A description of what this section is, a blog-style collection of articles on wellness, good living and... stuff.


February 7th, 2012 - No Responses

How simple is it to simplify one’s life?

I remember a story told a long time ago about a man and his loincloth.  This man lived alone in the forest owning only his loincloth.  Interrupting his meditation, he would wash his loincloth and wait for it to dry so he could wear it again.  Bothered, he approached his guru, telling him that laundering his loincloth was such a disruption on his meditative practice.  Guru counseled, “get a wife.”

And so he did.  His wife washed his loincloth, freeing up some meditation time for him. Soon she lamented that a mouse was always trying to steal the loincloth off the line. Again he sought counsel from his guru who advised him to get a cat to take care of the mouse.  And so he did.  Later the wife complained that now that the mouse problem was solved, the cat needed milk for food.  Guru said, go get a cow for the cat’s milk.

Not long after the cow solution, the wife declared, “so when are you gonna get a house for me, the cat and the cow?”  Extremely frustrated, the man returned to his guru bewailing his situation had pushed him further away from meditation. Finally guru said, “get rid of the loincloth.”

How many of us can actually live in the forest with only what we really need?  I know I can’t.  But I would like to.  It’s good to have a goal.

In my youth, I desired many things that I believed I and my family truly needed.  To achieve those “true needs” demanded nothing less than real hard work—a tremendous amount of time and energy.  Since money did not flow freely into our lives as we expected or wanted it to, I had to pare down the “needs”.  When I happily ticked something on my “needs” list, another one or two would spring off the newly acquired “needs.”  While my needs list looked like it was shrinking, each need bore new offspring.  I wondered when this list would end…if it would.  I felt like I was trying to fill a bottomless barrel with water.     

E.F. Schumacher reminded me in his timeless, valuable book “Small is Beautiful” (1973) that we cannot fulfill our infinite nature with the finite.  His words resound with boundless truth: “ if human vices such as greed and envy are systematically cultivated, the inevitable result is nothing less than a collapse of intelligence.  A man driven by greed or envy loses the power of seeing things as they really are, or seeing things in their roundness and wholeness, and his very successes become failures…

“Everywhere people ask: ‘What can I actually do?’ The answer is as simple as it is disconcerting: we can, each of us, work to put our own inner house in order.  The guidance we need for this work cannot be found in science or technology, the value of which utterly depends on the ends they serve; but it can still be found in the traditional wisdom of mankind.”

Of course, the traditional wisdom of mankind comes only from the original Bestower of such wisdom, God.

So where do we begin “putting our own house in order”?  By first understanding that we are spiritual in essence.  Thus, our satisfaction and happiness can only be found in the spiritual and never in the material.  

Hard as we may try, we shall never be able to match the two.  This was what Gandhi meant when he said “there’s enough in the world for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed.”    


Matter is impermanent; spiritual is eternal.  Being eternal spirit souls, we attain happiness from the eternal.  Since love is our goal, our function, our utmost desire, then we should direct this love towards the everlasting Source to match our essence perfectly.  By looking this way, we realize that there are too many things we can be happy without, and hey, it’s a wonderful feeling!


Imagine letting go of all those things we always thought we needed!  Bob Dylan nailed it when he said “….if you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose…”  Like a balloon that has been relieved of the heavy weights that pin it aground, we can really fly.    

Fly into the realm of happiness that comes from satisfaction!


January 19th, 2012 - No Responses

By Shai

The past couple of weeks of the new year was anything but the dust settling down.  Just more dust.  Above the din that has been our family course of life was the re-admittance of my mother into the hospital for some grave health problems.  Being with her a few days through the typical hospital experience of complications over more complications, I was reminded of the convoluted life we have woven for ourselves.  I realized through the tangled webs we weave, we find it far more difficult to simplify our lives than to complicate. 

Like, which is easier for you to do…

·      If you were diabetic: scratch out ALL sugar, fats and refined products (chocolate cake, ice cream) OR keep eating all you like and just keep shooting insulin?

·      If you were hypertensive: remove salt and sugar from the diet OR take maintenance BP pills daily and eat whatever you want?

·      If you had bad diarrhea: fast on buko juice and water OR take Imodium or Diatab or such?

·      If you were overweight: cut your portions by half or more, remove all saturated fat and junk food from the diet, and exercise, OR take some magic lose-weight pill and go on eating what you want and not exercise?

The pill has been people’s primary choice for decades—seems simpler, easier and yet lets the good times roll.  Sadly, the good times today roll on to great misery tomorrow as I’ve experienced myself and witnessed from many people dear to me.  No wonder pharmaceuticals and the medical field are amongst the biggest businesses.  Now diet fads and health food supplements are catching up.  Because everyone wants to be WELL.  Everyone wants to be healthy. 

All the doctors at the hospital unanimously declared that aging bodies normally have plaqued arteries, few mini strokes, a full set of false teeth, deteriorating memories, brittle bones, falling hair, fatty livers, enlarged pancreas, dysfunctional kidneys and on and on.  The aging mark, they say, is 40 years!  That is absolutely right, if we speak of city dwellers.  The abnormalities of our lifestyles have made disease-ridden bodies normal at the end of the dark tunnel. 

But time and again, studies of simple-living mountain and rural people untouched by the proclivities of modern civilization have defied the civilized world’s medical “norm.”  No plaqued arteries, brittle bones, enlarged pancreas, mini strokes, etc. in those who live simply in the jungle, eating off the land, following the sun for their sleep and wake cycles. (I hasten to note here that the increasing cases of tuberculosis, cancer, hypertension, shortened lifespans and such amongst many tribespeople in different areas jibe with the significant influence of sari-sari stores selling the same junk that are city folks’ norms.  Shocking to find heaps of discarded wrappers, cans and bottles of candy, magic sarap, soft drinks, sardines and more even in remote mountain sites.)

Certainly, not many of us can verily pack our bags, head for the mountains and become ascetics.  But just as certainly, many of us can simplify our lives in many small ways.  One bucket can be filled by many little drops.

By first turning on this “simplify switch”, we begin to realize how practically all aspects of our lives can be transformed.

Sometimes a great upheaval forces us to turn this switch on.  The great quake of 1990 in Baguio, where we lived then, turned this switch on for our family.  Like a war zone, Baguio had no stores, market, banks, electricity, water, fuel, and was isolated for ever so LOOONG.  We relied on the rains for our drinking and bathing water.  We learned to bathe with two COLD tabo-fuls, max.  For food, we picked from our surroundings, with a little help from relief goods. We never went hungry.  I realized—wow!  How little we need to survive!  What a refreshing, liberating feeling!

Try it.  Drink more water instead of soft drinks or packaged juice.  Eat fewer times a day simple, local meals.  Throw out from the pantry what we can live without and even be healthier for it.  

If just a fraction of society would simplify their existence, imagine the relief it would be on Mother Earth!  Less stress, optimum health in body, mind and spirit would be some of its great rewards.

Simple living, high thinking.  Try it.  You’ll love it.


December 25th, 2011 - No Responses

by shai

While we go about frantically worrying about what to give whom, and where to go first, what to do next, where to get the bucks to do all of the above…let’s take a sacred moment to reflect on the wonderful qualities that is Lord Jesus. 

He exemplified what we all ought to be—concerned only in pleasing the One he lived for —his Father, our Father.  While it mattered not to Lord Jesus who he displeased, as long as his Father was pleased, he became glorified for all time.  While the essence of his teachings was not in the healing of the body but of the lost soul, he became the glorified conduit between us and his—our Father.  It was the will of his Father that moved him, that protected him, that empowered him.

By doing so, he laid out an example to follow, just as all the great saintly persons did and do, to get to the ultimate purpose of existence and thus truly find the PEACE we all hunger for, the real JOY we all wish for every breath we make.

So here is a recipe for all season that knows no time, that will lead us not into temptation and lead us to sweet love as Lord Jesus has showed us.

You’ll need only :

1 whole heart-ful of LOVE, softened and opened, all hard parts discarded

Add the water of association with people who share the same purpose, constantly sprinkle lots and lots of the hearing and chanting of God’s Holy names.  Stir together constantly with loving dedication and perseverance, listening closely to the Lord in the heart, being mindful of the teachings of scripture.  Place in the fire of love from genuine lover of God and let cook.  Dedication will  assure you of  the most divinely sweet nectar of love for the Lord, that only gets better and better, increasing forever in sweetness.

The best part about this recipe is the more you give, the more you have—it just never runs out!!!!