10 Ways To Find Peace In Stressful Situations

Keeping our cool in uncomfortable or stressful circumstances can do several things for us.  One, we are much more apt to find solutions to the problems we are experiencing.  Two, if there are others involved we have a mellowing effect on them.  Three, whatever upset we are experiencing doesn’t last as long and definitely won’t drag on unnecessarily.  And four, as we don’t allow outside circumstances to shake us, over time our peace can become unshakable; this leads to an increase in happiness, better creative/manifestation capability and a Life experience that can really mirror this peace and joy back to us via people and situations.
So in a nutshell, here are 10 Ways to Find Peace In Stressful Situations:
    1)  Calm and center yourself.  In other words, find your happy-place.  Even if it means taking 10 minutes to sit down and bring awareness into your body, or listening to the soothing sound of rain, this will have a major impact on your stress levels and on the situation as a whole.
    2)  Don’t bring the ‘I’ into it…AKA Don’t make it about you.  Oftentimes, the thing that causes the most stress is when we take things personally.  Most upsets are simple miscommunications or misunderstandings and when we bring the ‘I’ into it, or when we start thinking about how it is affecting us we get caught in a downward spiral of undesired emotions and stress.  Even if it APPEARS to be about you, it doesn’t.  That may sound strange but it is true.  Even if you hear that someone was gossiping about you, it has nothing to do with you.  That is a reflection of them and their behavior~ and even if they think it is personal…it isn’t. It never is. =)
    3)  Express and exhaust the Stress if needed.  Sometimes we catch ourselves a little late in the stress game.  It could be we didn’t even noticed we were stressed until we are feeling really emotional or our bodies are shaking.  If this is the case, take 10 to 20 minutes to sit down and feel it all the way through.  Once our experience of a problem becomes denser and emerges as emotions, the best we can do is ride it out.  Feel them, express and exhaust them until you notice that the emotions are a subtle level 1 or level 2 intensity (as opposed to level 10 code red).  From here, you can begin calming and centering yourself so that you can focus on the solutions instead of the problem.
    4) Remind yourself that this too shall pass.  In the end, this won’t last forever.  Some of the most stressful situations we have been through we end up laughing about later in Life.  Keep this in mind; whether you do something about it or not, it will change.  There is only one permanent thing in the Universe, and that is that everything changes.  With this in mind, a person can breathe a little easier and relax into the situation.  Think of a problem like a really hot bath.  You don’t have to jump in immediately~ you can ease your way in little-by-little until you are comfortable.  And without even trying, you notice after a little bit of time that the water cools down on its’ own. =)
    5)  Talk it up:  find the good in it.  It can be difficult to see the blessings in the issues that bother us the most, but there is always a good reason for it.  Sometimes we need to have a breakdown in order to have a breakthrough.  This is nature’s way of clearing out what is no longer working for us, or that which we have grown out of.  Find something to laugh about in the situation or remember that we need upsets in order to find the gifts in it.  Often these gifts are lessons of forgiveness, compassion, understanding or defining boundaries.  A butterfly struggles for hours in order to free itself from the cocoon; but without the struggle, the butterfly would not build the muscles necessary for it to be able to fly.
    6) Remind yourself that there is always an upside to pain. Pain always is a calling for us to rise to something greater than we already are.  As many masters have said, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.  If we can look at pain in a way that we don’t resist it, but praise its’ presence in our life, now we can change our experience of it completely.  This is why some people experience a lot of pain and suffering in divorce, and others experience freedom and joy in it.  It is all in how you look at it.  
    7) Remember that with a problem there is always a solution available.  Problems cannot exist without a solution.  Black cannot exist without the other colors, up cannot exist without down and so the relations in the Universe are.  In fact, to find a point in 3 dimensional space we need 6 other points; 7 points to chart a course.  With this in mind, we cannot have a problem without one or more solutions.  All that is needed is for us to make ourselves available for the solution and to tap into it. =)
      8) BREEAATTHHHEEEE and meditate on it.  Meditation is something that does so much for us.  It teaches us to slow down, to be mindful, to be aware of ourselves and our environment, and it teaches us to focus.  These are just a few of the countless benefits of meditation, but it also does another thing~ it is a stress-reliever.  Our brain, as dynamic and complex as it is, has trouble focusing on more than one thing.  Granted there are a few things we do out of our subconscious such as driving, showering, brushing our teeth and so on, but when it comes to the conscious level, it can be very difficult for us to focus on more than one thing for an extended period of time.  So meditate!  Bring all your focus to your breathing and just sit and be for a little while.  Then re-enter the situation with renewed energy.
      9) Exercise and disperse the energy.  Stress can build up in the body, so it is important to again express and exhaust whatever nervous energy is making itself aware to you.  Do some yoga, go for a run, walk around the block a few times or do jumping jacks for 5 or 10 minutes.  What usually happens is after this energy is exhausted, we don’t have a lot of energy left over to be upset about.  We can more easily relax, and when we relax into a problem this is usually when a solution makes itself known.
      10) Remember to shine in a crisis.  A good reminder would be this:  we are born problem-solvers.  As humans, our creative capability is endless.  There is usually not just one solution to a problem, but many MANY solutions to a problem.  Some people can get into this zone when they are under stress~ a sort of grace under pressure.  If you can access this space and become the excellent problem-solver you were born to be, there isn’t a problem in the world that you can’t solve.

      In summary, there is no such thing as a ‘big’ or ‘small’ problem.  In fact, problems only exist within the mind.  So when we look at it from the viewpoint of the Universe, suddenly our problems seem non-existent.  And in the end, no matter what you think you are going through, we cannot solve a problem with the same level of thinking that created it (Albert Einstein).  So think differently!

      Which is the Proper Religion?

      If any religion has the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, then it can be regarded as a proper religion.
      It is a very difficult for a man to find out why there are so many different religions, and which religion is the true one. Followers of every religion are trying to show the superiority of their religion. Diversity has created some uniformity, but in matters of religion, men took upon each other with jealousy, hatred and disdain. The most respected religious practices in one religion are deemed ridiculous to others. To introduce their divine and peaceful messages some people have to resorted to weapons and wars. Have they polluted the good name of religion? It seems that certain religions are responsible for dividing instead of uniting mankind.

      To find a true and proper religion, we must weigh with an unbiased mind what exactly is a false religion. False religion or philosophies include: materialism which denies survival after death; amoralism which denies good and evil; any religion which asserts that man is miraculously saved or doomed; theistic evolution which holds that everything is preordained and everyone is destined to attain eventual salvation through mere faith.


      Buddhism is free from unsatisfactory and uncertain foundations. Buddhism is realistic and verifiable. Its Truths have been verified by the Buddha, verified by His disciples, and always remain open to be verified by anyone who wishes to do so. And today, the Teachings of the Buddha, are being verified by the most severe methods of scientific investigation.



      The Buddha advises that any form of religion is proper if it contains the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. This clearly shows that the Buddha did not want to form a particular religion. What He wanted was to reveal the Ultimate Truth of our life and the world. Although the Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path, this method is not the property of Buddhists alone. This is universal Truth.


      Most people find it necessary to put forth arguments to 'prove' the validity of the religion that they are following. Some claim that their religion is the oldest and therefore contains the truth. Others claim that their religion is the latest or newest and therefore contains the truth. Some claim that their religion has the most followers and therefore contains the truth. Yet none of these arguments are valid to establish the truth of a religion. One can judge the value of a religion by using only common sense and understanding.


      Some religious traditions require man to be subservient to a greater power than himself, a power which controls his creation, his actions and his final deliverance. The Buddha did not accept such powers. Rather, He assigned to man that very power by asserting that each man is his own creator, responsible for his own salvation. That is why it is said that 'There is none so godless as the Buddha and yet none so godlike'. The religion of the Buddhists gives man a great sense of dignity; at the same time it also gives him great responsibility. A Buddhist cannot put the blame on an external power when evil befalls him. But he can face misfortune with equanimity because he knows that he has the power to extricate himself from all misery.


      One of the reason why Buddhism appeals to intellectuals and those with a good education, is that the Buddha expressly discouraged His followers from accepting anything they heard(even if it came from Himself)without first testing its validity. The teachings of the Buddha have remained and survived precisely because many intellectuals have challenged every aspect of the teachings and have concluded that the Buddha had always spoken the undeniable Truth. While other religionists are trying to 'reassess' their founder's teachings in the light of modern knowledge about the Universe, the Buddha's teaching are being verified by scientists.


      by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

      7 Ways to Get Past Tough Situations Quickly

      “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.” -Charles Swindoll

      One day, everything seems great in your world—maybe not perfect, but overall things are going to plan. And then something happens.
      You lose your job, or someone you love, or your home, or maybe even your health.

      It isn’t fair. You don’t deserve it. You didn’t see it coming. You didn’t plan for it. You have so many feelings and frustrations you don’t know what to do first—or if you want to do anything at all.
      It would be easier to sit around feeling bad, looking for people to blame and complain to. Rehashing what you could have done to make things happen differently. Or what you would have done if you only realized before. Or what other people should have done to help you.
      All great options if you want to maximize your misery and feel justified in doing it. Not so great if what you want is to deal and move on.
      You have to do this eventually when something bad happens, and the faster you do it, the sooner you’ll improve your situation.
      There is no shortage of opportunities to practice dealing well. If you’d like to work on improving the 90 percent of life that is how you respond, you may find these tips helpful:

      1. Make acceptance an immediate priority.

      Dealing with a bad situation can be a lot like dealing with grief, and people often go through the same stages: shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, and so on.
      You might not be able to fully squelch your emotions, but you can decide to accept what’s happened, regardless of how you feel about it. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you can act from where you are, which is the only way to change how you feel.
      It’s like the quote from a recent post on getting started when you don’t feel ready: “Don’t wait for your feelings to change to take action. Take the action and your feelings will change.”

      2. Remove fair from your vocabulary.

      As kids, we’re all about fair. “He took my train—it’s not fair.” “You said you’d buy me a new bike—it’s not fair!” “I had that crayon first—it’s not fair.”
      You’d think we’d learn early on that life isn’t fair, but instead we cling to how we think things should be. Hard work should be rewarded. Kindness should be reciprocated. When things don’t work out that way, we feel angry at the world and bad for ourselves.
      Feeling outraged about life’s injustices won’t change the fact that things are often random and beyond your control. When you start going on an unfair spiral, remind yourself, “It is what it is.” And then choose a reaction that aligns with the way you’d like the world to be.

      3. Focus on the life lesson.

      In Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson recommends pretending that everyone is enlightened but you—that everyone you meet is here to teach you something.
      In this way, you’ll see someone who annoys or frustrates you as an opportunity to work on your patience. This same mindset can help improve the way you interpret and respond to events in your life.
      If you lost your job, perhaps the life lesson is to determine your true purpose. If your relationship falls apart, the life lesson may be to become more independent. Focusing on the lesson allows you to work on positive change, which will make you feel empowered instead of deflated.

      4. Question whether it’s as big a problem as it seems.

      We often turn minor upsets into huge catastrophes in our minds. Little in life is as horrible as it appears to be at first. Some things are challenging, like losing your job, your home, or worse, someone you love. But most situations can be solved.
      Sometimes they’re even blessings in disguise. Barbara Rommer, M.D., interviewed 300 people who’d had near-death experiences. The majority of her subjects experienced spiritual awakenings, proving that what didn’t kill them only made them stronger.
      Whatever you’re dealing with, is it really the end of the world? And more importantly, if you bounced back with an even better situation—a higher paying job or a more satisfying relationship—how impressed would you be with yourself?

      5. Make “Get strong” your mantra.

      You may think Kanye West doesn’t have a place in tinybuddha world, but the dude got one thing right: “N-n-now that which don’t kill me can only make me stronger.”
      This idea has saved me many times over. At twenty-one, I spent four months hospitalized with a serious illness and missed my college graduation. So much felt unfair about how it all panned out.
      Then I remembered what my friend Rich had told me: “I know you feel powerless right now, but you’re going to rock the world when you get strong.” Whenever I deal with adversity, I remind myself to keep rocking.

      6. Remember you can continue from this new place.

      It’s easy to get attached to the road you’re on, especially if it makes you happy. When something or someone throws you off, you may feel disconnected from who you want to be or what you want to do in life.
      It may help to remember a hurdle doesn’t have to obliterate your plans. Even if you lose your job, you can still pursue your professional goals, and maybe even more efficiently.
      There is always more than one way to skin a cat. The sooner you focus on finding a new way, the sooner you’ll turn a bad thing good.

      7. Ask yourself how someone you respect would handle the situation.

      I recently put my heart into a blogging competition. I had to get votes from the public to win; and I ran a huge campaign to accomplish that. I ended in second place with just over 57,000 votes.
      When I didn’t win, I felt disappointed and even a little embarrassed. I’d failed in front of thousands of people.  My best wasn’t good enough.
      So I asked myself how someone with integrity would handle the situation. The answer: she’d congratulate the winner, identify everything she learned from the experience, and move on to the next goal with her head held high. Acting on that advice made me feel proud of myself instead of disappointed.
      People will remember the things you accomplish, but the way you handle life’s challenges can affect them just as strongly. Life happens, and it isn’t always easy. You can bemoan it and fight it, or see dealing with life’s challenges as the most important challenge of all.
      You can’t always get what you want, but you can work at being who you want to be no matter what life throws at you.

      How to Fuel Your Mind with Positive Energy

      “All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” ~Buddha

      Nowadays people are surrounded by so much negativity that drains their energy and keeps them in constant stress. Life, however, is meant to be a feast of joy and celebration, but in order to achieve this, we first need to get rid of negative energy, or better, transform it into positive energy. In this article you will learn some few yet powerful tips on how to fuel your mind with positive energy so that you can deal with all the negativity around you and live a more positive life, free from the worries and stress that most people have to endure.

      1. Eat healthy.

      Eating healthy is one of the key things one should do in order to live a life filled with happiness and positivity. The body is the vehicle through which the soul is coming to experience the world, and unless we keep our body clean and healthy, we will never be able to savor life to the fullest. As it is well known, the mind is intimately connected with the body, and hence it is necessary to keep the body healthy, if we want to have a healthy and clear mind. Therefore if you want to fuel your mind with positive energy, be sure to eat healthy, organic foods, especially a lot of fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds and lentils, and cut out of your diet processed foods and animal-derived products.

      2. Read inspirational books.

      Reading books is one of the best gifts one can give to oneself and can be one of the best ways to fuel your mind with positive energy. There are so many amazing books in the market that can truly inspire you to see life from a whole different perspective and motivate you to achieve your full potential. There have been so many great people who have walked on earth before ourselves and have written down their deepest thoughts just so that they can transmit their knowledge to those interested in receiving it. If you really want to positively transform your life, spend as much time as possible reading inspiring books that will help you come to better understand yourself and and the world around you so you can be able to lead a better life.

      3. Surround yourself with positive people.


      One of the worst things you can do for yourself is having people around your who drag you down and drain your energy. Human beings are social beings and they deeply desire to interact and connect with others. However, being in the wrong company can tremendously affect our mind in a harmful way. If you want to fuel your mind with positive energy, make sure to let only positive people be close to you–people who will cheer you up and help you become the better version of yourself, who will push your boundaries and help you grow as a conscious human being. You don’t need to have a lot of people around you — just a few ones who will love you for who you are and help you see life from a more positive perspective.

      Man and Religion - A Buddhist View

      Man is the only living being in this world who has discovered religion and performs worship and prayer.
      Man developed religion in order to satisfy his desire to understand the life within him and the world outside him. The earliest religions had animistic origins, and they arose out of man's fear of the unknown and his desire to placate the forces which he thought inhabited inanimate objects. Over time these religions underwent changes, being shaped by the geographical, historical, socio-economic, political and intellectual environment existing at that time.

      Many of these religions have become organized and are flourishing to this day, backed by a strong following of devotees. Many people are drawn to organized religions because of the pomp and ceremony, while there are some who prefer to practice their own personal religion, inwardly venerating their religious teachers and applying moral principles in their daily life. Because of the importance of practice, every religion claims to be a way of life, not merely a faith. In view of their various origins and paths of development which religions undergo, it is hardly surprising that the religions of man should differ in their approach, the understanding and interpretation of their followers, their goal and how it can be achieved, and their concept of reward and punishment for deeds performed.


      In terms of approach, religious practices may be based on faith, fear, rationality or harmlessness: Faith forms the basis of many religious practises which were developed to overcome man's fear and to meet his needs. A religion of miraculous or mystical powers exploits that fear which arises from ignorance and makes promises of material gain based on greed. A religion of devotion is based on emotion and the fear of the supernatural which, it is so believed, can be appeased through rites and rituals. A religion of faith is based on the desire for gaining confidence in the face of the uncertainty of human life and destiny.

      Some religious practices grew as a result of the development of man's knowledge, experience and wisdom. The rational approach to religion had been adopted in this case, incorporating the principles of human value and natural or universal laws. It is based on humanism and concentrates on the cultivation of humane qualities. A religion of cause and effect or kamma is based on the principle of self-help and assumes that the individual alone is responsible for his own happiness and suffering as well as salvation. A religion of wisdom is based on the application of reason and seeks to understand life and the reality of worldly conditions through analytical knowledge.

      Harmlessness and goodwill are common elements found in religion. A religion of peace is based on the principle of causing no harm to oneself as well as others, and its followers are to cultivate a harmonious, liberal and peaceful life. A religion of goodwill or loving-kindness is based on the sacrifice and service for the welfare and happiness of others.

      Religions differ according to the understanding capacity of their followers and the interpretation which religious authorities give to the religious doctrines and practices. In some religions, codes, while in others they only provide advice on the need and the way to follow these codes. Every religion will offer reasons to explain the existing human problems and inequalities and the way to remedy the situation. By way of explanation, some religions claim that man has to face these problems because he is on trial in this world. When such an explanation is given, another may ask, 'For what purpose? How can a man be judged on the basis of just one life when human beings generally differ in their experiences of physical, intellectual, social, economic and environmental factors and conditions?'

      Every religion has its own concept of what is regarded to be the goal of spiritual life. For some religions, eternal life in heaven or paradise with the Lord is the final goal. For some the ultimate aim in life is the union of universal consciousness, because it is believed that life is a unit of consciousness and it must return to the same original consciousness. Some religions believe that the ending of suffering or repeated birth and death is the final goal. For others, even heavenly bliss or union with Brahma (creator) is secondary to the uncertainty of existence, no matter, whatever form it takes. And there are even some who believe that the present life itself is more than enough to experience the aim of life.

      To attain the desired goal, every religion offers a method. Some religions ask their followers to surrender to God or depend on God for everything. Others call for stringent asceticism as the means of purging oneself of all evil through self mortification. Some others recommend the performance of animal sacrifices and many kinds of rites and rituals as well as the recital of mantras for their purification to gain the final goal. There is yet another which upholds diverse methods and devotions, intellectual realization of truth, and concentration of the mind through meditation.

      Each religion has a different concept of punishment for evil deeds. According to some religions, man is doomed forever by God for his transgressions in this one life. Some others say that action and reaction(cause and effect)operate due to natural laws and the effect of a deed will only be experienced for a certain period. Some religions maintain that this life is only one of so many, and a person will always have chance to reform himself in stages until he finally evolves to attain the goal of Supreme Bliss.

      Given such a wide variety of approaches, interpretations and goals of different religions adopted by mankind, it is useful for people not to hold dogmatic views about their religion but to be open to and tolerant of other religious views.

      The Buddha said: 'One must not accept my teachings from reverence, but first try them as gold is tried by fire.'

      After emphasizing the importance of maintaining an open mind towards religious doctrines, it is useful to remember that a religion should be practised for the welfare , freedom and happiness of all living beings. That is, religious principles should be used positively to improve the quality of life of all beings. Yet today, humankind is corrupted and has gone astray from basic religious principles. Immoral and evil practices have become common among many people, and religious-minded people experience difficulties trying to maintain certain religious principles in modern life. At the same time, the standard of basic religious principles is also lowered to pander to the demands of polluted and selfish minds. Man should not violate universal moral codes to suit his own greed or indulgence; rather man should try to adjust himself according to these codes taught by religion. Religious precepts have been introduced by enlightened religious teachers who have realized the noble way of life which leads to peace and happiness. Those who violate these precepts transgress the universal laws, which, according to Buddhism will bring bad effects through the working of moral causation.
      This does not mean, on the other hand, that a person should slavishly follow what is found in his religion, regardless of its applicability to modern times. Religious laws and precepts should enable people to lead a meaningful life, and are not to be used to bind them to archaic practices and superstitious rituals and beliefs. A person who upholds the basic religious principles should give credit to human intelligence and live respectably with human dignity. There must be some changes in our religious activities to correspond to our education and the nature of our changing society, without at the same time sacrificing the noble universal principles. But it is recognized that making changes to any religious practices is always difficult because many conservative people are opposed to changes, even if they are for the better. Such conservative views are like a stagnant pool of water, while fresh ideas are like the waterfall where the water is constantly being renewed and is, therefore, usable.

      Distortion of Religion

      Despite the value of religion in moral upliftment, it is also true to say that religion is a fertile soil for the development of superstitions and devotional hypocrisy, wrapped under the cloak of religiosity. Many people use religion to escape from the realities of life and put on the garb of religion and religious symbols. They may even pray very often in places of worship, yet they are not sincerely religious minded and have not understood what religion stands for. When a religion has been debased by ignorance, greed for power and selfishness, people quickly point an accusing finger and say that religion is irrational. But 'Religion'(the ritualistic external practice of any teaching)must be distinguished from the teaching itself. Before one criticizes, one must study the original teachings of the founder and see it there is anything intrinsically wrong with it.

      Religion advise people to do good and be good, but they are not interested in acting thus. Instead they prefer to cling to the other practices which have no real religious values. Had they tried to culture their minds by eradicating jealousy, pride, cruelty and selfishness, at least they would have found the correct way to practise a religion. Unfortunately, they develop jealousy, pride, cruelty and selfishness instead of eradicating them. Many people pretend to be religious, but commit the greatest atrocities in the name of religion. They fight, discriminate and create unrest for the sake of religion, losing sight of its lofty purpose. From the increase in the performance of various so-called religious activities, we may get the impression that religion is progressing, but the opposite is really the case since very little mental purity and understanding are actually being practised.

      Practising a religion is nothing than the development of one's inner awareness, goodwill and understanding. Problems would have to be faced squarely by relying on one's spiritual strength. Running away from one's problems in the name of spiritualism is not courageous, much less to be regarded as spiritual. Under today's chaotic conditions, men and women are rapidly sliding downhill to their own destruction. They irony is that they imagine they are progressing towards a glorious civilization that is yet to be realized.

      In the midst of this confusion, imaginary and plastic religious concepts are propagated to create more temptation and confusion in man's mind. Religion is being misused for personal gain and power. Certain immoral practices, such as free sex, have been encouraged by some irresponsible religious groups to introduce their religion among youths. By arousing lustful feelings, these groups hope to seduce boys and girls into following their religion. Today religion has degenerated into a cheap commodity in the religious market giving scant regard to moral values and what they stand for. Some missionaries claim that the practice of morals, ethics and precepts are not important as long as a person has faith and prays to God, which is believed to be sufficient to grant him salvation. Having witnessed how some religious authorities have misled and blindfolded their followers in Europe, Karl Marx made a caustic remark: 'Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the feelings of a heartless world, just as it is the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.'

      Man needs a religion not for the reason of giving him a dream for his next life or providing him with some dogmatic ideas to follow, in such a way that he surrenders his human intelligence and becomes a nuisance to his fellow beings. A religion should be a reliable and reasonable method for people to live 'here and now' as cultured, understanding beings, while setting a good example for others to follow. Many religions turn man's thoughts away from himself towards a supreme being, but Buddhism directs man's search for peace inward to the potentialities that lie hidden within himself. 'Dhamma'(meaning, to hold on)is not something a person searches outside himself, because in the final analysis, man is Dhammaand Dhammais man. Therefore, true religion, which is Dhamma,is not something outside us that we acquire, but the cultivation and realization of wisdom, compassion and purity that we develop within ourselves.

      by Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda

      LET YOUR DISTRACTIONS BE YOUR TEACHERS

      The hindrances—our distractions—have a lot to teach us. It’s understandable to think they are “bad” or are our enemies, but this attitude leads to inner tension and mental turbulence. The hindrances are not in fact “bad.” What they are is ineffective strategies for finding happiness. Each hindrance starts with some kind of dissatisfaction, and on some level we assume that the hindrances will help us deal with that dissatisfaction. If we pay attention to what’s driving the hindrances, we can often learn a lot about what our unmet needs are.
      Each of the hindrances is trying to do something for us. Each is a strategy, attempting to fulfill a particular need. The principle problem with the hindrances is that they just don’t work. They don’t bring us happiness. Instead, they add to our suffering. The needs underlying our hindrances are perfectly valid and healthy.
      Recognizing that each hindrance is trying to fulfill an unmet need can open up the way to finding a healthier and more effective way of fulfilling that need. To do this we need to relax with ourselves, become more aware of the need underlying the hindrance, and then let that need suggest a way of finding fulfillment. Here’s some guidance about how all that can work.

      Sense desire…

      Sense desire is often triggered by a lack of pleasure or happiness. In an attempt to fill this unmet need, we crave pleasant experiences, but such grasping doesn’t change our underlying sense of emptiness, and when our pleasures end we’re plunged once again into a state of dissatisfaction.
      Other times sense desire is a response to fear: we have pleasure and fear losing it, and so we cling tightly to the experience in order to hold onto it. However it’s simply not possible to hold on to pleasure, since it’s in the nature of all experiences to arise and pass away. The hindrance of craving merely creates more suffering, even though its aim is to bring completion and happiness.

      …and what you can learn from it

      If sense desire is alerting you that your needs for pleasure and happiness are not being met, then in response to those unmet needs, rather than fantasizing, you may be able to relax into your present-moment experience and soften the body. Sense desire teaches us that we are out of touch with ourselves. You may be able to allow pleasure to arise through attending to the natural energy and rhythm of the breathing, and noticing the effect these have on various parts of the body. You may be able to relax your attitude, and allow yourself to be more light, playful, and appreciative.

      Ill will…

      Ill will is usually sparked off by the presence of an unpleasant feeling. If we’re imagining having an argument with someone, we probably assume that this will stop the other person from behaving in ways that we don’t like, or will make them stay away from us so that we won’t be bothered by them any more. Ill will promises to remove our difficulties from our lives, but of course it merely creates new conflicts.

      …and what you can learn from it

      Ill will teaches us that there is something painful in us that needs acceptance and reassurance. Ill will is usually defensive, and it may be telling us we have unmet needs for security, reassurance, or self-comfort. Can you find these through acceptance of the painful feelings underlying ill will, and by showing them compassion?

      Worry…

      Worrying starts with an initial experience of anxiety. Worry is an attempt to “fix” the problem that has led to our anxiety. When we worry, we keep up a stream of thoughts that attempt to anticipate and rehash every detail about the situation that’s making us anxious. But this worry, as we know, merely perpetuates and intensifies our sense of insecurity.

      …and what you can learn from it

      Worry teaches us that we do not trust ourselves to deal with a difficult situation. I think of it as showing us our unmet needs for confidence and trust. When we’re worrying we don’t trust our fundamental ability to deal with life’s events. So, instead of worrying, can you find confidence from within, by trusting that whatever happens, difficult situations will arise and pass away? Perhaps we can trust that in the end our problems solve themselves. As Julian of Norwich heard in a vision, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

      Sloth and torpor…

      Sloth, or laziness, is often a response to the presence of dread—that sinking feeling we have when faced with some experience we don’t think we can cope with. Sloth is like worry combined with aversion. It’s an avoidance strategy, where we turn away from difficulties because we fear them. We assume that if we just ignore the thing we dread, it’ll go away. Unfortunately, that rarely happens!

      …and what you can learn from it

      Sloth may likewise show us that we have a need for courage, a need to recognize our own strength, a need for acceptance. We may have resistance to meditating, for example, and find that just by turning toward our resistance we’ll find confidence. If we reflect on how good we’ll feel once we have this unpleasant experience behind us, then we may inspire ourselves to act. As Marianne Williamson observed, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” We’re always capable of far more than we think we are.
      Tiredness, which is more of a physiological lack of energy, may teaching us that we need to take better care of ourselves. Perhaps we can begin doing this in the moment we become aware we’re tired, by practicing forgiveness, and by accepting our need to rest.

      Doubt…

      Dread or anxiety may also underlie the hindrance of doubt. If sloth is worry combined with aversion, doubt is worry combined with self-aversion.
      Our doubts are thoughts that attempt to validate our desire to turn away from challenging experiences. We tell ourselves that this is something we’re not capable of confronting. We may reinforce a painful and limiting view about ourselves, such as “No one likes me,” because we hope that in being pitiful we’ll get sympathy from others. Doubt doesn’t really protect us from anything. Usually the pain it causes is far worse than the discomfort of facing a challenging situation.

      …and what you can learn from it

      Doubt may reveal to us that we have an unmet need for clarity. Even getting clear about that need is a start! In fact simply identifying that we’re experiencing doubt can bring enough clarity to help free us from it entirely.
      Doubt may also, like sloth, reveal a need for confidence. Being able to step back from our doubt in order to name it can help connect us with our inner strength.
      These are just suggestions, though. Our hindrances can point to many forms of unmet need. In order to divine these needs we have to accept the presence of the hindrance without fear or aversion, creating a “sacred pause.” Having created this space, the unexpressed need can come into consciousness directly, rather than appearing wearing the guise of a hindrance. We see the need itself, rather than its expression as a strategy. And then, having met the need face to face, as it were, we can allow it to suggest to us a more effective way that it can be fulfilled. Hindrances, observed mindfully, point us toward our needs.
      Our hindrances, if we allow them, will tell us how to find happiness.

      8 Ways to Stay Present & Focused in a Tech-Driven World

      Technology pervades our world. From cell phones and laptops to iPods and digital cameras, the average person owns an arsenal of gadgets that, in many ways, simplify life.
      You can increase your productivity, connect with people quickly, and access information instantaneously—while documenting your every move via tweets and photos to upload to Twitpic or Facebook.
      Which begs the question: At what point does technology stop enhancing life and start detracting from it?
      When you feel tied to your phone and enslaved by your email, can you pull away, center, and take a tech-vacay outside the shadow of your laptop?
      Does it stress you out to disconnect in an always-on world where everything moves at the speed of light?
      And lastly, do the people in your life suspend their sense of urgency long enough to allow you a break?
      The technology itself is not to blame; just like guns don’t cause violence, gadgets don’t obliterate our mindfulness. We’re in control of the tools we use. Still, it isn’t easy to stay present and focused in a world that’s always plugged in—and to every available outlet.

      1. Commit to single-tasking at least three daily activities.

      It would be easy to say “stop multitasking” while I have seven tabs open in my browser, but that would be hypocritical and not entirely realistic. You’ll likely continue to multi-task certain things, just as I will, to handle your various responsibilities.
      Instead of attempting a complete behavioral shift, I recommend making some small, sustainable changes to connect with the present throughout your day.
      Choose a few tasks you will not multitask, like eating dinner or talking with your mother on the phone. Don’t watch TV. Don’t answers emails. Only do those things. It’s just fifteen to thirty minutes a few times a day, but it will make a big difference and maybe inspire you to do it more often.

      2. Challenge yourself not to respond to texts and emails immediately when possible.

      At work, you may not have the luxury of taking your sweet time responding. But more often than not, you don’t need to shoot someone a rapid-fire answer the second they send a question. You own your phone and laptop, not the other way around.
      People often expect immediate attention, but remember that you control their expectations. If you increase your response time, people won’t find it unusual; eventually, they’ll come to realize that you answer your messages when it’s convenient for you and you’re ready—not sooner, unless it’s urgent.

      3. Create pre-written text messages to decrease your tech-engagement time.

      Most cell phones have a few pre-written messages you can send to save time, i.e.: be home later, I don’t know, etc. You usually have the option to customize your own. I recommend the following:
      • With my family. Please email me and I’ll get back to you later.
      • Done with work for the night. Please email me and I’ll handle at work in the AM.
      • Taking a tech-free day. I’ll respond to all texts tomorrow.

      4. Put your gadgets away when you’re not using them.

      There’s no reason to turn your kitchen table into Best Buy, especially if you end up squeezing meals around it. When you’re not using your phone, camera, or iPod, put them away in a drawer. It will also help to create a charging station near your desk or behind your couch so you don’t end up with cords all over the place.
      image credit

      5. Minimize electronics in your bedroom.

      You may be accustomed to lying in bed with your laptop and indulging the sleep-threatening habit of browsing late at night. Sleep experts recommend decreasing stimulation for an hour before going to bed so your mind unwinds, allowing a restful evening.
      To create a space that makes you feel calm and focused, you may want to remove the TV and computer altogether. You need a space to retreat from the busyness of your day. It will feel a lot more peaceful if you keep that busyness out of your little oasis.

      6. When browsing or working online, close tabs you don’t need.

      It’s a simple little thing that may sound inconsequential, but I’ve noticed it has a profound effect on my state of mind. When I have fifteen open tabs, my attention feels scattered, no matter how hard I try to concentrate.
      Mindfulness means focusing solely on the task in front of you, whether you’re washing dishes or writing an email. If you only keep what you need on the screen, it may be easier to absorb yourself in any one task.

      7. Enlist a buddy for less tech distractions.

      When you’re eating lunch and your best friends starts texting, even if you don’t take it personally you may feel less connected. Most likely you’ve done the same thing on occasion; I know I have. Recently, I’ve asked a couple friends if they can relate to feeling tech-absorbed.
      The next logical question is: Do you want to try a tech-free afternoon with me? No texting, no tweeting, no Facebook updating, just lunch and a movie, and perhaps voicemails to answer later. Not everyone will jump onboard, but it’s worth it if even just one friend consents do a day without distractions.

      8. Write hand-written letters.

      There are certain things you may always email: lunch invitations, movie times, follow-up messages after interviews. But not everything needs immediate delivery. Writing with a pen on paper connects you with your feelings and grounds you in the present moment. What’s more, recipients usually appreciate the time and effort you put into writing them.
      Let a friend know what you admire about her. Send your sister a letter telling her that you appreciate her being there. Little is more rewarding than letting yourself enjoy something without distractions and realizing it makes a difference to someone else.

      BUDDHA'S VIEWS ON POLITICS

      The Buddha had gone beyond all worldly affairs, but still gave advice on good government.
      The Buddha came from a warrior caste and was naturally brought into association with kings, princes and ministers. Despite His origin and association, He never resorted to the influence of political power to introduce His teaching, nor allowed His Teaching to be misused for gaining political power. But today, many politicians try to drag the Buddha's name into politics by introducing Him as a communist, capitalist, or even an imperialist. They have forgotten that the new political philosophy as we know it really developed in the West long after the Buddha's time. Those who try to make use of the good name of the Buddha for their own personal advantage must remember that the Buddha was the Supremely Enlightened One who had gone beyond all worldly concerns.

      There is an inherent problem of trying to intermingle religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while that for politics is power. In the course of history, religion has often been used to give legitimacy to those in power and their exercise of that power. Religion was used to justify wars and conquests, persecutions, atrocities, rebellions, destruction of works of art and culture.
      When religion is used to pander to political whims, it has to forego its high moral ideals and become debased by worldly political demands.


      The thrust of the Buddha Dhamma is not directed to the creation of new political institutions and establishing political arrangements. Basically, it seeks to approach the problems of society by reforming the individuals constituting that society and by suggesting some general principles through which the society can be guided towards greater humanism, improved welfare of its members, and more equitable sharing of resources.

      There is a limit to the extent to which a political system can safeguard the happiness and prosperity of its people. No political system, no matter how ideal it may appear to be, can bring about peace and happiness as long as the people in the system are dominated by greed, hatred and delusion. In addition, no matter what political system is adopted, there are certain universal factors which the members of that society will have to experience: the effects of good and bad kamma, the lack of real satisfaction or everlasting happiness in the world characterized by dukkha (unsatisfactoriness), anicca (impermanence), and anatta(egolessness). To the Buddhist, nowhere in Samsara is there real freedom, not even in the heavens or the world of Brahama.

      Although a good and just political system which guarantees basic human rights and contains checks and balances to the use of power is an important condition for a happy in society, people should not fritter away their time by endlessly searching for the ultimate political system where men can be completely free, because complete freedom cannot be found in any system but only in minds which are free. To be free, people will have to look within their own minds and work towards freeing themselves from the chains of ignorance and craving. Freedom in the truest sense is only possible when a person uses Dhamma to develop his character through good speech and action and to train his mind so as to expand his mental potential and achieve his ultimate aim of enlightenment.

      While recognizing the usefulness of separating religion from politics and the limitations of political systems in bringing about peace and happiness, there are several aspects of the Buddha's teaching which have close correspondence to the political arrangements of the present day. Firstly, the Buddha spoke about the equality of all human beings long before Abraham Lincoln, and that classes and castes are artificial barriers erected by society. The only classification of human beings, according to the Buddha, is based on the quality of their moral conduct. Secondly, the Buddha encouraged the spirit of social -co-operation and active participation in society. This spirit is actively promoted in the political process of modern societies. Thirdly, since no one was appointed as the Buddha's successor, the members of the Order were to be guided by the Dhamma and Vinaya, or in short, the Rule of Law. Until today very member of the Sangha is to abide by the Rule of Law which governs and guides their conduct.

      Fourthly, the Buddha encouraged the spirit of consultation and the democratic process. This is shown within the community of the Order in which all members have the right to decide on matters of general concern. When a serious question arose demanding attention, the issues were put before the monks and discussed in a manner similar to the democratic parliamentary system used today. This self-governing procedure may come as a surprise to many to learn that in the assemblies of Buddhists in India 2,500 years and more ago are to be found the rudiments of the parliamentary practice of the present day. A special officer similar to 'Mr. Speaker' was appointed to preserve the dignity of the Parliamentary Chief Whip, was also appointed to see if the quorum was secured. Matters were put forward in the form of a motion which was open to discussion. In some cases it was done once, in others three times, thus anticipating the practice of Parliament in requiring that a bill be read a third time before it becomes law. If the discussion showed a difference of opinion, it was to be settled by the vote of the majority through balloting.

      The Buddhist approach to political power is the moralization and the responsible use of public power. The Buddha preached non-violence and peace as a universal message. He did not approve of violence or the destruction of life, and declared that there is no such thing as a 'just' war. He taught: 'The victor breeds hatred, the defeated lives in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful.' Not only did the Buddha teach non-violence and peace, He was perhaps the first and only religious teacher who went to the battlefield personally to prevent the outbreak of a war. He diffused tension between the Sakyas and the Koliyas who were about to wage war over the waters of Rohini. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom of the Vajjis.

      The Buddha discussed the importance and the prerequisites of a good government. He showed how the country could become corrupt, degenerate and unhappy when the head of the government becomes corrupt and unjust. He spoke against corruption and how a government should act based on humanitarian principles.

      The Buddha once said, 'When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.'(Anguttara Nikaya)

      In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. Kings and governments may try to suppress crime through punishment, but it is futile to eradicate crimes through force.

      In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. The government should use the country's resources to improve the economic conditions of the country. It could embark on agricultural and rural development, provide financial support to entrepreneurs and business, provide adequate wages for workers to maintain a decent life with human dignity.


      In the Jataka, the Buddha had given to rules for Good Government, known as 'Dasa Raja Dharma'. These ten rules can be applied even today by any government which wishes to rule the country peacefully. The rules are as follows:
      1) be liberal and avoid selfishness,
      2) maintain a high moral character,
      3) be prepared to sacrifice one's own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects,
      4) be honest and maintain absolute integrity,
      5) be kind and gentle,
      6) lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate,
      7) be free from hatred of any kind,
      8) exercise non-violence,
      9) practise patience, and
      10) respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony.
      Regarding the behavior of rulers, He further advised:
      - A good ruler should act impartially and should not be biased and discriminate between one particular group of subjects against another.
      - A good ruler should not harbor any form of hatred against any of his subjects.
      - A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable.
      - A good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. -- (Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta)
      In the Milinda Panha,it is stated: 'If a man, who is unfit, incompetent, immoral, improper, unable and unworthy of kingship, has enthroned himself a king or a ruler with great authority, he is subject to be tortured‚ to be subject to a variety of punishment by the people, because, being unfit and unworthy, he has placed himself unrighteously in the seat of sovereignty. The ruler, like others who violate and transgress moral codes and basic rules of all social laws of mankind, is equally subject to punishment; and moreover, to be censured is the ruler who conducts himself as a robber of the public.' In a Jataka story, it is mentioned that a ruler who punishes innocent people and does not punish the culprit is not suitable to rule a country.

      The king always improves himself and carefully examines his own conduct in deeds, words and thoughts, trying to discover and listen to public opinion as to whether or not he had been guilty of any faults and mistakes in ruling the kingdom. If it is found that he rules unrighteously, the public will complain that they are ruined by the wicked ruler with unjust treatment, punishment, taxation, or other oppressions including corruption of any kind, and they will react against him in one way or another. On the contrary, if he rules righteously they will bless him: 'Long live His Majesty.' (Majjhima Nikaya)

      The Buddha's emphasis on the moral duty of a ruler to use public power to improve the welfare of the people had inspired Emperor Asoka in the Third Century B.C. to do likewise. Emperor Asoka, a sparkling example of this principle, resolved to live according to and preach the Dhamma and to serve his subjects and all humanity. He declared his non-aggressive intentions to his neighbors, assuring them of his goodwill and sending envoys to distant kings bearing his message of peace and non-aggression. He promoted the energetic practice of the socio-moral virtues of honesty, truthfulness, compassion, benevolence, non-violence, considerate behavior towards all, non-extravagance, non-acquisitiveness, and non-injury to animals. He encouraged religious freedom and mutual respect for each other's creed. He went on periodic tours preaching the Dhamma to the rural people. He undertook works of public utility, such as founding of hospitals for men and animals, supplying of medicine, planting of roadside trees and groves, digging of wells, and construction of watering sheds and rest houses. He expressly forbade cruelty to animals.

      Sometimes the Buddha is said to be a social reformer. Among other things, He condemned the caste system, recognized the equality of people, spoke on the need to improve socio-economic conditions, recognized the importance of a more equitable distribution of wealth among the rich and the poor, raised the status of women, recommended the incorporation of humanism in government and administration, and taught that a society should not be run by greed but with consideration and compassion for the people. Despite all these, His contribution to mankind is much greater because He took off at a point which no other social reformer before or ever since had done, that is, by going to the deepest roots of human ill which are found in the human mind. It is only in the human mind that true reform can be effected. Reforms imposed by force upon the external world have a very short life because they have no roots. But those reforms which spring as a result of the transformation of man's inner consciousness remain rooted. While their branches spread outwards, they draw their nourishment from an unfailing source -- the subconscious imperatives of the life-stream itself. So reforms come about when men's minds have prepared the way for them, and they live as long as men revitalize them out of their own love of truth, justice and their fellow men.

      The doctrine preached by the Buddha is not one based on 'Political Philosophy'. Nor is it a doctrine that encourages men to worldly pleasures. It sets out a way to attain Nibbana. In other words, its ultimate aim is to put an end to craving (Tanha) that keeps them in bondage to this world. A stanza from the Dhammapada best summarizes this statement: 'The path that leads to worldly gain is one, and the path that leads to Nibbana(by leading a religious life)is another.'


      However, this does not mean that Buddhists cannot or should not get involved in the political process, which is a social reality. The lives of the members of a society are shaped by laws and regulations, economic arrangements allowed within a country, institutional arrangements, which are influenced by the political arrangements of that society. Nevertheless, if a Buddhist wishes to be involved in politics, he should not misuse religion to gain political powers, nor is it advisable for those who have renounced the worldly life to lead a pure, religious life to be actively involved in politics.

      BY K SRI DHAMMANANDA 

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