As I see patriotic posts, lots of red, white, and blue, this morning, I reflect on the events 14 years ago and remember the pain and fear we all endured at the wanton loss of life in New York City. I then recall the many lives lost during the quagmire of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and I attempted to research how many have died, but have had difficulty finding consistent estimates.

Violence begets only more violence. How many lives, families, and communities have been decimated by humanity’s lack of empathy and understanding? It is difficult to document, but most sources say at least 250,000. I think about my family, friends, my sangha, my coworkers and how many they number. My world is probably not more than 300 people: just a drop in that bucket of that quarter million. I am overwhelmed by the social injustice surrounding me.Looking back on 9/11 I mourn the loss of all life, not just Americans, that happened that day and thereafter, because anger won.

These acts of violence carry an important lesson: we must let go of our anger and fear. Vengeance only leads to more suffering.




Buddhism: Moving on from Unhappiness


“Overcome your uncertainties and free yourself from the dwelling of sorrow.  If you delight in existence, you will become a guide to those who need you, revealing the path to many.”

From the Sutta Nipatta

The Buddha teaches us in the Four Noble Truths that life is dukkha, suffering.  The cause of dukkha is our unfulfilled desires & ambition and clinging to everything which is impermanent.  This passage highlights the importance of dropping the dukkha in our lives and moving on by “freeing ourselves from the dwelling of sorrow.”  I find the comparison of our sorrow or dukkha to a dwelling quite apropos.

In the past ten years, I have moved only three times, but each time, I’ve found the whole process to be stressful: finding a new place to live, packing up my belongings, and moving them, and then getting used to a new location, new room mates, and new sets of circumstances.  For many of us, transition is difficult.  Even if we would be much better off in a better space.  At one of my previous residences, we had a rodent problem, and though it was annoying, I was fairly satisfied living there rather than moving to a new house.  When I did move, however, and I took the effort to move to a better location, I was much happier.

The analogy of moving on, of dropping our dukkha dwellings is a poignant reminder of how difficult it is to deal with suffering in life, but the Buddha gives us a systematic approach to finding happiness in our everyday existence through the Eightfold Noble path:

Right View

Right Thought

Right Speech

Right Conduct

Right Livelihood

Right Effort

Right Mindfulness

Right Meditation

The truth is that happiness is already here waiting for us to discover it: existence itself is something over which we should delight. If we examine our birth into the world and the probability of the string of events occurring exactly as they have, our very existence as it stands is nigh miraculous. We are a part of an intricately woven chain, and happiness surrounds us. The Eightfold Noble path is a more descript path to happiness, and is a wonderful guide post, and a way for us to share happiness with others through our behavior.

Change must ultimately come from within, and by living an inspirational life of happiness, we can lead others to a content existence. This inspirational leadership is what truly speaks to me as a Buddhist; so often times we find ourselves in situations where we are being coerced, where someone thinks they can inflict change upon us, but change, true growth, is something we must desire fore ourselves. When we see happiness and contentment in others, oftentimes we seek that happiness from them.

Namo Amida Butsu