Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Earlier I had a post up about terrorism and the Bush Administration. I decided to get rid of it because after seeing it, it occurred to me that I really didn't want to bring that energy here. I'd rather write about something inspirational and affirming.

So, instead, I came up with a list of people I find particularly inspiring.

Ani Tenzin Palmo: .. is a woman who was raised in Britain. Finding that her life seemed empty and hollow in a materialistic society, she began to search for something more. For 12 years, three of them in completely isolation, she meditated in a tiny cave in the Himalayas. For days on end, she would live on one piece of rice a day. She learned self-sufficiency. She never lay down, sleeping in a traditional wood meditation box. These days, she runs a Buddhist nunnery which is dedicated to providing education and training to women in Tibet. She inspires me because of her courage to do whatever she needed to do to come out the other side and still remains committed to simplicity and service.

Nelson Mandela: Not only because he spent time in prison but because he brought dignity to any environment where he might be. While in prison, he made it clear to the guards that they would show each other respect. They would call each other "sir". He inspires me to recognize the dignity in all situations.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand: His commitment to the hill tribes and other poverty-stricken people of Northern Thailand inspires me. He has consistently put the needs of the Thai people ahead of his own luxury and comfort. His generosity inspires me. He could have been just another playboy on the world stage but instead chose to do something of value. His self-sufficiency program has provided a decent life for thousands, maybe even millions, of people.

Maxmilian Kolbe; Now St Maximilian after having been canonized by the Catholic Church. He was a Polish priest who was herded with many others to the Auschwitz concentration camp. At one point, standing at an assembly of other prisoners, he heard the Nazi guards threatening to kill a young man. He stood forward and said, "This man has a family. He has children. Take my life instead." He inspires me, knowing that there are people in the world who would make such a sacrifice.

These are just a few of the people who have inspired me. Of course, there are many more and over the weeks, I'll do posts similar to this one.

Who inspires you? Tell me so that I can learn about those people, too.




slouching mom said...

Oh, yes, Mandela. I will have to go ponder whom I might add to this list.

painted maypole said...

Loved this list. Thought I must confess I'm curious what you wrote about Bush and Terrorism. I bet it was well thought out and thought provoking.

Mother Theresa inspires me. That she set out to make a difference in one life, and then another, and then another... never being overwhelmed by how much need there was, just doing what she could to help, one person at a time.

jen said...

Tenzin Palmo is amazing, isn't she? I read both of her books last year and was completely taken with her. I can't believe i'd never heard of her before. I never could have survived the cave. Never.

A big hero of mine is Haing Ngor. He was a survivor of the Pol Pot regime, a doctor forced into camps. when it was over he was recruited by hollywood to play Dith Pran in The Killing Fields, a story not too dissimilar from his own.

His book is one of the most moving things i have ever read in my entire life. A Cambodian Odyssey. Have you read it? He is a true hero of mine.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I have Vicki Mackenzie's book about Tenzin Palmo, "Cave in the Snow." It's amazing, and most inspiring.

The young Karmapa (17th) is also one who makes me feel great awe for his daring escape from Tibet, as HH the Dalai Lama did before him.

King Christian of Denmark wore a yellow armband with Star of David when the Nazis required all Jews to wear them. "We are all Danes," he said.

Mother Teresa is a great hero of mine. So was Father Damian, although some of what he did was not good, because his intentions were pure and he did help many people who had been given up by the world.

There is a story about Joan of Arc which I love, although it may not be true. When she marched off to battle, a general said to her, "Joan, not one man will follow you." She replied, "I will not look back to see if anyone is following."

People who toil at horrible jobs to provide for their families deserve respect. Ultimately, there is no greater sacrifice than the hours of ones life so that loved ones will have better lives.

Carla said...

This is a great post. I'm glad you decided to focus on the positive. That's so important. One of my favorite quotes comes from Nelson Mandella:
Our deepest fear
Is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear
is that we are powerful
beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness,
that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
"Who am I to be Brilliant,
Gorgeous, Talented and Fabulous?"

Who are you not to be?

You are a child of the Universe.
Your playing small
does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened
about shrinking
So that other people won't feel
insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest
The Glory of the Universe
that is within us.

It's not just in some of us;
It is in everyone.

As we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated
from our own fear,
our presence automatically
liberates others.

Who cannot be inspired by that?

mitzh said...

Such a wonderful post..
Really inspiring!

As of now my inspirations are Maya Angelou and Frederick Buechner, they inspire me specially in times when I can't seem to go on and life seems to be harder than its already is.

sharing with you one of the quotes that I love from Frederick Buechner:

“In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another day just like today, and there will never be another just like it again. Today is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious today is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all.”

kaliroz said...

I want to join a Buddhist nunnery one day. I have a long way to go on that journey, though.

One person I admire is Federico Garcia Lorca. An artist who got caught up in the political turmoil in Spain as Franco camem to power and ended up dying because he wouldn't back down. Wouldn't stop fighting.

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time with Nelson Mandela because he advocated and used violence when it suited his purpose. I just can't get past that.

One of the people I admire is Tiny Tim. (No, really.) His dream was to sing songs from the 1890s to the 1920s, and he found a way to do it. When people laughed, he laughed with them. He was asked once if he ever got tired of singing "Tip toe through the tulips," and his answer was "Every time I sing that song people smile. Who could get tired of that?"

Against all odds, he found a way to live his life the way he wanted to live it. His life was filled with music and laughter and love. Who could ask for more?

QT said...

It seems like I missed out on some excitement while I was "gone" - i love this post, as I had never heard of Ani Tenzin Palmo.

I am inspired by many, but I will go back to my first - Elie Wiesel. Reading the book "Night" in high school literally changed my life. How a person could go through that experience intact, how he put pen to paper, and let his words tell a story that until then, did not have a "real" or "personal" face for me.

And that he has used such tragedy as a catalyst for a life of good works, and of course, never letting us forget what monsters we can truly be to one another, to always be vigilant.

"Let us remember, let us remember the heroes of Warsaw, the martyrs of Treblinka, the children of Auschwitz. They fought alone, they suffered alone, they lived alone, but they did not die alone, for something in all of us died with them."

Lucia said...

Chani-Thank you for bringing positive energy to this space.

Angelina Jolie inspires me, as odd as that sounds. I can't think of any others right now.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had someone to share. But thanks, I will look for some of these books for my upcoming vacation reading.

thailandchani said...

SM, I'll be curious to know. I can imagine some people who would inspire you, though. :)


May, my post about Bush and terrorism was quite biting and rather ugly. I'm rather notoriously anti-government, especially.. um... this one. :)

Mother Teresa was awesome! My favorite Mother Teresa quote: Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents. Parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.


Jen, no, I haven't read that book... but you can be certain that I will. Now that I have the title, I'll order it this afternoon. Thanks. :)


Susan, oh, gosh! I love that Joan of Arc quote! That's fantastic!

All of the people you mention inspire me, too. I'd add Ram Dass. He was a great person, along the same line of thinking.


Carla, I love that quote! Audre Lorde and Alice Walker have both said things that are very similar. That just goes to show the universal truth of it.


Mitzh, that's very similar to Joseph Campbell and some of the things he said. It does highlight the fact that when we choose wrong in some way... we always get to choose again. :)


Kaliroz, I'm not familiar with that person but I will definitely look it up. In the final analysis, all we have is what we stand for.

Wasn't it an old country song that said, "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything"?


Thomas, I get you on that one. The ANC doesn't have the greatest history... the necklacing, etc. Somehow I'd gotten the impression that Winnie was the one behind most of that... but it could have just been ANC policy, too.

Tiny Tim. Like Joseph Campbell talked about.... living one's bliss.


QT, Elie Weisel.. absolutely! I'd take it one step farther to Viktor Frankl and St Maximilian. The message was really the same from all three of them... finding the sacred in everyday life.


Lucia, Angelina Jolie makes perfect sense to me. Now there is a woman who lived a rather shallow, but seeking, existence for a long time and has grown into a simply lovely person.


De, it doesn't have to be someone famous or profound.

You inspire me. Your willingness to dig beneath the surface, your willingness to call bullshit on platitudes, your willingness to look right into the eyes of darkness and still examine it with a logical mind....


You know what I mean?

Inspiration is around us all the time, from the most unlikely sources.




Anonymous said...

Today you inspired me. Thank you.

thailandchani said...

Reflecting... thank you for saying so. :)



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Yes, Ram Dass, too. His book, "Still here" is wonderful.

And Elie Weisel.

Maurey Pierce said...

Tim Sandlin, Paul Wellstone, and all the groundbreaking psychologists of yesteryear ...
Eriksen, Maslow, Pavlov ...

Great post. Very inspiring in and of itself.