bringingupbuddhas

suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Category: opinions

going for the kill

I’m not sure how many times Obama and Romney said the word “kill” in last night’s debate, but if I took a sip of booze every time they said it, I’d be stumble-drunk.

I’m a mom in the suburbs.  I don’t know a lot about foreign policy.  But I do know that the Middle East has been warring for thousands of years.  And I truly believe that neither of the men vying for the job of President have a chance at negotiating, sanctioning, convincing or forcing peace upon this region.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these are actions that need to be taken, but they are certainly not longterm solutions.

Don’t these men know that peace will not be found at the end of a machine gun?  Peace is cultivated in the heart.  Peace begins with the child.  When a mother is safe and happy and peaceful, so will be her child.  This is the only way.  It won’t happen in 4 years.  Or 8.  It will take a generation or more.  And it will take education.

In Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson introduced us to his life’s mission of building schools for girls in Afghanistan, opening our minds to the notion that Afghanistan, or any persecuted population for that matter, will not be transformed or pacified by American politicians.  The hope for Afghanistan begins as a seed of peace planted by the educated mother that, when tended, will grow.

“Worldwide movement first starts from individual,” taught the Dalai Lama last Sunday at his presentation for MIT, which I had the pleasure of attending.  “First you, then your neighbor, then ten families, then 100 families.”  Through education, through love, through service our world can elevate one family at a time.

His Holiness told us that there is nothing more important than the affection of the mother to support human survival and growth.  He said this is not only a spiritual philosophy, this is a “biological factor”.

When American Presidents realize that the best defense against war is a mother’s love, the world will breathe a sigh of relief.  There is no tank, no drone, no diplomat that can create or maintain peace more effectively.

Jimmy Carter’s biggest wish during his presidency was to negotiate peace in the Middle East.  Obviously those efforts failed; his legacy was wrapped with faded images of a frustrated American President, shoulders slumped, pacing through the gardens at Camp David.  Fortunately he learned something after his presidency that has done more to create a better planet than he ever could do while he ran the free world.

He learned that peace starts at home.  In a home, to be exact.  In 1984 he and his wife Rosalynn teamed up with Habitat for Humanity, an organization that has built over half a million homes for about 2.5 million people around the globe.  2.5 million seeds of peace.

Throughout the debate last night, I heard very little about the millions of NGO workers who have committed their lives to the betterment of mankind.  I heard very little of substance about plans to educate persecuted populations, specifically women, around the world.  I heard nothing about the importance of nurturing the world’s babies with love and truth.  These solutions seemed more like asides.  And it made me sad.  Because above all, the child is the hope of the earth.

please don’t click the “like” button unless…

you are actually going to READ this post.

Each of us bloggers writes with passion, hoping that folks will find our stories and identify with our experiences.  The feeling of connectedness and acceptance that results is awesome.  That “like” button is one of the zillions of reasons why we love the internet.

I use the “like” button when I see a picture that intrigues me (like on this guy’s blog) or when I read something that touches me (like on this lady’s blog).  I hope that everyone who “likes” my blog is ACTUALLY READING my material.  After all, I’m not posting stories for a virtual ego-boost.  I’m posting because I care about this planet and the people on it.  And I have a gift of compassion and transparency that I am happy to share through writing.

So this is my plea to bloggers who are “liking” pages just to drive more readers to your own page:  This is not a one-way street.  Please READ what you “like”.  Better yet, prove you were there by LEAVING A THOUGHTFUL COMMENT.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

don’t. yes. wait, stop. okay, go.

I’m going to apologize for this post before we even get started.  So.  Sorry.  But I chortled and snarked all the way through.  Maybe a bit of an Andy-Rooney-meets-George-Carlin moment for me.

I was in my bathroom getting ready this morning, examining the silver hairs streaking through my locks and thinking about expectations.  A lot of my friends (and one extremely close family member in particular whom I worship and adore) would look at me in this slowly-advancing state of salt-and-pepper and use the word, “hag.”  Besides the silvers (they’re not grey, they’re silver), my hair is probably a little too long. A little too frizzy.  Oh, I could take the time to blow dry, grease it with Moroccan Oil, dye it back to its original monotone chestnut color, but I’m not sure I care.  Anna Wintour says that any woman of a certain age should cut her hair above her shoulders.  Hmmmm…  yah, no.

thanks, DD, for a nice, demonstrative pic of my hag hair 😉

There are lots of rules like Ms. Wintour’s here in America – social norms we call them, if I’m remembering the term from 11th grade Sociology correctly.  Don’t wear white between Labor Day and Memorial Day.  Don’t eat on public transit.  Greet people with one kiss on the right cheek (unless you are a New Yorker who pretends to be a European, then you deliver one kiss on each cheek while scanning for other more important friends in the room).  Do not invade a stranger’s 18 inch bubble.  Get married before you make babies.  Hold your tongue in an elevator.  Tip anyone in the service industry.  Etc, etc, etc.

And then there’s the cursing.  Oh, the cursing.

I know there are social rules about cursing, but I still go back and forth on how I feel about it.  Those who read my blog faithfully are familiar with my ease at dropping eff bombs.  Writing for me is a passionate release, a focused meditation – and often times my fingers fly over the keyboard so quickly that I barely know what I’m writing until I’m done.  If a few unclassified words end up in the mix, who am I to edit them?

Plus.  In real life, I quite enjoy the eff word.  I use it occasionally.  Maybe too occasionally.  But I don’t place any verbal value on it, except as a non-verbal verbal that lets people know that I am flawed.  (Though most wouldn’t need four letter word to see that.)

And then there’s always pressure to stifle the cursing in front of the kids.  Tell me.  When it comes to parenting, what is right?  Apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids?  Don’t apologize for letting “shit” escape in front of the kids.  (Maybe they didn’t notice???)  Is hell a cuss or a place?  Is ass a donkey or a bum?  Is fart okay?  What about penis and vagina?  I think they’re good.  But not in school.  Boobs?  Butt?  Shut up?  How ’bout the modern alternative – Shut it?  Is it okay that my 7 year old knows all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It”?  Is it okay that my 5 year old sings “Red Solo Cup” and that I think it’s kind of funny when she says, “And you, sir, do not have a pair of testicles if you prefer drinking from glasses.”  (I mean, she’s almost 6, really, but that’s still pretty bad, right?)

I actually spend time pondering the spiritual repercussions of cursing.  Oh, yes, I do.  I mean, it’s about 49th on my list of priorities, squeaking in just after emptying my mom’s dog’s anal sacks, but the spiritual questions are there.

Is cursing an unmindful form of communication?  Is cursing offensive?  Yes, I suppose it is.  But why?  I guess I know why, but is it because God cares?  When I splatter searing hot bacon grease on my bare arm and shout, “JESUS!” does Jesus give a shit, ahem, I mean give a damn, ahem, I mean give a rat’s ass… oh whatever.  You know what I mean.  But really.  Does he?  And does he / He / HE care if I capitalize or not?  Honestly, I’m thinking no.  And if, by some small chance, I’m right and God doesn’t care, why do some people care so much?

(Whew!  Tangent.)

But, like I said, it’s not just cursing, it’s everything.  There are hundreds of social norms that differ greatly from culture to culture.  Wave with the back of your hand in Greece, cover your shoulders in Morocco, don’t be American in England, take off your shoes upon entering a house in Japan, wear thongs on the beach and bikinis to the grocery store in Brazil, wash your poopy bum with a communal bar of soap but only with your left hand in India, don’t write in red ink in China, stare at people past the point of awkwardness then let your dirty white lap dog eat off your plate in France.  What is acceptable changes so vastly from country to country, it just makes me laugh.  Because it’s all so funny, isn’t it?  All these rules about living.

The rules are all so particular.  And peculiar.  Are these socially acceptable (and unacceptable) behaviors cast offs from religious orders?

Don’t eat meat.
Don’t eat meat with milk.
Don’t eat meat with milk on Fridays before sunset on the fourth night of a Harvest Moon.
Sit cross-legged with your hands open on your lap.
Sit with your middle fingers touching your thumbs.  No, your index fingers.
Don’t sit.  Lay down.  Or stand up walk.  Just shut up and be quiet.
Wear an orange robe and only an orange robe.
Shave your head.  Let one piece grow.  Let two curls grow.  Let one long hair on your face grow.
Don’t cut your hair.  Don’t cut your beard.  Now hide it all in a turban.
Hide your hair, hide your shoulders, hide your ankles.  You know what?  Just hide your whole face.
Kneel down, stand up, cross yourself, repeat after me, say it again, say it again, one more time, say it again.
Eat this dry cracker.
Now return to your pew and continue with your dozing off.

Who made these rules anyway?  (Men.)  But seriously, who?  (Old men.)  Really, though.  We judge others so harshly when they don’t abide by the rules.  Meanwhile, the most important rules are often ignored – BE KIND, BE PATIENT, BE HONEST, BE HERE NOW.

Well.  Now that I have thought and pondered and assessed and analyzed the things we humans do and why we do the things we do, I have to go explain to my kids why they can’t say “fart” in the classroom.

From mine to yours,
Vanessa
*Reposted from my June 8, 2012 entry on Everything Old is New Age Again

“and now instead of him watching TV we all sit around and watch him”

the blog title and pic above are of shel silverstein’s famous  jimmy jet.  the following quote by robert thurman is in ed and deb shapiro’s book BE THE CHANGE, how meditation can transform you and the world.

“Meditation is a neutral and very powerful tool.  The choice is what are we going to meditate on?  Most people let themselves be guided by a culture that this trying to make them buy things or make them afraid through the news.  When we watch television and we see a commercial, it is like a guided meditation on dissatisfaction.  We have to guide our meditation in a positive direction.  We do this when we meditate on freedom, on penetrating to the deep nature of reality.  In other words, if we meditate on being egotistical, we will become more egotistical, but if we meditate on being selfless, we will become more caring and altruistic.  When we experience ourselves as totally integrated with everyone, we are naturally going to be compassionate and kind to them.”

i never really thought of tube time as meditation, but after reading these words i can see how this is so true.  so often, we sit in front of the television and vegetate.  vegetating is meditating, right?  so whatever is streaming into our consciousness is going to marinate for as long as we sit on the couch with the tube on.  and then it becomes a part of us.  this could be scary.  powerful.  advertisers are changing who we are on a cellular level through commercials.  seriously.  this is true.  and this is CRAZY.  it’s like brainwashing.  no wonder why every kid i see has a friggin pillow pet.  that commercial must run a hundred times a day.  they almost have no choice but to put the thing on their christmas lists.

i just had a conversation with my daughter’s montessori teacher yesterday about how different children are these days – how much bolder they are with adults.  how quick they are to inflict an abrasive comment on their teachers.  there is little doubt, for me, that the kids learn this snarky behavior from TV.  the way children act on “family” sitcoms is atrocious.  the characters are rude to their parents, they are rude to their neighbors, they are rude to other children’s parents.  (i’m thinking of shows specifically on disney and nick – “icarly” and “good luck charlie” such.)  whether we choose to believe it or not, the fact is, our children are modeling their own behavior after these characters.  they think that these actors are cool.  and they think that the behavior of these characters is…  wait for it…  NORMAL.  yes, that’s right.  scary.

and then, of course, is the programming that is pouring into that wide open channel in our adult brains while meditating in front of the TV.  through most news media and dramatic programming we are being programmed to fear.  notice how the tense of the verb changes.  we are no longer actively making a decision about how our brains are functioning; the television producers are making decisions for us.  we ARE BEING programmed.  not to get all big brother on you, but, well, it’s sort of like big brother.  right?

early last year, i banned all real housewives and most news programming from my house.  this was a big decision for me.  i reaaaallllllyyyyy loved my housewives.  BUT.  while watching the new york housewives reunion on bravo, my husband walked into the room and sat down on the couch.  the women on TV were verbally slaying  each other and hubby goes, “oh, v, my jaw is getting tight just listening to this.”  and then i scanned my own body.  my chest was tight and i had a big lump in my throat.  i turned it off and walked away for good.  and then i noticed the physical reactions i had while watching other programming, specifically local news.  i’d get tight and squeeze-y.  i encourage readers to do a physical scan while you watch TV.  it’s madness.  so now i limit my TV intake to programming that lifts me up or educates me.

my kids love TV.  i usually let them watch PBS, animal planet (they love “river monsters”) and some nick jr.  but as of today i’m pulling in the reins.  (oh, god, please give me the strength to do this.)  if they are going to do something as powerful as meditate on an idea for 30 minutes, it’s sure as shit not going to be what some money-focused CEO at disney wants for my kids.

meditation is a powerful tool.  maybe THE MOST powerful tool.  make a mindful decision about how you use it.  start by turning the channel.

from mine to yours,

vanessa

(this entry is reposted with edits from my blog “everything old is new age again“, may 18, 2012.)

bu-review: samsara directed by ron fricke

This is not a movie.  It’s a meditation.  Samsara is a breathtaking arrangement of moving pictures depicting spiritual life and landscape around the globe.  Without words or plot, this stirring film manages to tell a captivating story, to evoke high drama and powerful emotion.

There was one part that was really weird:  an American-looking man in a business suit does some crazy shizzle with clay.  It didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the presentation, but at least it conjured a laugh from the audience.  Besides that, I really loved it.

There were two ideas in particular that settled neatly into my mind as I exited the theatre.  The first was a clear image of samsara, or the unending cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth.  Not only the human cycle, but the cycle that we create through our own acts.  We manufacture, we use, we throw away. We manufacture, we use, we throw away.  Not only every day things (appliance, electronics, automobiles), but also our houses of worship (ancient ruins, temples and homes).  The second idea that I received fully was that we are all the same.  The film communicated this very simply.  Fricke set up pictures of people from all different races and cultures staring at the audience from the other side of the camera.  Staring into the eyes of another, without inhibition or fear, I could sense connectedness, oneness.

On a personal side note, I snuck out on a Thursday night to catch a showing of Samsara in Cambridge.  I arrived early, nestled into my seat, all alone, took a deep breath and relaxed.  I quickly became engrossed in the film’s imagery, floating around the scenes like hovercraft.  I was abruptly jerked back to Earth when my husband surprised me with his presence, climbing over legs to reach the seat next to mine.  For the next 40 minutes, he shoveled swollen handfuls of popcorn into his mouth and breathed heavily through his nose, occasionally leaning over to offer me a bite or identifying a photo, “That’s in Utah.”   Thanks for being so thoughtful, honey.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

suffering: oh, how we love a good train wreck

Last week I shared a traumatic experience with readers.  I was rewarded, in a weird way, with well over 300 hits on that post over 2 days.  Now, I’ve gotta say…  I have logged 200 plus posts in my 2 years of blogging: uplifting, funny, emotional, quirky, informational posts that I write with loving intent.  Never once have I received that many hits on a post in such a short amount of time.

What this tells me, is that people love a good train wreck.

We’re all just a bunch of rubberneckers.  None of us can resist the temptation of watching someone suffer.  We love to watch each other burn, don’t we?  Public hangings, courtroom dramas, war footage, animal attacks, car accidents, couples arguing on the sidewalk, school kids fighting after class, anything on Jerry Springer…  We gather around with curiosity to watch as others suffer.  Sick and twisty, right?  But we’ve all done it.

And this is nothing new.  When I read books or watch movies about King Henry’s England (one of my fave topics) I’m always amazed to see mothers and fathers bringing their kids to watch public executions.  There is one scene in the movie Elizabeth I, in which QEI is tricked into thinking her beloved Jewish doctor, Dr. Lopez, is poisoning her.  She feels she has no choice but to have him executed.  We are flashed forward to a grizzly torture scene where Dr. Lopez watches as his very own intestines are cut out of his body and burned.  Did I mention he is still alive watching this???  Oh, and there are families standing around cheering?  Horrid.  But we watch anyway.

We are voyeurs.

We are curious.

We are glad it’s not us.

We might even feel happy it’s them.

Suffering doesn’t always mean blood and guts.  Suffering can be much more benign.  And I’d bet that we can all relate to certain joys and reliefs found in observing others’ pain.  Watching that woman who always wins first place as she falls down during a race.  (Good, she won’t win this time.)  Finding out your son didn’t make the varsity soccer team, but your neighbor’s son didn’t make it either.  (Phew, he’s not the only one who was cut.)  Learning your co-worker has to cancel his vacation to Barbados b/c a storm damaged his hotel.  (Ha!  Now he’s stuck here like the rest of us.)

There’s nothing to feel bad about.  These are things we think b/c we are wired to think this way.  But.  (There’s always a But.)  We don’t have to think this way.  These thoughts are not creating a better world.  These thoughts are holding us back from standing in the spotlight that is meant to shine on us.  Instead of focusing attention on our own identities, our own stories, our own intentions, we are busy applauding someone else’s failures or feeling jealous of other people’s successful journeys.

Each of us has a path designed specifically for ourselves.  Once we set our intentions straight and start working towards our goals, there won’t be any time to watch others burn.  In fact, when we do come across others’ moments of suffering, we will discover a heightened sense of compassion.  Successful people help others succeed.  Michelle Obama said this beautifully at the DNC last month:

When we succeed in our own stories, we will no longer have the desire to poo poo other people’s efforts to live their best lives.  We can succeed by living mindfully, compassionately, purposefully…  and with intention.

One important addition to today’s story:  I know that spike wasn’t all about rubbernecking.  The high traffic last week tells me something else, something that especially warms my heart.  There are a lot of mommies, friends and readers who appreciated the peek inside a really horrible day in my house.  Through my embarrassing admission, others could see their own households reflected.  And through this reflection might spark the desire to actively heal.  I know that’s what it did for me.  And for that, I’m totally in love with you.  🙂  Well, then again, I was pretty much in love with you already anyway.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

BUB’s new theory: the real reason our kids are totally freaking out

i’m overwhelmed by the show of support.  as it turns out, i am not alone…  which is relieving, but also scary.  because that means all of us are living with kids who are on the brink. i spent a good hour talking to friends yesterday about what happened and three hours returning texts and emails and facebook messages to many truly amazing and loving people who reached out to me to share their own experiences. friends offered ideas and self-help strategies and stories or just a voice of support.  some of the advice was dead on.

my friend KF, who understands how my household runs and knows me all too well as a mother, told me i need to institute formal discipline and stick to it.  she helped me work out a plan and suggested how i could approach PG with it.  i did that last night and it went over very well.  oh, and she also reminded me to make sure she’s got a fully belly.

my little mamma VR looked at me after the kids left for school and said, “don’t let them see you cry.  be strong in front of your kids.  you can cry when they’re gone.”  check.  words to live by.  must work on this.

and then i spent a lot of time cleaning out my basement.  i scrubbed and purged and analyzed and came up with this:

our kids are acting like freaks because they are freaked out.  they are growing up in complex, confusing, chaotic times.  and it’s scary.

in kindergarten, one of our children’s first lessons is on the rainforest, which is quickly disappearing.  our children are obsessed with animals and sea life, which are are nearing extinction.  we send them to the safety and comfort of school each day, where there are mandatory drills to protect our kids from not only adults but other children who want to shoot them with a gun.  our children need to eat healthy food to grow strong, but vegetables are filled with pesticides and meat is filled with hormones.  the list goes on…  there are parents who can’t find jobs, there are children dehydrating to death in africa, there are terrorists who fly planes into skyscrapers.

as adults, we process this through prayer or action or mature discussion or nightmares or complete disconnection.  whatever it takes to get through the day.  but kids just absorb it.  they don’t have the emotional or intellectual tools to handle this kind of information.  so they carry it around with them.  it’s not just a one-time frantic freak out.  it’s woven into their list of daily thoughts and fears.  they bring it up at bedtime, over dinner or on a long car ride.  when their minds are quiet and focused, these questions crop up.  they are scared, they are confused, they are stressed.  it’s messing with their basic, primal need for safety.  we’re talking root chakra.  foundation.

when the foundation is not solid, the rest of the body is unstable.  and it creates a child who is off balance, a child who turns into a maniac when just one more challenge is thrown at them.  to add to the instability is the complexity that WE create in the lives of our children. we’re way past self-help books, mommies.  we can unearth tools in books and lectures that can help us harness our strong willed children, but these collective tools are only a bandaid on a bloody gusher.  the real problem isn’t them.  it’s us.

it’s modern american culture.  it’s this big, fast, flashy, plastic american childhood we offer our kids.  i’m guilty of this.  so i am not pulling a self-righteous tirade.  but i truly believe that the solutions to our child-rearing problems are not to be found through books, behaviorists or bandaids.  the solution is found in mindfulness and simplicity.

i think that children who are less stimulated will have fewer behavioral issues.  the homework, the competition, the tutoring, the television, the team sports, the social calendar, the scheduled activities, the playdates, the closet full of clothes, the parties, the toys… each on its own is manageable.  but glopped all together, it’s downright overwhelming.  we can barely handle being responsible for all these things.  and we expect our kids to be?  and what is the purpose for all this activity?  seriously, let me inquire again.  what is the purpose for all this activity?

so now what?  what do we do?  how do we pull in the reigns?  b/c growing up at the speed of life is just too much for our kids to bear.

first, we need to provide our children with a solid foundation in the intangibles.  if there is no time for discussion about spirituality in the day, what the hell we all here for?  to learn to color in the lines?  to be the best athlete on the playing field?  to get into a good school so we can make lots of money and buy shiny things?  well, those things are part of development, part of the human experience, but are they all?  i’d argue no.

i’d say that we are here to learn about love by way of these experiences.  and if our sole purpose here on earth to learn about love, shouldn’t we talk about love more?

when i say love, i don’t mean, “i love my dog,” or, “i love the smell of grass after a rainstorm.”  i mean LOVE.  the love that connects, the love that is infinite, the love that empowers and restores and awakens.  for me, love and god are interchangeable.  and there is nothing that i love to talk about more.

but i admit, for as much as i write about love and talk about love with friends, there is only a casual, sporadic mention of love throughout the week with my children.  we are very busy DOING, leaving very little time for devotion.  so let’s start talking with our kids about god, buddha, love, spirit, allah.  whatever you like to call this magnificent life force.  start with a simple question like this:  where is god?  and just see where the conversation leads.  everyday, try to ask another question about spirit.  if you need prompting, ask me.  i’m happy to provide ideas.

second, with the earthly shitstorm brewing outside our homes, we need to create a sense of hope for our children, mixed in with a dose of acceptance.  because as it stands right now, everything they love is in big fat trouble.  we need to tell them that this planet will survive, that mother earth is STRONG.  we need to present to them examples of this earth regenerating and evolving.

we also need to make sure our children understand that we each have an enormous responsibility to take care of this planet, because this is our home.  and every corner of the planet is connected, just the way each of us human beings is connected.  we need to encourage our children to actively participate in the improvement of our surroundings and show that they can not only carry hope, but also use their own personal power to create a better world.  it doesn’t take a lot to do this.  we can start by doing something as simple as picking up litter while we take a walk.  or giving them a little lesson at the grocery store about buying local and why it’s important.

and then you can instill bigger lessons.  when i visit the city, i try to remember to pack a bag of oranges and bananas.  my kids and i offer a handful of sunshine (oranges) or smiles (bananas) to homeless people that we pass.   i do this because my heart aches for those folks who are suffering.  i imagine how that juicy burst of flavor will feel in their dry mouths.  and i feel like i’m spreading joy.

i want my kids to understand this and learn small ways to help people.  i never know if these lessons stick, but a few weeks ago, PG said to me out of the blue, “remember that time we stopped and talked to the old homeless guy on the street and he didn’t have any shoes on?”  i didn’t remember so she went on.  “well, you asked what he needed and he said, ‘shoes,’ so you gave him 20 dollars and a banana.”  i asked her why she was remembering that story and she said, “because i liked it.”  i told her that it’s important that we help that man who needs shoes, but we can’t take away his suffering, because he is here on earth learning a very important lesson.  and when someday he is an angel he will remember us and thank us for helping him that day.  in retrospect, i should have continued the conversation by asking her some more questions.  but i’ll be sure to do that next time.  i hope that through these lessons i provide my children with tiny shifts that will carry them through adulthood and encourage them to use their superpowers for good, and provide them with a stronger sense of hope and acceptance.

i truly am confident that reminding my children of their own divinity and providing them with a lighter load of activity will help quell these frantic, chaotic, home-wrecking freak-out sessions.  when the world gets too much to bear, take a breath and return to source.

love you guys.

from mine to yours,

vanessa

noble eightfold path: act now and first 25 readers will receive FREE thoughts on suffering!

Mr. Modern Invention, that tricky bastard, makes us believe that suffering is an easy fix.  Countless gadgets have been delivered to us so that we will never be hungry, never be bored, never be lonely, lost, dirty or without a pre-recorded fart sound (yes, there’s an app for that).  We employ all of these material and virtual inventions, wondering how we ever survived without them; and still, we suffer.

Why is that?  I mean, with all of these gadgets, shouldn’t life be perfect?  Or at least be close to it?  Life should at least be sort of easy, right?

But it’s not.

It’s not.

Life is not easy.

And no matter what the next latest-greatest promises, life will not become easier once we invest in it.  The end of suffering is not available in stores.  The end of suffering is available only deep inside ourselves.  And once we think we find the end to suffering, we must continue to practice through dedication and self discovery.  We don’t stop practicing once we find a shiny happy moment of peace.  The moment will pass and another opportunity for growth through suffering will present itself.  Because life changes at such a pace that the ways we suffer change constantly, too.

Buddhism offers a practical Eightfold Path to the end of suffering.  It doesn’t contaminate the earth, stress you out, make you fat or cause break-outs of any kind.  Oh, and it’s free.  Yah, baby.  Remember those Four Noble Truths we learned about?  Well, this is that path eluded to in the fourth truth, which is broken down into three parts:  Wisdom, Ethical Conduct and Mental Development.  Here are the eight pieces…

  1. Right View, understanding that in 300 years we’ll be dust so keep things in perspective
  2. Right Intention, controlling the way we think about ourselves and others through mindfulness
  3. Right Speech, thinking before we speak and refraining from gossip or harsh language (ouch), being truthful, kind and helpful with the words we choose
  4. Right Action, doing the right thing and living wholesomely
  5. Right Livelihood, earning an ethical living that doesn’t conflict with our values or harm the planet
  6. Right Effort, consciously directing our lives toward transformation by finding a balance between life’s activities and a disciplined meditative practice
  7. Right Mindfulness, living in the here and now through experiencing physical sensations, emotions, thoughts and attitudes
  8. Right Concentration, being absorbed by one thought, also called one-pointedness; it’s a doozy

The Buddhas dying words are these:  “Look not for refuge to anyone beside yourself.”

The machines, the services, the computers, the gurus…  they are convenient or they are distracting.  But they are not the end to suffering.  You are.  It just takes practice.

From mine to yours,

Vanessa

p.s.  Don’t forget to share with your Bu-curious friends!  Read more by Vanessa at Everything Old is New Age Again.