Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy New Year, and all the best for 2013! May all your dreams come true this year!

And, as always . . . 

May all beings be happy!  

Dear 2012 . . .

I thought that this year I would write a post about what I learned and experienced during 2012, as I did for 2011. Here goes-

Dear 2012,

You started out rough, but all in all, you were a pretty good year. I learned a lot from you, and have done a lot of soul-searching and introspection during your reign. 

You have:
  • seen me experience the incredible stress, and shown me that despite what I may think at the time, those situations do eventually pass (sometimes expidited with the help of a stiff drink!).
  • shown me the insecurity that comes from living paycheck to paycheck (especially as a couple).
  • seen me disappointed and let down by my mentors.
  • made me question my abilities and goals, and seen me struggle with a cloud of depression.
  • taught me how quickly accidents can happen, and how the effects can last.
  • toned and hardened me against rejection.
  • shown me the lack of grace adversaries can have, even when they win.
  • allowed me to cut back on distractions and focus on what is really important in life.
  • blessed me with the opportunity to begin the 30th year of my life.
  • given me the opportunity to slowly return my life to normalcy, and to once again do things not out of obligation, but because I enjoy them. 
  • made me rejoice that things I have written here are actually being read, and blessed me with great readers and blog friends!
  • shown me that the pomp and circumstance of ceremony can hold great triumph- and closure!
  • given me the privilege to say that I completed my graduate degree AND received my driver's license in the same year (it's just too bad I am not 16 anymore :)
  • witnessed the first steps of my great journey learning my husband's native tongue, and seen my heart warmed as his parents and relatives rejoiced in this.
  • seen my husband and I celebrate the first wonderful year of our married lives together. 

. . . And 2012, you are now over.

From frustration and depression to joy and contentment, I have experienced so much in 2012. But I still believe what I wrote in December 2011:

"As milestones pass and lessons are learned, they each irrevocably become part of the past. In life, the past is there to learn from, the future to plan and hope for. But living itself can only take place in the present moment."

Here's to a mindful, happy, and healthy 2013, for all of us!

With that, I will leave you with the following quote from Thich Nhat Hanh (which is considerably more eloquent than mine :)

"In Buddhism, we speak of touching Nirvana with our own body, In Christianity, you can also touch the Kingdom of God with your body, right here and now. It is much safer than placing our hope in the future. If we cling to the idea of hope in the future, we might not notice the peace and joy that are available in the present moment. The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment." (From Living Buddha, Living Christ) 

May all beings be happy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Buddhism in the news: Autumn 2012

The following is part of my "Buddhism in the News" series, where I provide links to articles about Buddhism, along with news of prominent Buddhists and everyday laypeople. I welcome you to browse the linked articles below and read whatever interests you. Enjoy!

1. Meditation experiences in Buddhism and Catholicism A woman explains how her extensive experience with Buddhist meditation and practice has deepened her Christian faith and prayer. From the Oxford University Press blog.

2. Thai Buddhist monks struggle to stay relevant An account of Thailand's changing culture, and how it is tied to the decline of the status of Thai Buddhist monks in Thai society. Fast-paced city lifestyles, the allure of technology and material goods, and scandals involving monks are just a few of the factors that both monks and Thai laypeople believe have contributed to this relatively recent cultural transformation. Article is  from the New York Times.

3. In Thailand, Barack does Buddhism A surprisingly cynical article about the POTUS's comments about his willingness to accept "good vibes" from Thai Buddhist monks in light of America's overwhelming economic woes. From the Global Post.

4. From the ashes, Tibetan Buddhism rises in the Forbidden City Amidst reports of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese oppression, an exhibit of Tibetan artifacts and antiquities was opened in the Forbidden City of Beijing. The Tibetan art displayed is extremely well-documented, including origin, year, donors, and overall history and indicates the prominent influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism, and Tibetan culture during China's Qing dynasty. From International Herald Tribune.

5. A marriage between Buddhism and science A fascinating article about the life and studies of B. Allen Wallace, who's life work has focused upon the study of happiness, suffering, science and the true nature of reality though Buddhist ideology and thought/meditation practices. Dr. Wallace is a protege of H.H. the Dalai Lama, and is one of the lead Buddhist scholars of the western world. From the Amherst Student.

UPDATE: (from Buddhism in the news, September 2012"Space-Buddha" may be a fake. Additional inquiries to the story surrounding this supposedly 1000 year-old artifact have brought the age of the item into question. Archeologists address the possibility that the statue carved from an ataxite meteorite is a western reproduction crafted between 1910 and 1970, mostly to appeal to the Nazi-memorabilia market. It will be interesting to see how the rest of this story materializes.

Please share your thoughts about whatever captured your interest in the comments. Also, if you are reading this at a later date, please inform me of any dead links, since some newspaper websites only post articles for a short time before archiving them. Thank you!

May all beings be happy!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Just wanted to write a quick note to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope you have a wonderful day, with love and countless joys shared with family, friends, and all sentient beings. 

May all beings be happy! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Fake Buddha Quotes: An Update

Earlier this year I wrote posts about fake Buddha quotes and how to avoid them.  I thought it was important to let readers know that Bodhipaksa, who has gained some notoriety from exposing many popular Buddha quotes as fakes, now has a website completely dedicated to misattributed Buddha quotations. 

Here is the web address:

There are three things I like about this website- Bodhipaksa investigates where a fake Buddha quote actually came from, citing the true author/sources of the quotation (if in fact, they can be found). The next thing is that each fake Buddha quote is listed, in alphabetical order, in the fake Buddha quotes page (now 75 and counting!). Finally, the thing that makes this a really great site is that Buddha quotations that have been verified in scripture are also listed, making this a useful resource not only for seeking out the impostors, but also for finding Buddha quotations which are actually attributed to the Buddha. Very helpful!

This post was prompted by an article written in Forbes this month, where the author uses ten Buddha quotations to highlight important life lessons. Although I believe the author's heart and motivation are in the right place, several of the quotations are also unfortunately listed in the "All Fake Buddha Quotes" page in on Bodhipaksa's website. My hope is that in the future this will happen less and less, as people use as a resource to discern fact from fiction (or at least misattribution).

Do you think this will help reduce the occurrence of false Buddha quotations? Does all this matter? Will you use Bodhipaksa's website in the future? Please comment below! 

May all beings be happy!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Letting go of perfectionism

For years I have constantly struggled, against none other than myself. Why am I so aware of all my supposed flaws, yet disregard my accomplishments? Why do I feel that all I have done is not enough? Why am I not smart enough, not driven enough, not thin enough, not good enough? 

I can only conclude that the answer to these questions is my relentless sense of perfectionism. 

Don't misunderstand- my efforts in doing things aren't even close to perfect, in fact as of late they are mediocre at best. But I recently discovered that my pursuit of perfection is actually getting in the way of pursuing excellence. 

I must realize that excellence and perfection are very different things. With hard work, excellence can be achieved, but perfection can never be, regardless of how much anyone tries. 

True excellence is about setting (realistic) goals and then striving to achieve them. Unlike perfectionism, excellence is about not only the goal, but the journey of learning from successes (and mistakes) along the way. Perfectionism, with its impossible standards and unrealistic goals, discourages from the very beginning- and snuffs out the joy of learning, growing, and even achieving.   

Why wasn't this more obvious to me earlier on? Being on the Buddhist path and cherishing each effort in cultivating greater wisdom and compassion (whilst rejecting attachment) is to me the epitome of pursuing excellence. Strangely, I guess I just never made the connection to my own life- until now. 

I now realize that perfectionism, along with the nagging, bullying thoughts that accompany it, only instills fear of failure- and fear of even trying. In contrast striving for excellence gives people motivation and a true sense of purpose as they take risks to pursue their dreams. The result? A wise, dynamic person who confidently seeks to experience life, fully open to all it can teach us.  

It is time for me to go this route.   

Of course, this post is mostly as a reminder and wake-up call to myself, but I would love to hear your thoughts to see if anyone else is experiencing similar feelings (with all the negative self-talk I hear from others, I know I can't possibly be alone in this -unless it's all for show!). Feel free to comment and tell me what you think.

May all beings be happy!