Tag Archives: community

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: “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.

                                                                             —✶—

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.”

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.

Philanthropy – Start Loving Others Now

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While it is commonly accepted, I’m not sure I agree that philanthropy means giving away ‘money.’

Instead, philanthropy is the love of humanity, of people.

And what I cherish about this definition is that it is accessible to anyone, at any time.

We can all be philanthropists.

Whether you are getting the drycleaning, having a conversation with your boss or coworker, or saying a kind hello to a homeless person, you are a philanthropist.

Philanthropy should be, and is, accessible to all.

I love that we can start loving others now!


*The Definition of Philanthropy, in Merriam-Webster: 1: goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially : active effort to promote human welfare 2: an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes

The Pamela Positive: Juliana Margulies – Smile at A Stranger, and The Important Reason Why

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“Walk down the street and smile at a stranger. He’ll smile at the next stranger passing by, and then the whole street is smiling. And no one knows why.”  -Juliana Margulies

I love this quote. The only why we need to smile…is simply to give joy.  Give joy to ourselves and to others…it’s one of our main reasons for being.  And while people may not know why you are smiling, they’ll soon find out:  It makes the world go around with peacefulness, graciousness and kindness.  That’s reason enough. 🙂

Juliana Margulies is an American actress who achieved success as a regular character on ER, for which she received an Emmy.  More recently, she took the lead role in The Good Wife, and has received a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild awards.

The Classic Pamela Positive: A Great Gift: “Call Me Brother”

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A story I heard and found inspiring:

A famine was on in the land and a beggar on a street corner reached out to Tolstoy, who was passing by. Russia’s great man stopped, searched for a coin but found none. With genuine sorrow, he said: “Don’t be angry with me, my brother. I have nothing with me.”

The beggar’s face lit up as he replied, “But you called me brother–that is a great gift.”

 

The Classic Pamela Positive: “Before You Can Give Yourself Away, You Must Have a Self to Give.”

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“Before you can give yourself away, you must have a self to give.” – Isabel Hickey

Similar to George Gurdjieff’s commitment to self and spirit before serving others, Isabel Hickey realized that we must put ourselves first.  In so doing, we become strong and committed to giving ourselves the best, and then we can give our best selves unto others…

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Isabel Hickey was an American astrologer and writer who practiced Humanist Astrology with a psychological approach. If Evangeline Adams was the Mother of Astrology in the first half of the Twentieth Century, Isabel Hickey filled that role in the Sixties and the Seventies.  She wrote “Astrology, A Cosmic Science,” “It Is All Right” and “Minerva or Pluto, The Choice Is Yours.”