Archive of ‘life hacks’ category

buddha says: whom to love

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere.

You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. - Buddha

Photo taken at Namaste, Baguio City, Dec 2011.

taste more:

pop goes the world: namaste, a place of wonder

POP GOES THE WORLD By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today, published on 13 August 2011, Saturday

This article has already appeared on this blog in a somewhat different form here.

Namaste, A Place of Wonder

Namaste Art and Objects in Baguio City  is said to be the only shop in the Philippines that sells Nepali and Tibetan fine goods and art; they also carry  crystals and semi-precious stone beads to be made into custom jewelry.

Located at the ground floor of Porto Vaga Building along Session Road, the shop is small, yet filled with wonderful things. Everywhere is the gleam of brass or perhaps gold leaf, the shimmer of fine pashmina wool, and the sheen of beads displayed on countless racks.

Palanca Award-winning writer German Gervacio in front of Namaste. (April 2011)

I visited the shop last April. Its windows are crammed with an overload of interesting objects. Since they are informed by Buddhist Tibetan and Nepali culture, the meaning behind much of the things escapes the usual visitors.

In the center of the window was an intricate brass figure, winged and haloed, perhaps an avalokiteshvara (bodhisattva of compassion). Yet another gleaming Buddha sits serenely in the window, behind a quartz geode and metal elephant. Elephants (gaja in Sanskrit) symbolize fertility, abundance, richness, boldness and strength, wisdom and royalty. In Buddhism, the “Precious Elephant” means strength of mind, a “symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the Path.”

There is no wasted space in the shop; every available inch holds something. The walls of Namaste are adorned with paintings, carvings, masks, and a stringed musical instrument, while from the ceiling dangle bells, wind chimes, patchwork fabric hangings, and more.

Buddha figures in all shapes, sizes, and forms abound. One of my favorite tableaus on a high shelf featured a Buddha in the center, flanked by a warrior and a horse. In Chinese mythology, horses stand for virtue and power. From obvious associations, it also connotes speed, intelligence, and natural forces like the wind and waves. In Buddhism, the “Precious Horse” is one of the “Seven Jewels of Royal Power”, said to “travel among the clouds and mirror the Buddha’s abandonment of or “rising above” the cares of worldly existence.

Placed on eye-level on another shelf was a triptych, maybe eight inches high, carved from wood and painted in turquoise, pink, and gold. On the center of the left-hand panel is the Sanskrit symbol for OM, the “eternal syllable”. Buddha sits upon a lotus, and one is carved on either side of him. In Buddhism, the lotus refers to the “complete purification of body, speech, and mind.”

More brass Buddhas sit atop a pile of silk and wool fabric – shawls and what-not. From the ceiling in front of them is suspended a wooden charm carved and painted with the Chinese symbol for good luck.

The shop has many displays of bracelets and necklaces made from crystals and stones.I asked Namaste store attendant Meg Reyes to make me a bracelet. She asked me, “Ano’ng kailangan mo?” I asked her, “Ano ang tingin mong kailangan ko?” She looked into my eyes, while her own narrowed. Then she said, slowly, “Maraming naiinggit sa iyo.”

I was taken aback by that; it was unexpected. But then I recalled two Enochian card readings I was given last year, in November and December; the reader, Malou Mallari, told me both times to be wary of workplace envy. For the same issue to crop up again was an uncanny coincidence; I decided to take heed, and let Meg guide me in the choice of stones for my bracelet.

She put in a mix of power (creativity, health, success, etc.) and protection (anti-negativity, anti-envy, returning back ill-wishing) stones. Because the power stones cost more, I got only one of each, while the rest of the length of the bracelet was made up of the less expensive jet black “anti-negative” stones.

Meg chose various colors of tourmaline; clear, rose, and cherry quartz; and amethyst, jet, lapis lazuli, and angelite to make my bracelet. She placed my chosen beads on a makeshift cardboard stand, like a Scrabble tile holder, and strung them on several strands of elastic thread, then knotted the ends tightly and fused them in a candle flame.

I was also drawn to a tiny brass Buddha statue less than an inch and a half high. (I carry it with me every day in a pouch in my bag, putting it in front of my computer monitor when I get to work in the mornings.)

Before handing me my items, Meg “blessed” both the bracelet and the mini-Buddha in a Tibetan metal “healing bowl”, running a wooden implement around the rim to create a ringing, echoing sound, while telling me to think of good things. As I drew the bracelet on my wrist, Meg advised me to wear the power stones close to the pulse.

Prayer wheel and blessing/healing bowl.

Fast-forward to late May. Now one of the protection stones on my bracelet has cracked in half, and half of the bead beside it has changed color, from black to a murky gray. I was puzzled – I don’t slam my hand around, while the color change is frankly inexplicable.

Then the other day at work I learned that several people whom I thought were friends are backbiting me about my position, though  they admit that I have never done anything against them either professionally or personally.

When the green monster rears its ugly head, it spells the end of friendships. Or not, because now I realize these people were never my true friends, and I’m glad I found that out early on.

I can’t help thinking now that my bracelet took the hit of all that negative energy. A coincidence? It’s still uncanny. Three friends (a writer, a lawyer, and an editor) to whom I showed the damaged bracelet pushed it away and averted their eyes“Nakakakilabot,” they said.

I plan to go up to Baguio on the next long weekend and visit Namaste again, this time to ask Meg for a bracelet made entirely of the “anti-negative” stones as a pangontra. Though I believe luck is what we make it, some coincidences are just too strange and cannot be ignored.

It will also be a treat to immerse myself once more in a world of wondrous things replete with symbolism, a trove of exotic treasures from a different place, a haven for unraveling stress and instilling a sense of deep peace. ***

taste more:

namaste in baguio

When in Baguio last April I visited one of the most interesting shops I’ve ever entered – Namaste, at Porto Vaga Building along Session Road.

Namaste attendant Meg Reyes with writers Clarissa Militante and Genevieve Asenjo.

a place of wonder

It is said to be the only shop in the Philippines that sells Nepali and Tibetan fine goods and art, as well as crystals and semi-precious stone beads to be made into custom jewelry.

The shop is filled with wonderful things. Everywhere, the gleam of brass, or perhaps gold leaf, the shimmer of fine pashmina wool, the sheen of beads displayed on countless racks.

The shop windows are crammed with interesting objects. Here, a brass figure holds center stage, perhaps an avalokiteshvara (bodhisattva of compassion); behind it walk Meg and fictionist Yvette Tan.

Yet another gleaming Buddha sits serenely in the window, behind a quartz geode and metal elephant. Elephants (gaja in Sanskrit) symbolize fertility, abundance, richness, boldness and strength,  wisdom and royalty. In Buddhism, the “Precious Elephant” means strength of mind, a “symbol of the calm majesty possessed by one who is on the Path.”

The walls are adorned with paintings, carvings, masks, even a  musical instrument or two…

…while from the ceiling dangle bells, wind chimes, patchwork fabric hangings, and more.

A view of the Namaste shop interior. I’d love to have one of those intricately-carved wooden stools.

A prayer wheel sits atop a display case.

Buddha figures in all shapes, sizes, and forms abound…

One of my favorite tableaus – a Buddha in the center, flanked by a warrior and a horse. In Chinese mythology, horses stand for virtue and power. From obvious associations, it also connotes speed, intelligence, and natural forces, like the wind and waves. In Buddhism, the “Precious Horse” is one of the “Seven Jewels of Royal Power”, said to “travel among the clouds and and mirror the Buddha’s abandonment of or “rising above” the cares of worldly existence.”

This very interesting triptych is carved from wood and painted. On the center of the left-hand panel is  a prayer wheel with the Sanskrit symbol for OM , the “eternal syllable”. Buddha sits upon a lotus, with more on the other panels; in Buddism, the lotus refers to “the complete purification of body, speech, and mind.”

More Buddhas sit atop a pile of silk and wool fabric – shawls and what-not. From the ceiling in front of them is suspended a wooden charm carved and painted with the Chinese symbol for good luck.

The shop has many of these displays of bracelets and necklaces made from crystals and stones.

I asked Meg to make me a bracelet. She asked me, “Ano’ng kailangan mo?” (What do you need?) I asked her, “Ano ang tingin mong kailangan ko?” (What do you think I need?) She looked into my eyes, while her own narrowed. Then she said, slowly, “Maraming naiinggit sa iyo.” (Many people envy you.) I was taken aback by that; it was unexpected.

But then I recalled two Enochian card readings I was given last year, in November and December; the reader, Malou Mallari, told me both times to be wary of workplace envy. For the same issue to crop up again was an uncanny coincidence; I decided to take heed, and let Meg guide me in the choice of stones for my bracelet.

She put in a mix of power (creativity, health, success, etc.) and protection (anti-negativity, anti-envy, returning back ill-wishing) stones. Because the power stones cost more, I got only one of each, while the rest of the length of the bracelet was made up of the less expensive jet black “anti-negative” stones.

Meg makes my bracelet…

…choosing from these beads – tourmaline, quartz, amethyst, jet, lapis lazuli, angelite, and onyx among them. Beside the box of amethyst beads are two tiny (less than 1.5 inches high) Buddha statues that I was choosing between. I got the one on the left. I carry it with me everyday in a pouch in my bag, putting it in front of my computer monitor when I get to work in the mornings.

Meg places my chosen beads on a makeshift cardboard stand, like a Scrabble tile holder, and strings them on several strands of elastic thread, knotting the ends tightly and fusing them together in a candle flame.

The finished bracelet.

Before handing me my items, Meg “blessed” both the bracelet and the mini-Buddha in a Tibetan metal “healing bowl”, running a wooden implement around the rim to create a ringing, echoing sound while telling me to think of good things. As I drew the bracelet on my wrist, Meg advised me to wear the power stones next to my pulse.

envy breaks rock

Fast-forward to May 2011. Now one of the protection stones on my bracelet has cracked in half, and half of the bead beside it has changed color, from black to a murky gray. I was puzzled – I don’t slam my hand around, while the color change is frankly inexplicable.

The other day a friend at work told me that at least four people in our department, three men and a woman – people I had known from before we came to our present office, people whom I thought were my friends – have been griping about my position at work, though they acknowledged I had never done anything against them, either professionally or personally.

I noticed these four people have barely spoken to me the past several months – now I know why. This was not the first manifestation of their envy. (The first time around, the woman staged a weird and uncalled-for temper tantrum, texting me strange messages.) When envy rears its ugly head in erstwhile friendly relationships, especially in the workplace, it spells the end of friendships. Or not, because now I realize these people never were my true friends.

When Malou read my cards last year and told me that my biggest problem this year would be office envy – “It would really be severe,” she said – I shrugged it off, paid no heed; I was more interested in hearing about whether my lovelife would improve. Now I see what she meant.

And I can’t help thinking that my bracelet took the hit of all that negative energy. A coincidence? Still, it’s uncanny. Three friends (a writer, a lawyer, and an editor) I had showed the damaged bracelet to pushed it away and averted their eyes. “Nakakakilabot,” (gives me the shivers, frightening) they said.

I plan to go up to Baguio on the next long weekend and visit Namaste again, this time to ask Meg for a bracelet made entirely of the “anti-negative” stones as a pangontra. Though I believe luck is what we make it, some coincidences are just too strange and cannot be ignored.

It will also be a treat to immerse myself once more in a world of wondrous things replete with symbolism, a trove of exotic treasures from a different place,  a haven for unraveling stress and instilling a sense of deep peace.   ***

All photos by JennyO, taken April 2011  with a Nikon Coolpix L21.

taste more:

the flame of life

The red tealight burned in front of the triumvirate of Buddha statues in the temple’s sanctum. Its wax was nearly spent, its wick almost consumed; though it didn’t have much longer, the flame flickered on, bravely, giving off light till its inevitable end.

Live life the same way. When in despair,  do not give up; whatever it is, it shall pass. It all does, always. It shall pass.

Face the fear, the challenge, the problem, and let it go through you, and behind you, until it is gone, and only you are left, radiating the light of your spirit, warming the lives of those you touch.

Kindle inspiration in the young. Incite a conflagration of imagination in their minds; let them think, and think free.

Keep the fires burning in the hearts of those you love and care for with a kind word, a helping hand, a kiss, an embrace, the promise to stay no matter what – and keep that promise.

Above all, and through everything, until the end, let the flame of your soul burn on, an unquenchable fire.

Photo taken at Fo Guang Shan Mabuhay temple in Manila.

taste more:

bene gesserit litany against fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

- Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear (Frank Herbert, Dune)

Image here.

taste more:

rizal on life as a struggle

From my bookshelves: The First Filipino, a biography of Jose Rizal by Leon Ma. Guerrero (Guerrero Publishing, Manila: 1998)

Rizal is the Philippine’s national hero, a true Renaissance man – writer, physician, scholar, sculptor, farmer, amateur boxer, and much more besides. Along the way to his martyrdom at the hands of Spanish colonial forces in 1896, he found time to write two revolutionary novels, poetry, essays, and reams of correspondence,  perform eye surgery on his patients, and fall in love with several women scattered in different countries.

A replica of Casa Redonda, Rizal’s octagonal hut in Dapitan that served as his eye clinic. Image here.

From a letter Rizal wrote while in Dapitan to his nephew Alfredo Hidalgo:

Go ahead, then; study, study, and think over well what you have studied; life is a very serious matter, and only those who have brains and a heart have a good life. To live is to be among men, and to be among men is to struggle. But this struggle is not an animal, material struggle, nor is it a struggle only with other men; it is a struggle with them but also with one’s self, with their passions but also with one’s own, with errors and with anxieties. It is an eternal struggle, [which one must sustain] with a smile on one’s lips, and tears in the heart. In this battlefield, a man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no greater strength than that of his own heart.

taste more:

advice from the young

I have two daughters and they are very wise, wise beyond their years.

Living with them is like having “Dear Abby” at my beck and call. They are ready to dispense advice when I ask for it and consolation and comfort when I’m a depressed puddle of goo. As a mom, I must’ve done something right for them to turn out so level-headed and well-adjusted – or so I’d like to think. Most likely they’ve turned out well despite me, not because of me. Parenting is often by trial-and-error and we are blessed when our kids grow up to be fine people notwithstanding our mistakes.

Ik is 12 and Alex is 19. Their thoughts on relationships and other topics:

On people who hate on you:
Ik: “Haters gonna hate. They’re wasting their time, using their negative energy to devise ways to hate you – it’s not benefiting them.”
Alex: “”You jelly?” They just jelly.”

On being dumped:
Alex: “It’ll hurt for a while, but you were okay before them. What makes you think you won’t be okay after?”

On divorce:
Ik: “It’s good to not keep yourself attached when you’re not in love anymore and it’s awkward when you’re sharing the same house and bed and “Hiiii.” It’s a good idea to just get them out of your life.”
Alex: “Bring out the divorce cake!”

On exes:
Alex: “Wish them happiness. Don’t wish them run over by a tractor.”

On communicating with your exes:
Ik: “Don’t.”
Alex: “If they were real bleeps, cut off all communication. And body parts.”

On being single:
Ik: “Enjoy life while you can, and don’t fret about being single because it’s fun to not be obligated to be attached to be one person. And you save more because you don’t spend too much money on Valentine’s Day.”
Alex: “Oh, well.”

On failed relationships:
Ik: “It’s the past, get over it! Let it go, because if it failed in the first place, you aren’t perfect for each other and you should just get over it instead of showing up on their lawn drunk going “I miss yoooou.” And search for the right one instead.  Lots of people have wasted their lives over people who aren’t even the right one.”
Alex: “What about?”

On life in general:
Ik: “Make the most of it because life is short.”
Alex: “What she said.”

Bonus advice from Alex and Ik!
On pizza:
Ik: “It’s great, it’s delicious, I love it! Shakey’s, Pizza Hut, or Yellow Cab? All three.”
Alex: “If it comes with Mojos, all the better.”

taste more:

a paean to chocolate

Everyone had left the office and I was all alone, finishing the backlog of work that I had procastinated on. It was getting on for supper time, and I was hungry.

I rooted about in the supply cabinet for crackers – none. All I found was a couple tablespoons of brown sugar in a plastic container, with a scoop thoughtfully placed inside. That was for coffee. There was no coffee. There were, however, steno notebooks, staple wires, and reams of copy paper.

In a tall filing cabinet I found toilet paper and a bag of 3-in-1 coffee sachets. No crackers. They were all gone.

My stomach growled. I tried to think – where else could I have stashed food?

My bottom roll-out drawer was empty. I could have sworn I had chocolate-covered cookies in there. My last hope was the round candy tin. I found no crackers – I had eaten them all – but I did find chocolate.

The sun shone even if it was nearly seven o’clock at night, birds sang and flowers bloomed and butterflies flitted around my head as I reached for one Ricoa Flattops, peeled it, and popped it into my mouth. Ahhh. Sweet bliss of sugar rush. I was renewed, recharged, re-energized!

It pays to stash candy in the office for munchie emergencies. I highly recommend doing so.

Image here.

taste more:

sweet doing nothing

There are mornings when I sleep in and wake up with the sun high up, with nothing more on my mind than to spend the day the way I want to – in unhurried Web surfing, writing, and reading whatever takes my fancy.

The Italians call it dolce far niente – “pleasant idleness”. Literally, the phrase means “sweet doing nothing”.

“Dolce Far Niente” (1904) by  John William Godward, English artist (1861 to 1922). Image at the Art Renewal Center gallery here.

Let’s not begrudge ourselves the time for the kind of idleness that calms and heals; not every moment needs to be filled up with the frantic scurrying that is merely make-work and leads to the stress that is the bane of modern society.

Sometimes we need to recharge, reconnect with ourselves and remember what matters to us most, in an afternoon of dolce far niente. Light a scented candle or burn a stick of incense; curl up in a favorite armchair or on a pile of pillows covered with white eyelet lace, book or Kindle in hand. Read, or allow your thoughts to wander to the happiest moments of your life. Dream for the future, for it can be as sweet as you make it.

taste more:

desk decorating

The office can be a depressing environment. People were not meant to spend their days penned up in cubicles away from natural light, air, and the sight of blue sky and green growing things.

Getting in touch with nature can elevate mood and reduce stress. To improve the atmosphere at work, bring the outdoors in with plants and flowers. Here’s a look at my desk “garden”. It’s a Muji plastic makeup tray on which I placed several indoor plants growing in plastic pots and two bottles which I use as flower vases. I place fresh flowers on Monday and toss them on Friday when we leave for the weekend.

Aside from plants, display things that make you happy when you look at them, like this calendar by Workman Publishing. I got it half-off at Fully Booked, and it is like a mini-art book, displaying a beautiful picture of a shoe on each day’s page.

“Suede day shoe with decorative cut-outs and silk pompom, France, c. 1680s.”

taste more:

1 2 3 4 7