I’ve been semi-studying Buddhism for many years, so when I discovered the Kadampa Buddhist Meditation Center here in Sarasota, I was eager to check it out. A week ago I went to their “Stop the Week” meditation on Friday evening and the middle of last week I participated in a Puja – a ceremony like the ones I have attended in Thailand where the monks chant and pray in the Wats, except that this was done entirely in English. It felt like home.
Very little in this world resonates more strongly with me than Buddhism and I want to know more, so I joined their Foundation Program, a course of study with meetings every Thursday night. My first lesson was this past Thursday. Among other things, we discussed the concept titled “Always Rely On A Happy Mind Alone.” The idea is that our present mind is like a wild elephant that is out of control and difficult to tame. Governed by this unruly mind, we face many difficulties and problems. As we begin to control our mind, many negative thoughts may still arise, but they will have no control over us and will not cause us to commit negative actions. A controlled mind will remain happy and calm no matter what the conditions. The measurement of having trained our mind is that we are always calm and happy.
As simplistic as this concept sounds, it is profoundly complex, and I know that it is true. I walked out of the center that evening feeling calm and peaceful. In that contented state of mind I began noticing the quality of the conversations around me. Yesterday, especially, it seemed that so much of what I heard was negative.
In the coffee shop a table of eight people spent two hours bemoaning the state of the airline industry, how we were going to end up with two or three national airlines as the smaller carriers fail, how fares were going to skyrocket, and how, as a nation composed of families who are spread all across the country, we would be unable to stay in touch with our extended and nuclear family members.
As I walked home from downtown I noticed a group of people in Five Points Park dishing out free meals from a folding table that prominently displayed a “Food Not Bombs” banner. I asked a nearby spectator what was going on and he launched into a diatribe about President Bush, followed by a lecture on the necessity to accept Jesus into my life or I would be banished to hell on judgment day.
Later that evening I spoke to a local businessman who is having problems with his business, problems with his taxes, problems with his employees, etc. His discourse was littered with the phrase, “I can”t.” Of course he is having problems. He believes he can’t, so he can’t.
Negativity, negativity, negativity. If we gathered up all that energy that it being wasted on negativity and put it to work positively, think of what we could accomplish! It’s as simple as that. Focus on the positive. Reject the negative. Let go of judgment, gossip, ridiculing, and controlling behavior.
OK, I admit it. I’m sometimes guilty of dwelling on the negative. I have been known to bash our current President on occasion. And I catch myself participating in gossip and judgment at times. But as of this moment, I vow to do everything in my power to eliminate negative thoughts and “always rely upon a happy mind alone.” As in my personal life, I hope to convey this positive mindset in my blog as well, thus from this moment on, I am in search of stories of common people who have made a difference in this world. Whether the actions of a person positively affected a million souls or just one, I want to tell the story. So if you know someone like this – an unsung hero who should be recognized for his or her good works – please email me with the details. That way, you can be part of the process of spreading the positive energy, as well!