Tag Archives: Philosophy

equanimity-love and compassion

I’ve encountered this idea of “equanimity” “being equanimous” etc. recently a lot. The idea is pretty simple at first thought. Treat everyone equally, and then you won’t create any extra “baggage” with them or their soul, which is ultimately a good thing.

Upon further thinking on this idea, I realized how much harder it actually is in real life. To not react with like or dislike. To not react with your ego attached to your emotions. To not be attached to your reaction, the individual, the end result. This is really hard when you start thinking about it. And personally, something I’m going through right now.

And then I started thinking, if I should be treating everyone equally (equanimously), then in theory I should be treating my family the same way I treat classmates, peers, even strangers. For some reason that didn’t sit well with me. I don’t want to treat my parents, husband, family, the same way I treat the cashier at Target. Did I just create a hierarchy? Yeah, pretty much. I realized that I just created a system in my head where I placed my family on a higher rank of “people” then the people that cross my path once or twice. And here I am touting about how everyone deserve to be treated equally. Hello hypocrite!

What does that mean to treat someone with equanimity? In one of my classes yesterday, some students were saying things that I didn’t agree with. The first thing that popped in my head was rebuttals to their arguments. The second thing that popped into my head was that I should just let it go. It is what it is. They feel the way they do, and I can’t change it. I’m treating them with equanimity right? Wrong, because for a split second I thought that non-reaction is better than reaction. I talked to Nandan about this, and essentially the conversation lead to the conclusion that it’s not about inaction or not reacting. It’s about not having that attachment, which eventually leads to a pure love and compassion for everyone.

That’s the whole point of being equanimous (at least in our thought process). To treat everyone, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, strangers, peers, whoever with love and compassion. And that love and compassion should be the same for everyone. There is no hierarchy when it comes to who gets more compassion from you.

One of our classmates had invited the Drepung Monks to her house for a blessing, which was just so beautiful. But, after one of the monks lead a question and answer for a little while. He started talking about duality, and how everything has an opposite. The opposite of love is hate. The opposite of compassion is ill-will. The part that really stood out to me, was when he said that you can’t have both feelings in your mind at the same time. If your mind and heart are filled with hate, there is no room for love. If your mind is filled with ill-will, there’s no room for compassion. Which, then leads to un-equanimity! But, if your mind and heart is filled with love and compassion, there’s no room for hate or ill-will, and then you can act and talk from a true place of equanimity.

That was just so profound to me. We are so caught up in all these feelings of revenge and annoyance and frustration, that we literally have taken over our minds with negative emotions, that there’s no room for the positive and beautiful ones! Instead of focusing on why that person annoys you or irritates you or makes you so angry, why don’t we start thinking about how that person is just another person that deserves our love and respect? Because we let our ego get in the way, for one. But, in general it’s just too hard to love the other person, right? We’re a society of easy-way-out. However, I don’t think this method will work in the long-run.

Having love and compassion for even one person is hard, let alone the rest of the world! There are always going to be things that your friends and family do that just annoy you or put you over the edge. If we start thinking outside of our own self, and the idea that they are effecting me, my ego, we can start acting in different situations in equanimous ways, which will then leak into other realms of our life. Even the cashier at Target will feel your love and compassion!

Love and compassion are the way to go people! And what better time of year than right now to start practicing?

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5 ways to live simply

“It is exhilarating to be reminded here that the real meaning of simplicity is singling out what is worth living for, and then shaping our lives around what matters and letting go of everything else.” Eknath Easwaran

When I first started thinking of resolutions for the new year, habits that I wanted to instill, routines I wanted to make a part of my life, one of the first things that popped into my head was that I really want to live as much of a natural and organic lifestyle as possible. However, I didn’t really have a game plan to take on this challenge. I told myself I’d eat healthier and use reusable shopping bags as much as possible. Little did I know that living a natural life encompassed a lot more than just using reusable shopping bags.

Luckily as the year went on, I’ve had many an opportunity to learn more about living a natural life. I’ve met some pretty awesome people, and had conversations about living a simpler life, a no-impact life, a raw life, etc. The more I heard these words come up, the more I started to do research and reconfigure my idea of a “natural and organic life”.

I don’t think my answer was completely finished until I read the book Discovering Your Hidden Spiritual Resources by Eknath Easwaran. He has an entire chapter on living a simple life. I finally got it.

Living simply is more than just an external way of life; it starts with an internal attitude and a fresh perspective. I realized that I’m going to have to do a whole lot more than just eat organic and use reusable shopping bags. A simple life to me is about not being attached to all the things we surround ourselves with. Absolutely use all of the technological devices you have sitting around your house, but realize that at the end of the day that those things don’t define your status, they don’t define your well-being, and most importantly they don’t define you. Living simply is about having a positive outlook on life. There’s no point in wasting your time focusing in on the bad stuff that’s going around. In a simple life, the goal is to let go of our own egos, and begin to act and think from a place of pure love and compassion. Pay attention to the creations of this Earth. Eat healthy, use reusable shopping bags, love your friends and family, walk instead of drive—all of this is living simply.

Here are 5 easy ways to start living a simpler life:

  • Eat dinner at home. Make dinner at home and turn it into a family production. This way, you’re spending good, quality time with your loved ones, you are cooking yourself so you know exactly what’s going into your food (made at home meals tend to be a lot healthier than meals we eat at restaurants), and you’re not using your car.
  • Go for a walk. Spend time with Mother Nature, and take in the beauty this world has to offer. If you can, try to walk or use your bike instead of driving your car. This way, you’re getting exercise, and you start to appreciate the little beauties.
  • Volunteer. Giving back to the community that we live in is such a simple and easy way to show our gratefulness. It is also a great reminder to count our own blessings.
  • Recycle! Have you ever wondered what the Earth is going to look like in 20, 50, 100 years? Sometimes I’m scared to think about it. We have become so harsh to the planet that provides so much to us. Let’s start living a gentler life, and help Mother Earth as much as possible. Just think, our great, great, great, great grandchildren should be able to reap the benefits of this home as much as we do!
  • Meditate, Introspect, Journal. Okay, this is technically a 3-in-1, but they all do similar things, and that’s helping us get in touch with our true selves. When we spend a little time with ourselves, without distraction, we begin to dig deeper. We start to realize who we really are and what makes us, us. Give yourself a little self-love every now and then. We are all beautiful beings.

daily encouragement

“To lead a life in which we are inspired and can inspire others, our hearts have to be alive; they have to be filled with passion and enthusiasm. To achieve that, as President Toda also said, we need the courage to “live true to ourselves.” And to live true to ourselves, we need the strength of mind not to be swayed by our environment or be obsessed with vanity and superficial appearances. Rather than borrowing from or imitating others, we need the conviction to be able to think for ourselves and to take action from our own sense of responsibility.”

Daisaku Ikeda

 

it’s in our nature.

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet today, because I have a lot of posts coming up this week since it’s the start of Diwali. But, I really wanted to talk about this. About a week and a half ago was Sharad Poornima. It’s the day of the full moon. Tradition is that you make dhood paak. Dhood paak is sweetened milk with dried rice flakes put in it. What you do, is you make it and then put it out at night, and the coolness of the moon cools the dhood paak.

One of my favorite things about the Indian culture is the close relationship with nature that it encourages. There is so much that we can learn about ourselves and how to live our life from the characteristics and qualities of the trees, sun, moon, etc. Yes, I know this sounds very Pocahontas-esque, can you paint with all the colors of the wind and all that. But there is a lot of truth behind it.

In our scriptures, there is a branch named Ishavasyam which tells about how God exists in every atom in this universe, and there is a whole part on what we, as humans, have to learn through various aspects of nature. Our relationship with nature is one of the most important ones. If we can have true reverence towards our environment (and I mean our true environment, the one that nourishes us, protects us, etc.) than our spiritual relationship with the divine can really increase exponentially.

We call the Earth, “Pruthvi Maata” or Mother Earth. We call the Sun, “Suraj Dada” which means Grandfather, and we call the Moon, “Chanda Mama” or Uncle. There is a reason we have such personal names for them, and we don’t just call them Sun or Moon. We come from the Earth, so She is our Mother.

Suraj Dada teaches us to be radiant and brilliant, tejasvita. Chanda Mama teaches us to be calm and to bring serenity into our lives. Pruthvi Maata teaches us to be firm and stable. There is so much we can learn from our relationships, if we choose to. God has given us all these great things for a reason, not just to utilize, but to truly learn from. How else can we truly instill Godly qualities, than to learn from God’s creations themselves. And it starts with having true respect.

One of my favorite verses I was taught from a young age is said when you wake up and before you step out of the bed. The meaning is you’re showing your respects to Mother Earth and asking for forgiveness as you walk on Her throughout the rest of the day. It’s really a beautiful concept.

The world around us is glowing, and they’re just waiting for us to go to them. We are given the opportunity every day, so take an hour break from technology, facebook, emails, and seriously be in peace with this universe we’ve been blessed with. The beauty of being Human is we are given the capability to be appreciative and show our gratefulness. I think we all owe it Mother Earth to sit with her for a bit, and maybe learn a thing or two from her.

This week: embrace your inner Pocahontas.

Mosquito Bite Count: 4 | Serious Craving: Queso

just the moon. pretty amazing. literally lit the entire night.

yum! dhood paak (in the bowl)

it was crazy how bright the moon was that day

 

 

humanism-daily encouragement

“The twentieth century was a century of war and peace, a century of politics and economics. The dawning twenty-first century holds the promise, however, to be a century of humanity and culture, a century of science and religion. I hope all of you will advance on this wonderful new path of humanism with pride and confidence, as gallant philosophers of action.”

Daisaku Ikeda, SGI President

 

What a wish for the 21st century! It’s time for humanity, and I love it!

intellect: dc3

Intellect will play a very important role in the coming age. By intellect I mean refined wisdom, clear reasoning, profound philosophy and broad-ranging knowledge. We are entering an age when people will develop their intelligence and wisdom, infusing society with their new outlook.”            –Daisaku Ikeda

 

I particularly like this daily encouragement because it shows the importance of what kind of education we need. We’ve become victims of specialized knowledge, learning things that will benefit us monetarily, and allow us to live a nice life. But, there is a need for “life knowledge” which will allow us to live a happy life filled with personal growth and fulfillment so that we are able to reach the Ultimate.

 

*taken from sgi.org

tick tick tick and tock.

Yesterday, I was at my cousin’s place just hanging out. All the kids here take essentially what I call extra tutoring classes for everything. And I don’t mean just the ones struggling, everyone. For every subject. It’s a little ridiculous and I wouldn’t have survived in school or college here. They call it “tuition” (pronounced tyoo-shun) and they literally go to these things for hours upon end. She was getting ready to go to her tuition for accounting. She’s taking the last step for the equivalent of our CPA in May. Anyways, I asked her how far it was from her house. And she goes, “Yeah, it’s pretty far. Like 15 minutes away.” I thought in my head, are you joking? 15 minutes in America is nothing. Even in big cities where you have crazy awesome public transit, 15 minutes is nothing. It takes me 20 minutes just to get to Wal-Mart from my house. I was really shocked at the perceptions of time here. Even when I landed at the airport, I asked my aunt and uncle how far home was, and they said it’s about 15 kilometers (which I quickly figured out in my head, based off of a 5k being 3.1 miles, is about 9ish miles away). To me, that was nothing. 9 miles is an easy 20 minute car ride. But here, 20 minutes seems like the equivalence of 3 hours. I thought back to the countless number of times I drove from college in Birmingham, AL all the way back home to Memphis. That was a long 4 hours. But 15-20 minutes…?

I started to think about the importance of time, and the utilization of it. We’re always complaining how we don’t have enough hours in the day. I wish I could count how many times I’ve said myself, or I’ve heard others say, 24 hours just isn’t enough. But, when you look at it from a bigger perspective, it really is. I’m 22 years old, that’s the equivalent to 192,720 hours. Now, tell me that’s not a lot of hours. So the question becomes, how can I stretch every minute I have as far as possible? How can I really utilize each hour that I’m awake so at the end of the day I’m not complaining that I didn’t have enough time to get X,Y,Z done.

The past few months, I’ve been living at home with my parents and just working on applications for grad school and stuff. But other than that, not doing a whole lot more. I have a routine, but I definitely have plenty of free time during the day when my parents are at work. A really good friend of mine semi-got onto me for not making the most of all this time I have. And, he’s right. Instead of watching 5 episodes of HIMYM, I could cut back to 2 and spend that extra 1.5 hours to read or perfect a skill, or learn something new. But, it’s just so much nicer to be passive than active, right? Well, we all know that quote, “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” or some variation of it. So back to my original question, how can I stretch one minute to make it last “forever”?

Every morning, I wake up and meditate. Not for super long, but I try to for at least 30 minutes. I really recommend everyone just sitting by themselves for even as little as 5-10 minutes and just clear your mind and try to just focus on being in that moment. Anyways, this morning I was you know, meditating, and without thinking, my hand moved to my face to scratch an itch I had. Now usually, when you just quickly scratch your head or arm, that sensation goes away fast. Go ahead, try it right now. Experiment time: how long after do you feel that scratch? Ok, so I went and scratched my face. And I know this may sound crazy to some of you, but I kid you not, that sensation lasted for at least 5ish minutes, and more than that, I felt it deeper than just my outer most layer of skin, seriously permeating through however many layers of skin there is, down to muscle and bone.

I think this is the answer to my question. We need to figure out a way to make these sensations and eventual perceptions that we feel last longer than a few seconds. One way to do that is the ability to control our senses. This is one of the messages found in the Bhagvad Geeta. As humans, it is easy for our senses to control our mind. We like something, we’re attracted to that, we want to taste that, all of this then controls our actions. But, really, it should be the other way around. Our mind should be strong enough to control our senses. I don’t know the science or philosophy behind this, but if we can control our senses, than I think we can control what we feel, and make that feeling last longer than it really does. In turn, we might be able to make our time last longer, because we would be able to feel the after effects for much longer. Any experts out there please feel free to comment!

I woke up from my nap today (napping is somewhat mandatory here. Ha. Everyone takes a good hour, two hour nap if you’re home in the afternoon), and found a bird trapped inside the house. There are 3 windows we have, and the middle one was open, but it was trying to escape from the window that was closed. But, the funny thing was, the solution to his problem was literally right next to him. He just couldn’t see. This is so applicable in our lives, if not for you, than definitely for me. The answer to so many of our life questions is right in front of us, but the hard part is realizing that it’s there. My life has become now, more than ever, a spiritual endeavor to seek truth. And the solution to this thing we call life is here. It’s written by our ancestors and sages and saints and thousands of people who have come before us. But, if I don’t stop watching TV all day and try to uncover what’s out there, how am I going to be able to travel down this road? It’s as easy as stretching the minutes of my life as far as they’ll go.

Mosquito Bite Count: 2 | Serious Craving: back to Taco Bell. Yum.

the little bugger trying to get out.

he’s out. and free.

last one. he’s so cute.

not quite 17 things I’ve learned this past week

Today, I woke up early to go to a park and read the Geeta. Well, a transliteration of it at least. A very good one might I add. If you want to know the author, let me know. But, back to the point I’m trying to make. A lot has been on my mind the past week, and it’s really hard for me to express those thoughts. I get embarrassed, and afraid. Afraid that people will judge me for what goes through my mind. Maybe they won’t agree with it, maybe I’m too scared to not be accepted. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe maybe maybe. This is what my life has become. Endless amounts of maybes that encourage me to teeter on yes or no. Like my mom always says,”maybe is not a real answer”. And she’s absolutely right. Everyone knows the definite answer to every situation, idea, feeling, thought, question, everything…but we’re just to something to admit it. Acceptance. We all strive for it. But is it absolutely necessary? We came into this world alone, and we are going to leave alone. I know that this is a semi-depressing thought, but it’s the truth. The people and things that we surround ourselves with in our lives are there to make this journey we call life a little bit more pleasurable. We learn from them and these things, hoping that at the end of the day we have become a better person. So maybe if we thought of life in this sense just a little bit, we probably wouldn’t have so many “maybes” and we would probably be more confident with ourselves.

While reading the Geeta this morning, I came across a few things that I think if I understood better, I could learn to be a more confident individual. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me understand the purpose for what i’m living a little bit better:

  1. we have 5 senses. we let these senses take control of our actions. wrong. our mind needs to control our actions.
  2. everyday we are led by our desires. we want this and that, and all those things over there. but, are these desires going to help us grow towards our ultimate goal?
  3. we are all connected. all humans are part of mankind/humanity/whatever shall you. so, if one person is affected, than so everyone else is too. this leads to my 4th point
  4. why are we not more merciful towards the other human? are we not all part of one species? doesn’t it make sense to have a little bit more sympathy for other people?
  5. my final point: everything that makes us up as an individual is constantly changing. it changes with the people we are with, the situation we are in, the surroundings that consume us everything–our personality, ego, senses, emotions, will, intellect. EVERYTHING. how can we honestly say that we are this, or that we are that when we aren’t anything but situational.
point 5 is what i will elaborate on this week. so look out for that. until then. peace to you.