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Buddha and the World (Part II)
By Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD
(Courtesy of Dr. Deepak Chopra and Intentblog.com)
Buddha stood for peace, and one would think that he would praise us if we ended the present war (and all wars.) We are told that the American people have now woken up to the folly of the invasion of Iraq. Since wars are where illusions die the fastest, Buddha would also want us to end a war because we became more awake. I think these things are true, but Buddha was more radical. He wanted us to wake up in general, to see through all illusions. That is the only way to escape suffering before it occurs. Learning after the fact, as we are doing in Iraq, doesn’t really accomplish Buddha’s goal.
Observing how Buddhists follow his teaching, the steps of waking up include the following:
--Meditating on the core of silence within the mind.
--Observing the shifting contents of the mind carefully, separating out anything that sustains suffering and illusion.
--Unraveling the ego’s version of reality and piercing through the ego’s claim that it knows how to live properly.
--Facing the truth that everything in nature is impermanent.
–Letting go of materialism in both its crude and subtle form.
--Becoming detached from the self and realizing that the individual self is an illusion.
--Being mindful of one’s being, overcoming the distraction of thoughts and sensations.
--Abiding by a set of higher ethics whose basis is compassion for other people and reverence for life.
Some or all of these things stand for Buddha’s method by which the human disease might be cured. So how is the cure proceeding? The cure hasn’t found enough people, beautiful and noble as it is. Let’s say an outsider is coming in from the cold. He or she wants to be free of pain and suffering, wants to feel that life at its core is meaningful. To an outsider, it seems that the Buddhist cure has become difficult, complicated, and confusing.
--Sitting and trying to find a core of silence is beyond short attention spans and doesn’t fit into the hectic pace of modern life.
--Watching and examining the shifting contents of the mind is time-consuming and exhausting.
--Confronting the ego is nearly impossible, because it has a hundred heads for every one you cut off.
--Facing the truth that everything is impermanent frightens people.
--Seeking detachment makes people think they will be giving up worldly success and comfort.
--Abiding by a set of higher ethics makes them anxious that they will be prey to anyone who is stronger, less moral, and capable of using violence without any sense of guilt or remorse.
Bringing wisdom to a world built on illusion and suffering is difficult. Solving violence through peace seems unworkable. Detaching from materialism has little appeal when people everywhere are pursuing materialism with every breath. Yet the genius of Buddha’s teaching lies in its universality, and whatever is universal is also simple. Buddha’s cure has the capacity to appeal to the entire world.
Right now Buddha’s cure isn’t simple for most people because being alone isn’t simple. By asking people to go inside, Buddha seems to be asking them to be more alone. We must get to the very root of the problem first. Who feels alone? You and I. The minute we use those three basic words we confront the real difficulty. “You” are someone separate from me. “And” implies that we might be connected, and yet we don’t feel connected. “I” stands for my ego and everything it is stubbornly or desperately attached to. Buddha had to resolve all three issues of “you and I” before his teaching, the Dharma, could work a cure.
Deepak Chopra’s most recent book is a novel Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment
Time Magazine heralded Deepak Chopra as one of the 100 heroes and icons of the century, and credited him as "the poet-prophet of alternative medicine." Entertainment Weekly described Deepak Chopra as "Hollywood’s man of the moment, one of publishings best-selling and most prolific self-help authors." He is the author of more than 40 books and more than 100 audio, video and CD-Rom titles. He has been published on every continent, and in dozens of languages and his worldwide book sales exceed twenty million copies. Over a dozen of his books have landed on the New York Times Best-seller list. Toastmaster International recognized him as one of the top five outstanding speakers in the world. Through his over two decades of work since leaving his medical practice, Deepak continues to revolutionize common wisdom about the crucial connection between body, mind, spirit, and healing. His mission of "bridging the technological miracles of the west with the wisdom of the east" remains his thrust and provides the basis for his recognition as one of India�s historically greatest ambassadors to the west. Chopra has been a keynote speaker at several academic institutions including Harvard Medical School, Harvard Business School, Harvard Divinity School, Kellogg School of Management, Stanford Business School and Wharton.
Live with an Attitude of Gratitude
By Arvind Devalia
People often ask me what one key thing I can share with them about improving their life. And I usually tell them to begin to appreciate what they have and to live with an attitude of gratitude.
Are you grateful for your life? Or do you whine about everything?
Gratitude is all about appreciating the things you have in your life. Are you aware of all the goodness around you? The fact that you are breathing and reading these printed words is a marvel in itself. We take something for granted so often and then miss it as soon as it has gone.
Many a time a loved one has left us, only for us to wish we had told them just how much they meant to us. Only a month ago, a very close friend passed away and it is only sinking in to me now just how much it meant to have him in my life. Part of me is still in denial that I will never see him again, but I am in total gratitude for everything he did for me over almost 20 years.
So the lesson for me and others is to continue to appreciate and value the people in your life right now – you just don’t know what is around the corner.
Gratitude is a way of reaching back to our natural state of happiness. You get to notice what’s right instead of what’s wrong and begin to see every “problem” as an opportunity for growth and development. Is your glass half full or half empty?
I challenge you this week to begin to value all the goodness and beauty around you. This can be as majestic as a sunset or as simple as the feel of the clothes you wear. Be thankful for a gift from a friend, a child’s smile, a stranger’s kindness, having gotten home safely this evening and simply to be alive. Appreciate our variable summer weather too, for it is the rainwater that sustains all the nature around us.
Right now in the UK, we are having endless rainfall which has led to flooding and the loss of lives and homes. But somehow we can still be grateful for the lives spared, homes salvaged and the bravery shown by the rescue service people.
Some of the happiest people I know live with an attitude of gratitude. Adopting such an approach is a life long commitment and here are my tips to get you started.
1. List the things in your life to be grateful for and which you take for granted, such as your health, home, family, friends, work colleagues, car, and so on. Add all the things that you could not survive without, such as sunlight, air, water and food.
See how many things you can come up with. Keep this list with you, and refer to it anytime you get upset. See how long you remain upset!
2. Do something for someone for no reason other than simply wanting to do it. Have no attachment to the outcome. Pay for someone’s parking, or compliment a stranger.
3. Post a card of appreciation to someone whom you have not been in touch with for a while. Go one step further and send cards to five people and tell them how much you appreciate them being in your life.
4. Send a thank you note to someone who has done something for you, significant or not. Get into a habit of sending such notes by post. Most mail nowadays is junk mail or bills. Light up someone’s day. Create a trail of happiness behind you, as you go forward in your life.
5. Take time to feel awe and wonder at the world. See things as if for the first time ever. For instance, imagine just how fascinating a dog would look like to a child when seen for the first time. Slow down and notice the beauty around you. Stop and smell the roses.
6. Accept things as they are. No matter how much the situation has turned out differently to your expectations, it is the way it is. You don’t know how much worse off you could have been, had things gone differently. Savour the current moment and be grateful for what is.
7. Focus on what is right in your life rather than what’s wrong. Since we are so conditioned into noticing the negatives, we often overlook all the good in our life. Count your blessings and be thankful.
8. Say “thank you” as often as possible to all the people who make your life what it is. A smile and a simple thank you will do. This will have a magical effect on the person receiving your appreciation. They will feel that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated.
Play a game and count the number of “thank yous” you say. Then increase this number the next day. The opportunities to genuinely thank people are endless.
For instance, next time you are at a checkout desk, show your gratitude and appreciation to the cashier. He and his colleagues have probably been up since the crack of dawn to make it possible for you to have your daily groceries and for you to eat.
Acknowledge your postman. Do you even know his name? See how his face lights up when you show an interest in his life. Very few people know the name of the postman who may have been delivering their mail for years. Ask him his name and make his day.
If you work in an office, acknowledge and get to know the cleaning staff. If they didn’t clean up, you would soon know – it is not fun to work in a rubbish tip. Thank the men who collect your domestic refuse every week.
All the people you acknowledge will be truly touched. I have this enchanting vision that in the coming days and weeks, there will be all these grateful people spreading goodness around the world, wherever Kavita’s website has reached.
Please help me manifest my vision.
Arvind Devalia is a Social Entrepreneur, CSR Consultant, Performance Coach, Speaker and Author of best selling book “Get the Life you Love and Live it”.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the writers and do not necessarily represent those of the editor/publisher.
All Material © Copyright Kavita Chhibber and respective authors
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