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Touching A Magic Chord

March 2, 2015 6 comments

stenciled cave hand

Archaeologists argue the actual date when the first painter stenciled his hand onto cave walls, somewhere in the vicinity of 40,000 years ago. Earliest man was compelled to make a mark, to leave something behind. A memory of him. A gift to us. The human hand is a powerful symbol of our human potential. Flesh and blood, our life coursing through our veins, from our hearts to our hands, and into our sensitive fingers. Touch is how we experience the world.

The hand can reach and grasp: a tool, a paintbrush, a pen, a weapon. Perhaps its greatest strength is what it conveys through gesture, in both the secular and sacred world. Our non verbal communication is a affirmation that something beyond words connects us. The symbolism of a hand gesture may only be within the context of esoteric rite or ritual and known only to that community. Or, it may extend itself to the global family. Our communal symbols and signs are how we experience the world.

From the shameless to the sublime, we know what gestures signify. It is the rudeness of giving someone the proverbial finger. Thumbs up, thumbs down. The calm of the open V peace sign, the power of the fist clenched in solidarity. Deliverance. Defiance. The Hindu and Buddhist mudras. Hands in prayer. The bending of ring finger and pinky in benediction blessing as a sign of the Trinity. A kohen (priest) forming the Hebrew letter “Shin” with both hands, fingers split (“shin” also represents the word Shaddai, a name for God) to confer a blessing.

In an episode of television’s Star Trek called Amok Time, Leonard Nimoy‘s character, Mr. Spock, half human, half alien, is introducing us to other people of his Vulcan race. We are glimpsing an alien greet his alien community. To signify the moment, and to create a richness of their culture and civility, Nimoy created the single hand, split finger version of the kohen’s Hebrew blessing he had seen as a boy. The Vulcan race, with its manner of ritual, of greeting, of community, offers the sign to one another with its message: “Live long and prosper.” It was the power of the hand, the strength of its gesture. Nimoy said that it “touched a magic chord.” It did. We immediately understood.

vulcan sign

nimoy

Leonard Nimoy died on Friday, February 27, 2015. He was 83. He has left his mark, his memory, and his gift to us, in that same unending way as the early man stenciling his hand on a cave wall. To the far reaches of space, where words and time hold no sway, the enduring image remains.

Spock

Orbiting 250 miles (400 km) above earth on the International Space Station, NASA astronaut Terry Virts commemorated the passing of Leonard Nimoy with the Vulcan hand gesture. To the right of Virt’s hand is Nimoy’s home state, Massachusetts, though Leonard Nimoy’s world would become so much bigger. We give the greeting to Mr. Nimoy, who gave it to us, this one last time. We offer it in softest silence, as he, now with his fully human heart at rest, makes his voyage to the eternal frontier.

The Beatles

February 9, 2014 2 comments

beatles 50th

THE FAB FOUR

Raphael – The group’s bad boy. Rebellious, he doesn’t like anyone telling him what to do. His personality can be fierce and sarcastic, with a deadpan humor.
Weapon: Twin Sais. Color: Red

Leonardo – The level-headed tactician and responsible one. Creative. Protective. He has strong leadership qualities. As a result, he sometimes conflicts with Raphael.
Weapon: Twin Katanas. Color: Blue

Donatello – Less outspoken, a calmer, more reserved member of the group. He is the the wise one, and though quiet, he is intense. The least violent in the group, he uses peaceful methods to solve conflicts, but never hesitates to defend his brothers. He is a Ninjitsu master.
Weapon: Bo Staff. Color: Purple

Michelangelo – Easy-going, fun-loving, athletic. He is often the comic relief in the group, with his physical antics and carefree style. While he loves to relax, he also has an adventurous side. He knows how to wield those sticks!
Weapon: Nunchakus. Color: Orange


Wait a minute! These aren’t the Beatles, they’re the Ninja Turtles. Or — are they?
But…it WAS 50 years today when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
And here’s another clue for you all: Leonardo was Paul.

beatles 50th

Nelson Mandela

December 6, 2013 2 comments

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

In Chinese, Wu De means martial virtue.
“De” is the “de” in the Tao De Ching, and it ultimately represents spiritual, transcendent power.

Nelson Mandela epitomized the term in every way. Martial Virtue: strength, courage, integrity, beauty, restraint, forgiveness, peace.

The purest form of spirit. And the most powerful.

Guest post @ brianbrownewalker.com

martial virtue


Usi Letela Uxolo – Mandela Brings Us Peace

Water Cooperation: No Fighting

March 22, 2013 2 comments

Photo by Toni Tan


“Be formless, shapeless, like water,” said Bruce Lee, echoing the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu.

Written over two thousand years ago, Sun Tzu’s classic treatise Art of War uses water as a metaphor for strategies in managing conflict.

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is Water Cooperation.

We are facing growing issues surrounding water, conflict and survival. March 22 is World Water Day, and the start of World Water Week. The focus is to promote peace in transboundary water management through cooperation, not conflict. International waters are key natural resources ensuring our global future. Where they touch on more than one country, or are intercepted by a nation upstream, they are also a source of tension.

Conflicts arise among leaders, as these transboundary issues are deeply rooted in emotions –- water is necessary for survival. And it defines a culture’s opportunity for advancement. The challenge is not only to provide a sustainable clean water system, it is also learning to manage and share resources in an equitable way. Understanding historical water disputes and related treaties provide signposts for conflict resolution and aides in developing strategies for the future. Focusing on cooperation and joint action is essential to vital transboundary waters.

The resolution process requires a tremendous effort, great skill, programs and money. It also calls for awareness. Here’s how you can get involved

Lao Tze said, “The highest good is like water. Water nourishes the ten thousand things.”

Both water and cooperation are precious. Water is life. Communication is the path. No fighting.

Toni Tan

World Water Day

International Women’s Day

Speak Truth

March 8, 2013. It is a day to imagine balance. And to celebrate the work of equilibrium. Achievement. Justice.

It is a day of global awareness…celebrating women — past and present, with the courage to make their voices heard. And for the future — the songs and struggles of daughters everywhere in this world, who deserve the human right to live their lives in balance and in peace…

Peace in our lives. Peace in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.

Equity in our lives. Equity in our homes, our streets, our cities and towns, our countries, our world. OUR world.

Speak the truth even if your voice shakes….

Toni

International Women’s Day

IWD

Ode To Joy

December 24, 2012 2 comments

MAY YOU FIND A JOYFUL SURPRISE AND PEACE IN THE MOMENT…

Into The Light

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Into The Light

Photo courtesy imgur.com



In astronomy, the seasons move in celestial cycles. As the earth rotates around the sun, it also spins on its own axis, which tilts towards the plane of its rotation (about 23.5 degrees). The northern hemisphere receives less direct sunlight. Days of less and less light, moving towards the birth of winter and a new year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, unmoving on the horizon solstice translates from latin “sun” and “standing still”. The northern hemisphere experiences its annual winter solstice. This marks the shortest day. It is also the longest night. Then, the sun will again ascend in the northern sky as the days begin to grow longer. It is the Earth returning to light.

In the days growing shorter, with darkness falling around us, we enter into our own dark time of sorts. The darkness is considered the space where secrets lurk, and creatures stir –- the vampires and monsters, the underbelly’s destructive and chaotic forces. Our own fears and failings are in that darkness too. It’s a time for assessing who we are, and where we are – in our selves, in our homes, in our community, and in our world. It is a burning and bruising time to examine our collective spirit.

It is an intensified time of natural disasters and man made crisis. In a year of endless suffering – hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, fiscal woes, foreclosures, job loss, war, and violence, it seems that what lurks in the secret, dark corners, at great expense, is being flushed out. Many of us have been knocked down and heart broken in the process.

On the darkest day in the celestial cycle, today is a day of mourning for the loss of lives at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

During the shortest day and the longest night of the year it is a time for illumination. Turn on a lamp, light candles, build a fire: it is a time for rational conversation, compassion and change. The sun, from its lowest point, will follow night and make it way back up into the northern sky. There will be a little more light every day.

The question is: will we use it wisely?

Toni Tan