“A Miracle in the Town Square”

man in orange robe standing on gray concrete floor during daytime

One day an arrogant and wealthy politician encountered a monk at the center of the town square. The monk, clad in a flowing orange robe with a begging cup in hand, did not pay the politician any notice. He just strolled slowly by the prominent man with eyes staring straight ahead absorbed in a walking meditation.  Enraged at having not been acknowledged, the politician ran up behind the monk and aggressively grabbed him by the arm and said:

“Don’t you know who I am? Everyone bows down before me!”

The monk locked eyes with the politician for a few seconds and then suddenly began laughing hysterically out loud. Growing even more enraged, the powerful and famous man raised his fists in the air and threatened the monk with violence. He then demanded to know what was so funny. Still laughing, the monk pointed down at the politician’s feet. The politician looked embarrassingly down at his feet and saw that he was standing in a pile of fresh cow dung! As the politician bent down to clean the dung off his shoes, the monk stood over him and said:

“I think I remember who you are now. You are that former politician turned humble servant of his people. Now allow me to help you clean the cow dung off your shoes.”

 At that moment it has been said that a great miracle took place. An arrogant and wealthy politician was transformed into a kind and humble servant for the poorest and most oppressed among his people.

“The Heart Jewel”

pink lotus flower in bloom

In the lotus of the heart

There is a jewel

That is so precious and so rare

That not even the most seasoned gem hunter

Could find it….

Not of this world

But yet in it

This jewel vibrates to the beat of love

Like noble saints marching

To and From their temples

To serve all beings with boundless compassion….

This pure jewel

Living in your heart center

Can always be heard

Chanting it’s eternal song:

OM MANI PADME HUM.

“Words from a Wise Man”

Hold Yourself accountable each day

Be mindful of your thoughts

Be kind with your words

And be loving with your actions…..

Try not to judge others

And be fully open to the unique teachings

That each moment offers

Compassionate wisdom

That should be your goal.

“Meanderings Down the Path”

photo of soil road surrounded by trees

When I first started down the path I was consumed by the goal of one day becoming enlightened. Then, I traveled down the path a little more and that desire began to gradually fade away. Now, as I find myself slightly further down the path I see that even the concept of enlightenment is a distraction and a potential trap from getting on with the truly all-important spiritual work of becoming a compassionate, humble and peaceful being.

“Blessings of a Wise Being”

red and gold great buddha ceramic figurine in closeup photo

If one is truly fortunate, a rare wise being will come into their lives. When you meet such a person you immediately feel that you are in the presence of someone who really knows something about life and how to live it. Such a being’s individual nuances, background and spiritual point of connection may vary; but always the characteristics of their souls are the same. They are as humble as the roots of trees, are filled with boundless compassion, live to serve their communities and embrace life’s most challenging moments as golden opportunities to grow in their faith. Such wise beings also live simply without any attachment to material things, show gratitude each and every day and have rascally sense of humors! But above all, people of wisdom live fully and authentically in the consciousness of that underlying reality called God or Tao. It is clear through spending even a minute in their presence, that such beings have discovered an eternal well of love within them. To share time in their presence is to drink the sweet nectar from the Divine itself and to bask in the light of its grace. If you have met just such a being absorb all of their teachings and model your life after them!

Mindful Musings: Apr 30th

“Seeds of Karma: A Short Story”

By: Forrest Rivers

two men sitting on road

One day, a very wealthy banking executive by the name of Jeffrey Goodwin was walking down the street in New York City just a few blocks from his office for lunch when a homeless woman grabbed his attention. The young woman, who was around 25 years old, waved him down and said in a polite voice:

“Sir, could you spare some change? I have fallen on difficult times.”

The 55-year-old banker, who was dressed in an expensive Armani suit, stared dismissively at the young woman and said in an arrogant tone:

“I worked hard for my money, why should I help you? “

The banker then proceeded to carry on his way but not before the homeless woman recaptured his attention by calling him out by his childhood name:

“Jeffey, I am very disappointed in you. I did not raise you this way. Don’t you remember when your mother used to bring you to soup kitchens when you were but a teenager to serve meals to those in need just like me?”

Taken aback, Jeffrey Goodwin stopped cold in his tracks and turned to face the woman who was 30 years younger and said:

“How do you know my childhood name? And, who told you that my mother used to bring me to soup kitchens when I was young?”

The homeless woman stared adoringly at the wall street elite standing before her and whispered the words:

“I know these things because I was your mother before I passed away when you were the same age I am now. “

Jeffrey Goodwin suddenly dropped to his knees and began sobbing uncontrollably for the first time since his mother’s death all those years ago. He then stared the young woman right in her eyes and said:

“But how can this be? How is it even possible for you to have died and then to retrun in a new body. I don’t think I understand!”

The young woman, who was in fact his mother from her previous life, hugged the banker and shared what wisdom she had:

“The Universe is a mysterious web of wonder, dear son. About three years ago, I roamed through India for a period of time and met a venerated sage. And he taught me that reincarnation is a fixed and eternal law of the cosmos. Everything is born, then it dies and then it is reborn again. My child, just as the butterfly sheds its cocoon at its moment of transformation from a caterpillar, the soul sheds its body at its moment of transformation from form back into the deathless realm of pure spirit. And, after the soul sheds its body, it then wonders about freely without any hindrance into the mystical planes. But inevitably, the day finally arrives when the soul, pulled by its own karma, chooses to leave the sanctuary of its celestial heavens to take birth once again in a body to continue its journey of truth and enlightenment. “

Astounded at what he had just heard, the wealthy banker then asked the woman in a semi-skeptical tone:

“But how do you know that what your teacher, or whatever you call him, was telling you the truth?”

The young woman smiled and simply said:

“For one a true sage never lies. Most importantly, I experienced the truth of his words directly. One day, while meditating with him and some of his disciples high in the mountains, I had several visions myself from a previous life as your mother. In those visions, I discovered that you, dear one, are my link to the timeless wheel of birth and death!”

For the first time since meeting her, the banker looked upon the homeless woman with great reverence.  Within his own heart he now heard the truth of her words speak. Oblivious to the loud background noise of the city, the reunited mother and son rejoiced in a long and joyous moment of silence together. Finally, the banker broke their awe-filled moment and summoned the courage to ask his mother a question that now arose in his mind:

“If I may ask, why did our paths cross here in this improbable setting of New York City? Afterall, you raised me in the country. How is it that we are meeting here?”

In response, the homeless woman laughed and said:

“All I can say is that it was our seeds of karma to appear, here, in this moment of space and time so you could remember that there exists no power stronger in this universe then love. “

Tears streamed down the face of the wealthy banker as he began to feel great shame for all his greedy and selfish behavior. He thought of all the people like his reincarnated mother whom he had brutally judged and ridiculed for their suffering. And he thought of the lies that he had told countless people to convince them to sign away what little savings they had to fatten his own wallet. In that moment of deep reflection, Jeffrey Goodwin experienced great regret for a life wasted in pursuit of ignoble aims. Right then and there, he resolved to use his immense wealth to create a foundation to serve the homeless and all people suffering in poverty. And he just now happened to know the perfect person to appoint as both his personal spiritual advisor and director of a campaign to serve the poor with the spirit of loving kindness.

Mindful Musings: Apr 19

“Many Paths to the Top”

person in red top waling beside mountain

Picture hiking up a great and formidable mountain. Then take note of the numerous routes that can be traveled to its venerable peak. Some routes up are smooth and direct. Others, more jagged and circuitous. Still some paths to the top are exceedingly difficult and maybe even borderline daunting to the novice hiker. Yet, all routes end at the same majestic peak. Here’s the catch though: You don’t know that there exist alternative routes up until you arrive at the mountain top and see other hikers emerge from divergent trails. It is only then when you realize that all paths lead to the same breathtaking pinnacle of oneness. Our differing spiritual faiths are those paths and the mountain top is the God/Goddess that they all lead too. There is no correct way to IT. There is not only one savior. All faiths equally ascend to the same exalted peak of peace and stillness.

Mindful Musings: Apr 13

“Form Transcended”

selective focus photography of green grass

The blunt blade of logic

Can not hide

The underlying reality

That lives in the space

Of each passing moment….

Nor can the alarming currents greed

Muddy the clear waters of meditation

True spirit cannot be extinguished

By those who remain steadfast

In their devotion…..

And true spirit cannot be corrupted

By the passing side show of separation

Great beings with love and compassion

Are here to guide us amidst the storm

Of Ego’s pride.

Mindful Musings: Apr 7

“Heart of Wisdom”

men's yellow traditional dress

Academia gives birth

To false pursuits of wisdom

The State gives birth

To brutal horrors of war

Industry gives birth

To savage inequalities

The church gives birth

To the perversion of spirituality….

So, the man of wisdom

lies in wait

Opting instead

To remain fulfilled in stillness

But ever ready is he

To receive the foolish

with open arms and an open heart

For in truth he knows

That he is also them.

Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE.

Mindful Musings: Mar 16

“The King who Served for One Day”

By: Forrest Rivers

Once upon a time, there was a great king who after many years of intense meditation practice and reading the scriptures ascended to the throne in the wake of his father’s passing. On the afternoon of his first day in power the King called over his devoted assistant and said:

“Oh, beloved friend please bring before me the most impoverished couple in the kingdom.”

In no time at all the assistant appeared with an elderly couple wearing nothing but rags and carrying alms cups in their hands. The king felt great shame in his heart for his father’s dreadful neglect of the poor. He then locked eyes with the couple and said:

“Thank you for journeying all this way. How may I make my kingdom of service to you?”

The couple bowed and took two nervous steps forward in the king’s direction. The old woman then spoke:

“Your majesty we stand before you with great reverence. The truth is we work hard but we haven’t eaten in six days. We would simply ask for a respite from our grinding life of poverty. “

In a display of overflowing love, the king hugged the pair and gave them a year’s worth of food, brand new clothes and enough gold coins so they would never have to work a day in their lives again.  The couple cried tears of gratitude and then went on their way.

Later that same day the king once again called over his devoted assistant and said:

Oh, beloved friend please bring before me the two most diseased people in the kingdom.”

In no time at all the assistant appeared with one young man and one young woman who were groaning in agony. The king stared at the pair with deep compassion for their ill state of health and said:

Thank you for journeying all this way. How may I make my kingdom of service to you?”

The two bowed to the king as the young man spoke:

“Your majesty it is a great honor to be here in your presence. As you can see, we have both been robbed of our youth by this scourge of leprosy. We would love nothing more than to have our health restored.”

With overwhelming empathy for the pair’s suffering, the king summoned the best healers in the kingdom and set them upon the task of curing the two lepers. Within just three hours the healers gathered and successfully cured the pair of their disease right there before him in the palace. In disbelief, the two former lepers cried tears of joy and went on their way.

As dusk set upon the kingdom, the young but saintly king called over his devoted assistant once more and said:

“Oh, beloved friend please bring before me the two most oppressed people in the kingdom.”

In no time at all the assistant appeared with a middle-aged couple. They were visibly malnourished and had terrible scars from endless days of dangerous toil across their faces and arms. Recalling his own life of luxury, the king felt not only empathy for their suffering but disgust at the injustice they had endured under his father’s rule. The king stared at the couple and said:

“Thank you for journeying all this way. How may I make my kingdom of service to you?”

This time the pair of visitors fell down to their knees and began sobbing. The oppressed man spoke first:

“We have been beaten, starved and forced to toil in the mines. All we have known is great sadness and despair. “

The oppressed woman then spoke:

“After so many years of enslavement we are both resigned to our lot in life. All we ask is freedom for all our brothers and sisters who labor in servitude next to us. That is all we request.”

The king’s heart was so moved by the selfless words of the oppressed couple that he too dropped to his knees and said:

“May your wish be granted. At this moment I here by abandon my right of succession to the throne and turn over the kingdom to you two wise servants of the poor and downtrodden. May it fall upon you to end the enslavement of our people and restore justice across the land. And may your first decree as king and queen be to liberate all those humble souls who produce the wealth for this kingdom. “

In response to the King’s words, the oppressed couple began chanting sacred incantations to this great king of love and compassion. The king then left his final instructions to his assistant to introduce the new royal couple the following morning and show all the people proof of his seal of approval anointing them as his successors.

The next morning at the first crack of dawn, the now kingdom less king packed a bag full of food and supplies and set off by foot eight miles (about 13 KM) into the surrounding mountains to a storied peak where many seekers before him had gone in search of their enlightenment.  After a challenging four hour climb through the breathtaking pine forests he at last arrived at the top of the majestic mountain. The king walked over to the edge of the peak and looked off in awe at the glorious vistas ahead. He then sat down in the lotus position and began to meditate. But just as he began to close his eyes and tune in to his own breath, he heard an unknown but tender female voice surround him that spoke with the wisdom of the ages. This mysterious voice said:

“Thank you for journeying all this way. How can my kingdom be of service to you?”

Astounded, the king recognized the voice that repeated the question he had once asked as belonging to the mountain. Beaming with joy, the king then replied to the mountain’s familiar question:

“All of my life I have intuitively known that power and riches are not the measure of a man or of a life worth living. I have journeyed to your rarefied abode in search of the deepest wisdom.

After a long moment of silence, the wise mountain spoke once more:

“Great King, you have already discovered the deepest wisdom. When you alleviated the suffering of the poor couple you embodied the deepest wisdom. When you gathered all the kingdom’s best healers to cure the two lepers you embodied the deepest wisdom. And when you gave up your kingdom to the oppressed couple so that all the commoners could at once be free you embodied the deepest wisdom. Now that you have journeyed all this way I invite you to stay with me for a period of 45 days and 45 nights. On the 45th day a great surprise shall await you.”

And so, the king stayed on the mountain for the entire duration of 45 days and 45 nights and learned all the secrets of enlightenment from his new guru.

 Finally, on the 45th day two mysterious pilgrims arrived at the King’s cave that was located just below the summit of the majestic mountain. The pair appeared wearing head scarves to mask their true identities. The king silently motioned for them to sit down on the ground in front of him. The two pilgrims obliged his request and began to remove their scarves. To the king’s great surprise, the two people seated in front of him were the oppressed couple whom he had turned his kingdom over too six weeks before. The former oppressed woman then spoke:

“Noble one, we have journeyed here to confirm the rumors that a holy man truly lives atop this mountain. “

The former oppressed man then said:

“Now that we have confirmed that the rumors are true we humbly ask that you return to the kingdom and serve as spiritual advisor to our kingdom. The people have been released from their heavy bonds of servitude and what they now desire is to pursue the path of self-realization. You, Great King, can help lead them there. “

Overwhelmed with joy, the former king turned holy man enthusiastically accepted the royal couple’s offer. Before setting back off to the kingdom the following morning, the three esteemed guests of the mystical mountain spent the 45th evening of the king’s retreat in a soulful night of prayer. And as the three prayed together for the kingdom’s peace and good fortune, they each swore that they heard the voice of the mountain speak to them with these parting words:

“May your kingdom always be of service.”

Forrest Rivers is a writer and teacher who lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. His new book, COVID-19 and Humanity’s Spiritual Awakening is now available on Amazon HERE.