Sunday, December 26, 2010

11 things to let go of in 2011

I heard a great idea today: for the new year, what are 11 things you can let go of?

How many of us stop to think about how our desires (or...shall we call them...cravings) limit us? I am sure I'd have saved enough to retire ten years early, if it weren't for the many needless items I have bought over the course of time. The problem is, everything we buy needs to be cared for in some way: kept clean; repaired; batteries charged; tuned, played, or practiced upon (in the case of my many musical instruments); read (books); understood (computers, software, smartphones!). Even throwing things away becomes problematic:  I try not to throw things in the trash unless they can't be recycled, sold, or freecycled.

What freedom we would have, if we could let go of the desire for all this stuff!

What other stuff can I let go of? The need to "be good" at stuff? Judging others? Judging myself? The need to be at the center of my personal cosmology?  It won't take me long to make the list. But, hmmm, is making the list a form of judging myself? Gotta watch that, too!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Letting go of fear

Thought for the day: what would it feel like to be relieved of fear? How much fear is bound up in our thoughts, emotions, physical being? I lay on my back for 10 minutes and imagined what my body would feel like if I had no fear. What would my muscles feel like? Hips, shoulders, neck, feet? How would I walk? How would I stand? How would my internal organs feel?

How would I relate to others? How would I approach people at parties? In the grocery store? While driving? In business meetings?

If your thoughts indeed become your character I want to think about this some more...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Watch your thoughts...

When I read about the Buddhist idea of karma, I had no problem understanding the importance of speaking and acting ethically (or, in terms of the "Eightfold path," engaging in "right speech" and "right action"). The consequences of our actions ripple out in every direction, in ways that we can't know or even imagine. Ultimately, if you believe that everything living is connected in some way, then you understand that when you hurt others, you hurt yourself.

However, I'm sure I'm not the only person who has had difficulty with the concept of "right intention." How can our thoughts cause harm? Then I heard a quote attributed to Frank Outlaw, which I then chased to this quote from the Buddha. I think this provides good motivation for "right intention."

The thought manifests as the word;
The word manifests as the deed;
The deed develops into habit;
And habit hardens into character;
So watch the thought and its ways with care,
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings…
As the shadow follows the body,
As we think, so we become.

- From the Dhammapada
Sayings of the Buddha