My journey to establishing a Buddhist Practice began in 2004 when I was going through a very difficult time in my life that was filled with pain, loss and suffering. I was in the midst of recovering from an automobile accident that occurred 4 years previously.
During my recovery journey, I met a layman Practitioner who had volunteered to tutor college students like myself who were struggling to complete their coursework assignments due to cognitive difficulties.
When I look back now, I realize our sessions had quickly progressed from simply getting the work completed to building a valuable friendship. This mentor practiced compassionate listening and patience by simply being fully present to listen to my personal journey up to that point of pain and loss surrounding the car crash.
In a short amount of time, our weekly sessions evolved to what I now know as Dharma talks. These are sharing the teachings of the Buddha, although for many weeks the phrase Buddhism or Buddha never came up.
What was happening is one human being was trying to help another who was experiencing difficulties. This soon forged into a fellowship of deep presence and compassion. To this day I am eternally grateful.
The lessons were kept quite simple. Being present and mindful were mentioned many times which made me curious and I wanted to know more. It was mentioned people gathered every week to practice meditation which was useful in cultivating a joyous mind, no matter what was going on in life.
This awareness planted a seed in me that took two years to germinate before the karma ripened in 2006 when I attended my first Saturday morning meditation session, with the Sangha I am now a member of.
Since that time, my own Practice has evolved from “hanging out with Buddhists”, to taking refuge in the Triple Gem, living by the five precepts and establishing a regular meditation practice. Over the last 11 years I have meditated, chanted with and listened to many Dharma talks by Buddhist monks. They delved into the teachings of karma and cause and effect, the 4 Noble Truths, the 8-Fold Noble Path and the 6 Paramitas.
Always remember to be near the breath. It is life and will keep you rooted through hard-times and good-times with perspective on who and where you are.
Now my spiritual, mental and physical life has been transformed into a much more wholesome path. The chaos factor in my life has diminished. I believe that I am now making better choices because of the awareness of the consequences of my choices, for which I am solely responsible for.
I’m not afraid of death anymore and live with the comforting awareness of the Law of Cause and Effect. Life still has its difficulties and I still make errors in actions and judgment every now and then, but I am quicker to catch on to them when I do and learn to forgive myself and others. Then, I just get on with the Practice.
Just yesterday, I was fortunate enough to have gone for a run, which provided a wonderful opportunity for practicing meditation while running. After establishing concentration by focusing on my breath and body movements, out of this contemplative state arose the phrase, “Breathe, Love and Live”.
In that moment, the following came to the forefront of my consciousness:
Breathe – Always remember to be near the breath. It is life and will keep you rooted through hard-times and good-times with perspective on who and where you are.
Love – Yourself and others. Not in a clinging way filled with expectations. Intentionally, exude loving kindness and totally let go of it. There is a Pali word for this called Metta. By letting go, you don’t have to expend any additional energy in trying to control the outcome of Love. You intentionally create a vacuum which according to the laws of physics and spirituality will be filled with something. Let that be more loving kindness, now you have the momentum of sustainable wholesomeness.
Live – Be aware and grateful for this life and everything it contains. Just like all things in the universe we will rise, sustain for a while and then fall away. The real question is: What are you going to put your time and effort into cultivating while you are here on this plane of consciousness? The beautiful thing is that by taking responsibility of your own mind and actions, you will have ultimate influence over your life from this moment forward.
And so, life goes on. When all of this manifested in that brief instant at the end of my 8 KM run, I was grateful, tired and let it go, with the realization this wasn’t my insight. I don’t own it. My purpose in sharing it is with the intention that perhaps it can help others in their own personal spiritual journeys.
If you made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read this and I ask that when something you have found of value rises to the surface, let it go by sharing it with others in the intention of betterment of all.
Fare well in your spiritual journey.
With Metta and Mudita.