Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Bit On Perspective

Spongebob: "Patrick, you're the best starer I ever stared at."
Patrick: "Staring contest? I thought it was a blinking contest and I was losing!"

As hackneyed as Patrick's response is, there is some logic at work in those words. It's all in how you look at things. Two people can be doing the exact same thing and achieve separate ends. It all depends on how they approach the task at hand.

Life is the most immediate and tricky game any of us play. In life there are problems and in life there is suffering. The one trap most people fall into is confusing the two. They come to believe that their problems cause their suffering. The truth is what separates them.

In Buddhism, there is a tenent that says suffering is a learned behavior. We suffer because we allow ourselves to do so. Our problems cannot be the cause of our suffering unless we allow them to be. The problems we confront in life are lessons we learn along the way. Or rather, they're supposed to be lessons. The tragedy of most people's existence is that they don't learn from the problems they have. They keep repeating the same patterns only in different situations. They continue with this repetition because they lack the insight to apply the truths of life to their circumstances when times are not so good.

One can be reminded of the Old Testament story of Job. His life of happiness and wealth was taken away from him by powers outside of his control. Rather than allow the tragedies he faced to reduce him into becoming a victim, Job remained convicted in his faith and therefore found solace even at the lowest point in his life. He learned from his circumstances that his happiness was not dependent on anything external. It was incumbent on his state of mind.

This is a lesson that eludes most people because they associate their happiness with the state of their lives. They don't recognize that their state of being is a higher form of existence that needs the same nourishment to remain healthy as the body does to continue living. Only when we can separate the problems we face from our peace of mind can we find that lovely balance between the two; the balance that allows us to remain at peace with the universe because we don't see our problems as direct associations with our happiness. The impact our problems have on our lives can be greatly reduced by embracing this realization.

Suffering and living do not have to go hand in hand. We can affect our own present with tranquility if we learn that the simplest things we have are the most important things that we possess. Food, shelter, water, love, these are the ingredients we need to have the most basic form of living in our grasp and this is not a recipe that changes with time. The convolution doesn't occur until we allow the external forces we all deal with to change our perspective. Sadly it can take something life changing to bring us back to the state into which we are all born.

Nichiren Daishonin said; "Only when one has defeated a powerful enemy can he realize the true power he possesses."

Give the matter some thought. Make a list of what you need to be happy and then make a list of the things you see as preventing you from achieving the contentment you seek. Draw a line between the two. You'll see that one column has very little to do with the other.

Nam myo ho renghe kyo.


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