Reaping What You Sow

It’s been hard to keep up with my RSS reader over the Christmas break, we spent much of it away from computers and while I had my little fix of Facebook for mobile and caught up on a couple of my favourite blogs via the web browser on my blackberry, the service where I was staying was average at best so it was just all a bit too much effort.

So I was just about to go and “mark all as read” on my RSS reader because I can’t stand that little (1000+) sitting in the tab telling me how slack I have been, when the most recent post on A Buddhist Perspective caught my eye.

Cause and effect is a natural, universal law; as natural as a leaf floating down from a tree, as universal as night following day. Since causality is a natural law, there is no judge or ruling body that determines our consequences. Neither is there blame or anger.

Simply put, we reap what we sow. The seeds we sowed with our past thoughts, speech, and actions determined our lives today. And just as our lives today were caused by those seeds, what we think, say, and do today will shape our future.

I spent much of my holiday giving thought to a situation I find myself in right now that I never ever dreamed I would be.  I’ve questions the causes, the seeds I have sowed – my thoughts, words and actions – over and over and over in my head and also contemplated them with a couple of close friends.  And this passage just reminded me that no matter how crap I feel about it, at least I don’t feel anger or blame – towards myself or anyone else. 

Knowing we too have planted the seeds for hardship and suffering what can we do?

We can look around and decide what we want to continue and what we hope to never see again, and then determine the seeds for both. And we can understand that while we may not be able to change everything we wish; it is the right thing to do. We can then work to plant the good seeds as we create the conditions that enable those seeds to flourish and our bad to lie dormant.

By understanding that everything, even a careless word or unkind look, is subject to causality, we can ensure that all our thoughts and actions arise from the wish to behave virtuously and live compassionately.

And as I continued to read the post, I realised that this is exactly what I was doing this holidays – making some really, excruciatingly tough decisions that kept me awake at night and had me reaching for a box of tissues on more than a handful of occassions – but in doing so I was planting good seeds for the future and trying to look for the virtuous intentions behind the actions of both myself and others.

In 2008 I planted many seeds that delivered me incredible rewards and results.  My 101 Things in 1001 Days has been a positive and driving force in this, as has the therapy I have sought for both myself and my relationship.  Approaching life with an attitude of gratitude has opened my eyes to so many new possibilities and had a positive impact on the expectations I have previously placed on some of my closest relationships.  I’ve found new ways to feel empathy for people that I have struggled to understand for years, in particular my father.

One of the things that really warmed my heart over the new year was to see the number of visits to my blog from people seeking to write their own 101 in 1001, and to the 2nd most visited post on my site after this, those seeking to write a letter of gratitude to someone dear to them.

Here’s to everyone that is sowing positive seeds for 2009.  May you reap what you sow, and then some.

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I just love this…

From A Buddhist Perspective:

Birth – Death

The end, separation, loss, sadness, regret.


Death – Birth

A new beginning, continuation, possibility, another chance.

It’s all in how we choose to look at phenomenon.

From habit or with wisdom.

Wishlist for Christmas

My wishlist for this Christmas is pretty simple.  Being Buddhist, I feel weird even having a Christmas wishlist, but because it’s such a broadly celebrated commercial holiday in Australia, I find it hard to avoid.  So my wishlist is a little different, but in keeping with my beliefs.

I’d like anyone intending to buy me a gift, to buy it from here please.  These are the very best gifts you can possibly give me this year.

If you must wrap something and place it under my tree, then please let it be this:

1thing

I think this could come in handy completing all the things still needing my attention for the wedding…

G is for Gratitude

The next installment in the Dictionary of Me is based on the Buddhist principles of Gratitude. There is a lovely little blog I read called A Buddhist Perspective and it succinctly describes what I refer to:

The practice of gratitude is very important in Buddhism. But so often, we forget about feeling grateful. When things go our way and we receive what we desire, we congratulate ourselves and all too easily slip into arrogance. We forget about all those who have helped us get where we are, allowing us to enjoy what we have. When we do not receive what we desire, we blame others! We forget that what we receive in life is due to our own causes and conditions, our own merits or lack of merits. But arrogance and blaming others are both afflictions and, thus, are obstacles to our progress on the path to awakening.

If instead, we are grateful for all the help we have received from others, in our happiness, we will in turn want to share what we have with others.

G is for Gratitude

At the beginning of this year I kicked off my 101 List challenge with a gratitude letter to my mother, my most recent Dictionary of Me installment was an ode to my friends in the spirit of gratitude, and another part of my 101 project was completing a list of 101 things that make me happy in order to constantly remind myself for that which I am thankful.

I have a saying posted up on my noticeboard that reminds me to Live With An Attitude Of Gratitude. I find that it helps me to stay grounded when things get tough and remind me that no matter how bad any situation might seem right then and there, there is always something to be grateful for, even if you can’t see it until much later.

I find that this philosophy helps me to always continue to grow and learn. Some of the best and most insightful things I have learned about myself and others have happened in times of adversity, and for that I am truly grateful.

I can’t proclaim to be 100% rational all of the time, in fact just last night I had a completely irrational episode. But trying to live with an attitude of gratitude does help me to get over my occasional irrational episodes faster than I think I otherwise would.

What do you do to stay positive when things get rough? What are you most grateful for in your life?

Buddhist Inspiration

Several years ago I was given a book that introduced me to many of the teachings of the Buddha – prior to this I had always remained relatively disinterested in all types of ‘organised religion’ or faith. I think the main reason for this was the alarming degree of contradiction that I have found, not always necessarily in the religions themselves, but in the people that claim to lead their lives by them.

For this reason, it took me a long time to acknowledge to anyone that I consider myself Buddhist. While I agree with many of the teachings of Buddha (I have many more to learn) and try to incorporate these into the way I view and approach life, I am not at all disciplined with it (even though I would like to be). Because of this, I think I probably fall into the aforementioned “contradiction” definition, so I often keep my faith to myself.

However, it’s something I am striving to change. I want to learn more, understand and infuse my life with more of Buddha’s teachings. Meditation is something I need to make time for each day. It helped me so much through a rough time in my life last year, and I don’t want it to become something I only fall back on in times of sadness.

I try to remind myself each day with a few little things, one of which is a blog called A Buddhist Perspective. I find that reading heavy texts about Buddism can sometimes be difficult and hard to simplify for a busy lifestyle. But this blog gives me great insights and new, simple, unique ways of increasing the impact my faith has on myself and others.

We classify giving into three kinds. We can give material resources such as food or money, as well as personal resources such as our time or energy. Secondly, we can give teachings to enable those who wish to learn to improve their lives on a daily basis or, on a more spiritual level, to find lasting happiness through understanding universal truths. And lastly, we can give courage: by giving our strength, stability, and understanding, we can relieve others’ worries and fears. And sometimes a smile is all they need. <<link>>

Sounds simple, right? I read this a few days ago, and since then have been having a bit of a rough time with balancing the demands placed on me. It’s easy to become insular and self-involved when things aren’t quite right in ones life. But taking a step back and gaining perspective can sometimes be all I need to take the edge off… and a smile from a friend doesn’t hurt either!

At the Culver Academy yesterday, we did a very simple meditation that anyone, regardless of their faith tradition, can do.

After settling into a meditation position that is comfortable for you, breathe in thinking “May I be happy.”  Then, breathe out while thinking “May all beings be happy.”

That’s it!

First we take in happiness for ourselves. But we keep that happiness for the briefest of moments, and then we turn around and give it to all beings.  So the happiness we create, we immediately share with everyone.  The in-breath creates some tension as our diaphragm pulls air into our lungs on our thought of personal happiness.  The out-breath releases the tension as we release the happiness with the thought that it will benefit all beings.  <<link>>

This is possibly the most helpful explanation of applied meditation that I have come across.  It’s simple, and it works.

I’d like to find more blogs or texts like this – so if you know of one, please leave me a comment!