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May 2019 Dragon Speak

We have been reading the book entitled The Joy of Living by Yongy Mingyur Rinopoche. He is telling us about finding joy in everyday living, despite the chaos enveloping all of us. “Buddhism is very practical. It is about thoughts that foster serenity, happiness, and confidence, and avoiding thoughts that provoke anxiety, hopelessness, and fear.”

Buddhist thought and meditation are vehicles that allow us to learn how our minds work. We learn that the mind holds a plethora of beliefs, expectations and thoughts that cause us to feel anxiety, hopelessness and fear. Our behavior is linked directly to what we think and believe. In many respects, we are under “spells” from our cultural heritage, familial heritage and human heritage. They often tell us that we must act and believe in certain ways, or we will be cast out of the group. These “spells” are brainwashing, and they are so ingrained in us that we do not even know they exist, let alone question them. This is where the Buddhist wisdom intervenes in that we begin to learn exactly how our mind works and what it tells us. Once we know what illusions our minds are filled with, we can then decide what we choose to believe in, and thus begin to break the hold that these beliefs have on us.

If one of the spells we are under is “I am not good enough”, we don’t have the confidence to trust ourselves, to speak up and to do things that are out of our comfort zone. We act like zombies led by powerful figures. We don’t fulfill our special gifts and become the persons that we can be. We are shadows of ourselves, and therefore allow things to go on in our personal lives and in our communities that are detrimental and kill our hope and our spirits.

How do we change this picture? First, we must know what beliefs and thoughts are in our minds. What frightens us into acting against our own self-interest and the good of all people? This takes time and exploration. Until we examine what is going on within us, how can we expect to change our reality and the reality of the world?

We must learn to change the opinion we have of ourselves. If we think that we are not enough, damaged and evil, then our actions will reflect these beliefs. Buddhism tells us that we are good enough right now, that we are all enlightened right now. Christianity tells us that we are all children of God. When do we begin to believe this so we can act accordingly and change the world?