Archive for November 6, 2012
Sometimes it seems like the whole purpose of life is just to learn and grow. We learn from our mistakes. I have observed that most of us do not learn unless we have made some mistake and have suffered its consequences. I have also noticed that the majority among us keep on repeating the same mistakes again and again and in doing so keep on attracting the same kind of circumstances in our lives and then keep complaining too. There are some of us who learn from the mistakes of others. The majority among us though must go out there, make their own mistakes, learn from them, change their thinking and behavior and move on. These are the wise ones. So making a mistake unknowingly is not as bad as making it intentionally. Learning from your mistakes is incomplete without a change in your thinking patterns. Changed thought patterns bring about changed behavior. Here are some life lessons I learnt after making mistakes. I am sharing them with you in the hope that you may be among the wise ones.
The most sincere and selfless people around you are your parents. They maybe wrong sometimes and maybe hard on you but don’t just rebel against them without trying to understand their intentions first. Save some part of your money whenever you get some and don’t touch it unless you really need it. Spend most of your money on things whose value increase with time, rather than immediate pleasure. It won’t last long otherwise. There is no shortcut to being rich. Anyone who tells you so is lying and most probably a cheat. Time is more important than money. Family is more important than career. Pursue what you love to do and be great at it and find a way to make a living doing that. If you are unable to make a living while doing what you love don’t stop doing what you love to do, and while you make your living doing something else keep thinking how can do what you love and still live of it.
Life is unpredictable. Make sure your loved ones know that you love and care for them, no matter how busy you are. Never assume they know. Even if they know tell them anyway. Read good books instead of watching TV. You will learn more and waste less time. Don’t buy what they advertise just on an impulse. Take your time to decide if you really need that thing. Change your friends if they do not share your values. It won’t kill you or your reputation. Take risks but calculate the risks before taking them to see that you can handle the failure. Plan your life but leave room for unplanned activities too. Let yourself experience the element of surprise. Remember that nothing lasts forever. So appreciate what you have when you have it.
Find your own God. Don’t believe in what they tell you about God. Find Him within you. Reach out for Him and He will hold your hand for sure. It’s better to agree to disagree rather than trying to force your point of view on someone who doesn’t think like you do. Accept your failures with grace and don’t bury yourself in depression when you don’t get what you want. There might be something better waiting for you to notice it. Loving someone does not mean you have to agree on everything. When you are doing something try to focus all your attention to just that task. Forget about everything else. Be healthy. Exercise, eat healthy foods, sleep well and you won’t get to see very many doctors in life. Don’t do things just because everyone else is doing them. Choose what you want to do consciously with specific reasoning.
These are the very basic lessons I learnt from life. You make your own mistakes and learn them or you can just be the wise one.
Self-reflections of the soul define those bittersweet moments in life that resurface now and again, catching us off-guard, showing up unplanned and uninvited, and asking us the questions we would rather avoid altogether on an otherwise ordinary day. Human self-reflection is the capacity of humans to exercise introspection and the willingness to learn more about their fundamental nature, purpose and essence.
What do you wish you had known when you were younger? What have you learned from the mistakes of your past, from the choices of your life, and from the roads not taken and dreams yet to fulfill?
We do not wake up one day and decide to reflect on the yesterdays of our youth. We instead go with life’s flow until something along the way prompts us to stop and think. In that moment, we realize that before we can plan for more of the future, it would be wise to learn a little from the past. Self-reflection does not make an appointment to show up. It seeps in from the invisible corners of our mind, spills over from the edges of our heart and finds a way to capture our attention. Self-reflection starts slow but builds up fast. A song, a voice, a smell, a picture, or a mere thought can all trigger the memories buried long ago and bring them to surface faster than any diver can swim up for air.
This is not the Stone Age where we would sit around the caves and watch the sunsets or bask in the moonshine—we now only dream of those activities as exotic vacations! We are very busy people now. The Internet is here. Did self-reflection not get the memo? We now have things to do, stuff to read, people to keep up with and places to explore—even if only on our computer screens. In short, we are far too busy to stop and think, much less to stop and reflect!
How can we make time to reflect on our entire past? And why, pray tell, should we go through the exercise at all?
These are very fortunate days and times we are living in. Our advancements in society and technology make so much accessible to so many. Being caught up in it all is our way of participating in the New Age. It is exciting, adventurous and filled with opportunities. Being busy is our response to the 21st century’s lifestyle demands. Being busy, however, does not slow down the hand of time; in fact, it seems to oddly speed it up. The more we rush, the faster time flies. The more we pursue, the quicker our days fill up and the sooner our hours come to an end. And yet as we grow older and richer in experience, our deepest desires gravitate toward finding meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life. Self-reflection can be the beginning of this. It can be a way to lock into the beat of our own hearts in this fast-paced world. Self-reflection can ground us long enough to clarify our journey ahead.
Self-reflection can provide a safe haven to re-examine the past. Even if we have abandoned it to the depths of our consciousness, with careful introspection and reflection, we can slowly walk to the edge and muster enough courage to call out to our past. We can still define the means to come to terms with our past and learn from it. When we stop to reflect on our lives, we naturally slow down as we process the memories, the experiences, the various circumstances and the people who walked in and—sometimes—out of our life. We reflect on the little person we were and on the innocence of our youth. We remember our first dabs into society and we cannot help but feel compassion and love for our younger self. We were new to the world then. We were at the beginning of life’s journey. We were full of dreams and visions of the future.
How have we measured up? Can we slow down long enough to take in the years and to reconnect with that younger self?
We begin to see our past decisions as the best ones at the time. We did our best with all that was available to us then. We learn to set aside blame and anger, disappointments and regrets, because we have wasted enough adult years with them. Instead, we learn to let go of the heavy burdens of regret and what-ifs. We choose to grow instead and evolve into our very best self. We accept whatever happened and choose to see the better reasons in the way things unfolded as they did. Self-reflection can stir different reactions from each of us. It can tease, torment and thwart our forward momentum. It can distract and dilute our peace of mind with unnecessary reminders of days long abandoned for reasons deeply buried away. Or it can annoy us by entering “replay” mode at times, returning us to the same persistent spot and repeating the same incident over and over.
Memories—dormant or active, repressed or treasured, old or recent—all contribute to who we are in the present moment. Memories are an undeniable part of us; they have shaped us into who we are today. Self-reflection does not meet with all of us in the same manner. We each have our own relationship with the past and reflecting on that past stirs quite naturally unique emotions for each of us. But with the right approach to self-reflection, we can even redefine and reshape the way we see our past, our childhood, and even ourselves.
In the Diamond Path of Tibetan Buddhism, the Five Auspicious Perfections or the Five Certainties teach us to awaken the primordially enlightened heart-mind within us. This elegant, multileveled teaching purifies our perceptions and serves as an antidote to being closed, turned away, inattentive, distracted, jaded, or cynical. It opens us up to the infinite potential inherent in each moment. It frames our experience in a crystalline lattice in which time has five unique dimensions. It points to the absolute, timeless dimension that is simultaneously within and beyond us throughout our lives.
Cultivating these Five Perfections helps enhance our receptivity to and trust in the order of nature and our faith in our potential and ourselves. The Five Perfections empower the learning process on all levels, conscious and unconscious; facilitate the transmission of transcendent wisdom and maximize the intended transformative results. The classic Five Perfections are the following:
Perfect Time: This very moment is the perfect moment. This very time is the very first, fresh and pure, dreamlike instant, the highest heaven. This moment is the Golden Age, as during the lifetime of the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad or other great teachers, for they are still speaking to us today.
Perfect Place: This place where we are is the perfect place. This very location is the perfect space, paradise, utopia, a radiant and stainless mandala or gathering of higher consciousness. Heaven is not just a place of bliss and endless delight that we go to after we die; it’s right here and now. Just open your eyes and behold.
Perfect Teaching: This is the timeless teaching, the ultimate, absolutely true and candid, direct, spontaneous enlightenment teaching, perfectly liberating and freeing. This perfection is not meant to be comparative; it simply asserts that this is the perfect teaching for here and now, for those who are listening and receiving it. This, what is, right now—not necessarily our particular doctrine or tradition, but the truth shining in this moment. Everything is sublime, as it is, in this very instant.
This moment’s teaching, whatever you’re getting, is the perfect teaching. If it’s silence, this is the perfect teaching. If it’s bird song or traffic noise, that’s it. If it’s a harsh lesson or confusing, this, too, is it; none other to seek or long for; utmost reality is encoded in it, right here and now. The noble Dharma, or liberating Truth, is being eloquently expressed right here and now, for those with unobstructed ears to hear and eyes of pure vision to see. The sound of the stream is the song of the divine; the wind in the trees, the breath of the Goddess. Those around us are our sangha, the congregation or holy community of bodhisattvas and seekers.
Perfect Teacher: The Absolute Buddha or God, Allah, or Brahman is the ultimate teacher, who is coming through here and now in various forms and guises. Its energy manifests itself through human and, at times, avian, animal, and other nonhuman teachers with their limitations and foibles, serving as vehicles for the underlying radiantly shining emanations—clear as a ringing bell that awakens you from a deep sleep.
Perfect Student: This auspicious certainty is probably the hardest, the most challenging, for most of us to get. “What?” the inner defendant screams. “Who, me? I’m far from perfect.” Yes, you can be the right channel for this truth. This fifth certainty is also termed “the perfect entourage,” recasting the teacher–student relationship as the Buddha and his closest disciples or the followers of Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, Gandalf, Yoda, or whomever you most respect.
Once, during a three-year meditation retreat deep in the forest in southwestern France, an American student said to the teacher, Dudjom Rinpoche, “Rinpoche, I get this; what could be better than this? This is obviously the perfect place. This is definitely the right place. This is the right moment. This is the right teaching, and you are the perfect teacher. But I don’t feel like I’m the right person.” How honest, how human, and how true! Even if we might have little questions with the first of the four perfect certainties, that fifth one is the really tough one for most of us. Why do we doubt ourselves to such an extent?
Reframe Your Mind: The Five Perfections point to the inner certainty leading directly from here to right here and now. Use this template to reframe your life, find genuine meaning and substance, and catapult yourself into a larger reality. It can completely transfigure your perception, understanding, and experience of time, space, and the meaning inherent in the moment.
Temptation can be compared to a fishing lure, writes Dudley Rutherford, author of God Has an App for That, and senior pastor of the 10,000-member Shepherd of the Hills Church in Los Angeles. On the outside, it’s colorful and shiny. Some lures have festive skirts; others have little whirligigs that spin around in the water. They come in all shapes, sizes and smells, but each one has the same purpose: to catch a fish. Beneath the decoration lies a hook waiting to snag some unsuspecting fish from the water, to their doom.
No one can escape temptation in this culture, advises Rutherford: it’s everywhere. It’s no longer lurking in the shadows, but displayed proudly on billboards, in movie theaters, and on our television and computer screens. We’re constantly bombarded by images through a variety of media that appeal to the sensual appetite like never before.
So, if every single one of us—regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, or socioeconomic status—will be confronted by temptation at some point in our life, how can we overcome it? God provides the answer to this question within the book of James in the New Testament.
James has been called the most practical book of the Bible, and if you were to imagine that it were a “Smartphone” application, there would be five important steps to downloading God’s “app” to overcome temptation, writes Rutherford:
James 1:14 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil or does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” When our faith falters, it’s easy to blame someone else. When Adam sinned, he blamed Eve and when Eve sinned, she blamed the snake. We can blame God or Satan when we are tempted, but we must accept the fact that, more often than not, our own evil desires are to blame.
When we stop to examine the stakes involved in conceding to temptation—to look down the road and see where our actions would place us—we will be able to resist giving into these enticements. James 1:15 says, “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” Temptation leads to sin, and sin leads to death in our relationships, our reputation, and even our physical bodies. We must consider these dire consequences, before giving in to temptation.
In order to rebuff temptation’s advances, we need to know the areas in which we are vulnerable. Ask your closest friends to assess your weaknesses, because they’ll catch what you may fail to see. Daily journaling and reflection are also especially effective in identifying areas of weakness. By slowing down and thinking about what has happened in the day, or reading about it months or years after it happened, you can look back with hindsight and continue to improve your defenses against temptation.
It’s time to empty your life of the things that tempt you. If you struggle with pornography, you cannot keep your computer in a secluded room without some type of accountability software installed. If you have difficulty controlling your drinking, you cannot keep alcohol in your house or frequent bars and clubs. If you have anger-related issues, you cannot watch violent movies or listen to music that indulges or inflames your anger. If you are obsessed with gossip, stop lounging around the water cooler, and turn off Thirty-Mile Zone. Paul urges us in Ephesians 4:27, “Do not give the devil a foothold.” Translation: Do your utmost to eliminate any chance of either the devil or your own evil desires grabbing hold of any corner of your life and climbing further into your heart to bend it to his will.
You have a direct line to the truth! If there were ever a charge given to Christians, it surely would be to know more Scripture. Knowing God’s Word inside and out should be a primary objective for every Christian, because having a good handle on Scripture is essential to tackle our temptations. When Jesus withstood the devil’s tricks, He did so each time by responding with a verse from Scripture and there’s no other way to be able to quote the Word at any given moment than by reading the Bible every single day and letting it permeate your being. Like listening to your favorite song over and over again, daily time in God’s Word will get it into your heart and mind and come out of your mouth in the most critical situations. We know this is a system that works, because Christ was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Are you in love with being in love? When that infatuation fades are you the type of person who moves on to someone else? According to experts, you could be addicted to love — and we’re not talking about a song by Robert Palmer, but a real problem that can cause brain reactions similar to drug addiction. When you first meet somebody and you feel that connection and all the buttons are going off, that causes changes in the brain similar to taking cocaine. It is the brain on drugs, basically, when you fall in love. Our desire to want to feel in love is hard-wired in our biology for species survival, but we can get addicted to the rush. Once the fascination wears off in about a year the chemicals stabilize, and then the hard work comes in because you have to start relating to them just like any other person, this is when most love addicts jump ship.
A chemical connection has a lot of frazzle dazzle but it’s limited. It’s the deep, intimate connection that comes later that should be encouraged to find because they’re so satisfying and they can last a long time. Parental neglect is often the trigger for love addiction. When they find someone who has that interest in them, there’s a sense of fulfillment and completion. It feels like it makes up for all they didn’t have when they were younger. But when there is conflict, the love addicts often think this means the relationship is doomed; which may not be true.
There are the positive traits of someone and the negative traits. There is no way you are going to like everything about somebody. But when you choose to take the relationship to a deeper level, it’s is such a great teacher because it allows you to learn tolerance and to teach you deep companionship through all of life’s trials and tribulations. Here are some characteristics of a person who is in love with being in love:
You wait for lightning to strike. "I recommend if you have lightning strike, to run in the other direction because that’s a sign of neuroses and a sign of destructive patterns that don’t serve you," Orloff said. "On the other hand, if you meet someone and you feel a little glimmer of something, you want to stoke it like a fire and see if there’s something there."
It’s not you, it’s them. "One of the reasons people do this for so long is they don’t think this is unhealthy behavior, but that they have high standards," Arterburn said. "If the relationship doesn’t fulfill them they feel the other person is falling short, but what’s really happening is they are trying to fill a need and they feel incomplete if they’re not involved in a romance. They feel like something is missing."
“Most often a female romance addict will have a few or no same-sex friendships," Arterburn said. "They jump from male relationship to male relationship. Maybe, they were rejected by dad so this is a way to fill that need."
Your friends have dropped hints that you don’t want to hear. "Really take a look at what people have said to you; people who care about you or maybe even people you’ve broken up with. What messages have people tried to communicate to you that you have resisted?" Arterburn said.
You need a relationship to be happy. "If you’re going to a gas station to be filled up by somebody else, that’s not going to make you happy because that tank will keep running out," Orloff said. ". One thing I stress is that nothing on the outside can make you happy unless you have happiness inside yourself. I mean money, success, fame, fortune, love; none of that can make you happy. It can add to your happiness, but you have to have some kind of inner peace and something that you can bring to somebody else first."