We Have All That We Have

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We do not have anything more than the present. We do not have our past and certainly not our future.

Suffering is created by clinging either to the past or the future.

If we go to past or the future we are distancing ourselves from the present. This in turn creates a vicious cycle of suffering, because if we are going to past or the future, we will lose present again.

All that we have is now, the present. Present includes everything. Buddha understood this very well and he also understood about the thinking and action which leads to these results.

In addition to the present, our present mindfulness or our thinking is all that we have. In fact we are not our thinking, because we can observe our thinking. Yet only few of us consciously exercise this human superpower called ‘thinking critically what we are thinking.’

We shouldn’t let our thinking taint our present experience, because present is all that we have. We should come to accept what we have and be happy with that 🙂

Growth and Truth

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Real growth comes from accepting reality or ‘the truth’.

Yet as powerful adults, we do not necessarily always like the truth. Our capacity to understand and manage it is limited. That’s why human societies have all kinds of quirks to like fools in courts or business consultants in businesses to tell leaders what they need to hear in comical or other narrative fashion, so that they might hear what they need to hear.

While the truth may be our shield, yet truth can also hurt and be dangerous to hurl around. It needs to be wrapped in a nice manner and presented carefully.

To put it shortly: living according to the truth isn’t the simplest or easiest way. In fact it is the middle way, creating the way like Buddha or Gandhi did.

Do what is true and right, and you will be remembered if not by the current generation, then by the generations to come.

The Happiness Equation: book highlights

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Out of 34 books I’ve read this year and out of 36 that I read last year, there are few gems in there. Among all the books, one that makes almost any day better for me is the Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha.

Yesterday I reviewed my notes thoroughly and they made me so deep impact that I ought to share the main points with you today.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future”

Life is happening now, we must learn to be present is the present for a reason. To be more present, mindfulness is a good practice it makes us happy and success follows happiness. Be happy first.

Distractions in life are major obstacles for happiness. Like we are in the present, we shouldn’t focus to external goals, but to internal drivers. Internal motivation is a driver of excellence. Happy people do things, because they are happy and interested about doing things.

While external motivations can get ourselves distracted, it is only our own judgements and criticism that often makes us discouraged and sad.

Buddha says, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”

Be happy first, and start with yourself. You are worthy of attention, love and affection. We cannot control most of what happens in life, however we can control how we react to it.

So now we have the groundwork covered. Next is the difficult part: the purpose, the work and social life. To put it shortly, we are social animals and we need social context. We should work in something where we can increase our collective happiness. As it is pointed out: giving is the simply best way to increase your own happiness. Doing good for others.

We need to stay active with the giving and kindness as well, here we get to the purpose or what is described in the book as ikigai. Never retire, what you do not use you lose: this applies to happiness, your brain and your health as well.

Like Gandhi said: “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”

I ought to read the whole book again soon and I recommend it to you too.

Life Has Suffering and Happiness

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Buddha taught: first noble truth is that there is suffering in life. He also taught the path the liberation.

Some millennia later there Mark Manson wrote in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: “What pain do you want to sustain? The path to happiness is a path full of shitheaps and shame.”

That’s pretty well put. Life may have suffering, but we can really choose our suffering. Each kind of happiness comes with a different kind of suffering or pain, or whatever. We cannot have a life without suffering, because our minds produce suffering.

As Schopenhauer put it: our mind swings between boredom and suffering. Only within fleeting moments we may experience the Zen like state of the Middle Path.

I guess the many spiritual traditions and now the mindfulness movements, do tend to teach the skills for maintaining that state of mind. We need to apply the effort in every moment to state there, it’s like walking on a tightrope.

When we form the mental habits of tightrope walking, I guess anything can become automatic? My guess would be that the enlightened state of mind would be when we master and make the correct mental habits automatic, inseparable parts of our lives.

In any case, happiness feels good. Our minds don’t really bother to specify what’s good, euphoria fills whole body and mind. With pains and suffering it can be either vague or specific. Therefore it’s not as much about choosing which brings us happiness, but rather what kind of suffering that happiness comes with.

Choose wisely and crawl towards the kind of suffering that is worth it.

I wish you happy problems!

Wise Buddha

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We are all human, and therefore our human nature connects us. There are few who master their own minds and thus are able to do more good than more bad with their words and actions in this worlds. Buddha was one person like that, a bodhisatva, someone who has been enlightened, but chooses to remain in this world to help others.

Today I’ve been in such an awe of this wisdom, I do not have anything else to add, but that reflect upon some of this wisdom:

“Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.” ― Buddha

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him. “– Buddha

“Correct behavior can turn negative experience into a positive one” – Buddha

“Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much as your own unguarded thought.” – Buddha

Mindful action

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There is possibility in the art of giving, that we end up hurting more than helping, just like in the story of monkeys and the fish. 

During some days contemplating this triggers the kind of existential crisis of inaction. Who would want to ruin others days or even lives with unskillful action?

Best not to help, when help is not asked. There are ways to serve quietly, without asking any credit. Take the beginners mindset and work on the tiny things, things that others ignore, i.e. picking up the trash after others who are too ignorant to do so. This simple way of doing tiny things can hardly have much harm, even if it happens to harm. Work becomes training and failure teaching towards the wisdom.

“On life’s journey faith is nourishment, virtuous deeds are a shelter, wisdom is the light by day and right mindfulness is the protection by night. If a man lives a pure life, nothing can destroy him. “– Buddha

Suppressed emotions might affect our world view

Recently I’ve been really interested about natural tendency, and I’ve pondered long about my own. Hobby along all this thinking has been reading. On my evening commute today a strong thought hit me as I read Susan Cain’s Quiet book, there Cain refers to psychologist Judith Grob work with the phrase:

“People who tend to [suppress their negative emotions] regularly might start to see the world in a more negative light.” ― from Cain, Susan (2012-03-29). Quiet. (p. 319). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition.

This really struck me, and stopped me! Judidth Grob calls this emotional leakage in the original article. It might hold the seeds for having more optimist outlook of life, which again has many positive benefits such as longevity of life.

I’ve yet not figured out my tendencies on the level I would like to. However, at the same time I’ve sought to understand life better and thoughts that help me to live the life. For this I’ve studied Buddhism. Recently I started from beginning again, because sometimes its good to return to the basics. So, now I’ve been reading, watching videos etc. about the very basic ideas of Buddhist thought. And today I had a quite strong insight.

Buddha encourages to accept the life as it is, thus he says, life has suffering. Suffering is inevitable, so what a great man does, is to accept that and not to attach it any longer. The process of accepting life is the same as forgiveness, where we have to accept that something happened, then forgive and let go. Powerful thoughts that let us be more fully in the present.

When we are in the present, we are also more likely to observe our emotions and how we are expressing or not expressing them, thus creating more virtuous cycles and more fulfilling life experience for ourselves and the world at large.