When we do not allow time and space to digest our emotions, toxic build-up accumulates, impeding the physiological process. - Julie Dunlop
If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone.
If you see a wise person who steers you away from the wrong path
follow him. The company of the wise is joyful, like reunion with
one’s family. Therefore, live among the wise, who are understanding,
patient, responsible and noble. - The Dhammapada
One of the earliest summaries of the Buddha’s teachings are contained in the Noble Eightfold Path – right view, right attitude, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness. Though those eight steps on the path are comprehensive, this ninth step could naturally be added - right association.
Having right associations was clearly and consistently emphasized by the Buddha, so much so that it is appropriate to consider it as a ninth step on the path. The truth is that we are greatly influenced, positively and negatively, the the people we associate with the most. Here are three key ways to create right associations.
First, surround yourself with positive, optimistic, joyful people. Little by little, reduce and eventually, remove from your close circle people who are negative, cynical and prone to drama.
Secondly, be part of a spiritual community such as a yoga class, meditation group, or a among people who meet regularly to study religious texts. In Buddhism such a group is called the sangha or association while among Hindus it’s referred to as satsang or the community of truth.
Thirdly, read or listen to teachings which are informative and inspiring. Though we cannot always be in the presence of gifted teachers, we can still benefit from them by reading their writings and listening or viewing their talks.
So important are right associations that the Buddha said “if you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone.”
Chow Yun Fat is a charismatic, athletically built and energetic Asian-born film star who first came to the attention of western audiences via his roles in the high-octane/blazing guns action films of Hong Kong director John Woo.
Worth nearly one billion dollars, the committed Buddhist actor says he plans to donate the bulk of his wealth to various charities. When asked why, he smiled gently and said: "“I feel that the money does not really belong to me. I am just in charge of keeping it temporarily.”
Although his long career has been built on action movies and battling bad guys, the characters he plays are far removed for Chow’s own more humble and thoughtful personality. “I want to play different roles, not just the tough guy. I want to do comedies, melodramas, like Tom Hanks,” he said. “Actually, I’m a Buddhist. And in real life, I hate violence. I don't like it at all. But I'm forced to do it because it's my job.”
Born in 1955 and raised in a rural farming community, the award-winning actor has clearly not lost touch with his humble beginnings. “My dream is to be a happy and normal person,” said Chow. “The hardest thing in life is not about how much money you earn, but how to keep a peaceful mindset and live the rest of your life in a simple and carefree manner.”
Despite his high-profile status, Chow is also renowned for valuing his privacy and maintaining a low-key and modest personal life with his Singaporean wife Jasmine Tan that includes traveling on public transportation, eating at inexpensive street-side food vendors, engaging in charity work, and spending his free time hiking and jogging, when he’ll willingly stop for a selfie if recognized by his fans.
Chow used the same Nokia mobile phone for 17 years, and only upgraded to a smartphone two years ago when his Nokia finally stopped working. He also shops at discount clothing stores, reportedly stating: “I don’t wear clothes for other people. As long as I think it’s comfortable, then it’s good enough for me.”
Letting go is the opposite of desire or attachment. Think of it as generosity in the highest sense. - Henepola Gunaratana
Los Angeles area Latinos are increasingly turning toward Buddhism as their religion of choice.
“What many people like about Buddhism is that we don’t have a lot of rules about how you should live your life,” said the Rev. Jon Turner, a minister at the Orange County Buddhis Church. (Japanese immigrants decided to us the word "church" for their sangha in order to fit in more seamlessly into American culture) “We don’t have a lot that’s black and white. So if you don’t fit the mold in Christianity, where do you go? A lot of times they’ll come to Buddhism as an alternative.”
This was the case for Hector Ortiz, who grew up Baptist, but as a gay man, said that he struggled with his church’s teachings on sexuality. Buddhism seemed like a better fit.
“For me, spiritually, what makes sense is that I’m responsible for my own actions and how I interpret the world, [as] opposed to looking to others for happiness or seeking it outward,” Ortiz said. “I was drawn to the personal responsibility, seeking happiness inward and the acceptance. It felt like a place I was arriving home to, spiritually.”
Bruce Crager, a thirty-five-year trucking veteran, advises tolerance and understanding of other drivers’ predicaments:
People sometimes get confused when they’re driving, and I think we have to be forgiving of them. And it doesn’t hurt to get out of their way. Old people pulling campers, for instance: They’re likely to make mistakes, and I try to give them a wide berth. I’m a firm believer that what comes around goes around. If you do something bad to somebody, like intentionally cutting them off, somewhere down the road, someone will do the same to you. By the same token, you give a driver a break, maybe give him a hole to slip back into when they need it, and later on, when you need a hole to get out of a dangerous situation, someone will make it for you.
Selfish acts bring the fruits of selfishness: disrupted relationships, loneliness, frustration, depression, despair. Generous work brings the fruits of giving: loyal friends, security, faith in human goodness, and the increasing capacity to give more. - Eknath Easwaran
More and more people are abandoning social media sites, especially Facebook, due to the preponderance of politically motivated hate speech and rage. With that in mind, Kokuj -ji, a Buddhist temple in Japan’s Niigata Prefecture, dedicated its traditional Goma fire ceremony in October to purifying the negativity energy and hatred that is often stirred up during online interactions. The sacred cleansing fire ritual was held as part of Kokujo-ji’s traditional Goma fire ceremony, conducted to neutralize the harmful negative energies of human desires and emotions.
In the Goma ceremony, fire symbolizes the wisdom of the Buddha and the wooden sticks or tablets used as fuel represent human desires (the root of suffering). In this ritual the Buddha burns away the root of suffering for the participants.
The Goma ceremony is believed to have evolved from the Vedic Agnicayana ritual and can be performed for the benefit of individuals, a specific group or community, or for all sentient beings. The consecrated fire is viewed as having a powerful spiritual and psychological cleansing effect. The ritual is performed to destroy negative energies, thoughts, and desires
In different parts of the planet there is a push - perhaps a rush - to strip women and men of cultural and religious symbols which leaves on wondering why anyone feels this is necessary. We live in a multicultural, inter-dependent world. so what's the issue and why this issue.
With that question in mind, I appreciated these insights from a Canadian writer V. R. Sasson:
"Throughout the religious world, the question of what one wears (or does not wear) on one’s head reflects who one is. It is how people identify themselves religiously. The head is the highest point of the body, the part we share with the sky and that reaches for the stars. In some communities, it is covered as an expression of humility. In others, it is uncovered to demonstrate communalism. In Buddhism, it is shaved to manifest separation from worldly life, but Hindu renunciants grow their hair into dreadlocks to say the same thing. Some Jain monastics will literally pluck individual hairs from their head.
How a person wears their hair and whether they cover it or not speaks volumes. The fact that secular culture permits almost any hairstyle at this point (colored, shaved, or even having the skull tattooed) is a statement too: a declaration that seculars are not bound by limitation—gendered, religious, or otherwise. Every one of us speaks to our society with our hairstyles, head coverings, or lack thereof.
I don’t mean to simplify these issues, but alarm bells are ringing. History has been down this road before. We have tried to make a diverse community unified (communist China immediately comes to mind) just as we have tried to strip outsiders of their differences. We have forced monks to disrobe (Tibet) and Muslims to shave their beards (Turkey). We have tried repeatedly to make our communities ring with one voice and it never works."
(read the full article here: www.buddhistdoor.net)
A person whose mind is fee from negative thinking spreads a life-giving influence in much the same that a tree gives oxygen. - Eknath Easwaran
Victor M. Parachin ...is a
Vedic educator, yoga instructor, meditation teacher and author of a dozen books. Buy his books at amazon or your local bookstore.