There are some Great and Noble Truths ~ these are mine.
Life is difficult and painful.
The causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, desires, wants, needs, lusts, and my blaming of others when Life isn’t how I want it to be.
I cannot change what happens to me, but I can change how I react, and I can change what I do.
The path to freedom from suffering and pain is through self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.
The lonely Warrior’s Path has only one ending ~ walk it in honour, and with love.
confession, penance, atonement, amends, forgiveness
Today, the 28th of February, is Shrove Tuesday ~ a day when the basic tenents of religion, 12 step recovery programmes, and a spiritual lifestyle all come together. It’s all based on strength, honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. It’s sometimes called a moral inventory, and it may involve the God /Goddess of your understanding, your Higher Power, your most trusted friend, or any combination or variation of all three. Ash Wednesday, and by extension Shrove Tuesday, is really a Pagan Festival anyway ~ the main thing is that today is a good day for me to take the next step on my own spiritual journey.
All this, the whole point of Shrove Tuesday, may have nothing to do with religion, or recovery from an addiction, or eating special meals, or the carnival celebrations of Mardis Gras ~ but what it should have to do with is acceptance of who we are, who we used to be, and who we wish to become in the future. Today I will take a long look at who I was and what I did, all the good, the bad and the ugly. I will try to accept and understand the past. I will acknowledge the reality of the past, and think about making my amends in the future. Today I will forgive myself for yesterday’s mistakes, and hope that others do too. I will think about being a ‘better’ man tomorrow than I was yesterday. My personal tools for doing this are the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
I am not a follower of the Buddha ~ in fact my personal ‘higher power’ is the Mother Goddess, in one of her forms, (it’s complicated). But the Buddha’s Teachings will make sense to me today ~ Shrove Tuesday. I will be making pancakes today, but the whole idea of Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Carnival is not really an English Gentleman’s thing. Mardi Gras isn’t really a spiritual event, it’s just a street party.
Have a Happy Fat Tuesday, a Great Carnival, a Joyous Mardi Gras, and a Calm and Spiritual Shrove Tuesday.
(Maybe one day I’ll look for a cool woman wearing a great mask at Mardi Gras.)
Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.
There seems to be a lot of angry people in the world today, mostly angry that recent events didn’t turn out the way they wanted, and the future is looking very different to the way they wished it to be.
Angry people are not always wise. ~ Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Even very recent events are beyond our control. The past is the one part of our lives over which we have absolutely no influence, none whatsoever. No amount of regret, bad feelings, or anger can ever change what has already happened. All that anyone has any control over is what they do right now, and what they do right now will shape the future. If people choose to feel angry about the past, then they are denying themselves the opportunity to enjoy the present, and thereby create a better future.
Life is difficult and painful. This is the first of The Four Noble Truths. Things often don’t turn out the way we would like them to. Dwelling on the past and being angry about it isn’t necessarily the best way to make either the present or the future a better and happier place.
We don’t have to get angry, and we don’t have to stay angry. There are other and more positive emotions we can create from our anger. More often than not our anger does not get us what we want. Anger often turns inward and makes angry people bitter, twisted, and ineffectual.
Anger is an acid than can do more harm to vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~ Mark Twain
We shouldn’t suppress our anger, but there are positive and constructive alternatives to aggressively inflicting our anger on other people. Intentionally hurting other people is almost universally a bad thing. All to often angry people won’t listen to calmer counsel. All too often angry people will not listen to opposing viewpoints. All to often angry people try to shout their opponents down.
If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. ~ Noam Chomsky
We can use anger to spur ourselves on to greater and better things. The energy, the adrenalin, the drive our anger arouses in us can be used to make positive and healing changes to the world around us. We all need to learn to tame our temper.
The best fighter is never angry. ~ Lao Tzu
We don’t always have to get mad. We don’t always have to get even. We don’t even have to tell other people that they are wrong, stupid, ignorant, uneducated, ungentlemanly, and childish. We can keep our opinions mostly to ourselves, and instead work quietly for the greater good.
We may not like recent events like Brexit, President Trump, Populism, and a lot of other crazy stuff going on in the World today, but getting angry and then belligerently expressing your anger probably isn’t the answer. More often than not, anger isn’t nice, it isn’t often pretty, and it isn’t really healthy. People die from too much anger.
And, depending on who has been in the wrong, then every once in a while, a sincere apology helps. Sometimes.
these thoughts are mine, and mine alone
Life is Difficult and Painful.
This is a great truth, the first of the Four Noble Truths.
Most people cannot, or will not, accept that this life is a vale of tears, and will often seek to escape from themselves and their pain into drugs, booze, sex, junk food, gambling, religion, mental illness… However, there is no real escape from suffering other than unconditional acceptance of one’s own true identity and the realisation that we cannot change what happens to us, we can only change how we react to events and what we ourselves do. But, what we do will, in some way, change what happens to us.
With acceptance comes change. ~ Jaco Snoek
Yet, even in this deterministic universe there is no real cause and effect, at least none within ordinary human understanding. Ordinary human understanding tells us that a chicken is just an egg’s way of creating another egg ~ this idiotic theory is perfectly in agreement with the Principle of Causality. So which is wrong, our idiotic theory or the principle of causality? It doesn’t matter, it’s just semantics, and words are poor tools with which to describe infinity. Anyway, the cosmos doesn’t care either way.
Sadly, very early in life we learn to have expectations of reward for our actions, and this is what motivates most of what most people do most of the time ~ this is called the Expectancy Theory, and it’s fundamentally flawed in the same way that the eternal law of cause and effect is flawed. There is no Divine Omniscient Consciousness to ensure that the law of cause and effect always applies.
If you do something good, you may not get a good result. If someone does something bad or evil, they may not get a bad or evil result. It is not always possible to determine in advance the end results of our actions. And, no matter what we do there are some things we cannot change. For example, by your actions alone you cannot change another person, most certainly you cannot make someone love you.
So, what’s worse than knowing you want something, other than knowing you can never have it. ~ James Patterson
No matter how good and competent you are, you may suddenly find yourself up to your eyebrows in deep shit, and there may be nobody to blame. Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes there is nobody to blame, and sometimes there is nobody to thank. This is part of chaos theory.
Mankind has as much difficulty in accepting chaos ~ the disorder, confusion, and unpredictability of life ~ as a man has with unconditionally accepting himself. The sun rises, therefore there must be a Sun God. The Nile floods, there must be a Nile God. Some women are beautiful and loving, there must be a Goddess of Love. Man created Gods and Goddesses to escape from, and make sense of, the pain, disorder, confusion, and unpredictability that surrounds us.
The path to freedom from pain and suffering lies not in trying to escape into drugs, booze, sex, or whatever. The Warrior’s Path to enlightenment is through acceptance of oneself and simple self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.
There is an ultimate truth for each of us, and it is this; we are who we are, and the only thing we can change is ourselves in order to reach our absolute and fullest potential.
If you cannot, or will not, open yourself to unconditional acceptance of who you are, and become willing to change and grow, then the only person who will really go on suffering is you. The Cosmos doesn’t really care one way or another.
A lot of people seem to see only what they want to see a lot of the time. Even people who should know better; sports referees, scientists, leaders of big businesses, religious leaders, politicians.., have a selective blindness when it comes to clearly seeing things they would prefer to ignore. Are people really blind to the facts so often, or are most people routinely deceiving themselves?
From my own experience, I can tell you that lying to yourself, self-deception, seeing things through rose-tinted spectacles, is the easiest lie of all. I spent most of my life believing that my own lies to myself were true.
Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who routinely lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love. ~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
But, not seeing the truth of one’s own situation means that one’s life is built on a foundation of sand.
I can see more clearly now. Now my eyes are wide open and not clouded by self-deceptions. To truly live a good life, to try do what is right more often than doing what is easy, to really care about others, we must first of all know who we are. I discovered that I could not love the man I saw in the mirror, I could not live as a hollow man, I could not go through the rest of my life as a shadow. I had to know myself. And to know myself, first of all I had to fully accept the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You know what? Sometimes accepting the truth is unbelievably painful.
Many people say that today’s social relationships are superficial. Perhaps that is because so few of us are open and honest with one another. How many will tell their loved ones ‘little white lies’ on the grounds that telling the whole truth would be hurtful? That may be socially acceptable, and it may arise from the seemingly good reason that the truth is going to big create problems, but ‘little white lies’ are still lies.
In the last few weeks I have come to believe that most lies are the result of fear. We tell ‘little white lies’ because we fear the consequences of telling the truth to our loved ones. We refuse to see what is right in front of us because we are afraid of what that means. It may be that I believed my own lies to myself because I was afraid to accept the pain of the real truths about who I
am used to be.
Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears. ~ Rudyard Kipling.
The first of the four Noble Truths is that Life is Suffering. Or, if you like; Life is Difficult and Painful. For some reason I have been able to accept that First Noble Truth, and now I can accept who I am, and now I can search for my own ultimate truth. With acceptance of myself I can now accept, understand, and begin to love others.
Many speak of love. I firmly believe there can be no love without truth.
Honest humility says that I am not a better man than any other. But, today I may be a far better man than I used to be.
these opinions are mine and mine alone.
When you haven’t slept for days, and you spend all your time in the depths of hopelessness, convinced that you are physically, mentally, and spiritually ill, and that there is no cure, no way out at all, then even the glimmer of an end of suffering will have you hanging on to that dim light like a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt.
So it was for me at a grim three o’clock in the morning on Monday, March 28th, 2016 ~ Easter Monday.
The single glimmer of hope in the darkness were these words; ‘Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.’ The opening words of a book called The Road Less Travelled.
This is also the first of the Four Noble Truths as revealed by the Buddha.
Being in the hopeless state I am, for today I have simplified these Four Noble Truths into versions I can understand;
- Life is difficult and painful.
- The causes of my problems and pain are my own cravings, lusts, and my blaming of others.
- I can’t change what happens to me, but I can change what I do.
- The path to freedom from suffering is through self-discipline in body, mind, and spirit.
The cruel trick my mind is already playing on me is that I keep forgetting what #3 says. I know there ‘s a #3, but I forget what it says.
No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. ~ Gautama Buddha.
Dying is easy. Living takes work. Don’t try and do it all on your own.