A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the tag “travel”

The middle of the road approach to a safer and happier society

“Human beings the world over need freedom and security that they may be able to realize their full potential.”. 

said by, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who I have admired for years, and have written about in myPeople who inspire me series“. 

This is one of those posts that started as a middle of the night AH-HA moment. Have you ever had one of those where you go to bed thinking about something, then wake up at 2:54am looking at the clock, going why am I awake, then it hits you. Luckily with smartphones, it’s easy to leave yourself a voice message. The harder part is actually getting the simple idea written out, so everyone else can understand it.

A few days ago I was reading on the LA-Times website about how video showed one of the suspects of the Boston Marathon bombings, dropping his backpack then moving away. This has resulted in the Police Department of Louisville Kentucky banning backpacks, duffel bags etc for the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Reading this I started to think about how many other times I have read about other situations where people have witnessed a crime, accident or other situation and just kept on going about their daily life. I was staring to wonder do we all have little flag persons, who show up to direct us away, saying “move along nothing to see here”. You can read stories from around the world of people who are pleading for help and have drivers ignore them, here are just a few I found, I’m sure you know of others closer to where you live.

Father in India unsucessfuly pleads for help from passing motorists

Calgary drivers swerve around woman on road.

Also look at societies attitude towards youth crimes. Yes many teenagers push the boundaries and some cross over the line to a minor degree. This doesn’t mean they need to pay for the rest of their lives for the transgression. Canada is one of the countries that treats those who haven’t become responsible adults to a lesser punishment, in hopes of allowing them to go onto lead productive normal lives. Canada brought in the young offenders act in 1984, and  in 2003 updated it with the Youth Justice Act, which reduced the age for treatment of the suspect as an adult to as low as  14 for violent offences, and for those who have shown a habitual predisposition towards crime. Societies around the world turn a blind eye towards this issue, as shown by this article from Britain. Public Ignores Crime by Teenagers

The there is the other side of the coin, where people physically intervene in situations. Just yesterday the story of a Samurai sword wielding Mormon Pastor who intervened. In another incident the actions of the passengers of United Airlines flight 93, on September 11, 2001 prevented further tragedy when they attempted to regain control of the aircraft from the hijackers on that fateful day. Tragically they lost their lives, but prevented many more deaths and injuries.

The edge between the two sides is people who are so wrapped up in their own little slice of the universe, that everything else is passes by like a ship sailing through a fog bank without a lighthouse beacon to warn it of impending dangers. You have seen these people, walking into other people, street poles or into traffic while chatting on their mobile phones. Others are plugged into the rhythm of their life with their mp 3 player through noise cancelling headphones.

With a minor change in our attitudes, to any of these three situations we can all contribute to the freedom and security that Aung San Suu Kyi speaks of. Imagine a world where citizens raise their voice and cellphones to record and post videos of criminal acts to law enforcement agency. Where we see someone injured and stop to render aid, and call for more help. A world where it’s safe to walk to the store at night in our own neighborhood, because we know our neighbors, not just their apartment addresses.

How can this be done, you ask. By applying the wisdom that the Buddha taught us almost 2600 years ago. The bold are his words, while the writing after each is how it applies today in our modern society.

Pain is certain, suffering is optional.”  In that yes people get hurt, but we can help stop suffering. We can’t prevent everyone we meet from suffering pain, not even our own families. This is not assigning blame to anyone or any entity, rather dealing with the reality in front of our senses.

“If we fail to look after others when they need help, who will look after us?” However when we encounter suffering we can take action to reduce it, through our words and actions, or we can continue to do as many and ignore anything outside our own world, until we are the one crying out in the crowded wilderness.

“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” Let us go forth with compassion, understanding and love, while speaking kindly. Let us help those around us, not because we have to, but because we choose to. We have all had someone help us at some point, let us pass this along to those we meet.

“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss most of your life.” Pay attention to what is happening right now where ever you are. If your driving, you shouldn’t be reading this. If your drinking coffee, remember what happens when it is spilled onto the keyboard. If your shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables at the market, choose those perfect papayas you went for, not the blackened bananas you will end up making a cake out of. If your at your child’s first baseball game, cheer like they just won the world series, and if they strike out, tell them not even Babe Ruth got a hit every time he was at bat. If you are talking with the person you married, then to what they have to say, they may not even want you to fix everything,they just need you to listen to them.

“Kindness should become the natural way of life,not the exception.” Or in the music of Louis Armstrong


“An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse.”


The topic is “An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse” you have 10 minutes.

If someone came up to me with an offer to pay my expenses as I spent a year at a teaching English at a Buddhist Temple or Wat overseas in Asia, I would be winding up my daily life here. Now I’m not talking living a Vancouver lifestyle in a foreign country, as that’s not the point. Rather a comfortable , safe place to live, good local food, transportation costs, and a little to do some sight seeing while there. I  would be able to offer classes to the Monks, as well as locals, concentrating on their ability to have a basic conversation in English.

I would gain through the cultural exchange by learning their culture, food and lifestyle. Making new friends, and learning to further reduce my attachment to physical objects. While there other than clothing, rent, food, transportation costs, I would also be able to donate a portion of my salary to the Temple or Wat, as well as my providing the English lessons. Communication costs of a cell phone and internet access, as I would also do a blog about the experience, after all I know many of you would enjoy reading about a Western Buddhist in a small village or city in Asia. The struggles of learning enough of their language to be able to function. If asked either Thailand or southern parts of China, as I have a little of both languages. Plus I love Thai food or Schezuan style Chinese food, for the spice, Shanghai style for the freshness.

Final minute, it’s always nice to have a what if dream, now you know mine.

Weekly Photo Challenge:Solitary

Missed the boat, is a picture I took in Vancouver, Canada 16 January 2012. The lone paddle boarder is a solitary individual. The temperature was 6C and the water temperature a balmy 8C. You can see we had snow on the ground then. To put this in perspective I have posted a palm tree here from the same day.


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