Small Businesses Rule! Please Keep Them Alive!

Shop Indie Bookstores

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Franz Kafka, undoubtedly one of my favorite surrealist novelists of the 20th Century once wrote "There art two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness." A winning duo, don't you think? And I am guilty of both of these ... especially impatience. I feel that it is the root of many of my whims and inconsistencies; I just don't allow enough time for things to come to fruition.

Oh... and the hypocrisy of it all... when I vow that animals are far more important to me than the majority of humans, but then I turn and yell at the pups when they bark incessantly at an innocent passer-by or the wind. They are simply communicating...warning...protecting... but the excessive noise doesn't fit into MY plan, and impatience kicks in. Have you ever experienced this?

I struggle with this, feel I am a walking contradiction, and have spent the majority of my 37 years beating myself up for my impatience and inconsistency; it has been the bane of my existence, and I am fed up! How am I to be a mother if my patience flounders like my moods? I realize that both impatience and inconsistency are synonymous with "the dreaded mental affliction" (shhhhhhh), yet I refuse to allow myself to be labeled as such... or to be victimized!

I believe that patience takes practice, and the only path to REAL patience is nestled gently within the words of Siddhartha Gotama ... aka Buddha. To Buddha, it is simple, and goes WAY beyond religion. It is more of a philosophy or 'way of life'. It is a philosophy because philosophy 'means love of wisdom.' I once read that In Buddhism, patience is said to be the greatest prayer. Choosing the path of patience, gratitude and non-attachment (whether we describe our spiritual nature as that of Jew, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist) has the capacity to transform suffering and uplift our energies into collective forces for good in this crazy world. The Buddhist path can be summed up as:

(1) to lead a moral life
(2) to be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
(3) to develop wisdom and understanding

There is no religious attachment, and that is refreshing! Anyone can practice Buddhism. It is a belief system which is tolerant of all other beliefs or religions, agreeing with the moral teachings of other religions. Although, it goes further by providing a long term purpose within our existence, through wisdom and true understanding. Real Buddhism is very tolerant and not concerned with labels; that is why there have never been any wars fought in the name of Buddhism. That is why Buddhists do not preach and try to convert, only explain if an explanation is sought. And I say ... "right on!"

In my search for Buddhist meditation exercises, I happened upon a wonderful website that I would like to share with you. It is called "Basic Buddhism: A Five Minute Introduction" - are you chuckling at the irony, too? To teach the impatient to have the patience of the enlightened one, they had to resort to the instant gratification approach that we all have become accustomed to in our painfully fast-paced world... like "Buddhism for Dummies" or something. Regardless, it is great... and I'd like to share its explanation of 'The Four Noble Truths' to entice you to also delve into some Buddhist readings and ideas:

"What did the Buddha Teach?

The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

• What is the First Noble Truth?

The first truth is that life is suffering i.e., life includes pain, getting old, disease, and ultimately death. We also endure psychological suffering like loneliness frustration, fear, embarrassment, disappointment and anger. This is an irrefutable fact that cannot be denied. It is realistic rather than pessimistic because pessimism is expecting things to be bad. lnstead, Buddhism explains how suffering can be avoided and how we can be truly happy.

• What is the Second Noble Truth?

The second truth is that suffering is caused by craving and aversion. We will suffer if we expect other people to conform to our expectation, if we want others to like us, if we do not get something we want,etc. In other words, getting what you want does not guarantee happiness. Rather than constantly struggling to get what you want, try to modify your wanting. Wanting deprives us of contentment and happiness. A lifetime of wanting and craving and especially the craving to continue to exist, creates a powerful energy which causes the individual to be born. So craving leads to physical suffering because it causes us to be reborn.

• What is the Third Noble Truth?

The third truth is that suffering can be overcome and happiness can be attained; that true happiness and contentment are possible. lf we give up useless craving and learn to live each day at a time (not dwelling in the past or the imagined future) then we can become happy and free. We then have more time and energy to help others. This is Nirvana.

• What is the Fourth Noble Truth?

The fourth truth is that the Noble 8-fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering.

• What is the Noble 8-Fold Path?

In summary, the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focussing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.

• What are the 5 Precepts?

The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts, of which the main five are: not to take the life of anything living, not to take anything not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech, and to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.

• What is Karma?

Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. This simple law explains a number of things: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, why some live only a short life. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at (1) the intention behind the action, (2) effects of the action on oneself, and (3) the effects on others.

• What is Wisdom?

Buddhism teaches that wisdom should be developed with compassion. At one extreme, you could be a goodhearted fool and at the other extreme, you could attain knowledge without any emotion. Buddhism uses the middle path to develop both. The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality, all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent and do no constitute a fixed entity. True wisdom is not simply believing what we are told but instead experiencing and understanding truth and reality. Wisdom requires an open, objective, unbigoted mind. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.

• What is Compassion?

Compassion includes qualities of sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern, caring. In Buddhism, we can really understand others, when we can really understand ourselves, through wisdom.

• How do I Become a Buddhist?

Buddhist teachings can be understood and tested by anyone. Buddhism teaches that the solutions to our problems are within ourselves not outside. The Buddha asked all his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves. ln this way, each person decides for themselves and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. This makes Buddhism less of a fixed package of beliefs which is to be accepted in its entirety, and more of a teaching which each person learns and uses in their own way."

Here are links to two books that I have been immersing myself in to further my practice in patience:

The Download-of-the-Day that I highly recommend is a song entitled "Breathe" by Telepopmusik - My BEAUTIFUL cousin and soul sister Katie played this for me...said it reminded her of the main character in my book "Dear Prudence"... Ana Guida - This song resonates, capturing the Beauty of the Buddhist Principles - and so does KATIE, her husband Joe, her sister Jenifer, and My Beloved Aunt Kath and Bobalou... Enjoy!

I close with a most appropriate quote:
"You must first have a lot of patience to learn to have patience."
Stanislaw J. Lec

Amanda xo

1 comment:

  1. I just bought a really cool necklace made of jade with the buddha on it and I got it from a store called East Meets West, from the Menlo Park Mall. They have really neat stuff there! Religious jewelry and figurines..I was so attracted to the necklace, I just had to get it! I am not a buddhist, but buddhism is beginning to sound somewhat interesting to me. It is true that you have to have a lot of patience, but Amanda, patience is something that comes with time. It is like this: after waiting for so long for something, you finally figure out that you are getting what you need, therefor, there is no reason to not have any patience! If you are getting what you want in the long run, why not be patient? I used to be impatient when I was younger, but now I realize that as long as I get what I need or want in the long run, there is no need to be impatient. I know I would not want to rush things, either. Life is a precious thing. We should live it, breath it, and be happy about it. I think that as long as we live our lives thinking positively, the suffering will not come so near and so often. Instead, it will sometimes come from a far distance, somewhat detached from you, because you are not thinking about it, but being positive! I think positively now. I think it would help you if maybe you started meeting new people, seeing new things in the world...maybe new people will have some interesting things to say to you, maybe helpful things! Seeing 'the world' helps many people to become better at many things. Like becoming patient. I think that maybe after seeing more of the world, and traveling with some of your friends, you may realize that patience is a rare thing, a beautiful, admired thing. People like people who are patient. The world is a beautiful, admired thing. In a way, it is like patience. The world is like patience: it is beautiful and admired, dreamed of and desired, it makes people wait for those very special moments like when a baby says his/her first word for the first time. Many things are patient. Like when plants are growing, they are patient for the rain to fall.
    The world inspires many people. I think it can inspire you to become patient.
    -Holly J. Guilfoyle