Monday, July 21, 2014

Everything Is An Illusion

The Rope and the Snake Zen Parable

There is an old Buddhist parable that tells of a man walking home one evening. In the half-light he sees on the path a snake apparently crossing in front of him. He starts and jerks himself away, heart beating fast, wide-eyed and alert. Peering closely he suddenly realizes that he was mistaken, in fact it is an old piece of rope! Relieved and laughing to himself at his foolishness he goes to step over it and glancing down suddenly realizes the rope is a string of jewels. He gasps in awe!

A simple story and we nod and ‘get the point’. But do we realize how often each day opportunities arise for such mistaken identities?

The playwright Alan Bennett tells the story of a holiday at a hotel in Harrogate with his mother. They were taking tea, one afternoon, when a smartly dressed middle-aged woman entered the room with a younger man in tow. Alan’s mother turned to her son and said, “She’s here with her boyfriend, I see!” The next day, while taking tea again, the woman enters alone. Alan’s mother says “I see they’ve had a row then!”

It’s not just that I continually commentate and interpret what goes on around me, but that this ‘story’ - of thoughts and feelings I weave filters my perception of what is real. If I think you are a great person then I see you as one. If I feel the world is a hostile place then I see other people out to get me everywhere I go. Once I think something, it is as if it becomes real and I cannot distinguish between what the situation is and what I think and feel about it.

Walking home at twilight in India it would not be unrealistic to see a cobra slithering across the path. An expectation, a flutter of fear, the half-light, an ambiguous object across the path, imagination can supply the rest. It might be worth remembering that next time you meet with someone you have a bad feeling about and they seem to be antagonizing you.

Story as told by the Venerable Sochu

Story source here
Image source here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Watermelon Slush

When I look back in time, watermelon always was the ultimate summer fruit for me when I was a child. We had peaches, cherries, young apples, and apricots, but nothing could top up a large wedge of chilled watermelon and all that juice that was flowing dawn our arms as we tried to eat our way to the rind. 

You may disagree, but for me there is nothing better on a hot summer day than a watermelon! 

Watermelon is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acid citruline and lycopene. Because of its very high water content, watermelon is a wonderful thirst quencher. Moreover, in Traditional Chinese Medicine the red flesh of the fruit is considered as cooling.

Watermelon is quite versatile and can be eaten in many ways. You can add it to smoothies, salads, and juices. You can turn it into a sorbet, granita, or a slush.

In the recipe that follows I used a very ripe watermelon. Since it was very sweet I did not have to add any sweetener. I also did not discard the seeds. Many people do not know that the seeds are rich in B Vitamins, minerals, especially magnesium, omega 6 fatty acids, and the cardiovascular system supporting amino acid arginine.  

~ Watermelon Slush Recipe ~

  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 2 cups frozen watermelon, cubed
  • juice of 1/2 lime (optional)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)

  • Cut watermelon into manageable chunks. Put 2 cups into freezer and wait for 20 minutes or so. Thanks to a high water content watermelon freezes quite quickly. 
  • Place the fresh and the frozen watermelon in a blender, add lime juice and chopped mint. Blend until smooth. Done!
  • Pour into tall glasses and enjoy in good company on a hot summer day.

By Dominique Allmon

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Books to Read This Summer

I have always imagined that 
will be a kind of library. -  Jorge Luis Borges

Summer is a time of many activities. If you are not an avid book reader, reading may not always be at the top of your to-do list. Book lovers, on the other hand, always find time to read, and most are able to find some balance between physical activities and reading. 

 There are quite a few books that were suggested to me by friends. I usually pick up one or two that really catch my eye. This year it will be The House on Mermaid Point. Was it the cover or was it the story line that intrigued me, you may ask. Well, you will have to get the book to find out for yourself.

I travel a lot and sometimes spent a few hours at the airport waiting for my connecting flight. I use this time to explore bookstores and news stands. Sometimes I even discover the most interesting books and new authors I never heard about. One such discovery was Daniel Silva whose latest book, The Heist, I am currently reading. Next on my shelf is The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street which I discovered at the Detroit Metropolitan Aiport.

If you are adventurous enough you are probably contemplating the joys of reading your favorite book on the beach, with suntan lotion on your fingers, the fresh breeze and all the sand that loves to get everywhere. You might decide against it, out of simple, practical reasons. But nothing should stop you from reading on a long haul flight. Once you immerse yourself in your reading adventure you will not even notice how quickly time flies...

By Dominique Allmon

Books you could be reading this summer

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