Sunday, August 2, 2009

Being a Lotus

The lotus is an important fixture in the Buddhist world. Most all Buddhist themed art has the lotus motif incorporated in some manner. The Buddha is often shown with the lotus.

We are the lotus.

The lotus grows in swampy, muddy water. It uses the water to nurture itself. It grows upward until it is above the water then the blossom opens in a pristine show of beauty untainted by the muddy water below.

In today's world we must learn to be the lotus. We must rise above and be the beauty in the world untainted by the muddy waters that surround us.

Since I began studying the Buddhist mindset I have have started to wake up to what life really is. Sometimes the reality can be overwhelming. Being at peace in this world can be difficult. Simple Buddhist teachings show us that "simple" is often not synonymous with "easy". Following a zen path of compassion and peace can prove to be very difficult especially in the fast paced, self centered world we reside.

Zazen, or "sitting" meditation is one of the most challenging endeavours I have ever undertaken. I admit, more times than not, I do not enjoy the practice. But, I do find it helps me to focus and "be in the moment". Zen teachers tell us the more we practice the closer we will come to understanding ourselves and the truth that surrounds us. They also warn us that this truth may not be what we want to find or hear, but that it is the truth. So why do we practice something that may show us a truth that we do not want to know? Because, it is the truth.

We have the ability to make this world we live in a paradise (heaven) or we can make it hell. I chose to wake each morning and when I walk outside to utter the words " I'm glad to be alive". Those five words start my day. The last thing I say to myself at night is " I enjoyed today. Thank you". Those two words, "Thank You" have become a mantra to me. I find myself saying them all the time. I say them when I finish a task. I say them when I witness a small flower blooming. I say them when I see a fellow human go out of their way to help another.

The hardest part of practicing Zen is being able to expect the world to not be perfect or not go the way we want it to. If we expect things to to go wrong, we do not become upset when they do. Instead, we are delighted that things are going "right" and can utter the words "Thank You".

We each have our own path to walk, or own truth to find. It is no one else's. it is ours alone. The water that sustains us is muddy. The trick is to rise above and bloom to be the beauty in the world that inspires others to rise above it all and be beautiful also.

The world needs more lotuses as the waters around us grow muddier.

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