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Life Is Death Penalty

Once there was a king called Asoka. Asoka was a king from India and he was also a Buddhist. He had a younger brother named Vitasoka. Vitasoka is not a religious man. He never led a religious life. What he cared about was having parties, having fun with girls, wine and all the money in the world. Of course, Vitasoka got all the fun and all the glamorous he wanted since his own brother was the king of India.

Asoka wanted his little brother to know the truth about life. So, he made a trap for his brother. Asoka let his cloak and crown lied on the bench near the side of the pool. He asked two of his closest ministers to accompany his brother while taking a walk to the pool side.

"Why don't you try on the cloak and the crown while there's no one here looking ? Who knows you fit the size, and one day when your brother dies, you can directly take his place? Come on...try it on... There's no harm in it" One of the minister pointed on the cloak and the crown which lied on the bench near the pool side.

Vitasoka knew that it was not right to try on the cloak and crown while his brother was still in the position of the king. However, he couldn't stand the greed he had inside of him. He wanted to try it on. So, when he was putting the cloak on, the king, Asoka came out from the pool and got him trying on the cloak.

"Hey, what are you doing?!! You want to take me down??!! You have betrayed me!" Since it was not right to try on the king's cloak, Asoka said,"I don't care if you are my brother, you should get the punishment! I decided that you have to get death penalty!"

Vitasoka begged for forgiveness and tried to persuade his brother not to punish him for what he did. But Asoka didn't want to listen to any word he said. Asoka put his brother into jail before the death penalty day arrived.

When his brother was in prison, he came to visit his brother and told him, that seven days before his death penalty day came, he could wear the king's cloak and crown, he could have all the beautiful concubines the king has, he could enjoy all the greatest music from the greatest musicians, all the food that king eats, all the entertainment and all the facilities a king has. He could have it all. But only seven days before he died of his death penalty.

Seven days later, when the day arrived. The king, Asoka came to his brother and asked him, "Did you enjoy all the facilities of a king and all the beautiful ladies ?"

"How could I enjoy when I literally know that I will have my death penalty right after seven days of all those?" He looked on the ground, looking sad.

"Nah, now you understand!" The king smiled. Since that day, Vitasoka leaded a very religious life and he became a man that hold on to morality in his life."

Lesson in the story is that, no matter it is seven days, seven weeks, seven years or even seventy years, we will never know when our death penalty will come. We will never when we will die but we surely know that we will eventually leave all the things behind and die. So, how can you live your life recklessly when you know that someday somehow your death penalty will due ?

Let's make our lives important by doing things which are important for all beings. Let's do things that make our lives meaningful while the death penalty hasn't due. Let's live like today is our last day on earth! From Ajahn Brahm's Book "Si Cacing dan Kotoran Kesayangannya 3!"
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Eleanor Roosevelt

Roosevelt speaking
at the United Nations
July 1947

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

American Speaker, Author

1884 - 1962

Do you believe in your dreams?  Do you believe in the opportunities that can and will come into your life?  Each of us makes our own future by believing in our dreams.  When we give up on our dreams, we die a slow waking death.  Never give up on your dreams.  What you believe in you can achieve.  What you doubt will be cast aside and forgotten.  The dreams that you have been given are yours to achieve.  Nothing is impossible if you believe.
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"Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it."

Roman Poet

65 BC - 27 BC

It is only in times of adversity that true genius is revealed.  The best rise to the top.  But in times of prosperity many are pulled along by the few.  Learn to appreciate adversity because it reveals your strengths.  When times are good, don't rest on your laurels.  Remain hungry.  Remain creative.  Live on the cutting edge.

Some creative leaders slow down when they become successful.  They become satisfied and don't feel the need to work so hard.  Success often destroys the creative impulse.  Stay hungry.  
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Rabindranath Tagore

"I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung."

Bengali Poet, Novelist, Musician, Painter, Playwright

1861 - 1941

Sometimes creative leaders are so focused on perfection that they forget to sing.  They spend so many hours practicing and preparing that they never produce.  We are never going to be perfect so we need to let go of our creations and allow them to find their way into the world.

Are you singing your song or are you stringing your instrument?  The time has come to sing and let go of your fear of failure.  Let your child grow up.  Let the world experience your creative expression. 
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Charles Kingsley

"All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about."

English Priest / Novelist

1819 - 1875

What are you excited about?  What wakes you up early in the morning?  What are you eager to do?  We all need something that excites us — something that inspires us to get out of bed.  Happiness comes from being involved and being active.  Inactivity leads to boredom and depression.  Find something you are passionate about and do it.  Become engaged in life.  Be passionate!
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Zig Ziglar

"In your hands you hold the seeds of failure or the potential for greatness.... The choice is yours."

American Speaker / Author

1926 - 

Life is about the choices we make.  And in our hands are the seeds of our failure as well as the seeds of our success.  Which seeds have you chosen to plant today?  Have you chosen to do the things that will bring out your greatness and help you reach your potential?  Or have you chosen to follow a path that leads to destruction.  Do you read books that bring you insights and wisdom?  Do you associate with friends who encourage you?  Do you feed your mind as well as your body?  Do you love yourself and give thanks for what you have been given?  Whom have you helped?  What lives have you touched?  Do you give more to others than you get?  The choices we make today will create the lives we live tomorrow.

Here is Zig with the story of how your attitude makes all the difference.  The choice is yours.

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David Handler

"A writer like me is sort of like a sponge; you just soak up everything around you."

— David Handler

American Novelist

1952 -

Every creative person should be a sponge soaking up the world around them.  Information is fodder for the creative muse.  Information keeps us alive and ticking.  Information inspires us.  What new ideas have you encountered today?  What new pieces of seemingly useless information have you added to your memory?  What questions have you raised that you do not know the answers to?  

Brain Exercise:  Take a moment and write down ten questions you wish you knew the answers to.  Then for the next ten days make up an answer to one of the questions and write your answer down.

Here is David Handler talking about writing.

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Kurt Vonnegut

"Write to please just one person.  If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia."

— Kurt Vonnegut

American Novelist

1922 - 2007

Whom do you create for?  Yourself?  Your relatives?  The masses?  Write for yourself.  Write to please yourself?  Paint for yourself?  If you paint what others want, you will lose yourself in the dust.  Scribble for yourself.  You are the only one you have to please.  Not your parents.  Not your spouse.  Not your editor?  Not the general public.  Just yourself. 

Here are Vonnegut's eight tips on how to write a good short story.

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Louise Nevelson

"True strength is delicate."

American Sculptor

1899 - 1988

Strength comes from gentleness, not from overused muscle.  True strength often appears weak to the uninitiated.  Bullying is not strength.  Overpowering is not strength.  Standing firm in the face of danger is strength.  Strength is like water wearing away the stone.  The stone is not stronger than the water.  Yet, many would say the stone is strong.  The water is strong by appearing weak.  Is your art like water or like stone?  Does it have true strength or it only appear strong?  Embrace your inner strength.  Believe in the power of your spirit to conquer the obstacles in your path like water conquers rock.
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Philip Guston

"I come into the studio very fearfully.  I creep in to see what happened the night before.  And the feeling is one of, 'My God, did I do that?'"

Canadian Artist

1913 - 1980

Does your creative work surprise you?  Have you set a poem or story aside and came back a month or two later and were surprised by what you read?  Have you painted a picture and were pleasantly surprised the next day by what you had created?  Often times we are not aware of what we are creating while we are in the process of the creation.  It is only later that we discover the beauty of what we created.  And that is the joy of creation -- discovering something new.

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Child Rearing Quotes

Child rearing can be a difficult task.  These quotes can help a parent who is having difficulty raising their child and are in need of help.

“The way an infant reacts to his or her primary caregiver reveals whether or not the child feels the adult has met his or her needs and done so in ways that are pleasing. Contrary to popular belief, a large number of research studies show that this kind of caregiving will not spoil a child.”   Peter Ernest Haiman

“Children who grow up feeling secure in their primary relationship will undergo normal emotional development. They will be equipped to handle constructively most traumas that may occur, either during childhood or later in life.”  Peter Ernest Haiman

“When kids fight over a toy a good way to stop these fights is to get the child another toy to play with…Play with him for a while.  He will get to playing with his toy and stop fighting.” Peter Ernest Haiman

“Often a kid will act evil because he is uptight or tired.  If you can get your child to rest or play quietly for a while, it will help him get himself together….Calm him down and find out what is bothering him.” Peter Ernest Haiman

“…being a good listener helps your child learn more effectively, heed danger signals, get along better with you and her teachers and other adults she’ll be expected to respect, and make better friends.” Mary VanClay

“Squat down or pick your child up, so you can look her in the eye and grab her attention.  She’ll listen much more closely if you sit down next to her at the breakfast table when reminding her to eat up her cornflakes, or perch on her bed at night when telling her you’re about to turn out the light.” Mary VanClay

“State your message clearly, simply, and authoritatively.  Your child will zone out if you harp on a topic too long.” Mary VanClay

“When our children are unreasonable, they are asking for our help.  They need us to set limits for them.  They also need to know that we care about them.  It’s our caring that puts them back on track again.”Patty Wipfler and Dr. Laura Markham

“A limit set empathically so he feels safe—may be just what he needs to trigger a release of his upset feelings. Crying in the safety of your loving presence restores your child to a state of well-being and connection.  Once he feels good again, he’ll “act good”—because our kids naturally want to connect happily with the adults they love.” Patty Wipfler and Dr. Laura Markham

“Be kind but firm…Empathize…Stay close…Reconnect.” Patty Wipfler and Dr. Laura Markham


GO TO TABLE OF CONTENTS-Inspirational Quotes
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Mary Frank

"There are times when I can't work, can't do anything.  I can't concentrate, I get scattered, feel I'm dying . . . ."

English Artist

1933 -

Being a creative leader is very challenging and many times we work against ourselves.  Our minds find excuses why we can't work.   What we don't realize is that this down time is actually good for us because it helps us create.  We need the down time even if we feel guilty about it.  For a five year period after I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was very productive, often writing two poems a day or more.  The last two years I have seen my productivity dwindle.  There are days now where I don't write a single poem, but that is okay because my mind and heart need to replenish themselves.  Sure, sometimes I feel guilty, but I know one day I will return to work.  I have had years where I have written 700 - 800 poems and other years where I write 40 - 50.  Am I being lazy?  No, I am recharging my creative batteries.
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Francis Picabia

"Between my head and my hand, there is always the face of death."

French Painter / Poet

1879 - 1953

Is death a part of your life?  We live in a time when we have put distance between us and death.  In other times and places, death was a part of living and in some cultures it still is.  The family would bathe the body and prepare it for burial.

As artists and creative leaders, we should understand how fragile life is and know that we face death on a daily basis.  Are you ready when death comes knocking on your door?  Are you prepared for the next step?  Do you know what is on the other side of the door?  Have you explored death in your creative work?  Have you seen death close up?




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Pablo Picasso

"Success is dangerous.  One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.  It leads to sterility."

— Pablo Picasso

Spanish Artist

1881 - 1973

When a creative leader becomes successful, it is easy to fall into the success trap.  Your audience wants you to sing the same songs, paint the same pictures or write the same stories.  And you may be afraid they won't appreciate the new you and your new work.  So you don't try to ideas.  Or you try something new and your audience rejects you.  You need to be constantly reinventing yourself and your art.  Picasso was know for reinventing himself.  He never stayed with one art form or one artistic technique.  He was always seeking the new.  He did not let success define him.  He defined success.

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Francis Bacon

"I want a very ordered image, but I want it to come about by chance."

— Francis Bacon

British Artist

1909 - 1992

Life is a paradox.  We want order but desire chaos.  We like the world to be logical but seek  the thrill of the unexpected and the unexplained.  We are not satisfied with what we have and desire more.  We are not happy with who we are and desire to be someone else.

Are your work habits chaotic or orderly?  Are your creative works orderly or chaotic?  Are you living a chaotic life or an orderly one?  Is the order imposed from within or without?  

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Lewis Carroll

"Stories are "love gifts."

English Author

1832 - 1898

Today, in the United States, we celebrate Father's Day.  What better gift to give a father than the gift of story.  Story touches the heart in way that most gifts cannot.  Maybe you could tell your father a funny story about something that happened to you.  Or maybe you should tell a story that communicates how important your father is to you.

My father was always working to provide for his family.  First, he was a farmer, raising champion hogs to sell at market.  When he could no longer support his family through farming, we moved to town and he build houses for people in the community.  Yet, my father would take time out of his busy schedule to attend all my basketball games from junior high through high school.  Even my freshman year, he would show up to the freshmen games even when other parents and students did not attend.  I will always remember him sitting in the bleachers.

When my father was in high school back in the early 1940's, he played basketball and was the captain of his team his senior year.  My father passed away in July of 1990, almost 22 years ago.  But his memory lives on in the stories I tell.  What stories of your dad are you telling today?

And if you are a father, do what Lewis Carroll is doing in this picture.  Treat yourself to a long nap.
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Meredith Monk

"At a certain point, you have to go to the edge of the cliff and jump — put your ideas into a form, share that form with others."

American Composer

1942 -

Artistic folks are often perfectionists who are slow to let their work out into the larger world.  We need to learn to take a leap of faith — to believe enough in our work to let others experience it.  Sure, the work will find critics and those who don't understand and maybe even controversy, but that is okay.  The work must see the light of day.  So take the leap and jump off the cliff.  Share your work with others.

Here is Meredith Monk performing Lost Wind.

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Peter S. Beagle

"There are no happy endings, because nothing ends."

American Novelist

1939 - 

In life nothing ends.  Endings only occur in stories.  Life is ongoing, changing and reoccurring.  What once was is now again.  Memory keeps the story moving, growing, but never ending.  We rewrite our stories every day, finding new ways to end them, but never ending them.  

What stories in your life are you retelling, re-imagining, recreating, reinventing, but never ending?  What once was, now is again.

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Paula Abdul

"You end up becoming who you are by jumping into that circle of fear — that's how it's done."

American Singer/Dancer

1962 -

Have you embraced your fears or do your fears control your every move?  It is by facing our fears that we become who we are meant to be.  Holding our feet to the fire makes us stronger and wiser.  Step into that circle.  Look fear in the eye and demand that he set you free.  You are stronger than your fears.

Here is Paula singing and dancing.  Enjoy.

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Akbar Padamsee

"The conscious mind is like a monkey bitten by a scorpion.  It is never still.  As a result most of our unconscious feelings escape us.  An artist needs to be in silence."

Indian Artist

1928 - 

The conscious mind often is a hinderance to creativity.  It is restless and never sits still, flitting from one thought to another.  And as a result we are not in touch with that deep source of creativity within our souls.  Silence is the key to unlocking our creative muse.  We must let go of the conscious mind and travel to the heart of who we are.  We must find ourselves within the silence.  

Here is a video of Padamsee painting and discussing how he paints.

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Leontyne Price

"I am here and you will know that I am the best and you will hear me."

American Soprano

1927 -

Self-confidence is a key trait of creative leaders.  We need to believe in ourselves and the work we do.  We need to be confident that we will be successful.  But we also need to be humble.  Self-confidence is a great characteristic to have, but if one is not careful the self-confidence can turn into arrogance.  Self-confidence coupled with humility makes for a better leader.  Many times if one digs deep enough one finds that the arrogant person actually lacks self-confidence.  He covers up the lack of confidence by acting tough.  If one is truly self-confident in one's ability and skills, one has no need to be arrogant.  One is instead humbled by the gift he has been given.

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Adages of Wisdom Quotes by Master Sheng Yen

To develop good interpersonal relationships, one needs to broaden the mind, and be more affable and tolerant.


Change your mind-set, and you will see the world differently: there is no absolute good or bad in this world.


Building good interpersonal relationships requires communication. When communication fails, try compromise. And if attempts at compromise also fail, then forgive and tolerate.


The larger should tolerate the lesser; the lesser should understand the larger.


Put your heart and soul into the family, and your whole life into your career.


The best way to abstain from greed is to give more, contribute more, and share more with others.

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Harley King

"May your journey through life be vibrant and full of colorful rainbows."

— Harley King

American Poet & Speaker

1949 -

Do you live in a black and white world?  Does everything in your life have a place and time?  Are you striving to be perfect?  Then it is time that you add a splash of color to your world.  Color brightens the heart and lightens the load.  Dance on the rainbow of love.  Sing songs of purple and violet and pink.  Drink from the fountain of red and blue and green.  Be the yellow smile on the faces of your friends.

Here is a recent poem.


I paint

the face

of God

on the back

of my lover.

Can we find

our way home

or will

we wander

the streets

of heaven forever?

She laughs

at the sound

my heart makes

when it cries.

God paints 

my face

with a silk brush.

I embrace

the darkness.
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