five objects

Mahamudra by The Great Path to Enlightenment (Part 1 of 3)

by Khenchen Sherab Gyaltsen Amipa

1. INTRODUCTION

The essence of Buddha’s teaching is loving compassion, for Buddha’s nature is loving compassion. Wisdom develops from loving compassion and leads to enlightenment. This particular Mahamudra practice comes from the Lam Dre. Maha means “great” and mudra means “spiritual posture”. In this case, mudra signifies love, compassion and wisdom as the path to enlightenment.

Lam means “way”, Dre means “fruitful”, “leading to completion or success”, so Lam Dre signifies the fruitful path, by which is meant the path leading to the fruit of enlightenment.

The Lam Dre goes back to the Mahasiddha Virupa and from him through Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, it was transmitted to the Sakya Order, where it represents a root practice. Primarily, it is concerned with the development of Mahamudra and Mahakaruna. The goal, which is enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, is reached through a series of practices. A more exact description follows later.

The Lam Dre has two parts: Sutra and Tantra. The Mahamudra practice consists of a preparation and three parts, namely, foundation, path and goal. In the preliminary exercises the aim is to accumulate merit. The foundation lays the groundwork for the training of the mind, that is, the development of relative and absolute Bodhicitta. The path consists of the six paramitas, samatha: uncommon or extraordinary concentration (Tibetan: shiney) and vipashyana: uncommon or extraordinary insight (Tibetan: lhag- tong). The goal is enlightenment or Mahamudra of which two different expressions refer to one and the same state.

2. PREPARATION

The accumulation of merit is obtained through: 1. Taking refuge 2. Prostrations 3. Meditation and the practice of Bodhicitta 4. Mandala offering 5. The purification practice of Vajrasattva 6. Guru yoga

TAKING REFUGE

In Mahayana Buddhism taking refuge is of great importance, since it opens up to us the possibility of following the right path. Whether we are meditating on loving compassion and bodhicitta, or on samadhi and vipashyana, we always take refuge at the beginning of any meditation session.

In common ordinary refuge, the object of refuge is what we call the Three Jewels (Sanskrit: triratna): Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

The first object is Buddha, the fully enlightened one. Though there is more than one Buddha, we have a special connection with Buddha Shakyamuni. He had already reached enlightenment a long time before but because of our good karmic relationship with him he re-incarnated yet again. He left the Pure Land of Tushita and was reborn in Lumbini. On the night of his conception his mother dreamed of a white elephant. Immediately after his birth Buddha took seven steps and at each step a lotus blossomed. He had chosen a royal family in which to be reborn, and to begin with, he lived in great luxury in his father’s royal palace. On his excursions outside the palace, which he undertook without his family’s knowledge, he saw people who were old, sick and dying. This suffering affected him so much that he left his family and the palace, withdrew into solitude and exercised great renunciation.

Although he was already enlightened, he followed the path of human life, so as to serve as an example. This too is a form of renunciation. There are many different kinds of renunciation, the most important being to renounce suffering. The Buddha became a hermit and meditated for six years during which time he accumulated many virtues. One night, sitting in deep meditation under a tree in Bodhgaya, he vanquished all the maras. By maras we mean the five non- virtues. They are not external to us, but come from within ourselves. During this meditation Buddha reached full enlightenment. He then travelled to Sarnath where he gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths, the basis of our practice.

Buddha Shakyamuni gave many other teachings pertaining to Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. In this way he gave everyone a possible path to enlightenment corresponding to their varied aptitudes, outlook and station in life.

When we take refuge we think of the explanations Buddha Shakyamuni gave, his compassionate nature and his activities for the benefit of all living beings. We then develop a deep yearning to realise these qualities in ourselves.

The second object of refuge is the Dharma. “Dharma” is Buddha-nature, that is, Buddha’s wisdom and knowledge. “Dharma” is also the path. As we come to a deeper understanding we realize that “Dharma” is also our own innate wisdom. At the beginning of our practice we take refuge in the Dharma. When we have developed our consciousness and reached the state of Mahamudra, we take refuge in our own original mind, for the Dharma is our own original mind, the opposite being ignorance and non-virtue. In order to deepen our understanding of the Dharma we need to study the scriptures and to hear teachings, then to reflect upon and practise what we have read and heard.

The third object of refuge is the Sangha, the holy community of Bodhisattvas. All those who practise correctly and fervently also belong to the Sangha. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are the three objects in common ordinary refuge. When we focus our attention on them we take the Buddha as our doctor, the Dharma as the medicine and the Sangha as our helpful carers. The person who takes refuge is like someone who is sick. We need a great deal of patience in order to get well as our ignorance is a severe illness. We need a good doctor, the right medicine and someone who can take good care of us. If we follow the exact prescriptions of our doctor, take the right medicine and recover our health, we may also one day become doctors ourselves. However, as long as we suffer from our illness we must do as the doctor says. Not to follow the holy Dharma is to be like a sick person who does not listen to the doctor or take the prescribed medicine. The Dharma demands correct and virtuous behaviour of us, and this is our medicine. Our aim is to obtain peace and happiness, but if we behave nonvirtuously and without kindness, we will achieve the exact opposite.

It is also possible to take refuge in four, five, even six objects, that is, in the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, Dharmapalas and Yidam. If we take refuge in four objects, then the fourth object, the Guru, is put first. We can also take refuge in five objects. The fifth object specifies the Dharmapalas or Protectors (Guardians). They have received a mission from the Buddha to protect those who are seriously practising the Dharma. The sixth object is the Yidam. A Yidam is a divinity given to us by our guru and with whom we build up a personal meditation practice.

Taking refuge is not only important for beginners in the Buddhist practice but it continues to be necessary until we reach enlightenment.

PROSTRATIONS

We carry out prostrations with the “three gates”: body, speech and mind. Before beginning we take refuge and should generate the enlightenment thought, that is Bodhicitta. We should then stand upright and put the palms of our hands together at the level of our heart. The right hand symbolises wisdom, the left hand method, the two elements which are fundamental to the conduct of all Mahayana practices. We then raise the folded hands so that the wrists touch the top of our head. This signifies the desire to be reborn in a peaceful Buddha-land. Next we hold the hands in turn in front of the forehead, throat and heart. This purifies any faults of body, speech and mind. We separate our hands as a sign of the activity of the Samboghakaya and kneel down with the feet close together. In this way we express the gradual steps towards the completion of the five paths and the ten Bodhisattva- bhumis. We bow down and touch the ground with the forehead to symbolise the wish to reach the eleventh Bodhisattva-bhumi.

Prostrations stretch the energy channels along the spine. In this way blockages are loosened and energy flows unhindered. On rising we are symbolically released from the sufferings of samsara. We should take care to keep the back straight so that air flows freely through the main channel, the kundalini.

To obtain the full blessing of this practice we should follow the instructions very precisely and control our mental and bodily attitude carefully throughout.

MEDITATION AND PRACTICE OF BODHICITTA

If we have developed our mind through correct and continuous practice to the point where no ignorance remains, we produce a deep wish within us to reach enlightenment for the sake of all living beings. To achieve this, we practise giving and taking which is part of the Bodhicitta practice (Tibetan: tong len).

With clear consciousness and free from ignorance, we visualise in front of us someone who suffers from ignorance or other problems. At the same time we experience the deep wish to free them from their suffering through our meditation. Our compassion then is as pure as the sun or moonlight. If we have chosen someone who is sick, then this light goes exactly to the seat of their pain. At this point, the power of our virtue is so great that it purifies the illness. This method is also helpful in cases where conventional medicine is no longer effective.

Giving and taking means transmitting our happiness and peace to others and taking all their sufferings and difficulties upon ourselves, thereby freeing them. Many people are afraid that they will lose their peace and themselves incur the sufferings of others, but if our serenity is strong enough, nothing can happen to us. We will have developed so much strength through practice and meditation that we can give our own serenity to the person who is suffering.

A further meditation practice consists of imagining that our nature is full of happiness and peacefulness and then we give these qualities to all those who are suffering. This exchange encourages the development of Bodhicitta.

Our consciousness can be compared to a jewel or to gold. When the precious jewel is taken from the earth, it needs to be cleaned and cut. On the spiritual level, this is accomplished through the training of the mind. Our original consciousness is a precious jewel; our ignorance is the dirt covering it. Through the development of the mind we experience a deep desire to find more effective ways of helping others. For this we need the right practice which leads to absolute Bodhicitta and so to the best way of helping other living beings.

MANDALA OFFERING

The mandala offering helps to transform body, speech and mind into the form of the universe. We then offer this universe, and in so doing we accumulate virtue. The study of Buddhist philosophy is not enough in itself if we wish to understand shunyata, we also need an accumulation of virtue.

VAJRASATTVA PURIFICATION PRACTICE

There are two kinds of purification:

1. Common or ordinary purification through which incorrect attitudes of body, speech and mind are purified. We can also purify negative karmas and nonvirtues in this way. The practice can also help us to relieve many spiritual, mental or bodily illnesses for which there is no suitable medicine, since they arise out of negative karmic connections.

2. Uncommon or extraordinary purification through the Vajrasattva meditation: through the blessing of Vajrasattva, our body, speech and mind can take on his qualities. An initiation is required for this purification.

GURU YOGA

Guru yoga plays a special role in Mahayana since many practices such as the path by which enlightenment can be reached in one lifetime, are not possible without the help of a qualified guru. In addition, the guru watches over our mental training and oversees our development. The guru’s energy helps us to make more rapid progress.

The Guru yoga practice gives us a very special blessing.

If we wish to have more information about Guru yoga, we need more precise instructions from a qualified guru.

3. THE FOUNDATION

TRAINING OF THE MIND

The aim of training the mind is to transform it. We can reach this goal by learning to behave virtuously, that is, by being free from all doubt and by developing respect, faith, love and compassion.

If we earnestly wish to practise the Dharma, the teaching of the Buddha, we should harm no living being, but on the contrary, strive to help all beings. However, if we desire to help, we must first learn what help is needed. This means that we must first of all reflect on the innumerable sufferings of samsara so that we can recognise them. Nevertheless, true clarity can only be achieved through the development of deep compassion as well as intellectual understanding.

On this path, above all, we must learn to abandon our way of looking at life exclusively from our self centred point of view. Ego and attachment generate the greatest sufferings of samsara, while at the same time they are the very cause of samsara.

At Sarnath in his first teaching after his enlightenment, Buddha showed us the way to liberation from samsara. We call this teaching the sermon of the Four Noble Truths.

THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS

The first noble truth is the truth of suffering. It says all life in samsara is suffering. Even when we feel happy momentarily, we do not know how long this happiness will last. We are all subject to the sufferings of illness, birth and death and we are not able to protect ourselves from them.

The second noble truth is the truth concerning the cause of suffering. Here Buddha points to the fact that we are the cause of our own suffering created by the false view that ego and attachment impose upon us.

The third noble truth is the truth of the cessation of suffering. This means that our suffering will end when we have recognised that our false view and ignorance are the root of evil, and have renounced them.

The fourth noble truth is the truth of the path of release from suffering. In order to end our suffering, we must put aside the erroneous belief that our own self and all other phenomena exist of themselves, independently of cause and effect.

SAMSARA

If we observe our lives, we note that this or that annoys us or that something is not proceeding as we would like. We lose people and things we love and cannot protect ourselves from those whom we do not love. Time robs us of the attraction of what we desire. We are constantly under the threat of mental and physical illness, catastrophes and unpleasant incidents. Old age reduces our strength and dulls our senses. We become weaker, sometimes apathetic and severely limited mentally. In the end, we die.

This is samsara. By definition, it implies difficulties, worry and relentless suffering.

EGO AND ATTACHMENT

However the misery of samsara is not produced by any higher being but by ourselves.

The greatest evil and chief cause is our ego. Ego means “only me”, “me alone and no-one else”. The ego considers itself to be the centre of the world and thinks all else should be at its service. It only recognizes itself and has no room for others. It snatches all that appears desirable and defends itself against anything which feels threatening. This is how attachment and hatred arise. Such narrowing of the mind inevitably results in insecurity, because those who are blind to all but themselves, without feeling, live in a strange menacing world. These people cannot even trust themselves. The result is constant, tormenting doubt and lack of inner peace.

Ego, attachment and ignorance are thus the three root illnesses from which we all suffer. Though it seems to us that we suffer many ills, in reality, they are all merely effects of the ego. In order to free ourselves from them, we must give up false representations and recognize that we are subject to the law of cause and effect. The first step towards this is to think less of self and more of others. There is no difference between them and us. We are all striving towards happiness and wish to avoid suffering. When we consider how many other people there are in comparison to one person, we realise that others are more important than us. This kind of attitude helps us to open the prison of our self-centredness. We discover a world inhabited by others like ourselves and recognise in ourselves unlimited freeing thoughts. For this reason it is a fundamental principle in Mahayana never to practise for oneself alone but always for the benefit of all living beings.

The ego and the “I” are not identical. The ego or “me alone” can be defined as egocentricity or selflove. The “I” is neutral. The “I” is what is active in us. Sometimes it only takes care of itself, imprisoned in the representation of the ego or it may endeavour to help others. This “I” seeks enlightenment. It is this “I” which expresses the wish to practise at the beginning of every sadhana.

IGNORANCE

Ignorance is the opposite of wisdom. Ignorance has two aspects, a common or ordinary aspect and an uncommon or extraordinary one. Ordinary ignorance accompanies us in our daily lives. It produces innumerable sufferings and difficulties. By extraordinary ignorance we mean that our consciousness is not sufficiently clear. We have not studied enough and do not know the different aspects of the Dharma. We are unable to observe and control our own mind. Our thoughts are confused and we find it difficult to distinguish right from wrong.

Ignorance is purified when the mind no longer depends on samsara. We will then have achieved the nature of a Bodhisattva, fully released from ignorance.

KARMA

Buddha himself designated karma as the result of earlier deliberate actions. Intentionally carried out, these actions are the source of happiness and suffering both in the present and in future lives, and the cause of rebirth in the samsaric cycle.

There are two types of karma, non-virtuous and virtuous. If, for example, in one life we impose suffering on another apparently separate being, then inevitably this will have negative effects on us as well, for all living beings are united. Only our ignorance leads us to believe that we can gain from harmful behaviour towards others. If we think that at the end of our life everything we have done is wiped out and forgotten, we are still succumbing to our ignorance. We will experience in our next life discord and pain because of it. If, on the contrary, we have helped someone to the best of our ability, then our karmic connections will help make one of our next lives a peaceful one.

We can also alter our karma. Buddha’s teachings show us ways and means by which we can produce the cause of positive effects and avoid the cause of negative results. We can purify non-virtuous karma through renunciation, accumulation of virtue, and above all through purification practices, such as the Buddha Vajrasattva practice.

LOVING COMPASSION

Through his teaching on the Four Noble Truths, Buddha shows us how to change our state of involvement. Anyone who is suffering mentally can alleviate both their own suffering and that of others through the development of loving compassion.

This means that we must first of all feel love towards ourselves. As long as we do not accept ourselves we have nothing with which to produce loving compassion or Bodhicitta. This present precious human body and precious mind are all that we have to reach enlightenment. It is only as human beings that we have this possibility. Nor can we alter anything that goes wrong in our lives without first accepting ourselves.

BUDDHA NATURE

If we find it difficult to accept ourselves and others, we should call to mind that we all have Buddhanature already within us. It is just that we are not aware of this in our present ignorant condition. Ignorance is indeed the reason why we are subject to the sufferings of samsara. If, however, we give the right care to the seed of our Buddha-nature, it will grow into a plant and unfold itself. We will develop the ability to turn towards all beings with love and be able to protect them, for Buddha-nature, as it grows, awakens in us the desire also to liberate all those who like us suffer in samsara.

THE PRACTICE OF LOVING COMPASSION

There is a particular practice directed towards the development of loving compassion. We visualise in meditation someone who is close to us. Usually our own mother is taken as the object of contemplation. We can also visualise anyone who has been particularly good to us. We feel their suffering and develop the sincere desire to free them from it. In order to be really capable of this we must first develop a rich warm feeling of loving compassion towards ourselves, and feel it within our own body. Only then can we direct it towards others.

After we have thought of our mother or some other person who has been good to us, we can develop loving compassion towards those who are our enemies. Someone who always treats others with respect may have only a few enemies. However, since enmity in this life also goes back to karmic connections, an individual may not be well disposed towards us. The cause may be negative actions that we have done to that person in an earlier life. This is how false views in our present life arise and for this reason enemies are extremely helpful in our practice; meeting them gives us the opportunity to free ourselves of these false opinions.

This is why we treat our enemies with respect and we strive to practise loving compassion, steadfast in our belief in karma and the Dharma. In our mind and in meditation, we give our enemies all our accumulated virtues, all our merit. We have the desire to make friends with them and the wish that they may be freed from all their suffering. If we succeed in purifying all our negative feelings of anger and rage, then, even though the whole world turns against us, we have no enemies. Our own anger is our worst enemy. However, it would be useless to repress our anger out of fear of the negative effects on our accumulation of virtue. If we feel anger arising in us, we should try to recognise its root. If this is not possible at the time because we are too angry, at least we should attempt to develop loving compassion as an antidote. It is only when anger no longer arises, when our nature has become entirely gentle and kind, that we can help those who need our help.

MAHAKARUNA

Mahakaruna links our loving compassion with the desire to liberate other living beings from their suffering whether bodily or mental. “Maha” means great and “karuna” is compassion. Mahakaruna is the most important prerequisite for the practice of Bodhicitta.

MAHAKARUNA PRACTICES

There are three possibilities:

1. THE FIRST MAHAKARUNA MEDITATION PRACTICE:

We visualise someone who is in great difficulty. We then reflect on the source of these difficulties: non-virtue. Non- virtue has its source in ignorance. In order to protect ourselves, we practise the ten virtuous actions daily, with a clear understanding of non-virtue (see below: virtue).

Nobody wishes to experience suffering. Since suffering is produced by non-virtue, we must avoid non-virtue. Just as we do not wish suffering for ourselves, other living beings also wish to be free from it. Through our heart-felt desire to help them realise this aim, we are able to find real liberation from the sufferings of samsara both for ourselves and for others.

In this way we can meditate for the person whose suffering we have visualised.

2. THE SECOND MAHAKARUNA MEDITATION PRACTICE:

We visualise someone whose ignorance is great. Even such a person can lessen their ignorance, above all by hearing Dharma teachings, reflecting on them and by doing the practices. We meditate with the deep desire that the ignorance of this person, who does not know the Dharma, may be purified.

Consciousness is in itself pure and free from non-virtue. If it is sullied it can be purified through teachings and practice. This is an extremely important point. Wisdom and ignorance are opposite poles. Ignorance diminishes in proportion to the development of wisdom. We therefore meditate for this person in such a way that they may be freed from ignorance.

3. THE THIRD MAHAKARUNA MEDITATION PRACTICE:

This meditation concerns attachment.

Since our life is impermanent and insecure, a desire to possess things or people sooner or later leads to suffering. Attachment goes hand in hand with ignorance. As long as we hold on to something, we cannot be free. This is not the same as holding on to the desire for enlightenment. No suffering can arise from this.

In order to release ourselves from our attachment, we should think about the reason for our re-birth in this universe. The reason is to be found in our strong ego that always gives rise to attachment and self centredness. Little by little we can undo this greedy craving, which is like a cramp inside us, through the desire to reach enlightenment, through loving compassion and attention to other living beings. We meditate in this way so that the person we wish to help may be released and freed from attachment.

However, before we can help others through our practice of Bodhicitta and Mahakaruna, we must change our own nature through our daily practice. It is only when our nature has become gentle and our mind free that we can really practise Bodhicitta for the benefit of other beings.

BODHICITTA

Bodhicitta can be relative or absolute. Relative Bodhicitta is the wish to develop the enlightenment thought for the benefit of all living beings. Absolute Bodhicitta is the enlightenment thought itself. It gives rise to our complete liberation from samsara through the recognition that neither phenomena nor we ourselves exist independently, but that everything comes into existence dependent on cause and effect.

BODHICITTA PRACTICE

In order to practise relative Bodhicitta, we take refuge and direct our thought deeply and sincerely to the idea that we must become a Buddha as quickly as possible for only a Buddha has the skills necessary to help liberate all living beings from the sufferings of samsara.

In this way our whole nature is filled with love, compassion and strength. We see the innumerable sufferings of living beings and have the wish to help them. In fact, there are different ways of helping someone who is in difficulty: we can offer relative help, that is, material means of sustaining the body, such as food or clothing or medicine in the case of illness. If the problem is mental, we can offer advice or comfort. In this way, we will only alleviate acute suffering and help to remove the symptoms for a time, while the cause of suffering remains.

We need far-reaching methods in order to help people recognise the cause of suffering. We can help most effectively if we transform our own body, speech and mind through the development of virtue.

VIRTUE

Virtue signifies protection. When we behave correctly, not harming others but lovingly exerting ourselves on their behalf, that is, when we avoid the ten non-virtuous acts, we protect others as well as ourselves.

The ten non-virtuous activities are:

a) the non-virtuous activities of the body 1. killing 2. stealing 3. sexual misconduct
b) the non-virtuous activities of speech 1. untrue speech 2. harsh speech 3. slander 4. useless chatter
c) the non-virtuous activities of the mind 1. greed 2. enmity 3. attachment to wrong views

If we avoid these negative activities we will find ourselves less often in situations where we think we ought to act, yet are not clear as to the consequences of our acts. In this way the consequences of our activities will not come back to us from outside in the form of negative forces, limiting our freedom. Furthermore, we obtain inner and outer peace.

Since all living beings form an entity, we can share this peace with others as soon as we have attained it for ourselves. It is hardly possible to help others as long as we ourselves are lacking in compassion, peacefulness and patience, and are limited by our own suffering.

In the development of relative Bodhicitta we can also practise giving and taking. This means giving to others our good thoughts and the strength of our virtue and taking upon ourselves their troubles and pain. We need not be anxious about doing this or afraid of bringing catastrophe or illness upon ourselves. Our pure loving attitude will protect us while helping others.

For the meditation practice of absolute Bodhicitta we contemplate the Buddhas. We recognise their great compassion, their wisdom and their activities. We beseech them to grant all living beings these same abilities. Our mind then enters into Bodhicitta meditation and we experience the development of our nature. Day after day we obtain greater inner clarity, just like the moon growing from a small crescent to a full circle. Contrary to our original state of mind when we began our practice before purification, our mind becomes pure, strong and full of virtue.

A distinction is made between powerful and powerless virtues. Ordinary virtues can easily change: for example, they may disappear through anger or at least diminish greatly. Bodhicitta virtue on the other hand always keeps its quality. This is like a tree that is stripped bare in harvest-time while the wish-fulfilling Bodhicitta tree bears a richer harvest the more we pluck its fruit.

Someone who does not practise Bodhicitta leads an ordinary life; through the Bodhicitta practice our life is filled with the extraordinary power of virtue. This is also the difference between ordinary people and Buddhas. We all have Buddha-nature within us, but without Bodhicitta practice it is concealed under our ignorance. At the beginning of the practice, our mind is like the sky when clouds cover the sun and moon, we can no longer see them although they are shining. If, however, we allow the teachings to fully penetrate our being and practise regularly with attention, we drive away the clouds of ignorance and gradually Bodhicitta arises in us like the clear light of the sun or the moon. In reality, Bodhicitta is the essence of love, compassion and Mahakaruna, no different from our own unveiled pure mind, Buddha-nature. As soon as Bodhicitta arises in us we feel as though all beings were our children whom we wish to care for like a mother or a father.

Through the Bodhicitta practice our body, speech and mind are transformed, even our name. For those who have reached absolute Bodhicitta there is no more bodily suffering, no more illness. They are called Bodhisattvas.

Anxiety/Panic Attack Grounding Technique #36

This is a widely used method for quickly calming yourself, or someone else when having a panic/anxiety attack. It is important that you focus on the questions and do not pause. Don’t stop until you have reached the end.


Answer these five questions out-loud:

  1. Name five objects that you can see

  2. Name four things that you can hear (Even without clear sounds, listen for things like the silent hum of cars or people far away, a computer fan, etc)

  3. Name three things that you can feel (like you may be sitting in a chair that you can feel, or holding a drink)

  4. Name two things that you can taste. There’s always some left over tastes on our tongues, just focus…

  5. Name one thing that you can smell.


Take your time on all of these questions. The more detailed your answers are, the better.

This method works by giving you a set of simple tasks. If you let yourself focus on the tasks, by the time you have finished, you should have been distracted for at least a few seconds (but more likely a minute or two). While distracted with these questions that you will have put a little thought into, your adrenaline levels will go down and you will feel more in control and less panicked when you finish the technique. This only works as well as you let it so don’t speed through the questions. Take your time to think about the questions and try to give detailed answers. Like instead of ‘I hear water dripping, a car, etc’ identify it more like ‘I hear water dripping in the kitchen sink, I hear cars being driven outside’.

This is a great way to help your friends, family, etc if they are having a panic attack. I find it works even better when someone else asks the questions. The person having the attack now needs to tell someone their answers which automatically takes more of their attention. There’s nothing wrong with asking a friend to go through the questions with you by the way. 

Is your henshin item a BEAD??

Jesus wept, I would doom the world to an unspeakable fate within the first five minutes of becoming a magical girl. There is a zero percent chance I would ever find that thing again when I needed it, having lost it somewhere in the black void dimension that inevitable swallows EVERY LAST FUCKING THING I OWN SMALLER THAN A LARGE PUG.

5

PERSPECTIVE: People object to Clarks calling boys shoes “Leader” and girls shoes “Dolly Babe”. Aaaaaand over on the letters pages…..

another pointlessly fun oc ask post

because i’m crazy about fleshing out characters. I tried to keep these questions mostly positive.

send me one (or more) of these for any of my ocs!

1. what does music mean to them? what role does it play in their life?
2. if you were to hug them, what would they smell like?
3. what’s their favorite food?
4. what’s their least favorite food?
5. do they like nature? if they do, what’s their favorite natural setting (woods, beach, desert, lake, etc.)?
6. what’s their most prominent personality trait?
7. what’s their mbti?
8. hogwarts house?
9. d&d alignment?
10. if they were in a modern high school clique (jocks, goths, hipsters, geeks, etc.), what would it be? why?
11. tea or coffee?
12. dusk or dawn?
13. country or city?
14. what do they do in their free time? do they have any hobbies?
15. do they like animals? if they do, which ones?
16. how are they in platonic relationships?
17. how are they in romantic relationships?
18. do they have any insecurities about themselves?
19. what’s their favorite genre of book or movie (if they like to read or watch movies)?
20. what would their dream vacation look like?
21. how many hours of sleep do they get on average?
22. what is their body shape? are they trim or tubby? tol or smol?
23. if you had to pick five words/phrases (objects, places, weather, etc.) to describe your oc’s aesthetic, what would you pick?
24. do they hold onto grudges?
25. are they fiscally responsible? or would they prefer spending with wild abandon?
26. what’s their favorite kind of weather?
27. how old would they be if they didn’t know how old they are? (e.g., what’s their mental age?)
28. what’s their opinion of children? how are they around children?
29. what’s their sexual orientation?
30. what’s their favorite color?
31. what temperature would they prefer the room to be?
32. how mannered are they? how proper to they act?
33. how do they dress?
34. which season do they prefer? why?
35. what is their “morning ritual”?
36. what is their “nighttime ritual”?
37. have they ever had a one-sided crush?
38. do they like art? what form?
39. how do they read a book (if at all)? slowly, over the course of a few days, or within a few hours? do they sit, stand, lay down, all of the above?
40. do they have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
41. what would be their favorite subject in school? (e.g., English, Math, Science, History, Recess, etc.)
42. what physical features do they find attractive on other people?
43. are they patient or impatient? what situations would make them feel one or the other?
44. what is their opinion of authority?
45. what is their opinion of tradition?
46. are they into folklore and/or conspiracy theories? or do they think both are garbage?
47. if they were to have a “happy place” they retreated to in their mind during stressful/boring situations, what would that place be? what would be in it?
48. what is one value they hold higher than any other, in others and in themselves? (e.g., loyalty, intelligence, compassion, responsibility, etc.)
49. what is(are) their love language(s)?
50. what is their opinion of cheese?

elliotenjolras  asked:

I'll be obvious and say Les Mis?

hahaha I got three of these and they’re all Les Mis Which Is Fair XD

  • Want as my mentor:

oooh hard call. Uh. My mentor for what, I guess is the question. Hmm. I’d like  to get through that ridiculous 19C Certain Kind of Radical Sexism™ that Enjolras has and get him to teach me his superhuman Social Organizational skills, because that is obviously useful, but failing that I’d take Valjean for a gardening mentor, I guess? 

  • Bake cupcakes for:

…Eponine. And Gavroche and Azelma! I would bring over the decoration stuff and we could have a cupcake party. 

  • Lend my books to:

…I have heard horror stories about Lending Books in Canon Era France 
Mabeuf, though. Mabeuf would never hurt a book. 

  • Put thumbtacks on the chair thereof:

Gillenormand’s got about that level of Spite Vengeance comin’ >_> 

  • Have a crush on:

Victor Hugo and also actual historical Frenetic Romanticism didn’t have to call me out like this, I feel so Attacked 

  • Pack up and leave if they moved next door:

I mean the Thenardiers are the VERY OBVIOUS CHOICE 

  • Follow as captain of a ship:

Enjolras is the obvious obvious choice and also the one I’m going with, sign me up for the good ship Competence and Reasonable Delegation of Responsibility 

  • Pick as my partner in a buddy movie: 

Legle, definitely. His MacGyvering skills are clearly underrated, and I need someone who won’t freak out  because the Freaking Out is MY job, thankew.

  • Marry:

..I’m currently old enough that a significant number of the characters just make me go CHILD and the others are mostly traumatized well beyond being reasonably ready to accept the responsibilities of a marriage

uh

probably Joly, he’s a good dude and we can have a good old-fashioned Friendly Marriage For Show and have a Mutual Understanding about extralegal partners. And since it’s only a Technically Marriage, I wouldn’t have to worry too much about him being a ….Younger Actual Adult than I am interested in >_> 

plus you know he’s never going to tell you that you’re Not Actually Ill and I really need that guarantee from anyone I’m even gonna pretend to live with if I’m gonna avoid turning into a supervillain

  • Want as my boss:

Well NOT VALJEAN  sorry dude your personnel policies are shit terrible

Y’know what, probably Mabeuf?  He seems really undemanding. It’s possible he would never even realize he was supposed to be the boss, which works for me. I’d just hang out and read his books and ask him about his books and sometimes help in the garden and we could be Very Happy about it all. 

  • Sue:

GET WRECKED and pay extensive back child support THOLOMYES

  • Want as my best friend:

…can I have nine answers? 
(uh, okay, Prouvaire. **shrugs** I know where I am with Fandom Nerds.) 

the pivotal moment of sucker punch, wherein the main character has an epiphany that completes her personal arc, happens when she realizes that she is literally a disposable object. I’m not making this up. I couldn’t make this up. the whole movie is about finding ‘five objects’ needed to escape because its an unbelievably lazy screenplay and then at the films most climactic moment she realizes. she IS the fifth object. this genuinely happens in the movie sucker punch

Painted Constellations

Summary: Dan is a painting major at uni who needs someone to paint on for his art project, and Phil is a photography major who needs Dan to model for him.
Word Count: 8613
Warnings: alcohol, mentions of suicide, a lot of Van Gogh talk, smoking, mentions of sex, homophobic comments, depression

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There is a certain relaxation in allowing images to unfurl themselves from the bristles of a brush onto the white emptiness of a new canvas. The paint is smooth and fragile, breaking into nothingness if smeared or smudged, now an entirely new picture. The colours would then blossom into a new galaxy of flowery fields, the starry night sky, or even a dog waiting by a picket fence for it’s owner.

The possibilities were endless and alive; a painter does not have to live in a dull world when they can create their own.

But there is also with great certainty that artists have something missing from their lives - whilst they can create so many beautiful universes, they deal with having to be trapped in the cruel world that is the Earth and all of it’s humanity. It was no wonder that Vincent Van Gogh would eat yellow paint to be happy, claiming that “the sadness will last forever” after attempting suicide and lying on his deathbed.

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August 2017: 1st to 15th

Welcome to the first edition of the “Recolor it!” Challenge!

RULES:

  • On the 16 and 31 of every month I will give you a new theme and five objects to recolor. You must post pictures of your work on your blog, tag or mention “recoloritchallenge” and I’ll reblog you here. Once the two weeks are over you are free to send me (@zx-ta) your recolors and I will merge all of them as a little set and share it here, of course you can share it on your own too. But if you’re not comfortable with sharing your creation, you don’t have to.
  • No comittment: You can participate once, every time, or once in a while, your choice :)
  • You won’t be judged: everyone can join and if it’s your first time recoloring  you are welcome!

So, this time all the objects are from the base game, you must recolor the chair, table, plant, rug and painting at least once with the word “citrus” in mind. It can be a pattern, a palette, a nice picture on the painting/rug: Go crazy!

me: i hate sports

sana and yousef: talk about football and basketball

me:  Basketball is a non-contact team sport played on a rectangular court by two teams of five players each. The objective is to shoot a ball through a hoop 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter and 10 feet (3.048 m) high that is mounted to a backboard at each end of the court. The game was invented in 1891 by-

Sunday, 7 May 2017: Mass evacuation in Hannover after WWII bomb find

Today, on Sunday, 7 May 2017, about 50,000 people – about one tenth of the population of Hannover – have to be evacuated from the Vahrenwald, List, and Nordstadt neighborhoods. The evacuation has started at 9:00. At 14:00, the area is expected to be fully evacuated. Public transport in the area is suspended. Trains will no longer stop at Hanover Man Station and will be deviated. Train service from Hannover Main Station to Hannover airport will be replaced with buses. Businesses in the area have to stop production. Only then can experts begin to further investigate the suspicious site. The work is expected to be finished not later that 22:00. To ease the troubles of the evacuated, Hannover offers an extensive cultural program, offering free or reduced admission to museums, theater plays, zoos, etc. Emergency accomodation has been set up in sports halls and schools.

Five large metal objects have been identfied with magnetometers on a building plot. Whether they are indeed unexploded WWII bombs is not yet known as the metal objects have not yet been excavated. However, the authorities take the greatest possible care to avoid any risk. This is due to the fact that the bombs are becoming more dangerous as they are ageing.

Many of the unexploded bombs have a time-delayed chemical trigger. It contains a glass vial filled with acetone (the solvent in nail polish remover) and a couple of plastic discs holding a spring-loaded pin in place. Upon impact, the glass vial was supposed to shatter, releasing the acetone, which was supposed to eat through the plastic discs, which took an indeterminate and varying length of time. When the plastic discs were weak enough, the spring-loaded pin would impact a crystalline, pressure-sensitive explosive, which would then trigger the bomb. The idea to implement such a random time delay was to interfere with rescue and firefighting activities after a bomb raid.

However, quite often the glass vial remained intact and the bombs would not explode at all. Now, more than 70 years after the war, two mechanisms make the bombs prone to detonate at the slightest disturbance. Firstly, the plastic discs are ageing and are becoming brittle, posing a greater risk of spontaneously releasing the pin. Secondly, the crystalline pressure-sensitive explosive undergoes modifications of its crystalline structure, making it sensitive to any kind of movement. Spontaneous bomb explosions have already happened, and in 2010, three bomb defusing experts were killed during their attempts. Also construction workers have already been killed when they had accidentially hit a bomb hidden underground.

That’s why builder-owners in areas suspected to be contaminated are required by law to investigate their property with metal detectors at their own cost prior to digging into the ground. In case something is found, the federal states are responsible and bear the full cost for risk assessment, removal, and destruction. The actual work at the site is carried out by expert companies.

It is estimated that about 100,000 unexploded bombs are still buried underground in Germany. Every year, about 5000 bombs are discovered and rendered harmless.

All Hallow’s Eve 1896

I would like to specifically gift this to @strangelock221b <3


               On a dark stormy night on All Hallow’s Eve, family and friends were gathered at the Watsons’ residence. Sherlock Holmes was in attendance but he did not care for social calls. He did, however enjoy the holiday. Everything about it reeled him in.

               “Holmes, I didn’t think you would make it,” John greeted him.

               “Yes, well, it is obviously important to you,” Sherlock replied flippantly. “Though I’d much rather be at home, I suppose it is a sacrifice I must make.”

               “Sherlock,” Mary smiled, “I have someone to intro—where did that girl go?” She looked around and spotted her. “I’ll only be a moment.”

               Molly Hooper slipped away from Mary, too nervous to approach the man she was to be introduced to.

               “Molly, dear, whatever is the matter?” Mary asked.

               “I know you think we would have a connection, but Mary, look at him,” Molly replied. “He is much too posh and looks extremely disinterested. Why ever would he even give me a passing glance?”

               “Now, now, I know Mister Holmes quite well, Molly. I think he would be very much interested in you. I would not attempt this arranged courting if I did not think you two were suitably matched,” Mary explained. “Come along and meet him. He can be abrasive at times, but I’ve seen him be sweet before.”

               “Okay,” she agreed meekly.


               “Ah, Lestrade, anything interesting come up?” Sherlock asked.

               “Surprisingly, no,” he replied, “though the night is still young.”

               “I hope I’m not interrupting,” Mary cut in.

               “Not at all,” Sherlock replied.

               “Well, as I was saying before, I would like to introduce you to my cousin, Margaret,” Mary encouraged Molly to approach him. Sherlock did well to keep his wits about him, as Miss Hooper was a vision in her pinstriped dress and black corset. She was about to open her mouth before he stopped her.

               “No, do not say a word,” Sherlock instructed. “Your name is Margaret, but you prefer Molly. You are, most impressively, a pathologist in training, soon to be starting at St. Bartholomew’s. Quite a magnificent feat considering how awful society is to women. You are above average in intelligence, quite close to being a genius; possibly a prodigy of your career field. You own a cat and will be staying here at the Watsons considering your father recently passed. Sorry for your loss, Miss…”

               “Hooper,” Molly provided. “That was quite amazing, Mister Holmes.”

               “Undoubtedly,” he remarked.

               “Would you care for a game of Halloween pudding?” Mary asked the both of them. They answered her simultaneously.

               “I do not believe in those superstitious frivolities.”

               “I’d love to!”

               “Actually, I suppose one game would not hurt,” Sherlock changed his mind. There was something about Molly that intrigued him. She was quite becoming, and though soft-spoken, had a confident strength about her.

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