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 🙂

11 Questions to Reduce Hurry and Worry

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When you start to teach people about something, it gives you yourself more pressure to be example as well. This is mostly positive thing, because then you start deepen your relationship with the things you are teaching. Often this deepening means that you are thinking what you are teaching learning at the same time from different perspectives.

What I learned this morning about feeling of hurry is this: hurry is just lack of preparation.

This means, if we feel hurry, we have failed to anticipate the stuff we are stressing about presently.

What helps here is to accept the present circumstances and prioritize and think what is truly important, and how important. It’s through prioritization only way that we can live through our commitments and learn to make commitments that are most relevant to us.

Uncertainty makes life difficult. Or life is suffering like the Buddha came to understand.

The ability to accept these and to have a set of thinking skills in the present help to handle almost anything that happens and still live a worthwhile life.

Do not be affected by hurry.

Here are some helpful questions to cope:

  1. Do I have any problems right now?
  2. What is the most important priority right now?
  3. Am I doing my best?
  4. Is there something I or we can do?
  5. What would be the first step forward?
  6. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  7. What is positive about this situation?
  8. Is the worst thing that can happen?
  9. Is this the end of the world?
  10. What is the upside?
  11. How to benefit from this situation?

Have a great evening!

Janne

Problems or Suffering Are Never Going to Cease

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Solving a problem leads to a multiplying amounts of tinier problems. We have the power to create happier problems.

Since problems are not going to cease, we just might pick one that is interesting and start chipping at it. If we just worthy problem, solving that just might become our purpose.

Like Schopenhauer said, our mind swings between boredom and suffering. Mind will always find a way to do one or another. I’ve found that it’s easy to suffer although things are very well. It’s unless we teach ourselves, what is real suffering and what is not, we will suffer no matter how well our life is.

Any suffering is tolerable with a right and just purpose. Our purpose may become our legacy and legacy is one form of immortality that is within our reach.

Doesn’t sound too bad does it?

 

Poem: The Change Makers

 

Ignorant we all are, I must admit.

Yet there are those who to this do not submit.

These people are the shapers,

The change makers.

 

Those who are courageous enough to seek truth.

And stand to face the oppressive Brood,

Who do not care where the truth stood,

Or what was for everyone’s good!

 

People like Mandela and Gandhi,

Have become such examples, how handy!

Equipped with truth, love, and courage,

Have built their wisdom and virtue while pulling the carriage.

 

Suffering of the wheel,

Is imaginable and real.

They made no squeal,

Because it was in their interest to heal.

 

With grace they endured,

To the inner work they spurred.

Through work they developed,

And a new kind of thinking enveloped.

 

Wrong they faced,

Pain not only grazed.

They got to taste the pain of living,

And transformed it in their minds into a giving.

 

Yet people were astray.

Not caring what they had to say.

Thus they were sent away.

Only to return; and light the way!

 

They learned to care first,

To quench another one’s thirst.

People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care, said Teddy.

 

World is not so steady,

You better get ready,

Your ignorance is unstable,

To care you are able!

Your Happiness is Your Decision

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Any one of us can make the decision to be happy right now. We cannot choose our emotions what we are feelings, we can choose how do we respond to the emotions. And by choosing the right responses we will inevitably feel good too in the long run. This means, happiness is in our control to decide.

By making the right choices consistently happiness is inevitable. There are even shortcuts to happiness, for example gratitude, giving and positive thinking.

Human is highly social animal, so the best we can do is to be grateful of what we have and share our happiness with others.

There is enough for everybody in this world, if we think through the lens of creating. Human creativity has created the well being that exists. Human doing is also the suffering of our planet and fellow species.

It is our next actions and decisions that determine what will follow. Therefore we can be happy with what we have now, contemplate on our virtues: what are we willing to sacrifice for our future?

We get only that well being which we are able to create for the world.

Three Poems, Three Reminders

 

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I am awestruck by some of the poems we have chance to enjoy at this day and age, i.e.:

Invictus by William Ernest Henley (YouTube)

A Million Pieces by Jon Jorgenson (YouTube)

No Man is an Island by John Donne (YouTube)

Lesson we all can learn from these poems are boundless. From key reminder in Invictus for me it is to stick with what I can control.

A Million Pieces keeps giving me goose bumps, because in fact it’s a reminder that we are the makers of our life, often through apparent suffering we are going to make our life. What hurts and breaks us is in fact making us ever more unique.

And finally, No Man is an Island reminds us that everything is interconnected.

We can control our lives. We will get hurt while trying to live, however that hurt makes us stronger. If however something unfortunate happens, it’s good to remember that any loss is collective loss.

Love What You Have

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When contemplating about suffering, especially the mental kind. Most of it boils down to having different expectations than is reality at present. I guess the idea of four noble truths, is that we must begin by accepting the present conditions as they are.

Once we can accept the present, another set of thoughts that surely helps us to live forward is the Tetrapharmakos: “What is good is easy to get, what is terrible is easy to endure.”

Because change is slow and requires a lot of repetition, loving what you have works the best. By loving what you have you are likely to succeed faster. Happiness brings success, not the other way around.

Why Do We Compare Ourselves with Others?

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Good thing about suffering is that is that it’s mostly subjective experience. This morning I noticed that I am again in the present state suffering quite a lot, because of unskillful habit of comparison.

So I decided to take a moment and reflect upon this question. Quickly I decided to take Google with me and I asked the question there. So then I found Quora reply by Awdhesh Singh to this same question.

I am not surprised that I found answers online, however the particular answer put me to work some more. What I love about world and net, is that our understanding is not perfect yet. We can construct upon it, and even challenge the knowledge we have and this is exactly what I did.

I think this kind of positive constructive dialogue is way ahead. So instead of accepting wholly the original reply, I began to break it down, reflect and comment upon it.

Awdhesh begins by writing that “We have a natural desire” and contradicts this in the next sentence with “We are not born with the desire of comparison.”

In life often many things can be true at the same time. I considered here the possibility as well. However, after reading through it several times and reflecting these statements to all my previous knowledge, I would argue that the first statement is wrong. We do not have natural desire to compare, instead we have a habitual desire like he mentions in the second paragraph. Mostly my argument would be founded to I’ve learned in the Charles Duhigg’s Power of Habits and Gretchen Ruben’s books.

In third paragraph he mentions a brilliant keyword “believing.”

“However, slowly we were told that we must be better than others. This starts happening since a child goes to the school. You are constantly told to get the top rank in the class or stand among the top. If you play a game, you must play to win and be the best player. If you get a lower rank, you are shamed and even humiliated. Gradually, we start believing that in order to be happy and make others happy, we must be better than others. You must work harder to be better than others by any means.”

This was a breakthrough for me personally, because I am fascinated by habit and belief formation. As I mentioned earlier the Power of Habits book, that habits have three elements: cue, routine and reward.

When I began to reflect this question “Why do we compare ourselves with others?” in the habit context, I see that these three elements are in place:

  • Cue, for example work place results or in games the scoreboard. In life we have all kinds of scoreboards as well such as status symbols, clothes etc. All of these are triggers for the habit routine.
  • Routine, “how well others are doing vs. I am…”. Personally I noticed that the routine itself is deeply rooted in our identity and memory, what we have done, who we are now, who we are striving to be…
  • Reward: at simplest forms it is the feeling of momentarily gratification of being better. However when I started to probe deeper I noticed that for me it is linked with a belief of being worthy as well. Being good, means being loved, means attention is the currency of love. Belief that the better we are, the more we are loved.

From here we get to the belief levels: beliefs what we focus the most are the strongest. I.e. this belief that the better we the more love we deserve is not necessarily the best belief to hold. In the end, we want to be loved, we want attention. Surely at the top we get attention, however what kind of attention it is we so much desire?

Also aren’t we worthy of the kind of attention already as we are? I think we are. Our own beliefs just might contradict each other and if we end up thinking that we are worthy only when we are better than everyone else, we might not end up so well.

Be careful on which kinds of beliefs you decide to focus on. The reason why we compare ourselves to each other is a result of a belief and habit. Habits cannot be simply discarded as Awdhesh mentioned, yet like Charles Duhigg points out in Power of Habit, habits can be transformed. Awdhesh suggests some positive practices such as Count Your Blessings, Learn from Others, Respect Good Qualities which are actions in the right directions.

However, personally I do not feel like these are merely enough. I notice that the process needs to begin much earlier by being mindful of cue-routine-reward situations and the beliefs we operate on. Then we need to start working towards transforming the unwanted patterns into more healthy and helpful ones.

Takeaway from Bhagavad Gita: World is Us

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Arjuna – pic by Ilussion – Own work, CC BY 3.0

Bhagavad Gita is a book that is little known in western world. It’s called the holy book of Hinduism, however it’s actually just a part of greater epic. Bhagavad Gita or Gita just in short is rather practical guidebook to living a life.

Gita is written in the form of dialogue between an Indian Prince Arjuna and his charioteer Krishna. Krishna represents selfless servant, who gives advice to the prince who struggles with the questions of life: love and war.

The themes in the book are very practical. As example, Arjuna is in a difficult position where war seems inevitable and yet he wouldn’t want to go into a war where he would have to face his relatives and in the end he wouldn’t be happy even if he would go to war and win, so he is struggling with the fact that should he then just accept defeat and be done with the life?

Krishna teaches and clarifies Arjuna’s thinking through giving Arjuna a better understanding what really matters. As Krishan is representation of something greater, his advice has perspective about purpose of life.

Krishna helps Arjuna to see his life as part of something greater as well and therefore helps Arjuna to see purpose.  Basic message is that there is a greater self beyond what we can see. A self, that is interconnected.

World Is Us

World is us, even though we live ourselves in the illusion of separateness.

Also because we can observe ourselves, it means we are greater than merely our thoughts, emotions and our bodies. While this concept is a bit difficult for me, it could be either the greater self, or soul in more Christian way thinking. The greater self or soul is indestructible unlike the body.

Because of this indestructible part, our purpose is longer term than just this life. This life is wonderful opportunity do take this longer term perspective and start doing the good and right things for the whole interconnected system we are part of.

This concept could be described best as the middle way saying no the bad options, yet being courageous about values and virtues. From this kind of thinking, the greatness has risen, as example the non-violent movement: people remain courageous while still withholding their human rights and not succumbing to the oppression.

Because world is ourselves, it would be foolish to hurt ourselves purposefully. When we hurt another, we hurt ourselves. Therefore the suffering we cause the others is also suffering caused upon ourselves. Cycle of suffering continues and increases. This was communicated in such clarity that I decided to go vegetarian.

Re-framing the Suffering

 

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Suffering is not an attractive thought, yet it is part of our lives as much as life and death is.

Since we are here, and we are bound to suffer. Then only thing that matters is counts is what do we do with it.

Do we deny or accept the suffering? Do we perhaps view it as an opportunity to grow, and seeing it as an opportunity to learn.

What we experience as suffering is a really good motivator as we are likely to avoid that in the future. When we understand that the suffering is really an attempt o learn something, we may go far. We have re-framed the suffering as something part of life and merely a signal that something should be learned so that we do not have to simply wait here until something happens.