- I had left Australia this month. How many wonderful people I had met! So much kindness, compassion and boundless giving.
- No dinner. It’s been a month since I started the practice of not eating after twelve. This is part of the teachings of the Buddha. Monks do not eat after twelve as it easier to feed them in mid day than in the evening when it’s dark outside. I feel like I am wasting less time worrying about food, snacking and indulging in bursts of cravings. I also rarely “feel” hungry, my mind has slowly adjusted to not crave or want food.
- I think being with my sister and her family is a good challenge for me. The reason is that I am placed in an environment I once was. I can feel my mind trying to go to old patters. The way I talk and answer, the mind keeps trying to go back. I feel the “wants” coming back, the want to defend myself and my position, but I resist. There is no need, there is no doubt in the path.
Therefore, it is much easier to go to new places and be with new people, there is no history, no shadow me lingering in the background. Corrupt to the bone.
- Patience. I also have this insatiable desire to teach them “better” ways of seeing things. Better way of treating small creatures, other people and each other. There is a huge desire to show them sustainability, to not follow immediate desires and general comfort seeking to the detriment of the world. My attempts are futile though, this kind of mind is very resistant. I saw this mind in the US for the first time. Where one thinks the world resources are infinite; there is no issue as long as it is paid for. I can also see my suffering in that. “Suffering is demanding from the world what it cannot give” – Ajahn Brahm. How silly of me to go against the flow of things, the flow of human nature.
- Wanting is endless. There is a common belief that happiness is a linear equation. If we get X, we will be happy. If we find a girlfriend, we will be happy. If we travel a few times a year, we will be happy. If we have a degree, we get a good job and then we are happy. I think you get the point. After we get something, our happiness never changes. This was outlined by many and psychologists name this “hedonic treadmill”. The happiness levels always level, no matter how good or bad our situation gets. This seems like a defense mechanism of the brain to keep us moving and evolving. We are wired to do things, want things and change things. No matter how pointless it actually is.
- There is a world beyond all of this wanting though. One just needs to start a journey on self-discovery to find it. One does not need to have to travel to the depths of the world, does not need to find a guru or master, does not even need money for this journey. The information is readily available and is awaiting for one to open their eyes. To brush off the sleeping dust from the eyes. Awake in the realization that there is something more than this world the governments have built for us. The “work to live” mentality forced on us by the industrial revolution.
As an aside, I have no clue how to raise one, but these are some general thoughts I gathered based on my observations and interlaced them with my understanding of life.
- I see my sister raise her children. It is very interesting to watch. I remember myself being that small. I almost never understood why I was spanked. My brain just could not comprehend what the parents wanted from me. I see her children the same. We adults see that the children speak and understand certain things, so we assume that they understand hard concepts like “respect” and listening to the parents. Alas, this does not seem like the case. The children just copy what we do. We order them to put their pants on. Afterwards we get annoyed when they start ordering us around, and then we spank them for not showing respect! Where is the fairness in that? How did the saying go … do as we say, not as we do.
- Child raising is a fight against our own ego. Seems like “respect” is a really big one. I am not sure about other cultures, but I find that in the old Russian culture we train kids with fear of the belt or spanking. We train our kids to respect us out of fear. There is something wrong with that. Aren’t we the adults? We should be able to apply other means of communication. We need to apply the same amount of respect with the children as we require for ourselves. They only duplicate what we do. Are we teaching them that in order to get what we want we need to beat someone into submission?
- On being right. I noticed that I also got caught up with teaching children how to do things right. When the child is doing it their own way, I was also trying to adjust them to do it correctly. I am not sure about you, but is it that important that the soup is eaten with a spoon and not the fork? We don’t always have to tell them how to do things right, let them experiment, don’t give into the the dogma of how things should be done. Here is one of my favorite quotes “don’t let your knowledge stand in the way of Truth” – Ajahn Brahm. In other words, don’t let your knowledge stand in the way of your child’s happiness. Teaching them is great, but if they already know how to do it right and do it another way. There is no need to force them. Be an observer, intervene when it’s dangerous, not when it’s mundane.
- Watching children eat is quite fascinating. When they are chewing they look bored, their mind creates wanting of movement and doing something more exciting. This is not learned, this is how the brain works. The brain wants stimulation. Alternatively, give children candy and you will not see them so bored when their brain is firing dopamine left and right. At the same time, I look at the parents, they, themselves are also bored. That’s why TV is becoming a part of the dinning table, and even if it’s not part of the routine, after eating, we all just endlessly seek for stimulation. Why can’t we enjoy being? Can we lessen the pursuit to stimulate the brain with constant activity?
- I remember myself being little. I always had a craving for growing up. I thought that adults had all the fun, they could do everything, choose what food to eat, go out wherever they wanted. I could see them being so free. Whereas I was always told to eat the food they gave me, to not break my toys, to go to bed early while they are out partying, to not watch this movie and that movie, to not play here and there. You get the point. So we grow up thinking that adulthood is where we can satisfy all our desires and cravings. I watch my sister now and at the same time I watch her kids. I see the same kinds of wanting in her arise. Following blindly these senses wherever they pull and tug. I am hot, I am tired, I am hungry, I want something for my daughter, I want fruit, I want a better rental, this beach is dirty, I want the AC on, I want to kill all these mosquito’s in the house, I want a clock on the wall, I want rugs in the towels, etc. There is indeed that difference, she can satisfy all these desires as an adult. The only issue is, they are never really satisfied. When one is cut, the next one pops up like a mushroom in the forest. It was not always like that, we used to not be able to realize that our wanting is causing us misery. We would just say, oh well, can’t afford it, I guess I will make due with what I got until I can afford it. Money was the limitation factor. As the 1st world countries expand in their ability to produce cheaply, we consumers are starting to realize the futility of materialistic wealth. The craving is not satisfied with a new iPhone anymore, at least not long enough. So you know what came after? Experiential consumerism. Foodies, wine tastings, tea tastings, coffee lovers and all that. We are just satisfying our other senses now, how long will it takes for us to realize that there is nothing there either?