A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the tag “religion”

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: 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: Polite Company

“It’s never a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don’t really know.” Agree or disagree?

image source: wikipedia.org

image source: wikipedia.org

It will probably come as no surprise to those who read my blog, I disagree. For those who came to my blog after reading the title, A Western Buddhist‘s Travels, you are forewarned at least about the fact I declare myself right off the bat. Yet I follow blogs, from Christians of different denominations, also Muslim and Jewish, and even other schools of Buddhism. Knowledge can be found all around us, to think that any one path is the only path of making us better people, is what worries me. Back in November 2012 I wrote about Faith without Fanaticism, and believe that the more we openly share our beliefs, with out denigrating others, the more we will find, we are all looking for the same things in life.

As to politics, I was raised with the attitude, if you didn’t vote, you have no right to complain. In some democracies, the winning party has been elected by less than 25% of the eligible voters. This is not rule by the majority, or as my American friends put it, Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Talk about most daily issues, whether it is about the morning commute getting worse, or the over crowded bus, or train you took today. Perhaps you recently endured a garbage strike, or some other interruption of a public service. Notice the cost of items today, globalization was supposed to lower prices, not see them skyrocket, quite often through new taxes added to the price increases. Besides the politicians themselves won’t even follow the concept, of not talking politics with strangers, they will show up at shopping malls, bridge openings, even have the nerve to knock on you door at 9am on a Saturday morning, to talk politics with you.

So, my attitude has been to be open about my beliefs, well about your right to follow your own beliefs. To discuss issues that affect our lives, and the future lives of our descendants, in a way that stimulates our creative thought processes, in hopes of leaving the world in a better shape by the end of the day. However if you also want to discuss where I can find a great cheesecake, or latte, hey I’m all ears.

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/01/15/daily-prompt-polite-company/

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