The Current Expectation

The Happiness Movement

There is a movement in recent times that sets an expectation that we can live a life filled with happiness. Gretchen Rubin wrote a book a few years back called the “Happiness Project” where she expounds on a number of ways to increase your level of happiness. We are constantly subjected to a barrage of advertising that shows us how happy people are with that new car, drinking beer at the beach, or taking expensive vacations to Caribbean. All of these things advocate living a lifestyle that will make us happy forever more. There is a high expectation that if you just buy this, learn this, or do this activity happiness will follow.

corona beach

Unfortunately a consistent state of happiness is probably an illusion, and thinking that it is achievable may be somewhat dangerous to enjoying life. What I mean by this is that you are setting an expectation that is not achievable and this will actually cause you to think something is wrong with you if you are not in a constant state of bliss.

Each of us face so many challenges in our life such as health issues, family strife, making a living, and the list goes on and on. Do you really expect that you will feel happy during what are often very negative events that occur? You need to give yourself the opportunity to feel angry, sad, frustrated, inpatient, as these events unfold. That doesn’t mean you wallow in your pain and conduct a lifelong pity party, but allow yourself some time to express your feelings.

“Life is not a big long beer commercial, much of living is also filled with struggle and challenging situations”.

While it is true you can emerge from a painful situation, stronger and wiser, you may even learn something from it, but you will not be in some state of continuous euphoria.

Instead of expecting a life filled with happiness whatever that really means, be realistic and expect that your emotions will rise and fall like the tide. I really like listening to speakers like Les Brown, Tony Robbins, Bob Proctor, Esther Hicks, Mel Robbins, and Jim Rohn; these people are very motivating and can give you some great tips for being more successful and effective in life. Things like the Law of Attraction and the 5 second rule are great tools for enhancing your life, but like any tool it will have its limitations. Most of the time I hover somewhere in between happiness and sadness, somewhere in the middle, not overcome by either emotion.

My parting advice would be:

  • Feel Happy
  • Feel Sad
  • Feel Angry
  • Feel Pain
  • Feel Frustrated
  • Feel Love
  • Live in the Moment

Just don’t fall into the trap that your life should be one where you are in some heightened state of happiness all the time.

Root of Our Suffering

A certain amount of our life is dealing with pain, it happens to all of us, and we can avoid the suffering associated with it, but it is a difficult thing to do. I like the quote below because it resonates with me. I make no claims to have eliminated all attachment in my life, but I agree it is often the source of suffering.

Root of suffering

Namaste

 

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The Eightfold Path

If you have read any of my earlier posts you were exposed to the Four Noble Truths and each of the steps in the Eightfold Path. I like to look at the Eightfold Path as the process and guidance that can help you end suffering and lead an ethical life. I attempted to provide some detail about each of the steps in the Eightfold Path that relate to living in this world, although what the Buddha taught is as applicable in this age as it was then. As I studied each of the steps I found the concepts to be fairly straightforward, but difficult to implement. The benefits far out way the challenges, and it may take years before you master all the steps, or you may already be living a life that puts you very close to attaining enlightenment. Of course there is no specific time table for any of us, and the journey should be viewed as a great reward unto itself. You can read about each of the steps in the path by following these links:

  1. Right View
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

nobleeightfoldpathbyajourneyintobuddhism

I hope this post will help you has it has helped me be more centered and live in the present. I am still working on each of these steps, and need to review them periodically as my own journey has just begun.

Namaste

 

Right Livelihood

right-livelihood

The fifth step in the Eightfold Path is Right Livelihood. This means for followers of the path that certain professions do not align with the teachings of the Buddha, particularly anything that does not respect the equality of all living beings and life. For instance this would include professions that involve intoxicants, firearms, or the destruction of animals. If we think about professions in our time, then here are a few examples of those that are not considered Right Livelihood:

  • Brewing beer or liquor
  • Owning a liquor store
  • Bar tending
  • Member of the military
  • Making or selling guns
  • Hunters
  • Cattle farmers
  • Butcher

There are many more of course, but if you think about cherishing equality and life, then you can figure out what type of work does not support these precepts. It is also common that one reserves some time part of their time for community service.

Practicing Right Livelihood builds on Right Understanding, Right Intent, Right Speech, and Right Action all steps in the Eightfold Path. In my next post I we will explore Right Effort.

Namaste

 

Right Action

The fourth step in the Eightfold path is Right Action. For followers of the path Right Action guides what we do in this world. Right Action asks us to follow an ethical approach to life that considers how we treat each other. Right Action follows the five precepts of Buddhism:

  1. Do not to kill
  2. Do not steal
  3. Do not lie
  4. Avoid sexual misconduct (adultry, rape, etc.)
  5. Do not take drugs or other intoxicants

So it is not enough to have good intentions towards others, you must also follow through with actual behavior. The five precepts may appear fairly simple, but dig a little deeper and you find that they are not so easy to follow. For instance to not kill is not reserved for humans but for every living being. Have you ever lied about something? Do you drink or smoke marijuana? Most of us must come to grips with the behavioral changes that it will take to truly live a life of Right Action.

noble-8-fold-path

Namaste

Right Views

In my post the Fourth Noble Truth I discussed how to overcome suffering by following the Eightfold Path. The Buddha wanted us to have a way forward instead of just letting life happen to us. The Eightfold Path is the way, and guides our practice. Each of these precepts deserves an explanation because they are not always what they seem on the surface. In this post I want to focus on Right Views. The path is as follows:

  1. Right Views (understanding)
  2. Right Intent
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Conduct
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration

To be honest I write about the Eightfold Path as much as a way to reinforce my own knowledge, as it is to share with you. I wrote the Eightfold Path on my white board in my office as a way to keep myself focused on my own practice. It acts as a reminder to me every time I walk into that room.

Right View is to see the world as it really is, not as we wish to see it. Often times Right View is also interpreted as Right Understanding. It is almost impossible to follow the path if we perceive the world in an unrealistic fashion. From a personal perspective we cannot view it as all bad or good, for this would be deceiving our-self. Look around you there is evil in the world, suffering, pain, and many problems too numerous to list. Conversely there is opportunity, charity, compassion, and love that surrounds us. Right View helps us see the world as it is, not through rose colored glasses, but for what it really is. We can then use this Right Understanding to set the stage for our practice. The Buddha did not want us to go through life without understanding the reality of our existence and others in this world. I wanted to share a few examples examples of not having the Right View:

  • All politicians are all self centered, egotistical beings, that do nothing for society.
  • The world is a safe place, and there is nothing to fear.
  • The majority of people in the world are self serving, ignorant, uncaring individuals motivated only by greed.
  • Your future is predestined at birth and you have no control over the present or future.

Are any of these examples actually true? Right View will allow you to see things as they are, not in some absurd generalization. One bit of advice I have if you would like to begin moving in the direction of having a Right View, and it would be to stop watching so much news on the television. Watching CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and even local news provides a prescribed view of the world that does little to help you understand reality. I recently quit watching the news and instead now have more time for writing, reading, and viewing YouTube videos where the focus is on learning. Most of the news media focuses disproportionately on the negative, which can only lead to wrong views.

three-things-cannot-be-hidden

My next post will be about Right Intent. Please share how you are working towards obtaining right understanding in your life.

Namaste

 

The Fourth Noble Truth

In prior posts I outlined the First Noble Truth “suffering”, the Second Noble Truth “Craving”, and the Third Noble Truth “ending craving and suffering”. If suffering can be overcome by ending craving, then how is this accomplished. The Fourth Noble Truth provides the answer in the form of the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path in its simplest form is:

noble-8-fold-path

In my next post we will look at Right View and what that really means.

Namaste

 

Buddhism a concise introduction

I wanted to share with you a book I’ve been reading called Buddhism A Concise Introduction written by Houston Smith and Philip Novak. I’ve read a number of books on Buddhism, but this is by far and away my favorite. The book provides many of the basics about Buddhism such as how the Buddha began his journey, some of his fundamental teachings like the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, and some other concepts including nirvana. I have read the first 6 chapters several times to help reinforce my knowledge and help center me from time to time.

The book is extremely well written, and goes into depth about what the Four Noble Truths really are and what it means to follow the Eightfold Path. After you have absorbed the first 6 chapters the authors begin a journey on how Buddhism split into different factions include Theravada, Mahayana, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism. Finally in the second section of the book the authors discuss how Buddhism came to America and the impact it had there.

If you are looking for a book to introduce you to Buddhism that thoroughly explains the concepts and types, this book is a great place to start. I like this book so much that I have taken a highlighter to it several times, so that I could focus on certain aspects of it. The authors are scholars who make no judgement about Buddhism, but instead provide insights and research that bring the life of the Buddha and his teachings to the reader in a way that is both easy to understand and yet very detailed. I have the hard copy version which is 239 pages, with a what looks like 12 pitch type, and is an excellent example of how you should print a book. The book is also available in soft cover and Kindle versions.

You can click on the link below and find it at Amazon at very reasonable prices.

http://amzn.to/2b9OWNq