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A Profound and Particular Connection

June 12, 2015 by  
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My wife and I recently visited the home of the famous painter Rembrandt, here in Amsterdam. Rembrandt was quite an astute businessman as well as a gifted artist. Unfortunately he wasn’t home when we stopped by—ha ha–but his beautiful artwork was everywhere and it was pretty darn impressive, I must say.

I also had a very short but interesting conversation with a friendly guard at the Rembrandt home.  It all started with a favorite comment of mine that I made as we parted ways. It really seemed to get to him but in a good way.  I said “Have a nice life!” And he enthusiastically said “Wow. Thanks a lot. I think I will plan on doing just that”.  That started the short conversation. But my next comment seemed to really hit a nerve, again, in a good way as he went on to say he’d never thought of the life of human beings in the way I said it.

What I said was simply that I think that all of us humans, even though we are from different countries, cultures, religions and speak different languages, we are all so very much the same. We all share at least one thing in common that should bring us even closer together as humans, especially in today’s world with the killing of so many innocent people in the name of “belief” or different world views.  He wanted to know what that ‘one thing’ was that we all share no matter who we are, what we believe or where we live.

What I said was, “No matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, educated or not, as powerful as king or a president or as helpless as a new born child, we all are going to die.”  I know that is obvious but it’s something we should think about more often when we are feeling high and mighty or are judging other people and what they are doing with their lives.  The fact is that not one person out of the 7 billion people on the earth right now will be here in another 120 years or so. We all are in the same boat so why not make that the best possible boat in the universe and treat others as our brothers and sisters with great love and respect?

As we walked away from this very kind and interesting Dutch man, I think both he and I thought, “I think I have a new friend”.

 

Accepting the Moment

October 25, 2013 by  
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I noticed that myself, my wife and a number of other people are having a hard time with life events this past week. We will all have difficult times to deal with but how events affect us now and impact us in the long run depends on how we deal with them. If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you’ve probably read my thoughts on living in the now and how it affects your health, stress level, and just enjoyment of life. Well, the same kind of thing is key for dealing with hard times—awareness and acceptance of the present experience.

When we find ourselves in an emotional or difficult moment—whether it’s a deadline you’ve missed at work, a bad injury or the loss of a loved one—one of the first things that comes to mind is wanting or wishing we could change what has happened. There’s no point in doing this but we all do it just the same. If you hold onto those thoughts, you’ll just be torturing yourself which does you and those around you no good at all and can be harmful in the long run.

Now some situations can be changed for the better but not always and sometimes changing it is going to be a losing battle or just make something else worse. The first thing you need to do with any situation is to accept what has already happened. The past cannot be changed. If you missed that deadline, well, you can’t go back and get the work done on time any more but you can move forward and get the job done as soon as possible or put it aside and pick up the next most important task. If someone has passed away, celebrate who they have been and how they have enriched your life while accepting that everyone will pass on and that it’s okay, that it is just part of this wonderful miracle that is living.

Accepting and living in the moment won’t make the stress or pain of what has happened go away completely and that’s okay too. Disappointment, pain, and sorrow are normal when things get rough but they should only be momentary, a reaction to the circumstance. Feel your emotions and accept those as well. But let go of any attempts to control what has already happened. This will make it so much easier to accept difficult circumstances which will reduce the emotional and physical problems you’ll have when dealing with the situation.

So live in the now, accept the moment. Don’t spend time wishing things had been different and don’t try to change the present in an attempt to change the past and its effect on you and your loved ones. The only thing that can change how a difficult situation will affect you, is in how you deal with it.

Embracing What We Cannot Change

December 24, 2010 by  
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There were so many awe-inspiring, extraordinarily beautiful, and even startling sights during our recent trip to the Asia. But one of the oddest things—or at least one that really struck me—was the incongruous vision of Buddhist monks walking around the temple areas, looking down as they went, at something we are all very familiar with yet would not expect to see at a Buddhist temple–cell phones! Yes, these monks, ages anywhere from, (would you believe) 8 or 9 years old to 80 or 90 years old—were walking and texting or talking on that very, modern invention.

It didn’t seem to fit at all and it took a while to get somewhat used to seeing the simple Buddhist ways combined with modern technology. Didn’t Buddhist traditionally renounce conventional living? But it occurred to me after a while, that they also attach great importance to community and isn’t keeping in touch part of that? And then there’s the Buddhist philosophy of “if you can’t change something then accept it”. And I’ve been thinking about that particular outlook on and off ever since then.

It’s really a very important idea, one that we should all make a part of our lives. Whether it’s a simple thing like not getting upset at standing in line or being in a huge traffic jam or the heart-breaking circumstance of dealing with the illness or death of a loved one, we need to focus on accepting what we cannot change. Fighting it by getting angry, depressed, or taking any other destructive or non-constructive path will not make it better and often leads to more unhappiness.

I know it’s easy to say, accept it and let it go or embrace it, and much harder to act on that idea. But if there is any time of the year that would make it easier to try and live by this philosophy, it must be now, during the holiday season when forgive and forget, be of good cheer, and learning to see that it’s “A Wonderful Life” is being preached and practiced all around us. So, let’s all think about that and put it into action in our lives and I promise that we will all feel so much better.

A Happy Holiday to you and yours.