Today is Buddha’s birthday. Now I won’t get too much into religion in this post because I don’t want to lose the few followers that I do have or start some sort of debate (religion causes so much conflict) but for those who don’t know I will give a little bit of insight into Buddhism for the topic’s sake.
Have you ever seen the traditional sand art being done by Buddhist monks? They take so long to create these beautiful works of art out of sand, just to destroy it in order to show how nothing is permanent. Traditional Tibetan Buddhist Sand Art . Buddha is not a god and never did anything supernatural like those of different religions like say Jesus Christ rising from the dead. The religion is based on the idea of bettering yourself (reach a better understanding / enlightenment / nirvana) and the world around you to escape suffering. He was an ordinary man. Well, not too ordinary, he was a prince that lived around 25 centuries ago. What I find most impressive is that he decided to give up life as a king in order to search for more answers about life and its meaning. The story goes that his father was told when the Buddha was a child that his son would either be a powerful emperor or turn his back on his privilege and power to become a great spiritual leader. The father wanted him to become a powerful leader and so kept him confined to life within the palace walls with no outside influence. The first time (as a grown adult with a son of his own) when he was allowed to go out and explore the city he was changed. With his great influence and wealth, his father had tried to ensure that his son only saw the beautiful parts of the city with healthy, young, and happy people. However, the Buddha did end up seeing an old person, a sick person and eventually a dead person. Having never before been exposed to these types of people he began to think about life. He realized that everyone gets sick, everyone gets old and eventually everyone dies. Suffering in life is inevitable. He became determined to find the answer to end this suffering. I skipped many details like his many days spent meditating under a tree but in the end he did find the secret to living a fulfilled life and it has to do with how you perceive the world and act towards it. He decided to go and teach others what he had learned. This is when he was given the name of the Buddah which actually literally means enlightened one. Right thoughts, right words, right actions that is the basis of what Buddhism teaches. I think it is quite similar to the bases of many religions. I would love to get into more of the doctrine and teachings of the Buddha but for now I will leave it at that. There are different branches of Buddhism. Most people immediately jump to bald monks when they think of a Buddhist but there are also people who just live by the teachings of the Buddha.
If you were a billionaire today, would you give it all up to find a better understanding of life? In the last few years I have become so interested in Buddhism. My mother in law is Buddhist and has taken me occasionally to some beautiful temples here in Korea and I am always left so at peace after a visit. I have also always been big into yoga and when I learned that it was created by monks to ready their minds for longer meditation, it made sense. When people think meditation (well I don’t actually know what they think but probably) they approach it like this spiritual challenge. Meditation is so powerful and so easy to do. Check out this short video: How to meditate Meditation has really helped me through so many things in life. When something bad happens, I think, ‘I am still breathing, I am still alive” and by focusing on my breath for a few minutes, I can find the strength to overcome any obstacle. (This is especially helpful in painful situations like child birth).
People have often asked me how I manage to stay positive and optimistic throughout my difficulties in life. I always immediately think of that clip of 3rd world people reading 1st world problems and think, ‘what difficulties?’ 1st world problems read by 3rd world people but a big part of it is how the teachings of Buddha have changed how I approach life. Every morning I wake up with the mindset that it is going to be a wonderful day. Now that I have a daughter, I go wake her up each day with a big smile and say something positive like, “Hello beautiful.” If it is Monday and you wake up thinking, ‘Ugh it’s Monday, I hate Mondays.” You have already started your day with a head filled with negative thoughts. If instead you think, “This is the start of a new week. This week could very well be the best week of my life. Something wonderful and unexpected could happen today. Monday funday!” You are already on track to have a lovely day. No matter if you look at the glass as half empty or half full, there is always something in the glass. You can always find something positive in each day to focus on. Worrying or focusing on the negative does nothing. Focus on having right thoughts. You have 100% control over your thoughts and it is up to you if you waste your time and if you worry. There are not many things that you have absolute control over in life.
Also important is right words. Everything that comes out of your mouth you already know and is also in your control. Only by listening can you learn. Ask yourself some questions before you say something. Will saying this help anyone? Will it hurt anyone? Will it make anything or anything better or worse? Why am I saying it? Say beautiful words and you will be the first one to hear them. (Yes I stole that from an India Arie song)
Last that I am going to explore today is right actions. I think this one is pretty straight forward. Try to do the right thing. One of my favorite quotations is from Ghandi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I only touched on 3 of the 8 fold path of Buddhism. If you find this interesting please research more and educate yourself on this lovely religion. This world is ours. Yes there are 7 billion others to share it with but just like one one drop can start an ocean, one act of kindness can start a change. Even just smiling at a stranger could change someone’s life. We are all connected. To end this post I am including one of my favorite inspiring videos. It is an insurance commercial but don’t judge it until you watch it. Thank you for reading my post and I hope you stay happy.
Unsung Hero “Always be kind because everyone is fighting a hard battle”