At first glance, tea and wine seem very different. Wine is made and stored as a liquid; tea is made and stored in the form of dried leaves. Wine is best aged while tea can be drunk fresh. Wine is served cold or at room temperature in a glass; tea is usually served hot in a ceramic cup. The temperature at which wine served is critical; tea can be served over a great range of temperature without losing its flavor. However, if we look at the art of wine tasting and compare it to the art of tea tasting, there are interesting similarities.
Birthday celebration has been an important and joyful event in modern human living. For parents, the birthday of a child brings much happiness to know their child has experienced another year of emotional, mental and physical growth. However, in holding parties and giving presents to the birthday person, many usually don’t give much serious thought on “What are we celebrating?”, nor for the birthday person to think “What entitles me to expect and receive presents in simply getting one year older?”
In old time China, children celebrate birthdays for their parents and elders to express their gratitude for the love and support they have received from them. Rarely did parents celebrate birthdays for their babies and children as in the West. However, nowadays, all are westernized.
There is nothing wrong to find opportunity or an excuse to have a joyful gathering, to enjoy a good time together. On the other hand, the deeper meaning of birthday celebration may have been lost. In China, it used to be thought that ideally birthdays should be a day for reflection. This is a day for people to reflect and appreciate the love and support they have received in the past year from family, friends, society, Heaven and Earth. This is a day for people to reflect on their inner growth and outer progress in the year just past and to see if it matched or exceeded what they have received from outside in return. This is a day to meditate on making adjustment and setting a new goal for the coming year.
For the birthday person to show their appreciation for the love and support they have received, this is an occasion to give instead of to receive. In many cultures, such as the traditional American Indian culture, instead of the birthday person receiving gifts, they would give gifts to those who come for the celebration.
I always tend to shy away from celebrating birthdays in the “normal” way. This year, in taking advantage of the rare occasion that I am able to stay home for more than a month without traveling abroad, I decided to celebrate my birthday with a “21-day Lemon Juice Fast” to cleanse my body. Feng Shui is about designing a good living environment. Our Body is the living environment for our spirit and soul. Regular detoxification practice is a good way to ensure good feng shui for our spirit and soul.
I have now entered the 6th day of fasting and feel much better already. I will give a final report at the end of this fast.
Does religion have a role in Feng Shui?
This is a frequently asked question.
The answer is: No. Feng shui is not a religion nor has it ever followed any religious tradition or practice.
However, most religious groups do apply feng shui principles in building their temples and monasteries. Most Taoist and Buddhist temples in China are built on a site that nourishes spiritual energy.
Last November, I was invited by the headmaster of Yunjui Shan (雲居山Cloud Residing Mountain) ,in Jinagxi, China, to locate a proper site to build a new meditation and training center for the monastery. This Ch’an (zen) monastery, was established during the Tang dynasty and has over 1200 years of history. The headmaster was very much into feng shui and I found him also sensitive to the energy of the land. Since my suggestion was very much in accord with what he had in mind, he was very happy with my visit.
This past March, he once again asked me to help with the proper positioning of the gate for a new temple. High up in the mountain, in the rain and cold, the master walked so briskly through the woods and muddy ground, that I had to pay attention to keep up. Overall, it was a most interesting and rewarding experience.
From all the Buddhist and Taoist temples I have visited, I hardly find a temple without good feng shui. Although in general, the energy at such sites is more supportive of spiritual cultivation and may not necessarily support business or commerce.
Good feng shui for business requires a more mundane energy, which in general means sites are on low ground, such as cities close to bodies of water. Temples, on the other hand, are for spiritual cultivation, thus are mostly located on mountains or higher ground in a city.
Balance with the intended purpose is one of the key considerations of feng shui design.
In feng shui classes, students often ask: “What happens if I know my place has a feng shui problem, but I cannot change anything structurally (as often it is a rental), nor can I move out any time soon?” My answer often is: “When you cannot do “anything”, there is always “one thing” you still can do: that is acceptance.”
This answer sounds as if we are avoiding the question. Yet it does have significant meaning to our life. We find it hard to accept things that are negative, imperfect, defeats us and so on. Life is full of imperfections and the inevitability of those imperfections is hard to accept. Accepting the reality of the moment does not mean sticking to that moment. To accept the reality of the present situation does not mean being limited by it; it means knowing the place from where one must start, and once that is known, the next thing to do is to begin the new journey. And then you know, in due time, things will change.
The United States has been fighting the war in Afghanistan for 8 years and although with 68,000 troops stationed there, we are slowing losing control. Gen Stanley McChrystal requested a troop surge of a minimum of 40,000; stating, otherwise, the U.S. will be defeated. Even with that surge, he also knows the U.S. will not win the war in years to come. As President Obama continues to ponder the strategy, he is clearly aware of what is at stake. Regardless of hunting Al-Qaida, protecting Afghans are the reason we cannot withdraw. The fundamental reason to stop us to consider a withdrawal is: we cannot accept defeat, yet we could admit we made a mistake even as early as 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan.
The rampant Hamid Karzai government’s corruption, the wide spread fraud in the August 20th president election, should be seen as the kindness of “Heaven” to inform the U.S. to learn the lesson of acceptance. Afghan has a long history, much longer than the United States. Beneath the poverty and misery, its people are imbedded with wisdom, pride, strength and tenacity from their deep culture. They do not need our protection. It takes wisdom and courage of our new and young president to learn the lesson of the Divine Acceptance; the teaching from the ancient Chinese saint Lao-Tzu, and the lesson from our all accepting Mother Earth.
Accept the train to enter the station, otherwise it cannot move on to the next station.
In life, often the most ordinary things are the most unordinary and the most familiar are the most unfamiliar. For example, every day of our lives, we sleep and we wake up. Have you ever thought about how we fall asleep at night? Or what part of the body wakes up first in the morning? Do we wake up from head to toe or is it from toe to head? Or does the whole body wake up all at the same time? Have any of these questions ever crossed your mind?
We all enjoy beautiful things, whether it is a scenic landscape, colorful foliages in autumn, new buds bursting out from a branch in early spring, or a garden in full bloom. We can all appreciate the beauty in each of these images. But, have you ever stopped to think about how you enjoy these beautiful things? Do you simply stare at them with your big eyes? Do you just look at them casually, not giving much thought? Have you ever tried to communicate with them? Have you ever noticed your breathing patterns when looking at beautiful images?
The universe is an open system. This means that the process of exchange between us and our immediate surroundings to the greater whole of nature is a process of exchange that never stops. This exchange includes information and energy from all matter. However, most people have never received the benefits of a full exchange. What happens is we end up depleting our own energy more than receiving from nature. For example, as we look at beautiful scenery or even a flower, we are giving it energy which means we are depleting our own energy.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could constantly replenish our energy from nature? Just imagine that after a stressful day at work, you could come home and recharge your energy to enjoy your free time! Wouldn’t that be nice! Actually, this is possible. To gain this type of knowledge cannot be too difficult, or even complicated, as in nature, all things are easy and simple. We just complicate things on our own. Just imagine if schools stopped focusing on teaching only academic knowledge and instead taught useful living knowledge, it would open the minds of the youth. It would be wonderful if they taught how to receive energy from a flower, tree, mountain, ocean, moon or sun. I hope that those of you out there with such knowledge and wisdom will begin to write and share such valuable information.