A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

Past, present and future

“Past, present and future, the story of our lives. Our birth, our life our death, all tied into a single package, that we spend our time on this earth unwrapping. Sometimes we see clearly what it is we are looking at. Sometimes we do not. Sometimes things happen to distract or deceive us, and we must look more carefully at what it is we hold.” Terry Brooks wrote this in one of his scifi/fantasy books. It is one of the better descriptions of life, I have seen. It is all tied together from birth to death, As we unwrap the gift we see the present. What we must remember to do, is sometimes evaluate what we see, and question it.

Happiness is not material objects

The last couple of days lead into a pit of a deeper topic. That our everyday lives are precious. All human life is precious; for it gives us a chance o liberate ourselves. Our lives are not measured by material progress, rather by the actions we take towards others. If we have shown compassion, understanding and charity to others, we exhibit signs of having taken some of the key first steps towards true wisdom and liberation. If we live our lives according to these principles, we have realized the initial requirements of spiritual understanding. To use driving as a metaphor, we have passed our learners exam. We should use this state to contemplate our motivations in life. The vast majority of people in the world today use material objects to determine if they have a good life. This materialism does not bring lasting satisfaction or happiness; in fact the opposite is true. We see people who have to have the latest mobile phone, even though the one they have is only a few months old, ask them why they want the new one, and they will require its better. Sadly most of those new features may not be used more than a few times, however for a few days that couple hundred dollars bought a feeling of superiority. Materialism does not make us happier, in fact it adds to the stresses we already face, and excessive consumption of the earth’s finite resources means our children and their children will be deprived of what we have. Technological advances need to be weighed, against the environmental and monetary cost of implementation. Does it add to making our lives significantly better or is it just a status purchase. Using mobile phones as an example again, country after country is now bringing in restrictions on using these while driving to prevent collisions. Note I do not call them accidents as these collisions are preventable. Mobile phone users rally against these restrictions, it means a loss of communication. Strangely it is only 30 years since the first commercial mobile phones appeared. How did mankind survive or do such things as travel to the moon without them? They are a useful tool, but when we start to risk injury or death to ourselves or others, the mobile phone has become a master to whom we must bow, rather than a helpful servant. Like fire, a mobile phone is a great tool, but a dangerous and potentially deadly master. AS Buddhism teaches us to live in the moment, try it while driving, you might find yourself less stressed when you arrive at your destination, and probably see less of those bad drivers that appear when you’re talking on your mobile phone while driving. Those calls return the important ones after you arrive, you will also spend less time on your mobile phone.

Extra baggage, spare tires, love handles, etc

I am going to continue yesterday’s topic. These children and young adults spend hours online in virtual fantasy worlds, from such games as World of Warcraft to social sites with Avatars such as IMVU. Strangely enough although in the west over 40% of people younger than 35 are either overweight or obese almost none of the customizable avatars you see in places like IMVU are. Nope they all have perfect hair, and body proportion, and its encouraged as a way of being what you can’t be in real life. Maybe we can’t all be drop dead knock outs, but the vast majority of us do not suffer from such issues such as gland trouble, which prevent us from being active, eating right and being of a healthy body mass index (bmi). Of course that means we wouldn’t ne online as often, and these companies wouldn’t have the market they do now. Guys complain that their wife has lost that trim figure, while a small part of it is due to aging, the fast part is from those buckets of take out, those extra large pizzas and the rest of the preprocessed food most westerners call a meal these days. Talk to your significant other, pitch in making healthy meals together, it’s ok to make extra and freeze it, to be reheated another day. Afterwards help with the clean up, then tell her you feel like a walk in the park, or along the beach. When you get back home you might just be surprised that she thinks you’re a great guy again, and wants you to know it. Plus admit it; most of us guys over 25 could lose a few pounds.

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