Sunday, February 10, 2013

Happy Chinese New Year (of the Snake)

I have been busy spring cleaning the house for the new year. And also baking pineapple tart goodies because that's about all the Chinese New Year festivities I can get here in Charlotte. The picture above shows my mother's masterpiece. The food I miss most during Chinese New Year food is her pineapple tarts. She would stand by the stove, stirring and boiling the pineapple pulp for hours. Now she buys the ready made jam from the store. Still, they taste just as fantastic. And somehow she always manages to get the pastry just right, so it looks glazed and pretty, but instantly crumbles and melts in your mouth.

She is my inspiration to make picture perfect yummy-licious tarts. I'm getting the hang of it. I need to get those pretty cookie molds to press my dough into. Right now I cut my dough with round cookie cutters and they look like this.

I'm just happy they taste pretty good. I'll work on the presentation bit next year!

If you celebrate Chinese New Year, GONG HEI FATT CHOY! GONG XI FA CAI!!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

On the path to Spirituality

Wow! It's been a week since I've posted! I'm really starting to slack on this end. Like I said, I have been keeping a private blog to journal my yoga practice and thoughts. It's been a very rewarding experience so far. I'm not a religious person. My view is that there will come a point in my life when I will want to find out more. And I believe the time has come.

I started reading up about Buddhism, just because it goes hand in hand with my yoga and meditation practice. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this book before, but I'm re-reading it. I don't usually re-read books. But this one is amazing. I'm gaining a lot of insights on ... well, literally ... the joy of living! Life can be so complicated, but so easy at the same time. You just need to know how to disentangle yourself. This book explains the why and the how, and the Rinpoche (which literally means "precious one") does so with funny and meaningful anecdotes.

Here is one of my favorites. To give a quick background, the essence of Buddhism is to realize that no matter what you think about the circumstances that define you and your life, you are already good, whole, and complete. (And i may have just plagiarized a little, to quote from the book!) This just helps explain a little why I think the following anecdote is especially beautiful and meaningful to me:

I visited a retreat house that was quite near the ocean. The day I arrived, the weather was perfect: The sky was cloudless and the ocean was a deep, clear blue -- very pleasant to look at. When I woke the next morning, though, the ocean looked like a thick, muddy soup. I wondered, "What happened to the ocean? Yesterday it was so clear, and blue, and today it's suddenly dirty." I took a walk down to the shore, and couldn't see any obvious reason for the change. There wasn't any mud in the water or along the beach. Then I looked up at the sky and saw that it was thick with dark greenish clouds; and I realized it was the color of the clouds that had changed the color of the ocean. The water itself, when I looked closely at it, was still clean and clear.

The mind, in many ways, is like the ocean. The "color" changes from day to day or moment to moment, reflecting the thoughts, emotions, and so on passing "overhead". But the mind itself, like the ocean, never changes. It's always clean and clear, no matter what it's reflecting.

I realize that there may be others reading that may offended by talk of religion, or don't share the same world view. I wish to express that it is not my intention to sway your belief in your own religion (and I doubt that what I've written so far is adequately enough to convert the staunchest believers). I just thought I'd like to share my discovery in hopes that you may take something positive with you today. On the other hand, you may also calmly mouse over to the X button at the top of your screen (left or right, depending on your browser) and exit this page if you do not like what you have just read (but thank you for reading this far!)

But, I am elated with my spiritual progress so far and would love to engage in a constructive, organic discussion with anyone, from any religion or denomination!

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