Monday, December 24, 2007


This was posted by a member of my on-line Sangha... I thought it would be good to share it.

Buddhism at Christmastime
An Essay by George Boeree
When people find out that I'm a Buddhist, they always have these cute little questions like, "Do you celebrate Christmas?" Well, I've always loved Christmas a lot, so the question kinda throws me every time.
First, they make the mistake of assuming that Christmas is a purely Christian holiday, and of course it's not: It has roots in the winter solstice celebration common to northern people, and many other roots. Christmas trees, holly branches, mistletoe, candles, feasts, gift-giving -- all are older than Christmas "proper."
Some will point out "it IS called Christmas, you know!" I (playfully!) point out that Easter is named after Eostre, goddess of the dawn (the east)! I do get some pretty dirty looks.
Santa Claus is a particular favorite of mine. He derives from the Christian Saint Nicholas, of course, but he's slowly become a more archetypal creature. It strikes me that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Pu Tai (Hotei in Japanese), the cheerful fat monk with the big hemp sack full of gifts for children. He is considered to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha.
I have a little statue of him on a table next to my favorite chair, and he smiles at the various Santas on my Christmas tree -- and they smile back!
Some people ask me why I let my kids believe in Santa, only to disillusion them later. But I think Santa is actually for the adults, teaching us unselfish, anonymous generosity!
Even the nativity is a wonderful story. I see it more as myth than reality (the same way I view most Buddhist stories) but it touches me anyway. Beyond all the centuries of accumulated superstition, Jesus seems to have been another enlightened being, serving a different people in a different time.
The nativity story is like a parable that illustrates the wisdom of such expressions as "the meek shall inherit the earth." That's always sounded so "Buddhist" to me -- I wonder if there is a parallel in the sutras?
Mary particularly touches me (though, raised a Protestant, I was taught not to "over-value" her like Catholics do!). She has a nice counterpoint in Kuan Yin (Kwannon, or Avalokiteshwara) in his/her feminine aspect: She, too, hears the sorrows of the world. Buddhism, like Christianity, comes out of a male-dominated culture, and both need that feminine touch!
Really, what could be more "Buddhist" than a holiday that celebrates giving, compassion, and human warmth! Here's a little "present" for you, a quote from a 16th century Italian monk:
I salute you!
There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
--Fra Giovanni, 1513
Quoted in Tasha Tudor's "Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book" (Cleveland: Collins World, 1966).
Have a Merry Christmas, all of you, and a Happy New Year!
An e-mail essay by George Boeree
Visit George's Home Page.
Discuss this lesson in the Buddhist Reading Room forums!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Yes, contrary to the rumors, I am still here... slowly hobbling along. Welcome to winter... Happy Solstice, and all that good stuff. Look on the bright side - the days will now become longer. Soon we will see the tops of the daffodils poking their little green heads out of the dirt.

I would like to share with you all my current favorite webcam. As some of you remember, I used to live in Maine. I could never decide which was my favorite light house, Pemaquid or Portland Head. ANd then there is Goat Island and Bass and... yeah, I love lighthouses. They are right up there with fog horns and bell bouys. I have a bell bouy bell hanging in the back yard. I will have to see if I can find a picture of it. AH, yes, I found it! It was taken last year in our snow storm... Anyway, I am rambling this morning - this is my Solstice Card to you all. And here is the link to check out the light house as the weather changes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


SIGH... Thanks to my ever vigilant readers.... let me add this to the previous BERRY INTERESTING post. First, I have been real impressed with the quantity of berries this year because we have had quite a drought. I believe I mentioned that in a post about the quantity of blooms on the camellias, but meant to mention it on the BERRY post, too. Thanks for reminding me, Frank (another observant neighbor!)

Second, it took me all day to get that post done. Blogger took 40 minutes to decide to tell me the picture was posted only to click on done and find a tiny box with an x in it - ie - no picture. Finally, having most of but not all my berry pictures on there - I just gave up and realized -
Third, I had not identified the bushes. sigh. Maybe it is the pain medicine, maybe it is the pain - I dunno - but the brain is not up to snuff these past few days. Maybe it is the frustration of not being able to walk and I am not "bouncing" back like I think I should. Whatever... The plants are, from top to bottom: American Holly (female), Nandina, Pyracantha, and Pyracantha (firethorn), Ligustrum, Beautyberry Bush (Callicarpa Americana), and Poke berry or Poke weed minus the berries! They had already been eaten. But dontcha love the color of the leftovers????
If I have something wrong or left something out, I am sure one of you will set me straight! Thanks for reading, looking, and checking up on me!
Now could I get one of you guys to fill me birdfeeders for me????

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Old wives tales say when we have loads of berries, we are going to have a BAD winter. Well, I have a feeling it is definitely going to be an interesting winter... it was in the 70's on Monday, 50's yesterday, 70's again today and they are predicting snow for Sunday. A week or so ago, I noticed how many berries were everywhere - so many more than usual, it seemed... so I thought I would share the bounty with you!

Here the berries are gone... but look at the beauty of the stem they left behind! What color! I hope you enjoyed these pictures berry much!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


This post was not up even one hour when a neighbor asked me why Yule Tide was not included, that they thought it was especially beautiful this year, also. So I put on my jacket and hobbled out front with my camera. Ta Da! - Yule Tide..... or at least part of it. Yule Tide is over 10 feet tall.

Gee, ya can't get away with nothin'!


I hope you are not tired of my camellias yet, but even I am amazed!
We have had quite a drought this year like so many of you all... so I am absolutely amazed at the blooms on the fall camellias -I really expected bare bushes this year - but instead, I have had more blooms this year than I can remember.
This bush is 8 feet wide and over 8 feet tall! Notice how the branches are bending due to the weight of all the blooms? The ground is covered with dead petals.
These camellias have been hit by 2 heavy frosts, you can see the dead blooms on Ice Angel and all the petals on the ground from finished flowers on Spice Lady. There are more buds left to open! And the bushes are busy with bees when it warms up to about 50 degrees.
The trees and bushes that have berries are overloaded, too. Maybe they liked the drought???? Maybe it is a survival thing? I'll save those pictures for the next post.