A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Lighten up, sums it up

First great comments from several of you yesterday. I was almost beginning to think my column for today, would be copy and paste the comments.

The Buddha left us the precepts as guidelines for our lives. For most of us five or seven is all we will take during this lifetime. Perhaps we may take more during a retreat or in some practices a temporary ordination during the spring rainy season. The reason we all don’t take all the precepts, is that we could not live our lives according to them, except as a member of the Sangha. Until we have the food replicators from Star Trek, most of us will have to live in society and perform our functions well trying to live the best we can. This means acceptance and compassion need to be part of our daily life.

1. We accept our flaws and those of others we meet. We know we aren’t perfect and we don’t expect others to be either. We can laugh at past mistakes we made, and shed a tear over those mistakes that caused pain to others. We accept some days we are stubborn as a mule, other days as eager as a lemming, and yet others we soar like an eagle. A life with out mistakes means we either have achieved enlightenment, or have not taken reasonable chances, in perhaps love or a career that didn’t work out.

2. It’s not a race or competition. We are leaning not to compare what we have with other’s around us. Also we don’t constantly compare ourselves today, with that which we were a few years ago. We know envy is an unwholesome emotion, that will hurt not only ourselves, but those around us, including the person we are envious of. We have learned to do what needs to be done, not because someone is watching, but just because it must be done. Not needing to strut around like a peacock, or fly in perfect formation like a goose, we find opportunities to utilize our talents to benefit all.

3. This world is our home and we appreciate it. Watching the delight in a small child as they discover something new, brings a smile to our face, as well as to the child. The scent of a flower can be like a time machine for the mind, taking us to a distant memory in the past, allowing us to experience it yet again. The gentle breeze across our face, reminds us we are still here, and still enjoying life. We have been through the storms, and appreciate the simpler things in life a lot more. Our family, friends and strangers are a continual source of wonder, for we have learned not to wish that they were a little more like us. We accept that most of them are great in their own way, and don’t need us to tell them to change. Those bumps and bruises of the ego, we endured, just add character to our faces and our stories.

4. We aren’t looking to be the richest person in the world, or even on the block. We have learned that money doesn’t buy happiness, and the good   life doesn’t require much after all. We have gained an inner peace, a stabler outlook, and a sense of who we really are. We have enough experience to have a sailors eye for approaching storms, and the wisdom of having been in these situations before, to know if we should batten down the hatches, or navigate around, through calmer waters.

5. We have a strongly developed moral code, that includes all beings, not just our self. We have learned we can’t fix all the problems, instead we put our effort into ones we can change. We have learned to put some energy into our passions, whether it be gardening, or writing the next great novel. We have also learned to put passion into our energies, when we are with people who we deeply care about and love, we let them know, we don’t just assume they know by now. We may be happy one moment, grumpy the next, and then perplexed a few minutes later with out making a fuss about things. Our moods are mercurial and we accept that, realizing that the path has its ups and downs. We have developed an equilibrium of emotion that allows us to weather the storms and bask in the sun.

So until you decide to leave this life, and become a monk or nun, spend part of your day meditating, but spend the greater part of your day living, caring and sharing who you are, and what you have to offer, with all the beings you encounter. For if we all give our best to oterhs every day, we can all make the world a better place.



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