It’s with great sadness that we tell you Rev Glen Smith passed away Wednesday morning. Many of you will remember Glen with a camera in hand and the creator of many fine images over the years. Already greatly missed we extend our thoughts, prayers and love to his family after this very unexpected loss.
Of solitary realizers, hearers still training and those beyond,
And of all ordinary beings.
You who are the bright lights of worlds in ten directions,
Who have attained a Buddha’s omniscience through the stages of awakening,
All you who are my guides,
Please turn the supreme wheel of Dharma.
Om Mani Padme Hum
According to Tibetan culture, it is said that all the teachings of Buddha are contained in the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum, and that to know the phrase is to know enlightenment. Supposedly, contained in this verse is the truth of the nature of suffering and how to remove its causes.
But there is a bit of a dilemma; the translation from Sanskrit to English is very tough. The definition is actually not possible in just a couple of sentences…in fact, the entire phrase has to be broken down to be properly understood.
First, the nature of a mantra and what it means:
In the Buddhist tradition, special words are repeated over and over again until they begin to gather a certain “emptiness”.
This is not “emptiness” in the traditional sense where we imagine an experience of nothing…rather it is experiencing ourselves in the moment without the usual attachment of ego. We become free or “empty” of everything but an inner awareness.
That form of enlightened awareness gives us the intuitive knowledge to save ourselves from suffering.
The 6 Syllables and Their Relationship to Suffering
Interestingly, each of the 6 syllables has certain Sanskrit meanings that are important. These oppose certain internal forces that cause suffering.
Om (ohm)- Om is the sound or “vibration” of the universe. This sound is the most important of all; but in the context of chanting and mantras, it is meant destroy attachments to ego and establishgenerosity.
Ma (mah)- Removes the attachment to jealousy and establishesethics.
Ni (nee)- Removes the attachment to desire and establishespatience.
Pad (pahd)- Removes the attachment to prejudice and establishesperseverance.
Me (meh)- Removes the attachment to possessiveness and establishes concentration.
Hum (hum)- Removes the attachment to hatred and establisheswisdom.
- “So in this way recitation of the mantra helps achieve perfection in the six practices from generosity to wisdom. The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections?”
Most of us today live busy lives. Busy at home and busy at work.
These multi-tasking, non-stop lifestyles we have adapted to in our society have negative consequence of stress.
Our minds, and sometimes even our bodies, are over-worked.
This stress can turn into physical and mental symptoms, from irritability to fatigue and digestion issues.
Stress can impact a number of areas in our lives, from our health to our relationships.
Finding ways to combat and deal with stress can help us in improving the overall quality of our lives.
Here are six easy ways to help you de-stress!
1) Do Something Creative
Being creative allows us to channel our essence into a physical form.
When we create, whether through art, music, dance, crafting, etc., we are putting our unique energy into a tangible object and expressing our souls.
When our spirits are active, through creativity, we experience peace, love, and joy.
2) Be Active
When we exercise, we release endorphins in the brain.
This chemical helps our minds and bodies relax and de-stress.
We not only feel better, but we are strengthening and improving our physical health as well. It’s a win-win.
3) Be in Nature
Throughout the years, people have become increasingly aware of the benefits of being out in nature.
Scientific studies have proven the soothing affects it brings, helping us relieve stress and boosting our moods.
From an energetic standpoint, being out in nature raises our vibrations, being surrounded by other forms of energy from the plants and animals.
When we raise our vibrations, the lower energies of stress and worry dissipate.
4) Pamper Yourself to a Spa Night
Stress can take a toll on our minds as well as our bodies.
Stress can manifest into insomnia, headaches, low energy, and even cardiovascular diseases.
Our bodies can take a beating from stress, and we need to give it the TLC it deserves. Have a spa night.
Grab some Epsom salts and draw yourself a hot bath.
Get those essential oils and candles.
Put on that zen music and mud mask. Doesn’t that just sound relaxing?
Engaging our senses to calming and stress relieving methods is a beneficial way to relax the whole body.
5) Eat Healthy
That saying, ‘you are what you eat’ isn’t just a saying. What we eat has a direct connection to our health.
Due to the nutritional make up of specific plants, studies have shown that certain foods actually help with stress.
Green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach produce dopamine, a chemical that is associated with pleasure boosting.
The antioxidants in blueberries are linked to helping your body respond and fight stress, while mushrooms contain lots of Vitamin D, which can affect our energy levels and moods.
That being said, making yourself a superfood salad is a healthy option to help fight stress.
6) Practice Mindfulness
Being present in the moment, or being mindful, helps take our focus off of the racing thoughts in our minds, the to-do lists, the worrying about the future, and the regrets of your past.
If focuses instead on the present moment, the here and now.
Shifting our attention to be present allows us to be aware of each moment, to appreciate and enjoy them.
To observe your surroundings and yourself creates a stronger connection between the two, and allows the turmoil that clouds your mind to slowly disappear.
Buddha Boy Shocked The World, He Meditated For 10 Months Without Food Or Water. Where Is He Now?
Back in 2005 Ram Bomjon started meditating under a tree for a period of 10 months without any food, water or sleep. What’s happened since?
Back in 2005 Ram Bomjon (nicknamed ‘Buddha Boy’) started sitting and meditating under a similar tree Buddha became enlightened under for a period of 10 months without any food, water or sleep. While doing that, he drew in thousands of visitors and media attention.
The teenager began his meditation on May 16, 2005 around Ratanapuri village in Bara district in Nepal, many think he is the reincarnation of the Buddha himself. This had created a huge increase of movement of people, which in return generated economic opportunities for the locals where makeshift shops have sprung up and offerings in cash and kind were on the rise.
Around the peak of his fame before he disappeared, his hair had grown long and almost covered his eyes, physically looking quite weak. Shrouded in a mist of incense and encased in a white shawl. Local people having formed a committee to make sure Bamjon is in the right environment to meditate and to manage the amount of people coming in making their offerings.
His Sudden Disappearance
He suddenly left his meditation place in the middle of the night, where large crowds had been watching him, “because there is no peace”.
Around a year after his disappearance the world was shocked to hear from the young boy again.
On 26 March 2007, news spread of Bomjon meditating underground. Inspector Rameshwor Yadav of the Area Police Post Nijgadh, found Bomjon inside an underground chamber, a bunker-like ditch seven feet square. “His face was clean and hair was combed well,” Yadav said. According to him, the chamber had been cemented from all sides and fitted with a tiled roof.
Indra Lama, a local deployed as Bomjon’s caretaker since the beginning of his intensive meditation, said the chamber was prepared per Bomjon’s request. “He expressed his desire to meditate inside the ground; so we built it,” he said.
On 2 August 2007, Bomjon talked to a large crowd in Halkhoriya jungle in the Bara district of Nepal. It was organized by The Namo Buddha Tapoban Committee, which has taken all care for Bomjon upon them. They called people through phone and used the radio to make it publicly known. 3000 people showed up. Bomjon’s message was, “The only way we can save this nation is through spirituality. Materialism has brought forth fear, worry and disputes and has created war in this country. One should follow religion and philosophy for inner happiness,” Bomjam told the crowds in a 15-minute address
Claims By The Media
Some supporters believe that claims of media are less relevant than Bomjon’s undisputed ability to remain nearly motionless in the same position day after day, with no regard for extremes of weather including cold winter and monsoon rains. American writer George Saunders visited Bomjon and observed him through a single night, and was impressed by Bomjon’s perfectly still stature, even during an evening climate which seemed unbearably cold to the much better clothed journalist.
In December 2005, a nine-member government committee led by Gunjaman Lama watched Bomjon carefully for 48 hours and observed his not taking any food or water during that time. A video recording was also made of this test from a distance of 3 meters.
On 10 November 2008, Bomjon reappeared and gave blessings to around 400,000 pilgrims over a 12-day period in the remote jungle of Ratanpuri, 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Kathmandu, near Nijgadh. His hair was shoulder-length and his body was wrapped in a white cloth. He made two speeches in which he urged people to recognize the compassion in their hearts, and their connection to one another through the all-encompassing soul.
People joined a six-kilometre (3.75-mile) queue to be blessed, a wait that 43-year-old farmer Singha Bahadur Tamang said was worthwhile.
“This is a miracle and he is the reincarnation of Lord Buddha himself,” said Tamang, who traveled eight hours by bus to hear Bomjam speak.
“I’ve been here for the last 10 days and the feeling is amazing. I really feel at peace here,” he said.
The Last Time We’ve Heard From Him
Making headlines on a local Nepali newspaper. Apparently Bomjon on July 22, 2010, admitted defending himself physically to some local villagers who came up to his place, a platform in the trees where he was meditating and were mimicking him and attempted to manhandle him. Because of that he was ”therefore forced to beat them”.
The local villagers said to have been assaulted in a way more serious manner, but Bomjon kept his cool and said to have slapped them ”two or three times”.
I remember the first time I heard about him what it did to me, hearing about a 15 year old meditating for 10 months straight, without anything that is supposed to keep us alive. It made me realize that everything is possible if we are dedicated. He became and still is that symbol for me, whether he appears in the media in the future or not. Think about, what is the reason this article got you interest?
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE
First, I’ll begin with self, which sometimes goes by the name ego, or more familiarly, I and me. What is this self, really? We can investigate by trying to analyze this self, to locate it or pin it down, to see if it even exists in the first place. This can be a highly illuminating contemplation, but for the purposes of this book, I would like to focus more on our everyday experience. Let’s identify how having a self feels. In our mind stream, there is always some kind of feeling of having a self, which is at the center of all our thoughts and emotions. One Tibetan phrase targets this phenomenon precisely: dak che dzin. Dak means “self”; che means “important” or “dear”; dzin means “holding” or “regarding.” This term has various translations, which all capture different nuances: self-centeredness, self-clinging, ego-clinging, self-absorption. I like to use all of these terms in different contexts, but my favorite translation is “self-importance.”
This word may make us think dak che dzin has mostly to do with being proud and arrogant, but such pride is nowhere near the whole story. Self-importance includes both self-cherishing and self-protection. It is the source of the five main types of painful emotions, known as the “five poisons”: attachment, aggression, jealousy, arrogance, and stupidity. It can manifest as feeling like we’re better than others, but just as easily it can manifest as low self-esteem, or even self-hatred. The bottom line is that we regard this self—whatever or wherever it is—as the most important thing in the entire universe.
Anxiety really sucks.
It was early 2015, and I was fresh off a seven-month silent meditation retreat in the Arizona desert. After months of meditating for nine hours a day, I was in a state of deep peace, and I felt like I could stay that way forever.
Then I moved to New York City.
Maybe you can guess what happened next: The city kicked the hell out of my zen tranquility almost immediately.
Was I really doomed? Of course not, but that’s why anxiety can be so difficult.
Anxiety takes a tough but manageable situation and convinces you that it’s unbearable and unfixable, a disaster.
I tried to use my new-found meditation skills to relieve my anxiety, but it didn’t work. Instead, I felt betrayed by my own meditation practice; after all that training, I couldn’t handle basic, everyday life?
Then I remembered two pieces of advice:
“Discomfort avoidance is the common thread that binds all anxiety problems together.” — John Forsyth, Ph.D., and Georg Eifert, Ph.D., psychologists specializing in anxiety
“Short moments, many times.” — My meditation teacher, the Tibetan master Tsoknyi Rinpoche (and a zillion other Tibetan masters; this is very old advice)
These two insights combined revealed my solution: I needed to turn toward my difficulties and not flinch away from them. (Yeah, I know, easier said than done.) I also needed a bite-sized way to do that so I could deal with my anxiety right away in the moments it arose.
That was when I started using this thing called a “mindful pause.”
A mindful pause is meditation but not in a scary, “oh my god, how can I wipe my mind clear for 30 minutes” kind of way. Studies show that meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, and even in 30 seconds, the mindful pause lets you experience that firsthand. One study even found that meditation shrinks the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for stress, anxiety, and fear. Hell yeah.
Basically, the mindful pause is a great “spot treatment” for times when you feel stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed but have lots to do.
It involves taking 30 seconds to tune into your own body, and you can do it anywhere. You can be sitting, standing, lying down, whatever. Plus, no one will even know that you’re meditating. When you’re spinning out into an anxiety loop, sometimes you just need to interrupt the process. Inserting a pause gives you the opportunity to collect yourself.
Here’s how it works:
1. Take a deep breath.
Take a slow inhale, filling your lungs from bottom to top. Inhale into your lower belly and then fill upward through your mid-torso and chest.
This will help you take advantage of the well-documented connection between breath and mood. By slowing and deepening your breathing, you can actually create feelings of relaxation and calm.
2. Turn toward your body.
Open your attention to the sensations in your body. Let yourself notice whatever comes up: warmth, coolness, tingling, pressure, or the touch of clothing. There’s no need to evaluate the sensations as “good” or “bad.” Itching is simply itching. Coolness is simply coolness.
If you notice a complex array of sensations: perfect. If all you notice is the feeling of your butt on the chair: also perfect.
If you notice sensations that seem connected to stress or anxiety, those are especially good to pay attention to. Maybe it’s a twisting in your gut or a tightness in your chest or warmth on your face. If you can stay with these bodily sensations and watch them, rather than taking the bait of anxious thoughts, you can let tough emotions pass without taking too much heat. It’s like playing in the ocean: When a wave is coming, and you try to plant your feet and resist, you get knocked over. Then everyone points and laughs. But if you dive straight through the wave, it’s no problem.
This step needn’t take longer than one in-breath or out-breath. Stay with it longer if you like, but it can be that quick.
3. Rest your attention on your breath.
Pay attention to the sensation of air touching your nostrils as you breathe. With gentle curiosity, watch the flow of changing sensations at the nostrils. These sensations anchor you in the present moment.
In this step, there’s no need to deepen or slow your breath at all; just let your body breathe however it wants to. And just like the previous step, this step can be as short as one in-breath or one out-breath. You might feel like staying with it longer, but that’s up to you.
4. Carry on with your life!
The last step of the mindful pause is to simply re-engage with the world, without hurry.
Open your eyes if you closed them … and carry on with your day. But see if you can maintain that calm feeling and groundedness you just created. Don’t lunge for your phone (I know, I know) or speed off to your next activity. If you can, take a few seconds just sitting or standing there quietly, and then move at a more leisurely pace.
Because mindful pauses are so quick and discreet, you can do them anywhere, anytime.
You can use the mindful pause at your desk, on public transit, in line at the grocery store, in a box, with a fox…
The hardest part isn’t actually completing the mindful pause itself; it’s remembering to do it in the first place. I like to remember my mindful pauses by linking them to specific moments that occur on a daily basis: when I first sit down at my desk every morning or before I turn on my computer.
I also used to fall into the trap of using the mindful pause as a way to resist my anxiety. I’d do the four steps then think to myself, “What the hell? My anxiety is still here! The stupid thing didn’t work.”
But the trick is to accept that tough feelings, like anxiety, will come and go. When they’re here, they’re here, but that doesn’t need to be a problem. By turning toward our emotions and watching them, even for 30 seconds, we can find real relief.
Taking mindful pauses has changed my life.
There’s the tangible stuff: I got the hang of life in NYC (as much as anyone can — this city is bananas). I found the apartment. I found the job. Well, jobs, because these days I’m both a lawyer and a meditation teacher. I even get to merge my two worlds and teach meditation to my fellow lawyers. Believe me, we need it.
But best of all, I now have a way to work with my anxiety. When I start to spin out, I can keep my footing. The mindful pause lets me bring the calm and clarity of my desert retreat into the chaos of the city.
I highly recommend it.
Prayer Flags and Buddhism
The Tibetan people have a long history and relationship with spirituality in their culture…so much so, that almost any thought of Tibet conjures up images of monks and temples in our minds.
This is because Buddhism, the country’s major religion, has played a huge role in the development and history of Tibet since the 7th century and saturates nearly every part of the culture.
This has lent itself to many cultural norms that are inseparably linked to their daily practice of going within.
This even includes decoration.
In fact, Tibetans are known for creating decorations that remind them of Buddhism and the search for enlightenment.
The most well known (and perhaps iconic) example of this is theprayer flag.
The Origin of Prayer Flags
In many popular pictures of Tibet, prayer flags are prominently displayed…but why?
Prayer flags aren’t just reminders for faith; their presence also serves a practical purpose: to spread ancient scripture.
Prayer flags actually originated in Hinduism, with their creation rooted in the origins of the Sutras.
Since many monks would transfer the knowledge of the Sutras via the word of mouth, prayer flags became a convenient way of spreading the message of the the holy text in a broader way.
In the 11th century, Atiśa (a popular Buddhist monk) brought the practice of printing on flags to Tibet.
The practice took off, and after a period of time Tibetans began to string them everywhere.
Mantras and Colors
But printing didn’t just stay with pure scripture…soon the flags began to hold more meaning.
Flags were a convenient way to spread common practices, including mantras.
A Mantra is a word or words that are believed to have spiritual or psychological significance.
Often these words are repeated over and over again as a form of meditation.
Putting the mantras on flags and stringing them up is a way to bless an area, such as a house, so that practitioners never forget the power of their inward practice.
The colors of the flag also have significance- in fact, they’re arranged in a special order that represents the elements.
Blue symbolizes sky and space, white symbolizes air and wind, red symbolizes fire, green symbolizes water, and yellow symbolizes earth.
The balance of all the elements is said to bring about inward and outward harmony; and as the wind blows through them, the vibration of the prayers and spiritual intention behind them spreads to find fulfillment.
Prayer flags are a powerful way to remind us of an inward journey…and a great way to support the Tibetan people.
Tibetans work hard, and that’s why we’re honored to help them spread the knowledge of their culture by bringing their prayer flags to the west.
As time goes by, we intend to expand upon our offerings of Tibetan culture as much as possible, because we believe the mark of a conscious company is to represent those that are making a real difference in the world.
Sometimes it seems that life is unfair, and that any attempt to change things for the better just leads you to run around in circles. But that’s not the case. Stop, take a deep breath, and clear your mind — only then you can sort things out.
To get you into the right frame of mind, here are three powerful elements of Buddhist philosophy, known as «The Noble Truths,» together with advice on how you can incorporate them into every day. This might just change your life.
Dukkha: Life is painful and causes suffering
Many people might say that Buddhism is pessimistic or negative. This is a common result of learning that one of the Noble Truths is translated as «Life is suffering.» But there’s more to this statement. It’s not just telling us, «Life is tough, so deal with it.» So what is it telling us?
We actually can create more suffering in our lives by trying to avoid or suppress difficult emotions. Yes, our lives are inevitably punctuated with various unpleasant feelings: loss, sadness, fatigue, boredom, anxiety appear and reappear during our lives.
But attaching or clinging to particular expectations, material items, and states of being is often a cause for acute frustration, disappointment, and other forms of pain. So rather than fear our suffering or seek an ultimate resolution to it (and become frustrated by our lack of finding one), we can learn simply to recognize our suffering.
How we can use this belief every day:
Try not to buy into the idea that you’re broken. Expect that death, ageing, sickness, suffering, and loss are part of life. Practice acceptance in the face of strife. Stop attaching to the idea that life should be easy and pain free, both emotionally and physically. This is a misconception made popular by the fashion, beauty, and pharmaceutical industries.
Illness, heartbreak, loss, disappointment, and frustration are parts of life that can be mitigated by practising «non-attachment.» Try to embrace imperfection, to let go of this belief that life should be a certain way. Open your heart to uncertainty.
Anitya: Life is in constant flux
Anitya or «impermanence» means that life as we know it is in constant flux. We can never access the moment that just passed, nor can we ever replicate it. As each day passes, our cells are different, our thoughts develop, the temperature and air quality shifts. Everything around us is different. Always.
When we are feeling especially uncomfortable, the concept of impermanence can be, paradoxically, comforting. In other words: if nothing is permanent, we know our pain will pass. But when we are experiencing joy, the idea of impermanence can be incredibly fear-inducing.
If we accept the idea of impermanence at face-value, it can be incredibly liberating.In the West, about 100 years after the Buddha expressed this idea, Greek philosopher Heraclitus mirrored the belief when he famously said, «You can never step in the same river twice.» All we have is the present moment.
How we can use it in our everyday lives:
Celebrate the idea of change. Accept that everything is constantly changing. It’s kind of amazing, when you just think about it! And even when the idea of impermanence might feel scary, it helps us appreciate everything we are experiencing in the present: our relationships, body, mood, health, the weather, our favourite shoes, our jobs, our youth, our minds. So let’s savour those moments we do enjoy and know that the ones we don’t enjoy will pass.
Anatma: The self is always changing
When I ask clients what they want to get out of therapy, they commonly answer, «I want to find myself.» Our culture has led us to believe there’s a concrete, constant «self» tucked away somewhere in us. Is it between our heart and liver? Or somewhere unknown in our brain? Who knows!
Buddhism, however, assumes there is no fixed, stable «self.» In line with Anitya (impermanence), our cells, memories, thoughts, and personal narratives — all of the «matter» that ultimately comprises our identities — change over time.
Sure, we all have personalities (though they can change over time). We have names, and jobs, and other titles that we use to identify ourselves, to feel a sense of «self.»
But the idea of a constant self is yet another story our culture has told us. It is a story we can change, and thereby accept the idea that we ourselves can change — at any time, in any place. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, ’Thanks to impermanence, anything is possible.’
How we can use it in our everyday life:
Instead of focusing on «finding ourselves,» we ought to focus on creating the self we wish to be at every moment. It’s possible for us to be, and feel, different today than we were and felt yesterday. Being depressed today doesn’t mean we’ll be depressed forever. We can forgive others. We can forgive ourselves.
Once we let go of our attachment to the idea of the constant «self,» we can rest more comfortably with the constant change present in all of life. In each new moment, we ourselves are new.
1. The 3 major tenents Buddha taught his followers were not to be ignorant, hate others, or get angry.
SEE ALSO: Om: Decoding the World’s Oldest Symbol
2. Originally born a wealthy prince, he left it all behind to pursue the path of truth when he saw the poverty and sickness beyond his palace walls. This also led him to drop his birth name, Siddartha Gautama.
3. Buddha was not as chubby as many depictions of him would make it appear– he was mainly portrayed this way because it was symbolic of happiness in the east. He practiced moderation in all things, fasted regularly, and spent most of his time walking hundreds of miles spreading the philosophy of enlightenment.
4. A few days after his birth, it was predicted by a wise old man that he would later become a great king or a saint that would change the world.
5. At the time of Buddha’s quest for enlightenment, there were many religious practices that called for either intense overindulgence in the senses, or strict deprivation such as weeks of fasting. Realizing that neither were truly beneficial, he devised what would later be known as “The Middle Way” to enlightenment…a balanced approach that emphasized inward rather than outward renunciation.
6. To achieve enlightenment, Young Siddhartha vowed to sit under a fig tree and meditate until he transcended suffering. At the end of an extremely long meditation and mental battle with Mara (the god of desire), he became awakened and was then known as the Buddha.
7. Unlike most religions or spiritual beliefs, Buddha’s teachings were spread by nonviolent methods such as word of mouth or carvings on prominent stone buildings.
8. Practicing Buddhists view Buddha as a teacher and not a god or avatar.
9. Buddha’s spot of enlightenment underneath the bodhi tree is still preserved to this day.
10. Buddha taught and traveled his entire life until the age of 80 when he passed away. His final request of his followers was this:“All component things in the world are changeable. They are not lasting. Work hard to gain your own salvation.”