Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Taking the eight-fold path – The right view

My last post explained why I'm studying and following the principles of Buddhism on the peace path now. In this post, I'll be talking about taking my first step over again, with the purpose of aligning my path based on those principles.

First of all, I was delighted to find that Buddhism refers to our life journey as a path. This is fundamental in my belief system as well. Enlightenment, or whatever you may call it does not happen overnight, as we are flawed individuals with many obstacles cluttering our paths.

I've been studying Buddhism through a reputable online study guide. The following is a quote from that guide.

Note: For your greater understanding of the context, the paragraphs in the guide, previous to the quote describe the human struggle to overcome obstacles and the general negative human conditioning that prevents us from achieving a peaceful life.

The path to liberation from these miserable states of being, as taught by the Buddha, has eight points and is known as the eightfold path. The first point is called right view -- the right way to view the world. Wrong view occurs when we impose our expectations onto things; expectations about how we hope things will be, or about how we are afraid things might be. Right view occurs when we see things simply, as they are. It is an open and accommodating attitude. We abandon hope and fear and take joy in a simple straight-forward approach to life.”

So, my first step on my new peace path has to do with perception. How do I see the world? Am I seeing and accepting it as it truly is or merely how it has been presented to me over years of conditioning? Am I muddling it with my own jaded expectations and preconceived notions of how it should be? It's vital that I grasp this before moving on. Because unless I learn to see the world for exactly what it is, free from my own notions, I begin my path with a lie that escalates as I go, rendering my entire journey fruitless.

From this moment on, I will be working on taking each experience at face value, passing no judgment, accepting what is. I will have to realize that many of the things I “know” to be true, simply aren't as they have been presented to me. I will have to accept that the things I expect from the world may never come to pass. Some things may never get better.

While that may sound defeatist, it excites me that by leading a peaceful, more accepting, more realistic life, I may actually have the power to bring about a sense of calm that I have never experienced before. This is due, of course to the fact that, like most people, my view of the world is one cluttered with the aforementioned conditioning and unrealistic expectations.

By also detaching myself from the “responsibility” of carrying all the burdens, pain, suffering and mental anguish (caused by trying to control everything around me, people included, in the hope of finding the peace that already exists inside me) from now on, I will simply accept the existence of unpleasantness as a part of life. Because it is and always will be.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Why study Buddhism?

First of all, for those concerned with my spiritual well being, there is no need for worry. Buddhism is a philosophy of life that can be practiced along with any religion, not that I follow one anyway. It accepts all and excludes none. 

That last bit being is main reason for my interest in it. I have never been one for exclusion, cliques or even overly patriotic behaviors as I believe each and every one of us to have equal value, regardless of our racial heritage, origin, orientation, location, beliefs or standing in life.

I also believe, as you know, in living a peaceful existence, as far from the trappings of a materialistically inclined society as possible. I find doing so to be liberating, rather than limiting as some might believe.

I am a realist. A believer in seeing things as they are, rather than as how I wish them to be or perceive them to be, based on hearsay, dogma or tradition. I find that when I am able to leave those preconceived notions behind, much of the blockage is removed from life, so that I may freely navigate “my” path and reach “my” goal of greater understanding and unity.

I believe humans are naturally flawed human beings. However, I also believe, that with practice and focus on kindness, goodwill toward others and acceptance, we can learn to overcome our more negative characteristics.

All this being said, accepting and overcoming while remaining serene and positive is not an easy task for me. It's especially difficult, as a bit of an anti-socialist, to leave “me” behind and meld with the greater energy/good.

I need guidance on “my” path and the guidance I have chosen is Buddhism. This is because Buddhism very closely resembles “my” own beliefs.

Why do I keep putting “my” in parenthesis? Well, folks, it's complicated. On the one hand, knowing “my” true self, short-comings and all is vital for my journey. On the other hand, accepting the fact that we are one, there is no self-containment in life and that “my” duty is not merely to the illusion of self is “my” eventual goal.

So, friends, “my” peace path is in a bit of a do-over right now. One that might take a lifetime to travel. I am now following the guidelines of the eight-fold path laid out in the principles of Buddhism. Why? Because it makes sense. Because I believe it's the key I've been seeking, in fact, that many of us have been seeking.

Buddhism seems, at least on the surface, to be a solution to revealing the cause of the restlessness, anxiety and common woes of all mankind, so that we may heal and live lives free of undue worry and fear. It offers freedom from the burdens that living in an unnatural, human created society has placed on us.

In short, the study and practice of Buddhism speaks to me like nothing else ever has. It seems to coincide with my own beliefs like no other philosophy or principle ever has. Not only that, it does not seek to limit, but to guide me on what I know to be “my” right path.

Why study Buddhism? Because it rings true, does no harm and seeks unity, not division. That's good enough for me.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Soul Suckers and the Peace Path

Everybody knows one or has one and as the saying goes, “There's at least one in every crowd, so if you don't know one, it's probably you.” Soul suckers can be people. They can also be things. Whatever sucks out the core of your soul, no matter how hard you try to maintain your integrity and composure is a soul sucker.

The most frustrating soul suckers are those you can't easily walk away from. You know. Like the job that you need in order to pay the rent, the house with the cheap mortgage in the place you don't really want to be or even those ever present, constantly needy, but much loved individuals you just can't bring yourself to give up on. They all have their merits. But still, they're sucking the very life out of you.

How can you possibly make your way down the peace path in one piece with them incessantly draining your energy?

Ha! Tell me and we'll both know.

I do have a theory, though. Naturally. I'm chock full of theories just waiting to be tested. Here's how this one goes:

I plan to let the soul suckers carry on with their nasty business. That may not sound like a viable solution, but here's the kicker. I plan to change the way I react to them as well as how much I let them get to me. I also plan to stay away from them, whenever necessary or possible.

As “they” say, “A stands for attitude.” In my case, that's as in adopting a new one. In other words, let them do their worst and I'll put my energy into being the best me that I can be, in spite of their quest to destroy me.

Which, in my opinion, is all we can do in any case. We can't control some of the people, events and circumstances that impact us. We can't change some things in life. But we can definitely control and change our own choices and our own lives. So, that's what I'm off to do. Will it work? I don't know, but I think if I put my mind to it, maybe it will bring me a little closer to peace of mind.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Facebook Light

I'm still totally over scrolling through Facebook for hours. No worries on that score. There's too much life to live. And staying away entirely for a bit really gave me some perspective. But I do have a hard time giving up the aspect of keeping in touch with friends in an efficient manner, much for the same reason. Life is short and that's why I'm now doing “Facebook Light.”

What I mean by this is that when I get a chance, I'll scroll through for a few minutes at most, see what my friends and family are up to, lend support, comment positively, etc. And that's about it. Every once in a while, you might see an auto post from something I've written or a brief positive post.

And while I'm OK with others posting as they wish, I'm kind of done with getting too detailed about my personal life, feelings, politics and other beliefs on Facebook. I don't mind my friends knowing about my life, it's the trolls and advertisers I have a problem with. It's simply none of their business how I live and I intend to keep it that way.

Isn't it nicer to learn news through someone reaching out to you personally, than by seeing a public post on Facebook anyway? Kind of makes you feel like someone cares enough to give you a piece of their time, right? It does me anyway. So, I figure, I'll do the same for others.

It's nice to go back to the days of personal communication sometimes. Or all the time. LOL Heck, I might even write my Mom a good, old fashioned snail mail letter. She loves those!

Yup, Facebook done as per usual just doesn't have the same feel as good old fashioned, one on one, face to actual face interaction with a real human being. It also pales in comparison to a heartfelt letter someone thoughtfully composed just for you and penned with their own two hands.

But you know, it isn't so bad just hopping on Facebook once in a while to say hello, post an encouraging or inspiring message and ignoring all the assorted animosity, etc. Stay only a few minutes, scroll, scroll, scroll past the madness, don't create any grief myself and leave everyone, myself included, with a smile is the plan.

Yup, "Facebook Light" works for me right now. Life is so hard. Why not make it a little less full and a little more positively productive?

Now, I'm off to try and figure out how to weed my garden with a claw for a hand and a body that refuses to get up once it's down. LOL Another benefit of doing "Facebook Light." Things actually get done.

Well, most things, anyway...