Where Science and Enlightenment Collide

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Mirror mirror on the status….

mirrorEven as a child I found social interactions confusing, often I would find myself unsure of how to act or react so I would sit quietly watching the interactions of others, often feeling like an outsider to the species (figuratively), if you will.

I have come to the long standing conclusion that often what we fear, what we hate in ourselves is what we hate in others.  I know not a very profound statement considering this has been a belief long held by psychologists.  But even my untrained eye can see what is right in front of it.  I will give an example.

I was following an interaction on a politically fueled discussion in regards to an argument of Liberals vs Conservatives.  It was a short lived argument because the Liberal decided not to engage (something I wish I had the strength of foresight to do often). The Liberal minded person made a statement (something I wont mention because I feel it will distract from the topic at hand), and the conservative persons response was as follows:

“You stupid ‘Libtard’ you are so uneducated are you a high school droup oute, or go to some libtard college?”

And that was where the altercation ended.  I did find it fascinating that the conservative minded person was angry, because they believed that the Liberally minded person was uneducated, yet themselves could not properly use punctuation marks, real words, or correctly spell the most basic of words.  I don’t mention this to insult, I know my own punctuation can be lacking due to thoughts streaming out into posts with little regard to editing,  merely to point out the very thing he hated in the liberally minded person was what was true in his own heart.

I often find myself wondering if those who hate others for other various reasons also do so out of such fears.  Hating those who are homosexual out of fear that they might be homosexual in their own hearts comes to mind.

1. When you catch yourself having a defining thought about someone, step back and ask, “What do I really know about this person?”

Often, the answer is a version of “not very much.” This behavior acts as a pattern interrupt, and forces you to stop and consider where the judgment is coming from.

2. When you hear yourself criticizing someone to others, stop and take a moment to come up with one thing you like about that person. Then praise them, out loud, for that quality.

This is another version of a pattern interrupt, and is also a reminder that they too are human, and like us all, have both attractive and not-so-attractive qualities.

3. When you find yourself in one of those incessant loop thought patterns of judgment about someone else’s behaviors, ask the hard question: Do I myself exhibit this same behavior or attitude that I judge in this person?

Almost always, the answer is yes (not that one always comes to that yes easily). You probably already know that the stuff that irritates us the most about others tends to be attributes we don’t necessarily realize we ourselves have. This was the single most difficult tool I used. It was also probably the most effective.

“Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” -Buddha

“By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.” -Buddhaghosa Visuddhimagga IX, 23.

Vegans on the warpath! …sorta lol

angry_vegan_shirt2Gosh, it is very difficult talking to some vegans in a Buddhist group I follow lol.  They are quite quick to insult others who do not readily agree with them and advocate abandoning right speech in favor of angrily making their points.

Why am I suddenly reminded of Kim Davis, the clerk who is willing to abandon one teaching and angrily cling to another?

Remember friends you cannot expect anger to be accepted with open arms, anger only brings up anger. When you insult others who do not agree with you, you only make them dig in further.  Abandoning right speech will never work in your favor or keep you on the middle path.

“By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.” Buddhaghosa -Visuddhimagga IX, 23.

Agree to Disagree

725ccebfd7d620c4cd6f50221deeb3dbIt is okay to have different opinions and not to agree on certain subject matters, it is not however prudent or beneficial to anyone involved to put someone down for their beliefs.

I recently had to let go of a friend today because she refused to step down off her soap box built on belittlement and agree to disagree.  In our modern society of likes and followers, it is easy for us to become over inflated with a sense of self worth, but we must always find ways to embrace a personal humility; to realize we are not the expert at everything, to slay our inner Sheldon Coopers as it were.
It is like the old quote “Apologizing doesn’t always mean you are wrong, it just means that you value your relationships more than your ego.”  the same can be said for disagreements, sometimes it is best to find value over the friendship rather than defending our own egos.

Namaste

Own Your Destiny

consYour 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

More bewilderment from social networking

A comment caught my attention and surprised me today on Facebook, it read: “In most cases Buddhist has as much in common with Buddha as Christian with Christ.”  What shocked me most was not the comparison of Christians and Buddhists, but rather the implication that one was sitting in judgement over others who follow Buddha and determining on whether or not they were living up to the judge’s standard on what it is to be Buddhist.  If the old adage is to kill the Buddha we see along the road, then perhaps before we start the journey down the road each day we should look first in the mirror.

Remember we are all at different points along the journey, some of us have larger gapes than others.  It is not our place to admonish someone for taking longer.

 

“Who is this Migasāla … to know the complexity of the human character?’ Then he added: ‘Do not be a judge of others, do not judge others. Whoever judges others digs a pit for themselves.” -Buddha

More questions than answers…

om heartToday I find myself pensively mulling over questions instead of coming to any answers.  I will keep things brief in my explanation.  I had a troubling experience online today with a perspective romantic partner.  Needless to say things ended abruptly and in order to keep the peace and not fall into temptations I had to cut off communications.  I cannot help but wonder if the reason for the ending of the relationship might have been do to fundamental differences.

When it comes down to it I really cannot know what other people are thinking, what is on their minds so like anyone else I have to take actions and words at face value.  With that in mind I have been brought up, even before embracing Buddhism, to believe that violence solves little, and mostly serves to insight more violence, whether it is violent action, or violent speech.  To that end I do my best to avoid using profane words because lets face it, they are called curse words for a reason.  I wont go into the history of the curse word, but I am sure we are familiar with it being touched on very lightly and satirically in an episode of South Park.

Today’s incident had me thinking about the Dhammapada, especially the verses where the Buddha advises us that it is better to walk alone if one cannot find their equal, a quote I have shared before in previous posts, It has me pondering, as it were, if a practicing Buddhist can find a successful relationship with some one of a different faith.  I do not want to argue the semantics on whether or not Buddhism is a philosophy or a faith, so I implore you, my readers, to ignore my syntax if you would be so kind!

I find myself asking if a relationship can be found that meets the following criteria:

  1.  The understanding that Equality is not based on statistics. Equality is based on shared values, shared communication and shared self-respect. With full knowledge that One does not sacrifice himself, or herself, to the other.
  2.  The acceptance that the only thing that ever stays the same is the fact that there is always constant change in the universe.  Change must be embraced and explored, a relationship must be free to evolve with time, that it is commitment that keeps it alive.
  3. The realization that when obstacles do arise, not if, that they can only be overcome by honestly accepting our faults and mistakes and apologizing with sincerity, we practice compassion towards ourselves and others.
  4. The need to stay present, we all have our pasts, but if we continue to listen to our past stories in our minds we can never hope to rewrite the.  Our freedom from past mistakes comes only by moving on not reliving them.

I do not know if there is an answer to this question, I suppose my experience is limited to the fact that I have never attempted a date with another Buddhist.  Perhaps this is simply an issue of just not finding the right person rather than a shared faith, perhaps this is an issue only we westerners come across because there are so few of us Buddhists in our more remote areas.

I do not think I will glean the answer tonight despite meditation or study, but perhaps I am not meant to know just yet.  I do hope however that the individual I had a conflict with does find the peace they are looking for, I do not wish them any animosity but I suppose I must continue to evolve myself spiritually to better prepare.  Perhaps I am too sensitive towards anger yet.

Namaste

Two monks (A Modern Allegorical Tale)

96311440X40Two monks sit before a spiritual man they have never heard before, he speaks what is in his heart, his motivations known only to himself. Some of what he says is similar to the Dharma, others not, his own journey along the path is still in progress.

When he is finished, one monk nods and smiles, contemplates what is said, and moves on with his day; forming not judgment or attachments to what has been told. He continues to serve all he sees and mediates on the teachings he knows to be true.

The second monk frowns and shakes his head, spending the rest of his day telling the spiritual man how he is wrong, then walks from village to village telling others not to listen to the spiritual man.

“What should we do about the evil natures Bhiksus?”  Asked Ananda.

“Oh, that,” said The Buddha, “is very easy. You should be silent and they will go away.  Don’t talk to them. After all aren’t they bad? aren’t they boisterous and disobedient? Ignore them.  Don’t speak to them. They’ll become bored and leave on their own.”

What is your motivation?

Good morning Sangha, I say good morning because it is 8am as I begin to write this.fotolia_6232946_XS

A thought occurred to me this morning on my way home after dropping off the kids at school.  We Buddhists, much as the same as others of other faiths, seem to find ourselves in our respective communities, come across a vocal minority who believe we are not living as piously as we should be.  A few examples; those who believe all Buddhists must be vegetarian or even vegan, and those who believe all Buddhist should refrain from coitus or carnal relations.  There are times when I find myself smiling and shaking my head slowly when I find these few.  Sometimes the best teachers are the ones who are quite adversarial and sit in judgment, admonishing.

I could cite passages of where the Buddha ate meat, and had discussions with monks who tried to force their views of vegan-ism upon the sangha of that day, I could agree on quelling sexual desire with physical relations only serves to strengthen that desire, much as the lust of possessions only deepens that hunger.  But there are plenty of articles out there, easily found in our virtual community today.

Instead I will ask you the reader this, when you see someone, practicing in a way you think is not correct, that moment before you chose to speak are you practicing metta? Are you remembering that the teachings of The Middle Way are also teachings on the Buddha teaching his followers to find a middle way between extreme practices and opinions, not to get lost in fanatical perfectionism?

We must strive to keep clear in our minds and focus when dealing with others in our communities, that not everyone will be along the path in the same place, at the same time.  Practice your loving-kindness, be inoffensive and non-violent towards others and towards your own thinking.  For truly, is it not what really angers us when we see the flaws in others, a reflection of our own flaws that we see in ourselves?

Remeber, we cannot all be Lamas and Monks!

 

Namaste’

 

“The Pali word metta is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana). … True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.” -Acharya Buddharakkhita

The Duality of our Existance

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Atman (self) and Anatman (no-self) depend upon one’s own philosophical interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings… The middle way is so called because it avoids the extremes of both absolutism and nihilism. -H.H. The Dalai Lama

Light is itself a duality, possessing qualities of both a particle and a wave, as such the self also exists and does not exist. We are an interdependent existence manifesting itself in a humanistic experience, for a short time.

-JF

Buddha on Love

Yin_Yang_Heart_by_emmysdaddyWith 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.

Namaste’