Looking back at my past, I can say that, once I decided to move from the monastery into the life of a modern, western householder, it has been a complex time for me. I do not have enough information to make monumental decisions like that. In a way, I was taking a big risk without much knowledge. Yet, I felt that I had to do it. I think you regret more the things that you do not do than the things that you do. Sometimes, it is good to let go of the concept of control.
That is life, you know. Most of the time, it is about the ego. You cannot always let the ego win. Self-centered decisions with the intention of only gain for oneself, with that interest, the result will not be extremely positive.
You should not go easy with the ego. We all have weaknesses, the ones we choose to feed. You must take the victory for your true self. Keep your power for your true potential without giving it away based on attachment.
This means that, in the long run, it is not about what you want here and now, or about what is easier at this moment for you. It is about what is good for you at the end of the day. Even though, the path is more of a destiny than destiny itself.
Many times, we take the first choice because the ego wins. Mainly, you must change this scenario.
The problem is: people try to alleviate their daily suffering and depression by immersing themselves in their careers or their partner. Doing this would be a perfect example of a bypass or some might call it taking refuge on something; taking refuge on an object or state of mind. When you take refuge in these external things, it means that, in a way, you are trying to avoid yourself. You are trying to avoid challenging yourself. You are taking the easier path.
That is basically what we are all doing most of our time. That is why Dharma is essential. Dharma is basically about us saving ourselves… from ourselves. xD
You know. You must save yourself from yourself. You are not saving yourself from anyone else.
Your own karma is responsible for the harm that you may receive. Only your karma created and based on the original intention may affect you.
Even then, you can choose to adapt positively and learn to use it or as a weight that you repeat constantly in a loop. In the long run, in the big, universal picture, it is only you who can harm yourself. You are the one who has to channel your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, and attitudes.
That is why it is about saving yourself from yourself. It’s quite ironic. The irony of life and the universe!
Just like oxygen oxidizes the astronaut’s suit we call, “Body,” it, also, maintains your life in motion. So what I am talking about is similar, as an example, to oxygen.
It is not as easy as black and white. Everything is just mostly grey. We like to make differences and conceptualize dualism. So, really, bypassing or taking refuge represents that small or huge(!) issue in our life, where we do not want to challenge ourself, or take responsibility or even action. We feel rejection or we feel attraction…another big dualist challenge! We just want to run away from ourselves as Bob Marley says.
That is why, yes. Is there a problem with doing this? Yes, but of course! I mean that is the problem, right? It is not about your partners, your careers, your goals, or what you want to do tomorrow. It is about the interior that you have, (the inside you), and how you manage it, the space you give yourself, like that.
So really, it is about perception. From the perception comes attitude. So, if we can change our perception, we can really change our attitude in life. If we change those two aspects, then, whichever career, partner, goal, or where we are or who we are with, or what we want to be, or anything like that does not really matter. Do you understand?
That is because here, in your heart, deep inside you, in your mind, or whatever you want to call it, everything is aligned already. We are present.
Then, when we are present, all of this does not matter. So, in other words, we can adapt positively in every moment. Those are exactly the tools that Dharma is showing that you have. Do you see?
Dharma is almost like a branch of Hinduism. You know, when the Buddha was originally meditating, he was with the Hindus. Then, afterwards he tried a different method. Eventually, he just went by himself.
Buddhism began once he reached Nirvana and people started following him. The tools that Dharma talks about began to be more available not long after Gautama reached enlightenment or Nirvana. The different methods were always there, though. They have been there for a long time. It is a universal technique.
According to Buddhism, there have already been 3 buddhas. Shakyamuni Buddha is the 4th one. The next one will be Maitreya Buddha and so forth. It is, also, said there will be 1,000 buddhas to come. According to the Buddhist tradition, each Kalpa, which is an eon, has 1,000 buddhas and an eon is the life and death of a star, the time-lapse that it takes between the birth of a star until its end. That is an eon or a Kalpa.
This universal method applies to every human. It is not like someone says, “Look! I found the truth! Here! This is for you! This is your truth! Take it!”
It does not work like that! You cannot use somebody else’s truth. You must find your own truth. Each person must walk their path. Each person must learn for themselves what they understand from their perspective because it is their perspective.
So, it is not so much about the information available to you. It is about what you want to learn, what you want to know with an intention behind that.
It is very easy to blame outside or others or give responsibility to something external or someone else. So that is why, yes, it may be a problem. Once we change that, then, there is no problem in doing whatever it is that we are doing. It becomes a process of learning and understanding. An experience, in other words.
It’s not about not enjoying, not having a partner, not being ambitious with your career or not following your instinct and heart. Of course, ultimately and conventionally things are mostly positive. Even if we tend or choose to not see that, it is about your attitude within that aspect.
Sometimes, people make it sound like a bad thing. As if a career, a partner, even to have kids, is a bad thing. I would not agree it is a bad thing. It depends on how you do it or your intention behind the action.
You can be a terrible parent. It is up to you. Or you can be a great parent. It’s not about having kids. It’s about your attitude in life no matter what, you see?
If you always say, “Oh, I am stressed! I have too much work! I am overloaded! I cannot do this! It’s impossible I accomplish that! I am very small! I can never reach that goal!” etcetera, so that you can invent a hundred million, trillion, gazillion excuses not to have the right attitude, that is almost, in a way… being a coward, you know, not wanting to take responsibility for yourself. In the end, I mean, maybe we are cowards for not confronting our deep fears by being scared of our potential.
However, I feel, when we take responsibility, then our life changes completely. That is when we understand it is not about these names or concepts of something…
To maintain our bellies full, have a roof on our heads for our families and ourselves, make sure things go as smoothly as possible so the family can grow in a harmonious space, we need a career. In other words, we need a job so we can eat. Life is about sharing as well; we share the ground, atmosphere, space, time, technology, nutrients and sun, moon, energy and so on. Just like having a partner is important to feel the warmth; even though, if we cannot feel the warmth alone, no matter who we are with, we will not be able to feel any warmth.
Finally, then, when it comes to taking refuge in a Guru, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, it happens, also, in that aspect! That is why we used the word, “Refuge”, earlier, remember? That is because often people take refuge in religion, philosophy, a concept, a belief, a need, a state of mind, or whatever it is… for self-reassurance.
Each person needs something to feel secure. So we have to make ourselves believe that we are doing the right thing. What is happening is we tend to avoid taking responsibility for the true things in life. Deep, deep down, we know, there is no going around that! Many people say, “Oh, God knows!” Well, Lord knows! YOU know!
So it is important to be aware of that.
Of course, the religion, philosophy, teachings and knowledge of the Buddhas, guides us in order to help us develop understanding, but, if we have no interest, we cannot understand, grow or improve. Even so, it is not something to which we should grasp. It’s not about being attached to the guru, to the teachings, or a concept; just so that you can feel that you are doing something useful in your life. It is not about that. Then, it becomes a bypass, an unobtainable misunderstanding. It’s not the real deal.
You do not want to put yourself in a box! We already have elevators, cars, apartments, rooms, coffins, square minds, screens, habits, the system, and all these things. So why put ourselves in one more box? Does that even make sense when nature is our cathedral?