SYMBOLS IN A BUDDHIST TEMPLE

Near the Regional Garden in Gyeongju, the old capital of Korea, there is a Buddhist temple decked with statues of Buddha and symbols. My attention was drawn to two footprints with enigmatic figures.

A plump monk in his seventies stood in the yard of the temple. I motioned him to come closer. He was very kind, cheerful, and satisfied my curiosity.

He said, “While traveling to India, I stumbled upon these footprints and took the cast. Then, I reproduced them in the yard of this temple.”

“Could you tell me the meaning of the symbols carved on the feet?” I asked.

He replied: “Fish never close their eyes. It denotes how important alertness and mindfulness is; the wheel represents the cycle of life: birth, life, death, and rebirth; the lotus flower thrives in muddy and stagnant water, however it doesn’t merge with the mud. This means that although we live a worldly life, we shouldn’t merge with worldliness, but we should be free to follow our own spiritual path. As for the other symbols, open you heart, and then you’ll understand the meaning.”

I left the temple, shaking hands with the monk. Once again, by traveling, I have learned something new!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE CLOCK OF LIFE

In some parks in Daegu, Korea, there are devices that measure the quality of the air we breathe, and electronic clocks that mark the hours, minutes, and seconds with precision.

Our lifetime is also marked by the clock. It works uninterruptedly, but sooner or later it will stop, for we are limited beings! Therefore, what is the best way to live our transient life? The great Florentine patron, Lorenzo dei Medici (1449 – 1482) wrote this poem about life, from which I have extracted a few lines:

Trionfo di Bacco e Arianna

Quant’è bella giovinezza,
che si fugge tuttavia!
Chi vuol esser lieto, sia:
di doman non c’è certezza.
… Ciascun apra ben gli orecchi,
di doman nessun si paschi;
oggi siam, giovani e vecchi,
lieti ognun, femmine e maschi;
ogni tristo pensier caschi:
facciam festa tuttavia.…

Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne

How beautiful is youth,

Yet fleeting!

Let people enjoy their lives;

Tomorrow is not certain.

Everybody should open his ears,

And not live in the future.

Today we are, young and old,

male and female, all happy;

Let every sad thought fall away,

And celebrate life…

Yes, Lorenzo dei Medici is right. Well-being lies in living life here and now!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

ROBOTS ARE HERE TO STAY

Yesterday, I was sitting in the living room of my sister-in-law’s house in Suwon, Korea, when a small robot passed by. It was a cleaner. For me, a man who still cleans his house with a broom and a mop, that little device was something new. So I asked her,

“What is this?”

“It is a cleaner robot. It keeps the map of the house in its memory. When I need, I just touch a button on my smartphone and ask it to vacuum the floor. It does the job flawlessly!”

Undoubtedly, computers and robot are wonderful devices. Their brain is similar to humans’. They can do the same job as men and even better, but without a person that turns them on, they are just useless pieces of metal.

Who turned human beings on? Did they give themselves life or was it God who gave them a soul?

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily (English version)

A Hidden Sicilian History (English version)

The Vibrations of Words (English version)

Travels of the Mind (English version)

– Una Storia Siciliana Nascosta (versione in lingua italiana)

– Viaggi della Mente (versione in lingua italiana)

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A VERY OLD, PERHAPS OUTDATED, ITALIAN PROVERB

Chi tanti anni vol campar

Del dottor non si deve mai fidar.

He who wants to live for many years

Must never trust the doctor.

In my opinion, the best medicine is living in contact with nature, breathing pure air, jogging in the forest, or swimming in the ocean. Also, yoga and other holistic disciplines are useful in keeping the body and mind in good health.

Every time I went to my doctor’s office in Enna to ask for a medical certificate to go to the gym or to the swimming pool, I found the waiting room packed with people waiting to have prescriptions filled. If all those patients practiced a sport in the open air, the doctor’s waiting room would be less crowded and the National Health Service would save a lot of money!

Indeed, body and mind are connected. Mens sana in corpore sano (sound mind in sound body) the Romans said. I agree with this maxim and, following the aforementioned Italian proverb, I stand aloof from doctors and medicines as much as I can.

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

– November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

A QUICK LOOK AT THE MAFIA

 

A man with a beard in a hat, tie. Logo for barbershop, men's store
A man with a beard in a hat, tie. Logo for barbershop, men’s store.

Once,  the Italian public television interviewed a mafioso from Corleone, a town in the province of Palermo. He served his life sentence in a prison in Sardinia. During his captivity he painted oil paintings. Seen on the small screen, his paintings looked beautiful. Then, the interviewer asked him if it was true that he was still a Mafia boss and wielded power from prison.

“Every time a Mafia murder occurs, the authorities charge me as the mandator in the murder. This is absurd! I have been locked in this prison for many years. Do you think I can keep control over the Mafia from my cell?” replied the Mafia boss.

In my opinion he was right. If a lifer can still have influence over a criminal organization while he is locked in a prison, it means that the prison administration is inefficient.

Actually, some murders were charged to that life convict from Corleone. I can assume the reason. When a serious bloodshed happens, the general public wants a culprit. Why not give people an easy-to-find culprit, that is the indistinct Mafia, which has neither name nor surname, or a lifer?

This is an excerpt from November 2: The Day of the Dead in Sicily

Ettore Grillo author of these books:

November 2 The Day of the Dead in Sicily
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY REVIEW OF FACING YOUR GIANTS

LUCADO
Facing your Giants by Max Lucado has helped me overcome some of the challenges I have encountered in my life. While reading it, I have also looked inside myself to understand my real nature. I consider this book as powerful as psychoanalysis, maybe more.
A maxim in Max Lucado’s Facing your Giants impressed me a lot: “Focus on giants, you stumble. Focus on God, your giants tumble.” David could kill the giant, Goliath because he focused his attention on God, not on the giant who was facing him. Obviously, the giants are just metaphors that symbolize the difficult situations we encounter along our way.
I have applied this maxim to my ordinary life and I have to say that it has always helped me. Whenever I confronted a giant, that is a very difficult situation, I tried to overcome it not through my reasoning, but simply by trusting in God. Through God’s help, I have always succeeded, while through my reasoning, sometimes I lost.
I would recommend this book to whomever wants to proceed on their spiritual path toward the final destination, which is to be one with God.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WONDANGAM, A GOOD TEMPLE FOR ZEN MEDITATION IN KOREA

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The Zen Center was in the woods. The drinking water flowed from the ground naturally. There were about ten buildings in the area. All of them were made of wood in traditional Korean style.
My roommate was the only one who spoke English fluently. As soon as I arrived, we met the Zen master. We bowed in front of him and then he started talking, while my roommate translated his words into English.
“I’ll give you something on what to meditate. This something is just a question: “WHAT IS THIS?” said the Zen master.
After the meeting was over, I asked my roommate the meaning of this words.
He answered, “The question “What is this?” implies something or somebody that asks the question. “This” can be considered the original engine of your actions.”
While I meditated by asking myself “What is this?”, I watched myself to find out whether I was made just of flesh, bones, and blood or there was some energy inside me. I couldn’t find the answer, but by meditating on such a question for twenty days, I purified my mind. The question “What is this?” chased away all the thoughts that had crammed my mind for a long time. My mindset changed, and I felt almost reborn.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

TWO WAYS TO LIVE LIFE

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There are two ways to live our lives. One is to be content with little, remain confined to one’s own birthplace, and lead a peaceful life. The other is to get out of one’s friendly environment and venture into the unknown for the sake of knowledge and exploration. Opting for one way instead of the other doesn’t depend on one’s merit, but on the inner psychological makeup. As for me, if I didn’t suffer from a pathological anxiety and fear of death, I would never have started my journey around the world in search of a solution to the issue.
My mother always used to repeat that neither bad weather nor good weather lasts long. It was a good lesson, and now the bad weather in Rishikesh seemed to be an allegory of life, which passes through sunshine and storms. Sometimes it flows smoothly and sometimes stormy, but it is worth living to the fullest.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History 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

LIFE IN ARAMBOL BEACH, GOA (INDIA)

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The Arambol beach has a different look in the morning than it does in the evening. Usually my wife and I went to the beach at daybreak. The sun had not risen yet behind the hills, and the fishermen strained to beach their heavy boats. Sometimes I helped some of them with that hard effort. Some people enjoyed jogging, while others did Tai Chi. I noticed that a great many had themselves tattooed. An old man even had a tattoo on his face, while other tattoos on his body depicted barbed wire and scenes of violence.
Each person seemed a separate world. It happened that a man who brought his chessboard to the beach invited me to play with him under the scorching sun. I didn’t feel like playing chess at the time and kindly declined his invitation, but I later saw him playing with someone else.
What struck me was the solitude of many people in Arambol. I observed the solitary souls in the early morning at the beach and in the evening at the restaurant.
“I would not be able to spend my holidays alone at a beach resort,” my wife said.
“Me either!” I answered.
Indeed, during my youth it was quite unusual to see a person walking alone in the streets; a lonely person was considered mad. In the summer when I wanted to go to the beach, I was careful not to leave Enna alone. I feared that if someone from the town saw me alone they would have pity and say, “Look at poor Vincenzino. He is alone like a madman.” Therefore, I was never alone, and it didn’t matter if my fellow traveler was smart or cheerful. The important thing was that I had a companion. One year I went on holiday at a seaside resort with a companion who wasn’t very intelligent, just so that I wasn’t alone.
In Goa, I had the opportunity to see the absurdity of my previous behavior. There is a basic distinction between solitude and loneliness. The former is free choice, while the latter is feeling, usually linked with melancholy or sadness. You can be in solitude without feeling sad. Many people in Arambol were living in their freely chosen solitude, but I didn’t get the feeling that they felt alone.
Walking along the beach, I saw a lady that danced before the sea, a man playing the flute, and a group of Indian young men who played cricket. As for us, my wife suggested saluting the rising sun and imagining that its golden light pervaded our entire bodies, healing and purifying them.
In the evening, the atmosphere was completely different. Many people walked along the beach. It was like being at Belvedere in Enna during the summer, where people enjoyed strolling on the crammed public walk. Little by little daylight gave its place to night, and every now and then the disgusting smell of marijuana wafted in the air. It happened that some drug peddlers approached to try to sell us marijuana. I was looking for natural paradise, not an artificial and transient pleasure like that given by drugs, so I refused.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History 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

THE OPEN-HEART MEDITATION

SCALA

One morning I was watching the ocean when I had the feeling that Jesus was suggesting a new kind of meditation to me. “Open your heart to everybody. That is the best meditation!” he seemed to say.
I tried this new meditation as the days passed, and I can say that it was very powerful. I sat silently on the beach and focused my attention on opening my heart to all living beings, both friends and those unknown to me. After a while, I felt my body and mind purifying. I talked with my wife about this discovery.
“Yes, I agree with you,” she said. “Focusing our attention on opening our heart to everybody makes us realize that God is within every person. It is no coincidence that the Indians use the word Namaste as a greeting, which means ‘the godliness inside me greets the godliness inside you.’”

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History 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