I first stumbled onto the Buddhist concepts a few years back when going through a particularly difficult time in my life. I was faced with some new life changes and the challenges I now had to push through were like nothing I had encountered before. My network of friends had shifted, I had gone through a breakup, I lost my job and my father’s health was worrisome. All the pieces of my life seemed to be in the air, leaving me feeling lonely with little stability or support.
So I had no choice but to start a solo journey of self-discovery as many others may have done in times of change. Early on in this personal journey I realized that what I wanted most was to grow, I wanted to change, I wanted to learn to be kinder to myself and to the people I loved. I wanted to be more compassionate and understanding. I wanted to defeat my fears and become the kind of person who can handle life in times of trouble.
Then I discovered Buddhism, first learning of the The Four Noble Truths, which helped me link suffering and acceptance. From there I began to research more concepts, I read books by “Thich Nhat Hanh” and “The Dalai Lama”. The more I learned the more my perspectives began to change, the concepts reached out and touched a part of my consciousness that I had always wished to tap into.
As an extension to Buddhism is His Holiness the Dalai Lama. A man who has the ability to use a phrase to change a perspective, shaping concepts and affecting many. A man who in my humble opinion embodies compassion, empathy and love. Treating every being from impoverished to royalty in the same loving way. This man is someone who does not wish to be admired but is greatly, and someone who has taught and continues to teach me much about the world, and myself.
My wish is to be kinder, more positive, loving, compassionate and empathetic. To reduce the natural progression to judgement and negativity. The Dalai Lama always has the right words to help me achieve my goal and gain new perspectives. I’d like to share three of those phrases here, as a reminder to myself and others of the deep and powerful meaning of words.
I find this quote very useful in teaching me to stop, listen and learn. When I really thought about it, I quickly realized that I am often guilty of not listening at all. My mind is often elsewhere, thinking of how I feel about what is being said or even trying to formulate a response when the other pauses to reflect.
Mindfulness in listening is a tool to help me on my path to understanding. I mean how can you truly understand someone if you don’t begin to really listen to them? With mindful listening, you open your mind to new perspectives. To maintain proper friendships and relationships in life this is a key piece to grasp. Talking is a great tool to release emotions and feelings however in listening to we learn. “talk and release, listen and learn.”
There came a time in my life when I began to realize that some friends of mine were following a road filled with ignorance and greed. I don’t mean that they became bad people, what I mean is they became motivated more and more by what they had, how much money they made and who they knew. I watched them become unhappy with their lives and began to wonder… How can you not see why you are unhappy?
These words by the Dalai Lama helped me to be mindful of my motives. Following my heart has been a new essential tool I use to access the bravery within, even if it is not the norm followed by my peers at times. I want to remain on the right path in my life, and I feel that being mindful of my motives have been crucial in my discovery of what that means for me.
I am unsure how to begin explaining the importance that this concept has had on my life in the past year or so. The message held here is a powerful one and one that I may have worked hardest to accept into my life. The message is of compassion and acceptance.
I generally consider myself someone who despite my best efforts, may all too eagerly jump to a negative conclusion. And I can experience much difficulty when a friend, co-worker or family member acts in an unfavorable way. I often can take things personally and internalize those feelings, keeping them hidden inside. I guess I am sensitive like that. The advice I often hear is “don’t let that get to you”, or “don’t take it so personally.”
Through Buddhism, I have been better able to rationalize the actions of others. I can determine actions and the root causes that may cause those unfavorable actions in others. If I look hard enough I will come to understand that it has nothing to do with me at all but perhaps fear, stress, greed or sadness that causes people to behave in unfortunate ways. Whatever the reason may be I am beginning to teach myself to control my feelings, making sure that they are not so easily affected by the actions and behaviors of others.
We are often plagued with negativity towards ourselves and others, it is a hard reality to face but it is very true. My goal is to help myself be more compassionate and the first step on that journey is to work towards understanding. The teachings of spiritual leaders such as The Dalai Lama are a great place to begin and has taught me much so far about myself and the actions of others.
What is something that has changed your perspective? Is there anything you would like to improve about yourself?