MY MEETING WITH THE INDIAN HOMELESS

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“Uncle Salvatore, can a homeless person be educated? I can’t understand why a learned person becomes homeless.”
“Sometimes life makes a person fall into the worst situation. Benedetto, you can find a golden ring in the garbage by chance. Although he was homeless, Rajan was smart and extraordinary.”…

… “I felt that I had hurt his pride. He winced and answered quietly, ‘I live my life. I do my regular things.’ ‘What things?’ ‘Eating food and sleeping.’ ‘Just eating and sleeping? I don’t think it is enough in life. There are moments of life that you can’t live, such as traveling, dancing, working, drinking a glass of beer at a pub, loving a woman, and so on.’
“My remark was too obvious, so he couldn’t help agreeing with me. ‘Yes, you are right. But I want to focus on a particular job, a search for God. For the sake of my quest, I gave up certain aspects of life.’ ‘How do you lead your search?’ ‘Mostly, studying and learning from the environment and life itself, not from books. The most important aspect of the environment is people. A person’s behavior is different when he works.’ ‘Rajan, I think if you want to study people when they don’t work, you will always meet people like you. There are some groups of people that you can’t analyze. So there will be something missing in your quest.’
“I didn’t feel like continuing to talk about his private life. So I diverted the discussion to another topic. ‘Rajan, have you ever watched a burning corpse?’ ‘Yes, many times. I came here fourteen years ago. I sleep here in the shed provided for the homeless.’ ‘Have you ever asked yourself what will happen after death while watching a burning corpse?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘And what is your conclusion? Does life after death exist?’ I asked him at that time, and still now I ask myself the same question.”
“Uncle Salvatore, still you wonder whether there is life after death or not? You have sifted this topic for a long time! You couldn’t find an answer, and you won’t find it as long as you are alive. After you die, you’ll be able to know the truth!”
“Benedetto, I have to search for an answer while I am alive. When I am dead, I can’t do anything.”
“I hope you can succeed. Now let’s go on.”
“Rajan answered, ‘Man gets many chances to purify his soul during his life. The Christians believe that they will go to heaven. Eastern religions believe that man will become one with God. Does life after death exist? Yes. Life is indestructible from alpha to omega, from beginning to end. No destruction. We are all children of God. He appears in human form to purify himself. He wants to separate good and evil, light and darkness.’
“Uncle Salvatore, God is perfect. He doesn’t need to get purified. It’s the first time that I’ve heard such a completely ridiculous statement. It is absurd what Rajan told you. Don’t you think so?”
“Yes, I do. But Rajan seemed to be sure about his ideas. He said, ‘I believe that God and Satan are the same being. In every man good and evil coexist. The creation was made to separate Satan from God.’ ‘How can you prove this assumption?’ ‘I can’t prove anything. This is just my insight, my intuition. It comes from my inner world.’ ‘How can you know whether your insight is right or not? It may be wrong and lead you astray,’ I said.”
“Uncle Salvatore, only you could lend your ear to that homeless man. Is it possible that God and Satan are the same being? Of course not. They are different.”
“Benedetto, I am open to all ideas. However, I, too, have some doubts about the oneness of God and Satan, or no separation between them. I have read Job’s story in the Bible. God conversed with Satan, as if they were sitting at the same table. They were discussing Job’s destiny!”
“It is interesting! I didn’t know about this passage of the Bible.”
“Rajan kept talking and asked me, ‘In the Bible it is written that God created the stars, the earth, the universe, and everything. Who created Satan? Tell me.’ I answered, ‘Satan was an angel of God. Later he betrayed God.’ ‘There is no mention in the Bible about Satan as an angel that betrayed God.’ ‘Are you sure?’ ‘Yes, I am one hundred percent sure! I have read the Bible, and I can assert that there is no mention about Satan as an angel in the Bible.’
“The long conversation with Rajan made me recall the days I had spent in studying the issue of good and evil. Many times, broaching this difficult topic, I had the insight that good and evil may come from the same source. Anyway, having an open mind and respecting others’ ideas are my strong points.

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

INTOLERANCE TOWARDS THE DISABLED AND THE SICK

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“Persecutions and discrimination can affect not only ethnic or religious groups but also social classes. The disabled have been the object of intolerance over the centuries. In the ancient Greek city of Sparta, newborns with a physical defect were thrown from Mount Taygetos. In Italy, some lidos didn’t allow kids with heavy physical disabilities to enter.
“Recently, in the United States and in Italy, the device that kept two vegetative patients alive was unplugged. Consequently, they died. In my opinion, this is a case of intolerance. When I volunteered at a center in England that provided holidays for the disabled, I looked after a young man who was completely paralyzed except he was able to move his eyes. He lay on a stretcher. I still remember his name, Neil. I asked the nurse how to feed him. The nurse answered, ‘You have to spoon-feed him as if he were a little bird. When he wants to say yes, he raises his eyes, and when he wants to say no, he lowers his eyes. It’s easy.’ I did like that. At the beginning, the spoonful I gave him was too much. He couldn’t swallow the food and coughed. By and by, I found the proper mouthful, and he ate quietly. He couldn’t smile, for every part of his body was paralyzed. But looking at his eyes, I felt that he was happy while I was feeding him.
“Some say that the heavily disabled like Neil are better off dead because they suffer so much. This opinion comes from an incorrect idea of happiness. They think that only good fitness brings happiness. This assumption is a kind of prejudice. There is a soul inside a body. The soul can be happy even in a disabled body, like Neil’s body.”
“Uncle Salvatore, maybe some kinds of life are useless. People who are alive but show no sign of brain activity don’t feel anything and can’t move. Don’t you think it would be better to put an end to their life?”
“I don’t think so. I am favorable to all kinds of life. We don’t know what will happen after death. Who knows, maybe we’ll disappear forever. Therefore, between to be and not to be, I’ll choose to be, regardless of the form of life, healthy or unhealthy, normal or disabled, happy or unhappy.

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHAT DOES EGREGORE MEAN

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“The grand master handed us two booklets with black covers. Then there was a long speech by the grand master and a discussion. He said that his teachings were fundamental for our spiritual growth. At the end of the ceremony, we performed the rite of the chain. Each member held hands with a brother or a sister, making a circle. There was an exchange of energy among us to create egregore, also called egregor, a group feeling or spirit that arose from the sum of wishes, thoughts, ideals, and feelings of the members. To create egregore we had to connect with the deceased grand masters and with one another. While making a chain, we were asked to concentrate and direct our energy into helping a person who was sick or suffering at the moment.

“We should perform a special ritual at home every morning to strengthen egregore. I read the instructions and performed the ritual for a few days. The elements of the morning ritual were salt, water, and prayers. I can’t say how the ritual was performed because I swore on my honor not to divulge the secrets outside the esoteric group. After a few days, I dropped the morning rituals. I decided to follow the Way of Heart, which also aimed to create egregore.”
“What is the Way of Heart, Uncle Salvatore?”
“It is the way of feeling friendship, love, and spiritual communion with all the members. I followed this way for two reasons. First, I couldn’t understand the rituals well, so it was
possible for me to perform them incorrectly. Second, I thought that opening my heart toward the deceased grand masters and all my brethren and sisters was more effective than the ritual to create egregore.

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A FUNERAL AFTER CREMATION IN CANADA

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“I was walking along the Red River in the countryside near Winnipeg when I heard melodious singing coming from somewhere nearby. I followed the sound until it became
distinct. It came from a small chapel. I entered it. The ceiling was covered with wooden planks. On one side of a rectangular table in front of the altar was a small cream colored box containing ashes, similar to a cookie box. On the other side was a large photo of a woman dressed in violet, with gray hair. I couldn’t see her features clearly, because the
photo was enlarged, and I was far from it. About one hundred people stood in the shape of an amphitheater opposite the table. They sang with the sound of the organ. Then a lady with a guitar came in. Her singing mixed with the others’. In Sicily, we don’t sing during funerals. The funeral rites consist of a stereotyped religious function. No songs at all. But in that small Canadian Catholic church, things went differently. The singing of those who stood facing the cinerary urn sounded like a joyous farewell to the dead woman who was about to leave for another place. It vibrated and resonated in the air like sound waves that would carry the dead woman’s soul toward another world. Mass went on. When it was over, a tall and slender young man dressed in white and wearing a black tie took the little box with his hands and headed for the exit of the chapel. All the others followed him. There was a lawn near the church. A hole had already been dug. The young man laid the small box into the little pit while the priest was blessing the grave. Someone took a handful of soil from the ground and threw it onto the little box. One by one, everybody left the graveyard except for four persons who seemed to be the family. An old man with shaved hair and green eyes held a shovel in his hand and waited until the families left. Then, he filled the hole with soil and made a little mound over it. Finally, he also left, carrying the shovel on his shoulder. Everything was over. Yes, one life finished like that.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Wordssecond edition– by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHAT IS AN EPHEMERA

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Ephemera, also called mayfly is an insect whose life lasts only one day. It is born at dawn and at sunset it dies.
What would you do if your life lasted as long as a mayfly? How would you like to spend your day of life on earth?
I am not the right person to advise people about how to live their lives; I can only say what I do. I, ephemera in the universe, spend my life by striving to discover whether at sunset I’ll die forever or a new dawn will rise beyond the darkness of the night. This is my life, and all my travels are marked by this kind of spiritual quest.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THANKSGIVING DAY IN A CANADIAN MONASTERY

WP_20181009_003Today, October 8 is Thanksgiving Day in Canada. In the monastery where I am staying until Thursday, the Sisters decorated the chapel with the fruits of the Earth: pumpkins, squashes, ears of corn, onions, and so on.

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Our chef roasted two turkeys and baked a delicious pumpkin pie. As an exception, we had a glass of wine at lunch.
The whole weekend is Thanksgiving Day. One of the workers in the kitchen said that she celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday, with thirty-five people in her small house!

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Some Canadians prefer to go for a hike and enjoy the special colors of the trees in this season.
In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is related to the traditional harvest festival. In a sense, it is different from that in The United States. The dates of the two celebrations don’t coincide, as well as their symbolic meanings.

In my hometown Enna, we have a few celebrations related to the harvest. Some of them date back to the time of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture.

One day, I asked a friend of mine, “Can you imagine a world without celebrations and rites? Being outside rites means to be outside life.”

“I don’t think so. For me all days are the same,” he answered.
“How can you say that! Without rites there is no human life, indeed. Everyone conforms to festivity, celebrations and rites.”
“I am different from others. Getting over rites and rituals is my aim.”
“So, you don’t celebrate anything!”
“No, I don’t. Everyday I have a celebration in my heart. I am beyond rites and rituals,” he said.

On Thursday, I am leaving for Korea. There, I’ll find different traditions, but people’s heart doesn’t differ.

Ettore Grillo, author of
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

LABYRINTH – TRAVEL – MEDITATION

st-francis-labyrinth-closeup-20075673[2]The symbol of the labyrinth dates back over 4,000 years. It is widespread all over planet Earth. Symbols are the work of a secret geometry and predate human mind. This symbol is related to the idea of travel.
Since ancient times, people used to go on a pilgrimage. In Greece, that to Delphi was renowned.
In the Christian era the pilgrimage par excellence was that to the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. But, in the middle ages it was quite dangerous to go there. So, above all in northern Europe, the real journey to Jerusalem was replaced with a symbolic pilgrimage to a cathedral labyrinth. Pilgrims walked on the labyrinth following a sinuous path up to the center which symbolized Jerusalem. At that time, most cathedrals had a labyrinth inside. Later, they were effaced, because people made fun of them. Nowadays, the only cathedral labyrinth left is that of Chartress Cathedral, in France. But, above all in North America, there are many new labyrinths reproducing that of Chartress Cathedral. We can find them in churches, parks, hospitals, prisons, and schools. There are even labyrinths printed on canvas.
How to walk the labyrinth? Just follow the path. While walking you may focus your attention on your breathing or on your steps. When you arrive at the center, rest there for some minutes and watch yourself. Life is like a labyrinth. It is not straight, but full of twists leading to the center.
A doctor, after creating a labyrinth in a hospital, said that the term disease is a compound word: (dis) (ease). We get sick when we are not at ease. Walking the labyrinth calms our minds and helps get over the dis-ease we are suffering from. It is also a kind of meditation. It cleanses both mind and body to live a different life.
Ettore Grillo, author of
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE BLOG OF MY HEART

blog-colorful-text-white-background-59881483[1]In the Canadian monastery where I am staying until October 10, one of the Sisters died.
Mass was celebrated inside the chapel. Then, the funeral procession moved from there to the small cemetery where the nuns rest. There are about one hundred graves in that small graveyard. Both the graves and the gravestones are the same. Only the names of the Sisters, the dates of birth, ordination and death change.
The chapel was crowded with people coming from outside the monastery. They were relatives and workmates of the Sister. In fact, she had worked as a nurse.
The funeral Mass inside the chapel was touching and evocative. I was tempted to describe the funeral from beginning to end. But, I will not do that. Would it be respectful to the Sister to describe her private funeral in my blog? Of course not. But I have another blog which I keep in my heart. It contains everything I cannot express in words. On it, I will record the music of the organ, the singing of the nuns, the death knell and the other details of the funeral. When the right time comes, I will disclose this my second blog.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

MY VISIT TO THE CANADIAN MUSEUM FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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One Saturday morning I went to downtown Winnipeg to see The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. A Canadian lawyer, called Izzy Asper, founded it. He aimed at drawing attention to the fundamental rights of the human person.
Inside the edifice there were no stairs. To go from one floor to another I followed ramps bordered by walls in alabaster about one meter high.
On the ground floor there was an exhibition on Nelson Mandela and apartheid. Upstairs, there were displayed objects and videos about racism, intolerance, genocide, and the Canadian legal system.

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Moving from one wing to another of this very interesting and unique museum, I stumbled on two words I had never heard before. One was holodomor, the other prom.
Holodomor is a Ukrainian word. It means murder by hunger. It describes the genocide of the Ukrainians by mass starvation when that country was ruled by the Soviets.

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The other word, prom, is an English words. I didn’t know it because we don’t have this kind of celebration in Italy. Prom means a formal dance that is held at a high school. I read on a caption that in 2013, just five years ago, American students at Wilcox Country High School in Georgia organized their own first racially integrated prom.
Persecutions and discrimination can affect not only ethnic or religious groups, but also a class of people. The disabled have been the object of intolerance over the centuries. In the ancient Greek city of Sparta, newborns with imperfections were thrown from Mount Taygetos. As for madmen, until not so long ago, they were secluded in asylums. In Italy, some lidos even refused entry to kids with heavy physical disabilities.
“Recently, in the United States and in Italy, the device that kept the patient alive was disconnected. Consequently, they died. In my opinion, this is a case of intolerance.
When I volunteered in England at a center that provided holidays for disabled, I looked after a young man who was completely paralyzed and could only move his eyes. He lay on a stretcher. I still remember his name, Neil. I asked the nurse how to feed him.
“You have to spoon-feed him as if he were a little bird. When he wants to say yes, he raises his eyes, and when he wants to say no, he lowers his eyes. It’s easy,” the nurse answered.
“So I did. At the beginning the spoonful I gave him was too big. He couldn’t swallow the food and coughed. By and by, I found the proper mouthful, and he ate quietly. He was not able to smile, for every part of his body was paralyzed, but looking at his eyes, I noticed he was happy at that moment.
According to some, people like Neil should be eliminated as they suffer. This opinion springs from an incorrect concept of happiness. They think that only good fitness gives rise to happiness. This assumption has no evidence. It may be refuted. There are the eyes of the body, and the eyes of the soul. The latter enjoy when they see someone taking care of their body.
Every now and then in human history, there are great souls, like Izzy Asper. Thanks to them the world goes on.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE LABYRINTH – A MAGIC SYMBOL

WP_20180911_017Walking on the lawn of a Canadian monastery, I stumbled on a labyrinth. At the entrance, there was an iron gate. While I was standing there, Sister Rose passed by.
“What is the meaning of this labyrinth?” I asked.
“Sometimes I come here. I took off my shoes and walk the labyrinth. It is like going on a pilgrimage,” she answered.
“Is a labyrinth a pilgrimage? I cannot understand.”
“I’ll tell you something about this symbol. These days, labyrinths spring up all over. There are even organizations that help build labyrinths. Sometimes, in our monastery workshops are held on this topic.”
I gaped at her. Then she went on.

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“Rev. Dr. Lauren Artress, a psychotherapist, was convinced that the power of imagination could help people in their spiritual growth. She went to France to seek out the labyrinth of Chartress Cathedral. When she returned to the Unites States, she reproduced the labyrinth of Chartress Cathedral at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. It attracted people as if it were a magnet. Walking the labyrinth was beneficial to both body and mind.”

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I said to Sister Rose, “It’s interesting. There is another labyrinth maybe you don’t know.
“A Greek myth tells that Minos, the king of Crete, appointed the architect Daedalus to build a labyrinth to hold the Minotaur, a creature half man and half bull that fed on human flesh. Daedalus and his son, Icarus made a structure full of blind alleys, rooms, and narrow streets. The building was so intricate that even Daedalus and his son were trapped there.
“Theseus, the son of King Aegeus, decided to put an end to the sacrifice of young Athenians that were sent to Crete to feed the Minotaur. The hero landed in Crete. He was determined to kill the monster. But, how to get out of the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur? Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, fell in love with Theseus. She handed him a ball of wool. While Theseus went on holding one end of the tread in his hand, Ariadne stood at the entrance of the labyrinth and reeled off the thread. At last, Theseus killed the Minotaur. By following Ariadne’s thread he found his way out.
“The labyrinth symbolizes life itself. We humans are not different from the Minotaur. Like him we are dominated by instincts and ignorance. So as it happened to that monster, we are unable to get out of the labyrinth. According to the myth, we cannot succeed without Ariadne’s thread, which is a symbol. It means we need a guide capable of setting us free from instincts, ignorance and error, to see things as they are and not as they appear to our deluded minds”.
“What is your Ariadne’s thread?” I asked Sister Rose.
My Ariadne’s thread is my faith in God. Without it, I wouldn’t be different than the Minotaur. What about you?”
My Ariadne’s thread is my open heart. If my heart were locked, now I wouldn’t be here, in Canada, in front of this magic, mystic labyrinth.”
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.ettoregrillocom.wordpress.com
http://www.ettoregrillo.wordpress.com
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo