VOLCAN DE AGUA (WATER VOLCANO) HISTORY AND LORE

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VOLCAN DE AGUA (WATER VOLCANO)
HISTORY AND LORE

At midnight, fireworks lit the sky. They lasted all night.
At breakfast, I met Maria, the owner of the house where I am staying.
“What happened last night? Why so many fireworks till dawn?”
“In the near town of San Miguel, they are celebrating the patron saint.”
“Who is he?”
“Saint Michael the Archangel!”
“I want to go! How can I get there?”
“Don’t worry! I’ll lead you. The place is not far from here.”

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We arrived at San Miguel Escobar half an hour later or so. The streets were decorated with yellow ribbons and yellow balloons. The color yellow is symbol of happiness!
In some houses an altar had been set up with angels and baskets full of fresh flowers.
In the small church of the town there were big and small statues of Saint Michael the Archangel. He was dressed as a Roman soldier with sword and shield, but his face looked like that of a little boy. Apparently, he uses love as a weapon!

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Keeping walking, we arrived at Ciutad Vieja (Old City), the second capital of Guatemala. It lies at the foot of Volcan de Agua.
“There is a small church inside the crater! But it is a bit hard to go up there. Do you know what happened to this old city a long time ago?”
“No, I don’t!”
“Beatrix de la Cueva, Governor of Guatemala, had twenty maids attending her. In 1541, she wanted to be proclaimed the queen of the local population. To her enthronement, she organized a sumptuous ceremony in the Cathedral.
“When she was about to be anointed, a huge mass of water came down from Volcan de Agua. Beatrix de la Cueva was submerged in the water and disappeared with all her following and the city. This is human life!”
We walked for a little while in Ciutad Vieja, and then left the town to go back to Antigua.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
– Travels of the Mind
http://www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

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MOUNTAIN IS MOUNTAIN, WATER IS WATER

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MOUNTAIN IS MOUNTAIN, WATER IS WATER

Today I visited Palgong Mountain near the city of Daegu, the third biggest city in Korea.

To go up, I walked along a broad uphill walkway, and then I climbed one thousand three hundred and sixty-five stairs. I arrived at the top of the mountain with my tongue hanging out, because the stairs are steep and uneven; then the statue of Katpawi Buddha appeared to me.

It is the only Buddha with a hat on. It was carved by a monk who intended to placate his mother’s soul by this. The hat on Buddha’s head is a traditional Korean hat wore only by high class men in ancient times. It is said that if you make a wish (only one wish) to Katpawi Buddha, it will be fulfilled.

While I was facing the statue, the sound of a Buddhist song flooded my ears. The words were mountain is mountain – water is water.

Then, I sat down to contemplate Katpawi Buddha. I felt as if he was opening my eyes to see reality as it is, not as I want it to be. Yes, mountain is mountain – water is water, I thought. How many times we mistake mountain for water and vice versa! This happens because of our delusions which prevent us from seeing things as they are. We wrongly perceive things, people, and situations, so as a distort mirror reflects a distort world.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

www.sbpra.com/ettoregrillo

 

THE BLACK MADONNA OF CZESTOCHOWA

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In my life I have visited quite a few Marian Sanctuaries: Syracuse, Lourdes, Fatima, and so on. Now I want to talk about the Black Madonna of Czestochowa in Poland.

According to tradition, after Jesus’ death Mary went to stay with John and brought with her among her personal belongings a small wooden table that had been made by Jesus.

Later Luke, one of the evangelists, portrayed on the small table Mary and Baby Jesus.

As time went by, Mary’s and Jesus’ faces became black, probably due to the smoke from the candles and the aging of the wood.

The small table underwent many changes of ownership, until it arrived at Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa.

In 1430 the monastery was attacked by a group of heretics, the small table wrenched away from the place where it was, and the painting slashed.

Later, the painting was restored but the slashes in Mary’s face appeared again.

When I arrived at the Monastery of Jasna Gora and entered the chapel where the precious painting is kept, I saw a few crutches hung on one of the walls; obviously, they had been left there by people who had been miraculously healed.

I remained a few minutes in front of the holy image and had the sensation that Mary was suggesting a new lifestyle: think less, lucubrate less, spend more time with friends and acquaintances.

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind

TEN DAYS OUTSIDE THE WORLD – PART TWO

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The course was held in an ancient Tuscan farmstead. We were about seventy participants, and had to wake up at four o’ clock in the morning when it was pitch dark. The meditation was held in the hall within half an hour.

The meals were breakfast at 6 and lunch at eleven in the morning. After lunch there was nothing to eat- except some fruit- until the next day. The teacher said that the stomach should be empty to meditate well.

During the first three days we did a kind of meditation called ‘Anapana’, which consisted in watching the air passing through our nostrils.

In the evening it was possible to ask questions to the teacher. So I went to him and asked: “ I’d like to know what is the meaning of watching my breathing.”

He didn’t seem to be taken aback by my question and answered with a kind smile. “The observation of the air passing through your nostrils leads you to see the reality as it is; there is nothing more objective than air. Furthermore watching yourself in the limited area around your nostrils and upper lip sharpens your mind to observe the body sensations.

After three days of ‘Anapana’, we were taught another kind of meditation called ‘Vipassana’, based on the observation of our body. Also this time I had the opportunity of asking the teacher about this topic. “What is for?” I asked.

“Through ‘Vipassana’ you will come across the ‘Law of Impermanence’”. “All body sensations,” he continued, “ come and go; they are impermanent so as everything in human life.”

After nine days of absolute silence and meditation, we were allowed to talk to each other.

I had been ten days outside worldly life. A really unique experience! Everybody should interrupt the chain of the events that lead them here and there like leaves swept away by the wind even for a little while and watch inside themselves, so as every authentic human being should do. So I recommend meditation to everybody who lives very busily.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind

 

 

 

THE GIFTS OF INSULTS

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One day many people were bringing presents to Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, who accepted all the gifts and smiled kindly at everybody, but all of a sudden an angry man started railing at him. Instead of gifts, that intolerant person hurled insults at Prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

The prince continued to smile and replied politely. “I don’t like your gifts; therefore keep them just for you, because I don’t accept your presents.”

The angry man seemed bewildered and didn’t have the strength to reply.

The moral of the story? Whenever somebody insults you, instead of retaliating, just confine yourself to saying “ I don’t like your gifts, keep them for you!”

Don’t you think that if everybody acted that way, the world would be more peaceful?

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History

 

THE PUMPKIN SEEDS

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Once upon a time, in Northern India there was a woman in her forties, who wished to become a mother for a long time. It seemed that she was barren, but when the last ray of hope was about to vanish, unexpectedly she gave birth to a very beautiful baby girl.

At that time, she was the happiest woman in the world, but at the age of five years her little girl died suddenly.

She was desperate, and couldn’t accept that her beloved daughter had passed away. She cried and cried. One day, one of her neighbors advised her to go to Prince Gautama Buddha, who was a man able to perform miracles.

“ If you beseech that holy man, your daughter will come back to life!” said the neighbor.

The lady set out towards the place where Buddha lived and after two days’ walk she reached him.

Prince Gautama Buddha was sitting surrounded by many monks. Seeing her so badly upset, he felt pity.

“To perform the miracle,” said Prince Gautama to the lady, “ you need to bring me seven pumpkin seeds, but they must be taken from a house where nobody has died.”

The lady was happy and confident that she would easily get the seven pumpkin seeds, and Prince Siddhartha Gautama would perform the miracle to revive her child.

She knocked on the door of a house and asked: “Do you have pumpkin seeds?”

“Yes, of course we have a lot of pumpkin seeds,” answered a young lady on the threshold.

“Did someone die in this house?”

“Unfortunately, last year my father passed away,” she answered.

She kept going from house to house asking for pumpkin seeds, but she couldn’t find a house where nobody had died. Everyone had suffered the death of someone.

Meanwhile, the desperate lady returned to reason, and finally realized that life and death are two sides of the same coin, no one can escape the latter.

What is the moral of the story?

You are not the only one who struggles in life; whenever you feel a pain which seems unbearable, look at the others and you will see your trouble fade away.

Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian History

 

ONE-STAR RATING

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Nowadays, more and more people buy items on the internet: books, electronics, musical instruments, cars, shoes, and so on. Usually, they read the product review before purchasing, which ranges from one-star to five-star.

If an item is rated one-star, people don’t even read the product review and skip it to look for another article with more stars.

Have you ever asked yourself if this way of judging is the right one?

Three years ago I posted a comment on Reddit, which is a social media.

My comment was about what happened at a restaurant in Houston. A family of four asked to have dinner at a distance from the table where another family with a disabled child was dining, and addressed the waiter with a few pungent words.

“Disabled children should eat in special places when they enter a restaurant!”

On hearing those words, the waiter refused to serve those intolerant customers, who left the restaurant.

The news spread quite soon, and the restaurant was praised by host of people due to the waiter’s behavior.

My voice was dissenting from those who had praised the restaurant.

In my opinion the waiter had the duty to serve the intolerant guests, although he had different ideas in his mind.

My article was misunderstood and misinterpreted.

A few anonymous people posted some tart replies. An anonymous reader bought the electronic copy of my newly published book The Vibrations of Words, and immediately posted a one-star review on Amazon.

That pseudo-review has nothing to do with the contents of the book, as it is related to my article on Reddit, but the readers don’t know that, and seeing my book on Amazon rated one-star, they pass over it.

Reality is different from appearance the Buddhists say, and I agree with them. Not everything that at first glance seems to be true is the truth.

The Vibrations of Words is a wonderful book indeed, and I recommend it to the readers. Who knows! Maybe someone, after having read it, can post a good review on Amazon to counterbalance the fake one, and give my book the luck it deserves.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of The Vibrations of Words

WHAT IS A BALUT?

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Traveling across the world, it has happened to me to eat every kind of food. I have eaten cockroaches, worms, grasshopper, frogs, raw meat, raw fish and so on, but at first glance what I was not able to eat was a balut.

What is a balut? It is a fertilized egg, that is an egg with a chick inside. It is considered a delicacy by the local people in Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.

While I was travelling Indo-China I came across a balut twice.

The first time in Thailand. I was in Chang May, eating at a restaurant, when I saw a pile of white hard-boiled eggs in the shape of a pyramid that were kept warm by steam.

I was attracted by those eggs and ordered two of them. When I removed the eggshell, I saw some strange red veins. “This egg is not good!” I said to the waitress.

“No, it is very tasty! There is a chick inside” she replayed.

Despite her insistence, I was unable to eat that strange food and paid in vain.

A few years went by, and in Vietnam at a restaurant a waiter served me another balut. This time I wanted to try it, and little by little I ate both the chick and the egg.

Why I am writing about a balut? Because I want to draw attention to the fact that very often we humans cringe if a chick is eaten or a nest is destroyed, but we are left completely indifferent whenever thousands and thousands of migrants drown in the Mediterranean sea while trying to reach the European coasts. There are even people who love animals, but hate their neighbor. We had better observe reality as it is, regardless of our feelings of pleasure or displeasure, taste or disgust.

 

Ettore Grillo, author of Travels of the Mind

THE NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH

  1. Right Understanding
  2. Right Thought
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

The eightfold path is the heart of Buddhism, but it can be followed by everybody, even if they are atheists.

Once a friend of mine who was a non-believer couldn’t join an esoteric society, because it was necessary to swear on the Bible to be admitted. Despite he liked esotericism very much, he refused to swear on the Bible. In fact, he had no intention of giving up his atheistic ideas. Later, he said to me that he wouldn’t have raised difficulties if he had been asked to swear on Gautama Buddha’s Eightfold Path which was compatible with his ideas.

Actually, the Eightfold Path is a way of living; it can help everybody to live a better life.

  • Right Understanding means to understand things as they really are, not as they appear to our deluded mind. How many times we misunderstand people and situations, and mistake candles for lanterns!
  • Right Thought. Our thoughts are subject to the “Law of Attraction”; the more pure they are, the more they attract pureness.
  • Right Speech – Right Action – Right Livelihood are related to keeping good moral conduct.
  • Right Effort indicates that we have to put an effort in our spiritual life. A little effort is needed if we want to grow as spiritual beings. Without a proper effort we live a lazy life, which clouds the mind instead of elevating the spirit.
  • Right Mindfulness. This recommendation is particularly useful when a person is too sensitive to self-pride. As for me, in the past whenever somebody offended or made fun of me, my self-proud was so wounded that I easily lost my self-control and was unable to see things, people and situations as they real are. Nowadays I strive to be more mindful, without ever being clouded, whether good or bad, by life events.
  • Right Concentration is also called right meditation. Whenever we meditate, we should focus our attention on one single object, without being distracted by trivial worries.What about trying the Eightfold Path in your ordinary daily life? Is it difficult for you?
  • Ettore Grillo, author of A Hidden Sicilian Historybuddha-zen-26305147[1]

ALLEGED WITCH BURNED ALIVE IN PNG

  A twenty-year-old woman has been burned alive in Papua New Guinea. It seems that she was tortured with red-hot rods before being tied to a pile of tires. Then a bucket of gasoline was thrown to her.

Is this the first case of alleged witches sent to the stake? Of course not! In Europe, in the Middle Ages putting witches to death by burning them at the stake was quite normal.

Not only alleged witches were burnt to death, but also heretics underwent the same doom.

If you happen to go to Rome, visit Campo dei Fiori and you will see the statue of the philosopher Giordano Bruno who was condemned to the stake by the Inquisition.

Nowadays, this kind of execution is relic of the past.

What would I do if I were a ruler of Papua New Guinea? First of all, I would start an educational campaign. In fact, at the base of whatever form of intolerance there is ignorance. I would make the study of morals and law compulsory.

I would teach that nobody can know what is good and what is bad, because they are two sides of the same coin. They coexist in each of us.

I would teach that everyone is convinced to be right and follows his path as a train runs on its railway. We human beings are like that; we follow our tracks and cannot understand the others who have their journey on different tracks.

I would teach that one of the most important achievements of human society is the lawsuit, which is the observance of a procedure before sentencing.

That twenty-year-old woman was condemned without a trial. Who knows if she was a real witch or not! Sometimes, what looks real reveals untrue after a long time, but it is too late to repair the mistake.

Ettore Grillo, author of The Vibrations of Words

www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo