What are you searching for?

I would wager that everyone is searching for some sort of meaning in their life. There are probably as many ways of doing this as their are people in the world. Many are probably not even aware but everyone is motivated to do things that they think will make them happy. Even bad things. Because doing things that are unskilful (I prefer that to bad) can sometimes distract us from being with feelings, thoughts or emotions that may be painful or uncomfortable. Drinking or taking drugs is a prime example of this.

You see when I look at my life it has been pretty hard (by Western standards anyway). I was in an abusive marriage for 15 years and the abuse continued afterwards too, I am still single at the age of 53 having had my hopes dashed many a time, my eldest son is a homeless heroin addict and I have no idea where he is right now, I used to have a business and lost a lot of money in the crash of 2008 and had to sell my house to pay off some debts so I have no financial security (if anyone ever does), my ex husband died in 2014 so I am now my sons’ only parent, among other things. I am now consciously creating my life. I live in a beautiful area, I have enough money (for now) and some savings so I am richer than many in the world. But it’s not about material wealth for me, it’s about the riches within.

I would probably not have chosen this path if I had know differently when I was younger but all the hardships and good times have led me to where I am now. When my marriage became intolerable in 2001 I was so scared the only thing I could think of to do was to pray. I don’t believe in God in the Christian authoritarian sense but by praying – I didn’t really know who I was praying too – I found the strength within me to get out. It wasn’t easy by any means and I had 3 young children to think about too. What it did give me though, was faith, faith in something higher.

I have been studying Buddhism since 2007 and what I have learned from the Buddha’s teachings has helped me through many a difficult time since. I have learned not to take things so personally. Everyone is on their own journey and doing the best they can with the tools they have at their disposal. I was brought up in a Christian environment and now it all makes sense. I can see the meaning and symbolism instead of taking it all literally. I no longer want to be bound by the label of a ‘religion.’ Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist and Jesus wasn’t a Christian but we can learn from the examples they set. What I do like about Buddhism is that it recognises that everyone has the potential to become a Buddha.

We are all divine, spiritual beings. Human beings. The more we can let go and allow ourselves to be the more our divine nature shows through. We don’t need ‘fixing’, we don’t even need to search for anything. I now choose to radiate love, starting with love for myself. Love is the highest vibration. It is not weak, it takes strength to love. That’s why it’s hard sometimes, especially when we have been upset by someone else’s actions.See my previous post on forgiveness.

It is a paradox that when we reach enlightenment, we will realise that we were enlightened all along. I sometimes get glimpses of it in my meditation, that sense of pure love and light and peace with the world. That’s when I am reminded I can stop searching, I already have it within me. Of course I forget but one thing I always remember is to have faith.

Love to you all you amazing beings. Choose love, always.

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Doing nothing

How easy is it to do nothing? Yesterday I did nothing – hang on a minute, I made myself something to eat, a few cups of tea, I answered the door to the postman, I went to the toilet a few times, read a few articles on the internet…..

Let me rephrase that – I did nothing ‘productive’, not even any housework. Or did I? One thing most of the major religions have in common is the observance of a ‘Sabbath.’ A day of rest. In our 24-7 world it gets harder and harder to switch off. We have 24 hour TV, the internet, shops are open 7 days a week, some of them 24 hours too.

I had not set out with that intention yesterday morning but as the day went on I did not feel like doing anything. I wanted to clear my mind. The good thing is I did not feel guilty about it either. It has taken a long time for me to get to that stage though! I had a busy week and I wanted to recharge my batteries so to speak.

This morning when I woke up I was raring to go and feeling full of gratitude. I finished my tax return, arranged a minibus drivers test, went to buy food for the week, did all the washing amongst other things. I am sure that if I had forced myself to do any of those things yesterday I would have taken longer and probably felt resentful.

Take time out, do nothing, you will be all the more productive for it.

‘What a friend we have in Jesus’

or the dangers of a closed mind…

It’s ok I haven’t become a born again Christian and I’m not going to run off and become a nun, rather that inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of places. I’ve been singing in church choirs (apart from a gap in my 20s) since I was about 12 not because I am a Christian but because I like the music. I’m not that keen on ‘happy clappy’ and this morning my heart sank slightly at the thought of singing the aforementioned hymn. A bit of research tells me it was written by Joseph Scriven to comfort his mother who was across the sea from him in Ireland. I grant that the words can be seen as rather trite but sometimes we hear what we need when we need it and it’s the meaning we can take from it. Last week at my coaching course we were reminding ourselves that, even if we think a session hasn’t gone well, if the coachee has received meaning and insight that’s all that matters.

I was feeling a little fragile due to recent events around some unskilful comments from a neighbour that had far reaching consequences. I’m sure her intentions were not malicious but it brought home to me the ripple effects of the things we can say without thinking. I’d been going over things in my mind and the old me might have gone round there and said something like ‘Do you realise what has happened as a result of what you said?’ Now I can appreciate that mostly I choose to surround myself with others who are committed to living a more skilful life and taking responsibility for their actions so when I do come across people who are less aware their actions can be a bit of a shock. A friend of mine said yesterday: ‘… they prefer to use their own narrow experience to make flawed assessments about you, based on their own personal standards and subsequent narrow expectation. The speediest antidotes to such shallow behaviour are a Teflon coat, patience and surprisingly, a sense of humour. Laughter is the most rapid builder of bridges, after love. However, sometimes blatant prejudices are not very funny. That’s where the T coat comes in handy.’ Not always easy though it is important to have compassion.

Sangharakshita the founder of the Western Buddhist Order (now the Triratna) thinks taking wisdom from more than one religion can dilute the path. I disagree, we take meaning and wisdom where we find it. Back to the hymn. It reminded me that there is something bigger than us; that the universe is a benign place – it’s only humans that make it otherwise – and the importance of having faith. Here endeth the lesson 😉