excerpt du jour ~chopra

When [Jesus] preached, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer him the other also,” (Luke 6:29), [he] wasn’t preaching masochism or martyrdom. He was speaking of a quality of consciousness that is know in Sanskrit as Ahimsa. The word is usually translated as “harmlessness” or “nonviolence,” and in modern times it became the watchword of Gandhi’s movement of peaceful resistance. Gandhi himself was often seen as Christlike, but Ahimsa has roots in India going back thousands of years.

In the Indian tradition, several things are understood about nonviolence, and all of them apply to Jesus’ version of turning the other cheek. First, the aim of nonviolence is ultimately to bring peace to yourself, to quell your own violence; the enemy outside serves only to mirror the enemy within. Second, your ability to be nonviolent depends on a shift in consciousness. Last, if you are successful in changing yourself, reality will mirror the change back to you.

Without these conditions, Ahimsa isn’t spiritual or even effective. If someone full of desire for retaliation turns the other cheek to someone equally enraged, the only thing that will occur is more violence. Playing the part of a saint won’t make a difference. But if a person in God-consciousness turns the other cheek, his enemy will be disarmed.

~Deepak Chopra, The Third Jesus

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slovenia! how cool is that?

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. ~Rumi

I guess I’m still a little kid in some ways. Lately, I’ve become pretty fascinated by the new feature on the WordPress stats page that tells you how many people from what country viewed your blog and even shows the countries on a map.

Since I live in the United States, I’m not surprised to see that most of my viewers are usually from America. The United Kingdom isn’t such a stretch, either, it being an English-speaking country and all. (Don’t get me wrong, I love that folks in the British Isles are reading my stuff.)

But I find it really amazing that I’ve had readers from all over the world. I seem to have a fair number of readers in India, for example. (Who knew?) Just in the last week, in addition to the U.S. and the U.K. and India, there have been readers from South Africa, Indonesia, France, Singapore, the Philippines, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, Croatia, and, of course, Slovenia.

I didn’t grow up in the information age, so all of this instant connecting with people on the other side of the world is still a little like magic to me. (Heck, I thought email was magic when I first got it.) It kind of makes me giddy, actually.

So, to all of you who have stopped by from wherever you are, I think it’s really cool that you did. Come back anytime. Really. :)

the gift of a gift

Forgive me while I take a moment to brag a little about a family member—and promote a good cause at the same time.

My brother, Mark Atkinson, is a talented photographer who has contributed his gifts consistently over the last twenty or so years to help bring visibility to worthy causes like Operation Smile, Mercy and Sharing, Doctors Without Borders,  and Smile Train.  All of these international organizations provide those in need with medical care that we here in the United States often take for granted. Most recently, Mark traveled to India to take photographs on behalf of a charity called Help Me See. He tells a little about the trip on his Facebook page:

“Just back from a shoot in Chitrakoot, India. Spent several days at the SADGURU NETRA CHIKITSALAYA Hospital, where 1000 plus show up daily for various eye disease treatment. In most cases, partial or full sight can be restored with 15 minute/$300 surgeries. Help Me See, a New York based charity supports the hospital with donations and equipment.”

I think it’s pretty great that he gives of his talents to help people have a better life, a life that wouldn’t be possible without the work of these charities. To see more of Mark’s photos of India (and Haiti and China) go to http://www.markatkinson.com/editorial.php; just click on the thumbnails at the bottom of the page.  Also, if you’d like to help give the gift of sight, an anonymous donor is currently matching all donations to Help Me See.