A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

The time is now..

Todays post is a result of seeing a friend for the first time the other day, since before Christmas. He has lost about 25 lbs in that time, and been in the hospital, where he has been told to prepare to die within the next few months. Mel is still walking around smiling, seeing those friends he can, while he waits a transfer to a hospice. I have spent some time talking to him, and while he talks about the past including things he wishes had gone differently, he isn’t stuck on the past. Rather he has the attitude, of what can I get done today? He has gone out and tried some ethnic foods, that he never tasted before. He saw the Hobbit in 3D, just so he could experience the new 3D, as the last time was many years ago when you got the disposable anaglyph glasses, with the two different colored lenses. He is getting his will finalized, and contacting those he wishes to see once more. He has accepted death, and now wants to make the most of what life he has left. I asked him what he would tell anyone who wasn’t living under a known shorter lifespan. He answered with four words; “Live in the present!” So in honor of his advice, I will write something about living in the present.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.

If you are anxious you are living in the future.

If you are at peace you are living in the present.

Laozi (Lao Tzu) wrote these words almost 2400 years ago, and they still have just a much meaning today as when he said them. How often do we spend time reminiscing about what ifs? If we had done, this or not done that, all the while it is those choices that have made us who we are today. If you spend all your time working towards a raise, getting that bigger house, what will you miss? My parents were both working while I grew up, yet they made sure at least one of them was always at my special events, games, school functions. They did their best to see they both had the opportunity to be at these functions.

If your a student who waits till the last minute to write the paper, or study for the exam, you probably suffer from anxiety. Perhaps learning to schedule some study time on a daily basis, would allow you to study in the present, and avoid the anxiety of the future. If your working, and find your mornings rushed, choose your wardrobe the night before, make your lunch in advance(it’s healthier than most restaurant meals), and leave a few minutes earlier, the traffic won’t drive you crazy as easily. Also worrying constantly about things beyond our control, robs us of the wonderous gifts we have right now. Worrying about the day when you daughter first starts to date, when she hasn’t finished being potty trained, will probably lead to a bigger mess, than if you put all your attention to changing her diaper. The present is when we can carry out things, so why not make the most of each moment.

The Buddha taught us, we are to be mindful of our thoughts, speech, and actions and to live in the present. The more we are in the present, the more we are aware of what we say and do that affects other beings. By being mindful, we eliminate more incidents that cause suffering to others, and ourselves. So when your reading the blog, do so with all your attention, not thinking of what’s for lunch, or wondering what’s on sale at the midnight sale. When spending time with your family or friends, give them you full attention, and if you find your mind wandering, draw it back to the present. If you have children, or are planning on it, memories such as their first word, first step, first time they ride a bike with out training wheels, or someone holding the back of the bike seat, are memories that only happen once. Talking to your spouse, actually listen, and as a lady once told me, they don’t expect us guys to fix everything, sometimes all they want is for us to listen, to know we are there with them, right then and there.

In the military or in business, it’s not about having all the information to make a decision. It’s about having enough facts to make an informed decision, then actually making the decision that makes you a leader. The same applies to our daily lives, whether it’s buying a new cell phone, or what color to paint the kitchen walls, these don’t require as much thought as who we will marry. So don’t spend all your time today thinking, you get a lot more done just doing. If you get into getting things done, you might even find some time to take a few hings off your bucket list, while you still have time. If you make a mistake on occasion, don’t waste more time beating yourself up over it, just fix it and move on. Wasting time berating yourself, means you are compounding the original mistake.There is a saying that time and money are two things that should not be wasted.

So live in the moment, and you will be less stressed, and have more happy memories, and those around you will enjoy your companionship more too.


Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House

Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Hmm, five things, well lets see what I don’t have to worry about. My passport, is in the bank safe deposit box. Computer files are all backed up to the cloud with the exception of media file on the home server. So what would i take.

1. The bible in Latin that has been handed down to the oldest child from my mothers side of the family since 1827. It has a large majority of my family tree written in it, and gives me a tie to the Ukraine.

2. My camera, even though I’m not the world’s greatest photographer, I still would want it, and it doesn’t weigh much.

3. The removable hard drives from my home server, as they have almost 2 terabytes of pictures, documents, and memories stored. I keep meaning to make dvd back ups nd store them off site, but still haven’t gotten around to it.

4. Laptop, because I use it daily, and even more than my cell phone, is something I need.

5. 1 bankers box, full of family photos, most of which have been copied to a digital format, however the pictures my grandparents passed down, have a sentimental value beyond the images themselves.

Yes I coud live without any of these, and the loss of any one or all would not be a life ending catastrophe. My clothes, can be replaced, and just think I could actually be totally up to date style wise, without having to wait for some of my items to come back into style. 😛


Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House

Daily Prompt: Through the Window

Go to the nearest window. Look out for a full minute. Write about what you saw.

If you don’t see a post from me tomorrow please check the headlines to see if I have been arrested for suspicious behavior. Looking out the window for a minute means seeing a street with cars and other vehicles, pedestrians scurrying like ants, but mainly an office building across the street. I can see people sitting at their desks, keyboarding, talking on the phone, having a meeting, and a few standing around the water cooler. However, this is a government building that has several offices for the Police department, hence the first line of my post. These days, even looking out the window can get you into trouble. If I stand at just the right angle I can see the overcast sky, no sunshine in sight, blah not worth looking upwards today. The pedestrians scurrying past on the sidewalks below, seem to be of four different types though. First are the ones that are part of the rat race, scurrying at high-speed, weaving through the smallest openings as they dart past everyone to get to the front of the line, almost as if they can smell the cheese. Secondly are the lemmings, huddled together and following the leader, lets just hope she is paying attention to the walk signals. The third group is the chickadees, they are twittering away, as they walk, some by vocal on their phones, others probably using the twitter app, and yes it looks like one of them is checking to see when the next bus will arrive. Finally there are the dolphins weaving through the obstacles with a grace that captures the eye as well as the imagination. They bend and twist to swim through the tides of people flowing along the sidewalk, grabbing their snack from the food truck as they swim past the surges of humanity on the sidewalk. All the while avoiding the whirlpools that seem to draw so many others into those caverns of consumption beckoning us into their hallowed halls with glitz and glamour, while the predators seeking to lighten your wallet with their shiny baubles lurk, waiting for you to come in while mesmerized by the shiny objects.


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