As autumn makes way for winter, and human activities wind down, those of us who are heathy are prompted to rest and recover. We watch Fire carefully and over our ailing ones for the seasonal transition is also a doorway to the great beyond.
In agricultural communities, decisions on animals that may not be able to cope with the cold have to be made.
May those tasked to terminate an animal’s life be merciful. May the soul that is released from the broken body ascend and return to Light.
May the Full Moon inspire our thoughts to move from the Finite to the Infinite, like the way the horns grow beyond the Stag’s head to ascend Light.
In 2011, at the Annapurna Bookshop by Lake Phewa in Pokara, Ron pointed out a book sitting on the top shelf to me & I bought it.
“Horses Like Lightning,” by Sienna Craig documented an American veterinarian’s journey & spiritual growth as she cared for horses in Mustang.
The making of a Juniper smoke offering by local Mustangi people to complete each animal treatment struck a chord in me. I think that was the specific moment that sealed my understanding of medicines & healing having a spiritual dimension.
When we got back to Kathmandu, I couldn’t put the book down. Each night by the window of Hotel Harati in Thamel I would read the words slowly, dreading the time when I would arrive at the last page. I also started wondering what Juniper incense smell like since it was mentioned frequently in the book.
Finally at Boudha Stupa, I came face to face with Juniper in its raw & incense powder form. When lit, it released a scent that was both foreign and yet strangely familiar to me.
While some find Juniper incense smoke dense & yeasty smelling, I find it comforting. It always reminds me of forest & yogurt. (Ikr, I’m never far from food. 😄)
It’s been 10 years since my fascination with Juniper started. Last month my friend, Sharonne and her husband, Khorn, visited Nepal to begin her 60th birthday celebration.
In the midst of visiting sacred sites and shelter & street animals of the Himalayas, the couple found time to replenish my Juniper incense supply from the same shop facing the Stupa.
Moving onto higher grounds, Sharonne picked a sprig of Juniper from a tree that grew in the temple compound of Muktinath in Mustang, a faraway location that is difficult for me to reach but has benevolently decided to visit me. 🙏
“I got us some wild flowers from this monastery! Breathtakingly beautiful views. I could sit here all day breathing it all in!” says my friend of 40 years as she approaches her superb 60th year. ❤️😊
This morning while making a sage smoke offering, I looked up. A straight line of clouds had formed in the sky, as if extending the smoke from the scallop shell in my hand to the heavens.
My prayer this morning was to be free from past hurts and wrongs, that we have experienced since childhood, whether we deserve them or not, and whether we’re conscious of them or not.
Working closely with youth & young kids allow me to see that hang ups, if not managed wisely, can ruin relationships with ourselves & others.
Disappointments in warring parents can result in trust issues and constant craving for assurance.
Humiliations suffered in the classroom or family can lead to overcompensation at work, fixation for validations & hunger for vindications.
All these cravings and fixations drain us, while leading us to attach ourselves to entities, people & organisations that can cause us further damage.
So this morning at 4am, the cats meowed, the moon blasted her light on my face and together they forced me out of bed to play the Ganesha mantra to let Wisdom in. And I finally understood “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” has such a centering effect on me because it’s an invitation to release my enemies.
Shelter cats, Cauliflower Boy & Hoonie aka Divina, were recently treated to a day at the cat spa, courtesy of groomer turned friend, Ong Hong Kuen.
Cats are by nature self cleaning until old age and other infirmities strike. Much like humans, the untidy old woman or dishevelled old man we see at bus stops or food courts must have been dashing once.
On each shelter trip, my friend,Marcus Tan for all his adherence to principles of aesthetics, makes it a point to check on the animals that may not receive as much attention, because they’re not as cute as their younger & healthier counterparts.
In fact, it was him who got me started on cleaning Divina’s face and untangling her knots while he held her. Unlike dogs, cats are more wary and less cooperative with fur cleaning & nail trimming.
Besides, I’m no groomer and the wrong choice of tools can lead to dire outcomes. Therefore I understand for want of skills and equipment, it is still better to have an unkempt looking animal than an injured or bleeding one.
That day at the shelter we did what we could with Divina and as Cauliflower Boy was not familiar with us, we decided to ask for professional help.
And the Universe answered swiftly.
Within a week, our professional groomer friend turned up at the shelter and took both Cauliflower Boy & Divina in her car back to her salon for some needed spa treatment. ON THE HOUSE. She would hear nothing of payment, transport charges etc.
Under her loving hands and in the calm ambience of their surroundings, both cats had an enjoyable session and a complete makeover.
Cauliflower Boy’s milky white bib returned. Once the stains came off, his fluffy belly shone like cotton candy. Divina’s ears cleared and her persian fur regained its gossamar texture.
Little did we know that all the above changes were perhaps in preparation for a miracle about to manifest.
Yesterday, we received news that Cauliflower Boy got adopted!!!
Yes, the boy cat with the deformed ear hence the name Cauliflower, and with a low adoptability potential, has found his home!
And as if to signify a departure from his past afflictions, Cauliflower Boy’s adopter has changed his name to Bernie. ❤️
As for Divina, she will continue to receive love and generate miracles for others at the shelter until such a time a special human appears for her.
In a couple of days, the New Moon will be upon us. May our recent witnessing of how two disadvantaged cats receive new lease of life, also encourage all who read this post that renewal is as much a state of mind and a matter of intention as it is dependent on external factors.
And so may we maximise our capacity as conduits for positive transformations & renewal regardless of how bleak the situation may appear.🙏
This recent full moon observation on 14 April 2022 was extra special to me. Not only it was Good Friday, but it also marked New Year for friends of Nepalese and Khmer heritage.
The confluence of the above high holidays got me on the lookout for auspicious items that would align with the idea of death & resurrection, release & renewal to dedicate a full moon mandala.
However, the reality was eversince Emmanuel the Cat was diagnosed with diabetes a month ago, I’ve been preoccupied with syringes, insulin vial & blood glucose tracking.
As someone with a nervous disposition, I was at first terrified of handling the sharp needles and getting the dosage wrong for Emmanuel. This was apart from having to locate the injection site without making the cat suspicious & without injecting myself accidentally.
It got to a point where my anxiety levels were tied to the fluctuations in Emmanuel’s blood glucose readings.
Doubts filled my waking hours and even in my sleep. Did I really insert the needle correctly? Did the insulin go under his skin? Did I over feed him?
Yesterday I had a mental breakthrough of sorts. I realised I can and should medicate my 15-year old cat to the best of my ability & means, but the medical outcomes are not mine to decide.
That acceptance also liberates me as a caregiver from the fear of not doing enough or not doing it right. Such fears when left unchecked, can turn mean & morph into accusations against the patient for not trying hard enough to get well.
And this morning, as if to show his approval of my approach to his medical issue, Emmanuel turned around to lick my hand as soon as I pushed the plunger to deliver the insulin under his skin. 🙏
On the first full moon of the Year of the Tiger, a new supermarket opened one unit away from the tuition centre where I work.
Heritage, as the supermarket is named, is a paradise of instant massala tea of my favourite brand, spices that evoke memories of my first & only Indian neighbour from my childhood, and lentils of every colour and size.
But most of all, this little supermarket unlike its larger competitors, allows customers to buy their potatos, tomatoes, onions etc in small quantities.
Big grocery stores pre-pack perishable goods to prevent customers from damaging them. This practice also drives sale and gets rid of stocks fast. However, pre-packing of fixed quantities can also cause customers to buy more than they need and eat more than they should, while leading to food wastage when expiry dates dawn.
It is perhaps not enough to harp on food wastage while others starve, and expect our relationship with food to improve when packing & unit measurement practices to justify costs to consumers are not taken into account.
Also food wastage for me is a kind of disrespect shown to natural resources & the human labour behind their cultivation.
Whenever I’m required to buy 6 carrots instead of 2 at bigger supermarkets, the cash strapped person who can really only afford to pay for 2 comes to mind.
Thus I’m grateful to all the little supermarkets and provision shops that allow me to buy just what I need. In return, I will handle their produce with care and promise not to quibble over prices.
May Goddess Laskhmi bestow great prosperity on the proprietors of Heritage and small businesses, so that nobody goes hungry and nothing is wasted.
The rainbow introduces children to colours and students to science. In turbulent times, the rainbow is a symbol of promise, hope, equality and continuation of love.
I love Singapore’s founding father’s speech where he exhorted us to follow that rainbow and find our pot of gold.
But my favourite rainbow is found in the “Song of the Windhorse” by Venerable Sangharaksita.
“I am the Windhorse! I am thought at its clearest Emotion at its noblest, Energy at its most abundant. I am Reverence. I am Friendliness. I am JOY. Plunging or soaring, I leave behind me A rainbow track.”
Last night I asked the new moon to strengthen our mind so that our thoughts & emotions may have the clarity for us to act wisely & compassionately.
And the Windhorse must have heard my prayer too. 😊
Like the shell’s iridescence remains unaffected by its outward cragginess, may the full moon lend us her light so that the benefits of deeds performed in honesty and with wisdom will continue to shimmer long after the performers are gone. 🙏