A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “April, 2011”

Being alone in a crowded world

You hear in the news about how with all the new technology to communicate, that people feel even less connected, today then 20 years ago. We have the internet, chat, sms, mobile phones, Facebook, email, thousands of dating sites, chat rooms yet people are lonely. I remember when you went to a coffee shop and people talked to each other. Today go into a Starbucks and unless they came in as a group they barely make eye contact. Before the technology and mega malls, we shopped in our neighborhood, we saw the same faces regularly.  We went to gatherings or special days at the Temple, Wat or Church. Today look at a busy city street, people are rushing along, chatting to the same few friends on the cellphone as they walk, or replying to emails. Perhaps they use Foursquare or one of the other apps that lets everyone know where we are, by checking in via our smartphone. If we only keep in touch with the same small circle of friends, how will we meet anyone new. Yes these are valid ways to meet someone we otherwise would not have met, but how about that cute lay two seats over at Starbucks, the one with the beautiful smile. The point I am making is live in the present, if we fins someone that appeals to us, make an effort to get to know them, whether on-line or in person. A relations ship is like 2 pieces of Velcro coming together. If there are enough connections then it is hard to tear the two apart. When we make an effort we can meet people, the question is are we trying to make connections between us, or are we here to collect a million friends on Facebook who we never really know. Make a new friend, treat them the way you want to be treated. Say hello to your current friends this week, in person if possible, or on-line if the distance is too great. A phone company used to have the slogan “Reach out and touch someone” as part of their advertising, it’s good advice even now. Say hello, how have you been? Have a conversation with as many friends as you can this week, I mean a real conversation, not a two line chat. Practice a state of Metta to all you know, and perhaps to that someone you meet, at work, on the bus or even the grocery store, remember they are probably just as alone in this crowded world as you are.

A new romantic relationship?

At some point in our life, most of us will have a romantic relationship, that ends. Before starting a new relationship, we need to look through the old. To see what caused the problem, what needs to be kept, and what needs to be discarded. A common saying today, is you need to leave your baggage behind. Look back at the relationship, why did it develop, was it based on looks? Perhaps we wanted the physical aspect before the relationship was mature enough. Did we have long talks, and reveal who we really are inside? Was there an issue that could have been resolved, such as distance. Did we truly concentrate on the relationship, or was it one of many we juggled, and finally had to drop one, or lose all of them? Did we forgive any wrongs by the other party, or did we hold their actions against them, even after they apologized and changed? Surely there were good things about the relationship, what were they? Did the person consider us as important? Perhaps the word of love were spoken, did the person stand beside us in our troubles, also did we let them stand beside us? Now we have met a new person, and need to know who they are. If we find we are comparing them constantly to an old love, then perhaps that love is not over in our heart and mind. We need to be able to look at someone and not compare them to others, as it is not a contest to get the shiniest prize. Going from one relationship to another, will result in us being stuck on a treadmill, the faster we try to go the faster we stay in the same place. Only when your heart and mind have healed, can we begin again. To settle for someone new, because we see them as the best we can hope for, or because we don’t want to be alone, is not a healthy relationship. If you still have feelings for a past love, talk to them, be a friend, perhaps they too still have similar feelings. Perhaps we met the right person, but the time was wrong. It does not matter who left and who was left. If a karmic connection was made, and someone was hurt by another’s actions or by deceit, then in the future the offending party may receive the same. Only when we are truly capable of giving love, are we ready to receive a love that accepts us as who we are, does not worry about our past, and is not worried about what the future may bring. To have a love that accepts us as we are, looks at us as an equal, wants to be the one we can depend on, loves us even when we are at our worst, see us in their mind and heart throughout their days, this is a person who truly can love us. Before we meet that person, we need to discard our baggage, be ready with brand new luggage, clean and empty, ready to accumulate the memories, feeling, and yes even some pain on a journey that will last as long as both are still alive. To be loved without any conditions, is a very rare gift, are we ready to receive it? If we had it, and lost it will we swallow our pride, and repair it, if the other person is willing of course, for if they have found another then we need to allow them to be happy. The Buddha taught us that everything is impermanent, that does not mean we need to hurry the process, for 30 to 50 years is still a lot of days, just not an eternity. If you are in a relationship, most of this applies as well, are you taking your partner for granted, or are you thinking of them with love, telling them you love them and showing it to them everyday? Are you giving your love without conditions or giving it as a reward when the person does what you want?

Past, resent and future are one

Everyday we encounter new situations, meet new people, think new thoughts, and many other actions. Yet they all share a karmic link to a past life.  either it will be a blessing or a hardship according to what we have earned. If the event is the result of our bad karma, then we have a choice, to respond in kind, resulting in further bad karma in the future. The alternative is to work through the suffering, trying to be compassionate to other beings in our time of suffering. By maintaining an attitude of metta, we can earn good karma while ridding us of the results of past wrongful actions. When we are experiencing the results of our past good actions, we have a choice, we can hoard it to ourselves, or we can share it with the world around us. If shared it multiplies and we earn some more good karma. Most of us have someone in our life who is special, a girlfriend, wife, mother, father, children, someone who we trust to never harm us. At some point we may find ourselves in pain from actions this person has done. We can choose to react by striking back, to repay the hurt, or we can show them compassion. Every good person at some time will do an action that will bring dishonor to themselves and their families. Revenge does not help them to overcome their issue, and it just means you will also suffer in the future. Instead shower them with forgiveness, understanding and compassion. For if you can love them while they are at their worst, then they will realize that what you are truly valuable and dependable, and will help give them the strength to overcome their challenges. Radiate Metta to those we encounter, and they will feel the effect, even if it does not show today, or tomorrow, but at some point, just as a seed will lie dormant until the right time to germinate, the love we give today will blossom when they are ready to receive it. We give the love, without expectation of it being returned, we do it because they need it. When we can give love without expectation, then we have truly learnt how to love. If there is someone in your life, that has hurt you, and you still feel the pain, tell them that you love them, it will help them, and you will start to release any pain you feel. Love conquers jealousy, pain, confusion, anxiety and many other afflictions.

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