A Western Buddhist's Travels

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Archive for the tag “Christianity”

Daily Prompt: Blogger With a Cause

If your day to day responsibilities were taken care of and you could throw yourself completely behind a cause, what would it be?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us HELP.

There are so many worthwhile endeavors a person could take up, they couldn’t do all of them. From the ecological aspects as touched upon in by Completely Disappear , to someone who looks back at the challenges they have seen develop as Chronicles of an Angloswiss details. An Atheist Blog looks at empowering girls and women, and all the other great posts found at The Daily Post.

As many of you know I grew up with a mixture of Christianity and Buddhism with a couple of other influences. So my answer would be to help bring social activism and community service into the mainstream of Buddhist practices. As Buddhist we are taught to respect the land and other beings around us, so anything that help the environment, or other people to suffer less is something that can be looked at. From helping the poor, to protecting the environment so all beings can enjoy a healthier life.

If you can work at what you love, then work becomes a joy, not something to be endured.

Are your goals and ambitions leading to happiness?

Ask people what would make them happy, and depending on what the persons age is, and where  person lives you might get a different answer. Ask a child and they might say an ice cream on a hot summer day. The same child a few years later, playing in their first sports tournament, might say they want to win. Ask them when graduating from High School, and many might say a date for the prom. As a young adult with their post secondary degree, the answer would be a career that is challenging, and rewarding. When that person is getting into what they hope is a lifelong relationship, the list probably will have several goals, some of which will vanish when the first child arrives. A child has been born, and now some of the parents hopes and dreams are focused on the child, in many cultures it is what the child or even the grandchildren in that culture achieve that determines your success. Later in life, the goals may simply be to be free from the daily aches and pains, or they may include a bucket list that has to be filled.

As a Buddhist, when doing actions during the course of my day, I not only keep in mind my own aspirations, but also the benefit and welfare of others.  Rather than pray for something to happen, I have a firm and strong aspiration that a thing be accomplished. An initial wish, is reinforced with firm determination and a strong desire. Unlike a prayer or supplication, a wish has more the attributes we would find in meditation or contemplation. This causes the wish to become a desire, which permeates the mind, causing it to focus on accomplishing the goal.

Individually we can focus our minds to achieve happiness, but what about as a family, each person with their own desires? If the family has a common set of values to base their decisions on, then harmony is much easier to accomplish. It doesn’t matter if those core values are defined from following Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, or any other path, as almost any of these have the same core values. The approaches are different, and we may not agree with the path another chooses, but we should respect their choice. As the Dalai Lama has stated:  “It is better to stick with the wisdom traditions of one’s own land than to run from them pursuing in exotica what was under your nose all the time.”

As we look a lager groups from the family, to our community, to our nation and finally our planet, happiness for all is more difficult to contemplate, and even more so to achieve. Yet, it is within the grasp of all of us, to achieve this ambitious goal. H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama, presented us with a way of looking at Buddhism, as consisting of three parts. In his view Buddhism can be divided into Buddhist science, Buddhist philosophy, and Buddhist religion. Of the three he says Buddhist religion is concern of Buddhists, while the science and philosophy portions can and should be shared with all. This with the view that wisdom can be found in all religions, as well as science, gives us a way of building on our common values and believes, while learning and adopting the best practices from other paths.

Look at the world today, and we see it becoming more fragmented. We see it defined as East and West, North and South, or first through third worlds. You have the generation gap, including Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y to name a few. Yet unlike earlier times, we have larger houses, with smaller families, and fewer generations under the same roof becoming the norm. In the past the grandparents were a valued member of a household, helping with the running of the house, and acting as mentors to the children. Today in an ever increasing part of the world, the elderly are shuffled off to care homes, retirement villages, seniors lodges and other terms to describe the isolation from their offspring. Children are left with neighbors, and more commonly in day cares or after school care. Then we wonder why there is no continuity to the family.

Nations are preoccupied with the development of a larger Gross Domestic Product, or more commonly referred to as G.D.P. Companies move production and services to other jurisdictions within the same country or to another country to take advantage of lower wages, less government regulation, laxer environmental standards, all in the name of maintaining or preferably increasing the return to it’s shareholders. For a look at the role consumers play in this dance, check out my  29 April 2103 post. Sometimes companies use legal methods to lower their taxes, by locating an office in a jurisdiction with a lower tax rate, as recently confirmed in a Canadian court ruling. Alberta loses battle for 120 million in corporate taxes. It is more common to use off shore offices to carry this out.

Yet there are hopeful signs, like a star in the night sky. I will leave you with the words of a person who I have written about as someone I admire, David Suzuki and a post from the organization he helped found: Tiny Bhutan redefines progress.

Daily Prompt: Karma Chameleon

Reincarnation: do you believe in it?

If your looking for the quick answer, skip down to the last paragraph, otherwise here’s a deeper look at today’s prompt.

The title, Karma Chameleon doesn’t lead to the question posed. Karma is an action or deed that is part of the cycle of cause and effect. If you choose to go to the bar and drink to excess on Friday night, you might suffer on Saturday, and be sick and not get much done. Do it on a Tuesday night, and on Wednesday the boss may decide, that you are not the type of employee that gets the promotion he was considering you for. If you always go to the bar on the weekends, soon your social circle will revolve around those people, and your paychecks will never seem to be enough. Some of your other friends, will drift away, as they pursue other interests in life. A Chameleon is a type of lizard, some species of which can change their color to blend in with the overall color scheme of the environment they are in. If we take the chameleon aspect and apply it to humans, we don’t have the ability to change our skin color from say brown to white, however we can be social chameleon’s and adapt to the people we are associating with. The mob that tore apart Vancouver after the Stanley Cup finals a few years ago, is an example of people being chameleons, the same as other mobs where people, blend in by joining in with the mischief, and not follow what society calls norms of civilized behavior. It doesn’t matter which path you follow, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Jainism, Buddhism, or any other, none advocate being one way at the temple, and another when away from the temple. Yet many people change when they enter a building of worship, and revert back when they leave, to return to the everyday world.

Reincarnations to most people in the world, means to most people, that after death, your soul begins a new life. Depending on the religion it could be as an animal, human, or spirit. In Buddhism there is no eternal spirit or soul to travel from one body to the next after death. Rather there is a stream of consciousness, that connects one life to the next. There are different views as to the chance of our next life being human again, with the Tibetan schools saying it is very rare. Buddhist’s using English,  tend to use rebirth or re-becoming to describe this process. Reincarnation is the very rare event, where the person is born with innate knowledge of their past lives, such as the case of the Dalai Lama. A little aside, rent or buy the 1997 movie, Kundun which will give you insight into this process, as well as an insight into the 14th Dalai Lama‘s early life.

So to answer the original question, yes I believe in reincarnation, and rebirth. However so do most people on this planet, the difference is in what form. Christians,  believe you come back in a different form, to live out the remaining part of eternity in heaven or hell. However that is something for the future, today is what, we have, how will we choose to live it?

Today’s Daily Prompt

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