Less Is More…

We live in a world obsessed with physical possession. Most households pride themselves on the acquisition of personal belongings and the accumulation of wealth. I’m not sure what that says about modern society as a whole, but it’s certainly a misguided way to live.

Buddhism does speak about the possession of material goods, to an extent. The Four Noble Truths go into some detail about how humanity’s suffering is often rooted in our cravings and desires. People often tend to try and fill the emptiness in their own lives through material possessions. This is often a temporary fix, which continues to snowball as we keep trying to fill the void in one’s life. Almost like an addiction that can never be fully satisfied.

So what can be done to counteract these issues? There is a lifestyle known as minimalism. This style of life describes living with less, and ridding oneself with excess belongings. On the whole, minimalist living involves a bit more than just getting rid of stuff, but it can lend a number of positive benefits to your life.

According to an article published by Money Under 30, they describe getting rid of possessions using the “90/90” rule. The article states: “Look at a possession. Pick something. Anything. Have you used that item in the last 90 days? If you haven’t, will you use it in the next 90? If not, then it’s okay to let go.” Here’s the article, if you want to give it a look (https://www.moneyunder30.com/minimalist-living). It contains a lot of the benefits behind living with less.

Consider the following; if you’ve eliminated a quantity of your possessions that you no longer use, you also won’t need a residence quite as large or expensive. The financial gains can be many. And budgeting the overall income of your household will become easier as well.

There are some areas where you can’t necessarily live with less. For example, buying food in bulk can often reduce the overall cost of groceries and can help save on fuel and resources for repeated outings.

True minimalism usually requires a level of discipline that most people can’t adhere to. For example, true minimalists don’t own television sets or vehicles. This isn’t always a practical reality for most people. But if you’re able to dig through your stuff and find things that you completely forgot you had, maybe it’s time to let it go.

Technology becomes a catch-22 for such a lifestyle. Less social media becomes an important factor in reducing the stress in your life. But having books and movies digitized, such as e-books, can be extremely helpful in reducing the clutter within your household.

At the end of the day, minimalism isn’t for everyone. But the thought came to me today as I sold a large piece of furniture that was cluttering my home. Living with less can definitely make you happier. As Marie Kondo would say, “The best way to find out what we truly need is to get rid of what we don’t.”

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Comfort Is Key

I often take stock of how people behave when out in public. For the most part, the general population goes about its business much in the same way as you’d expect; with a sense of ignorant detachment of their surroundings.

For the most part, people don’t make eye contact and don’t interact with the world around them. At least not anymore. They focus on getting from point “A” to point “B” and often spend most of that time with their eyes down at the screen of their smart device.

But there’s one aspect of daily life that the general population can’t ignore: nature! I was out getting some groceries earlier, when a light rain began to fall (it has since turned into a strong thunderstorm and I’m praying that I complete this post before power goes out). It blew my mind how quickly people began to move, run, cover their heads and make a wonderful assortment of “derpy” faces when a few light drops of water started falling.

I mean, come on… It’s water, people! We’re primarily composed of it, we drink litres of it everyday and we wash ourselves with it! But the light help us, if some of that water happens to fall from the sky as we walk outside.

I joke and make light of it, but the reality is that we take comfort as an expected norm in today’s society. Getting wet while walking outside is very obviously a discomfort. Human being often seek to take the Path of Least Resistance. That essentially means that as a general rule, most people will always seek out the easiest and most comfortable way to achieve any given result.

Creature comforts have become the norm and we react outwardly when that comfort is affected by ANY outside source. But a little discomfort can be good. We most often produce the best results when someone lights a fire under our keister. Almost comparable to how much work we generate on our own compared to when our supervisor is hovering about!

Don’t be afraid to step outside the norm, abandon your typical comfort and don’t be afraid to face unknown challenges. And should it start pouring, remember to take the time at some point in your life, to dance in the rain. ☯

Hurts So Good…

What does it mean to be in pain? Well, from a strictly medical perspective, pain is when our sensory receptors send a signal through our nerve fibres , all the way up to our brains. Then the brain interprets the signal as pain. The human body uses this signal as an avoidance reflex, meaning it’s telling you that whatever you’re doing is harming your body and should be stopped. (Although not everyone is quick enough to stop hurting themselves, sometimes)

From a Diabetes standpoint, we experience a wide variety of pain. Neuropathy, open wounds that are extremely slow to heal and pain prior to numbness from lack of circulation are simply a few. And certainly not the worst.

It’s not always bad. From a fitness standpoint, pain can be a positive thing. SOME pain is necessary in order to help the body sculpt and grow. The idea here is to know when enough is enough and to stop before serious damage can occur.

But there’s one form of pain that is largely ignored in most circumstances. I’m talking about emotional pain. When something affects us in a negative way, we feel a sort of pain that is often very hard to describe. For some, it’s an increased feeling of fatigue. For others, it can manifest itself in any number of nasty ways including but not limited to, becoming ill, nausea, depression, problems with the digestive tract and even alcoholism or substance abuse. The expression “this breaks my heart” stems from the fact that one usually feels some discomfort in the pit of their abdomen during emotional distress.

The important thing to remember is that what hurts in your heart can also affect your body. Although that sounds a bit cheesy, it’s quite accurate. Sometimes we need to look at the big picture and acknowledge that the pain is going to happen, and take steps to help deal with it as opposed to ignoring it.

Ultimately, pain helps us grow. In any way, shape or form, it allows us to learn an develop. After all, imagine if as an infant you put your hands on a hot stove and it didn’t hurt… You’d likely leave your hand there and keep playing and critically damage your tissues. But by feeling the pain, you learn that “Oops! It hurts to touch the stove. Better stay away!” Most forms of pain will teach you something.

So ask yourself, what is my emotional pain teaching me? Am I doing something wrong, or something I disagree with? Or is it simply a case of doing the right thing? That can also be painful sometimes. Just remember that in grand scheme of things, nothing lasts forever; not even pain. ☯

What’s Right…

The Buddhist system follows something called the Noble Eightfold Path. This includes Right View, Right Resolve, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

These things are important as they help a person find a balanced middle ground through the turmoil that is life. This becomes especially important to someone who seeks to cause harm to others.

First and foremost, Right View teaches us that actions have consequences, even after death. One needs to consider these consequences before committing oneself to action against another person.

Right Speech tells us that we should avoid lying or being intentionally dishonest. One would tend to think that this is pretty straight forward, but you’d be surprised how often we omit details or lie, despite the knowledge of what it could do to others.

Right Actions is the last one I’ll touch on in this post as it becomes important because what you do goes hand in hand with what you say and how you think.

As a people, humanity has grown to strive for personal gain, even at the cost of others. This is a false way to live and can cause damage to others. And that damage will have repercussions that can never be taken back. It’s important to treat others the way you want to be treated. This means being respectful at all times and accepting your fate instead of blaming it on others.

The Dharma Wheel

Those who know me personally know to what I am specifically talking about, but the jist of it is that what goes around, comes around. The damage you cause will eventually come back to bite you in an appendage and there may be no fighting your way out of it. So it becomes important to do things RIGHT.

And to those of you who may be suffering through a struggle of your own, perhaps brought on by the injustices caused by another, remember not to let the outcome alter who you are. The goodness that makes you who you are should not be corrupted by others. Keanu Reeves has been pretty popular these days, so I’ll close out with one of his quotes: “If you have been brutally broken, but still have the courage to be gentle to other living beings, then you’re a badass with the heart of an angel.”

Respect, It’s Not Just A Seven Letter Word…

Yesterday, I had an unfortunate discussion with a total stranger. What made it unfortunate is the fact that it started out as a simple comment on one of my posts and quickly escalated into a heated back and forth. Something that, given my beliefs, I do not enjoy. Although I can admit to my contribution to the situation, I feel that the words used on me fell within the realm of disrespectful, especially when one considers that I am a total stranger to this person.

I have only been blogging for seven months. In the grand scope of things, that is an extremely small window of time. But in that small window of time, I have published 137 posts (including this one). I post daily and I try to post information that is useful within the realm of Buddhism, Martial Arts and Diabetes.

I’ve made it clear that I am not a doctor. I am not a nutritionist nor am I a specialist (at least in anything other than the martial arts). What I am, however, is a philosopher, Buddhist, martial artist and an eternal student. I dedicate countless hours to reading and research, and use this time to contribute that same information to my posts. So the information that I provide is normally from peer reviewed sources (that I often link) and I often include my opinion because, well… it’s my blog! Although I have no piece of paper to the contrary on my wall, it does not make me uneducated (as I have studied in a number of fields and subjects), nor does it make me unable to discuss and share a wide variety of information.

From the very beginning, I have made it clear that I am always open for good discussion. I enjoy a good conversation and I enjoy sharing differing points of view even more. But we need to be cognizant of the fine line between difference of opinion and just flat out rudeness and disrespect. To have a person, who is not even a follower of my blog by the way, tell me that my posts “make no sense”, that I am “flat out wrong” and “uneducated”, that I am “incredibly ignorant” and should “really do your research” as well as “spreading misinformation encouraging people to contribute to their own poor health and to immoral practices”… Seriously, folks? Is this what we’ve become?

It breaks my heart because I pride myself on treating others with respect and it makes it all the harder when someone goes over the line like this. If I post something that differs from your opinion, please feel free to speak to me about it. but it can be done in a respectful manner. Maybe I’m being overly sensitive. After all, this is the first time I’ve had an encounter like this on my own blog.

I believe we are all entitled to our opinion. We are entitled to our chosen way of life. Why has it become necessary in today’s world to belittle and put down another person you don’t even know, simply because their views don’t match your own? Especially when it would be so easy to simply keep on scrolling rather than comment.

Negativity breeds negativity, dear readers. We only get out of this world the kind of energy we put into it. So if you are willing to spill negativity against another person, eventually that energy will come back on you. Be good to each other. Respect each other. Be open to others’ opinions without belittling BECAUSE of them. The only way the world can keep on turning is if we turn the crank together. ☯

Save It For A Rainy Day…

Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and do something for yourself. Especially on days like today… This afternoon, we had heavy rains and thunder for the better part of two hours. In fact, there’s still a touch of raining falling as we speak!

One of the best things to do on such a rainy day is brew a nice hot cup of coffee or tea, and curl up somewhere comfortable with a good book. Reading for leisure is something I don’t get to do a great deal of, these days. Between work, exercise and dealing with the whirlwind that is my child, finding a quiet hour to myself has become almost impossible.

I usually always have a few books on the go. As much as I adore reading, I tend to get bored before I manage to complete one, so I leap frog from one book to another. At the moment, I’m reading Robert Jordan’s “The Path of Daggers”, which is Book 8 of a 14 book series called The Wheel of Time. This will be my third time reading through the series. It’s an amazing series, with a rich storyline and characters. I definitely recommend it, if you have several years to contribute to reading a series. I started reading it for the first time in the mid-90’s.

I’m also reading Sean Williams’ “Star Wars: Fatal Alliance”. For my fellow Star Wars fans, this is a novel of the Old Republic. It’s an interest read, although I’ll admit to having a difficult time getting through it.

It’s important to have a variety when reading, but the main focus of my attention right now is a book by Yamamoto Tsunetomo entitled “Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai”.

What makes this book so interesting is that it was written by an actual Buddhist monk. Well, to clarify… It was written by a scribe named Tashiro Tsuramoto in the early 1700’s, and contains the conversations between Tsuramoto and Tsunetomo.

It wouldn’t be published until quite some time later, but the book contains thoughts on the issues surrounding Japan after the battle of Seki Ga Hara, when Japan’s society began to change and the samurai faced difficulties maintaining a warrior class during an evolving period of peace.

Tsunetomo spent three decades as a samurai warrior. When his master died, he was forbidden from following his master into death by law of the current shogunate. Instead, he chose to renounce the world and become a monk.

It was during those years as a Buddhist monk that Tsunemoto shared the thoughts and sayings that Tsuramoto would scribe into the manuscript that would become Hagakure. It actually covers a number of subjects and makes for quite an interesting read.

I started writing this post almost two hours ago and it’s still pouring out there! I think it’s time to put this puppy to bed and get back to reading. So pick up a book and let that imagination run wild. As I like to say:When you aren’t exercising the body, you should be exercising the mind!

There’s Light At The End, Even When The Tunnel Is Dark…

A very wise (and fictional) person once said: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.” I’ve always prided myself on being a good person; helping and protecting others and always trying to do the right thing.

In recent days, I’ve come to question what it takes to win a hopeless fight. True battles seem to linger on forever, and one can feel as though it will never end. Sometimes you can feel as though you’ve been fighting forever and you just don’t have any strength left…

I think it was Thomas Fuller who said: “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” This is quite accurate. No matter what obstacles you may be facing, it’s important to keep on fighting. Don’t let the battle force your eyes away from the finale. Keep going. You’ll be surprised how those who matter will surface to offer support right when it’s needed the most. ☯