Finding My Path

spectrum buddhaThough I was raised to be a Christian, my understanding of God/Nature/Universe and how to live my life does not come from the Bible. When I reached the point in my life where I recognized I had no control over anything or anyone but myself, I came to understand that the God of my understanding was in everyone and everything. 

In college I began to explore other religions, I learned how to meditate and I found my path.  Once I freed my mind from grasping and following every transient thought in meditation I awakened.

The universal laws of nature are impersonal

The universal laws of nature are impersonal. Reactions are outcomes flowing from natural law (karma) ie. the result of past actions and present doings and not punishments or rewards doled out by a supernatural being.

Karma is simply the universal law of cause and effect that says every thought, word and act carries energy into the world and affects our present reality. The word karma means action, specifically, it means “to do”. It is dynamic. But it is more than simply action because it is not mechanical action that the term can be properly applied to. It cannot be correctly applied to unconscious or involuntary action. Karma is intentional, conscious, deliberate, ie. willful action. Consequently, the usefulness of the concept of karma is rooted in the intention or motive underlying the action.

Our lives are not pre-programmed

Our lives are not pre-programmed. They are not in the hands of a deity. There are no preset rules of action that determines the course of your life or mine.  The concept of a supreme Creator God is rejected or at least considered irrelevant to  Buddhism. Buddha, “the Awakened One,” is revered above all–not as “God” but as supreme sage, model of a fully enlightened person who extinguished ego.

Believe nothing on the faith of traditions,

even though they have been held in honor

for many generations and in diverse places.

Do not believe a thing because many people speak of it.

Do not believe on the faith of the sages of the past.

Do not believe what you yourself have imagined, persuading yourself that a God inspires you.

Believe nothing on the sole authority of your masters and priests. After examination, believe what you yourself have tested and found to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto. — Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama )

Suffering is the result of ignorance

The fundamental philosophical principle of Buddhism is that all our suffering comes about as a result of an undisciplined mind, and this untamed mind itself comes about because of ignorance and negative emotions.  It’s our attachments and aversions to specific outcomes in circumstances and in relationships that are the root of our unhappiness.

Unenlightened life is suffering. Suffering is a result of attachment to wrong thinking that results in greed, hatred, and ignorance, which return as suffering (karma), while compassion toward others who suffer reduces the effects of karma. Cessation of this suffering through meditation and mind training is the primary goal of Buddhism– to reach Nirvana (a state of wherein the craving desire within is extinguished), to end cycles of rebirth through enlightenment.

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” — Buddha

I learned that I am responsible for where I am in life at this moment – what I think about myself and others, how I feel and whom I choose to share my life with. My thoughts create my feelings – My feelings trigger my emotions – My emotions give rise to my speech and behavior, and my behavior produces the results I have my my life.

Finding my path was really that simple — taking responsibility for my thoughts, words and actions.  I continued to meditate, I re-examined all my core values, replaced those that were no longer useful with those that I knew to be true, and I began mind training.

In Buddhism, the idea of self or soul is merely an illusion. Man wrongly identifies perception, consciousness, mind and body with what he calls self. In reality, there is no abiding entity that could be identified with a self, because the states of perception, consciousness, and mind and body constantly change.

The body is mortal and when it dies, all mental activities cease. That is why there is no soul. The idea of soul is simply an extension of the self; in fact it is an immortal version of the self that supposedly survives physical death. Buddhism denies the existence of such an entity. Instead, what we call self is just a stream of consciousness that draws identity from concepts and memories, all of which are impermanent. — The Big View

The purpose of the Noble Eightfold Path is becoming a better person. Karma is what the Buddha taught. You control your Karma, you lead a bad life, you can change it. You are not stuck in some sort of cycle where you have to keep repeating your actions over and over. The reason to comprehend and care about karma is your ability to change your karma.

It took years for my Christian friends to accept the fact I rejected the faith they embraced. Some still think I’m angry at a god that I do not believe exists. I was fully aware that the choice I made between my ears could evoke either suffering or freedom from it and I made the latter choice.

“There is really no right or wrong action, only skillful acts and unskillful ones,” said Buddha.

Skillful means for conscious living

We always have a choice of undertaking skillful or unskillful actions. In all our actions, it is the underlying reason, the intention or motivation within that determines whether they are positive or negative. Unskillful acts cause harm. Hence, it is important to be mindful of what we really intend so that we don’t deceive others, and we don’t deceive ourselves. If our true intention is to live a sensible, wholesome life, when we have a choice to make a change in direction and continue on a different path, we make the skillful choice with good intention focused on causing not harm.

We all have choices when we experience the negative emotions our attachments and aversion give rise to. Consider a brief list of skillful means for re-training one’s thought sequences and dealing with negative emotions in a healthy way:

patience — the antidote to anger

humility — the antidote to pride

generosity — the antidote to greed

sympathetic joy — the antidote to envy

clear seeing — the antidote to anxiety

Once I took responsibility for my life I made some changes. I aimed to live consciously and simply in the present moment – the now moment.  I committed to continuing my mind training (meditation practice), extinguishing my ego and dying in peace. I am learning that the more I love and understand myself, the healthier my relationships become. I do not claim that I have arrived. I claim only that I found my path.

25 thoughts on “Finding My Path

  1. Pingback: the 4 noble truths of Buddhism « power of language blog: partnering with reality by JR Fibonacci

  2. Pingback: Awakening in Love « Pathfinders' Commune

  3. Hmmmmm…. I don’t see my comment. Is that a tech glitch or did you not want it here?

    • You published your “comment” submitted here for publication as a comment on my post. You published it also on your own blog as a post. No, I don’t want it here, thank you.

    • You published your comment on your blog as a post. You also submitted here for publication as a comment. No thank you. I don’t want it here and that’s why I did not post it.

  4. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts and feelings about life and karma. I’ve been meditating for 30 years and when I do it regularly my life runs much more smoothly. I’m still walking the path of what I believe and it changes as I mature / age. Heartspacing love your way.

    • Hello there,
      It’s so good to meet you. It appears we are close in age and have been meditating for about the same length of time. I enjoyed my visit to your blog and will be following it. Thanks for your comment.

  5. Thank you Timethief. It never ceases to amaze me how you post what I am looking for at any given time, this is a great help for me right now. Take care.

    • Dear Cynthia,
      I’m sending you a huge {HUG} and positive thoughts. In meditation we cultivate mindfulness, or awareness. We learn not to follow negative thoughts like a child jumping for the string on a balloon floating overhead. Mindfulness helps us to become more deeply aware of the patterns and projections that our mind and emotions give rise to in everyday life. We become more aware of how we blow things out of proportion. We become more aware of how we become attached to outcomes. As we become more calm and grounded in meditation we can carry that into our lives. In that state of mindfulness we generate positive thoughts that lead to positive actions.

  6. Hi Time Thief,

    Great article!

    Like you, I was raised a Christian. When I was much younger, I clung happily to my belief in the Bible and attended Sunday School with zeal. I remember being happy about being the top boy in Sunday School when it came to answering questions about the Bible and so on. Ah, youthful vanity and the need to believe in something strongly.

    Over time, I realized that I wasn’t being told everything about the Bible and that there were many other different views out there. I also realized that what I learned in Church was not sufficient to deal with the challenges in life. I had to take charge of my own life and find my own path.

    In my spiritual journey, my love for history helped since I was able to see the bigger picture and the reasons behind the development of religions and beliefs. I am not sure if it is because of being Asian Chinese that I was drawn to Eastern Philosophy, but I did find peace which I never had with Christianity.

    In the end, we are all unique. Each of us will have our own unique blend of beliefs and philosophies that appeal to us. For me it is the I-Ching primarily. What truly matters is that we take responsibility for our own lives and beliefs instead of following what others tells us to believe.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    • Greetings Irving,
      It’s so fascinating to uncover how many common life experiences we have had. Without getting into a lengthy story I am more highly educated in Christian scripture, doctrine, dogma, etc. than many people are. It’s also comforting that like you and I everyone who has commented here is committed to taking responsibility for their own thoughts and consequently, their lives. May peace be with you always.

  7. What a great synopsis of Buddhism! The Dalia Lama says that Buddhism is about transforming the mind and you have clearly captured the essence of this in your article. I appreciate the way you have boiled this down to taking responsiblity for your thoughts, words, and deeds and the way unwholesome or unskillful actions just bring suffering to all. Very well done!

    • Hello Sandra,
      I’m so glad you appreciated what I wrote. It’s important to know where my thoughts are focused. I don’t want to create suffering for myself or others. It’s a waste of time, energy and it’s just plain wrong-thinking to expect others to take responsibility and be accountable for what they can’t control. Worse still is blaming everything on externalities. The only person’s thoughts and actions I can control are my own. I’m becoming more aware of my motivation and learning more about my intentions. As I’m learning more my experience of this precious life I have takes on richer meaning. Thanks so much for commenting.

  8. what a wonderful post you have written…so clear and straightfoward…. and containing the essence of so many principles… it is a lovely path… I’m so remarkably thankful to be traveling it…and to find posts by others on similar paths is special…

    • I agree that it’s important to connect with others who have found their path too. It’s not only informative and uplifting to read what others have experienced and learned on their life long journey; it’s also inspiring.

  9. I really think that it is important to embrace the positive aspects of life and separate from the negative. It can be difficult since we are human. As soon as I let go of some of my toxic friendships, I felt so much better! The trick is, they don’t know any better. I am always kind when I am around them. Great post!
    Hopefully this comment will post…..

    • Hi Susie,
      I agree with you and have slowly let some distance grow between me and some negatively focused people I am in relationship with. It’s difficult to remain in relationship with people who are negative simply because I lack a firm control on my own thoughts and tend to absorb moods that others set. I still find value in the relationships so I maintain them and the adjustment I make is between my ears. I learned how to not take their negativity on as if it was something I owned and I’ve also learned that there are times I can help them see the sunny side.

  10. Thank you – I think I should look more closely into meditation – is there a particular version that you could suggest a scatty brained person like me to start with?

  11. timethief, this may be my all time favorite post. Thank you for sharing your journey, it’s so beauifully written. I’m on a similar path and am now so much happier and at peace. Like you, I know I’m headed in the right direction.

    • Hi there,
      I’m glad you have found your path too D. Finding one’s path may be easy or hard. I find staying on the path isn’t always easy. When I find myself in the ditch I have to adjust my attitude and get back on the path again.

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