“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!

“The Balance of Life”

gold and silver round frame magnifying glass

Life is an exquisite balance

Of holding and letting go

Of taking and giving

There is nothing ever to grasp onto

When everything but the soul

Is impermanent

Coming and going

Just like the passing of the seasons….

So prepare to meet both birth and death

As well as success and failure

With the same calm detachment

And loving acceptance

Of all that is.

“The Perfect Role Model”

time-lapse photography of lake during daytime

A mountain creek

Is the perfect role model

For how to live one’s life…..

It is freely flowing

Eternally peaceful

Filled with purpose

Attached not to any destination

And fearlessly present.

“The Perfect Morning”

time lapse photography of multi-step waterfalls

Wake up

Meditate and pray

Read sacred scriptures

Tend to the garden

Hike through the forest

Swim in a mountain creek

Write some poetry

Eat breakfast mindfully

Give thanks to the One

To be alive another morning.

Mindful Musings: May 5

“The Earth is My Church”

By: Forrest Rivers

three multicolored birds in close-up photography

Chirping birds

Sing their heavenly song

Early in the morning

The rising sun greets

Hungry seekers

Gathered in worship

And the cool air brings

Levity to a new day….

In this church, you see,

There is no priest

Other then the rocks and trees

The mountains and the breeze.

Mindful Musings: May 4

“Inspiration for the Soul”

By: Forrest Rivers

(Abbie taking in the view atop a 12,000 FT peak)

In her eleven plus years on this Earth, my beautiful and inspiring dog Abbie has been speared by a buck(very nearly ending her life), survived two vicious attacks from other dogs(one of which left her with over 50 stitches), consumed an iron packet at the bottom of a dog treat bag that also almost killed her, badly cut her side open on a briar patch(also requiring stitches), cut her paws open twice on glass at the park and even ate a batch of pot edible cookies(Yup another trip to the Pet ER!). Yet, despite enduring so many dramatic and life-threatening events in her journey, after every incident she has bounced back even stronger and more resilient then before. Like the glorious mountains that she hikes nearly each day alongside me, Abbie’s life is a testament to the power of will, courage and faith in the face of adversity. My gratitude could never be expressed in words for the infinite blessings and profound teachings that she has shared with me. Truly, Abbie is the essence of living spirit.

Mindful Musings: Apr 21

“The Loving Shore”

people on beach during daytime

Believe in yourself

And never doubt the tides

That bring you back to shore again

You are simply divine

A miracle

And a strand of pure awareness

Blowing in the wind

To enchant all who are blessed

To cross your path

So, always remember your self worth

And reach for the stars

For your dreams will come true!

Mindful Musings: Apr 20

“The Final Test”

By: Forrest Rivers

gray and brown pagoda temple beside calm body of water at daytime

A celebrated master of a spiritual community deep in the Southern Appalachian Mountains was nearing his death and had a vision that he would drop his body in one month’s time. In the weeks leading up to his passing, Master Changing Winds, as he was affectionally known by all in the community, chose three of his wisest and most beloved disciples (out of a pool of ninety-four) to put through a battery of tests to determine who would succeed him. Following the tradition of his ancestors, he would then select one among the three based on the qualities of courage, devotion, discipline, and humility.  Over the course of three and a half weeks, the three disciples were put through a series of tests that included some of the following: martial arts, a six-day fast, ten days of solitude meditating in the high mountains, three days of intensive volunteer work in the community and the recitation of one-hundred and two sacred mantras. All three seekers performed at the very highest level of a bodhisattva, or an enlightened and compassionate soul. After so many tests and still no clear successor, Master Changing Winds was not the least bit concerned.

On the day before Master Changing Winds was to die, the venerated sage lined up his three devotees, looked them each in the eyes and prepared to put them through their final test. He then called each one forward and asked them one question to which they had to offer an immediate reply. He addressed his first devotee, Timeless Seasons, and asked:

“Death has arrived, now what shall we do?”

Timeless Seasons summoned all the courage within him and then replied:

“Death has arrived so now let us dance, play and sing!”

Master Changing Winds smiled warmly at Timeless Seasons and then called upon his second devotee, Flowing River, and asked her the same question:

“Death has arrived, now what shall we do?”

Flowing River quickly collected her thoughts and replied:

“Death has arrived, now lets us pray together for favorable births in our next lives so that we may serve all sentient beings!”

Once more, Master Changing Winds smiled warmly at his devotee and motioned for his third and final disciple to come forward. He asked the same question again:

Death has arrived, now what shall we do?”

Like Timeless Seasons and Flowing River had done before him, Silent Mountain bowed to his master and began to speak:

“Master, has Death arrived? If so, where did it ever go? Has death not always been present among us like the changing winds, the timeless seasons, the flowing rivers and the silent mountains?”

The old master beamed with delight and exchanged bows with Silent Mountain. Then, very suddenly, his body began convulsing and he fell to the floor and died. Timeless Seasons and Flowing River ran immediately over to Master Changing Winds and began sobbing:

“Master, please don’t leave us! How can we go on without you!”

As Timeless Seasons and Flowing River struggled to process the passing of their beloved teacher and sage, Silent Mountain stood in stoic silence. He then knelt to the ground, wiped a few tears from his eyes and quietly recited a prayer that his now late master had once taught him:

“As we all grow old, the ocean tides they come and go. Life is an eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. May the heavens always guide our souls through the darkness of night only to awake again in light.”

To the complete astonishment of all three disciples, Master Changing Winds opened his eyes at the exact moment Silent Mountain stopped speaking. Standing in disbelief, Flowing River stammered:

“But how can this be? Your breathing ceased before us! Let us all behold this miracle!”

Master Changing Winds got to his feet and spoke in a calm and gentle tone:

“What you just witnessed was an ancient practice to curtail one’s own breath. The monks of old practiced this technique for the purpose of mastering their own minds. The faking of my death and your reactions to it was your final test. I wanted to see which one of you would display the greatest degree of acceptance and equanimity in the face of our greatest existential fear. “

The old sage paused again and then turned and bowed to each of the devoted seekers. He then continued to speak:

“You have each made me proud and honored to be your teacher. I regard each of you as a holy being. Tomorrow, I will depart this world and go beyond the Void once more to commune with the spirits of our ancestors. And according to tradition, I must choose a successor to carry on the sacred teachings. I have made my decision who that person will be. Silent Mountain, please come kneel before me. In the face of my dying, you perfectly demonstrated both the acceptance and equanimity of a fully realized being. Tomorrow, I will hold a farewell gathering with the entire community present as is also custom for the passing of a spiritual leader. Tomorrow, I will also introduce you, Silent Mountain, as the next leader of our community. May peace and goodwill be your candle and flame as you humbly guide your devotees to enlightenment. “

Silent Mountain bowed to Changing Winds, Timeless Seasons and Flowing River and all four wept out of joy, hope, sorrow and relief to know the ancient teachings would continue on.

The following morning, the whole community gathered in a beautiful lush green valley cradled by majestic blue mountains. They were there to celebrate the life and imminent passing of their beloved teacher through song, dance, and storytelling. As Master Changing Wind’s final moments drew near, the entire community formed a large circle around him and then began chanting and tossing flower petals upon him. The old holy man sat cross legged in the middle of the circle smiling radiantly at all of his disciples. Keeping with tradition, he then motioned for his successor, Silent Mountain, to sit down beside him as he removed his white robe and swapped it for his successor’s red one. The two then put on their new robes and bowed to one another as Master Changing Winds returned to Lotus position, closed his eyes, took three deep breaths and passed away. Within moments after his death, Silent Mountain then turned to his community and back again to his beloved teacher and solemnly read aloud the same prayer he had recited to himself only the day before when he thought his master had died:

            “As we all grow old, the ocean tides they come and go. Life is an eternal cycle of birth, death and rebirth. May the heavens always guide our souls through the darkness of night only to awake again in light.”

Just as the bridge of life connects the mysterious cycle of birth and death, so too, did master and disciple come to share the thread of cosmic awareness.

Mindful Musings: Apr 9

“You are a Cosmic Artist”

assorted-color paints

You are a cosmic artist

And your life is one big canvass

So, work on your painting all day

With the passion of a Picasso

And the spirit of a Christ….

Don’t waste this precious opportunity

You have been given

To live and inspire!

Mindful Musings: Apr 6th

“Life is Worth Living”

body of water during sunset

The morning sun

Rises

Reminding hearts

Filled with yearning

That life is worth living

That life is worth trying

You decide your fate

You decide the time

To become

like the wisdom of the One

Smiling

upon all beings

With the blessing

And simple truth

Of loving kindness.

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.