Life, the greatest show on earth!

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Imagine a story without conflict.  Would it even be called a story ?

Every successful novel or drama has to have conflict in order to be interesting.  Imagine a novel about a mundane ordinary existence, a tale of only happiness, of only love and bliss, a tale of only light and no darkness.  Would anybody want to read it ?  What if the hero of an epic would be able to get whatever he wanted without an iota of challenge ?

So if we like challenges in our fiction, why do we shy away from challenges, hardships and problems in our own lives ?  Why is it that when we are faced with tragedy, betrayal, loneliness or sorrow in life we ask ‘Why me?’  Our lives are a drama in the theatre of the Divine.  So, how can we learn and grow as souls, without getting rattled by problems in life ?

If there were only light in this world and no darkness, an image would never form.  There can be no creation without the duality of good and evil, pain and pleasure, laughter and tears, prosperity and poverty, and so on.  We ought not to be so reluctant to accept bad times in our own lives.  When there is a storm, the sun will come.  “After the storm, comes the calm’.  In times of darkness, our faith, patience and perseverance are tested.  These events in our lives are reminders that we are not alone, and will never be alone.  A grand celestial audience is watching our drama on planet Earth !  Our lives are a living story, a story that was written by the Creator, in order to experience different feelings, learn different lessons and dream different dreams.  We have to work hard to earn the Divine Oscar for our efforts on Earth.

As William Shakespeare says, in “As you like it’:

All the world’s a stage

And all the men and women merely players

They have their exits and their entrances.

So, when tragedy strikes, remember that the greatest of heroes are not those who didn’t face conflicts, but those who overcame them.

———-Prashant Solomon

Daffy definitions!

Merriam-Webster gives the definition for DAFFY as crazy, foolish.

The obsolete English word is DAFF = fool.  The first known use —circa 1884.  The Synonyms (related to DAFFY) : batty, bonkers, cracked, gaga, haywire, mad, cuckoo, nutty, wacky.  The Antonyms : balanced, compos mentis, sound, sane.  The related synonyms : dotty, neurotic, delusional, senseless, raving, hysterical.  The related antonyms : clear, lucid, rational, reasonable sensible, wise, normal.

daffy_duck_by_jcgroovez-d5rybopHere are a few DAFFY DEFINITIONS :

(1) CIGARETTE : A pinch of tobacco, wrapped in a paper, with fire at one end and a fool at the other.

(2) MAN : A creature who survives by pulling strings.  First the apron strings and then the purse strings.

(3) EGOIST : Is a person who only has an eye for an ‘I’.

(4) SOB STORY : Eye-wetness account.

(5) CHIVALRY : The attitude of a man towards someone else’s wife.

(6) SHAVING : An exercise which a man does to distinguish himself  from a monkey.

(7) HEREDITY : Something people believe in only if they have a bright child.

(8) MOTHER-IN-LAW : A person, when too near, goes too far.

(9) PARACHUTIST : Professional drop-out.

(10) CONFERENCE : A meeting of the ‘bored’.

(11)CLOCK FACTORY : A place where people make faces and hands.

(12) RIVER BASIN : A place where fish wash themselves.

(13) MIDDLE AGE : An age when your knees buckle and your belt doesn’t.

(14) ARCHEOLOGIST : A man whose life is in ruins.

(15) COLLEGE : A place where some people pursue learning and others learn pursuing.

(16) ZOO : A refugee camp, where wild animals are protected from social animals.

(17) MARRIAGE : The only unison that can’t be recognised.  Both sides think ‘they’re management’.

(18) EARTH : A minor planet with major problems.

(19) PASSENGERS : Shock-absorbers for buses.

(20) The word ‘school’ comes from the Greek word SKOLE which means LEISURE.  That’s the DAFFIEST one I’ve heard.

Leonardo Da Vinci

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He was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, musician, inventor, engineer, mathematician, anatomist, geologist, botanist and writer.

He is often been described as a man of UNQUENCHABLE CURIOSITY and FEVERISHLY INVENTIVE IMAGINATION.  He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.  The scope and depth of his interests were without precedence and his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote, according to art historian, Helen Gardner.  He was and is, renowned primarily as a painter.  Among his works, the MONA LISA is the most famous and most parodied portrait, and the LAST SUPPER the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s THE CREATION OF ADAM.

His drawing of THE VITRUVIAN MAN is also regarded as a CULTURAL ICON, being reproduced on items as varied as the EURO COIN, T-shirts and textbooks.  Perhaps 15 of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques and his chronic procrastination.  He is revered for his technological ingenuity.  He conceptualised flying machines, a tank, concentrated solar power, an adding machine and the double hull, also outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics.  Relatively, few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.  His full birth-name was LIONARDO di SER PIERO da VINCI, meaning LEONARDO (son) of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci.

Go Bananas!

Stephanie.Lee :——-Bananas are the SWISS ARMY KNIFE of the CULINARY UNIVERSE, the JACK of the FRUIT.

This scrumptious yellow can be eaten alone, sliced into other foods and added to myriad baked goods recipes.  There’s no fruit as VERSATILE, as UNIVERSALLY LOVED and as UBIQUITOUS as the BANANA.  Reconsider the BANANA.  If we take their LOW COST into account in addition to how NUTRIENT-PACKED, TASTY and RICH with ENERGY bananas are, they stand out as one healthy snack to rule them all.  If bananas have a downside, it’s that their exterior can get unappetizing in the blink of an eye.  Do not dispose off bananas at the first sign of spotting.  Use them in finger-licking recipes.

bananabreadjog(1) BANANA BREAD :—A timeless way to dispose of ripe bananas.  This AU NATUREL BANANA BREAD, inspired by PROTEIN PW’S protein-baking wizardry, will taste so BANANA-Y and DELICIOUS that you wouldn’t believe it is not terrible for you.

INGREDIENTS :—2 medium-sized ripe bananas; 1/2 cup rolled oats; 3 whole eggs plus 2 egg-whites; 1/2 cup milk; 1tsp. baking powder; 2scoops of Vanilla Protein powder (or Banana Cream, if you have it) ; Nuts of your choice (optional).

METHOD :—Mash the bananas up really well, and whisk in the eggs and the milk.  Blend the rest of the dry ingredients into the mix until it takes on a batter-like consistency.  Spray a loaf pan and pour in the batter.  Bake the BANANA BREAD for about 35-4omins. or until a fork comes out clean when you stab it.  One loaf makes about 9– 1/4inch slices.

(2) TWO-INGREDIENT PANCAKES :—–You need only two ingredients to satisfy a hankering for some flapjacks.

INGREDIENTS :–1 whole egg and 2 egg-whites; I small ripe banana.

METHOD :—-Mash the banana and crack the eggs in it, stirring until the mixture becomes somewhat homogenized.  Heat a greased GRIDDLE or FRYING PAN on medium heat, and pour about a 2.5inch wide puddle of batter.  Delicately flip the PANCAKE after about 25secs. or when it browns.  The recipe makes 3-4 small PANCAKES.  Wow, no flour or other pancake recipe staples.  Just enjoy the PANCAKES, once you throw PEANUT UTTER on them.

(3) BANANA COOKIES :

INGREDIENTS :—-2 medium-sized bananas, 11/2 cups ROLLED-OATS, 2 scoops PROTEIN POWDER, handful of RAISINS or WALNUTS (optional)

METHOD :—-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mash the banana in a large bowl and mix in rolled oats and protein powder, stirring in more oats, if needed, until the mixture is less runny.  Take a small goop and mould into a shape you desire and lay it on top of a cookie sheet.  Bake for about 15-18mins., depending upon your desire of doneness.  The recipe makes about 6 to 10 cookies, depending on how big you made them.

chocolate-banana-souffle(4) CHOCOLATE BANANA SOUFFLE :—-Fluffy, decadent, chocolaty and quick.  You don’t even need an oven.  Just use a Microwave and about 5mins of your time.

INGREDIENTS :—–1/2 medium ripe banana, 2tbsp. RAW CACAO POWDER, 2tbsp. MILK or COCONUT MILK, 1/2 scoop CHOCOLATE WHEY PROTEIN POWDER, 1 whole egg plus 1egg-white, 1/4tsp. BAKING POWDER.—————

METHOD :—-Blend everything in a bowl, until it looks folded-in together.  Grease a deep coffee mug and transfer the mix into the mug.  Set the microwave power level to about 60-70% of MAX, and cook for about 3mins.  You’ll see the SOUFFLE really start to puff up near the end.  Let it cool and enjoy.  You may top it with PEANUT BUTTER.  Each mug equals 1 serving.

Just GO BANANAS!

Universal consciousness

Truth can be likened to a pyramid—–its pinnacle gives the highest expression of truth, while its broad base gives strength and stability.

I’ve been amazed by the number of people in India who tell me that they don’t believe in God, and then go on to demonstrate that they do.  They can’t get away from it —-it is part of their upbringing.  They don’t necessarily define God in terms of somebody who is blue and plays the flute.  the thought, however, of an infinite consciousness is so ingrained in them, that it is impossible for them to reject it.

h_consciousnessBecause the highest expression of spiritual teachings has, throughout the ages, only been found only at the pinnacle, the result is that only a very few people reached it.  Spiritual teachings were often very esoteric, and those few people who received them would go into the mountains or monasteries, or go into silence and solitude.

Paramhansa Yogananda gave people a simple, practical way to magnetise the inner spiritual spine so that they can bring their consciousness into alignment with a higher reality. In ‘Autobiography of a Yogi’, Yogananda gave a lovely description of God.  He said, ‘The divine vision is everywhere, circumference nowhere’.  You are the centre of the universe.  the universe is not some big thing imposing itself on some little thing.  It is created from within each little centre, radiating outwards.

Deep inside, each of us wants love, joy and understanding.  We think we will get these things by having more money, more possessions and more exciting experiences.  But at a deeper level of our awareness, we are always dissatisfied with that kind of restlessness.  The more you live at the surface, the less you can ever absorb and understand.

The ego has only one direction to go——to contract inwards and think first of me, me, me.  But this makes us more and more a prisoner of littleness and limitation.  There is another direction we can go—-that of the expansive ego which feels other people’s sorrows and happiness, and thus enjoys things through others.  But you realise that there is a limit to how far even this little ego can reach out.  It is then we realise that you become aware of the unlimited reality of God in everything.

The more sensitively attuned you are to your inner Self, the more you can understand other people and perceive solutions to their difficulties.  What you have to do, is simply look at life in a new way—–from your own centre outwards.  Thus you become attuned with the divine consciousness which is ‘centre everywhere, circumference nowhere’.

In a desert place apart

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There is no music in a rest, but there is the making of music in it.

In our whole life-melody, the music is broken off here and there by ‘RESTS’, and we foolishly think we have come to the end of the tune.  God sends a time of forced leisure, sickness, disappointed plans, frustrated efforts, and makes a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives; and we lament that our voices must be silent, and our part missing in the music which ever goes up to the ear of the Creator.  How does the musician read the ‘REST’ ?  See him beat the time with unvarying count, and catch up the next note true and steady, as if no breaking place had come between.

Not without design does God write the music of our lives.  Be it ours to learn the tune, and not be dismayed at the ‘RESTS’.  They are not to be slurred over, not to be omitted, not to destroy the melody, not to change the keynote.  With the eye on Him, we shall the next note full and clear.  If we sadly say to ourselves, “There is no music in a ‘rest,’ ” let us not forget “there is the making of music in it”.  The making of music is often a slow and painful process in this life.

How long He waits for us to learn the lesson ! —Ruskin.

CALLED ASIDE

From the glad working of they busy life

From the world’s ceaseless stir of care and strife

Into the shade and stillness by they Heavenly Guide

For a brief space thou hast been called aside.

CALLED ASIDE

Perhaps into  a desert garden dim

And yet not alone, when thou hast been with Him

And heard His voice in sweetest accents say

‘Child, wilt thou not with me this still hour stay?’

CALLED ASIDE

In hidden paths with thy Lord to tread

Deeper to drink at the sweet Fountainhead

Closer in fellowship with Him to roam

Nearer, perchance, to feel thy Heavenly Home.

CALLED ASIDE

 Oh, knowledge deeper grows with Him alone

In secret oft His deeper love is shown

And learnt in many an hour of dark distress

Some rare, sweet lesson of His tenderness.

CALLED ASIDE

We thank thee for the stillness and the shade

We thank thee for the hidden paths thy love hath made

And, so that we have wept and watched with thee

We thank thee for our dark Gethsemane.

CALLED ASIDE

Oh, restful thought—He doth all things well

Oh, blessed sense, with God alone to dwell

So in the shadow of thy Cross to hide

 We thank thee, Lord, to have been called aside.

Quotable quotes

(1) When someone talks about duty, he usually means somebody else’s duty.—–Wilhelm Weydanz.

(2) The liberated soul does not wish to escape from this world but tries to improve it.—-S. Radhakrishnan.

tumblr_ltgqrttm9Z1r08qs8o1_500(3) There are no rules of architecture for a castle in the clouds.—-G.K.Chesterton.

(4) The only thing I know about the speed of light is that I’m glad we are getting back to a time when it doesn’t arrive quite so early in the morning.—-B. T.

(5) Patience often gets the credit that belongs to fatigue.—-F. P. J.

(6) The road to all great things leads through silence.—-F. N.

(7) Human beings everywhere hunger for courtesy.—-Norman Vincent Peale.

(8) If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking.  Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.—-Raymond Inman.

(9) Economic growth without social justice is inhuman, but social justice without economic growth is impossible.—-Nani Palkhivala.

(10) To love someone means to see as God intended him.—-Feodor Dostoevsky.

(11)Pay no attention to what the critics say.  A statue has never been erected in honour of a critic.—-Jean Sibelius.

(12) The advantage of being clever is that it’s easy to play the fool.  The opposite is much more difficult.—-Kurt Tucholsky.

vonnegut(13) Maturity is reached the day we don’t need to be lied to about anything.—-The girl from Storyville.

(14) Only Nature does great things for nothing—-Alexander Herzen.

(15) It is not love we should have painted as blind, but self-love.—-Voltaire.

(16) He who has imagination without learning, has wings but no feet.—-Joseph Joubert.

(17) When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not.—-Mark Twain.

(18) You cannot train a horse with shouts and expect it to obey a whisper.—-Dagobert Runes.

(19) Conceit is the quicksand of success.—-A. H. G.

(20) A few kicks in the behind never do any harm.  The funny thing is , that they are never given to you for the real reason.  But they wake you up, and that’s the important thing.—-Jean Renoir.

How to be your dog’s best friend

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There are no bad dogs, only inexperienced owners.

With a little firmness and a lot of love, you can have an obedient and happy pet.  Dogs are accommodating creatures.  They endure hours of boredom hoping that a short walk or a game of catching ball will come their way.  They are subjected to baths and brushings, that in the past no self-respecting dog would tolerate.  They must eat what is given to them instead of pouncing on the nearest sheep.  They must not chase cats.

In return, dogs get a warm home and food.  But what they most want is a master to love and obey.  Many dogs love their owners, welcoming them with frantically wagging tails and enthusiastic leaps.  But, real love in dogs is apparent when the house door is left open, and the dogs still stays happily within earshot of is owner, so say experienced trainers.  An owner who is the be-all of his dog’s life, has gained that devotion, by winning a battle of wills.  He has earned the dog’s respect.  It is impossible to have either a satisfied dog or a contented owner without that respect —- and a little righteous fear.

The reason humans usually do not steal or lie is a righteous fear of the consequences.  In dogs, it should be the same.  A young pup cannot reason between right and wrong.  Only by repetition—— an immediate jerk on a choke-chain or an angry tone of voice, can a dog begin to learn, that certain things must not be done.  Dogs love to please, and they do not object to fair correction.  When it is said that the owner must be firm, it does not mean he should beat the dog.  Owners should practically never smack a dog —-it is a sign of defeat on the owner’s part. The firmness to be shown must be gentle as well as strong, for with a disobedient dog, you need prolonged patience and perseverance to win.

do-dogs-dreamWhile you are being firm, you must also give unending praise and affection.  This is where many owners fail.  A pat and a kind word is not enough.  When they have right, dogs love having the wildest show of affection and a good romp.  A dog’s conscience acts only when he knows by the owner’s attitude that he has done wrong.  Correction must be immediate, because he will not remember later what he has done.  Smacking a dog when he comes back after running off is useless.  To the dog, you are smacking him for coming to you.  Shutting a dog up, as a punishment, is also stupid.  You can punish humans by sending them to solitary confinement ; you can only lose a dog’s affection by the same treatment.

A dog’s simple mind cannot reason that because he ate the roast meat, he is being shut up in the cellar.  He will either fret for your companionship or find some way to amuse himself, like tearing up the floor.  Look the dog straight in the eyes, scold him with a stern tone and give him a few shakes.  This will make the dog feel slightly silly, and he won’t want it repeated.  Some dogs are put to sleep for conduct that could easily be corrected, if only their owners would understand them and give them time.  You cannot expect every dog to be perfect, but with discipline and common sense, the average owner can have a truly friend and companion in a dog.

The Japanese Crane

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Princely of bearing, magnificent in flight, this beautiful bird has come to symbolize the best qualities of humankind.

It can also sing and dance.  Of all the world’s cranes, the Japanese  crane — a symbol of eternal youth and happiness —is the most beautiful, conspicuous for the perfection of its lines and the artistry of its plumage.  The only crane in the world that winters in Hokkaido, the cold north of Japan, this tall, stately bird is a snow ballerina dressed in white, with a black bustle and a cap of bright vermilion on a sleek head held regally high.

japanese-tancho-craneFor centuries an inspiration to poets and artists, it has so captured the imagination of the Japanese people, that with the sun and the chrysanthemum, it has become a national emblem.  GRUS JAPONENSIS, also called Red-crowned crane and Manchurian crane, owes its princely presence partly to its height.  Adult Japanese cranes stand a metre and a half tall.  The bare red patch on the crown of its head gives the bird its vernacular name, TANCHO (red crown).  This patch turns a brighter vermilion, when the bird is intimidating an opponent or arousing a mate.

Records exist of a Japanese crane living 36years in a Japanese zoo —after it was captured.  The estimated life of a crane in the wild, is from 30 to 50 years, though its full potential is unknown.  Cranes are monogamous, pairing for life and are devoted mates in all seasons, not surprisingly, they have come to symbolise marital fidelity and love.  Most cranes are provided with an extraordinary trachea or windpipe, over a metre long, two-thirds of it coiled like a trumpet inside the breastbone.  The crane’s notes are musical, and mostly in the treble register.

A multitude of cranes of various species, landing or taking off in migration, sounds like the wind section of an immense orchestra tuning up.  The crane’s most fascinating call is the duet sung, from time to time by hus

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band and wife.  Both birds gracefully arch their necks and point their bills skywards.  They will sometimes face each other, or stand back to back their pose a PAS DE DEUX of striking beauty.  In autumn, winter and spring, the duets are performed a great many times and seem to strengthen the bonds between two birds.  A full-throated duet is sung, for instance, to announce the successful hatching of an egg.  And when one pair starts, other pairs will often begin singing duets.

One of the most wonderful sights in the bird world is the DANCE OF THE CRANE.  Apparently, on impulse and usually while feeding, one of a pair of birds will suddenly look at the other and start bowing, bobbing its head.  Its partner turns to face it, and after a while begins bowing back.  Presently, the first bird adds a few wind-flaps to its head-bobbing.  The other bird joins its partner face-to-face, and they begin leaping high in the air, flapping their wings, and floating down gently together.  When one pair of cranes start dancing together, other pairs frequently follow suit, and soon the field resembles a festival of folk dancers.  Unmated cranes and yearlings often join in the fun. Japan’s aboriginal Ainu called them ‘the marsh gods’, and today the Japanese cranes still breed in Kushiro Marsh in the eastern region of Hokkaido

In the eye of the storm

God is in every tomorrow,

Therefore I live for today,

Certain of finding at sunrise,

Guidance and strength for the way,

Power for each moment of weakness,

Hope for each moment of pain,

Comfort for every sorrow,

Sunshine and joy after rain.

All the tomorrows of our life have to pass Him, before they can get to us.  What a beautiful thought !!  Some of the storms of life come suddenly : a crushing defeat, a bitter disappointment, a great sorrow.  Some come slowly.  they appear upon the ragged edges of the horizon, no larger than a man’s hand, but, trouble that seems so insignificant spreads until it covers the sky and overwhelms us.

lion-storm-pic-e1341332484854Yet it is in the storm, that God equips us with strength.  When God wants an oak, He plants it on the moor, where the storms will shake it and rains will beat down upon it, and it is in the midnight battle with elements, that the oak wins its rugged fibre, and becomes the king of the forest.  When God wants to make a man, He puts him into some storm.

The history of manhood is always rough and rugged.  No man is made, until he has been out into the surge of the storm and found the sublime fulfilment of the prayer —-O God, take me, break me, make me.  A Frenchman has painted a picture of universal genius.  There stand orators, philosophers and martyrs, all who have achieved pre-eminence in any phase of life ; the remarkable fact about the picture is this : Every man who is pre-eminent for his ability, was first pre-eminent for suffering.  In the foreground, stands that figure of the man who was denied the Promised Land, Moses  Beside him is another, feeling his way —Blind Homer.  Milton is there, blind and heart-broken.  Now comes the form of one, who towers above them all.  What is His characteristic ?  His face is marred more than any man’s. The artist might have written under that great picture, —-THE STORM.  The beauties of nature come after the storm.  The rugged beauty of the mountain is born in a storm, and the heroes of life are the storm-swept and the battle-scarred..

You have been in the storms and swept by the blasts.  Have they left you broken, weary, beaten in the valley, or have they lifted you to the sunlit summits of a richer, deeper, more abiding manhood / womanhood ?  Have they left you with more sympathy with the storm-swept and the battle-scarred ?

1377564_584132121646818_50053802_nThe wind that blows can never kill

The tree God plants

It blows east, it blows west

the tender leaves have little rest

But any wind that blows is best.

The tree that God plants

Strikes deeper roots, grows higher still

Spreads greater boughs, for God’s good will

Meets all its wants.

There is no storm hath power to blast

The tree God knows

No thunderbolt, nor beating rain

Nor lightning flash, nor hurricane

When they are spent, it doth remain

The tree God knows

Through every tempest stands fast

And from its first day

Still fairer grows.