The ABC’s of Life
I accept who I am and I am happy to be just as I am. I am not my brother or my sister, I am me and this is how it’s going to be. I also accept my responsibility and perform it willingly. I accept everyone who comes on my path as fellow travelers in this life’s journey. I am content with who you are as I am content with who I am.
Balance the opposing factors of your life: balance work with play; activity with rest and sleep; new learning with routine activity; being with others and being alone; listening and speaking; reading and writing; working indoors and working outdoors. Like a two-pan scale, life constantly swings from one side of the scale to the other. We constantly shift to restore balance for life does not stand still.
When sunlight is focused on a magnifying glass its rays can burn a piece of paper. Similarly, with our mind focused on what we are doing, we can accomplish our work. Children sing this rhyme - “Work while you work, play while you play, that is the way to be happy and gay.” When we are mindful of everything that we do, every act is a prayer and a hymn to the universe.
We keep our eye on the prize, never lose sight of our goal. If we know where we are going, we will get there. We face in the direction of the goal, and every step we take brings us closer to it. Our strong determination sustains us with extra strength to meet challenges on the way and brings a feeling of certainty of getting there.
Take time to smell the flowers, wait for the sunrise in the morning and the sunset at dusk. Rejoice in the landmark achievements of a child – the first walk, first word, writing and reading explosion. Enjoy each task and take time to have fun.
Forgive others for they know not what they do. Forgive ourselves for doing what we should not have done or for failing to do what we should have done. We learn from our mistakes and move on.
We benefit as we share. The flower gives its fragrance and beauty to attract insects to sip its nectar. The insect cross - pollinates as it moves from flower to flower thus continuing the life of the plant.
We have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we speak. We hear the cry from pain, laughter from joy, loving words spoken and even hear the words unspoken, the sound of silence. It is knowing that we have been truly listened to which gives us a sense of peace and heals our mind and soul.
How would it look if the problem were solved? Imagine your ideal world – a world without war, sickness, hunger, poverty, homelessness, man’s cruelty to fellow human beings and animals. We start with a dream and soon the dream becomes a reality. Dream big, big things happen when we think big.
Judge fairly, temper judgment with mercy and if possible refrain from making judgments. Suspend making judgments until the mind has obtained and evaluated the facts and the heart felt with compassion on the issue at hand. Judgment made without intelligence has no substance, judgment made without feelings is insensitive.
All that we seek to know already lies within our hearts. No one can really impart knowledge to another. We can only lead the student to ask the question that one can then answer and make that learning his/her own. We can understand the laws of the universe because we are part of the universe. We are a microcosm as the universe is the macrocosm. All we need to do is knock and the door opens its storehouse of knowledge and wisdom to those who are ready and willing to learn.
The laws of the universe can be summed up in two commandments: Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. That is the first commandment. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. We have only learned to love ourselves above all else. That is selfishness. True love is self-sacrifice for the sake of the beloved as the pelican plucks its feathers to line its nest to make a comfortable, warm home for the birdie.
The world is a wonderful place and we need to marvel at the beauty that surrounds us – the sky, the ocean, the trees.
We need to nurture others as we need to be nurtured. We need to be nurtured physically (food, water, warmth), emotionally (we need to love and to be loved), intellectually (to inquire, to seek, to understand), socially (to belong) and spiritually (faith, hope, charity).
We spend more time looking for something any time we need something than if we took the time in the first place to organize, catalog, label and index or list the files organized. We find we have more time if we plan and prioritize our activities and do first things first instead of backtracking our steps. Order creates beauty and beauty inspires us to noble actions.
Our vital organs are protected by bones – the brain is encased in a skull, the heart and lungs are protected by the ribs. Birds and mammals protect their young. The earth has an ozone layer in our atmosphere to protect us from the damaging effects of the sun’s radiation. We need to protect our bodies, our children and our earth from harmful substances to promote healthy bodies, healthy children and healthy planet.
Quell anger. It leads to hurting others. Rather find ways to resolve conflicts amicably in a win-win situation and establish peace. Quell jealousy. It makes enemies out of friends. Quieten your mind and allow the voice of conscience from within to be heard.
When we respect someone we hold him/her in high esteem. With respect comes courtesy, consideration and kind regard.
There are three questions to ask ourselves before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it helpful? Unless all three questions are answered in the affirmative, we keep our mouth shut. A child may be spoiled or slow, that is true. Calling a child spoiled, is that kind? Is it helpful? I don’t think so. I would remain silent on this issue but would rather talk to the mother to build a working relationship and get to know more about the child.
Montessori said, “Teach teaching, not correcting.” Kabbalah’s advice to parents is - “Be a teacher, not a preacher.” The art of teaching is to discover what makes a student tick, what motivates a student to learn and how can a teacher reach a student to make the lesson meaningful.
We teach for understanding, not senseless memorization. We teach the few fundamental principles of a subject matter so the student can find applications of the principle into our everyday life. Understanding of one principle leads to the understanding of another. Living accordingly from understanding the laws of the universe leads to joy and fulfillment.
We can tell the kind of person one is by what he/she values. “Where your heart is that’s where your treasure is.” What do we value? Do we value friendship more or winning an argument? Do we value material things more at the expense of going into debt or do we value financial security and delaying making purchases until we have the money? What we end up doing is guided by our value system.
Things do not just happen all of a sudden. Events develop over a time period and signals could be seen at each stage of development. It is when we watch with vigilance that we see the signs and take the necessary action. It is when we do not watch that we come unprepared for the event and recognize it as something that happened all of a sudden. It is incumbent for us to be prepared at all times for we know not the day nor the hour….
Walk the extra mile to help somebody. Put a little more effort than the minimum required. Give an extra handful of nuts to add to someone’s share. These extra little gifts turn out to be investment yielding huge dividends in the future.
Yield to others in things that do not matter (what color dinner napkin to buy). We need not argue about every little thing. Save the big discussion for the really important matters that affect our life (going to college). Frequently bickering about every trivial thing lessens our sensitivity to listen to each other and we fail to listen just when we really need to.
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Perform your tasks with zest and the task becomes easy.