Posts Tagged Buddhism

Sunday Column (405)

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I feel tired. Maybe the weather change, maybe the wine, maybe just being on the edge of winter? The fire is on, I am finalising my blog on Sunday morning. Not that it is that cold, but why not. However, I also feel full of energy. I am bursting to put more hours and effort in to get things done. Make this my world, my day, my minute. Make time work. Make this my life. Somewhat, over the last few months, I feel more in charge of what is happening than I have ever done before. This is a new but amazing feeling. As my American friends would say, I am pumped!

Beer. Football. Fun on a Saturday afternoon. Fish and chips, take away pizza and a curry. Am I turning into a Brit? No doubt I still have my German accent, yet I feel, after 15 years, things are coming together, and I am more settled than ever in this society. I love this country. Passport or not, am I turning my back on Germany? Slowly but surely I am I think. Whilst I still have my roots there, no travel is required to the fatherland at the moment, so I get little exposure to it. So maybe I am just properly settling down… nothing wrong with it, life is good, I am happy.

Brexit or not we keep investing. Hopefully into something money cannot buy, but health for my back and sanity: a new bed and memory foam mattress. A bit beyond what I wanted to spend, but I feel this is an investment worthwhile. Our first bed after uni was IKEA. The mattress lasted a few years, then it was gone. Then we had a futon mattress. 4 years, it is gone. Now a memory foam one with 8 years guarantee and 40 days return…we cannot go wrong with that one I don’t think.

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On the note of health and my wife completing her first marathon, I am getting obsessed with my Apple Watch as a fitness device. Whether to track my runs, or to see how often I stand during the day, how much I move or how well I sleep. The health app and my watch keep me right. A gentle reminder on my arm suggests to breathe, take a minute out and refocus. Nice. I need those reminders and find them useful. I remember too well that my colleagues at uni in halls of residence laughed at me, when I had my first palm pilot, and it reminded me of things. And they said, is that to remind you to breathe, Volker? I didn’t then. My device now does. I think it’s funny now. They probably don’t -) Particularly this week whilst I suffered from the evil man flu. Trying to not fall asleep in meetings and getting any sympathy of course doesn’t work, so a bit of focus on the inner self was useful.

And I am now competing with my friend Adam on performance on a daily basis. How many steps did he take? How long did he stand up? A nice competitiveness. I think my wife needs an Apple watch too. Christmas coming soon.

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Another thought this week. Whenever I start a new job I am getting consciously aware of new people reading my blog. Often I get asked, based on my bio, whether I am a Buddhist, and I guess I am. Why, I wonder, am I classifying myself as a Buddhist. And I guess the answer is relatively simple. As simple as most things in Buddhism. For me it is about the philosophy. The bit about being in control of your thoughts, to be able to help and to be a good citizen. But foremost it is the philosophy of calming your mind, being mindful and present in the moment. Focusing on the one thing that is important. It isn’t a religion for me, it is a certain commitment to be a good human being and focusing on improving my mindfulness. It is that simple really.

Being a good dad. A good father. A good husband. A good manager. I was told this week by an ex colleague of mine, that I am very good with people. A huge compliment. I love people. I love working with people, developing them. One of my biggest things. Hence I love my new job. I can so see how I can help and impact the workflow and people. I enjoy that. Yes, there are things I don’t like, but there always are some in any job. I only started and got a chance to meet the big boss this week. You know, and I would say that, meeting the founder is impressive enough, but meeting the guy who has the vision beyond your little world is impressive … Jim Rohn said to surround yourself with 5 people that help you develop. I am improving my 5. And hopefully I am to others what they are to me.

Jim Rohn. Anthony Robbins. Freedom Fast Lane. The Mentee. There are virtual mentors and instructors, coaches and helpers, yet having people in the real world that talk sense makes you feel good. Who are your 5? Who are the five people that influence you? I enjoy sitting in the middle of receiving but also giving. Helping and being helped. One grows, all together we improve and grow for a bigger purpose. I enjoy that, an environment I strive in.

Hopefully, so will my boys. I haven’t seen much of them this week but when I did, I feel like the bond is improving day by day. I want to be a good dad. A good friend and sparring partner. A coach. All their life. That is my purpose. And the only way I can achieve that is by gaining trust.

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You know, trust is key in any relationship. It takes ages to build, and once destroyed it is difficult to regain. I remember in one of my start ups they gave me the trust to be the sole account holder, I mean kind of. So, when I left, in theory they had to cut my card. They trusted me for so long, would you trust them? Yes you would. And still today you would. This is the key to any relationship. My wife, and we had a great night out on Saturday. Let’s work on that in our lives to improve the relationships we own. Let’s make time for each other, rech out and share trust and love.

I wish you well.
Have an amazing week,
Volker

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Seeing is Believing

I wanted to write a blog post for a while about my belief system. Why I am a Buddhist and so close to that “religion” or philosophy.

Instead I thought I share some more pictures to not bore you with the same text and reasoning. The first one is about Karma.

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Karma is important for me. I like to treat others with respect and this note clearly points out that how you are treated by others is not your problem. It is theirs. It reminds me of how I have been treated by some over the past few months. I don’t worry about it. It is how I react to any treatment that affects my own Karma. This is what is important to me.

The second picture suggests Buddhism being a science of mind rather than a religion. For me religion doesn’t mean anything. For me Buddhism is a philosophy, a way of life with a lot of tools to make your life more pleasant for you and others. Maybe I oversimplify Buddhism.

Buddhist Science

I understand that there is more to it. But for the time being I like to see it as a science not a religion. Really!

This nicely leads to the next picture. Promoting Human Values is what Buddhism is about.

Promoting Human Values

Do you understand that? I believe in a philosophy not a religion. I believe in the goodness of people and mankind. I believe in in human value.

It doesn’t really matter what you call it.

Have a great day!

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Buddhist Thoughts: Tigers

I came across the below in a newsletter the other day. It is an excerpt of Pema Chodron’s latest book, The Wisdom of No Escape. I thought it would be worth sharing!

Tigers Above, Tigers Below

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

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Buddhist Thought: Act Upon

However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?
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This is with anything you do. If you don’t act on what you want to achieve, there will be no outcome.

You can read, think and discuss Buddhism forever, but until you meditate, go inside yourself and calm your mind; until you experience inner peace; until you experience Buddhism… you will not find out what it is like.

Start practising today!

Love and Kindness,
Volker

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Buddhist Thought: Death once again

You can confront the prospect of your own death and try to analyze it and, in so doing, try to minimize some of the inevitable sufferings it causes. Neither way can you actually overcome it. However, as a Buddhist, I view death as a normal process of life? Knowing that I cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

This is a very true quote. If nothing else is certain, death is and always will be.

It is part of life. The beginning and the end. Alpha and Omega.

Stop worrying about it. I may die today. It will create suffering to my family and friends but not to me. In the endless quest to escape samsara, I end up on this earth again. For the second time, or third, or hundreds.

Who would know?

Have a safe week, stay alive. Live every moment.

Volker

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Buddhist Thought: Do the work!

You should do the work yourself, for buddhas only teach the way.

– Dhammapada

Buddhism, and I often forget, is not only a theoretical philosophy or way of life. Particularly for the later this is associated with practice.

The work you put in for being a better human being, helping others, putting others above yourself, being detached from possessions, and being a good human. And of course there are more things to it. From my point of view the personal development, calm, and meditation.

There is something for everyone in Buddhism. But Buddha only guides the way. You have tout it into practice.

Have a great week.
Volker

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Buddhist Thoughts: Trust your ability

Do not underestimate your ability.

– Geshe Chekawa, “In Advice From a Spiritual Friend”

We all question our abilities at some point or another. We all on the other hand have seen people surviving extreme situations.

Often, when the human body is pushed to the limits, one realises how much more one is capable of doing.

Now, don’t underestimate this. Be aware of what you can do and take on the challenge. Be bold and brave. Embrace what you thought was impossible.

Buddha bless,
Volker

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Sunday Column (167)

This week started with a bank holiday. I really could get used to 3 days weekends. Also, I finally bought what I was going on for for the last few months: an iPad. Yes, after converting to an iPhone, reading Steve Jobs’ Biography, then “Inside Apple” and now the biography of Joan Baez, I am so taken with Apple (and subsequently with the 60ies/Hippie attitude) that the next purchase will be an iMac. That has to wait until we have moved though.

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The iPad is aiming to replace my netbook which my MIL (mother in law) will appreciate. Also when I start commuting longer from the new place there will be plenty of use for an iPad from reading the paper to writing this blog.

By the way the new place. We really annoy our solicitors and mortgage advisor. After some mistakes on their end, it has now all been verbally sorted. Once things are confirmed in writing we are going to exchange contracts (hopefully next week) and then move early June. Fingers, toes and legs crossed. We cannot wait. Life is on hold until we can settle. No new purchases, no BBQs, no new paint on the wall. We are just waiting.

This week I also got a new CD. Yes, those round little music holders that are getting replaced by digital music. I feel so retro knowing I love my vinyls and also got my record player here (despite that I haven’t used it for a while). Anyway, I got the CD from the Reinhard Mey concert I was visiting with my mum last year. It is great to have this memory on CD. Not only the songs but it also brings back the memory of this experience. Music can be so thought provoking and sentimental.

There has not been much else happening. Or it might have been, but nothing I can speak about freely. No, nothing to worry about. But there are a few things going on of which I am quite thoughtful about. However, things will happen as they meant to be. Being a Buddhist helps you coping with a lot of stuff you need to put up with. Politics, opinions, change of life, sudden changes and love.

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Yes, love is the one I need to deal with too. Not a big burden of course. I love love – I mean who doesn’t. But hearing that the kids love you and that they miss you, I find it difficult to not think about it all the time whilst being away, at work or travelling.

This ties in with the most important event that happened this week: Rohan took his first few steps! It is fantastic to see him doing it. He seems to have so much fun and joy doing it but only does it when in the bedroom “having a race”, not when he is in the garden, park or elsewhere. I guess this is only the beginning.

I guess life is the challenge of being able to balance the “need for money”, the “aspiration for a career”, and the “love for the family”. This might sound sentimental but I am pleased with my life at the moment. Seeing so much love from my 3 year old (and the younger one too but different), and having a great job that allows for flexible working is fantastic. I couldn’t wish for anything else at the moment.

Now, before I start rattling on, I better stop.

Have a fantastic week. A normal weekend, a normal week ahead.

Buddha bless,
Volker

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Buddhist Thought: Mantra

A mantra is not like a prayer to a divine being. Rather, the mantra is the deity, is enlightenment, immediately manifest.

– Lorne Ladner, “Wheel of Great Compassion”

A mantra, like the one on the side of my blog, is not a prayer. It is a way of life, a thought. It is something you choose in order improve your life, to help you making decisions. It leads you to your enlightenment, it helps you to manifest in the here and now.

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Buddhist Thoughts – Partner’s Communication

Living with your partner, or being close with anyone – yes, this could be a work colleague, as we all know that we spend more time at work than at home – causes conflicts. That is normal.

Now today’s quote suggests the following:

It is very important that you do not compare your actions to your partner’s or judge your partner’s behavior as unskillful. Rather, focus on your own actions and take responsibility for them. Recall those times when you looked into your partner’s eyes and saw the pain you caused this person you love to suffer. If you can admit your own faults, if you can see how hurtful your actions were and tap into a sense of concern for your partner’s well-being, then compassion and loving-friendliness will flow.

– Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, “Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness”

Bhante says that instead of fuelling the conversation and make it hostile, you should stop in your tracks and think. Take responsibility! Focus on your own action!

By doing so you are less or not at all hurtful. You focus on your own mistakes instead. Be understanding, reach out to your partner and sow the love.

In return you will receive love, happiness and less conflicts.

Have a great day.
Volker

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