amaterasu In many cultures the sun is personified by a masculine, strong willed god and creator. However, in Japan, the sun is seen as a radiant goddess Ameratasu, which means 'shining in heaven.' When her brother the Storm God insulted her, she retreated to a cave. Much to the dismay of the people, she refused to come out and light dwindled on earth, disappearing and fading into perpetual darkness. Disturbed by this, Uzume the bawdy, laughing shaman-goddess called together the people, gods and goddesses. To the delight of the crowd, Uzume danced wildly and cracked outrageous bawdy jokes. Their laughter, hoots and calls intrigued Ameratasu so much that eventually she came out to see what the hoopla was all about. As she peeked her head out, the crowd held up a mirror. Dazzled by her own beauty, she shone radiantly, returning the light and sun back to the world.   Love FlowersLaughter and lightness naturally illuminate our inherent beauty. This also helps us not to take ourselves so seriously. I remember visiting an incredible spiritual teacher, Rashani who lives at South Point on the Big Island of Hawai'i. We were just visiting, however I could not help asking her for advice on some drama I was having with a friend. At that time I had my daughter's star sunglasses with me and would wear them for kicks at the beach. Rashani gave me sage advice to stay present with my friend and really tune into her needs, listen and then share my own. And then, almost as an afterthought, she casually said, "And wear those sunglasses when you talk to her."   What a funny, simple thing to say, and yet the profound effect it had on dissolving all my tight thoughts around my friend into a laughable, workable situation was beautiful. Imagining myself wearing the glasses talking with my friend turned my fixed notion of my annoying friend into openness, spaciousness and acceptance. I have taken that advice to heart, to bring lightness to what we perceive as heavy and open our hearts to the presence of relationships, with love and laughter instead of always focusing so much on the serious need to fix something. I have since lost those glasses...but am going out to find another the meantime, I keep them in the back pocket of my mind for starry eyed reflections. star glasses     akakaBeauty is all around us, within, and ever present. We only need to tune in to recognize the immense beauty of the world: the brilliant pink swashes of sky at sunset; the dapple of sunlight under a shady tree; the sound of our own breath moving through our body; the call of a cardinal from a branch. Just like Ameratasu seeing her own reflection, the world is our mirror. If we are negative and angry, we see that reflected in our relations, in the world around us and miss the beauty that is ever present. However once we begin to truly recognize our own beauty through meditation, quietness and clearing emotions, then the world naturally reflects that beauty and compassion back to us. When we are deeply connected to the natural world, we see our own radiance within the flower, in the clouds, in our bodies and breath.   Recently I went to visit a gorgeous waterfall and was struck by the immensity of water pouring endlessly into the magical emerald pool. Swimming in the fresh cold mountain water was so revitalizing and pure. As I sat on the rocks next to the fall, feeling the soft mist on my face, the breathless beauty all around, hearing the roar of the fall I was moved by the endless abundance of flow that the waterfall offers, just giving endlessly. Like the sun, the waterfall does not first ask for something in order to give; she gives only to give. The sun shines simply to shine, it is her birthright to shine, just as it is our birthright to bathe in the beauty that surrounds us. In the indigenous perspective, beauty is prayer, it is a path, a Way. It is a kind of medicine. If we are not awash with gratitude for the beauty that surrounds us, then something is wrong, we have gone out of balance and we need to create ceremony, say prayers or write down what we are grateful for to come back into balance, back into beauty. That feeling of being awash with beauty is one of the most profound, awe-inspiring moments of our lives and suddenly the feelings of disappointment, judgment, fear and sorrow are washed away into the brilliance of presence. We all can remember a moment like that; when we were so caught up in the beauty of the moment that our heart had no choice but to open, breath catching, tears rising. I encourage you, seek out your radiance, every day. Life is preciously passing and we are always treading the reality that we may be only one breath away from death.

Navajo Blessing Way Prayer

In beauty may I walk. All day long may I walk. Through the returning seasons may I walk. On the trail marked with pollen may I walk. With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk. With dew about my feet may I walk. With beauty may I walk. With beauty before me, may I walk. With beauty behind me, may I walk. With beauty above me, may I walk. With beauty below me, may I walk. With beauty all around me, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk. In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk. It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty