Life – Is it Really All That Bad?

The first teaching of the Buddha was called the four Noble truths’s. The 4 Noble truths’s speaks about suffering, and the cessation of suffering. in other words, how to get rid of it and make a happy life for ourselves and others. According to the 4 Noble truths, nothing in this world that exists without an element of suffering. However, for many people this sounds pretty grim – let’s face it, if everything is all about suffering then how can we ever be happy?
But what actually are the 4 noble truths?

The Four Noble Truths

  1. The truth of suffering (Dukkha) This means that suffering actually exists.
  2. The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudāya) understanding where suffering comes from.
  3. The truth of the cessation of suffering (Nirodha) understanding that because suffering exist, it can also be ended.
  4. The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering (Magga) How to end suffering.

To put it in a nutshell, the Buddha taught, that once we understand the root of our suffering, which according to Buddhism is ‘desire’. Then we can actually move towards ending it.
This is why the Buddha was often compared to a physician because he diagnosed an actual human and universal problem, then prescribed the cure in 4 relatively simple lessons.

But here’s something to debate…..
LifeIf life is just suffering, as Buddhism claims, why is it some of us don’t see it this way? Why do some of us see life as wonderful rather than filled with suffering?

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Reducing Negative Emotions

We all experience negative emotions such as stress & anger but how do we reduce them before they cause long term damage? Well, the first port of call for many of us in the Western world is a large glass or even a bottle of wine, recreational drugs or even prescribed medication.

All provide great short term benefits, but each has its own side effect & if used in excess, can damage our physical/mental health. We tend to do this for various reasons, sometimes we need a quick result, other times we don’t know an alternative way. Tibetan Buddhism teaches the most effective way of reducing negative emotions, is by cultivating & increasing compassion & selflessness (altruism) When we think kind thoughts or do nice things for another person, chemicals such as Seratonin (Natural Happy Chemical) are released into our body & therefore our mood is lifted. Have you ever noticed how great you feel when you give gifts at Christmas or birthdays? The act of giving seems to create more joy than actually receiving but it isn’t just about materialism. Just a simple act of Altruism can impact so many people and touch their lives in ways you can’t imagine.

Here’s an example; John has worked for the same company for 25 yrs but for the last 10 years, that job has become more stressful. More responsibilities have been put on John and he isn’t able to manage his workload. He isn’t getting any younger and is afraid of losing his job so he works late most nights to get things finished. John’s manager notices him working late, but isn’t aware of John’s stress. All he’s interested in, is getting the products out on time. John is seeing less & less of his family so he and his wife argue a lot. His wife is almost always sad these days but they have a mortgage to pay so nothing can be done. All their friends have stopped visiting because the atmosphere is tense and they leave feeling sad. This has a knock on effect on their friends & families too. Eventually John starts to feel ill and collapses at work, so needs to take time off sick. He is visited by his manager who responds very differently than John expected. John’s manager is so affected by his stress, he agrees to help John by first reducing his workload and distributing tasks more evenly, also authorising paid holidays for him with immediate effect. This takes so much pressure off and immediately his wife’s mood improves. John’s health begins to improve too but all their friends notice the positive change. Because of this, lpeople start to visit more and they carry the joy into their own circles etc. So here we can begin to understand how one act of compassion by John’s manager impacted so many lives.

There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t show regular acts of compassion and altruism but in our busy competative Western culture we’re often in it only for ourselves and what we can achieve. Despite this fact, evidence shows we have the highest levels of Mental Health problems, Workplace Stress & Depression.

What are your thoughts on Compassion & Altruism being the greatest reducer of Negative Emotions?

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Rinpoche’s Take on Death & Why it’s Feared So Much in the West.

Yesterday evening I had the great honour & privilege of having Geshe Lama Ahbay Tulku Rinpoche visit my home for the 3rd year running. With a small gathering of spiritually minded people, we ate together, laughed together (what an infectious laugh he has) and shared some great philosophical discussion.

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After supper we all moved to my healing & meditation room for Q & A about Buddhism & life in general before taking part in the dedication prayer.
One of the questions raised during our discussion was this…… Why do you think Westerners have a deep rooted fear of death?

Rinpoche’s response;
Maybe it’s because in the West, the main focus is on materialism. The media is all about materialism, as are the newspapers & Internet. It’s all about products that make you feel and look good giving you the false hope of regaining youthfulness. We know the hope is false because from the moment we’re born, we are physically moving towards eventual death. That’s the cycle of life really – no escaping it. Then when illness & sickness comes it’s a terrible shock because we thought we were invincible. Death is something we Westerners choose not to talk about because it’s considered morbid & dark, but we all want a comfortable death surely? But, if we’re ever going to prepare for the inevitable event of death properly we must discuss it in life.

Rinpoche’s words gave me some great food for thought and so I’d like to put these 2 questions out to the universe…..

1, What are your thoughts on death?
2, Where are you going after death?

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Laugh Yourself to Better Health 😂

Laughter Yoga started in 1995 in a Mumbai park in India, when a medical doctor – Dr Madan Kataria became interested in the power of laughter in curing illness. It started with just 5 willing participants but there are now over 1000 laughter clubs across the world. http://laughteryoga.org

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Evidence has shown, that making yourself laugh provides the same physiological and psychological benefits as real laughter because “the mind does not know we’re faking it.” Laughter yoga sessions generally start with gentle warm-up techniques which include stretching, chanting, clapping, eye contact and subtle body movement to break down inhibitions and encourage childlike playfulness – something we adults  don’t have enough of in my professional view.  Breathing exercises are also used to prepare the lungs for laughter,
Laughing is brilliant way to strengthen our immune system, completely reverse the symptoms of depression & anxiety alongside many other health benefits. How does this happen? By bringing more oxygen to the body and brain, which in turn, enhances positive feelings and improves interpersonal skills.  Just 15 minutes a day of real belly laughter is proven to be the equivalent of 100 sit ups in the gym – it’s perfectly natural, has exactly the

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Transhumanism & life on the cloud

Ever heard of Transhumanism?  Me neither until today when I switched on the radio to hear the most jawdropping conversation.

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Transhumanism:- The belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.

Oxford dictionary

According to American transhumanist, journalist, entrepreneur and futurist Zoltan Istvan, the likelihood of humans existing only as pure data-with no physical body on the cloud is very real & closer that we think.  According to Istvan – as we approach death,

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Daring to Move Beyond Scripture

Dalit – ‘untouchable’ a term many of us will have heard in relation to caste. In certain communities, rules still exist about where Dalits can walk, the utensils they can use, who they can touch & of course who they can marry etc.

In fact, the opinion still remains, the Dalit birthright is to clean up the waste of others.

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But the issue of caste goes far deeper than what we see on the surface.  It’s vital to acknowledge however, when considering the issue of caste – what most Westerners see as cruel, discriminatory & outdated is actually rooted in early religious text. This text being the Law of Manu found in the Upanishads & accompanied by the belief that a person’s caste is the result of their past karma.

The Laws of Manu – date of publication uncertain but believed to be about 200 BC – was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. In spite of its age, it has sustained paramountcy in the Hindu culture. It was also the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in India.
Formed from the Laws of Manu, it has governed much of Hindu history. At the top of Hindu society were the Brahmin. As members of this caste, Brahmins made up the priestly caste of Hindu society. For them was reserved the right to both study and teach the Hindu sacred texts, known as the Vedas.

Both Hinduism & Buddhism share beliefs on the law of karma, its influence on rebirth & the impact our present behaviour may have on future lives.  Both differ strongly however on the issue of caste with Buddhism very much rejecting the idea, in the belief we all have the potential to connect with our Buddha nature in this life if we so wish.

What are your thoughts on Karma? & Because the idea of caste is rooted in religious texts, can it ever be abolished?

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Psychic or Skeptic?

Nothing seems to fascinate us more than going to see a psychic. We  sit attentively, whilst someone predicts what’s going to happen in the future and in some cases, pass on messages from loved ones who have passed. But are psychics & clairvoyants etc genuine? Or incredibly skilled at reading our emotions and body language, in order to tell us what we want to hear?

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in 1964 a 1 Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge was offered by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) It agreed to pay out one million U.S. dollars to anyone who could demonstrate a supernatural or paranormal ability under agreed-upon scientific testing criteria. Over a thousand people applied to take it, but none were successful. The challenge was terminated in 2015.  James Randi, founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation developed the challenge, during a radio panel discussion when a parapsychologist challenged him to “put his money where his mouth is”

 Despite nobody having passed the challenge, we still have people claiming to be psychic, clairvoyant or spiritual healers dotted around  every corner of our society so what are your views?

Are there actually people who can contact the dead? See into the future? Or predict events before they happen? Or is it all mind games?

 

 

 

In the Minds of Babes

Mental health problems affect about 1 in 10 children and young people. They include depression, anxiety and conduct disorder, and are often a direct response to what is happening in their lives.
Alarmingly, however, 70% of children and young people who experience a mental health problem have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

Just stop for a minute to consider the above research by a professional mental health body in relation to 21st Century children – our children.

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Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, my generation is one in which children went out to play in the morning and came back in the evening, too exhausted to think about being depressed. Don’t misunderstand me, my family were poor working class with my clothes always second-hand & discipline dished out where necessary. But in terms of mental health, it wasn’t even an issue growing up and I certainly don’t recall any of my childhood friends having mental health problems, the way children do now. So I find myself asking ‘what’s wrong with the world today?’ Could it be the advanced levels of technology we now have? where virtual friends are many and real face-to-face conversations practically non-existent? Or could it be, because children no longer need to use their mind to do anything? Let’s face it, with online spellchecking & auto correcting, online calculators

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Do Miracles Exist?

According to the Oxford Dictionary – A Miracle is….

An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.

Everyday we hear people referring to miracles. People being healed at Lourdes, historical stories from the bible about Jesus healing the blind and resurrecting the dead. But do miracles actually happen? Or are they simply coincidence?

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In Buddhism we believe everything has a root cause, in order for it to exist. For example; nothing whether material, phenomena or living, can happen independently of other factors. So looking at miracles from this viewpoint, just because the occurrence isn’t explicable at this moment through natural or scientific law, doesn’t mean it’s a miracle and there’s no logical explanation discoverable through further research.  If miracles do exist on the other hand, why don’t they exist in the form of everyone having enough to eat, or being given clean disease free water?  Just a thought.

so…. What’s your take on Miracles? Can the dead be raised or the power of prayer heal all sickness?

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