Living a normal, modern life and practicing Buddhism

Question: “I want to reach bodhi but I don’t want to isolate myself from modern life i.e friends not necessarily tech.. I just want to reach perfect existence without shaving my head and exclusively wearing orange robes.”

I don’t know what you’re reading, but the Buddha never said you have to abandon your normal life to practice Buddhism or any other path. Modern life and everything in it is a million times more distracting than the time of the Buddha when they had not even a fraction of what we have today and it was still difficult for some people to reach enlightenment.

We probably won’t realize enlightenment in this life or for the next few hundred or thousands because life after life we’ve accumulated more and more dust that’s covering the path to enlightenment. But with diligence and conviction, we can help sweep away some of the dust on the path so we can see what way it leads.

Don’t focus on trying to reach “perfect existence.” There’s really no such thing and it probably won’t happen in this life. We have way too many distractions and defilements to eradicate before we can even reach the stepping stones of a liberated life. For now, focus on the actual practice. Read, study and practice. If you try to hard to reach the non-existent finish line, then you’ll never get there.

 

Smile and be well!

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You talk of rebirth like you know it definitely happens, what proof have you got?

Question: “You talk of rebirth like you know it definitely happens, what proof have you got?”

What proof do you have that it doesn’t exist? Neither of us have any “real” proof, but we can always contemplate on our lives and on other people’s lives. Everyone is good at something, whether it’s painting, a musical instrument, convincing, archery, etc etc. For some people it’s a “natural” ability, as in, the moment they picked up a paintbrush or guitar, they used it as if they were practicing for 20 years! How is this first-timer better than a professional? It didn’t just magically happen! So it must of been an ability/practice of their past lives. You can Google or YouTube “boy genius” or “kid playing drums” and you’ll see dozens of videos of children barely able to speak play instruments like rock legends!

Look at our own life. How come we are where we are? Why were we born in a Western country instead of an Eastern country, or a fortunate country instead of third-world country? Why do some things come easy for you but difficult for others, or vice-versa? Why do you have certain abilities, skills, education or a fortunate life while others suffer?

Our present life is the effect and consequence of our past lives. If we have a fortunate life, then our past life/lives must of done good deeds. If we have an unfortunate life, then our past life/lives must of not been so great. Our past lives determine our present life and our present life determines our future lives. Do good, get good. Do bad, get bad. The law of causality, cause and effect, is very scientific. In laymen terms, what goes up must come down!

Causality explains everything we do. Pay attention in school and study hard, you’ll get good grades and graduate. Don’t pay attention and don’t study, you’ll get bad  grades and fail. Work hard to your job and you’ll have a better chance of getting a promotion. If you just sit back and work the minimum, no promotion for you! If we keep our minds clear and pure, we become happier and more peaceful. If we harbor anger, delusion and ignorance, we become constantly frustrated and angry, and become controlled by the illusions of the world because our mind is too diluted to see the truth.

 

Smile and be well!

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Buddhism, suffering and meditation

Question: “I’ve recently been extremely interested in the teachings of Buddha. I’ve been doing research on such things and would really like to talk to someone that knows a lot about it. I don’t know what the first step should be. But I have so much pain and suffering in my heart and mind and I just want to live happy. I’ve been teaching myself to meditate but would really like some help because my mind always wanders. Thank you in advance. I don’t exactly know what to ask because I’m so new.”

A lot of people, and I mean a lot of people, misunderstand what Buddhism really is. Externally, it looks like the perfect “peace-centered” religion with all the people being “Buddhists” look and seem like they’re on cloud 9 and happy as can be. Oh the ignorance.

Buddhism is not a happy pill. No religion is a happy pill. The only way we can get happy pills is with a prescription! Every religion (for the most part) preaches love and peace, if we dig pass all the BS it’s been feeding society over hundreds of years. Every religion has their own form of liberation and the means of attaining it. Most religions is about devotion and worship to a god or deity and that is supposed to give you faith and happiness.

In Buddhism, it’s the complete opposite. Buddhism is non-faith-based. Meaning, your faith or worship in Buddha is not going to get you any closer to liberation than your faith or worship in god. Buddhism is a mind-centered, self-help religion. So the only faith and worship we need is in ourselves. We can pray to god for a better life with less suffering all we want, but we have to go out there and do it ourselves!

Buddhism is like a toolbox and our lives is like a house we need to build. Buddhism provides all the tools we need to hammer in nails, measure wood for cutting and paint to give the house that final touch of finished. When we’re done building, we no longer need the tools, so we either put it away or give it to someone else who needs them. Likewise, Buddhism provides us with the tools, the teachings, to help us build our lives to a better, more “finished” outcome, enlightenment.

When we’ve reached enlightenment, or near it, we then use the tools/teachings to help others attain enlightenment as well. Buddhism has many tools (schools/traditions of Buddhism) for us to pick and choose from depending on what we want and how we want to use it.

Regardless, we must always start with the basics. And meditation is not about clearing our mind, otherwise the more you try to force the thoughts from coming, the more they’ll fight back. Instead, we meditate to observe and become aware of our thoughts while not entertaining or feeding the thoughts. Eventually the thoughts will lessen.

FAQ Page.

 

Smile and be well!

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Lying and avoiding hurting people’s feelings

Question: “In a Sutta I read it said the Buddha would only say things to people if it were true and beneficial to them and he wouldn’t even entertain the thought of telling someone something that was untrue even if it was beneficial to them. I struggle with this, I try to be honest but I tend to lie to avoid hurting feelings or causing a confrontation. Any tips on how to stay honest in a way that won’t hurt anyone or cause problems? Thank you”

Sometimes we just have to face the fact that we can’t save everyone’s feelings from getting hurt. That is their own suffering. If they allow simple words to disturb and affect them, they are causing their own suffering. You might have initiated it, but ultimately, their minds are weak. That is why we practice Buddhism and meditation – to not let words, thoughts and actions disturb and affect us.

Any lie or dishonesty will eventually be revealed. It might be hours, days, months or years, but a lie is like a disease – it might take some time to show symptoms, but eventually it will surface and become visible.

If you don’t want to tell a lie, then say nothing at all and let the people figure out the truth for themselves. If you lie to someone and they found out, then regardless of your intentions, they will probably be mad at you for lying in the first place and not telling them the truth – the truth that could of saved them from mistakes.

It is important to help as much as we can. Sometimes that means telling the truth even if it’s a hard one. There are circumstances to tell “white lies” if we know for sure it will save them from something or making a major mistake or decision.

However, we must remember, like many other things we do in life that become habitual, so too does lying. The more we lie, the easier and more natural it becomes, and then we will get to a point where we don’t even realize that we’re lying because it’s not something we think about anymore.

Think of the circumstances of telling the truth and of lying, then think of the consequences, for yourself and for them.

 

Smile and be well!

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Scared of growing old – living in the moment

Question: “I’m so terrified of growing old alone and dying one day. How do I ease these fears that are taking away from my right thinking and not allowing me to live in the present moment?”

By telling yourself you’re going to get old, get sick and die. There’sliterally nothing you can do about it, so why dwell on it? Instead, enjoy your life, your family and friends, nature and the fact that you are alive and well!

Many Buddhists meditate and contemplate on death. There are many reasons as to why, but the two main reasons are: 1) to contemplate the inevitable process of impermanence, and 2) to prepare ourselves for death of loved ones and our own death.

When we understand death and that we can’t stop it, it’s better to just accept it. So we meditate on death. We need to accept it, understand it and love it, so when death does happen, it won’t be a completely miserable time in our lives. Instead, it will be an easier process to get through because we understand and accept it.

Everything has to die. Nothing on our earth is ever permanent. Every house gets built, ages and crumbles to the ground. Buildings, cars and things can last decades or centuries, but eventually everything must end. This simple, yet difficult understanding can ease a lot of our own suffering and delusion.

Live in the present by being aware of our heart beat, our breath, the sun or stars in the sky, the wind, animals, nature, and the simplicity of everything around us. Being in the present doesn’t mean watching every little thing that’s going on, it means accepting the history of the past and the surprises of the future, and for neither of which we can do anything about. So instead, we enjoy the now.

 

Smile and be well!

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Approaches to practicing Buddhism

Question: “I’m honestly confused about Buddhism, it sounds like something I would like to practice but I want to know how to properly practice it. Could you explain it?”

Buddhism is like a house. It has many doors to get inside; the front door, side door and back door. Whichever door you take, you’ll still end up inside, but the way to get inside might be different. Buddhism has many different schools and traditions, different methods and ways to go about the practice, but all end up at the same goal: enlightenment!

Without actually being Buddhist, you can take some of the main teachings and practices from Buddhism and apply them to your own life, like meditation, the eightfold path, understanding of cause and effect, etc. Just by studying, understanding and practicing the eightfold path, we can become enlightened!

To begin, start slowly and with the basics. Start by reading and research what Buddhism actually is. Read dozens of sources and material until you can assess and create your own conclusion. Likewise, you want to do that with anything else you read and study – come up with your own conclusions. Just because I said it doesn’t mean it’s totally correct or that it makes sense to you, so you must do your own contemplation and ask yourself if it makes sense or not. If it does, then great, move on to another topic. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too, move on to another topic.

Buddhism is about self-discovery and only you can control your path, not anyone or anything else. Buddhism isn’t about forcing its teachings on you. It’s about you taking what you need to help yourself with and utilizing it for your own benefit, then taking what you’ve learned and experienced and helping others.

 

Smile and be well!

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Letting go of anger

Question“I just started studying Buddhism about a year ago. I’m a middle aged man and I’ve been through a lot this past year. My problem is letting go of my anger and resentment. It seems the more I strive to overcome it, the more powerful it becomes. How can I break this cycle and allow more peaceful energy into my life?”

Our anger is like a child. The more we tell them to settle down and be quiet, the wilder and hyped up they get. Likewise, the more we try to suppress and “control” our anger, the harder it is to actually overcome it, because we end up just getting angrier because nothing is “working.”

So instead of trying to go at our anger with more anger and control, we need to approach it with compassion, understanding and contemplation. It’s important to sit down in meditation and meditate on self-compassion so we don’t get angry at ourselves when trying to overcome anger.

When we contemplate and approach our anger, we don’t try to push it out, we do the opposite. We contemplate on why we’re angry and then try to eliminate the causes that create that anger so that it doesn’t always return when those causes arise again. If all we’re doing is trying to get rid of getting angry instead of what’s getting us angry, then the anger will never really go away.

So continue meditating. Look past the superficial reasons of why we’re angry. Dig deeper and deeper until you can find the core reason and causes that create the anger in the first place. Then work on those causes, either by eliminating them or working with them so that they don’t always have to cause anger.

 

Smile and be well!

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Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism

Question: “I’m learning about buddhism but I keep getting confused/mixed with Theravada and Mahayana buddhism!! My interesent is towards mahayana buddhism. Does the 3 types of buddhahood (like: samyaksambuddha) also apply in mahayana buddhism? Im new to this.”

I’m not quite sure what you mean by 3 types of Buddhahood. Do you mean the Three Vehicles (Sravakas, Pratyeka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas)?

In Theravada Buddhism, Buddha is reserved only for our historical Buddha, Sakyamuni. An Arhat is the highest achievement one can attain; Nirvana. In Mahayana Buddhism, the highest achievement is Buddhahood, it surpasses Arhat and the Three Vehicles, become the One Vehicle.

The Buddha taught the Three Vehicles according to people’s capabilities of understanding and practice. If a person or group of people were greatly suffering and had many worldly desires and attachments, he would teach them the way of Nirvana (the First Vehicle). And as their capacities and understanding grew, the higher the teaching the Buddha taught.

But in the end, the Buddha taught the One Vehicle, Buddhahood (The Lotus Sutra). That everyone should achieve and aim for becoming a Buddha in order to help rescue and liberate all sentient beings.

Smile and be well!

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