A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

With all the suffering around us, what is our response?

So you want to make the world a better place, to reduce suffering, that means you have a plan, right?

You don’t have a plan, then read along as I give you some guidelines to come up with your own path of helping others. First of all you’ll need to have the courage to get past the one thing that stops many of us. Staying in the background works, some of the time, however to truly make a difference, as they say in baseball you will have to step up to the plate. This means you might end up striking out or even having your worst fear come true, looking foolish. The only thing worse than not getting it right the first time, is not trying in the first place.

First mission ask someone you know, “What can I do to make your day better?” You may hear they don’t need a hand, or it’s alright don’t worry about them. Politely persist, till you find out how you can help. Ask if there’s anything they have been meaning to do, but they just haven’t gotten around to doing. It might be as simple as taking a box of unused items to a thrift store, or cleaning out the garage. It’s not the size of the task, it’s learning how to persevere, and how to get the information you need. It’s easier to do this with someone we know the first few times, as we may even have a few ideas about how we can help already. That’s what the second part of this lesson is about, listening. Listening to what they would like done, not doing what we want think needs doing. After a few times of doing this exercise, your ready to move on.

Time for the shoe to hit the pavement, so to speak, or at least the let your fingers do the walking. Get hold of a local organization that you believe in. It could be the S.P.C.A., a soup kitchen for the homeless, or something like Ducks Unlimited. Most volunteer run groups can always use an extra set of hands. In most cases, life isn’t about sitting around waiting for the right moment, except maybe asking that certain someone to be your partner for the rest of your lives. So set a date about two weeks after you have started this exercise, as the day you call and offer to get involved. A few things to consider, include meeting people you already share something in common with, and you will be doing good for a being who needs your help. Also it’s not you against the worlds problems, your just part of the larger effort. Regardless of what you have chosen, make the commitment to help for at least 6 months. This will give you enough time to get used to helping others, give you the confidence you need, and build up your skill set. Also you will realize your not doing this by your self. After 6 months, you may find you have found your niche to help out in.

Perhaps you still have the desire to do more, to right the unrightable wrong. The you might want to read up on the lives of a few others, who attempted such journeys. Hers a link to ten people who came from humble beginnings, but made a difference in the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Fox

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_Teresa

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohandas_Karamchand_Gandhi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Watson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aung_San_Suu_Kyi

https://www.oxfam.org.au/act/diy-campaigning/can-one-person-change-the-world/ lists 4 individuals

There are many more, however after learning about these ten, you should have an understanding that it’s not easy to change the world, but one person can make a huge difference. For more inspiration, I would recommend the a book that celebrates 25 years of Turning the Wheel: The Journal of the Buddhist Peace fellowship. Not Turning Away, The Practice of Engaged Buddhism, edited by Susan Moon.

Also thanks to WordPress, I have had the pleasure of starting to know someone who has overcome obstacles, and is doing something to make a difference. She doesn’t post on a regular basis, but to learn more about her story visit: http://marciasd.wordpress.com/a-little-about-me/

Now that you have the inspiration, all that’s left is the perspiration, and the only one who can decide where to put your efforts is yourself.

 

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