The Power of Word

Discussion in 'Dog Brothers Martial Arts' started by Crafty Dog, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    In the DBMA logo, both our intelligence and our animal drives are in service of the heart-- I refer here to the "heart" of "mind, heart, and balls" appearing at the top of the triangle.

    In my home system, Inosanto-Lacoste Kali, there are 12 areas within the Art-- the 12th being Spiritual.

    Here's something I wrote a few years ago-- please note I ask for respect of our copyright. Please do not paste it elsewhere, though you may paste the URL elsewhere so that people come here.
    ================================

    The Power of Word (c) DBI 2007
    by Crafty Dog

    Scientific Progress is achieved by REDUCING the number of principles
    necessary to explain the physical world. Spiritual Progress is this process
    applied to the discernment of the essential principles by which to live.

    Taking an understanding taken from The Church of Religious Science
    and putting it into my own words: To the extent that a religion is true,
    it can be reduced to a body of principles/rules which can be applied
    scientifically. An interesting thought this!

    Of course, these principles/rules are never the exclusive purview of any one
    group or discipline-- quite the contrary-- so it is no surprise that the
    Pope should recently have stated that the God must be a god of Reason.
    The Church of Religious Science and the Catholic Church may come from
    different parts of the religious spectrum, but it seems they seek the same
    essence.

    In the story of my people, at the time of the creation of the Covenant, God
    gave us the 10 Commandments. Seems reasonable to think that the our God
    thought these rules real important, as did later on the God of the
    Christians.

    And, as time goes by, I begin to realize that I am still working on them.

    So lets look at one of them, the one that speaks of not taking the Lord's
    name in vain:

    In Genesis, before the beginning there was nothing. Into that nothingness
    came the word of God. On each of the first six days, this is what happened:
    "And God SAID let there be , , , , and it was so." To create, God had only
    to speak-- the Power of Word, the Crystallization of Thought. Using his
    word, he made us in his image and breathed the breath of life into us and
    told us, once fruitful, to multiply. By receiving the breath of life from
    the Creator, we become part of the Creator.

    In other words, WE SPEAK WITH THE CREATIVE POWER OF WORD
    GIVEN US BY GOD.

    This I think is the true meaning of the Commandment commonly translated
    from the original ancient Hebrew though the Greek, the Latin, the various
    permutations of English into "Thou shall not take God's name in vain." It
    is not that God cares whether we cuss, it is that we should take care to
    what
    we put the Power of our Word.

    I would add an additional point: THIS WORD MUST BE EXPRESSED
    IN POSITIVES, NOT NEGATIVES. For example, God does not say
    "No more darkness". He says what he DOES want: "Let there be , , ,"
    Similarly in our lives the idea is to express ourselves positively. For
    example, to say "Remember to , , ," instead of "Don't forget to , , ,"

    To apply this to everything in one's life is a transformational experience.

    One example of the creative power of word is Prayer. Many people doubt
    prayer. They are good people; they pray for something; and then it doesn't
    happen.

    There is an old Jewish parable about this of the man who follows all the
    detailed rules of the Torah. He's a good man. For many years he regularly
    prays to God to win the lottery. No lottery. Finally he gets mad and
    demands of God why, after his good life and his respect for God's rules,
    does not God grant his prayer to win the lottery.

    God answers, "Help me out. Buy a ticket."

    We note in passing the idea that in this parable Man can and does argue
    with God, but that is a discussion for another day. For our purpose here,
    the moral of this tale is that "Our Action must be Aligned with
    our Prayer and our Word to Create its Reality".

    copyright 2007 Dog Brothers Inc.
     
  2. Raw_Prime

    Raw_Prime New Member

    Guro Crafty,
    Thank you for that. My Pastor told us a version of that story also. "Buy a ticket."
    YES! I'll give credit where credit is surely due but I'll bring this post up at Men Bible Study soon.
     
  3. ninjaJay

    ninjaJay New Member

    I never thought about the “thou shalt not take the lords name in vein” commandment in that light before. I never understood why God would care. When I’ve asked religious friends in the past they haven’t been able provide and adequate answer. So thank you Crafty.

    I am a big believer in the power of words when it’s aligned with your thoughts and actions.
     
  4. wes tasker

    wes tasker New Member

    Nice article... It reminds me again why I like the works of Buber, Heschel, Scholem, and Lerner...

    -wes tasker
     
  5. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    "He Had His Art" (c)
    by Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny

    Several years back, a man I had fought at a "Dog Brothers Gathering" went
    out behind his school and blew his brains out. He was involved in intense
    law enforcement work and I was told that his marriage was ending. He left
    two daughters and a separated wife.

    He was a part of the extended Inosanto Tribe as well the Dog Brothers tribe
    and so I mentioned it to Guro Inosanto. He was surprised, and instantly
    exclaimed "How could he have done that? He had his Art!"

    As I tried explaining how perhaps there had been gremlins planted or
    unleashed by his work, and that perhaps he had cracked as his family was
    breaking up, Guro seemed to not even care what the reasons were-- he had his
    Art and why had he not turned to it?

    I certainly had no answer in his case, but began to reflect upon the Art and
    its larger role in life.

    At its core level, martial arts is about Love, the belief that you (and
    those you wish to protect) are worthy of defending from the Aggression of
    others.

    So what is Aggression for?

    In DBMA we often look at things through a lens of evolutionary
    biology-psychology and speak of the three reasons for Aggression: Territory,
    Hierarchy, and Reproduction. There is much value in this perspective-- but
    we do not experience our lives in terms of evolution.

    We experience our lives as individuals living the time we have. As men,
    this usually means we are The Protector. The Protector faces a great
    dichotomy-- he must be ready to connect with his Darkness in order to
    neutralize or defeat the Darkness of others-- and at the same time be
    conscious of his own Shadow tricking him into being the Problem instead of
    the Solution. The greater this dichotomy, the profounder the transformation
    that results from balancing its halves successfully.

    Thus, as a natural person living with our Intelligence and our Animal
    Natures in service of our Heart, (I refer here to the three corners of the
    triangle of the DBMA emblem: "Mind, Heart & Balls") we come to "the three
    H's of Bando: Hurting, Healing, and Harmonizing".

    Typically we come to the Art seeking to learn how to Hurt. In the process
    of learning to do so, we too are hurt, and thus develop the need to Heal
    ourselves. With this beginning experience of our own mortality, with
    empathy we learn to see others as no different from us. From there, an
    Awareness is available which takes us through a portal to different way of
    seeing things. It is to realize that the darkness we recognize in others,
    named by Carl Jung "the Shadow", is also within us, and those with whom we
    conflict the most have a Shadow most like our own --a truly annoying and
    challenging thought this is! Yet, by so doing we bring consciousness to our
    solutions to Aggression. As Jung said in the words opening the first video
    in our first series, "The idea is not to imagine figures of light, but to
    make the darkness conscious."

    The Art becomes seen not as a matter of doing Aggression well, but of
    dealing well with it-which may or may not be a matter of doing it "better"
    than The Other. In other words, we become increasingly able to engage with
    others in a Harmonious way, and become increasingly inaccessible to hostile
    intentions, provocations or neurosis on the part of others.

    And the more grounded we are in this space, the clearer and more effective
    we should be in our will to act when circumstances require-and as surely as
    no one beats everyone, equally sure it is that there can be times and places
    beyond one's ability to harmonize. If the flying fickle finger of Fate puts
    you on Flight 93, it is time to say "Lets Roll."

    Those who dedicate their lives to protecting others (soldiers, policemen,
    prison guards, etc) deal with those with whom efforts at harmonization may
    well be suicidal. These Protectors face the dichotomy in particularly acute
    form. I remember a conversation with my good friend and hero, Dogzilla - a
    federal prison guard. We were speaking as we often do, of his life at work.
    He runs the kitchen (a truly weapon intense environment) and is on the cell
    extraction team-particularly high adrenal jobs both. "How do you do it, day
    after day, keeping alert surrounded by bad men with nothing better to do for
    the next 20 years than to study you for weakness and opportunity to exploit
    it? How do you go into a cell to extract a criminally insane man in a
    psychotic killing state and drag him out without becoming that?" I asked
    him.

    "That's not the hardest part" he answered. "The hardest part is getting in
    my truck at the end of the day and not going off on all the jerks on the
    road and going home to my wife and little girl and walking in the door in a
    state of love."

    "So how do you do it?"

    "I have my Art. (Those words again!) I go out back and train. I train to
    be able to move through a room full of men looking to take me down and kill
    or make me pregnant and get out the door at the far side of the room and
    make it home to my family. I enter into the space where I am capable of
    whatever it takes. When I am done tuning up my body, when I am done
    discharging all the fear and all the unexpressed anger, and I know that I
    have trained with what Don Juan called 'impeccability', then my workout is
    done and I am ready for both my job and for my family."
     
  6. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    The first creation was Time. It began and it will end and then it will be no more. Each breath, each tick, each beat of the heart comes only once. None will ever repeat itself precisely. Every instant of life is a raw but precious stone, beckoning, saying, "Unleash my potential, unlock my secret, do with me something to reveal my purpose of being! For I am here only this one time, and then never again."

    And so that is our primary mission: To elevate time and make it holy.

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/58069/jewish/Time-is-Sacred.htm#comment
     
  7. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    "Whatever you give a woman, she will make greater. If you give her sperm, she'll give you a baby. If you give her a house, she'll give you a home. If you give her groceries, she'll give you a meal. If you give her a smile, she'll give you her heart. She multiplies and enlarges what is given to her. So, if you give her any crap, be ready to receive a ton of *****."
     
  8. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Confederate Soldier's prayer

    Confederate Soldier's Prayer

    http://www.chosunjournal.com/confed.html

    I asked God for strength, that I might achieve,
    I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.

    I asked God for health, that I might do greater things,
    I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

    I asked for riches, that I might be happy,
    I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

    I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men,
    I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

    I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life,
    I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

    I got nothing that I asked for
    - but everything I had hoped for.

    Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
    I am among men, most richly blessed.

    http://www.chosunjournal.com/confed.html
     
  9. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    "Tao of the Dog and the Why of DBMA"

    "The Tao of the Dog &
    The Why of Dog Brothers Martial Arts" (c DBI 2000?)
    by Guro Crafty
    All rights reserved etc.

    I am often asked about the our name, "the Dog Brothers." It can be explained on many levels, but one of my favorite ways of looking at it can be found in a newspaper article by one Jeff McMahon:

    "Most actions of men can be explained by observing a pack of dogs. Not wild dogs, just neighborhood dogs who all scurry under the fence on the same night and set off together to reclaim a glimmer of the glory their species possessed before domestication."

    I think that's right. The dog is the interface of man and the wolf and we can connect so strongly because our dynamics are so similar. Even as we change the wolf into the dog to suit our purposes, we still need its glimmer as wolf. In some breeds, and in certain individual dogs, the glimmer is brighter than others, and that is why you see an Akita named Zapata in our logo.

    I know the Dog Brothers have a good reputation for airing it out pretty well, but we know what we do is well short of combat, death matches of yore in the Philippines, or a policeman going into an abandoned building after a bad guy. It is important not to take oneself too seriously, and I like the way the quote captures a certain perspective on the Dog Brothers. We are not wolves, we are but human dogs.

    Still, it is important to be aware of something else too. Yes we are but a pack of dogs, and just like dogs we have territory, and hierarchy, and squabbles over the , , , females. But there is something more. Just like dogs, there is the bond of the pack.

    The bond and aggression go hand in hand. ALL animals with individual relationships (wolves, monkeys, geese, dogs, humans etc.) also have aggression. Animals lacking the ability to discriminate between other members of their species, e.g. minnows, do not. The presence of aggression does not always mean that there is a bond with other individuals, but a bond with other individuals always means there is aggression.

    Aggression is an instinct, even as sex is an instinct. And just as a man eventually will have a nocturnal emission in the absence of sex, so too aggression will discharge eventually even in the absence of "legitimate" cause. Thus all efforts at eliminating the causes of aggression can be seen in scientific terms as inherently doomed efforts to prevent a instinctual discharge by means of eliminating its typical eliciting stimuli. To the extent that the efforts to eliminate the eliciting stimuli succeed, the discharge of the aggression becomes less predictable and often more dangerous. Skill in aggression will be needed from time to time, especially by those lacking skill and will. The solution is to ground aggression in a ritual expression that also prepares it for functional application.

    Aggression has three purposes in nature. First, to spread a species out over territory so as to not overload an eco-system. Amongst humans this is called "war". Second, for rank within the hierarchy of a social group. All social groups have hierarchy. And third, for reproduction. Classically this means two males fighting over the female, but it also means the female defending her young. If there is no social unit, e.g. Siamese fighting fish, it does not matter that the loser dies, only that the winner breeds. In contrast, in social animals, there is a strong biological benefit if the second and third types of aggression do not damage the loser. This is so that the social unit, (the pack/the tribe), which exists precisely because of its survival value, remains strong.

    Most martial arts are usually of the second type of aggression, with overtones of the third: Young males competing. In contrast, the Filipino Martial Arts originate in the first form of aggression, in war. Thus there is a quality of cooperation in the learning process of the FMA that can be distinctive.

    How so? If, as a tribe we are going to defend our land, women and children, it is in our respective individual interests that the other warriors of the tribe become good fighters as well. If I push you too hard and break your spirit, it does not serve my interests. If I push you too little and you are soft, it also does not serve my interests. And vice versa.
    Dog Brothers Martial Arts is the name that I put to the system of many styles that I have evolved out of what my teachers have taught me, the fighting experiences of all the Dog Brothers and my teaching. Why give it a name? Because to call it something else would be inaccurate. It is its own unique thing.

    Why a "system of many styles"? Because fighting is like the children's game of "rock, paper, scissors" and no one style is for all situations and opponents-not even Top Dog's style-and in my opinion he is the best stickfighter of our time. Bruce Lee spoke of "No way as way", and similarly, Sugar Ray Leonard once said "You don't beat the man, you beat his style." In other words, you beat him where he has a way. Thus, we seek to specialize in generalizing; the goal being that no matter the situation, we have a game to play instead of a way. DBMA draws upon all the Dog Brothers and those with whom we have fought, and those with whom we have trained. And it is a system because I think we have a coherent way of imparting certain knowledge, understandings, training methods, skills, attributes and techniques towards certain goals.

    Many martial arts discuss how there are different mindsets/qualities with which one can defend/fight. Often the names are a bit poetic; Fire, Water, Wind, Rock, Earth, etc. but the point is made that the more realized the fighter is, the better his ability to fluidly shift between them. To be able to do this in the intense adrenal state of a fight is an subtle and evolved thing. Paradoxically, the mental state of Play is the state where this happens best. The further one can enter into the dichotomy of Fight and Play simultaneously, the better. The best fighting is done where the fight is play. Thus, in DBMA we say "Do not have a Way as you Play. Fight the Way you Play. Let your Fight be Play." To experience this is transformational.

    "What Is Play?" in evolutionary biological terms is an interesting question in its own right. It is a state in which deep learning takes place and the training methods of the FMA are of a high order in creating it and teaching it as part of the learning and training process. The competitiveness natural between men can easily kill Play. Abecedario, numerado, sombrada, and carenza are methods with a thousand faces and all help create Play. The process of learning in the FMA way develops powerful understandings and skills for dealing with people outside of a fighting context.

    The three FMA teachers from whom we draw most are Guro Dan Inosanto (Inosanto LaCoste Blend) Grand Tuhon Leo Gaje (Pekiti Tirsia Kali) and also Punong Guro Edgar Sulite (Lameco Eskrima). We draw from other FMA teachers and systems too. And we draw from outside of the FMA as well, usually within the framework of the Majapahit Empire.

    What's that? Centuries ago, political boundaries were different and the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Indo-china were part of what was known as the Majapahit Empire. Martial arts from this part of the world tend to have, to use a JKDC term, "common thread" with each other, i.e. there is a shared internal coherency. Thus we can draw from Krabi Krabong from Thailand and it fits. (In this area our lead man is Ajarn Arlan "Salty Dog" Sanford.) We can take from Silat (Pendekar Paul Dethouars) or Bando (Dr. M. Gyi) whatever fits, and so on. We also take from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (the Machado Brothers), because it works, because little of FMA grappling (dumog, buno, etc) has made it to the US, and because chauvinism is counter-productive to the search for Truth.

    Most martial arts are basically young males competing. Though we certainly have that too, the idea of DBMA is of a lifelong martial art. Although the Dog Brothers are known for "Real Contact Stickfighting", DBMA uses the vehicle of learning to fight this way as a means of creating a man who can walk through the entirety of his life as a warrior in his world today.

    NOT EVERYONE SHOULD DO REAL CONTACT STICKFIGHTING AND ONLY YOU DECIDE THAT. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE A KITTY IF YOU DON'T. Whether you do or do not, our mission is for you to learn to fight well for real. Someone with this training should be able to handle himself proficiently in real time with sticks, clubs, knives, staff, improvised weapons and empty hand in all ranges. He should have skills and intelligence for multiple player situations. He should have a clear sense of what he can and cannot do, and be able to assess situations and people well. He should be seasoned in handling his adrenaline and know for what he fights and for what he does not. He should be fit and healthy. This is whether he is a younger man, a middle aged man, or an older man.

    And for each of these there is short, middle and long term training, which should be done together in an ever changing blend. One should not try to live permanently in the testosterone frenzy of getting-ready-for-a-fight training, but one should always be of a level of fitness able to apply maximal effort without notice. One needs to train for now and for over the years. This promotes physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual health as well as fighting skill.

    To last over the years, one needs to be intelligent-the secret of life is to get smart faster than you get old. If we try to always operate in that young male testosterone frenzy, just like Bruce Lee we're not going to last very long. In training, there must be the "three Fs" (Not those! Baaad Dogs!) Fun, Fit, and Functional. To be functional, we must be fit and healthy, and what we do to be fit and healthy must be fun to do or we will not do it. Now, "fun" can be a superficial word, but what we really mean is with joy in life-but that would have ruined the alliteration.
    The Knowledge that we study of another time and place must serve this time and place. There is the martial and there is the art. As Wild Dog's daughter Keelin once said to me "Art is the repository of the human wisdom which cannot be expressed in words." Both the martial and the art are necessary, just as the yin and the yang are necessary to the Tao. The further one can go into each simultaneously, the greater the dichotomy, and the deeper the transformation. Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact.

    Woof,
    Guro Crafty
     
  10. gagimilo

    gagimilo Member

    Heh, gotta say I really like the shape that this thread has taken...
     
  11. PG Michael B

    PG Michael B Oso Grande

    Seeing how this thread is about the written word, I decided to submit a poem I recently wrote, inspired by Hafiz....

    The Flightless Bird

    Alone he sits gazing up at the sky, wondering why he is punished, wondering why he cannot fly.

    A broken wing collapsed at his side, a tear forms in the corner of his eye as he awaits the flock above, watching sadly as they fly by.

    The flightless bird sits, he laments in his plight, when a voice suddenly sounds, “Why are you so sullen, sitting on the ground”

    “My flock” he chimes “They are there, up in the sky, while I sit here in misery waiting only to die”

    “Death is not your choice” the voice thunders loudly and clear, “you small bird may be broken, but you are crippled by your fear”

    Tucking his hand under the shattered wing, lifting the bird into the sky, the presence breaths a warm breath of love drying the tears from the little ones eye

    “Try now, try now and fly, do not let fear consume you if you truly wish to fly”

    The small bird flaps his wings and enters a hazy sky, he looks below and sees nothing but a flightless bird who only chose to die.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Light of the Universe

    Although I am not a Christian, I agree with the underlying essence of this piece.
    ===========

    Alexander's Essay – December 23, 2009
    Light of the Universe
    "The Hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked, that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations." --George Washington
    When our children were young, Ann and I would help them comprehend how great God has always been and always will be, the Alpha and Omega, by using metaphors with tangible examples that they could grasp.

    We wanted our children to understand that it is only the rare occasion, given the immensity of His universal plan, which affords us a perfectly clear view of God's plan for each of us. But we also assured them of the Truth we had learned: that through faith, we always know that He will use our circumstances, however corrupted by our own free will, to guide us to where He wants us to be.

    As our kids have grown older, each has demonstrated a substantial interest and aptitude for science. Thus, I was captivated recently when I came across this elucidation of God's infinite domain from Dr. William Blair, an astrophysicist and research professor at Johns Hopkins University.

    Blair wrote: "Today we know that galaxies are as common as blades of grass in a meadow. The Hubble Space Telescope recently completed a particularly deep (faint) census of a tiny 'pencil beam' extending far out into the Universe. This survey, called the 'Hubble Deep Field,' was targeted on a region of the sky that was nearly devoid of known objects, so as to be (hopefully) representative of conditions in the distant Universe. The resulting images are truly amazing. Strewn across this tiny piece of the sky are perhaps 1500 or more galaxies of all shapes, sizes, and colors! Because this survey pertains to such a small piece of the sky, the implications are staggering: if the region of sky demarked by the bowl of the Big Dipper were surveyed to the same depth, it would contain about 32 million galaxies! And the estimate for the entire visible Universe is that there are upwards of 40 BILLION galaxies, each containing tens to hundreds of billions of stars!"

    To put the vastness of creation into perspective, Blair uses a sheet of paper: "Imagine that the distance from the earth to the sun (93 million miles, or about 8 light minutes) is compressed to the thickness of a typical sheet of paper. On this scale, the nearest star (4.3 light years) is at a distance of 71 feet. The diameter of the Milky Way (100,000 light years) would require a 310 mile high stack of paper, while the distance to the Andromeda galaxy (at 2 million light years one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye) would require a stack of paper more than 6000 miles high! On this scale, the 'edge' of the Universe, defined as the most distant known quasars some 10 billion light years hence, is not reached until the stack of paper is 31 million miles high -- a third of the way to the sun on the real scale of things!"

    Pondering this vastness is a humbling experience indeed.

    Knowing quite a few professional physicists who are men and women of faith, I wrote Dr. Blair and asked him, "Are you a person of faith in God as our creator?" and, "If so, what does your analogy reveal about the creator of our universe?"

    As to the first question, he answered, "Yes, I am."

    As to the second, he replied, "In short, 'God created the heavens and the earth.'

    Understanding more about the 'heavens' and the scale of the Universe only magnifies my personal impression of what it is that God has created. Having a personal connection to that same God is a defining aspect of my faith."
    According to Blair, who heads a NASA project looking into deep space, "Some people can look at the spirals of our galaxy and not see the hand of God, but I beg to differ."

    Of course, my children, like all of us who haven't obscured knowledge of our Creator by the idolatry of self or materialism, strive for a more personal understanding of God. But how do we grasp such knowledge when the object of our desire is so far beyond mortal understanding -- how do we find our way to Him?

    The answer is obvious to all who have opened their eyes -- just follow the Light.
    And it is the dawn of the Truth and Light that we celebrate at Christmas, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It is no coincidence that as the story of His birth is recounted, it is a star that guided wise men to his side.

    In the Gospel of John (1:5), it is written, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
    Now, a physicist will tell you that darkness doesn't exist except for the absence of light, which isn't to say that we can't live in darkness: Given the degraded state of our nation, many among our countrymen have chosen to reside in moral darkness, or worse, have been abandoned there.
    But Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

    Thus, if we want to see our Creator, we have only to turn toward the Truth and Light, and, as implicit in our motto: Veritas vos Liberabit -- the Truth will set you Free (John 8:32).
    As for my family and me, Dr. Blair and his family, and hundreds of millions of our brothers and sisters around the world, Jesus Christ is the Light, our personal connection to our Creator. And he is that for anyone and everyone who will just turn toward Him.
    The Gospels, which attest to the life of Jesus, reveal what we most need to know about God as our Creator, and His purpose for us.
    We live in a world today that is no different from yesterday or tomorrow, in the sense that we have and will always have a deep desire to understand our Creator. Unfortunately, we tend to complicate the fulfillment of that desire by satiating it with all manner of false gods.
    I am no stranger to false gods, which, ironically, helped me to distinguish between those idols and my authentic Creator, who endowed me with "certain unalienable rights."
    Our Founding Fathers understood that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" could not be sustained in the absence of Light, that our Creator endows these rights, not men.
    According to George Washington, "Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

    John Adams wrote: "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. ... Statesmen may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People, in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers, and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty."

    Benjamin Rush proclaimed, "[T]he only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments."

    Likewise, Gouverneur Morris wrote, "Religion is the only solid basis of good morals and Morals are the only possible Support of free governments. Therefore education should teach the precepts of religion and the duties of man towards God."

    Samuel Adams added, "Religion and good morals are the only solid foundation of public liberty and happiness. ... Religion in a Family is at once its brightest Ornament and its best Security."

    Not long before his death, Thomas Jefferson addressed a letter to the son of a close friend in which he wrote, "Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I would address to you something, which might possibly have a favorable influence on the course of life you have to run.... Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence."

    Perhaps John Jay said it best: "The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts."
    But as Benjamin Franklin noted, "How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments."

    Unfortunately, as it was at the dawn of our great nation, Franklin's criticism applies to too many of our countrymen.

    Fellow Patriots, during these dark days it is my fervent prayer that we, individually and as a nation, turn to the Light by, first and foremost, following God's Commandments, by acknowledging that we are endowed by our Creator alone with life and liberty, and by restoring these rights for ourselves and for our posterity in accordance with His will.
    On behalf of our staff and National Advisory Committee, may God bless and keep each of you.
    Merry Christmas.
    Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
    Mark Alexander
    Publisher, PatriotPost.US
     
  13. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    "I have never been happier, more exhilirated, at peace, rested, inspired, and aware of the grandeur of the universe and the greatness of God than when I find myself in a natural setting not much changed from the way He made it "
     
  14. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

  15. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Jews of Zakynthos
    by Leora Goldberg
    Uncovering an unforgettable story on an isolated island in Greece.
    [[url]http://media.aish.com/images/JewsOfZakynthos230x150-EN.jpgimg][/url]
    ZAKYNTHOS, Greece - I needed a break at the end of a long and exhausting semester. My family was off to the southern end of the Balkan Peninsula, to an unknown island in Greece. I decided to join them.

    We flew from Tel Aviv to Athens. From Athens, towards the famous sunrise of the eastern isles, we landed on the island of Zakynthos -- "Fiore di Levante" (Flower of the East) -- which is also known by its Italian name - Zante.

    During the ride, I read the travel guide, and learned a little about the history, the agriculture, the weather and finally about the poetic origins of the national anthem. I did not read one word about what I was really about to discover on the island. The drive from the airport to our villa lasted a few minutes. From the coastal plateau, we drove up through twisted village bends to our destination.

    An old lady, a typical Greek villager dressed all in black, welcomed us with a warm smile into her home. She asked to show us around her beloved mansion. It was obvious that this place was the source of her pride.

    The landlady gave us a short tour of the old-style bedrooms, bathrooms and salon. In the kitchen, we noticed the beautiful authentic Greek dishes that were hanging over her antique-looking stove. All these were for our use.

    We explained to her that for religious reasons, unfortunately, we would not be able to enjoy using her kitchenware and that we had brought our own.

    This is when it all began.

    She seemed confused. She looked at my dad and suddenly her eyes lit up. She noticed his kippa. We were asked to follow her out to the garden.

    From the high point where we were standing, we saw a fantastic view of the ocean and the ships. But she pointed the other way completely.

    "Look over there!" she said.

    She wanted to know what we saw.

    "Trees, vegetation," we said.

    "Look again and focus!" she demanded.

    "Something unidentified that looks like teeth, white dots," my dad said.

    She stared at us for a long moment and said: "That is the Jewish cemetery."

    I was shocked. We were all astounded. Here we were on an isolated island in Greece. Who ever heard of Jews here?

    I tried reminiscing about stories and experiences I had heard from friends who had visited here. Nothing came to mind.

    From this moment on until I left Greece, the relaxing summer holiday drinking ouzo on the beach became a fascinating journey. By the end of it, I uncovered an unforgettable story.

    The Mystery of 1955

    The next morning, I got on my rented moped and drove to the cemetery. The shudder that went through me started when I first saw the Star of David on the little black gate. The trembling grew as I walked in. It was a huge cemetery containing hundreds of graves from the 16th century up until 1955. The grounds were well-kept and little stones were set on many graves, as if they had had visitors recently.

    1955. I thought for a moment. Whoever knows the history of Greece and its islands even faintly knows that there was no place struck harder by the Nazis.

    Rhodes, Corfu, Salonika, Athens. The loss of Jewish life in Greece was devastating.

    From 1944, there were almost no Jews left even in the bigger communities.

    I did not, however, understand the meaning of the "1955" grave, and decided to investigate.

    In a small house that stood in the heart of the property, I found the cemetery keeper, a third generation of custodians of the Jewish graveyard in Zakynthos. My inability to speak the language prevented me from having a deep conversation with him.

    I sought to continue my search for the Jewish history of this town, and within five minutes I was at City Hall.

    When I told the clerk at the front desk what I was after, he asked if I had already been to the synagogue. The question was posed casually, as though it's asked on a daily basis.

    "Excuse me?" I thought I hadn't heard right. "A synagogue on this island?"

    He gave me directions.

    The synagogue was located on a busy road in the center of the island. Off the main street, in a space between two buildings, was a black iron gate, just like the one I had seen not long ago at the cemetery. Above it was a stone arc with an open book. It read, in a loose translation from the original Hebrew, "At this holy place stood the Shalom Synagogue. Here, at the time of the earthquake in 1953, old Torah scrolls, bought before the community was established, were burned."

    Through the locked gate I saw two statues. Judging by their long beards, they looked to me like rabbis. The writing on the wall proved me wrong: "This plaque commemorates the gratitude of the Jews of Zakynthos to Mayor Karrer and Bishop Chrysostomos."
    [img]http://media.aish.co.il/images/Zakynthos1.jpg/img]
    What was the acknowledgment about? Who were these people? Why the statues? What happened here? I had lots of questions. I had to find a lead, if not an answer. I returned to City Hall, excited and trembling.

    I approached the clerk, who already recognized me, and started questioning him about what had happened here. He referred me to the mayor's deputy on the third floor. I found his room, knocked at his door and asked him if he would spare me a few minutes. He willingly accepted.

    Names for Nazis

    Half an hour later I came out with this:

    On September 9 1943, the governor of the German occupation named Berenz had asked the mayor, Loukas Karrer, for a list of all Jews on the island.

    Rejecting the demand after consulting with Bishop Chrysostomos, they decided to go together to the governor's office the next day. When Berenz insisted once again for the list, the bishop explained that these Jews weren't Christians but had lived here in peace and quiet for hundreds of years.

    They had never bothered anyone, he said. They were Greeks just like all other Greeks, and it would offend all the residents of Zakynthos if they were to leave.

    But the governor persisted that they give him the names.

    The bishop then handed him a piece of paper containing only two names: Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Karrer.

    In addition, the bishop wrote a letter to Hitler himself, declaring that the Jews in Zakynthos were under his authority.

    The speechless governor took both documents and sent them to the Nazi military commander in Berlin. In the meantime, not knowing what would happen, the local Jews were sent by the leaders of the island to hide inside Christian homes in the hills. However, a Nazi order to round up the Jews was soon revoked - thanks to the devoted leaders who risked their lives to save them.

    In October 1944, the Germans withdrew from the island, leaving behind 275 Jews. The entire Jewish population had survived, while in many other regions Jewish communities were eliminated.

    This unique history is described in the book of Dionyssios Stravolemos, An Act of Heroism - A Justification, and also in the short film of Tony Lykouressis, The Song of Life.

    According to tour guide Haim Ischakis, in 1947, a large number of Zakynthinote Jews made aliya while others moved to Athens.

    In 1948, in recognition of the heroism of the Zakynthians during the Holocaust, the Jewish community donated stained glass for the windows of the Church of Saint Dionyssios.

    In August 1953, the island was struck by a severe earthquake and the entire Jewish quarter, including its two synagogues, was destroyed. Not long afterwards, the remaining 38 Jews moved to Athens.

    In 1978, Yad Vashem honored Bishop Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer with the title of "Righteous among the Nations."

    In March 1982, the last remaining Jew in Zakynthos, Ermandos Mordos, died on the island and was buried in Athens. Thus the circle of Jewish presence came to its close after five centuries.

    In 1992, on the site where the Sephardic synagogue stood before the earthquake, the Board of Jewish Communities in Greece erected two marble memorial monuments as a tribute to the bishop and mayor

    .

    The Missing Money

    A few days before I had planned to leave the island and return home, I went into a bank to convert some dollars into euros. But even in a simple place like a bank, I managed to add another piece to this Jewish puzzle.

    A clerk who had been on the phone and eating a sandwich, called on me when my turn came. When I gave her my dollars to be changed, she handed me the converted money in an envelope without asking for any identification.

    Later on, when I opened it, I was surprised to see so much money.

    The money that had been put into the envelope had not been counted properly, and instead of changing $1,000, she had given me the equivalent of $10,000!

    This was really no surprise to me, because the clerk hadn't paid me any attention.

    Ultimately, however, once the bank realized that the money was missing, it would have no way of reaching me since no contact information was requested.

    The following morning, I called the bank and asked to speak to the manager. I inquired to know if there was a problem with the previous night's accounts.

    "You must be the woman with the dollars," he said, immediately inviting me to his office.

    An hour later, I was at the bank. When I walked into the office, the man sitting across from the manager moved to another chair and gave me his seat.

    I shared my bank experience with him, saying how easy it would have been for me to disappear with the money.



    The manager himself was profusely apologetic about the unprofessional way I was treated and thanked me repeatedly for returning the money.

    To express his gratitude, he invited me and my family to dinner at an exclusive restaurant. I explained that eating out was too complicated for us due to the fact that we were observant Jews.

    He asked for my address so he could send us a crate of wine.

    "That is a problem too," I said.

    I told him I had come from Israel a week ago for a holiday, but had gotten sidetracked.

    "A few days after I landed, I was surprised to discover the Jewish community that was here up to 25 years ago," I said. "You don't owe me anything. Indeed, you have given me and my people a lot. The least I can do as a Jew to show my appreciation for what you have done for the Jews of Zakynthos is to return this money that doesn't belong to me and say, 'Thank you!'"

    There was silence for what appeared to be a long minute.

    The man who had given me his seat when I walked in and hadn't said a word during the conversation, stood up with tears in his eyes, turned to me and said:

    "As the grandson of Mayor Karrer, I am extremely overwhelmed and want to thank you!"

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  16. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Seeding Miracles

    Seeding Miracles
    By Tzvi Freeman

    When our universe as we know it first emerged, the soil of the earth was imbued with a wondrous power—the power to generate life. Place a tiny seed in the ground and it converts the carbon of the air into a mighty redwood— a decomposing seed awakens the power of the infinite.

    Yet another miracle, even more wondrous: A quiet act of kindness buried in humility ignites an explosion of G‑dly light.

    Infinite power is hidden in the humblest of places.
     
  17. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    On Humility
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    By Jonathan Sacks
    How virtues change! Moses, the greatest hero of Jewish tradition, is described by the Bible as "a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth." By today's standards he was clearly wrongly advised. He should have hired an agent, sharpened up his image, let slip some calculated indiscretions about his conversations with the Almighty and sold his story to the press for a six-figure sum. With any luck, he might have landed up with his own television chat show, dispensing wisdom to those willing to bare their soul to the watching millions. He would have had his fifteen minutes of fame. Instead he had to settle for the lesser consolation of three thousand years of moral influence.

    Humility is the orphaned virtue of our age. Charles Dickens dealt it a mortal blow in his portrayal of the unctuous Uriah Heep, the man who kept saying, "I am the 'umblest person going." Its demise, though, came a century later with the threatening anonymity of mass culture alongside the loss of neighbourhoods and congregations. A community is a place of friends. Urban society is a landscape of strangers. Yet there is an irrepressible human urge for recognition. So a culture emerged out of the various ways of "making a statement" to people we do not know, but who, we hope, will somehow notice. Beliefs ceased to be things confessed in prayer and became slogans emblazoned on t-shirts. A comprehensive repertoire developed of signalling individuality, from personalized number-plates, to in-your-face dressing, to designer labels worn on the outside, not within. You can trace an entire cultural transformation in the shift from renown to fame to celebrity to being famous for being famous. The creed of our age is, "If you've got it, flaunt it." Humility, being humble, did not stand a chance.
    This is a shame. Humility -- true humility -- is one of the most expansive and life-enhancing of all virtues. It does not mean undervaluing yourself. It means valuing other people. It signals a certain openness to life's grandeur and the willingness to be surprised, uplifted, by goodness wherever one finds it. I learned the meaning of humility from my late father. He had come over to this country at the age of five, fleeing persecution in Poland. His family was poor and he had to leave school at the age of fourteen to support them. What education he had was largely self-taught. Yet he loved excellence, in whatever field or form it came. He had a passion for classical music and painting, and his taste in literature was impeccable, far better than mine. He was an enthusiast. He had -- and this was what I so cherished in him -- the capacity to admire. That, I think, is what the greater part of humility is, the capacity to be open to something greater than oneself. False humility is the pretence that one is small. True humility is the consciousness of standing in the presence of greatness, which is why it is the virtue of prophets, those who feel most vividly the nearness of G-d.

    As a young man, full of questions about faith, I travelled to the United States where, I had heard, there were outstanding rabbis. I met many, but I also had the privilege of meeting the greatest Jewish leader of my generation, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Heir to the dynastic leadership of a relatively small group of Jewish mystics, he had escaped from Europe to New York during the Second World War and had turned the tattered remnants of his flock into a worldwide movement. Wherever I travelled, I heard tales of his extraordinary leadership, many verging on the miraculous. He was, I was told, one of the outstanding charismatic leaders of our time. I resolved to meet him if I could.

    I did, and was utterly surprised. He was certainly not charismatic in any conventional sense. Quiet, self-effacing, understated, one might hardly have noticed him had it not been for the reverence in which he was held by his disciples. That meeting, though, changed my life. He was a world-famous figure. I was an anonymous student from three thousand miles away. Yet in his presence I seemed to be the most important person in the world. He asked me about myself; he listened carefully; he challenged me to become a leader, something I had never contemplated before. Quickly it became clear to me that he believed in me more than I believed in myself. As I left the room, it occurred to me that it had been full of my presence and his absence. Perhaps that is what listening is, considered as a religious act. I then knew that greatness is measured by what we efface ourselves towards. There was no grandeur in his manner; neither was there any false modesty. He was serene, dignified, majestic; a man of transcending humility who gathered you into his embrace and taught you to look up.

    True virtue never needs to advertise itself. That is why I find the aggressive packaging of personality so sad. It speaks of loneliness, the profound, endemic loneliness of a world without relationships of fidelity and trust. It testifies ultimately to a loss of faith -- a loss of that knowledge, so precious to previous generations, that beyond the visible surfaces of this world is a Presence who knows us, loves us, and takes notice of our deeds. What else, secure in that knowledge, could we need? Time and again, when conducting a funeral or visiting mourners, I discover that the deceased had led a life of generosity and kindness unknown to even close relatives. I came to the conclusion -- one I never dreamed of before I was given this window into private worlds - that the vast majority of saintly or generous acts are done quietly with no desire for public recognition. That is humility, and what a glorious revelation it is of the human spirit.

    Humility, then, is more than just a virtue: it is a form of perception, a language in which the "I" is silent so that I can hear the "Thou", the unspoken call beneath human speech, the Divine whisper within all that moves, the voice of otherness that calls me to redeem its loneliness with the touch of love. Humility is what opens us to the world.

    And does it matter that it no longer fits the confines of our age? The truth is that moral beauty, like music, always moves those who can hear beneath the noise. Virtues may be out of fashion, but they are never out of date. The things that call attention to themselves are never interesting for long, which is why our attention span grows shorter by the year. Humility -- the polar opposite of "advertisements for myself" -- never fails to leave its afterglow. We know when we have been in the presence of someone in whom the Divine presence breathes. We feel affirmed, enlarged, and with good reason. For we have met someone who, not taking himself or herself seriously at all, has shown us what it is to take with utmost seriousness that which is not I.
     
  18. Crafty Dog

    Crafty Dog Active Member

    Respect to and prayers for the heros in Japan who risk their lives trying to stop the gathering disaster in the nuke reactors, and also to the people of Japan.
     

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