Someone once told me that they "studied Buddhism" and came to the conclusion that it's underlying tenet is simply that "nothing really matters." My grandfather was a Buddhist and I haven't studied the religion thoroughly but for some reason I feel Iike this is a strange interpretation. I plan on dedicating my life to social justice under the premise that good deeds DO matter if they can change somebody's life for the better. Is life meaningless? Do our deeds matter?
I’m inclined to say that anyone who draws a conclusion from Buddhism hasn’t really gotten to the point of it.
Buddhist teachings are given from two points of view, both being essential to the path. There is the relative view and the absolute view. Keeping those views in perspective is important.
On the absolute level, all forms and beings and appearances are nothing other than emptiness. Nothing really matters, there is only the diamond-like eternity of perfect existence.
On the relative level, everything matters. This is a world filled with suffering, confusion, and conflict. Buddhism doesn’t sit back and simply say, “Well all is perfect, so disregard that nonsense.” Not at all! This is what makes compassion so important. Compassion is the sane response to meeting the limiting aspects of the relative level. It is love meets meditation.
Neither of those views are the actual truth, because the truth cannot be put into a view or words. And yet both of those views are extremely important to not only our spiritual development but to our harmony in our daily lives, society, and the world at large.
Buddhism is about much more than self-liberation. It is about the liberation of all sentient beings, all societies, and all worlds regardless of the context within time and space.
Our deeds matter. Justice matters. But so does the right view of eternity and impermanence. One without the other is deluded. Believing EVERYTHING MATTERS period end of story tends to actually lead to more conflict. While the belief NOTHING MATTERS tends to lessen conflict but also can lead to indifference or despair, which again leads to conflicts and suffering.
The Buddha was well known for the Middle Way, which contrary to conventional understanding is about much more than “everything in moderation.” The Middle Way means we are not allowed to wholly reject an idea nor wholly accept an idea as The Truth. That’s what forces us to think and discern for ourselves, rather than relying on conditioning or doctrine.
Herein is the crucial difference between “studying” Buddhism and practicing Buddhism. Study without practice is not studying.
“To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.” ~ Dogen
In such a truth-saturated context, there is no room for what matters and does not matter.
“And I began to let him go. Hour by hour. Days into months. It was a physical sensation, like letting out the string of a kite. Except that the string was coming from my center.”—Augusten Burroughs, You Better Not Cry (via durianquotes)
“There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.”—Unknown (via onlinecounsellingcollege)
Hi Lazyyogi! I've been worried about this for some time now (two and a half years, to be exact). I feel like I need to lose weight, everyone around me says I'm crazy but I can't stop thinking--and talking--about it. I feel I'm driving everyone around me as well as myself completely insane. I'm at the end of my rope about this--I know there are people that have real problems and I'm not one of them--but I feel like I'm caught in a cycle of obsession. What can I do? Thank you; you're beautiful.
Try not to confuse happiness itself with the ideas you have about how to attain happiness. Right now you think losing weight will make you happy. Regardless of where that idea came from, it is incorrect.
The only thing you need to lose in order to be at peace and happy is confusion. Telling yourself anything else means putting off happiness and instead waiting for impermanent circumstances to align. And given the impermanent nature of those circumstances, that alignment will only be temporary. Then you get caught up in the struggle to preserve or maintain your limited form of happiness.
Amidst the struggle to attain and then preserve, where is the actual happiness? Clarify to yourself as often as necessary, moment after moment, that what you seek is peace, freedom, and happiness. Not the limited forms which you have mistakenly assumed will give you those things.
To break your cyclic obsession, cease looking for happiness where it is not to be found. The primary medium for your current compulsion is your mind and its thinking habits. Therefore practicing meditation so as to become conscious of those thinking habits without perpetuating them will help to dissolve their momentum while stopping you from adding to it.
Meditate 15-30 minutes a day. Practice mindfulness throughout the day, meaning keep as much attention within your mind-body as you have going outward through your sensory experience. Notice and recognize every time you are habitually complaining about your body, then stop it. Complaining is just a form of non-acceptance. No happiness is found through non-acceptance. A book on mindfulness practice that I would strongly recommend is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
I also wrote a response not long ago about body image, which you may also find helpful.
“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and — in spite of True Romance magazines — we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”—Hunter S. Thompson (via lazyyogi)
“Listen to the wisdom of pain and to where it is drawing your attention. If you meet a challenge with resourcefulness, courage, and sincerity, you will set into motion a trajectory of healing that you forgot possible.”—The Lazy Yogi (via lazyyogi)
“If once you could have saved yourself,
now that time’s past: you were obstinate, pathetically
blind to change. Now you have nothing:
for you, home is a cemetery.
I’ve seen you press your face against the granite markers —
you are the lichen, trying to grow there.
But you will not grow,
you will not let yourself
obliterate anything.”—Louise Glück, from Adult Grief (via violentwavesofemotion)
“For me it’s completely revolutionary. I really went to the bottom and let out all of my sorrow,” she says.
“For about 28 years [her age now], I thought I was 45. And now I’ve started to go backwards. For the first time I’m aware that I’m actually quite young, but it’s almost too late as I’m not even that young anymore. So I feel a bit stressed out that I kind of missed my youth. Now I just want to do everything – I want to live life and make art and make love.”
“When you look inside yourself, you see what is called ‘your own self’ or your soul. You cannot touch it or see it or understand it, but you know it is there. And this part of yourself—that which you cannot understand—is what is called God. God is both around us and inside of us—in our souls.”—Leo Tolstoy
“My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts, my appearance, my talents, my flaws and to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am.”—Anaïs Nin (via woodwhisper)
Focus on the positives. Change your thinking. Focus less on the negatives and more on the positives. Stop dwelling on the negative messages of the past and begin centering yourself on the positive traits in your life today.
See past failures as learning opportunities. We’ve all tried and failed at some point in our lives. Confident people look back at failures and view them as learning experiences. In that way, failures can actually provide greater self-confidence moving forward. Learn from your mistakes and try again. Remember that it’s not over when you lose, it’s over when you quit.
Begin realizing a life goal. Intentionally and specifically, begin working towards a life goal. Know that taking the first step is a momentum builder and can generate confidence in your life. There is a powerful difference between “I want to…” and “I’m beginning to…” So write the first page, run the first mile, or meet the first person. You know what you want to accomplish and you know what the first step is. Stop telling yourself it’s out of reach and take the first step.
Accept your weaknesses. While dwelling on our weaknesses leads to a lack of self-confidence, accepting them is an important step in developing it. First, it keeps us from unhealthy delusions of grandeur. It embraces that we are not perfect and forces us to live our lives in a healthy need for others. Secondly, it provides us with the foundation to accept failures when they arise. We are not caught off-guard when we fail. Instead, we are simply again reminded of our need for others to compliment our weaknesses.
I’ve bemoaned not having a foundation. A constant. Something to rest my head on. Sometime to fall back on. Something to catch me if I fall. Because of my many, many doubts religion and God are not always my rock. Sometimes they are … but it comes and it goes. Suddenly today I remembered that “I love myself.” It’s true. 100% of the time. I love myself. I don’t always like myself. I don’t always like the decisions I’ve made. Or the situations that I’ve placed myself in … but I love myself.
And I’m wondering if that’s enough. If that can be my foundation. Not my everything, but the solid ground that I stand upon. But is love enough? And do I really love myself 100% of the time? Or am I jumping the gun?
be mindful. not. to let oppression become the definition of your skin. your gender. your non gender. your non sexuality. your sexuality. or anything about you. be mindful that oppression is a thing outside of you. that is always begging to come inside. it is not your given name. you know what your name is. and if you are trapped in the fog of forget. spend the nights and the days re.membering your name.
oppression is the the thing that wants to become your name. do not allow it.
“By reading the scriptures I am so renewed that all nature seems renewed around me and with me. The sky seems to be a pure, a cooler blue, the trees a deeper green. The whole world is charged with the glory of God and I feel fire and music under my feet.”—Thomas Merton
“In certain areas of my life, I actively seek out solitude. Especially for someone in my line of work, solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside.”—Haruki Murakami (via blackestdespondency)
“i found god in myself
& i loved her
i loved her fiercely
& this is for the colored girls who have considered suicide
but are movin to the ends of their own rainbows”— Ntozake Shange, for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf (via wildbeardedbrownmanontheinternet)
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”—Thích Nhất Hạnh (via purplebuddhaproject)