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Posts Tagged ‘Engaged Buddhism’

This week I was faced with a question/dilemma/problem, it was all born out of a harmless comment in someone’s eyes I am sure, but these words maybe me look within and turn to the dharma for guidance. The dharma has never steered me wrong, it has always cleared everything up for me, but this case was not immediately cleared and I am asking all of you. What is right speech? And what does it mean to practice right speech? Let me put everyone to speed, I find that most will see how it is not as easy as one might think.

I was at work, a good day, I was wearing a new Fred Perry polo (I must admit that I am a total fan of this clothing line, bordering on obsession!) and one of my bosses was also wearing a new Fred Perry sweater. I always feel a certain feeling of joy when I wear a new item by this designer and I can see that I am not the only one that feels that way when we find that awesome shirt and get to share it with those around us. My boss was wearing a colour that some might say was more “effeminate” than the green that I was wearing. A colleague of mine asked me if I had seen his new sweater and I said yes in a tone that clearly stated my approval of his new digs, he then proceeded to say “I asked him if he switched teams and this is his way of telling us”, and this is where my debate and reflection starts. Is it right speech for me to call him on his homophobic statement and get to question why he thinks that first of all being gay is derogatory, that the colour that we were explains our sexual orientation, and lastly, seeing as how he is newly a father, what kind of role model is he being for his son and how he will view the world in the future.

Right speech is usually understood as one of the ethical conducts in the eightfold path as:

Right speech is the first principle of ethical conduct in the eightfold path. Ethical conduct is viewed as a guideline to moral discipline, which supports the other principles of the path. This aspect is not self-sufficient, however, essential, because mental purification can only be achieved through the cultivation of ethical conduct. The importance of speech in the context of Buddhist ethics is obvious: words can break or save lives, make enemies or friends, start war or create peace. Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth. Positively phrased, this means to tell the truth, to speak friendly, warm, and gently and to talk only when necessary.

As one quickly understands, this is aimed at the individual and the actions that the individual does in the world. I am really questioning, if we are to practice engaged buddhism, if this act of calling people out on their racist or homophobic comments not a part of right speech. It is slanderous speech, the words that are used are malicious and create a world where it is Ok to use homophobia as an insult towards someone. I have always had a hard time when people use terms like faggot to joke around when someone is not being manly enough or good at a certain task, to the point that I am seen as a hyper sensitive person that has no sense of humour because I object to the fact that this term is being used. I should know that it is not what they mean and should not take it so seriously, I find the phenomenon of the normalisation of hate to be a plague in our society and assures that prejudice will continue for many generations to come.

What I wish I said to my co-worker, instead of simply ignoring the homophobic statement and saying that I was glad that at least one person had taste in clothing in the office, I wish I would have asked him first of all why he finds homosexuality to be derogatory, that he should take some time to reflect on what kind of role model is he being for his newborn son, and how would he react if one day he learns that his son was gay (would his vocabulary change)? I find that it is important to study the normalization of hate in our society, language is an extremely subtle tool for hate, the more we hear something the easier it is for us to use it in the same context. I am trying to be as mindful and aware with my dharma practice, so why would I not stand up to hate and respond with love, teaching others how they can be less hateful on a daily basis? I find that it is my duty to stand up and call people out on their ignorant comments, that is what right speech is, speaking out to help others suffer less. I owe it to my colleague to let him know what happened to me when he uttered what he believed to be “harmless” words, I owe it to him, and I especially owe it to his son!

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Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment, which is translated as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali.  Bodhi Day is always celebrated on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, this is what is believed was the day that Siddhartha Gautama while sitting under the Bodhi tree became the Buddha. Sid, who was born in a very noble and privileged Hindu family, left his material comforts in the search for answers to the problem of suffering, specifically old age, sickness and death. He thus sought bodhi through meditation, self-mortification, and practicing other austerities.

After several years of intense practice, he realized that bodhi was to be found through meditation, but through a Middle Way, away from the extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence. The story goes that he meditated in Bodh Gaya (I am sure that you have all heard of the famous Bodhi Tree that is supposed to have been grown from an original branch of the tree that rested atop of the Buddha, it is one of the main pilgrimage sites for Buddhists from all over the world) under a peepal tree (a species of Banyan fig), now famously known as the Bodhi tree, and resolved to continue meditating until he achieved bodhi (enlightenment). It is believed that after 49 days of continuous meditation, Gautama achieved bodhi (enlightenment) at the age of 35. Since then he was known as the Buddha (‘enlightened one’). In other words, he kicked Mara’s ass and was freed from the shackles of suffering.

In Buddhism, Māra is the demon that tempted Siddhartha Gautama by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unwholesome impulses, unskilfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive. We have all wrestled with Mara at one point in our lives, I know that I do it on a daily basis, I just keep working on not giving Mara too much power in my life and how I act within the world. I am sure that everyone that has attempted to sit and meditate has tasted the allure of what Mara has thrown at them, the important part and what I try to do every time is simply to say “I see you Mara” and keep on keeping on.

People usually celebrate and commemorate this day with meditation, studying the Dharma, chanting sutras (Buddhist texts) or by doing kind acts towards others. I find that all these activities are all great ways to commemorate this moment, I also find that it is a great time to reflect on what has brought us to this practice and what keeps us going on this path… So why not take some time today to sit and meditate on our practice and how we are progressing on the path. I know that I like to check in on my practice at least once a year and I can’t think of a better time than now. So take a moment to reflect and renew your effort towards your practice and the path that you have chosen, if you do not practice meditation or the dharma, there isn’t a better time than now to start!

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The Occupy Wall Street movement has been spreading like wildfire for a little over a month now, people are hearing about the 99% rising up and demanding that the widening gap that is growing between the haves and the have-nots becomes smaller. The Occupy movement describes itself as:

Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

This #ows movement empowers real people to create real change from the bottom up. We want to see a general assembly in every backyard, on every street corner because we don’t need Wall Street and we don’t need politicians to build a better society.

It has become the 1% and the 99%, these numbers have been burned into most news coverage of this new movement and rightfully so, but I have always believed that I was part of a different statistic. Noah Levine in his book The Heart of the Revolution describes a definition of another 1%, people who follow the teachings of the Buddha and the Dharma are ones that go against the stream and are a part of a very select group of people. I find it interesting that he used this kind of language and imagery before this movement arose, and in many ways I find it very fitting to be using it at this point in time in history. So my question is, what is a Buddhist to do with a movement like this one? I believe in this cause and find that it is really great to see its success since its inception in September, I am also happy that it has been mostly peaceful as movement, so what can a socially engaged Buddhist like myself bring to this movement? I actually found a great article at the Buddhist Peacemakers Institute website about occupying the present moment.

  1. Interconnection.  We are moved by the interconnectedness expressed in this movement.  Occupy Wall Street is not about one environmental situation or one war, but rather about all of the systems which create suffering for all beings, and which are all related to each other.  Our spiritual practice is not just for our individual enlightenment, but to end suffering for all beings, so we are moved to address this system.
  2. Ending suffering means changing the conditions of inequality. The influence of money, corporations, and banks in our U.S. political system blocks all of the human and environmental goals that BPF works towards.  Numerous Buddhist texts point out that if an individual lives in poverty it is not due to karma as a form of personal punishment, but rather that poverty exists within a web of collective causes and conditions. The Buddha also noted that the way to build a peaceful society is to ensure equitable distribution of resources.  Many U.S. Buddhists believe in the importance of cultivating a limitless heart that embraces the goal of a society in which everyone has their basic needs met, plus education, a living wage, and the opportunity to care for their families and to develop spiritually.
  3. The means are the ends.  We are moved by and in agreement with the nonviolent tactics of the movement.  We believe in the power of compassionate presence, of bearing witness, and of nonviolent strategies toward spiritual awakening and liberation. The people on the streets in New York, and around the country and world, are in the process of being the change they wish to see, to use Gandhi’s phrase.
  4. We participate in solidarity with the 100%—with all beings.  While we want to change the situation of disparity in world, we don’t want to exile the 1% from our hearts.  Furthermore, we are aware that lumping people together, whether into the 99% or the 100%, can invisibilize people’s experiences, especially those of people of color, and the many others who bear the heaviest burdens of inequality in the U.S. and in the world.  While we are all interconnected, we are not all the same.  With this recognition of diversity, we stand in solidarity with the 100%.

This is what I find sticks with me the most out of this statement, standing in solidarity with the 100% and not exiling anyone. I mean, in a way, this is why the 99% are so upset right now, they feel pushed aside and ignored, so it is not much better if we push the 1% to the side and ignore them. It is not the people who are the problem but the system that exists in the world, this is what we must change. We are all interconnected and we must work together (everyone) if we want to change things for the best. We want to end the suffering of every being, not just a select group. Let’s continue speaking out against injustice, but lets not forget to bring compassion and wisdom to the movement. Organise a meditation flashmob at one of the occupy protests in your town and show people that this revolution will remain peaceful and compassionate, let’s not forget that this revolution must also happen within us! Be the change that you want to see in the world!

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What is the first images that appear in your mind when you think of racism, most people would probably have images of swastikas, slavery and Ku Klux Klan members, these are the images that have been ingrained in our minds for the subject. They are not false, the Nazis and KKK have become the images of intolerance and rightfully so. Racism, as a term, was coined in the 1930s, primarily as a response to the Nazi project of making Germany judenrein (‘clean of Jews’), the Nazis claimed that the Jewish people were a race. They were a distinct race that posed a threat to the Aryan race, the race that authentic Germans supposedly belonged. This idea that Jewish people were a distinct race gave currency by Nazi racial science. Also, what the Nazis did can now be seen as what we call ethnic cleansing. The idea of anti-Semitism, which is the longest form of racism or the oldest hatred, was coined in the 1870s by German Wilhem Marr to characterize his anti-Jewish movement “the anti-Semitism League”. Anti-Semitism had the advantage of sounding scientific instead of plain old religious bigotry.

We can all agree that it is now accepted and truly believed that it is morally wrong to judge someone by the colour of their skin, or of reliving the Anti-Semite sentiment.  This I think can be agreed upon, with maybe the exception of radical hate groups like Neo-Nazis etc. Racism can not be so clear-cut, it is much more complex and ambiguous. Let me explain, is racist intolerance just based on what we call a “race”? What about homophobia? What about Islamophobia?  It has been commonly believed that Prejudice + Power = Racism, but it is not so simple. There is also the problem of institutionalized racism, there have been many cases in England of prejudice based on class, gender, and race in the past years. This is much more widespread than we might think, I read once that people in the south of the USA after the civil war (the war that was about many issues, but slavery is definitely the one that trumps all issues) that people’s heritage played a part in the land that you were able to buy and have. This became the history of US debates and legislation that revealed the consistent difficulties in defining what the black population was. Here is where the ‘one drop’ rule was born in the Southern states:

which implied that any black ancestry, however far back, consigned an individual to the wrong side of the white/black divide, determining (disadvantaging) where s/he could live, what kind of work was available, and whether marriage or even relationships could take place with a white partner. One drop of ‘white blood’, though, did not carry the same weight in defining racial status.

Like Ali Rattansi states in the quote before, racism was clearly based on race at first, but in our post 9/11 world, it has delved into many more areas of society and daily life. This has become obvious the many protests that have occurred during the construction of Mosques in the US, of profiling in airports and the unfair deportations of American and Canadian citizens to Islamic countries or off-shore penitentiaries. Institutional racism is very much ingrained in our societies.  In the USA black men are 10 times more likely to go to prison than whites, and 1 in 20 over the age of 18 is in jail. Amnesty International reported in 2004, black defendants convicted of killing whites have been sentenced to death 15 times more often than white defendants convicted of killing blacks. I think that we can all agree that there is still a lot of work to do in terms of educating people that these outdated beliefs are wrong and completely not true, that racism is a vehicle of fear and causes only harm and that tolerance and acceptance is the only right answer. I also want to be clear, racism doesn’t only apply to whites (I know that these are the examples that are used here, but there is also prejudice against whites, we have to change our attitudes towards everyone, visible minorities included. There is a lot of healing that must be done so we can be able to live in a society that is kind and caring, no matter what we believe and look like, as long as we are tolerant and open to everyone.), this is a problem that is everywhere and must stop! Education, compassion, understanding, love, and forgiveness are the only answers that I see fit.

I am left with a question, seeing that I am a Buddhist, I ask myself, what can I do with my practice to combat ignorance and hatred like this? What is a Buddhist to do about racism? So I am asking myself WWBD or WWBS (What Would Buddha DO? or What Would Buddha Say?) about all of this. The closest thing to “races” in the Buddha’s time would be the caste system and he spoke out against it, seeing as all being have to ability to be enlightened, no matter what caste, he saw the value in all beings. Buddhism is a philosophy that is born out the idea that there are no differences between men and women in society, I must admit that it would be hard for the Buddha to approve any form of racism with that statement. The Buddha would also tell us that our Body and Mind are borrowed from the earth. We don’t own them. We also suffer from sickness, old age, death, and mental illnesses. These mental illnesses are greed, hatred, and ignorance of the true reality of the world. So-called countries, religion, gender, land, etc. are all man-made. We live temporarily inhabit our bodies, homes, land and eventually give them back to the earth. If we all realize this fact, there should be no racism, fighting or any other unnecessary activities.

In the Samyutta Nikaya the Buddha states:

From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. A being who has not been your mother at one time in the past is not easy to find… A being who has not been your father… your brother… your sister… your son… your daughter at one time in the past is not easy to find.

If one truly understands this, there is no need for racism and no way that one could believe this theory of hate and ignorance to have any ground. I truly believe that this path that stresses loving-kindness, and living a life a wisdom and compassion; there is no place in this world for such hatred and ignorance. I have always felt that people who hold prejudice towards any group of human beings is born out of fear because they do not understand the difference that they have with this group. It is clear that with some openness and education, we can all learn to appreciate the differences that we have with them and learn to love one another. So the next time that you see someone and are struck with prejudice or fear, take a moment to reflect why exactly you are feeling the way that your are and then think how it must feel if the shoe was on the other foot. I am sure that in no time you will see that your fears are unjustified and that you will approach the world with more openness and compassion. Also, do not be afraid to ask others when you hear ignorant comments coming out of their mouths, help them reflect on the ignorance that is in their hearts. Racism is not just based on the colour of your skin, it is from any judgments that you hold against someone without cause. We must learn to be more open to what is different if we want the world to have peace.

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Albert Camus, Nobel laureate, resistance fighter and humanitarian, was one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century. He is of great importance for me and the way that my ideas and perceptions have been shaped throughout my adult life, and he has made a profound and lasting contribution to the modern understanding of the human condition in terms of basic personal ethical responsibility and broader social relations. His long novel The Plague is one of the great modern stories which explores what it means to be a thinking, feeling human being in times of suffering and oppression, and shows through character development and story arc the meaning of life from a humanitarian viewpoint. In a time when the world was polarized into different camps, Camus emphasized the inherent value of human freedom and conscious choice and shared existential issues. He also spoke and worked against totalitarian regimes and criticized or rejected their proponents in the free societies, such as the Marxist Jean-Paul Sartre. Camus represented and embodied what is called “The Engaged Man”.

Albert Camus can be put in the same category as Dr. Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, and the Dalai Lama as one of the great voices for hope and a commitment to humanity which is both broad and deep.  Like the group mentioned earlier, he represents and teaches a kind of universal responsibility. His words and actions show people a real alternative to one-party totalitarianism, blind religious belief, mere nihilism and unevolved personal self-obsession. For Camus it is not about belief or dogma, it’s not about “god” or money, it’s about freedom and responsibility, which we must engage no matter what our path in life. This is based on the fact that we are all humans and we must learn to live with ourselves and with others. The point is to live life consciously, to live as human life matters, no matter if it is our own or that of others. Camus stressed that slavery and coercion, lies and propaganda, had to be rejected on all levels for people to become authentic, conscious and ultimately free. This simple idea is the most important stepping-stone to a more human world and to more broad-based cooperation between the peoples of the world. Ultimately that is what matters.

Albert Camus is one of the main influences on my understanding of what it means to be a human being, this is still true some 15 years later. The Plague was the first book that I read of his during highschool, and it still keeps popping up in my everyday life and struggles as a guide to help me remain on the path of wisdom and compassion. The Plague is a long book about struggle and suffering, it is true, but that’s what life is, both for those who do not care for others, and for those who do. The question is how each of us faces struggle and suffering, alone or together. The answer Camus gives is that we have to give a damn. If I could sum up my meditation practice in a nutshell, I think that I would sum it up the same way, “just give a damn and you will be more present and compassionate towards yourself and others”.

Another point that I find is crucial in Camus’ philosophy is that we can be neither victim or executioner in life, and to be someone who stands fast in the middle, someone who strongly works for balance on our long road to freedom. Our past is not a binding condition nor is it our potential. We can re-choose to awaken to our own shared humanity, which is indeed no different from awakening to ourselves and our own hopes and our own lives. For better or worse, probably both, we are all in this together. Camus will always be a friend that I travel this path with, his words and actions will always remind me to give a damn and to share my humanity with the people that surround me. I am forever indebted for how his writings have changed me, and I will always consider Camus to be one of my closest and dearest friends, even though we have never met in the flesh.

I leave you with his essay Neither Victims Nor Executioners, it was a series of essays by Albert Camus that were serialized in Combat, the daily newspaper of the French Resistance, in November 1946. In the essays he discusses violence and murder and the impact these have on those that perpetrate, suffer and observe them.

NEITHER VICTIMS NOR EXECUTIONERS by Albert Camus

Yes, we must raise our voices. Up to this point, I have refrained from appealing to emotion. We are being torn apart by a logic of history which we have elaborated in every detail–a net which threatens to strangle us.

It is not emotion which can cut through the web of a logic which has gone to irrational lengths, but only reason which can meet logic on its own ground. But I should not want to leave the impression… that any program for the future can get along without our powers of love and indignation.

I am well aware that it takes a powerful prime mover to get men into motion and that it is hard to throw one’s self into a struggle whose objectives are so modest and where hope has only a rational basis– and hardly even that. But the problem is not how to carry men away; it is essential, on the contrary, that they not be carried away but rather that they be made to understand clearly what they are doing.

To save what can be saved so as to open up some kind of future–that is the prime mover, the passion and the sacrifice that is required. It demands only that we reflect and then decide, clearly, whether humanity’s lot must be made still more miserable in order to achieve far-off and shadowy ends, whether we should accept a world bristling with arms where brother kills brother; or whether, on the contrary, we should avoid bloodshed and misery as much as possible so that we give a chance for survival to later generations better equipped than we are.

For my part, I am fairly sure that I have made the choice. And, having chosen, I think that I must speak out, that I must state that I will never again be one of those, whoever they be, who compromise with murder, and that I must take the consequences of such a decision. The thing is done, and that is as far as I can go at present….

However, I want to make clear the spirit in which this article is written. We are asked to love or to hate such and such a country and such and such a people. But some of us feel too strongly our common humanity to make such a choice.

Those who really love the Russian people, in gratitude for what they have never ceased to be–that world leaven which Tolstoy and Gorky speak of–do not wish for them success in power politics, but rather want to spare them, after the ordeals of the past, a new and even more terrible bloodletting. So, too, with the American people, and with the peoples of unhappy Europe.

This is the kind of elementary truth we are likely to forget amidst the furious passions of our time. Yes, it is fear and silence and the spiritual isolation they cause that must be fought today. And it is sociability and the universal inter- communication of men that must be defended. Slavery, injustice, and lies destroy this intercourse and forbid this sociability; and so we must reject them.

But these evils are today the very stuff of history, so that many consider them necessary evils. It is true that we cannot “escape history,” since we are in it up to our necks. But one may propose to fight within history to preserve from history that part of man which is not its proper province. That is all I have to say here.

The “point” of this article may be summed up as follows: Modern nations are driven by powerful forces along the roads of power and domination. I will not say that these forces should be furthered or that they should be obstructed. They hardly need our help and, for the moment, they laugh at attempts to hinder them. They will, then, continue.

But I will ask only this simple question: What if these forces wind up in a dead end, what if that logic of history on which so many now rely turns out to be a will o’ the wisp? What if, despite two or three world wars, despite the sacrifice of several generations and a whole system of values, our grandchildren–supposing they survive– find themselves no closer to a world society?

It may well be that the survivors of such an experience will be too weak to understand their own sufferings. Since these forces are working themselves out and since it is inevitable that they continue to do so,there is no reason why some of us should not take on the job of keeping alive, through the apocalyptic historical vista that stretches before us, a modest thoughtfulness which, without pretending to solve everything, will constantly be prepared to give some human meaning to everyday life.

The essential thing is that people should carefully weight the price they must pay…. All I ask is that, in the midst of a murderous world, we agree to reflect on murder and to make a choice.

After that, we can distinguish those who accept the consequences of being murderers themselves or the accomplices of murderers, and those who refuse to do so with all their force and being. Since this terrible dividing line does actually exist, it will be a gain if it be clearly marked.

Over the expanse of five continents throughout the coming years an endless struggle is going to be pursued between violence and friendly persuasion, a struggle in which, granted, the former has a thousand times the chances of success than that of the latter. But I have always held that, if he who bases his hopes on human nature is a fool, he who gives up in the face of circumstances is a coward. And henceforth, the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.

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I am about to go on retreat, the usual preparations are happening in my head (What am I hoping to get out of this? What do I want to explore and bring to my practice Is it going to be better than the last one? etc.), and I was struck by a memory of my last retreat at IMS (which was my first real retreat). The Comparing Mind is a concept that is very common in Buddhist teachings and a usual struggle for me in my practice, I seem wired to compare myself to others. I always find this to be true when I am on retreat, everyone seems to be meditating peacefully and here I am sitting on the cushion wrestling with my mind on the cushion, feelings of bitterness come up which make it even harder for me to focus on the breath and find calm. I am sure that we have all had moments like this, it is funny how we can get so obsessed with how we think that it should be going and seeing as it is not exactly that way then we are failing. Thoughts of judgment start to take over our mind and we are caught in a cycle of thoughts that criticizes us and our abilities, we then begin questioning why we are doing this seeing as how we are just going to fail etc. I find that the Comparing Mind is a strong foe in meditation practice and something that can be really fruitful for us to work with.

As humans, we have a natural tendency to compare the various objects in our lives and there is nothing inherently wrong with the Comparing Mind. We can pick up an object and look at it on its own, then we are able to see it as it really is. If we hold it up next to a bigger plan we then start to compare it, it can seem small, ugly, not colorful enough, etc. This size, beauty, and color is only in relation to other things. The object is not inherently small or not colorful, if we are talking about inanimate objects, comparing things isn’t so bad. It can help us say things like ” I thought that object was very pretty” or “give me a bigger marker to write on the board with”. Not really a big deal if you look at it.

It is completely different with people. When we start to think that something inside of us is worse than another person, it sets off a chain reaction which is hard to stop. A common thought is our impression that we are uglier than others, our brain is amazingly reactive, this thought also seems to propel much faster and sticks around the longest. Once that thought gets started, the neurons in our brains start “gossiping” and talking it up until we’re positive that we’re not only hideous but that everyone around us knows it and talks about us behind our backs. This is how the comparing mind works, you may have a jogging routine with scheduled day of rest. When you are on your day of rest and walking around the neighbourhood and see a jogger pass by you start to feel lazy and worthless, because this jogger obviously did not take a day off. What we don’t seem to realize is that we don’t know the other person’s running schedule and that it is completely healthy and reasonable to run 3-5 times a week, and that these days off are necessary to avoid burnout and injuries.  If we don’t become aware of the Comparing Mind the thoughts will zoom by in our head and end up with the idea that the other person is a more dedicated runner.

It is also not good to think that we are better than someone, you can think that you are the smartest and most competant person in the office and that it is you that deserves all the important projects. If you then get a project that is a little over your head and someone else gets it instead you just can’t believe it. I mean, come on, you’re smarter than them! You’re the one that deserves that project! When we are caught in that cycle of thoughts we may not realize that the other person might be perfect for the project, but you are caught in thoughts about how you are better and smarter than that person and that you deserved all the projects. Plus, you get yourself all bent out of shape and depressed when really it would be a lot less painful to just admit that different people are better at different things and move on happy that you don’t have to do the difficult work.

The bottom line is that it’s best to just let go of Comparing Mind as it relates to how we perceive ourselves and others. It can only lead to clinging and to suffering and it’s not worth it. This has been a very difficult practice for me. We must admit that it is somewhat gratifying to indulge in those thoughts about how we are better than others, it may not be the case as much with our thoughts that others are better than us, but still, self-pity can be very comforting for some. To believe that we are always the victim and that the world has dealt us a shitty hand no matter how hard we try can give us an opportunity to push our responsibility to another. It is much easier to admit that it is not our fault that we are not advancing in the world, it is hard sometimes to reflect and realize that we are responsible for our actions and how we progress in the world. It is never our fault and always someone else’s fault, so much easier to come to terms with, but it is rarely the case. Our neurons are so used to gossiping about how “other” people are better or worse that they don’t even bother to let us know they’re doing it. We often only see it when we lose our cool entirely and break down into either sadness or anger or even reticule towards another. It usually takes an explosion for us to even realize that the reaction had been going on at all. For the next week I challenge you all to take some time with the Comparing Mind, to take up this practice, to observe when we find ourselves falling into old comparative/competitive habits and we can then noticed that it can be very helpful to be on the look out for these sorts of reactions before they occur. Just to see if that subtle comparison with others is causing suffering.

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Hello Everyone,

Thought that I should share this video with everyone. There is a big lesson in this, we need to hold people accountable for what they do and not what they are… Watch this video and apply it to your everyday life! Let start having these discussions when they occur, it is important to make a stand when we think something is not right!

 

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