A Western Buddhist's Travels

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Archive for the tag “Dalai Lama”

Becoming a radical means showing compassion

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Albert Einstein

“It is easy enough to be friendly to one’s friends. But to befriend the one who regards himself as your enemy is the quintessence of true religion. The other is mere business.” Mohandas Gandhi

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.” “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” both by the 14th Dalai Lama

“If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.” Lao Tzu

“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” St. Francis of Assisi

I started this post about compassion with the quotes, to show it doesn’t matter which path you are following, we all need to show compassion to other beings. The opposite may hold true, as various research studies have shown that adult violent offenders, have a higher rate of having inflicted unnecessary pain on animals, during their youth. These studies don’t include such activities as toddlers or young children, pulling the cat or dogs tail.

The next time you decide to respond to a beggar on the street, instead of just tossing a coin into their hat or cup, take 10 or 15 minutes and talk to them, perhaps offer to buy them a meal, even if it is from a street vendor or fast food establishment. One of the most common statements, I have heard from the formerly homeless, I talked to who moved into a social housing project, I used to manage, was the lack of meaningful contact they experienced while homeless. Watch how many people will avoid eye contact with a beggar, and some will cross the street to the other sidewalk to avoid them. Some of these beggars are, people who have mental health issues, that need caution in approaching, yet others are peaceful, and lonely.

Compassion can extend to helping your neighbor who is feeling sick, by dropping off a meal they can heat and eat. In winter, where snow falls, shovel the sidewalk for a senior, hold the door open for others, and many more ways to make others lives a little less painful.

This series starts here.

Daily Prompt: Impossibility

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – the White Queen, Alice in Wonderland.

What are the six impossible things you believe in? (If you can only manage one or two, that’s also okay.)

1. Religious tolerance and acceptance of each others beliefs becomes universal. “All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love,  compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our  daily lives.” The Dalai Lama. He also talked about it in this article titled: Many Faiths, One Truth

2. Our first contact with a non-terrestrial intelligent life form. This has been a common science fiction theme for generations, and now science has caught up to fiction. The closest earth like planet might only be 13 light years from earth. Granted it would take longer than 13 years for us to travel there, but a generation ship could easily be on it’s way by 2050. If humans are to have a better chance of surviving as a species, we need to spread to other planets, and other solar systems. For more check out Earth-like planets are right next door.

3. Universal peace, I have listed third on my impossible dream list. Because the first two, could happen sooner than this one. If both happen then the possibility of humanity uniting as one species increases. Imagine a world where national borders are historical markers, and places such as the Brandenburg Gate are found all over the world, as reminders of a time where we concentrated on the minor differences, rather than the immense commonality we all share. Where Universal Peace Day celebrates peace not the first use of an atomic weapon of mass destruction. “My  attitude to peace is rather based on the Burmese definition of peace – it really  means removing all the negative factors that destroy peace in this world. So  peace does not mean just putting an end to violence or to war, but to all other  factors that threaten peace, such as discrimination, such as inequality,  poverty.” “Human  beings want to be free and however long they may agree to stay locked up, to  stay oppressed, there will come a time when they say ‘That’s it.’ Suddenly they  find themselves doing something that they never would have thought they would be  doing, simply because of the human instinct that makes them turn their face  towards freedom.” Both quotes by Aung San Su Kyi. As Dr. Martin Luther King stated; “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”

4. That we leave our children a planet that is healthier and more environmentally sound than we received from our parents. Global warming, air, water and soil contaminated by chemicals that cause diseases, genetic damage, and other similar atrocities must be stopped. This requires that we stop studying, planning and talking about making changes, and start implementing the best practices we have, with the goal of constant improvement in our processes. To turn off all the fossil fuels in the world at once, would kill billions of people, and possibly bring us to the brink of another dark ages or stone age. The technology to build a vehicle that gets hundreds of kilometers per litre of fuel exists today. The Shell Eco-Marathon held in Houston April 5th – 7th 2013 will showcase vehicles designed by university students from around the world, to see how the team from the University of Alberta made the news read this article. Granted most of us want something a bit more aesthetically pleasing and with all the safety features, but we as consumers need to start voting with our wallets when making purchases.

5. A world where we have time to enjoy each others companionship, and be involved in our children’s lives. Talk to many people who are estranged from their parents, and you will notice a common complaint; “They weren’t there for me as a child”, or “They were too busy for me”. Children not only need us there to help them grow into adults, they want us there. Watch a child who’s parents are at their school play, or whose parents are in the stands watching him play hockey at 5am, or the smile of a daughter who knows how much her dad hates shopping, but he’s at the mall with her.

6. That the right to use the internet and other forms of communication becomes an enshrined human right. Just as libraries and universities helped propel us to the technologies we enjoy today, so will the internet spur the catching up of all societies to an age of equity and equality for all. Authors can self publish, musicians have the option to  bypass the media companies, inventors have the ability to raise funds. Look at the peaceful and some not so peaceful revolutions around the world, where people are standing up to repressive regime’s, and forcing change to bring benefits to all. That searches are presented in an unbiased and non-commercial way, so the mom and pop pizza shop around the corner from your house isn’t listed 5 pages deep in the results because of paid advertisement or sponsorships. Yes search engines need to pay the bills, but ads can be handled other than as sponsored results, which is just another way of saying advertising.


More Daily Prompt: Impossibility

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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