A Buddhist’s toolbox
relieve suffering, thiccs, As a Buddhist I am concerned with making wholesome choices about what I’m doing now. I am not looking to rebuild the past, or barricade the future so it doesn’t arrive till I open the gate. No I have come to realize working on the present takes all my time. I have spent a good portion of my life working in the construction business, so I definitely have that male gene, the one that has guys willing to spend hours in a Home Depot or other hardware superstore, hence the title about today’s post.
The first tool I reach for is mindfulness. It is one that helps me see myself as I am not as I wish I was. It also allows me to accept, who I am at this moment, well realizing that I can take steps to be a better person tomorrow. To keep this tool sharp, I try to meditate everyday, as this improves my ability to control my thoughts. It also reminds me that my life is unique, as no one else has the same pattern of thoughts, at the same time as I do. Also it causes me to reflect on the opportunities that I have just by being alive, and human. I can choose to make someone smile, instead of causing them to frown. Perhaps I can perform an act of random kindness, or reach out and give someone a hand up, instead of a hand out. By being mindful and in the present, I have more opportunities to relieve suffering, instead of wishing later I had been paying attention to what was happening around me.
Loving kindness is the next tool that comes into my hand, is like a measuring tape. It allows me to determine if my thoughts, speech or actions will increase my own happiness without harming the happiness of another being. Once I have that measurement determined, I can use the same tool to determine if my actions will increase the happiness of another being, without harming other beings. This constant measuring allow me to avoid self sacrifice for no valid reason. By avoiding these actions I avoid becoming a martyr who suffers for their sacrifices, while inwardly feeling oppressed. It also prevents me from concentrating on my own happiness, without considering the happiness of other beings.
Another irreplaceable tool is ethics. This is like a carpenters square, helping me to make sure my actions are upright and wholesome. Are my actions true to my words. Are my thoughts vertically inclined, leading me to make more wholesome choices for my actions? Think of the typical North American breakfast of bacon and eggs, and the sacrifices other beings make so someone can have this meal. To the chicken, it’s all in a days work, it lays the egg, then soon will start producing the next one. To the pig however it is making a lifetime commitment, or more accurately committing the loss of it’s life to provide the bacon. I will allow you to search for information on factory farms, or even fish farms. Also ethics is about open, honest and effective communication. Open in that we listen to the other person without preconceived ideas about what they are imparting. Honest in not only telling the truth, but avoiding hiding information that would present things in a different light, such as when the boss is blaming someone for a failure, when you were the one who was responsible, you correct this impression. Effective, in that we stick to the matter at hand, not spend an hour discussing last nights football game, when we are supposed to be working. It is about choosing fair trade, environmentally safe products when we shop.
There are many other tools that we add as we gain skill in using these basic tools of the mind. So will just mention one more item, the toolbox. As I have been talking about tools of the mind, you might think that the mind is the toolbox. No it is the operator of these tools and depending on our practice, it will become more skillful over time. The toolbox is our own life. It is how we use these tools to interact with the world around us. Unless we have joined the Sangha where we are removed from the daily interaction with the world at large, we need to live in the world. We have families, careers, friends, neighbors, merchants, and a whole world full of people who may interact with us. It is about using the tools we have in our toolbox, to the best of our abilities, when we interact with others. It is not about building the Sistine Chapel everyday, first we start off as new apprentices, where our work is rough, and lacks the polish and fine attention to detail ha the work of a master exhibits. The more we use our tools, the quicker we become proficient with them, allowing us to add more tools to our building of the edifice we call our life.
So take hold of the tools you already have, and start building a better world, you never know who might see you, and decide to help.