It is complicated to maintain peace within while being overly active outside. The more I am active outside, the more I need to take time out to restore the balance within. If activism is peaceful and within fields of humanitarian help, charity or education, it is easier to remain calm. Some time ago I already wrote a blog post on that. More agitating is working actively against injustice and stepping into conflict situations in order to lessen someones suffering.
Expanding city and expanding greed
Lately I have become a passionate advocate for a green island that is a place for allotment gardens with over a century old history. As the greed, expansion and economy of the city grows, it is planned to introduce traffic, roads, bridges and skyscrapers there. It is the fate of many allotment gardens not only in this country, also elsewhere. I could regain my calm if only I let the whole idea that something like gardens need to exist in the center of the city, but I feel like we need some fresh air and peace that they provide.
When in doubt – remember the preliminaries: the four reminders. They will open your heart and awaken the urge to live to your fullest potential right now. Might sound counter-intuitive but this will make you more happy.
You are lucky to be born human, you do not
have much time, all you do has an effect, indulging in ego won’t make you
I never thought that an intercontinental marriage would teach me so much about power, empathy and boundaries that we invent. But here we are. Five years down the road – learning a lesson that love, inclusion and empathy is a choice. We have different cultural backgrounds and we are from societies that are governed by powerful structures. This situation opened my eyes and showed how small each of us is. I have seen the strength of traditions, history and bureaucracy. Despite that, this union helped me to see that we are interconnected through the web of love. And we can choose to be bigger within us and reach as many human beings as wide open our hearts become.
Some days it happens to me that I naively navigate into waters too deep. Or I open the wrong can, the can of worms. Or even worse – take that bite, just little too big. In all those cases nobody really dies, so did I. One morning while cross-legged on the cushion the thought of integrity came to my mind. Yeah, right! Where do thoughts like that come from at all?! I let it go as I do with any other thought. After that, a quick body scan and couple rounds of deep and satisfying breath. As I was done, I sat there and let the thought of integrity return. The meaning of the word was not clear to me at all. The more I thought about it, the further I drifted..
To sit or not to sit is not a question. I
wake up unnecessary early and sit still. Technically it is morning, but it
would be pitch black if the city lights went off. No bird chirping, only a
street sweeper chipping ice from sidewalks. Light snoring sounds from bedroom.
The dark and early mornings remind me of my
first silent retreat in a Thailand monastery. On the first morning the large
bell rang, I woke up and fell asleep again. 4:00 in the morning definitely is
unnecessary early especially if all you do is meditate all day long. A few
minutes later I jumped up again and started to talk in a panic attack to my
neighbour next door because I thought they are going to lock the gates before I
get out of the dorm. Short after that I remembered that this is a silent
retreat. Embarrassed I dressed up and hurried to my cushion.
Once one a forum thread there was a person asking a monastic whether he shouldn’t have read a book called The Art of Disappearing: Buddha’s Path to Lasting Joy written by Ajahn Brahm. The reader was looking for inspiration but now felt even more depressed and hopeless. The kind monk replied that Ajahn Brahm and also other masters have two kinds of talks and books – the ones that make you feel good and confident and the other ones – which are straight to the point and harder to digest. This book was of the second kind.
Interesting enough that it was a perfect sales pitch for me – a book that someone maybe should not have read. Surprising enough but it turned out it is an exciting book because it is so true, and it contradicts almost every aspect of average western consumerist life. I read the book as a tragicomedy, saving myself from immediate panic that happened to the guy in the forum. Applying aspects of comedy could be seen also as a kind and caring way, how to approach my own life, which for the most part has been driven 180 degree the opposite direction from what Ajahn Brahm describes as a way leading to happiness.
When I wake up, the sky is blue. The sky is blue like a rose is a rose is a rose. And on the grey days like this, when I wake up, I see clouds. I keep my mind joyful. Still – the sky is the sky. It is like a joke played upon me. And if I am at peace with myself, I laugh.
“Always maintain only a joyful mind” is part of 59 slogans in Lojong or mind training. That is a practice in Tibetan Buddhism. Studying the slogans is a method to transform mind. Although this slogan in the sequence of presentation is somewhere near the middle of this collection, I think it is very helpful even at the beginning of the training. I would even say it is a perfect starter for every new day, so that you can start with light-hearted attitude.