Monday, January 28, 2008

Overcoming Life's Disappointments- A Book

Most of us probably had seen the old movie " The Ten Commendments", made in 1950s, quite a long drawn movie, the runtime of almost 4 hours. I remember at time I fell asleep in the middle of it. But, I managed to wake up in a nick of time when the pivotal point of the movie just about to flex its theatrical prowess.

In order to demonstrate the awesome power of God in a way of intimidation to the Pharaoh of Egypt, Moses magically transformed the staff he carried into a viciously looking serpent. While desperately in need of crossing the Red Sea with Egyptian army hot in pursuit, Moses divided the sea for Israeli people to pass in safety. When the Pharaoh's army tried to follow them to pass the Red Sea, Moses again testify his almighty power by causing the roaring sea waves crumpling down, swallowed and drowned all of the enemy troop. In an era without computer generated special effect, I thought the visual and sound effect is no less powerful than the film made today.

We see the legendary hero like Moses not as a mortal human being like us, but a lot more like super human with a supernatural ability that can be bordered God-like, faultless, impeccable and virtuous. Well, you are about to change your perspective after reading this book of "Overcoming Life's Disappointment" about Moses or about any of our revered so-called saints. I can safely say that no one is really perfect in the land of living.

However, the point of the book is to use Moses's life as an example, showing us that in the course of our life, we are bound to encounter some minor inconveniences or other major tragedies that could throw us into the abyss of despair and disappointment. Life is not meant to be rose garden everyday, even rose garden does not bloom in all seasons. Moses had plenty of his share of exhibiting the dark side of human emotional roller coaster rides. If Moses, a hero favored by God, endowed a supernatural gift by God could fall into anger, despair and jealousy, we shouldn't be too hard on ourselves when life does not turn out the way we wanted and as a result we display some unwanted negative emotions.

It is not so much the destiny that we arrive that defines us, it is the struggle and the way we handle the struggle that really makes a mark of our existence. In a way, we are heroes in our spheres of influence that make up of our own unique world. Rabbie Harold S. Kushner has made a great contribution by showing us how we can overcome all of the life's disappointments and emerge in the end as a person wiser, and fulfilled knowing that we have risen above the circumstances however difficult it may be.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Six Principles of Enlightened Living - Buddha Mind, Buddha Body

This is a small part of the text in the book of "Buddha Mind, Buddha Body". I borrow most of my books from County Library, therefore I do not possess the book to refresh my mind of what I have learned six months later. The way to help me practice this profound teachings of "Buddha Mind, Buddha Body" is to painstakingly copying down in my journal so that I can remind myself from time to time. I found the message down-to-earth common sense. But in the midst of my busy daily living, how easily I forget them.

" You Must Know Yourself, Know Your Weakness" - E. J Gold
  • Giving

The first practice is the practice of giving. It is wonderful to give. When you are angry with someone, you have the tendency to punish him or her. You want to deprive him or her of this and of that; that is our natural tendency. But if you can bring yourself to give him or her something, your anger will vanish and you will go to the other shore right away, the shore of non-anger. Try it. Suppose from time to time, you get angry of your partner and you know that it will happen again in the future. So,you go and buy or you make a gift and you hide it somewhere. Next time you get angry at him or her, don't do or say anything, just take the gift and give it to him. You will no longer be angry with him. That is the recommendation of the Buddha.

The Buddha taught us many ways to deal with our anger, and this is one of the ways. When you are very angry of someone, give him something, give her something; practice generosity. You don't need to be rich in order to practice giving. You don't have to go to supermarket in order to make a gift. The way you look at him is already a gift. There is compassion in your eye. The way you speak is a gift, because what you say is so sweet, is so liberating. A letter you write her can also be a gift. We are very wealthy in terms of thinking, in terms of speech, in terms of action; We can always be generous. Don't be thrifty. You can give at anytime, and that will inspire the happiness of people around you. Always give, and you become richer and richer every moment. That is the first practice of giving.

  • The Mindfulness Training

The second practice is the practice of mindfulness training. The practice of mindfulness training is also a gift- a gift to you and a gift to people you love. If you abide by the practice of mindfulness trainings, you protect yourself, you make yourself beautiful, you make yourself wholesome, you make yourself safe, and that will support the happiness of the other people. By practicing the mindfulness trainings, you are protected by the energy of buddha, the dharma, you will not create suffering for yourself and for people around you. The mindfulness training deal with integrity, honesty and compassion. They encompass protecting life, preventing war and destruction of life, practicing generosity, preventing sexual misconduct, practicing mindful, loving speech and deep listening, and practicing mindful consumption.

  • Inclusiveness

The third principle is the practice of inclusiveness, the practice of helping your heart to grow larger and larger all the time. How can we help our hearts to grow eneryday , to be able to embrace everything? When your heart is big, you have a lot of understanding and compassion, and then there is no problem, you don"t suffer, and you embrace him or her because your heart is big. We suffer because our heart is small. And we demand that the other person should change in order to be accepted by us. But when our heart is large, we don"t put forth any conditions, we accept them as they are, and they have a chance to transform. The secret is how to grow our hearts.

Helping our heart to grow big is the capacity of embracing everyone, everything, you don"t exclude anyone. Whatever a person's color, religion, or political beliefs, you accept them all with no discrimination whatsoever. Inclusiveness here means nondiscrimination.

  • Diligence

When we study consciousness in buddhism, we understand the meaning of diligence in terms of Store consciousness (Subconsciousness), in terms of seeds. In our subconsciousness there are seeds of suffering and seeds of happiness, wholesome and unwholesome seeds. The practice of diligence consists of watering the wholesome seeds.

First of all, arrange your life in a way that the bad seeds will have no chance to manifest. This takes a little bit of organization. We have to organize our life, our environment in such a way that the seed of violence, the seed of anger, the seed of despair in us has no chance to be watered. There are those of us who live in the kind of environment where negative seeds are watered every day. And of by chance the negative seeds have been watered and manifest, what should you do? Arrange so that they can go back to their form of seeds as quickly as possible.

  • Meditation

Meditation means to generate the energy of mindfulness and to maintain concentration. With mndfulness you can get in touch with the wonderful events of life for your nourishment and healing. Concentration helps you to look at everything deeply in order to discover the nature of impermanence, non-self and inter-being.

  • Wisdom

We cultivate mindfulness, we cultivate concentration and understanding, and wisdom is the fruit of our cultivation. Wisdom is the fruit as well as the means to reach liberation. When w live deeply every moment with mindfulness, concentration and understanding, your insight grows. It is our understanding that brings compassion, that liberate us from afflictions like fear, like anger.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Missile Launch - A Meditative Experience

I was deep in meditation, sitting in a Burmese position for over an hour. I had no usual sweet swirling feeling on my head. My attention was focused on the third eye and crown chakra with very little thought popping in and out of my mental screen. To meditate without any intruding thought is still very difficult for me, but I manage to fend off most of them, keep them at bay without interfering my sense of tranquility.

All of a sudden, my entire being was vibrating and I felt I was catapulted upward as if a rocket was launched into space. I sensed the motion of spiraling towards the sky, when I looked down, the earth was dizzily whirling smaller and smaller beneath. Gradually I reached a higher altitude, and started falling down from above the cloud. As I slowly sky diving, I watched the barren sandy field, the stream and the waterfall got larger and closer to the ground. As my feet touched the solid earth, all the scene of desert, sand dung, the tiny stream vanished in an instant. I was back to my senses and found myself still in a sitting meditative posture and my mind immediately conjured up the phrase "Missile launch". The entire scenario lasted only seconds.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Buddha - A Novel from Deepak Chopra

When I got hold of this book a week ago, I wasn't convinced of anyone who lives in the 21st century largely insulated by modern technology and everyday convenience would have the necessary insight and penetrating understanding of how Buddha stumbled and struggled to achieve enlightenment in an era of hard and difficult living.

The name of Buddha is now a term universally recognized in four corners of the world. I can imagine the challenge of accurately portraitng a being vastly beyond our comprehension and is consider a supreme God in some culture. Well, I wasn't disappointed of Chopra's accomplishment. The story is very well plotted, but much more amazing feat is the Buddha's teaching weaving seamlessly in the tale of adventure seeking to end suffering for all humanity.

The book is read like a beautiful poem, blending philosophy, psychology and metaphysics in a panorama of mankind's evolution condensed and culminated in Buddha's life. Some sections of the story is like Zen meditation, it's paradoxical and yet it rings true to our inner self. I have to read several times to grasp it's profound meaning. The book is delightful to read as it is inspirational to the musing of the mind.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Spiritual Warrior !?

Whenever I look into the subject of spiritual advancement, I encountered several times a curious term called 'Spiritual Warrior", describing a fearless composure of an adept battling one's ego to reach higher order of mental plane. The term is oxymoron and it is kind of like saying a person is "cruel kindness", or "benevolent dictator", quite self contradictory in my humble opinion.

The history of mankind is riddled with conflict, dispute and warfare, it is hardly an appropriate way to label a person "warrior" when one's lofty goal in life is simply to achieve a sense of oneness, peace and tranquility in harmony with one's environment and to broaden the capacity of empathy in one's daily encounters.

After all, the major advancement in spirituality is not about doing battle with others externally or dragon slaying of our personal sin complex internally. It is more like letting go of our self- important ego; the ego that prevent us from seeing others as ourselves. A person who walks on the path of self discovery is merely trying to polish a mirror filled with a thick layer of greasy dust accumulated over thousands of years. Underlying that filthy dust, lies a shining, glittering mirror of perfection, some call it our "Buddha Nature".

The way I see it, the words of "Spiritual Warrior" probably come from our warring nature in the affair of the world. We seem to be constantly doing battle either with ourselves or with others. In this context, the realm of spiritual is considered one of the invisible domains that can be conquered at will by the earnest devotee. But still, "spiritual warrior" is unequivocally paradoxical to my understanding of the way of the spirit.