Sunday
Mar252007

Suffering and Joy

Whatever suffering there is in this world,

it all arises from
desiring only myself to be happy.

Whatever joy there is in this world
it all arises from
desiring to share my happiness with everyone.
 

Saturday
Mar242007

Sticking With One Method

956849-786928-thumbnail.jpgQuestion: I like a certain method in Buddhism but I keep hearing about others. They all sound good and I don’t want to miss anything. What should I do?

Response: If we are fortunate enough to find our practice and teacher, we need to focus on them. Trying to follow different practices and teachers is like driving somewhere and coming to a crossroads. If we try to drive in both directions, we’ll become confused and not know which way to go.  

If we want to get a college degree, we need to choose a major. If we keep changing our major, we’ll be very well read but we’ll never graduate. And we’ll have wasted a lot of time and energy.

Our practice is the same way. We all are very busy and never have enough time to do all we want. If we do not focus on our goal of awakening, we’ll study a bit here and practice a bit there, but at then end of our lives, will not have come that much closer to our goal.

And we’ll have wasted another lifetime.  

 

Friday
Mar232007

Meat Means Misery for the World's Hungry

There is more than enough food in the world to feed the entire human population. So why are more than 840 million people still going hungry?1

Our meat-based diet is partly to blame, as land, water, and other resources that could be used to grow food for human beings are being used to grow crops for farmed animals instead. According to a recent report by Compassion in World Framing, "[c]rops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten animals raised for food." It takes up to 16 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of edible animal flesh.

The average adult human burns about 2,000 calories per day, just living his or her life. We use almost all the calories that we consume to move around, breathe, and do everyday tasks. The same is true of farmed animals. For every pound of food that they are fed, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh. The rest of those calories are burned away raising the animal to slaughter weight or contributing to feathers, blood, and other parts of the animal that are not eaten by humans. This is why animals raised for food have to eat as many as 16 pounds of grain to create just 1 pound of edible flesh.2

Because the industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land. Their efficient, plant-based agricultural model is being replaced with intensive livestock rearing, which also pollutes the air and water and renders the once-fertile land dead and barren.

If this trend continues, the developing world will never be able to produce enough food to feed itself, and global hunger will continue to plague hundreds of millions of people around the globe. The Guardian explains that there's only one solution: "It now seems plain that [a vegan diet] is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue."3

1 Alex Kirby, "Hungry World 'Must Eat Less Meat,'" BBC Online, 15 Aug. 2004.
2 Mark Gold and Jonathon Porritt, "The Global Benefits of Eating Less Meat," 2004, p. 22.
3 George Monbiot, "Why Vegans Were Right All Along," Guardian Unlimited, 24 Dec. 2002.
This article appeared at GoVeg.com 
 
 
Thursday
Mar222007

I'm New: Where do I Start?

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Question: How do I choose a school in Buddhism? What criteria should I use?
 

Response: All the 84,000 (a number symbolizing uncountable) methods taught by the Buddha are equally good. We just need to find the one that is most suitable for our capabilities and the way we live. 

Initially, most people listen to different teachers, read various books, and check out Buddhist web sites to see what resonates with them. If you live where there is a Buddhist center, you can visit it to get a better feeling for the practice and teachings. If you are not near a center, you could attend a weekend retreat to see if the practice and teachings feel right for you.

Deciding on the right method is largely intuitive. When you find what is right for you everything feels right: the practice, the teachings, the people—everything. A comment I have heard from so many people, and the feeling that I experienced myself, is that "it felt like I was coming home."
 
 
Wednesday
Mar212007

Giver or Receiver?

Compassion is not feeling pity for someone. It is the understanding that the other person wants the same things we do—to be free of suffering and to find genuine happiness. Our compassion is our wish and intention for them to attain this. It is to regard the other with respect and gratitude for the gift they are giving us.

What gift? They are helping us to open up to another being, to not judge or dismiss, but to selflessly want to help. They are teaching us to not impose conditions, but to give selflessly of ourselves.

The result? We have gotten just a little bit better at perfecting our compassion and have moved just a little bit further along the Path. So actually, we are not helping the other. They are helping us.