Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Teachings of the Buddha and the Joy of Being Alive


Many English speakers are familiar with the Sanskrit word karma.  It is often used to encapsulate the idea that "what goes around comes around."  This explanation does not contain the entire story.  A more complete understanding of the word is brought to life in the stories known as the Jataka Tales, which tell of the 550 lives of the Buddha before he reached Enlightenment.  Each story contains a life lesson, often told with humor, and a reminder that one's karma is bound to one's actions.  While karma is sometimes used interchangeably with "fate" and "destiny," it is not quite the same.  If someone has led a life filled with kindness and generosity, they will have earned good karma, and be rewarded in their next life with comfort or ease.  If they have been miserly, cruel, or greedy, they may find it will take several lives of hardship and many lifetimes of kindness and generosity to pay back the debt to their karma.  
(From Picture Book World Religions, by Katie Tweedie Erslev)

As part of our study of Buddhism, Treasure Hunters and Explorers learned two Jataka tales this week.  The Treasure Hunters heard the story of the Brave Little Parrot.  A small parrot worked tirelessly to put out a fire that was harming the homes and lives of others.  The king of the gods is inspired by his valiant efforts and sends the rain.  We may underestimate our ability to help others, but our efforts may inspire greater forces to come to our aid.

Treasure Hunters show off their brave little parrots
Buddhism considers all of life to be evolving toward higher consciousness.  Buddhism considers non-human life to be Divine just as is human life.  All of life is seen to be one.  According to this conviction, to harm any living thing is to do injury to the One Eternal and Divine Life.  In the Japanese culture, association with animals is seen to be a very important experience for children because it teaches them the joy of protecting innocence.  Imagine what would happen if all the children of the world found happiness in graciously protecting life, preserving freedom, and delighting in the happiness of others.  Children who are raised with such a loving and protective attitude towards animals are seldom cruel to them as adults, and thoughtfulness and kindness spill over into their interaction with all of life.   
(From Picture Book World Religions, by Katie Tweedie Erslev) 

The Explorers Class heard the story of the Banyan Deer.  The Buddha, during a lifetime as king of a herd of deer, sacrifices himself to save the life of a pregnant doe.  His selflessness inspires the king of the humans, who have been hunting the deer, to call off the hunt, not only for the deer, but for all living creatures.

Explorers with their model of the stockade in the story of the Banyan Deer.

As Unitarian Universalists, we believe in protecting and honoring life, and doing what we can to help to heal the world.  We also believe in celebrating together, to have fun and to share the happiness of  being alive.  

Today the Discovery Class danced together to different kinds of music.  It was a very joyful experience!

The Discovery Class dances to share the joy and happiness of being alive

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Busy Morning in the Lighthouse

It was a busy morning in the Lighthouse!  Here are some of the things we did in our classes today.  

The Treasure Hunters heard the story of Tenzin's Deer from the Buddhist tradition and then enjoyed acting it out.
The hunter attacks the deer.

Tenzin discovers the wounded deer.

Tenzin learns the most important lesson.
 In the nursery, babies and toddlers enjoyed reading stories, playing with trains, and in the play kitchen.
Reading books in the nursery.

Good friends.
 The Explorers class learned about the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism and the Wheel of the Law.
The wheel of the law.

Drawing images of suffering.

Talking about the four noble truths and the wheel of the law.
 The Discovery Class had a lesson on the importance of asking questions, and enjoyed experimenting with building designs.
Making designs with marshmallows and toothpicks.

We wondered what we could build with these things.
 The Story Time and Spirit Play classes met together today.  Here are some of the things we chose to work on during our worktime.
Building a temple.

The story of how solstice began.

Collaging and painting.

Exploring colors.
In addition, the Youth Group made plans for upcoming field trips, the grades 4-6 OWL class had their first meeting with parents and children, the 7-9 OWL class also had a session, and volunteers met together to learn more about active ideas for the classrooms.  It was a very busy day!  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Dreams

For our village class this Sunday, we heard the story of two heroes:  Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and their efforts to make a more peaceful, fair, free world.  

  After the story, we talked about our own dreams--dreams for others, dreams for the future, dreams for ourselves.
My dream is a monster hiding in a cave.--Jack

A monster snowflake that hurts the meany heads.--Max

My dream is to have a pony when we get a farm.--Lexi

My dream is that everyone will be nice to everyone else.--Sasha

Last night I dreamed I was in outer space and a comet went past.  Out of nowhere a star appeared in front of me, and all these little stars around it.--Izzy

A big snowflake falling on the ground and the sun came up and melted it away.--Aidan

My dream is that police officers will stop killing innocent people.  No more guns!--Crissy

My dream is that people will use garbage instead of gas to power their cars.--Jonathan

My dream is people playing together.--Luis

Lighthouse Chapel Celebrates Chinese New Year

We light candles of Joy and Sorrow during our worship together, as a way of sharing what is important to each of us in our lives.
At our Lighthouse Chapel for children and youth this past Sunday, we met with our teams to work on projects.  Then we joined together for worship.  We learned about the Chinese New Year, and enjoyed our own dragon parade!

The Loving Hearts team prepared birthday cards for children and youth with winter birthdays.

The Helping Hands team made a special announcement about Shelter Box, which we will support with the collection taking during Lighthouse Chapel .

Please support Shelter Box.

The Open Minds Team created a dragon for the message of the morning.
Our dragon!