Monday, June 30, 2014

Who named Teddy the Bear?

When I visited my mother last month I discovered her love for teddy bears.  She had a whole basket of bears in a basket, some small ones and some bigger ones.  I started wondering about the origin of Teddy the Bear.

I knew that the world over, children love the cuddle stuffed animals.  And even adults liked them around for comfort and softness because of their friendly and almost human personalities.

When I went to see the doll museum in Hanau, they had exhibitions of early bears including the famous Steiff ® bears which are probably the most expensive toy bears around for their quality and life-likeness.

Before the production of toy animals came into high gear in the early 20th Century, most people had seen bears only in zoos unless they came across a life bear in the wild.

Where did the bear get the name Teddy?

In November of 1902, the president of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt went to Mississippi to settle a land dispute.  The president was a skilled hunter; it was his favorite sport.  On one of his trips in the wild, one of his man had cornered a bear and suggested for the president to shoot him.  But Theodore Roosevelt didn’t like the idea of shooting a cornered bear.  A political cartoonist, Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon of this event and published it under the title: Drawing the line in Mississippi.  The picture indicates the boundary between the disagreeing states and the refusal of the president to shoot a frightened bear.

When Rose and Morris Michtom of Brooklyn New York read about the incident, it gave them an idea to create a stuffed bear to showcase in their grocery store.  The Mitchtoms had come from Russia and thought of the appeal a bear would have on children.  Well, it worked and they sold the bear and many thereafter. 

After the Mitchtom’s request to the president to call the bear “Teddy” the name stuck, and they made their teddy bear production a full-time business.

In the meantime, in Germany lived a woman named Margaret Steiff who had polio.  She could not walk and had to use a wheelchair.

She owned a clothing store and being a seamstress, she also made stuffed animals.  At the end of the 19th century, she managed the production of soft Steiff® animals.  Margaret’s nephew Richard was an artist, and brought back a drawing of a bear family when he visited the zoo in Stuttgart.  Margaret created a toy bear from the picture.  Being resourceful, Richard took the plush bear to the trade show in Leipzig, Germany.  Nobody paid any attention to the bear, except for an American toy buyer.  He ordered three thousand bears which started the mass production of Teddy Bears.

That was the beginning of the bear manufacturing and many factories starting popping up in cities all over the United States.

Why is the Teddy so popular?  It is his appeal to all ages, young and old, boys and girls.

Who is your favorite bear character?  Mine is Winnie-the-Pooh.  I love his innocence and simplicity.  Even my grand-children now love Winnie-the-Pooh in videos.

From a book: Teddy Bears by Arlene Erlbach

Monday, June 23, 2014

What is the Ego?

“Most people are so completely identified with the voice in the head—incessant stream of involuntary and compulsive thinking and the emotions that accompany it—that we may describe them as being possessed by their mind.  As long as you are completely unaware of this, you take the thinking to be who you are.  This is the egoic mind.  We call it egoic because there is a sense of self, of I  (ego), in every thought—every memory, every interpretation, opinion, viewpoint, reaction, emotion.  This is unconsciousness, spiritually speaking.  Your thinking, the content of your mind, is of course conditioned by the past: your upbringing, culture, family background, and so on.  The central core of all your mind activity consists of certain repetitive and persistent thoughts, emotions, and reactive patterns that you identify with most strongly.  This entity is the ego itself.

In most cases, when you say “I,” it is the ego speaking, not you, as we have seen.  It consists of thought and emotion, of a bundle of memories you identify with as “me and my story,” of habitual roles you play without knowing it, of collective identifications such as nationality, religion, race, social class, or political allegiance.   It also contains personal identifications, not only with possessions, but also with opinions, external appearance, long-standing resentments, or concepts of yourself as better that or not as good as others, as a success or failure.

The content of the ego varies from person to person, but in every ego the same structure operates.  In other words: Egos only differ on the surface.  Deep down they are all the same.  In what way are they the same?  They live on identification and separation.  When you live through the mind-made Self comprised of thought and emotion that is the ego, the basis for your identity is precarious because thought and emotion that is the ego, the basis for your identity is precarious because of thought and emotion are by their very nature ephemeral, fleeting.  So every ego is continuously struggling for survival, trying to protect and enlarge itself.  To uphold the “I-though,” it needs the opposite thought of “the other.”  The conceptual “I” cannot survive without the conceptual “other.”  The others are most other when I see them as my enemies.  At one end of the scale of this unconscious egoic pattern lies the egoic compulsive habit of faultfinding and complaining about others.  Jesus referred to it when he said:  ‘Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?’ At the other end of the scale, there is physical violence between individuals and warfare between nations.  In the Bible, Jesus’ question remains unanswered, but the answer is, of course: Because when I criticize or condemn another, it makes me feel bigger, superior.”

A New Earth – Chapter 3 -- page 59

I have been fascinated reading about the ego.  Nobody I have read about has ever identified the ego as Eckhart Tolle did.  The above excerpt is only a small part of Chapter 3.  I have read his book before, and it becomes clearer to understand after reading it again.  No wonder it has become a popular reading after Oprah introduced it on her show.

“Somebody becomes an enemy if you personalize the unconsciousness that is the ego.  Non-reaction is not weakness but strength.  Another word for non-reaction is forgiveness.  To forgive is to overlook, or rather to look through.  You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his or her essence.”

~ Eckhart Tolle – A New Earth

Monday, June 16, 2014


Blessings come in so many different ways.  Among the most cherished are children.  I am sure those dads who celebrated Father’s Day yesterday will agree with me that children are the greatest miracle of all.

Blessings are among many of God’s favors and protection.  But we humans can also give our blessings to others through prayer and benedictions.

Since God gave the original blessing to Abram (Genesis 12:1-2), the three major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam have a common beginning.

“And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
~ Genesis 1:28

Giving each other blessings helps us to feel good.  Being kind and serving each other, gives positive feedback to our body.  Through that kind of mind/body unity we create a base for God to sanctify us.  In the Divine Principle (3.1) we call that the first blessing or being fruitful.

The achievement of the first blessing is very crucial because it becomes the foundation for all the second and third blessing.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."
~ Galatians 5:22-23

As this bible quote suggests, there are the fruits of the spirit which we are to emulate.  Once we have incorporated these values mind-body unity becomes much easier.

Through the second blessing we experience the love between man and woman.  Husband and wife create a family by having children.  Each blessing helps us to grow more and contributes to our maturity. 

As experienced adults we can fulfill the third blessing by taking care of the natural world and reap all the benefits from the creation. 

When we look upon our world today, we can certainly find problems everywhere.  Unfortunately, we are trying to find solutions in an external way.  Looking at the diagram above, we can see that the trouble lies in the first blessing.  To become fruitful means to be mature, responsible and caring to oneself, to others and to the environment.  For most of us to love ourselves is the hardest thing of all. 

There is a book out called “The Gentle Art of Blessing” which talks about the health benefits of blessings.  Blessings even have a positive effect on our DNA.  Since we are all spiritual (energy) beings, we respond well to positive vibrations.  Blessings are the ultimate benevolence.  They infuse us with holiness and remind us of our true original potential.

I am closing this blog with blessings to all who come by to read it.  Bless yourselves and others and you will never be the same.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Satan's Activities in Human Society

Satan accuses and deceives mankind
Satan is constantly accusing all people before God, as he did Job, in order to drag them into hell. (Job 1:9-11)   However, even Satan cannot perpetrate his evil activity unless he first finds an object partner with whom he can form a common base and engage in give and take action.  Satan's object partners are evil spirits in the spirit world. The object partners to these evil spirits are the spirit selves of evil people on the earth, and the vehicles through which these evil spirit selves act are their physical selves.  Accordingly, the power of Satan is conveyed through evil spirits and is manifested in the activities of earthly people.  For example, Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, (Luke 22:3)  and Jesus once called Peter “Satan.”  (Matt. 16:33) In the Bible, the spirits of evil earthly men are called “angels” of the devil. (Matt. 25:41)
The Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (à Eschatology) is a restored world in which Satan can no longer instigate any activity.  To realize this world, it is necessary for all humanity to eliminate their common base with Satan, restore their common base with God, and engage in give and take action with Him.  The prophecy that in the Last Days God will confine Satan to a bottomless (Rev. 20:1-3) pit signifies that Satan will be utterly incapable of any activity, since here will no longer be any counterpart with whom Satan can relate.  In order to eliminate our common base with Satan and be capable of judging him (I Cor. 6:3), we must understand the identity and crime of Satan and accuse him before God.
However, God endowed human beings and angels with freedom; therefore, He cannot restore them by force.  Of their own free will, human beings are to bring Satan to voluntary submission by upholding the Word of God through fulfilling their responsibility.  Only in this way can we be restored to the original ideal purposed by God at the creation.  Because God works His providence based on this principle, the history of the providence of restoration has been repeatedly prolonged.  (àPredestination2)
Divine Principle -- The Fall of Man: Section 4.2 -- Satan's Activities in Human Society
As a master of persuasion, Satan easily deceives mankind into focusing on anything but God. Through the theory of evolution, for example, he has convinced millions that God doesn't exist.
This is an excerpt from the Divine Principle taught by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.  Rev. Moon had personal experiences with the fallen archangel Lucifer who became Satan.  To really understand our human problems today, we cannot avoid learning about the true nature of Satan who is the only enemy of mankind.  All the other antagonists are psydo-representatives who challenge us in different ways to make us suffer or change and become stronger.  Rev. Moon discovered the origin of Satan, how he works in our lives, and how he covers his activities in lies and deceptions.   Even though the story of the Fall of Man sounds like a fairytale, it is the symbolic account of what happened to our human ancestors Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  Similar versions are found in other religious teachings.  The facts are that we have to look for the root cause of evil and how we can eliminate it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

My Prayer Shawl Experience

Looking for a craft’s project, I came across the idea of a prayer shawl.  I didn’t know but there are whole communities online and around the country where people get together for knitting sessions to pray for loved ones who are sick or just in need of prayer support.

Since I was going to visit my ailing mother, I thought it suitable to take my knitting job on the trip. 

First of all I had to figure out the pattern.  I was ones an accomplished knitter but never really used any written instructions (and especially not in English, since my first language is German).  Once I had decided what design (arrowhead) I wanted to use I set many nights to create a sample.  Not until I watched the Youtube instructions of the blueprint was I able to copy my own outline.

Finally, I was ready to start with the designated yarn.  Casting on 87 stitches for the width of the shawl was easy.  Following the instructions I did the first 3 rows in pearl to create a border.  I cannot say that the pattern flowed off my hands easily, because I made many mistakes and then had to redo rows.  Every time I thought, that now I have the pattern down, I found slip-ups and rather than correcting my blunder, I unraveled the row up to the oversight. 


It was an amazing experience, since I am praying not only for my mother, but also for the rest of my family, friends and those whom I know are in need of some prayer support.  I find myself in this rhythm, 3 steps forward, and 2 steps back.  The whole thing started to become a reflection of my life where often I go for a while and nothing bad happens.  Then, all over sudden, something undesirable happens, I go several steps backwards to correct my mistake until I can move forward again.  In this way, this knitting work becomes a symbolic reflection of my life.

I don’t know if that’s the purpose of a prayer shawl, since I have not designated it to any particular person.  Originally, I had thought I could finish it on my trip visiting with my family but instead of taking 2 weeks to finish it, it took me quite a while to accomplish this handiwork.

At the very end of skein 3 I faced a huge yarn scramble.  Even though, I started each skein from the inside, this one didn’t unscramble very easily.  It took me an extra half an hour to undo the last few yards of the yarn.  Did I see some symbolism in this creation?  Isn’t this how life shows itself at times, like a big knot?

Like all good things, there is an end to it all.  I finally completed the project after about two months.  Because I didn’t like the idea of double knotted fringe at each end, I just did a single fringe.  Therefore, I only used 5 balls of yarn instead of the suggested 6 balls.

I have to say, that it was a very satisfying work.  When your hands are busy, your mind is free to embrace all kinds of ideas: Like praying for others.