This year has turned out to be the year that everything changes, for everyone I suppose. Elections and what not here in the United States. For me however there have been plenty of personal life changes. For those of you who don’t know I am a disabled Veteran of the United States Army. That’s right this peace loving hippie was once a soldier *chuckles*.
This year is the year my claim with the VA was finally approved. Financial situations changed and now I am looking at buying my first house. As things are pending I find that its a perfect time to let go of material possessions that no longer serve me. Let go of earthy attachments. The important lesson I have learned is, as my grandfather would put it, “the sun shines on a dog’s ass once in awhile!”.
According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. The river of yesterday is not the same as the river of today. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.
Even from a scientific point of view this is true. We know cell divisions take place in each living being continuously. Old cells in our bodies die and yield place continuously to the new ones that are forming. Like the waves in a sea, every moment, many thoughts arise and die in each individual . Psychologically and physically he is never the same all the time. Technically speaking, no individual is ever composed of the same amount of energy. Mental stuff and cellular material all the time. He is subject to change and the change is a continuous movement.
So when you find yourself dealing with issues that arise, take comfort in knowing that in this existence, the only thing that is constant is that everything changes at its own pace and in its own time.
Your fortune cannot be mapped by the stars. Our universe is based on an interdependence existence, the path we travel is very much the path we choose. Are we subject to the karma of others? Yes, but we still are the masters of our fate and in the end of our individual suffering.
Your destiny is shaped by your confidence of will, it is an extrinsic existence subject to the causality of actions. -JF
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching here in the states, you cannot help sometimes but feel the twinge of the chronically single life style. With everything geared towards romance and couples, the days can pull at the ole heart strings. Admittedly a few times myself I have wondered if my standards were too high, if I should have settled when a relationship did not work out. Other times I have asked myself what I could I have done better when someone had left me and the shoe was on the other foot.
Lately while reading the Dhammapada a running theme kept popping up, and if you are like me you may find these words, if not inspiring, at least comforting when those doubts start to creep into your conscious trains of thought.
If a traveler does not meet with one who is his better, or his equal. let him firmly keep to his solitary journey; this is no companionship with a fool. DP 61
If a man finds no prudent companion who walks with him, is wise, and lives soberly, let him walk alone like a king who has left his conquered country behind, -Like an elephant. DP 329
It is better to live alone, there is no companionship with a fool; let a man walk alone, let him commit no sin, with few wishes, like an elephant in the forest. DP 330
The fields are damaged by weeds, mankind is damaged by lust: therefore a gift bestowed on those who are free from lust brings great reward. DP 359
If we want to be free of suffering in our relationships, we must find our equals and those who inspire us to better ourselves, we must not become trapped by our lusts, for when we do we become like spiders who have become trapped in our own webs.
But how is this fair we might ask? So many happy couples why not me? Honestly who knows, we should strive to continue on living in the now, continue our good works until our seeds ripen to bare fruits.
Even a good man sees evil days (finds suffering in this world), as long as his good deed has not ripened; but when the good deed has ripened, then the good man sees happy days. DP 120
Let no man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, it will not come nigh unto me. Even by falling of water-drops a water pot is filled; the wise man becomes fill of good, even if he gathers it little by little.
So to my fellow romantically challenged brothers and sisters, I wish you press on, happily diligently, doing good works, for sometimes the sweetest fruits come from the trees that take longest to bloom.
Seems to be the season for it, oddly enough I did not think there would be a season for divorce, but perhaps that is the hopeless romantic in me. Seeing dear friends dealing with going through divorce makes my heart go out to them being a product of a broken home as well as going through my own broken marriage. These events have inspired me to ponder and research, what are the views on marriage and divorce when it comes to Buddhist teachings and how can we deal with the pains of divorce.
Firstly let us look at Marriage according to Buddhism. Buddhism takes a quite liberal view when it comes to marriage, there are no laws or rules when it comes to marriage, nothing to prohibit one from being married, and nothing that says you must be a bachelor either. The concept of Marriage in Buddhism is a construct of man, a contract between individuals to co-habitate with one another as a family. Despite what other religions may believe, or what Disney tries to sell us, marriage is a social convention, an institution created by man for the well-being and happiness of man (in the board term not the gender term), to differentiate human society from animal life and to maintain order and harmony in the process of procreation. While an enlightened more evolved view of procreation than that of the animal kingdom it is not a holly sacrament.
Separation or divorce is not prohibited in Buddhism though the necessity would scarcely arise if the Buddha’s injunctions were strictly followed. Men and women must have the liberty to separate if they really cannot agree with each other. Separation is preferable to avoid miserable family life for a long period of time. The Buddha further advises old men not to have young wives as the old and young are unlikely to be compatible, which can create undue problems, disharmony and downfall.
How can we deal with divorce? It is a very emotionally charged time in our lives but what can we do to ease our suffering? Firstly and I cannot stress this enough, one should never look at divorce as one failed, no one is the “bad guy”, merely that like all things this has fallen into impermanence, and what was a journey for more than one person for a while has once more become a solitary adventure!
When divorce strikes, the past, present, and future are all changed and can even be distorted. Everything you thought you knew to be true is now in question, any plans you may have made will now have to change, our image of the future has now become distorted. In the face of this change you may find yourself trying to grasp at what you know and once had, trying to rekindle who you were before getting married, your previous identity. but according to the Buddha these attachments create suffering. Learning to release your attachments to any particular outcomes in the past, present, or future will lead to a more peaceful existence.
Here are some of the Buddha’s teachings that may help you through your time of strife and turmoil.
The Buddha recognizes that while it might be relatively easy to generate compassion for friends and loved ones, it is extremely difficult to have compassion for someone we dislike, especially if we feel betrayed. While the tendency might be to avoid this person (most likely an ex), the Buddha would see this person as the heart of his spiritual practice, a challenge to develop positive qualities, they can be our greatest teacher. Compassion can be seen as the inverse of anger; it keeps the heart open when it wants to close off with fear or even hate. Compassion is fostered by remaining connected, no matter how painful it may be. Maintaining compassion through divorce is a feat, but it will ensure that your loving nature remains intact.
“Pain is inevitable in life, but suffering is optional.” —The Buddha
Mindfulness is the capacity to remain in the present moment. Like in all things you will want to meditate, although this will seem very difficult when so many thoughts are going through your head, finding a center in the storm will help focus you and keep you from doing or saying things you may regret later. Stepping back like you were a third party observer of events provides the greatest opportunity for acting with complete integrity and honour.
In Buddhism, impermanence is referred to as Anicca— the truth of impermanence. It is the belief that all of our experiences are constantly changing, and that nothing is permanent, not even marriage or the feelings one has when you first stepped into the contract. One of the greatest causes of pain during divorce is the feeling that things will never be the same, but the positive side of that statement is also true, while the marriage was also impermanent the pain and sorrow, the loss you feel is also impermanent.
If all parties feel that the relationship has reached the point to where there is no way to repair it, I would recommend considering a legal separation, after all you wouldn’t want to regret doing something permanent just because you are temporarily out of sorts, some time apart may do some good, or it may only strengthen the notion that things truly are over.
Finally do not be to quick to date again, you may find some people will come out of the woodwork as it were, saying how sorry they are that you are going through so much pain but how they have thought how the person you were with was not right for you, and how it would have been different if it were them. If these people have your true feelings in mind, if they are thinking of you instead of the fantasy they have worked up in their heads they will be willing to wait for you to heal, For you to discover who you are outside your identity of the married you, and for you to learn from any mistakes so you can start anew with your best foot forward.
“The past will let go of you if you let go of the past.”
― Timber Hawkeye, Buddhist Boot Camp
Timber Hawkeye, author of The Buddhist Boot Camp, posted something to his Facebook profile the other day that got the creative juices flowing for this Blog.
The quote goes as follows: “No one can drive you crazy unless you give them the keys.” My comment on the matter was a saying I have used quite often “No one can drive you crazy if you are already there.” This was a response I would always tell my mother when she would claim we were driving her crazy, to state simply we could not drive her crazy, she already was!
Let’s think on that for a moment however, first I know it is a commentary on not allowing people to take control over your emotions, I have always been an advocate of not allowing unworthy people that much control over one’s life. When I thought on my own however it sent me in a new tangent. What if crazy was just who we are, what if crazy is the person we hide beneath our masks to make us seem normal, to have us fit in!
Perhaps it would be easier to maintain control, maintain the ability to not let people disrupt our chi as it were, if we were more ready and willing to show off who we really are. So if you are a little odd or strange deep down, if you want to wear neon stripped socks under your business suit, own it, own your crazy!
But what is a Sangha, A Sangha (Pali: सङ्घ saṅgha; Sanskrit: संघ saṃgha; Chinese: 僧伽; pinyin: Sēngjiā; Tibetan: དགེ་འདུན་ dge ‘dun) is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning “association”, “assembly,” “company” or “community” and most commonly refers in Buddhism to the monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns. This community is traditionally referred to as the bhikkhu-sangha or bhikkhuni-sangha. As a separate category, those who have attained any of the four stages of enlightenment, whether or not they are members of the bhikkhu-sangha or bhikkhuni-sangha, are referred to as the ariya-sangha or “noble Sangha”.
The Sangha also includes laymen and laywomen who are personally dedicated to the discipline of Dharma-Vinaya. This use of the word “Sangha” is only sometimes found in the Pali texts.
My view is an even broader term. Each person in our Sangha is someone we are supposed to seek refuge under, for help and guidance. My view is much like that of Craig Harper who said “The world is my classroom, each day a new lesson, and every person I meet is my teacher.” the guidance I find is in the world, whether the lessons are good or bad is dependant on judgement, instead I see them is what to do and what not to do based on Karmic results, and try my best to keep my emotions and judgements free and out of the situations I face. So I encourage each of you, step out into your Sangha, care for it, nurture it, and learn from it. Together we can enlighten the world.
It is my belief that there is no one answer to that question. The truth to the answer is codependent on the person asking the question. As The Buddha said “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” Each of us finds our own meaning, our own purpose and mission in life. How do we find out what that is? By Simply asking ourselves these questions and doing our best to meditate on them and answering them as honestly as possible.
- What are your talents?
- What are you passionate about (some times our passions are different from our talents)
- What would you like to change in the world? (be the change!)
- Combine your answers to articulate your positive purpose (how can you use 1 and 2 to make 3 happen?)
- Think and talk about your purpose (share your goals earnestly and concisely with friends and family, impress upon them the importance of your goal in your life, they will always be your greatest supporters)
Remember to be flexible, do not become too attached to your plan of action or suffering may arise. Following these can lead you to realizing dreams, and set you on the path to following the 8 fold path when it comes to Right Livelihood.
Choosing Nirvana requires one only to have the strength of conviction to make that choice. What is Nirvana? (in Buddhism) Nirvana is a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth. It represents the final goal of Buddhism.
But what choices can be made in order to reach it? Well in order to reach Nirvana one must be first free of suffering. One frees the mind from suffering by following the eight fold path.
1. Right Understanding: To keep ourselves free of prejudice and superstition, and to see the true nature of life.
2. Right Thought: To turn our minds away from the violence and hatred in this world and work on focusing on the positive.
3. Right Speech: To refrain from harmful talk and to use our words wisely. (T.H.I.N.K. even when you are online)
4. Right Action: To see that our deeds come from peace and goodwill. To grow every day in the Buddha’s Teachings.
5. Right Livelihood: To try to earn our living in such a way that we avoid harming ourselves and others.
6. Right Effort: To use our energies to promote the overcoming ignorance and destructive desires.
7. Right Mindfulness: To cherish a good mind and be attentive. (be in the now man!)
8. Right Concentration: To practice meditation and cultivate awareness.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! That is what “they” say right? Well sorry to say that beauty, like much of everything else, is an illusion. One only needs to look back far enough through out history to see that the idea of what is or isn’t beautiful is based on mainstream acceptance. As the Dalai Lama said “Nothing is inherently beautiful or not beautiful, it is only when in comparison to something else does it appear to have these qualities.” So this makes beauty, in itself a codependent arising truth, a truth that is dependant on certain conditions, which in turn makes it an illusion.
Beauty should be defined in the merit of actions. For true beauty lies within the heart not in the skin. If you find that you are lonely, as I often do, find the happiness in being alone, for true happiness is not found in the validation of our peers but rather in the altruistic service of our society.
“If you’re respectful by habit,
constantly honouring the worthy,
four things increase:
long life, beauty,
“As you sow so you reap” -Buddha