Serenity Prayer

Such a beautiful collection of words filled with so much truth, even if you are not a Christian (which I am not).

Advertisements

Revenge and Karma

According to Delores Canon, karma comes from allowing other’s actions and behaviors to affect you, so if you want to end the karmic cycle then its time to forgive the action and let him/her be. An action is just an event, it is us who give it deep meaning, thus allowing it to affect us. See it as an event, it becomes easier to forgive. When you have forgiven, the event ceases to tie you down with all the meaning you have attached to it, and you will start to feel lighter. Don’t become involved in someone else’s karmic cycle.

A matter of perspective

perspective-different-perspective-238x300We enter this life to experience and relish from all that life has offer in order to grow and expand.  It has been said before that life on earth can be very hard. Shakyamuni Buddha said “Life is Suffering“,  but, he also said “all things are relative.” Lao Tzu said “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. ” Socrates said “Life contains but two tragedies. One is not to get your heart’s desire; the other is to get it” (I shall leave you to ponder upon the deeper meanings of this quote).  And, Eckhart Tolle said “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’.” In all, ‘life’ is tough from the perspective of each of our personal level.

A friend of mine made a post just before Christmas which I will quote here :

So many things that happen in life are beyond our control. From relationships to business affairs, the best laid plans can just fall apart in the blink of an eye and you’re left with the taste of ashes in your mouth, the queasy feeling in your stomach and a million thoughts running through your mind. Your emotions start to take over and your first instinct is to find a quick solution to either solve the problem, run from it or quell your emotions.
But if you choose to stay in the moment and not get trapped into worrying about the future or getting trapped in the past, you begin to realise that despite the setbacks and uncertainties in life, there are many other things that are going your way and you can be grateful for.

For every failed relationship there is someone who will not leave your side or knowingly hurt you. For every failed business venture, there is a lesson waiting to be learnt so that you may learn and grow. For every crushed dream and plan that falls apart, there is another dream waiting to be realised and for you to fulfill.
We can choose to give up or we can choose to hope. To believe and to keep the faith. To be grateful and appreciative. To love and be loved despite it all.

– Alistair Tan

Call it a weird coincidence, but I was thinking about making a little post about the “unfortunate” things that happen in life after listening to 2 songs from 2 different animated movies.  Then, I saw his post all within the same day. Providence and synchronicity at work maybe, but definitely inspiration to fuel the writing.  I share below, links to the 2 songs I was referring to :
You Know Better Than I from Joseph King of Dreams
Through Heaven’s Eyes from The Prince of Egypt
Despite the songs being laced with subtle references to the Christian faith, look past that and you will see that the message is the same.  We go through life being conditioned to put labels on things, that being in control is a fact of life, and trying to build grand plans for our future in order to achieve our goals in life, goals that often define what “success” means from our perspective.  In the process, we believe that all is within our control; that if we follow the steps we will hit the goal.  “Life” begs to differ, if you follow the steps you have laid out you MAY hit the goal but there are no guarantees.  So, what happens if you do not hit your goal/s?  For some, their world falls apart; for some well adjusted others they make new plans and go after new goals. We put in the effort in order to achieve our desired outcomes. When it does not go our ways we experience stress, for some “shit” just hit the fan.
But, we forget that”many things that happen in life are beyond our control”; we cannot control life’s path. Life has bigger plans for all of us. As Aesop would put it “Appearances are often deceiving.”  The following is what Dr. Jacob Held  (Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Central  Arkansas) said :
We can’t escape pain; we can’t escape the essential nature of our lives. But we do have a choice. We can give in and relent, or we can fight, persevere, and create a life worth living, a noble life.

Pain is a fact; our evaluation of it is a choice.

Much too often we evaluate situations according to our myopic perspectives of the world.  We grew up being conditioned into it.  Besides, how much faith can we put into another perspective that we cannot perceive yet? But, according to Lao Tzu “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” Shakyamuni Buddha also said “The mind is everything, what we think we become.” Approach things from another perspective and the situation may appear different than what you/we may have first thought. I shall end this post with 2 more quotes.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.

– Lao Tzu

Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.
– Confucius
Be blessed all!!

 

Concept of “Emptiness” as I understand it

emptiness-1

“Emptiness” is a concept that has been around for as long as the Buddhist philosophy has survived, and possibly longer.  The basic underlying principle of Buddhist teachings is about being “detached”, because all things are “empty”.  That a pen is only a “pen” because we gave it the name of a “pen” and attached meaning to it; otherwise it could have been called something else.  Reverend Jing Kung said that “emptiness” does not mean that there is nothing, there is something; it can be compared to the clouds in the sky.  From a distance, they look like fluffy cotton candy floating in the sky; but when you get on a plane and fly to it, then you realize that it is not really there, it is still there but not there.  It exists, just not the way that we perceive it to be.

For many years, I wrestled with trying to understand this abstract concept. The question that keeps coming back to me was how can something be there but not there at the same time? But, yet it is, just like the clouds in the sky.  It is there but not there at the same time. Then, one day I saw a quote by Ali ibn abi Talib, who is supposedly the son of Prophet Muhammad:

“Detachment is not that you should own nothing. But that nothing should own you.”

In that one moment, I gained a certain level of clarity of what emptiness actually meant.

Given that much of the meaning, structures, and artificial constructs that exists in any society were created by us humans. For example, the rules in the society, each person’s behavior, etc were created by us humans. Do they really exist, at least not in a tangible way like you can hold a pen in your hands? Bringing back the example of a pen, the concept of a “pen” exists because we attached the meaning of what a pen is to it.  Without it, a “pen” is just a “pen” and nothing more, it could have been a “ball”. Everything we do, how we react to stimulus, exists because we based our reactions/behaviors upon our past experiences, such as a pin prick is painful and therefore we learn to be careful when handling sharp pointy objects.  Or that a fire burns and its painful, so we avoid having direct skin contact with anything that is burning. Much of the formation of these behavioral reactions are done so automatically and subconsciously; you can almost say that we have no control over it. But, is that really the absolute truth?  Nevertheless, we are not totally without blame, and neither should we be blamed either; forgive yourself.

As we grow up, we associate certain reactions to certain stimulus. In the examples mentioned before, we learned to associate pain with pointy objects and fire.  In other examples, it would be learning to attach pain to people who have hurt you in the past (in some cases an entire gender of the population), or avoiding certain situations that would cause you discomfort (generally speaking) such as closing yourself up in a “safe” place because you do not like the unpleasant comments others may say to you. The point here is we tend to create intangible abstract concepts and attach meanings to it as we go through life.  These meanings may/may not be grounded on other abstract concepts, and thus the web we weave grows.

We hang on to these abstract concepts like our dear lives. Some of it has caused much grief and suffering. To us, these concepts are as real as a slab of concrete. The truth is, they are not.  They are only as real as we want them to be.  We are too attached to all of it, as a result, they owned us. We have surrendered our personal power to an abstract “object” of our own creation that is about as real as the clouds in the sky.  However, once you have released the meaning attached, it looses its hold on you.  It is what it is, something created by a conglomerating effort of the universe, and nothing more. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, “nothing should own you” and you will be “free”, to be one with “emptiness” again; to be present in the NOW.  This is my understanding of “emptiness”.

(Note: Releasing said “attachments” are sometimes not a trivial matter. Seek help if you need to. It takes more courage to admit that you need help. We are only human after all. Be blessed!)