When we are young, we want to ‘look good’ in the eyes of our peers and society at large. Selfish consumerism and materialism is at a very high peak these days. Most people desire money and fame, as if though that is all that’s really important. But as one ages and spiritually matures, all this effort of trying to only impress others dissolves and priorities in life begin to change. We must always realise that there are so many less fortunate people who are struggling to make ends meet. And seeing life in this light, as peace of mind and compassion towards the less fortunate- being more important than personal material possessions takes root in our consciousness and one just lets go, of wanting to merely please and accumulate. We let go of ourselves and we let go of clinging to practically everything. We can consume what the universe gives us. But we needn’t cling to our experiences and be attached to what we consume. We can consume with detachment. And there’s so much peace in that very act. What’s important is what good we can do to the people and communities around us. How we can help. Letting go of our egos is the first step to freedom. Freedom from always making this world of ours revolve around ‘me, I, my and mine’. When in a working environment, practising living in this way can be very tough.
- No killing
- No stealing
- No unhealthy sexual indulgence
- No speaking lies
- No consuming harmful intoxicants and drugs
From the time we get up in the morning, until we go to bed at night, this life of most people revolves around the concept of ‘me, I, my and mine ‘. Most people are usually somewhat self centered. And having grown up that way, they don’t know how to think differently. But when we let go of ourselves, we feel so light. So free. And yet, during a human day- there are millions- billions- trillions of fluctuating moments where at times we feel good. At times we feel not so good. At times we feel happy. At times we feel sad. At times we feel hopeful. At times we lose hope. In a day- we go through a roller coaster of emotions. However, emotions are also conditioned things. They arise due to certain causes and conditions coming together. If the causes and conditions were different, then chances are that the ensuing emotions would be different as well. And so with some wisdom, one can navigate through these emotions which are already in flux and have some sort of control and be able to view not just emotions but especially thoughts as well as being transient and not that important. We make thoughts important by our thinking that they are important. If we were in someone else’s shoes, our experience of life would be very different. We see things according to how we have been conditioned since our childhood.
As human beings on this planet, we are all one big family. There is no such thing as a stranger. We are all the same. From outside we look different. But our cores are all the same. We all need a purpose in our lives
For example, if I were you and you were me- we may have acted the same way each of us did before changing into one another. So what is there to say that I am more important than you? Or you are more important than me? The way we think, is conditioned by our core beliefs and values- and how we have grown up. My core beliefs and values might be different to yours. But who is to say I am right and you are wrong. It’s all so relative. We have wars where one says white is more important than black and a side which says black is more important than white. Who is to say who is right. However, there are situations where ethical decisions have to be made. And who decides what is ethical and what is not? I think any decision based on primarily love and understanding is ethical. Any decision which invokes hate and violence is unethical. Why did the Buddha lay five precepts for lay Buddhists? Because we need some sort of structure in our lives to anchor us and to give us some order by which to live our lives. What makes us humans special is that we are a very advanced and sophisticated species. We are intellectually at a very high place in the strata of evolution. We live as a community. We influence each other’s lives in a profound way.
What are the five precepts for lay people in Buddhism?
- Not killing
- Not stealing
- Not acting in sexually unhealthy ways
- Not telling lies
- Not consuming harmful intoxicants and drugs
The Buddha had a plan for us. First we must be sober before we can rationalise our thoughts. And when we are sober, our thinking capacity to discern is high. And from there, we can make our lives the best we possibly can. Why do people take drugs?. Because the pain life brings is too much to handle. The pain in mind and body both. However, no matter what, no matter how hard it is- if we make a firm resolve to keep the five precepts- we will be safe. We will be protected. And of course, one can devote one’s life to the welfare and happiness of our planet Earth. The Earth is our home. It is where we live.
As human beings on this planet, we are all one big family. There is no such thing as a stranger. We are all the same. From outside we look different. But our cores are all the same. We all need a purpose in our lives. As human beings, we have the intense primary need to love others, to be loved, to care for others, to be cared for ourselves etc. As growing children, life flits by. But as we grow up, we begin having extremely challenging situations and feelings we are beset by. Losing a close loved one is one such. Seeing someone go through a lot, causes empathy in some. This emotion of empathy is a very challenging feeling. It can debilitate one. And again, we (those who are empaths) need to ‘let go’. We can always care. We can do for others in pain. But we need not get so beset by such strong feelings that we become incapacitated.
Letting go of our egos is the first step to freedom. Freedom from always making this world of ours revolve around ‘me, I, my and mine’. When in a working environment, practising living in this way can be very tough
Life is a quandary. When I was born and growing up , our country was ravaged by a bitter war. We grew up in fear of losing our lives. I am so relieved that today’s youth in Sri Lanka are growing up without the causalities of a destructive war.
The Internet is such a boon today to a Buddhist. As a Buddhist, The Internet has been such a friend to me. I’ve listened to so many talks on Buddhism on YouTube. Talks I wouldn’t have had access to, otherwise. Also the knowledge that google imparts is phenomenal. We are knowledgeable about the world and people around us than we ever were. And it’s incredible. It’s a liberating feeling to feel we are not alone. That we have each other.
Our lives have a collective rhythm to it. We are tied to each other by our common humanity. It’s up to us to make this Earth - a Heaven. And we can. With an ocean of Understanding, Wisdom, and Love.