In 1859, around 450 passengers on the Royal Charter, returning from the Australian goldmines to Liverpool, drowned when the steam clipper was …Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us?
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent, as a guide from beyond.
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī
Persian poet (1207-1273)
Illustration: Pixabay.com – klickblick
Modern neuroscience and Buddhist wisdom agree that our thoughts affect who we will become, and who we are today is to a large extent a result of our previous thoughts.
Every aspect of our personality, our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions stem from our mind. The brain of a young child is to a large extent an open book waiting to be filled with impressions and narratives determining its future. This then happens throughout life in a constant interplay between external impulses and inner thoughts, shaping what kind of person we will eventually be.
All our possibilities to choose may add some richness to our lives, but risk taking us away from what really gives meaning and happiness.
At the dawn of a new decade, I took a few moments to look back on the many changes taking place during my lifetime. The most remarkable development in the last decades is probably the explosion of choices for most of us. And the choices we can make seem to increase year by year. The existing narrative is that this is largely a good and positive development, but is it really so?
Insights into the delusions caused by our genetic setup provides the key out of dissatisfaction.
The natural selection is a blind process that only has a single driving force – bringing our genes to the next generation. This means that we are genetically hard-coded to experience the world not as it actually is, but in the way that has increased our chances of survival and our opportunities to procreate.
Focus on duties (what we can do for others) rather than on rights (what others should do for us) has the potential to transform the world in a positive direction.
We humans are deeply social beings who are constantly in dynamic interactions with other people around us. In these interactions, there are always a constant flow of giving and taking. These two are in essence the same, but depending on the point of view. Just like a stick is a single object but with two ends, each human exchange is a two-end transaction – my taking is the same as your giving and vice versa.
Any human relationship is, for better or worse, the sum of its interactions – some making the relationship stronger and some weaker.
Building a lasting relationship could therefore in many ways be likened to weaving a fabric, where each thread is a positive interaction. Just like a beautiful fabric has threads of many different colours, a strong relationship is built on many different kinds of interactions.
In the overflow of information competing for your attention and thoughts, its more important than ever to find the sources enabling you to listen to your own inner true voice.
We have come to a point in history where knowledge has never been as easily accessible as now. Through the Internet’s search engines, all human knowledge is literally available at our fingertips. But at the same time, it has never been more difficult than now to think for ourselves.
Meditation and mindfulness, as practiced in Buddhism is based on four simple principles that can be understood in five minutes, but which require a lifetime of practice to explore.
Everyone who has been in the London Underground has probably seen the platform signs “Mind the gap”. What we may not often think of is the short gap between the external stimuli that reaches us and how we react to them. It is in this short gap in time from thought to action that we have the opportunity to make important choices.
Toning down our desires and aversions to live more in the present is a good recipe for increased harmony and satisfaction.
At the time of writing, I am on holiday in a small English town right on the border to Wales. I combine socializing and friendship during weekend and evenings with days alone exploring the city and its surroundings, reading and meditating. The city is from the Middle Ages with many half-timbered houses in Tudor style.
Here is a large lush park that stretches along the River Severn, where rowers from the local boat club glide silently along the river. And just south of the town, the horizon is filled by miles of rolling hills that invite for long walks with the many sheep as the closest company.