To End Suffering

I grew up loving the candles, the quiet, the chanting, the sitting and waiting, that I found in religion. The ceremony. It was serious, pure, and poignant. Which to my mind as a child meant powerful. Like weddings and presidential inaugurations.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness. Dalai Lama

To End Suffering

Humanitarians try to end human kind’s suffering by making the world a better place. To make society better. Can you feed your family? Can you get water? Education? Equal rights? Equal access to funding or resources?  Top 5 Humanitarian Aid Organizations – BorgenProject.org

The Buddha taught that suffering came from our mind. We resist. We think. We worry. Stop these and suffering ends. When suffering ends, we simply are. There is no more “I.” There is no more “Want.” All that remains is the stillness. Even when the good things in life happen, there can be suffering. Good days, bad days. The Buddha, himself, was a man. He also left his religion. He left his home and family. He left his gods. He never claimed to be a god. He only claimed to be awake. In this awakening, he wished to teach others. There was no conversion or baptism or cutting of the flesh.

The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism.  Killing the Buddha – Sam Harris

Buddhism vs. Humanitarianism

I’d always respected Buddhism with their mindfulness and care for others. Recently I wondered how it differed from Humanitarianism? Don’t they both with to help others? I didn’t know until I explored. There is religion in Buddhism. But how much you want to get into it is up to you and which version of Buddhism you study. Some are heavy on the Karma. Karmic debt. Karmic cleansing. It wasn’t as clean and simple as I had once thought it was.

I never believed in Original sin from my religion, so I can’t see myself picking up Karmic debt. I’ll be as good as I can and see what happens. I can’t follow a guru or wear a toga. I can be kind. I want to see society change. It won’t happen overnight, but I think it can happen. It can happen if we change who we are first. Because, isn’t that how all things start? You can’t make good coffee out of dirty water. And you have to pull the splinter out of your own eye before you can remove the board from another’s eye. At least that’s what I heard from another wise man.

My Take

Helping and giving is my religion. I don’t need people bend their knees at my prayer mat or light their candle with my brand of matches. I hope they can be well and help others to be well. You don’t even have to know my name.

You Win – Repost

This from a previous post. I hope you enjoy.

Your life is not a failure. My life is not a failure. We haven’t quit and we haven’t failed. Let me set the scene for what I’m talking about. Years ago, women had big families, not always because they wanted to. Men had to work long hours in the fields or doing jobs wherever they could. Coal mining, deep-sea fishing, fighting wars they didn’t start. This was their lives, how they bent. Like the tree swaying with the wind, they leaned and they bent so they didn’t break. We inherited generations’ worth of genetics and heritage. Maybe you have Granddad’s blue eyes or his height. Remember he was so tall he had to stoop when he came through the door frame? Well my gramps was tall and thin. I remember his jean overalls and his pipe. I also remember how his shoulders had a bit of slump. I also remember my mom telling my brother to sit up straight. A lot.

Most of us try to kick habits and to better ourselves. We encourage our kids to study hard and take the steps for success just as we’ve done for ourselves. So you’ve tried to lose the weight. I know you have. It’s not because you lack willpower. Maybe it’s the technique or maybe it’s not. You want to be healthy. You want to stop smoking. You want to watch your kids grow up. You haven’t failed. Get back up. take another step. If you’ve reached this point there is this one thing you need to know. There are some things in life we learn to live with. That doesn’t mean you’ll never quit that habit. It just means there aren’t any miracle cures.

I know people who have personality disorders. I’m sure you do too. I know those that have diabetes and heart problems that would love a miracle cure. And someday medicine and science may find that cure. But until that day we have to handle our bodies with their handicaps as if we might have to live with them. I think with all the self-help and positive thinking we forgot something. Genetics and hereditary still play a part in our lives. Take a tall lanky child for instance. It doesn’t matter how many books you stack on his head, or how many mantras or meditations he would do. He’s going to be tall. And with that will possibly come the stooped shoulders. Thanks Granddad.

I’m blessed with my mom’s pot belly. I’ve never had a flat stomach. When I was 20 I weighed 110 pounds and still had a belly. I could do setups on a slant board. One day I did over 50. Flat stomach? Ha! Nope. Will I stop trying to lose weight? probably not. I’m stubborn like that. And like my continual effort to write my thoughts, like my always wanting to push just a little harder, comes the constant tug of war between wanting to have a thin body and the desire for more ice cream. Some things don’t change.

You exist and no one can take that away from you.

This is a daily lifestyle. This is your daily life. How you live each day doesn’t decide if you fail or win. You win regardless. You are here. You are alive, so you win. You exist, so you can’t lose. It’s not “if I can buy status symbol car I win” sort of deal. If you have no car, if you have no legs, if you have no job, you still win. You exist and no one can take that away from you. What winning looks like to each person is different. Maybe you need to revamp the image you have in your head of what winning is to you. That’s easy.

There are some things that will not change, so we deal with them. Not in a negative “put up with” way. Every day I get up and eat breakfast and take 15 – 30 minutes to wake up. I need that. Eating is mandatory or my body will get shaky and my head will hurt. These are the things I know about myself. There’s no overcoming necessary. This is me. I deal with me. I accept who I am and take the steps needed to make sure I have a meal and slow wake ups. Caring for myself.

You may never get over your fear of dogs. Or heights. You may not finish that bucket list before you die. Don’t let that stop you from putting impossible dreams on your list. It’s okay if you never see the Eiffel Tower or dive into the deep end of the swimming pool. When I was young I thought I had to be able to do everything. I thought I had to conquer every fear and challenge. Where did this thought come from? I really don’t know, but I’m glad to know it’s not true. I don’t have to EVER climb mount Everest. I NEVER EVER have to skydive. Silly as it may seem, I lived the first 30 years of my life thinking I needed to be able to do these things and not be afraid of them. How unrealistic. Somewhere along the way I decided to just stay afraid. Then I learned true freedom.

It’s perfectly alright to live imperfectly.

So forget striving for the top and pushing yourself til you break. The living is not in constant raw edge. The living just is. Right now, regardless if you are on the edge, on the top, or laying somewhere on the bottom after falling over, you are alive. You win.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScNNfyq3d_w

janetkwest

Your life is not a failure. My life is not a failure. We haven’t quit and we haven’t failed. Let me set the scene for what I’m talking about. Years ago, women had big families, not always because they wanted to. Men had to work long hours in the fields or doing jobs wherever they could. Coal mining, deep-sea fishing, fighting wars they didn’t start. This was their lives, how they bent. Like the tree swaying with the wind, they leaned and they bent so they didn’t break. We inherited generations’ worth of genetics and heritage. Maybe you have Granddad’s blue eyes or his height. Remember he was so tall he had to stoop when he came through the door frame? Well my gramps was tall and thin. I remember his jean overalls and his pipe. I also remember how his shoulders had a bit of slump. I also remember my mom telling my brother to sit up…

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About Being Noble and My Many Questions – repost

This is a re-post from September 1, 2013, About Being Noble and My Many Questions. Some may remember it. After a tough week like this one, I needed to remind myself of this.

Who told me?

Who said I should be in the 6 a.m. meditation group? Do I know what is holy? Can I decide for the future what I should do, where I should go, with whom I should be, and still remain open to what is needed now? Am I quite sure I should answer every question? EXTRA : Care for some extra superpowers, The Fluent Self

Who told me that?

Do I know the consequences of even one word I write?

Who told me it is kind to laugh at every joke, be on time for every appointment, get less sleep and not more, keep certain thoughts to myself, always do what I have agreed? How can I know what the situation calls for when it is clearly impossible for me to see the whole situation? Do I claim no distortion in my perception? Why then torture myself about fulfilling every unexamined claim of conscience? Why not consider the alternative? That there is something within me that does know and I can hear that something more clearly in comfort than in guilt. Maybe I should ease up and let things be.

“No matter what we talk about, we are talking about ourselves”
― Hugh PratherI Touch the Earth, the Earth Touches Me

“I sometimes react to making a mistake as if I have betrayed myself. My fear of making a mistake seems to be based on the hidden assumption that I am potentially perfect and that if I can just be very careful I will not fall from heaven. But a ‘mistake’ is a declaration of the way I am, a jolt to the way I intend, a reminder I am not dealing with the facts. When I have listened to my mistakes I have grown.”
― Hugh Prather

This is from a page I wrote in 2005. I was reading from some of my journals and ran across this little piece and thought that it is just as relevant for me today as it was then. 

Get off your pedestal. You’re going to hurt yourself. 

Intoxication Is Necessary

Français : Portrait de Charles Baudelaire.
Français : Portrait de Charles Baudelaire. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I wanted to share a favorite piece of prose from a french author. English translations vary, and this one is from, Words I Wish I Wrote, by Robert Fulghum. I’ve seen many other translations and mostly they all come to the same conclusion, enjoy yourself, because time is short. I wish for you the same, enjoy your holidays everyone. Time is short. Eat, drink, and be merry. I truly think the French are wiser than we give them credit.

You must always be intoxicated.
That sums it all up: it’s the only question.
In order not to feel the horrible burden of Time
which breaks your back and bends you down to earth,
you must be unremittingly intoxicated.
But on what? Wine, poetry, virtue, as you please.
But never be sober.
And if it should chance that sometimes, on the steps of
a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the bleak
solitude of your room, you wake up and your intoxication
has already diminished or disappeared, ask the wind,
the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, ask everything
that sings, everything that speaks, ask them what time
it is and the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock
will reply: It’s time to be intoxicated!
If you do not wish to be one of the tortured slaves of
Time, never be sober; never ever be sober! Use wine, poetry
or virtue, as you please.
Charles-Pierre Baudelaire
The Prose Poems and La Fanfarlo

Here is another version, if you are interested: Intoxication

 

Not Waiting

Sometime after the blame and the anger, you realize it’s no one’s fault but your own.

Recently, I realized that I can take care of myself. And I kept saying those words, aloud, I take care of myself, over and over. I’m sure my family thought it strange, but for some reason it seemed more real to me than at any time ever.

Yeah, I’ve always wanted to and struggled to be independent, but something inside of me these last few years finally grew up. Yeah, I’m responsible for me. And there’s no easy way to describe that feeling other than the reverse. I know what it feels like to not have the choice. To be the one who waits for someone else to decide. In those cases you somehow disengage. You stop caring. You forget how to want, how to choose. 

I have always been taught that I must forgive. I must not hold onto unforgiveness or hatred. I tried for years to heal and forgive. Finally I stopped and decided it was actually normal to hate and be angry. And I don’t mind my anger anymore.

When you no longer fight your feelings, fight your needs, fight your wants, and fight your loves, you can look at yourself as you are. I can stand and say, I want this, I need that, I hate this, I love that. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I know that by acknowledging the facts I freed myself. I realized that I provide for my needs and I can take care of myself. I’m not the sad little girl who waited as in Amelia Pond on Doctor Who. Twice.

Amy Pond: In fact I think I can now definitely say I hate him. I hate the Doctor. I hate him more than I have hated anyone in my life and you can hear every word of this through those ridiculous glasses, can’t you, Raggedy Man?

The Doctor: Uh, yes. Putting the speakerphone on.

Amy Pond: You told me to wait, and I did. A lifetime.

The Doctor: Amy!

Amy Pond: You’ve got nothing to say to me.

The Doctor: Amy, behind you! – imdb.com/quotes

It’s not necessary for me to actively try to forgive anymore. It never worked anyway. When I realize I’m a free agent and I’m the responsible person here, I am free to walk away or stay. Being responsible helps me forgive. No, I take that back, being responsible helps me not to notice that there’s anything to forgive.

 

In the Name of Love

What overtakes us when we’re in love? What is this passion, this force that motivates us to set ourselves aside?

What you don’t understand is
I’d catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I’d jump in front of a train for ya
You know I’d do anything for ya
Read more: Bruno Mars – Grenade Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Last winter, after a ridiculous ice storm, I got out of my warm home for two reasons, both for love. Early that Saturday morning I went to watch my oldest son walk across the stage with the other college graduates. I wouldn’t have missed it. Zombie attacks, apocalypse, earthquakes, or whatever. I love that boy.

Later that day, and not a bit warmer, I stood in a line that wrapped around the corner and the along the side of The Brady Theater. A light drizzle of ice was falling, but my friends and I stood and waited and shivered. Why? Our favorite band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, was playing for the Rockin’ Christmas concert.

But I would walk five hundred miles
And I would walk five hundred more
Just to be the man who walked a thousand miles
To fall down at your door – Proclaimers

Passion motivates us to do many things. And you can’t fake it. I’ve tried to be passionate about things but there’s no life if there’s no love. No zest. It’s an internal motivation that can’t be bought or borrowed. Forcing yourself to complete a task you hate is necessary at times, but you won’t hurry up to do it again and the time spent doing it is draining. Exhausting. I’m currently reading a book called DO NOTHING. It’s a very Zen or Taoist concept. I’ve played with this notion for years as I’m sure you have too, but I think I understand it now. So I stop grasping at every loose end and unfinished task. Focus on what’s the most important and the tasks that are lead by my motivation. There are two questions that have stuck with me that I read a few years back in a time management book,

What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night? These are your passions.

The Simple Life

We say we miss the good old days when times were simple. Snapping green beans on the front porch or eating homemade ice cream comes to mind. Maybe I just miss the innocence of youth.

I feel bad about the struggles on the other side of the world, but I’m limited to what I can do. I can listen to Beatles music. Maybe say a few lines of Rumi. It’s not by any means stopping the skirmishes of fighting tribes. I don’t really wish for the old days, not really. They had their own issues. Days were devoted to food preparation and lives cut short by disease. What I want is simplicity. Living with this moment. Making the most of what I have now. I don’t want to be always thinking about the fun of tomorrow or worrying about the issues that are not in my control.

This We Have Now

This we have now
is not imagination.

This is not
grief or joy.

Not a judging state,
or an elation,
or sadness.

Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn’t.

From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks

The next time you’re watching the news and paying your bills while trying to phone your mom and pet your cat, stop. Do one thing. Only one. Choose your activity wisely and give it your full attention.
Save your sanity and realize your own limitations. It’s okay if you can’t fix everything. It’s okay if you can’t save the world. Now, let’s put on our tie dyed shirts and chant OM.

Recommendation: The No Impact Man by Colin Beavan

Failure is Relative

Am I a failure at relationships because I can’t give someone what they want? Or, maybe they need to find what they are needing somewhere else.

Does it make me incapable of being intimate if my need for aloneness is huge? Taking time for myself is essential to who I am. Am I the other’s property? A doll to dress up and approve? Do I need to ask permission to wear blue or take a nap? Who do I listen to, myself or to other people? Is their need (even if they are a lover) more important than my own?

I need space, but that doesn’t make me cold. I love reading, but movies are wonderful also. I love blue and red and green and purple and black. Taste the rainbow. I cannot live in one man’s pastel world. I cannot be there for his every need.

I deal with these feelings of anger and sadness because I’ve felt like a failure at times. Old issues seem to resurface. I’ve heard the accusations, You weren’t there for me. You’re cold and emotionless. But I’m not.

If I take my love back why are you complaining? It was mine to give in the first place. You don’t own me.

 

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The Not So Assertive Me

Thought Bubbles
Thought Bubbles (Photo credit: Michael Taggart Photography)

Sometimes we have to become comfortable with who we are when we are alone. I was driving in my car yesterday, thinking of of all the things I’m afraid of. How I’ve tried so much to be what’s expected of me and to hide the unacceptable parts. Be more respectful, less quiet, open up and share my private thoughts. Be outgoing, win friends and influence people, stand tall and assert myself.

In the normal moments, I’m happy puttering around my house or watching a marathon of Doctor Who. I tried dating because I don’t want to become a hermit quite yet. Maybe when I’m 70. Most of the guys I’ve dated like to do things. Shopping, traveling, gambling, all those physical and crowd oriented activities. And I can do those things just like anyone else, but it makes me tired.

I remember in elementary school fluffing and enlarging my persona. No one wants to be thought of as boring. And being fearful and boring at the same time is a huge ick factor for children. So over the years I learned to say the right words when asked, what are your hobbies? What do you like to do in your spare time? Fluff. It was easy because most people don’t really care. They move on and I can go back to my book.

But that moment, while driving, I was alone. Just me and my thoughts and I was okay with them. I’ve finally accepted that they are who I really am. In that moment I was being myself. No act, no bluster, no fluff. And I liked it.

 

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