.

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

Work hard and attain the gift of devotion to something you believe in.

Work and leave early and give yourself a gentle night off, nurturing yourself.

Stop and look at nature. Any part of nature. The expanse of the sky; drifting clouds; a vibrant flower.

Give yourself the gift of awareness of how precious and beautiful life is every day.

The Classic Pamela Positive: “Look Deeply and Recognize the Real Enemy” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“If I can say anything to you, it is to invite you to look deeply and recognize the real enemy. The enemy is not a person. That enemy is a way of thinking that has brought a lot of suffering for everyone.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Anything negative — is not from a person.

Radical thinking?  It shouldn’t be.   If we view the enemy as simply a thought and not a person, we depersonalize it.   It’s temporary, changeable.   And we allow the person to grow beyond it, rather than be it.

We can then eliminate personal offense, and work constructively towards a solution.

Look at the Why

If something seems to be negative, we can encourage ourselves to look at “the why.” Why might someone think, or take action, in this way?   This offers us an opportunity to develop empathy. Perhaps this person—let’s call her Jeanine—came from a difficult circumstance or has been hurt.

It’s not Jeanine who is “bad,” but the experiences which occurred in her life which impacted her.  It’s those events that led to the thinking and action behind negativity.

So Jeanine’s identity is not “Prejudice”, “Anger” or “Hurt”:

It’s instead:

The most beautiful thing about this is the following.

She can change.

Allow her to do so.  Wouldn’t we all wish to be forgiven for a past action?

Happy PeopleEvery day we can begin again.   We can embrace a fresh purity for each person in our lives, allowing us and others to lives to our fullest – with Love.

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Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk and Zen master.  He is a well-known poet, writer and peace activist.  A native of Vietnam, during the Vietnam War he helped found the “engaged Buddhism” movement, combining the contemplative practice of the monastery with active ministry to victims of the conflict.  He founded the School of Youth Social Service, a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and a Vietnamese peace activist magazine.

During a trip to the United States, Thich Nhat Hanh persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War; King subsequently nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.  Thich Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of more than 85 books on mindfulness and peace.  He founded the Plum Village community in France, a Buddhist community in exile.   He continues to live and work at the Plum Village, and leads retreats worldwide on “the art of mindful living.”

Classic Pamela Positive: “There is no door that love will not open.”

“There’s no difficulty that enough love will not conquer . . . no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; how hopeless the outlook . . . how great the mistake. A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all.” – Emmet Fox

I think this is beautiful and these kind of things are so important to keep emphasizing.

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Emmet Fox (1886 – 1951) was a New Thought spiritual leader, meaning that he was aligned with the philosophical movement from early 20th century USA. His words were particularly influential during the Great Depression when he would give sermons to people suffering from the economic downturn. Today, he is remembered for his strikingly beautiful phrases and his involvement with the New Thought movement.

The Pamela Positive: I Love What Howard Zinn Writes: Hope Is Not Certainty…But Being Open to Possibilities…

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I love how Howard Zinn focuses on maintaining the human spirit. Throughout his life dedication to combatting injustice, striving to help those marginalized, and being involved in a brutal World War, Howard held his views of hope.

“…I intend to be the voice of reasonable optimism, to figure out a passage through this tough time. To have hope, one does not need certainty, only possibility.”

Let’s keep our minds open to the great possibilities which abound before us.  There is always a way, a pathway, a new opportunity, a new possibility.  A New Hope!

Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was a historian, author and activist.  He was a pilot in WWII, an experience which shaped his outspoken opposition of war.  He was a professor of political science for many years at Boston University.  He is best known for his book, A People’s History of the United States, presenting history from the point of the view of the marginalized.