Saturday, August 31, 2013

Be The Change ...

Words are like nets -- we hope they'll cover what we mean, but we know they can't possibly hold that much joy, or grief, or wonder.

Words are flimsy packages that we wrap around abstract concepts and offer to others in the hopes of being understood. Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Words are but symbols for the relations of things to one another and to us; nowhere do they touch upon the absolute truth." There are so many parts of the human experience that have no satisfying word to describe it. Luckily, we can borrow words from other cultures where there are gaps in the English language.

Be The Change ...

What is your own favorite 'untranslatable' word from another culture? Share it here or with someone in your life today!

Daily Words of the Buddha for August 31, 2013

Mātā yathā niyaṃ
puttamāyusā ekaputtamanurakkhe,
evampi sabbabhūtesu
mānasaṃ bhāvaye aparimāṇaṃ.

As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.

Sutta Nipāta 1.149

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Friday, August 30, 2013

Recipe: Pear "Amandine" and Chocolate Sauce

The delight declined in 3 stages: pears poached in vanilla syrup with almond and then subtly filled with almond cream inside, and finally baked.  Everything tastes warm, topped with a creamy chocolate sauce.

4 Pears (William, Conference or Comice) not too ripe and rather large

The syrup :
1 liter of water
Sugar 400 g
1 vanilla pod
a few drops of almond extract

The almond cream :
50g sugar
50 g butter
50 g almonds
1 small egg
a few drops of almond extract

The chocolate sauce :
15 cl whole cream
100 g dark chocolate 70 %

Wash, peel and remove the core from below using an apple corer, taking care to keep the tail. Empty pear from the bottom using a small spoon. Poach the pears in the syrup. Cook very slowly for 20 to 30 min.

Almond cream :
Work the softened butter with the sugar ointment. Add the whole egg and whisk vigorously. Incorporate an almond powder shot. Mix. Possibly flavor with 1/2 scraped vanilla bean, a few drops of almond extract or 2 cl Old Rhum.
Using a pastry bag, fill the pears with almond cream.
Place the pears in desserts circles of 8 cm in diameter for wedge straight and bake at 180 ° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Chocolate sauce :
Pour the cream and chocolate in a container placed on top of a double boiler and melt slowly.
Whisk well for smooth and keep it warm.
For the more daring, dare greed accompanying your pears Almond chocolate with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Bon appétit !

Changing Our World

Man bears tremendous responsibility over what happens in the world. Because he doesn’t yet understand it—living a life driven by animalistic desires—he is hardly to blame. When this realization comes, however, the real work for which he was created will begin.
By correcting your egoistic desires (the still, vegetative and animate), you also correct the entire universe.

Man as a “Chip off the Old Block”
For instance, let’s assume there is a rock, and let’s call it “the Creator.” This rock comprises a certain percentage of slate, a certain percentage of lime, a certain percentage of gold, and some other minerals. If the rock were shattered, what would be the percentage of the composing elements in each piece? It would be the exact same percentage as in the complete rock. Because each piece is part of the whole, its composition is identical to the entire piece. This is why geologists need only break off a piece of a rock to learn its contents.
Every one of us is a shard from this “rock,” the Creator. We are all comprised of the same qualities of love and bestowal that exist in Him, except we have broken off from Him. What was the cause of this rupture? Egoism—a quality that’s completely opposite to the Creator.

Building the Desire to Become Like the Creator
How do we return to Him? The moment we understand that we are opposite from Him, and wish to return to the Creator, we will immediately embark on the path back to Him. The main objective on the spiritual path is to build the desire for it. However, we must experience this desire thoroughly, to the very end, until it hurts, until we scream with pain!
Desire is the basis for all things in the world, and determines absolutely everything. Your objective is to adhere to the Creator. If you have the desire to do so, you’ll begin to escape the slavery of self-love and you’ll immediately feel changes in your environment. There will no longer be a need to hold conferences on ecology, or green/peace rallies, worry about endangered species, and so on. Humankind will understand that the buck stops with us. We must rise above the ego and begin the journey to the Creator.
This is the message of all the books written by Kabbalists. And the moment we rise above our egos, everything will change. We will finally understand another universal truth: The Creator created us in His image and likeness, and we have never left this state.
What does “in His image and likeness” mean? It means that the Creator (the quality of bestowal) created the world, which operates under the law of bestowal. Having been made in the Creator’s image and likeness, we live in this world and the world exists in us. But it only exists in us to the extent that we observe the law of that world, the law of bestowal.

Aspiring for the Truth by Looking into the Mirror
Man sees the world through his inner qualities. If we are corrupt, the world appears to us as such. If we are pure, so the world appears to us.
All the problems we see in Nature simply mirror what’s happening within us. The impending ecological catastrophe, contamination of rivers and seas, extinction of species, and extreme weather events are all reflections of us, the egoistic essence that has enslaved us. The whole world is within us, waiting for us to realize that we are responsible for everything that happens in it, and complete our correction.
We’ve been living a lie, but now we wish to grasp the truth.

Meditation: The Perfect You

Welcome … Thank you for listening.

When you listen and listen deeply, you are receiving sense impressions into the very core of your being.  Allow yourself to feel the sounds and sensations within you … breathing deeply … relaxing completely.

You can begin to feel a softness drawing you into that special place where everything is just right.

A wave of comfort washes over you as you rest into this one moment.

In this place, you will find a kind of awareness that is totally relaxed, totally confident … peaceful, and very, very wise.

Before now, you may not have noticed the sensation of your skin at the top of your hands … but since you’re thinking of it now, you can feel them and know they are relaxing even deeper.

Before now, you might not have been noticing how good it feels to rest your eyes … letting all the tension just drift away.

You can notice many things.  And, because you can notice and feel the sensations you pay attention to inside, you can feel the kinds of feelings that give you deeper and deeper peace and comfort.

You are safe and secure in your experience as you begin to connect with the part of you that is always here … protecting, guiding and nurturing you.

There is a part of your mind that knows how to dream.  Dreaming is easy and automatic.  You don’t have to think about it and it happens all on its own.

Your inner being knows how to do many things … things that are mysterious and delightful.  This part of your mind is always here … listening, knowing and smiling … that’s right.

Very good.

Each and every time you feel the peaceful sensations you feel in deep relaxation, you strengthen your relationship to this part of you.

Behind your eyes there is a wise and joyful being, watching all the images in your thoughts … noticing all the sensations of your emotions … recognizing your perfect goodness.  This part of you knows a great many things not normally known … and understands things that live in the imagination … and this part of you allows you to remember what you need to remember to realize that profound loveliness within you and around you.

Let’s allow for a moment to honor and acknowledge this part of your being .. the Master of dreams … the Keeper of your body … the Wise Sage of Inner Mysteries.

Sarah Varcas: 30th August – 1st September 2013: Moon in Cancer

Heavenly Protection

Today the Moon enters her own sign of Cancer where she remains until just gone midnight GMT on 2nd September. In doing so she enhances an already protective feel to the heavens, which speak today and throughout the weekend of the love within which each one of us is held by the cosmos. It’s been quite a week and we are still adjusting and adapting to the changes that have taken place. Our ‘energy upgrade’ is still fresh and new, and we may not yet be familiar with what it really means for us.
Many have experienced fear this week, sometimes nameless and non-specific, other times too specific for their liking, almost like a premonition when premonitions have not occurred before. Others have felt engulfed by a profoundly positive and welcoming energy with which they have merged effortlessly and without hesitation. Still others feel no change, no shift and with that, perhaps, no hope. We each meet these new frequencies from wherever we’re at and they work through our system accordingly, clearing out the detritus lodged in our psyches, gradually breaking down the barriers erected over decades to keep out the unknown, opening us up to a whole new experience of life and what it really means to live it.
This weekend the heavens reflect these differences, somewhat like a large family of many children, each brought up by the same parents, in the same house with the same routines and rules, fun and laughter, but each experiencing it from their own unique perspective within the family system. One feels deeply loved, another smothered and restricted, yet another pays little heed to the family as there’s so much more to discover in the outside world. One’s an academic, another very arty. They all come from the same place and yet live their own unique life none the less, under the watchful gaze of mum and dad who want only happiness for their off-spring, knowing that what constitutes happiness will vary from one to another.
We are those children and the cosmos our wise and loving parents, guiding and supporting us, chastising and correcting us, believing in us no matter what and working always for the greatest good of the family. And this weekend we are invited to embrace our position in this cosmic family and deeply feel the love and support which exists all around us. Sometimes this can be hard to do. When life is tough and we’re under pressure we can feel anything but supported and loved, but when things are in flow it’s easier to ‘get’ it. This weekend, however, the heavens want us to know it whatever our circumstances, to feel it whatever challenges we’re currently facing.
They remind us that love is not always sweet at first taste. Sometimes it is the love of a parent saying ‘no’ to a child’s desire for unhealthy things or imposing the ‘no games before your homework’s completed’ rule! Parental love is not about saying yes to everything, but about making wise choices that nurture the growth of the child in the best possible way. It is this kind of love with which we are forever surrounded. No matter where we find ourselves, there is a presence committed to our growth and development, to the establishment of wisdom and insight in our lives.
This presence is everywhere and all around, within us and without. We can call upon it in any moment and know its existence first hand. It blesses us with its presence and surrounds us with its love. It never abandons us nor does it indulge us when such indulgences are not in our best interests. It is a wise and loving mother, an affectionate and protective father and we, each and every one if us, are its cherished children.
There is nothing to fear in this family. No dark corners or painful secrets. No favouritism or scape-goating. Only love, the purest kind, infused with wisdom and strength and offered to us in the form of grace upon which we can call at any time, to light our way home.
Here’s wishing everyone a weekend steeped in cosmic love and saturated with grace.
Sarah Varcas

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Aloha 'oe, Professor Robert N. Bellah

My first job while studying at UC Berkeley was working for Melanie and Robert Bellah's family. Melanie, a new Boalt Hall graduate, needed a secretary and in the process gave me a solid foundation in legal researching technique. Robert was her gentle affable husband through whom I eventually met the Dalai Lama in 1980. I enjoyed my many casual conversations with "Bob" and learned so much from them. Truly fond memories ... aloha 'oe. You're Home, and back in Melanie's arms.

Robert Neelly Bellah (February 23, 1927 – July 30, 2013) was an American sociologist, and the Elliott Professor of Sociology, as well as Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley. He was internationally known for his work related to the sociology of religion.

Melanie died in 2010.  Melanie Bellah's obituary is here:

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad: From Untruth to Truth

From Untruth to Truth 
From Darkness to Light 

From Mortality to Immortality 

~ Brihadaranyaka Upanishad ~ 

It begins in the Self and ends in the Self. 
And everything in between is the dream of the Self. 

It begins in Truth and ends in Truth. 
And everything in between is an image of the Truth. 

It begins with Light and ends in Light. 
And everything in between is a shadow of the Light.

It begins Immortal and ends Immortal. 
And everything in between will die to Immortality.

It begins with Real and ends in Real. 
And everything in between is unreal till Self is Realised.

Recipe: Donburi of Melting Caramelized Eggplant

"The sweet and sour eggplant Japanese version, with the mirin *, this sweet honey colored rice wine, used in Japanese cooking to make a sweet note and bright sauces"


Japanese steamed rice
1 poached egg (per person, per bowl)
1 eggplant
Fresh ginger
4 tbsp soy sauce
8 tbsp mirin *
Potato starch (or cornstarch)


Always rinse the rice thoroughly until water is clear. For measurements, I take a bowl of rice and the same bowl for one bowl and half of cold lightly salted water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer at the first, lower plate 2 (induction, very sweet) and cook 22 minutes covered. Skip this time, cut the heat and set aside (still covered).

Peel the eggplant one line on 2 (it will be more soft), cut 1 cm slices, go under water, drain and dry on paper towels. Put everything in a tupperware with cornstarch and shake to coat all slices. In an oiled pan, cook the eggplant slices on 2 sides to brown and get soft. Book.
Cook ginger (minced 2-3 slices) in the pan, add the sauces (soy and mirin *), put the eggplant and cook until sauce slightly thick and nicely browned and caramelized slices.

Poached eggs:
Heat 1 liter of water with 10 cl of white vinegar (especially no salt). Break the egg into a ramekin (especially not directly in water). When the liquid is boiling, create a vortex with a spoon and gently pour the egg into the water (it should not make a rolling boil). Cook 1-2 minutes (depending on the size of the egg) by turning around. Recover the egg, drain on absorbent paper. Book.
Put the rice in the bottom of a bowl, place the eggplant slices, finish by placing the poached egg. Can sprinkle white sesame. Serve hot, it's ready to eat!

お食事をお楽しみ下さい !

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Sarah Varcas: 29th August 2013: Inner Alchemy

Becoming the View

Between now and the month end we have an opportunity to experience some inner alchemy. Mercury, Jupiter, Chiron and Pluto join forces to remind us that as within so without, and if we want to make the most of the new energies bedding themselves in around us now it’s not too great a step to do so.

These final few days of the month reveal something of the mechanism involved in the current shift and Venus reminds us that we only have to be in order to be changed, and yet that very process of just being seems so far from our usual state much of the time! Modern life emphasises doing not being, and with the ever-increasing demands upon our time and attention the amount of time we actually spend not-doing is often negligible if not completely non-existent. This, the heavens tell us (in no uncertain terms) is going to have to change.

Okay, it seems we’re being rapped across the knuckles here. It’s a telling-off, but a kind hearted one and with only our best interests at heart. We are being reminded that in our eagerness to embrace the process of conscious evolution we may have forgotten that there’s nowhere to be except here. Sometimes we can make evolution such hard work, and sometimes it is, but right now we are encouraged to take our foot off the accelerator for a minute and just enjoy the view, because in doing so the view becomes what we are and the watcher and the watched become one.

Of course, if we want to become one with the view we’re going to want to choose our view carefully, right? I mean, who wants to become one with a gas station or the local sewage plant? Well, actually no, choice is not the issue here. The cosmos is very clear on this one. Wherever we find ourselves and whatever form our current everyday experience takes, that’s the view we need to become one with, be it stormy relationships, the loss of a loved one, financial worries, health difficulties. Whatever the current manifestation of life we’re dealing with right now, the universe asks us to stop, breathe and take in the view, because in doing so we can become one with it and experience it from the inside looking out, rather than the outside looking in.

It’s an interesting shift in perception, because once we look out at the world from the perspective of our problems, rather than looking in on our problems from the perspective of the world, they take on a whole different hue. Our inner commentary on them can be quieted for a while, the value judgements applied to our experience can be left on the shelf and we can merely be the issue at hand.

We can experience, from inside, the energy of an ailing body, a failing relationship, a life burdened by financial debt, and as we do that, something changes. Instead of panic, calm arises. Instead of physical pain, sensations begin to shift and change. Instead of discord a moment of harmony is born. Not because anything has changed in the outside world, but because our perspective has changed and we are no longer looking in and judging, but being with and embracing.

It’s something we can all do anytime we choose. Maybe only for a split second, before the mind pipes up again and the whole dualistic judgemental monologue  begins anew, but even that split second is like gold dust because it has interrupted a human habit cemented throughout history, of standing back and thinking about life rather than stepping into and embodying it. Once we can replace the old habit with the new one life itself will look and feel completely different, no matter how it manifests, because we will actually be living it, perhaps for the first time, rather than judging it and finding it forever wanting.

So over the next couple of days we’re encouraged to stop and take in the view that is our life, in all its beauty and all its pain, knowing that as we gaze upon it we and life become one in a moment of inner alchemy that can lay the foundations for a whole new way of being.

Here’s wishing everyone a peaceful day.

Sarah Varcas

© Sarah Varcas 2013. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to freely share this article in its entirety on the condition that full credit is given to the author, it is distributed freely and the URL is included.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Solitude is an attitude. A man who adopts an attitude of detachment towards the external environment is always in solitude. It is possible that despite being involved in all sorts of worldly activity, a person may maintain perfect   equanimity.  That’s solitude. Another may stay on a hilltop, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, yet he may not be able to experience serenity of mind.  Therefore, even though this person is much better placed to experience peace of mind, solitude deludes him.  

The state that transcends speech and thought is mouna; it is meditation, the total absence of mental activity. Overcoming the mind is meditation; but deep meditation is eternal speech.  Silence is the perennial flow of ‘language’. It is interrupted by speaking; for words obstruct this mute language. It is quite possible that lecturers may keep the audience involved and amused for hours without transforming them. Silence, on the other hand, is permanent and benefits entire humanity in a subtle manner. One may therefore conclude that true silence is unceasing eloquence -- it is a state when words cease and powerful thoughts of the sage begin to penetrate the depths of the seeker, bringing about a change in his thought patterns.

Thought moves with tremendous velocity. Those who entertain sublime and pious thoughts help others who are in the vicinity and at a distance also. A saint who has overpowered his mind through meditation sends out into the world thoughts of harmony and peace. They travel with lightening speed in all directions and enter the minds of persons and produce in them also similar thoughts of harmony and peace. Whereas a worldly man who harbours thoughts of jealousy, revenge and hatred sends out discordant thoughts which are like wireless messages broadcast in ether, and are received by those whose minds respond to such negative vibrations.

Preaching is simple communication of language; it can really be done in silence only. A man, who after listening to a religious sermon for an hour, might go away without being even marginally influenced; he has wasted his time.  In comparison, a man who sits in a holy presence and goes away after some time with his outlook on life radically changed, is much better off. Which is better, to preach loudly without effect or to sit silently sending out positive vibrations?

Again, how does speech arise?  From abstract knowledge  emanates the ego; this, in  turn,  gives rise to thought, and thought gives rise to the spoken word. So it would not be wrong to say that the word is the descendant of the original source. If the word can produce effect, consider how much more powerful must be preaching through silence?  But most people do not understand this simple truth -- the truth of their everyday experience. Rather, they are eager to know what lies beyond, about heaven, hell and reincarnation.

We may conclude with the following words: “Those who have discovered great truths have done so in the still depths of the Self. But really there are no others to be helped. For the realised being sees only the Self, just as the goldsmith sees only gold while valuing it in various jewels made of gold. When you identify yourself with the body, name and form are there.  But when you transcend body-consciousness, the ‘others’ also disappear. The realised one does not see the world as different from himself”. 

The Meditation Bell

The Zen Buddhist emphasis on the Temple Bell as a Mindfulness lesson teaches us how to cultivate that peacefulness when we hear noises that might otherwise cause stress. It is a meditation unto itself to learn and appreciate the proper ringing of the bell because as the bell resounds, you blend into the sound and become the Bell. 

As before any ritual, the Gatha Prayer is recited, for focus ... followed by a light tap warm-up ring of the bell before the actual intended sounding: 

My body, speech and mind in perfect 
​Oneness I send my heart along with the sound of the bell 
May the Hearer awaken from forgetfulness and 
Transcend all anxiety and sorrow.