A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

A New Year 2011

A gentle reminder, this blog is about what I am thinking or is on my mind when I write each day. It is not a study course on Buddhism, rather a commentary of how Buddhism is part of my life. I am not saying that you should abandon which ever belief system you follow. Rather I use this blog as a way of not just talking the talk about being a Buddhist, but actually learning to walk the path. Others may find a straight path, mine has and will probably wander, perhaps even curling around and crossing itself, or at points go full circle and I find myself repeating some steps. I don’t claim to make all the right choices, nor do I have the knowledge of a Zen Master or Venerable Master who has spent years studying. If you read what I write one day and say “Hey that doesn’t match with what you said a year or two ago, I hope that the change is from my becoming a more compassionate person. This is my record of some of my thoughts as I walk my path, if it helps to illuminate anyone else’s path, then that is an added benefit. I think of my learning to follow the path of enlightenment, as similar to learning to skate. In both cases upon starting I was quite wobbly, and fell a lot. As I gained experience the basics came easier, and I tried more complicated actions, some of which came easily as if I had been doing them all my life, others even after much practice still elude me. As a writer might say, I give thanks and credit to all the unnamed people who have been my teachers throughout this journey; also I am solely responsible for any errors you may find here. Meditation as taught by the Buddha has no religious component, it is about learning to focus your thoughts, to be in control of them, not be controlled by them. In this regard a person, who follows another faith and wants to be better at following their faith, may benefit from learning Buddhist meditation. A follower of Buddha educates, with the hope that the other person finds the information helpful in their daily lives, they never set out to convert someone.

New Years Day for most of the world. The day where people make resolutions, to be a better person, give up their bad habits, to lose weight and thousands of other improvements. Over the next few weeks the gyms will have a rush of new members, stop smoking methods will literally fly off the shelves, liquor stores will have lower than usual sales amongst a few of the visible signs. Changing your actions without changing what motivates you, is usually doomed to failure. Those that choose to lose weight at this time of the year, and focus only on eliminating certain foods from their diet, will not have the success they desire, or perhaps gain a short term reduction then rebound. Rushing off to join a gym, after months or years of a sedentary lifestyle, may even be hazardous to your health. To lose weight, you need to change your level of physical activity, eat a properly balanced diet, and get sufficient sleep. When you change your lifestyle, your weight will moderate to a healthy one. You would still be able to have that cake slice for dessert once in a while, just not every day. To a person who follows the path Buddha has shown us, you can say everyday is New Years, as every day we try to improve ourselves. It is up to us to make the changes in our lives, not our spouse, or parents, or any external deity. Also we realize that the only person’s life we can change is our own.

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