Dawn and Twilight at Taal Lake

Dawn breaks over Taal Lake.

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In the distance is Taal Volcano, still active, and spews lava once every ten years or so. The volcano is an island within a lake, within an island. I wrote of my experience going to the crater of Taal volcano in an earlier post.

But the lake itself is worth appreciating.

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It supports the livelihood of communities around it, and fishermen get up early before dawn to catch fish.

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Twilight comes, and Taal Lake reflects the dying half-light of the sky.

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It’s time to rest and hope the volcano stays asleep.

Half-Light

(More info on Taal Lake and Taal Volcano.)

A Full Moon and Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

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What is a full moon but the light of the sun reflected on the face of the moon, and a lunar eclipse nothing but the shadow of the earth dancing on the surface of the moon?

Lunar eclipses have been associated with predictions, myths and cataclysmic events. Shakespeare wrote: “We make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion.” (King Lear)

Tonight is one such night when we see a full moon and an eclipse, though the latter is subtle and subdued.

I’d like to enjoy it as another beautiful night. A reminder of the vastness of the universe, its wonders and mysteries, the fleetingness — and at the same time, the constancy — of nature.

Yes, we are small in the midst of all this, but we dare to think big, because we want to find meaning in our existence. With our dreams we reach out for our place in the higher order of things, and with our hopes we insist that our lives are more than a fleeting shadow dancing on the surface of the moon.

Dance

(The penumbral shadow is at the right side of the moon in the photo.
More info here and here from space.com on the penumbral lunar eclipse seen on March 23, 2016. Photo taken at 1156 GMT, March 23, 2016, Manila, Philippines.)

Love is a Choice… at Otowa Waterfall and in Daily Life

At the Otowa Waterfall in Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, one can choose between longevity, success, and love by drinking from a stream.

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The waterfall, which runs off the hills nearby, is split into three streams of “pure” water, and the tradition is that one takes a ladle and choose which stream to drink from. One does not drink from all three streams as it is considered greedy.

So which one to choose?

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A 75-year Harvard study on happiness tells us that “good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” Being in a relationship where one can “really feel they can count on the other person in times of need” is good for our well-being.

If we follow this advice, the choice is obvious – we choose relationships, we choose love.

It’s a choice we can make everyday, through our actions that build warm relationships and nurture the well-being of the people we love.

Each time we do, we are taking the ladle and drinking from the stream of love at the Otowa Waterfall.

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(Information about the Kiyomizu Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Otowa Waterfall, can be found here and here.)

(The TED Talk on the Harvard study on happiness can be found here.)

One Love

Finding Harmony in Hiroshima, Japan

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When I visited Hiroshima, the initial feeling was sadness.

But then I saw how the city has moved forward, and how the memories of devastation have become an inspiration.

I remembered these words:
“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
– Albert Einstein

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Today, the city is both a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and a memorial to peace.

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“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
– Yoda

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I rang the Peace Bell after this lady, and its sound joined the chirping of the birds in harmony, sending a message of peace.

As I walked around the park, I began to feel a sense of peace, inner peace, and I felt the sadness lifted from me.

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Master Yoda was right after all.

Harmony. You can find it, even in the least likely places.