My dear friend Dadi Janki of the World Spiritual University speaks about increasing your life span through peace, love and meditation.
She recently celebrated her 96th birthday, and danced on the stage at her party…she is an inspiration to us all.
I've been lucky enough to spend time on retreat with her, and to have interviewed her several times.
Last weekend I was invited to a workshop which gave me a big calendar challenge, in that I was already booked for other activities, and initially I declined. But the event kept nibbling away in my mind, that little voice got louder and the whisper became a shout – and I knew I just had to go. So I re-arranged and went off to London’s Docklands to the Orassy Kendron at Westferry.
Partially it was the thought of spending time with Romio Shrestha, who is an artist of extraordinary talent. He has a fascinating history of working with people such as HH the Dalai Lama, which is how I discovered Romio’s incredible paintings. In fact, two of his poster-sized books insisted on accompanying me home from my sojourn in Nottingham with the Dalai, and have had pride of place on my sitting room coffee table ever since.
But there was something else…
I couldn’t quite work out what – after all, I could interview Romio another time, and that would be just fine.
The surprise came from the collection of amazing women who were there – people I had met years before, and not seen for ages – where it felt like we had been together only moments beforehand. People I had never met before, but it felt like I’d known them for many years. The camaraderie and community were a huge pleasure to join.
And the sheer joy of a peaceful, calm and inspiring atmosphere which nurtured us all, connections made, spirits re-kindled and the delight of Romio’s powerful yet playful talk and his explanations of the meanings and qualities of the goddesses he depicts in his paintings. In all, it was a refreshing experience that nourished the soul and spirit, and long may the goddesses flourish.
Just think, if I hadn’t followed that intuition, that gut feeling, I might have missed a superb treat and a re-union with some fabulous soul sisters!
When have you followed you instincts and found it has paid off hugely?
I’d love to know…please leave a comment below.
“In this lifetime, my Monastery will have no walls.”
- Romio Shrestha -
Romio Bahadur Shrestha was born into a Newar family in Katmandu in Nepal. When he was five years old, two Tibetan Buddhist monks arrived at the door. Romio, they said, was the seventeenth reincarnation of the master Tibetan Thangka painter Arniko and they gave to him a stock of valuable art materials, explaining that he would, one day, form his own school of painting.
An example of one of Romio’s works.
My Video of the Taras – Buddhist Goddesses
Click the link in the title above for a short video I made about the Tara goddesses Romio Shrestha represents in his wonderful art.
This was inspired by the five days I spent with the Dalai Lama in Nottingham in 2008.
I'm prompted, even provoked, today by the horror and human helplessness in the face of what's happening in Japan and the Pacific. In spite of being probably the best prepared country in the world for such events, there's little or nothing that can be done about the repercussions.
It's easy to get wrapped up in the mundanities of life, fretting about details in the moment. Then something massive comes along and refocuses the attention in a much bigger arena and we realise what minute specks we are.
This photo of the earth as a pale blue dot, taken from Voyager in 1990 from around 6 billion kilometres away shows just what a tiny presence we really have in the universe.
FRAGILE HUMAN ENDEAVOURS
We are reminded also how fragile our human endeavours are in the face of natural forces. The empathetic feelings evoked by today's earthquake in Japan, with the Tsunamis relentlessly wiping out careful human constructions and carrying them off in epic tides that resemble a science fiction monster devouring huge objects in black treacly horror points up our physical impermanence.
Someone on TV said that he didn't think the Japan earthquake was connected to the recent New Zealand Christchurch earthquake. What? All that shifting, seething, abrading rock, lava and heat under the ocean, those faultlines along the Pacific Rim that make it the most volatile area for seismic activity on earth – not connected?
To me, it's all connected, and it's all moving… all the time.
I love Carl Sagan's account below. A moving experience and very timely. No further words needed from me.
PALE BLUE DOT
Here's the transcript:
Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.
Carl Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)
Until I met Alison White a couple of weeks ago at an Olympic Legacy reception at the House of Commons, I associated ‘Elba’ with the Italian island famous for Napoleon’s first exile and the somewhat hackneyed palindrome attributed to him from that time - “Able was I ere I saw Elba…”
Not That ELBA
ELBA, however, is a completely different thing – the East London Business Alliance – which is dedicated to creating possibilities in East London. I suppose they could be described as an island of opportunities where plans are hatched and put into action, so they do have that in common with Napoleon and his time in Elba, and certainly their ventures are bold and far reaching, but they are certainly not isolated or remote from the realities of life in East London.
I Love the DLR
I popped over to see Alison to explore how we might be able to collaborate on projects for local people. Their offices are in the docklands area, so I got to travel on the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) which always pleases me, I love it, it reminds me of a kind of cute ‘toytown’ rail service! Of course I wasn’t using it in rush hour so regulars who travel at peak times might have a different perspective when it’s crowded.
Alliance of Major Organisations
ELBA has around 123 member organisations including some big household names, (e.g. Barclays, AXA, BT, Thomson Reuters) who support both financially and in kind on a wide range of initiatives to improve local life in this very diverse area. ELBA have volunteering, employment and legacy programmes, and can and do guide investment so that it is delivered where it is needed most and to a high standard.
They’ve been around for over 20 years, so they have much experience and local knowledge. I had a very refreshing time talking with Alison and some of her team about initiatives for helping those who are hard to reach and difficult to place in work, and the links they have forged that bring local people together with volunteers. We hope to be able to bring you more information about their work in the near future.
I also enjoyed strolling around the docklands area – it always inspires me with the stretches of water with birds, boats and floating restaurants, the cafes, the people and the varied architecture. In what many might think of as cold, unfriendly London, someone stopped to make sure I was okay when I was pausing on the pavement to check my map on the way there.
The stark juxtaposition of Canary Wharf with its amazing buildings and symbols of financial wealth with some of the poorest parts of East London remains an extraordinary experience.
Hats off to those who are working to redress the balance.
Although there is of necessity a lot of activity and talk about the Olympics and their legacy, it’s good to know that the team at ELBA are there as a longstanding and enduring resource for making a positive difference in the community.
Watch out for more news soon!