A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Mental afflictions

Look at people around the world, and we see a huge increase in loneliness, despair, and isolation. With all the advancements we have made technologically in the field of communications, you would think this would be the opposite. We have a dull throb of pain, but can’t put our finger on what’s causing it. Doomsday predictions fill many with dread. The use of alcohol and the prescription of medications for mental afflictions are soaring. There is a serious discussion on going about the new Psychiatrists’ Bible, for it would seem with all the new definitions every human on the planet needs mind altering chemical therapy. The elderly are increasingly being shunted off to be warehoused in senior’s homes, to be trotted out on socially required occasions then stored until needed again. This is happening in cultures that have a history of multigenerational families under the same roof. Where in the previous centuries, the elderly were there to help raise the children, today they sit and watch television or play bingo, while the children are shuttled off to a daycare or preschool, so they can be socialised in preparation for school. Gone are the days of grandparents accompanying their grandchildren to the local park, to play with other children from the same neighborhood. Instead of spending their formative years surrounded by family, children are more like parts on an assembly line, to be shaped and molded to fit their future position in the engines of commerce. Parents are loading up with ever increasing quantities of guilt. Some from not being home as they work a full time job, and a part time or nearly full time second job, or have a home based business to increase the family income. This results in missed time with the children in the park, playing catch or teaching them how to ride a bike. Later it means school plays, sports events are missed by parents, so children feel as if they are not appreciated, but they do have all the latest must have toys and gadgets, so that must be what life is about. We wonder why so many young people today have the “It’s all about me conscience”. Is it any wonder when all we do is give things instead of ourselves, we are training them from the cradle, it’s all about having the most toys. Husbands and wives rarely interact, and we bemoan the breakdown of yet another family. Can you still call it a family, when all they do is sleep under the same roof? We need to relearn true family values, of love, understanding, and compassion. It is a sad sate when a company that produces board games, can use creating a weekly family night as its main advertising campaign strategy. There is a book called the “Richest man In Babylon”, that teaches lessons about the proper use of money, based on life in ancient Babylon. It’s not a get rich quick scheme; rather it’s about the proper use of money, to provide for ourselves and our family. It teaches how to build a rainy day fund, to determine if that bargain really is a bargain, and to pay ourselves first. The knowledge in the book look very similar to what the Buddha taught us about money. As I follow the middle way, I find myself more content, yet at the same time, more not a part of the race rushing past me. Slowing down, not just smelling the flowers, but taking the time to appreciate their beauty, and the nature around them. I’m content to have a few good friends not obtain 5000 friends on some social network site. Today more than ever the world can benefit from the Buddha’s teaching on happiness, even those who follow a different spiritual or religious path. Taking the time to learn how to meditate, calm our minds down, and then control our thoughts, will give us the chance to see life is about the beings around us, and how we treat them. Life is not about how much more I can consume than someone else. The most glaring example is the US bail out of Wall Street, where almost all the money was used to pay bonuses to the very people who gambled and lost, causing banks to teeter and the government to step in to avoid a repeat of the Great Depression. Well sorry but I’m going to end this gloom for today, it’s a sunny day and I want some natural vitamin D, not the chemical version from a pill.

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