A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

My friend, my Teacher, my Thanks

Following the Dharma for me is because I know some things in my life could be better, and that the changes need to be from within, that nothing external will make things as they should be. I need to be at times, more compassionate, more loving, more focused, more energetic, and a list of others. Looking at the generation just before me, those who dropped out, opted out in the 60s with free love, mind altering drugs has shown that is not the path for me. Having a failed marriage, where I thought the other person would make me happy, has shown I can’t expect anyone else to snap their fingers and everything will be alright. Alcohol may dull the senses and memory for a time, but upon sobering nothing will have changed for the better, in fact it is getting worse. Extreme sports well providing an adrenaline rush and a sense of mortality won’t improve relations with those I care about. I know I am not the only one to feel this way. Friends whose lives appear to be what others would say are perfect complain about much the same things I do. A bigger, fancier house, with all the conveniences doesn’t bring happiness. In fact having all these extras just seems to add to the burdens of life, more time spent taking care of stuff instead of spending it with those we love. It’s not about having a more comfortable life; rather it’s about making my life have meaning. I was born with the same possessions as a king; my life’s breath was my first gift. I will leave this existence with the same possessions as a homeless person, taking nothing with me. So the race to have the newest this, or the fanciest that, will not make me happier. Rather it it’s the times of joy with loved ones that came from us jointly overcoming obstacles in our path. The warm memories of times we shared, sustaining and lighting their journey, that is what will make me life have meaning. Listen to our elders speak, about this person or that person, very seldom is it about what they possessed, most of the time it’s stories about what they did. A dear friend of mine’s name in her language means Golden Morning and she wishes we all have it as well. When I am blessed to converse with her, it’s not about what either of us has, rather it’s about the daily routines, how we each feel, how those around us are, and if I lose sight of this she gently nudges my thinking back to where it should be. She even has the tenacity to tell me I am wrong about things, which at that moment may startle me. I have even gotten defensive about it, but usually by the next day, I realize she was right. She helps to keep me focused on what is important between two friends. At times she has shared the struggles she faces, yet it’s never an attitude of: oh woe’s me, or looking for pity. Rather she will discuss the challenge, with an attitude of how can this be handled in the best way, she looks for encouragement, possibly an idea to relegate the problem to the past, and get on with enjoying life. She is not wealthy in possessions, and doesn’t worry about it, as she says she has enough to live. I need one day to thank her for being an inspiration like this. I won’t say she is perfect, but she does a very good job of living the Buddhist philosophy of the middle path.

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