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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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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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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Happiness! What is it?

Usually I write with a Buddhist slant. That’s because I tend to see the world from a Buddhist perspective but not everyone’s Buddhist & we can all learn from each other….

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Out in this great universe, millions of viewpoints & ideas exist about ‘true happiness’ what it is & how we achieve it. Some believe we need religion in our lives to be truly happy. Others believe happiness comes from the things around us for example external or material things. We’ve all got our own thoughts about what makes us happy, and whether that happiness is genuine or not.

Let’s get some of those viewpoints together and start a magical discussion about What Happiness Really Is – In other words……Let’s spread the joy!

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What & Where is the MIND?

What is MIND? Where is it located? And why does it cause so many problems? I don’t know about you, but I love blogging.  Seeing what others write about & what interests them. Yesterday I came across a blog that really got me thinking more about the mind.

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Psychologists, Therapists & Psychiatrists all concerned with mental health, refer to the mind as often being disturbed or out of balance etc. Of course that’s their profession – to better understand the mind and treat mental health problems. Yet, if the most skilled surgeon on the planet disected our body (including the brain) I guarantee he/she wouldn’t locate anything resembling mind.  Naturally they’d be able to locate the brain because its tangible, but they’d never locate what’s known as mind.  On the other hand, we in the West take shed loads of prescribed medication to balance the mind  So I guess today’s dilemma is this….

How do you personally define the mind & if it can’t be located anywhere in the body, how can it be responsible for so many mental health problems?

 

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Death – What’s Next?

Death – An inevitable part of life. As hard as we try, it’s impossible to avoid.  Like everything else in life, we humans are impermanent, facing death from the moment we’re born yet we foolishly live under the illusion of immortality like we’re in some way exempt.

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So many times I’ve blogged about the dreaded D subject Death. Mainly because here in the west, it’s something we fear or consider taboo. For example, we don’t discuss death in case we tempt fate, and the thing we definitely don’t want, is a visit from the black hooded guy with his wopping  great scythe who only appears when your time’s up.  There are however, many other differing opinions on death – for example, Buddhism says death is a continuation of life & merely a process of the consciousness leaving the physical body to enter a new one.  Christianity sees death as returning home to the creator God & others feel when we die, we’ve gone and that’s pretty much the end.

What are your thoughts on death? Where do you believe we go once this life is over?

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Who’s Space is it anyway?

Yesterday something profound happened which got me thinking about my own existence in the world. Let me explain….

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Whilst meditating, I entered a place of pure clear space (not unusual in meditation I know) but this time it was different. This time I became aware, that the space I entered also exists somewhere.  It’s a little bit like standing by a vast occean and realising you and that occean both exist in the space called earth, which itself exists amongst other planets in the solar system and of course they all exist somewhere too.  It got me thinking about the beginnng of time, where & how the world began and whether anyone really knows. One thing I know for sure – It didn’t start with God.  How can I say this with absolute certainty? Well, for God to have created the universe, he would first himself need to exist somewhere….Do you see where I’m going with this?  If God created the universe, where was he when he did it?

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Meditation

 

The classic Trolley Dilemma – What would you do?

Most of us have heard about the ‘trolley dilemma’ relating to Buddhism, but placed in that very situation, what would you actually do?

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I’ve pondered on this for a while now and even had discussions & debates with Buddhist monks. Despite the many different viewpoints, I can’t help feeling there are still things for consideration – but first let’s look at the scenario……

You’re standing on a bridge over 2 railway tracks.  A little while ago, the police arrested 6 people for a serious crime and they are now all handcuffed and waiting for arrest. Five of these people are face down on the first track. The other person is cuffed & face down on the other track. The next train isn’t due for another 15 mins but from the bridge you can see in the distance, a train trolley hurtling down towards the track with 5 people on. Right next to you is a signal box with a large iron lever. If you pull the lever, the trolley will switch tracks and hit one person instead of 5.

It’s in your hands now but before you decide, consider these factors…..

1- By allowing the train to hit one man you can save 5 lives but what gives you the right to decide that one man matters less than the other 5?
2- Karma already decided their fate which is why they’re in that situation so really you don’t need to do anything. But then what about your own karma if you knowingly let people die?
3- You could also walk away and pretend you never saw anything after all – if they weren’t criminals they wouldn’t be there in the first place. But could you honestly live with the consequences of walking away? Again what about your own karma?

What’s your viewpoint on this? Let’s have a discussion

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Alzheimer’s & Meditation – What You’re Not Told

Dementia & Alzheimers seem to be on the increase, especially in the West. I’ve certainly noticed an increase in people mentioning during treatments, their fears around the symptoms.  But do you know, there’s a way to slow down the process and maybe even cure the symptoms? I’m really not joking, and I’ve absolutely no idea why we aren’t told about it – Meditation.

 

But would you know the difference between Alzheimers & Dementia? This is a powerful question and for most of us, the answer would be NO. First let’s understand the differences, and then how a simple practice like meditation can help reverse the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s disease destroys neurons and their connections in the parts of the brain controling memory. These include; the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. It later affects areas in the cerebral cortex responsible for language, reasoning, and social behaviour.

Dementia is a group of symptoms affecting our mental cognitive tasks such as memory and reasoning  (for example, making sense of the world)  Dementia is a kind of umbrella that Alzheimer’s disease stands under, and it has many causes. The most common is Alzheimers. Please note… there are different types of dementia too.

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