Tuesday, December 28, 2010

At the year's end

This has been a most interesting year for me. It started in a cesspool of deception and what I could only describe as fraud, fraud against children. By March I was out of that mess and spending my days learning a bit of Thai and just relaxing.  By June I was a volunteer with the Save Elephant Foundation and was beginning to see some real purpose in my days here.  The more I have learned about the plight of the Asian Elephant the more sensitive I have become to cruelty and abuse, especially for the sake of personal gain. I will not drag down the mood with a laundry list of wrongs; I will share a few thoughts that might help me and perhaps us all make the world a better place in 2011. 
อหิงสา  (Ahingsha).  It’s one of the spiritual concepts which appear in teachings here.  Basically it means “Do no harm to any living thing”. There is precious written about Thai spirituality that has been translated to English and I’m probably two years or more from being able to read these works; my goal is to be able to do just that!  Fortunately, the translation from the Sancript “Ahimsa” provides some English language definition and instruction. 

It’s fun to compare the 10 commandments with the lay-Buddhist precepts.  The main difference I see is that the commandments were written in the negative:  “Thou shalt not” while the precepts were written in the affirmative: “One should abstain ”.   No matter which list you prefer, the message is clear as a bell on a cold winter morning:  ‘DO NO HARM’

Gandhi believed that verbal and psychological violence was included in this truth.   All violence results in negative Karma.  How could it be otherwise?

There is an inverse correlation between my expectations and my serenity.   Almost the first thing any Westerner hears about Buddhism is that there is suffering.  Read a bit deeper and one learns the suffering is the result of desire, or expectations if you prefer.

The longer I’m here in Thailand the more I believe that the reason this place is known as the land of smiles is because traditionally the Thai are extremely accepting people.  Country people appear to be happier than city folk; there life is simpler and they are less involved in the materialism and the greed that seems to be devouring human kind. 

Gentle reader, you alone cannot change the world.  Or can you?   What if everyone made their little corner a better place?   Would we not then change the world?   I know some people who really make a difference; I know people who do not.  Judge for yourself!   For me, there is plenty of work to be done, much improvement to be made and even happier days ahead.  It all starts with my thinking!   “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he”  Prov. 23-7.  The law of attraction tells me that what I concentrate on is what I will attract.  For me, there is a warning here.  The universe does not discriminate between right and wrong or good and bad it simply provides what I transmit.  

If I spend my time and energy concentrating on being poor, in debt and in poor health, even if the concentration is about ridding myself of these, then the universe must provide more of these unwanted things for they are exactly where I am concentrating.  On the other hand, if I concentrate on prosperity, abundance and perfect health, nature must comply and provide these! Mother Teresa understood this truth.  When asked to attend an anti-war rally, she refused but commented that if they were to hold a peace rally she would be happy to attend!   She understood!

Ask yourself:  How goes the war on terror?  How about the war on drugs?  Let’s not forget the war on poverty, how’s that going?   Might there be a better approach?  Really!

Brilliant people have provided amazing wisdom in just a very few words:

“What we think we become” - Buddha
“Peace begins with a smile”  - Mother Teresa
“To thine ownself be true”  - William Shakespeare
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” – Lou Tsu
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right” – Henry Ford
“A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes”   Mahondas Gandi
“He who knows best knows how little he knows” – Thomas Jefferson
“Are we controlled by our thoughts or are we controlled by our thoughts”?  - Raymond Holliwell
“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind”  -  Winston Churchill
“The future starts today, not tomorrow” – Pope John Paul II

I leave you this day with the thoughts of John Lennon