Tag Archives: unconditional

‘Tis the Season for 3 Types of Gift-Giving

Screen shot 2013-12-09 at 6.38.17 AMGift-giving is a complex human story which can either be inspired by the expectation of reciprocity or pure unselfishness.  Various religions deem giving as holy, a liberating act taking you out of the self and into the larger context of humanity.  And if you feel lonely and stressed, counselors and therapists will advise you to volunteer in order to meet people and get involved.

Basically, there are three styles of gift-giving.


  • Someone you know
  • Someone you don’t know
  • Someone you don’t like

Giving to someone you know sets the stage to reinforce a happy relationship. You think about the gift from the recipient’s point of view, and place a value on the relationship. This type of present involves planning, imagination and effort.  You are rewarding another person. Consequently, you are enhancing your own reputation, romancing someone, banking a favor or attracting an ally. Often there are invisible strings attached.

Giving to someone or a group you don’t know makes you an anonymous giver. The act is not about receiving acknowledgement for the thoughtfulness of your gift. The gift is an act of compassion, a spark of genuine concern to help others and put back some goodness in the world. This is the social glue which brings people together for common values.

Giving to someone you don’t like involves loving your enemy – an enormous potential for spiritual expansion. Of course, you could take the low road and make a metaphorical statement about your relationship like giving a set of knives to suggest that you have been stabbed in the back. Another option is to give a gift which highlights a salient weakness like giving a diet book to an overweight person. However, to create harmony out of discord by forgiving this person you don’t like can help you shore up your own weakness. Does the object of your anger/jealousy mirror something about yourself that you don’t like? Do you have a fear or insecurity which you are projecting? Have you honestly assessed your own shortcomings?  When you forgive, you achieve equanimity – you get even.

Aim to accomplish all three diverse styles to satisfy the different parts of your personality. Take an inventory of which personality trait dominates. Don’t forget to give yourself a gift.

What type of gift giving will you be doing this year? Share your tips in the comments below! 

Your Refuge – A Heart That Is Ready for Anything

A dark heart silhouetteWhen the Buddha was dying, he gave a final message to his beloved attendant Ananda, and to generations to come:

“Be a lamp unto yourself, be a refuge to yourself. Take yourself to no external refuge.”

In his last words, the Buddha was urging us to see this truth: although you may search the world over trying to find it, your ultimate refuge is none other than your own being.

There’s a bright light of awareness that shines through each of us and guides us home, and we’re never separated from this luminous awareness, any more than waves are separated from the ocean. Even when we feel most ashamed or lonely, reactive or confused, we’re never actually apart from the awakened state of our heart-mind.

This is a powerful and beautiful teaching. The Buddha was essentially saying: I’m not the only one with this light; all ordinary humans have this essential wakefulness, too. In fact, this open, loving awareness is our deepest nature. We don’t need to get somewhere or change ourselves: our true refuge is what we are. Trusting this opens us to the blessings of freedom.

Buddhist monk Sayadaw U. Pandita describes these blessings in a wonderful way: A heart that is ready for anything. When we trust that we are the ocean, we are not afraid of the waves. We have confidence that whatever arises is workable. We don’t have to lose our life in preparation. We don’t have to defend against what’s next. We are free to live fully with what is here, and to respond wisely.

You might ask yourself: “Can I imagine what it would be like, in this moment, to have a heart that is ready for anything?”

If our hearts are ready for anything, we can open to our inevitable losses, and to the depths of our sorrow. We can grieve our lost loves, our lost youth, our lost health, our lost capacities. This is part of our humanness, part of the expression of our love for life. As we bring a courageous presence to the truth of loss, we stay available to the immeasurable ways that love springs forth in our life.

If our hearts are ready for anything, we will spontaneously reach out when others are hurting. Living in an ethical way can attune us to the pain and needs of others, but when our hearts are open and awake, we care instinctively. This caring is unconditional—it extends outward and inward wherever there is fear and suffering.

If our hearts are ready for anything, we are free to be ourselves. There’s room for the wildness of our animal selves, for passion and play. There’s room for our human selves, for intimacy and understanding, creativity and productivity. There’s room for spirit, for the light of awareness to suffuse our moments. The Tibetans describe this confidence to be who we are as “the lion’s roar.”

If our hearts are ready for anything, we are touched by the beauty and poetry and mystery that fill our world.

When Munindraji, a vipassana meditation teacher, was asked why he practiced, his response was, “So I will see the tiny purple flowers by the side of the road as I walk to town each day.”

With an undefended heart, we can fall in love with life over and over every day. We can become children of wonder, grateful to be walking on earth, grateful to belong with each other and to all of creation. We can find our true refuge in every moment, in every breath.

Adapted from True Refuge (2013)

Enjoy this video on The World in Our Heart:

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Dear God Help Me Love Unconditionally!

Who has put conditions on us? Is it not nature, that has done the job. We are born selfish. As kids we are given what we want mostly, though not all kids have that luxury, but as grown ups we have to beg, borrow or steal what we want. It is no longer completely a honest give and/or take. Nature and survival instincts have made us so. Still, when we grow on spiritual plane, we feel the inner void that no amount of begging, borrowing and stealing can fill. We look for love, knowingly or unknowingly. The sad part comes when we know that no love that exists in this world’s relationship is unconditional. Parent’s love for kids sometimes reaches that epitome but no other relationship is totally unconditional. If you help someone who needs your help, after some time, that same person might start taking advantage of the provided help. The worst part is, they also do not know when they start doing that. If you are extremely warm and nice, people sometimes mistake it as your weakness. They just start behaving rude. Again, the sad part is, they are not even aware of their own behaviour and reaction patters. If you look at the dynamics of any relationships in this world, you would find it is so superficial. The problem comes when we take that outer diversity and illusion as the real identity. We are not even aware of what we are doing. Sometimes, when you help someone who doesnt deserve your help, even then the same happens. They start thinking of you as some kind of a looser. The same happens with love. Most people love at least one person with all their heart in their life time, but many a times, they are considered total loosers because they are not just genuinely in love but also expressing it to a great extent. So even when we all want to fill that emotional and spiritual void with love, we cannot do it because natural instincts, patterns, structure of the world and its processes, keep us from becoming a giving person, an unconditional lover. In such times when I see the world’s relationships always looking up for more love and calculating the profit, I feel so helpless. The only thing that remains and can help in those times is to pray to God and ask for help "Dear God Help Me Love Unconditionally"


A Love Affair with Pumpkin: the “Doggiest” Cat You Will Meet

From the minute I was born, animals have been a part of my life.  When I was brought home from the hospital, my parents black Great Dane, named none other than Lucifer, quickly became my surrogate mother.  Then we adopted Thor, a Siberian Husky.  And years later, when I was in 9th grade, Wednesday, a black and white tuxedo kitten, came to our doorstep hungry and tired.  Wednesday managed to worm her way into our dog loving hearts and as a result, our ‘dog family’ soon became a ‘dog AND cat family’.  Is a matter of fact, Aristotle, a white fluffy kitten, and Pumpkin, a redheaded stray, were initiated into the family soon thereafter.

When I graduated from college, I traveled a lot for business and didn’t feel it was fair to have animals.  Further, spending time away from our family’s felines caused me to develop an allergy to both cats and dogs, which would propel me into a Claritin dependency any time I visited my parents’ home.  Needless to say, for the better part of 14 years, having animals was put on the back burner.  So, when my mom asked if I would ‘cat sit’ Pumpkin for a few weeks, it was hard to say no.

Let me start by saying that Pumpkin is not a cat.  Okay, yes, physically he is a cat.  But, mentally, he is the ‘doggiest’ cat you will ever meet, and I have proof:  My husband Dave, who has only wanted a dog for as long as I’ve known him, has outwardly expressed wanting a Pumpkin II.

Over the 26 wonderful days we’ve spent with Pumpkin, Dave and I have learned some of the best lessons.  Pumpkin honestly knows the most important secrets to life:

  • Love should be unconditional. Pumpkin is a good cat, but when he would do something ‘less than stellar’, it was difficult to stay upset.  Is a matter of fact, a light scolding would turn into a mutual ‘love fest’.  He would give me big saucer eyes and I would ‘have to’ pick him up and smother him with kisses.  With people, we often have expectations and when they aren’t met, our love can be overridden by anger, resentment, or disappointment.  Letting things go, and understanding that our loved ones make mistakes is part of loving them.
  • Take time and do nothing. Before Pumpkin’s visit, Dave and I were always on the go.  If we were home, we had to be doing something, even if it was watching TV.  A lazy afternoon meant running errands.  And, sitting at home on a Friday night seemed boring.  With Pumpkin, we could sit on the couch and be with him, with or without the TV.  We could pet him, watch his whiskers twitch and listen to his purr for hours.  In the morning, we would let him snuggle between us and be content just being together the three of us.  We enjoyed our time doing absolutely nothing.
  • Any time is a good time to be loving. Pumpkin was always up for affection.  He always received love with open paws, and was always quick to return the love.  You could even wake him up from his cat naps and give him ear rubs.  He never held grudges and he always gave love openly and fully.  In our hectic lives, we sometimes forget to stop and be loving towards one another.  Further, we sometimes withhold affection if we carry a grudge.  Affection is important in bringing people closer, and feeling loved and secure.  Further, giving love (and receiving love) releases some happy endorphins that keep you feeling all fuzzy (pardon the pun) inside.
  • Put things in perspective. If I felt stressed or anxious about something, all I would have to do was look at Pumpkin and I could feel my face relax, the stress melt away and the corners of my mouth turn up into a smile.  Animals have a way of bringing true calm and peace to your being, and it is that calm, that we so often forget to maintain on our own.  Animals also seem to ‘get’ what life is about:  it is the experience and living in the moment.  Being around Pumpkin has allowed us to take things a little more lightly and realize that getting all worked up over some things just isn’t worth the stress.
  • Life is precious and beautiful. Somehow, as humans, we take life for granted.  We are big, we are strong and we are intelligent enough, for the most part, to keep ourselves from danger.  Spending time with Pumpkin, has reminded me how very precious life is.  Watching him breathe, watching the end of his tail flicker, watching his pupils become big with adoration…all seemed like incredible feats of life.  How something so beautiful can be real, is almost beyond me.  Life truly is precious.

The last 26 days with Pumpkin have been anything but boring.  I now realize that Pumpkin did more ‘human sitting’ than we did ‘cat sitting.’

Pumpkin left us today.  It was terribly painful.  His love made our home more loving and more special.  He even had a way of helping bring Dave and I closer together.  I think every person should have an animal in their lives.  They bring so much joy and peace to our existence.

Do you have pets?  How do they make you feel?

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The #1 Secret of Great Relationships

Behind all the issues that separate an ordinary relationship from a great one, is one common factor. Behind all the truly helpful advice on improving your life together, there lies one key to a great relationship.

Many different kinds of problems can cause a relationship to fall apart. Physical or emotional abuse, addictions, cheating, jealousy, and neediness are just a few of the issues that can destroy a relationship. But once the many potentially disastrous problems have been avoided, what have you got? Perhaps a relationship that qualifies only as "pretty good." But what creates a really great relationship?

At the beginning, we are in relationship because we are attracted to the other person – we think they are sexy, smart, funny, whatever it is that we find appealing. But very quickly, the focus of the relationship turns to whether we feel appreciated. If we don’t feel appreciated, we don’t feel loved.

It is common for those entering into a relationship to hold an idealized image of how a perfect partner is supposed to act. Perhaps a man is supposed to open car doors. Perhaps a woman is supposed to wear a certain kind of underwear. The internal dialog goes something like this, "Jim (or Sally) is a wonderful person and loves me. After we’re together, he will change because he loves me so much. He will stop wanting to hang out with his friends, watch football games, whatever." How can anyone feel appreciated when their loved one is wishing or hoping for them to change.

The greatest roadblock to a great relationship is trying to force a partner to change through bribes or threats. This classic human tendency is lampooned in the long-running off-Broadway musical comedy "I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change." It’s funny to watch other people go through the cycle of searching for the perfect mate, believing they have found that person, and than gradually attempting to remold the supposedly perfect partner. Unfortunately, in real life, this pattern is a cause of immense suffering.

I Love You Just the Way You Are

The number one secret of a great relationship is accepting our partner EXACTLY as they are. We cause ourselves untold misery whenever we believe our loved ones to be imperfect and try to change them.

To create a great relationship, say and mean, "I love you just the way you are." No pretense. No hoping for change. No thought that it used to be better, or might get better. Follow through by living into that sentiment every day.

Falling into the trap of thinking, "I wish you were different" or "Please change." is no way to show your love. Happiness lies in this number one rule of great relationships: Love and accept your partner exactly the way they are.


Early Valentine – Be Positive; Keep your Spirits high; To Give and Receive Unconditional Love – Author Unknown

Early Valentine – Author Unknown

Be Positive; Keep your Spirits high; To Give and Receive Unconditional Love


I am sending an early “Valentine” to see if it will make it around the world by Feb. 14th.

For God so loVed the world,

That He G

His on Ly


That whosoever

Believeth In Him

Should Not  perish,

But have Everlasting life.”

John 3:16

Send it on!




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Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness sake.

FOXNews.com – ‘Why Believe in a God?’ Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses – Local News | News Article 1:28pm  Source: http://www.myfoxdc.com/myfox/pages/

‘Why Believe in a God?’ Ad Campaign Launches on D.C. Buses, In lifting lyrics from ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town,’ the Washington-based group is wading into what has become a perennial debate over commercialism, religion in the public square and the meaning of Christmas.
This ad has caused a ruckus in religious groups all over the country. It is an interesting question that has me take a closer look. I don’t feel the question is offensive; maybe it is the group that paid for that ad that is offensive to others. I am a Coach and Metaphysician so asking questions is what I do.

When I ponder this important questions – why believe in a God?, I find myself not getting defensive but simply taking a deeper look at my connection to God and my Spirituality and the supporting reasons as to why. And it simply boils down to one answer, because I choose to.

So, is it an issue that the ad is being non-Christian or designed to attract those who are not associating with organized religious groups?

It is time that we all sit down and hear each other, what our beliefs are, accept each other, as GOD intended and not destroy or attack those who are in conflict with our own beliefs, and instead Love Unconditionally.