Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Unmoving Center

Religions are beautiful. I am not sure how religious I am but I often find the world's religions breathtakingly beautiful . Somehow, the relentless effort by human beings to reach for the heaven tends to lift us beyond what we think is possible, and beauty ensues. If we only take the time to appreciate all these beauty, we might find people of different faith are more alike than not, and religion could simply be the same God revealing his glorious image in different ways.

The great Sufi mystic, Jalaluddin Rumi, seeing children whirl, thought that there must be something that the children feel but they cannot express, and perhaps they are not fully aware of what it is. So he tried whirling himself, and he was amazed that if you go on whirling there comes a moment when the center of your being remains static and your whole body and mind, whirls.

Once Jalaluddin realized that you can find the unmoving center of your being, he tried for third-six hours non-stop -- he was determined to whirl to his absolute capacity, not to hold back anything, so for third-six hours he whirled, and a great crowd watched.

After third-six hours he fell down, and Jalauddin was laughing loudly.

He said, "You think you have seen me falling, I have also seen myself falling. These third-six hours I have not moved a single inch. Now, I don't have to go to Mecca in search of God, I have found him. In the unmoving center of my own being, he is."


video

My dear readers, isn't this beautiful?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

How to Give a Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

In 1962, Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his “realistic and imaginative writing, combining as it does sympathetic humor and keen social perception.” Privately, he felt he did not deserve the honor. In his acceptance speech, he said:

"the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man's proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit—for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation. I hold that a writer who does not believe in the perfectibility of man has no dedication nor any membership in literature."

Steinbeck Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

A Brief Guide to World Domination

Yup, you heard it right, World Domination!

Such is the goal of Chris Guillebeau, a man with interesting experiences and fascinating ideas. A Brief Guild to World Domination is his manifesto of a social experiment, and you can track his progress here.

The manifesto starts out with this:

If you want it badly enough, and are willing to make some changes in your life to cause it to happen, you too can take over the world... or do anything else you really want to do. Yes, you really can have it all. The only things you'll need to give up are assumptions, expectations, and the comfort zone that holds you back from greatness.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Life is short, fall in love maidens...

life is brief.
fall in love, maidens
before the crimson bloom
fades from your lips
before the tides of passion
cool within you,
for those of you
who know no tomorrow

life is brief
fall in love, maidens
before his hands
take up his boat
before the flush of his cheeks fades
for those of you
who will never return here

life is brief
fall in love, maidens
before the boat drifts away
on the waves
before the hand resting on your shoulder
becomes frail
for those who will never
be seen here again


life is brief
fall in love, maidens
before the raven tresses begin to fade
before the flame in your hearts
flicker and die
for those to whom today
will never return

Scent of a Woman

My friend Bob reminded me how good of a movie that "Scent of a Woman" is:

1. First, the Tango scene!

video

2. Then there is the court room like scene where Al defends Charlie:

Lt. Col. Frank Slade: [Lt. Col. Frank Slade is speaking in defense of Charlie Simms at meeting at the Baird School] Now I have come to the cross-roads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard. Now here's Charlie. He's come to the cross-roads. He has chosen a path. It's the right path. It's a path made of principle that leads to character. Let him continue on his journey.

Thanks Bob!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Evernote

It is necessary to organize your mind, especially when it is overcrowded in the Information Age we live in today. A good tool I recently discovered is Evernote, an online utility that can accept your thoughts from virtually anywhere - web, email, PDA, desktop, and more.

A couple of features I really like:

1) It has a tagging system that can be used to categorize and search your notes.

2) Its browser plugin can easily capture any web content you are interested in and turn it into a note. This is super convenient.

You can find Evernote here.

The Big Four

Tim Taylor, one of my personal heroes, fondly recalls what his NASA mentor told him once about life in his book "Launch Fever" -

...
I remember him saying, "You need to know who you are and what you enjoy doing so when one of the life changing opportunities comes your way, you will recognize it as one of the big four. You should then do everything you can to make it happen. Most people miss those four opportunities and live a life of quiet desperation. Your contentment in life will be determined by the choices you make regardless of all the negative events in your life. To enhance your life you will need to find a couple of those big four opportunities to create success in your life. No one is responsible for your success but you. Not your government. Not your mom and dad, and not your employer. You will determine your fate in life, and in the end you will have no one to blame other than your self. Those who continue to be the victim and blame others for their condition will never grow and be successful. You have to be your own bus driver."

If there is only one life lesson one can take, this is probably should be it.

Useful Money-saving Blogs

Gas price seems to be going up everyday, and of course, other expenses follow suit. It seems obvious that the economic downturn is not over and the worst is yet to come. Just about everyone is feeling the pinch. After all, it is hard to cut down driving and impossible to quit eating. So what can we do to make our dollars work harder? A few excellent Blogs might shed some clue.

Money Saving Mom
Lots of shopping advices, great deals, and coupons.
Offers very specific strategies on stores like Walgreens and CVS.
Updated daily.

Get Rich Slowly
An overall financial advice blog. Many tips on how to save your money, and how to make money as well.

Frequently list links to other great sites and articles.

Gas Buddy
Enter your zip code and it will find out where you can get the cheapest gas!

Deals to Buy
If you have to buy something, electronics, gifts, what have you, check here first. It almost always give you the best deal on the web.

Half.com
I practically ditched Amazon all together after I discovered half.com. Fantastic saving on books, music, movies, etc.

Know others? Write me!

Aikido Secrets Revealed!

As I looked at my Blog today, this showed up on one of the Google Ads: Aikido Secrets. I had a good laugh after reading its first page -

* A Nage-Waza (throwing technique) so dangerous that most insiders won't share it with anyone outside of our inner circle... It is that controversial!

* How to use a "Iriminage" (body throw) that is so dangerous that your attacker or opponent will have nightmares for the next decade after being humiliated by you with this insider technique...

* The top Aikido pressure points techniques... If used properly will insure your opponent drops to his knee's within 3 seconds. (He will start crying after 5 seconds.)

Sounds like another product of our instant-gratification-on-sale culture. O Sensei, bless his heart, must be turning in his grave somewhere.

I have discovered some Aikido secrets of my own. And I give them out for free!
  • Find an excellent Dojo like this one - http://www.usamartialarts.com
  • Put your heart and soul into the training. Go to class and train every week.
  • Think less and less about how to make yourself look good, think more and more on your understanding of the Art.
  • Don't worry about the belt - it is not important. Train and the belt will come.
You might have joined for the techniques, but if you train correctly, you will leave with everything else. If you do choose to leave that is.

For many Aikido becomes a life-long journey, a way of life.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Father's Letter

I read this posting today and was quite moved - it was a letter from a father to his 19 year old son. You can't help but feel this tender ever-lasting love he had for his son. Some of the wisdoms he tried to pass on are just timeless.

It is comforting to know that the human race we are all part of has such extraordinary capacity for love.

Perhaps writing letters is a lost art now days; I often wish it is not. In a world filled with emails and text messages, this one reminds me of the older and simpler times, when real and quality communication had its place. If I ever have a child, I will write a letter like this one.

Some of my favorites from the letter:

#6 Girls can be handy. They are nice to talk to and smooch and some times they take pity on poor helpless males and cook them a meal + iron for them.

#10 I know the time will come when you may go on an adventure such as a move out of state or a trip to Australia or whatever else crosses that mind of yours. We will probably throw out all kinds of cautions. That’s just what parents do but follow your dreams anyhow. Please don’t ever move off without letting us know where you are and dropping a note once in a while just to say your OK. Parents have spent 18 years listening to your every breath and loosing sleep if you missed a breath and they just can’t get out of that habit easily. You can do most anything you want and you will have our approval as long as we know you are OK.

Happy Father's Day!

Aikido Poem

This poem was written by Gaku Homma Sensei, a Japanese Aikido instructor living in the United States. His first teacher, referred to by the title of the poem, was none other than Morihei Ueshiba, the O Sensei himself.



TO MY FIRST TEACHER
With thanks for having known you living in the Way.

O-Sensei, you once asked me,
"Why haven't you practiced today?"
"I had to cut the grass, Sensei," I replied.
You smiled and said,
"You can cut the grass any day,
but this old man won't be around forever
to teach you."

One beautiful afternoon you told me,
"Go mail this package, and then we'll practice."
You taught me suwari-waza
in your everyday kimono.

I watched you on the train
as we travelled to Headquarters in Tokyo.
You bought a box lunch and some fruit
for a little girl who sat across from you.

Later, at home in Iwama,
in the quiet dojo
after all the students had left,
you sat facing the direction of Headquarters
and expressed disappointment
in the high-ranking students there.

Some men call you divine, a superior being,
but I don't think that is right.
You were a great martial artist,
but at the same time,
an ordinary, kind old man
when not in the dojo.

That's why I try to follow,
only because it is the way of Aiki,
to which not a god, but a man
opened the door.

Soon, your memorial day will come
and I write this poem in gratitude.

Gaku Homma - Aikido NIPPON KAN

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Library of the Living Dead

Elizabeth Spiers wrote a great article for Fast Company, April 2008 issue. I wholeheartedly agree with her position and am thrilled that someone finally put some intelligent thoughts behind the matter. Here is some of her observations (bolding is mine) -

"So many books promise financial riches and personal professional growth, as long as we abide by the rules. 'There is a formula,' Donald Trump assures the reader in his book, Think Big and Kick Ass (No. 8), 'a recipe for success that the top 2% live by and that you can follow to be successful.' Naturally, Trump's formula isn't the same as Suze Orman's (No. 7) or John Kotter's (No. 14). So which road leads to success?

The answer is that, sadly, none of them do. When managers buy those books in bulk for their employees, there may be some well-intentioned hope that the books will provide a useful framework for solving problems. But the real utility of 7 Habits and 12 Disciplines and 50 Ways is that they create the illusion of progress simply by adding another layer of busyness.

Business books let us amble zombielike through our careers, freeing us from responsibility for the quality of our own decision making. Better to delegate that responsibility to other people -- Jack Welch, perhaps. It's a fresh spin on the old saw that no one ever got fired for buying IBM: No one will ever get canned for leaning on something with a Ken Blanchard blurb on the front cover. The alternative, too frightening to contemplate, is to admit that problems are usually too complex to be reduced to one-size-fits-all solutions, to train ourselves to do our own analysis, and to be a little more skeptical when the shrieking man on TV tells us to buy shares of Google right this very minute. If we can't do that, let's at least reshelve business best sellers where they belong -- in the self-help section."

Well said, Ms. Spiers!