A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Life and media players

You might wonder what life has in common with media players. First, let me explain I mean devices such as a VCRDVDBlue ray, windows media player, YouTube, and others where you can pause, rewind, etc. It’s not what hey have in common with life, rather the features I just mentioned can only be found in our minds in life. In our interaction with everything around us there is no pause button, or to borrow from an old song, “Stop the world, I want to get off” button. No rewind where we can go back and redo something. Also no fast forward button to get past the scary or painful moments we want to avoid. In our mind we can pause and focus on something, before making a decision on how to act.  Revisit the past, and even alter our memory of the event over time, just search witness memory from police investigations, to see how it changes. There is a fast forward button in our mind, where we project how a scenario may go, will it be good or bad for us, or neutral. A lot of the suffering or unhappiness we feel is based on the past and future. We revisit something from the past over and over again, long after the incident has finished directly affecting us. The future we worry about and may cause more harm than god for ourselves. An example you might recognize: how many times have you worried about an upcoming exam the next day, and taken the exam in a tired state? If we had been diligent in our study habits, we might have had a restful sleep, taken the exam with a refreshed body and mind. This applies to relationships with our spouses, children friends and co-workers, as well. I remember a friend who was so upset by a co-workers comments, he fumed over two weeks during a Christmas Holiday, just waiting to get back to work and straighten out the miscreant. He got back to work just after the New Year, and found out the person who had said the hurtful comment, had been in a car accident over the holidays, and would probably be in a wheel chair for life as a result. Suddenly the hurtful comment wasn’t that important. So as life doesn’t have those handy media controls, lets take some 2600 year old advice. The Buddha told us the mind is the origin of all evil, and that we need to be its master. We need to focus what our mind is thinking about, and when it wanders from the proper thoughts, we need to pull on the leash and bring it back under control. If we do this on a regular basis, soon we will have trained our mind, so it is less likely to wander off. Soon those thoughts that lead to unhappiness will occur less frequently, and those that lead to happiness for all will become the norm. As we control what and how we think, our speech and actions will improve as well.

So the next time you catch your mind going down the wrong path, give it a tug and say “Hey we need to go this way” you just might find yourself becoming happier over time. Besides the only thing you might lose for trying, is the exercise from hitting all those non-functional buttons in life. 🙂

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