Each day after reading or listening to the news I want to jump on my blog and rant. I’ve restrained myself, but maybe the world situation is why I’ve been remiss blogging this year (– or maybe that just an excuse). To gain some serenity I’ve been studying Buddhism recently and this is what I’ve gleaned.
Buddhism is not a religion, but interfaith and a spiritual lifestyle. You can start anywhere to understand this way of life, but there are principles to guide ones path and open our outlook:
• Your thoughts, conscious conduct (do the right thing) and speech (how often do we speak ill of someone?) are key
• Suffering is part of life, but needless suffering comes from dwelling on it (especially when it is over or out of our control)
• Karma – moral cause and effect.
• Meditation, which is the attraction for many to Buddhism. I was never very good at this, but I do practice Tai Chi especially when stressed – that counts doesn’t it? In the same vein, is mindfulness.
Who remembers the book “Be Here Now” from the 70s? That book made me realize I was often living in the past or worrying about the future. Be Here Now is essentially mindfulness and reminded me to stop and be with my children in the moment.
• Everything is connected. John Muir came by this on his own with the environmental movement: “When one tries to tug at a single thing in nature, we find it is attached to everything else in the Universe.”
“…in every deliberation we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations” The Iroquois Confederacy
Going back to the interconnectedness of religions, most teach values such as human dignity, equality, freedom, and peace and encourage the faithful to act with empathy to others. There are many prophets who have said similar things, like the “Peace that passeth understanding” which relates to meditation and prayer and is akin to Nirvana…and the Golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a common theme. We turn to systems of beliefs that provide a more meaningful world.
• Treat others with compassion and generosity. Avoid “toxins” like greed, ignorance and ill will. Mahatma Gandhi said “There is enough in this world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”
• Accept Change: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap…” from the biblical book Ecclesiastes; turned into song by Pete Seeger who ended with “a time for peace, I swear it’s not too late” (later adapted by The Byrds) https://www.youtube.com/watch
Buddhism doesn’t have many ceremonies, but I read about a Tibetan center in Colorado with a rite-of-passage where parents and children face each other, bow, and vow to be kind to themselves, to each other and all beings. Isn’t that lovely?