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Today we begin our adventure with the third of 10 Paramitas in Buddhism.  So far we’ve worked on Generosity and Morales and today it is Renunciation.   I looked up the word on Dictionary.com and it gave some great synonyms for the word: denial, forgoing, sacrificing, relinquishing, abandoning, surrendering, and yielding.  I liked all of these so much better than the word “Renunciation.”    The example they gave of the word was a king renouncing his thrown, which reminded me of King Edward III giving up his thrown for his lover Wallis Simpson, the famous American divorcee. To me it was more of sacrificing a life of fame and power for love.  For others it seemed like he was abandoning his country for sex and personal desires.

Each of us must follow our path in this life if we are to be true to ourselves.  Renouncing his thrown was not easy for him, accepting his proposal with all its intended and unintended consequences was not easy for her either.  Our lives may not be as dramatic and open to the eyes of the world as Edward and Wallis, but each and every day we make choices to renounce, to forgo, to sacrifice, to surrender things, ideas, habits, and more—we do so to be faithful to our “true self.”

Today let us take an inventory of our lives, let us see what is helping us design and live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life—one that embodies the 10 Paramitas and beyond—one that lifts up humankind.  In the Christian Faith we are coming into Lent which is a time of renunciation a time when we sacrifice something for the memory of Jesus and his teachings of peace and love.  The Buddha is said to have sacrificed a life of riches and luxury to wander and seek the real meaning of life.

Sylvia Boorstein talks about Buddhism and life in her book Pay Attention, For Goodness’ Sake (2002), she writes: “And maybe it also means that people are realizing that what seemed important to them in their life—materialism and consumerism—doesn’t work at all to make a happy heart. It actually makes an unhappy heart. And an unhappy world. And maybe people are discovering that they really need something that speaks to the essence of their being, something that connects them directly with conscious intention, to the truth of their experience so that their lives become meaningful (page 4).”

And so when you take inventory of your life look closely at the things that made a difference, the things that brought you joy, peace, love, contentment, and a meaningful life. Then list the things that brought you pain, fear, anger, suffering, and loss.  Taking an inventory is not easy; it can open old wounds, faults, fears, frustrations, and losses.  But it can also help us remember past joys, happiness, loves, and successes. 

Once the inventory is completed take time to review the list and remind yourself of the things that you had to renounce or yield in order to survive.  It has been said that if life’s experiences do not kill us they make us stronger—sometimes in ways that we may not even recognize. 

I had to move in with my 92-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s disease and that meant giving up many of my so-called freedoms.  Freedom to come and go when I pleased, to sleep in or stay up late, to think only about myself, my schedule, my wants, desires, needs, ability to travel at will and more.  But what I have sacrificed is not nearly as much as I have gained in opportunities to actually practice what I teach: Living a life of the 10 Paramitas.

This experience gives me many opportunities daily to practice kindness, compassion, unconditional love, patience, yielding, relinquishment, and to sacrifice time and energy for something good and important—giving my mother a life of honor and respect where she can feel love and compassion each and every day.  Do not get me wrong it is not an easy path for me or anyone else that is taking care of an elderly parent or relative or a child or significant other who may be ill or disabled.  But millions of us do it and are, in the end, better people having had the experience.

For others reading this blog post you may be desiring the opportunity to relinquish an addiction to drugs, alcohol, food, or shopping—whatever is holding you captive to a life of fear, ill health, financial difficulties and the like.  Others may find themselves looking at a job or a relationship that is not functioning or fulfilling and it needs to be relinquished.  Let us each surrender to our good today.  Let us sacrifice expediency, fear, anger, and revenge for love, compassion, and joy.  Self-love and respect can be awakened in us if we yield to our good today. 

So take one thing from your list of past hurts and abandon it and surrender to the joy and peace that lives deep within you.  Creating a new you is not done overnight, and many of you will need help from friends, family members, self-help groups, spiritual/religious groups, doctors, and the like, but if you are willing to reach out, to relinquish your fears the consequences of change will be magnificent! Be free to relinquish the powerful hold the negative has on you, give it up, renounce it and instead yield to your good today! You may even find your true self! How wonderful is that. 

Let me know what happens!

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