Buddhism and Today

When people find out practice Buddhism the first thing I hear is “I tried learning about it, but I just could not understand what I was reading.” Some ask me questions concerning our philosophy and ritual practices while others think all we believe is that when we die we come back as lower life forms. It is hard to get these people to understand we don’t come back as insects or small animals.
In the past I have struggled with an easy answer to those who truly want to know in just a few sentences what Buddhism is about but today as I read the book Einstein and Buddha, the parallel sayings, I think I found an easy answer using what is going in our country as a metaphor. First I have two quotes, one from a physicist one from the Buddha, guess who said what.

Every man’s world picture is and always remains a construct of his mind and cannot be proved to have any other existence.

The object world rise from the mind itself.

Collectively we have constructed an American life that reflects what our world picture is. We rely on our cars to get us from jobs that are miles away from our homes. Our homes are filled with things that reflect our view of ourselves. Often our view demands we buy things on credit because we cannot afford to pay cash. Now we are paying a heavy price for our views.

Buddhism teaches us that things are not who we are. Our needs for things come from our minds. If we change our view our needs will change. The person whose world view included a big suburban house, big SUV and expensive things, may be experiencing a shattering reality as the economy collapse. The person, whose world view included little material goods, may have a better reality than his or her neighbor.

Buddhism teaches non attachment as that what we are attached to are not permanent. Cars break down, TV’s go out, fad styles come and go. What is important is that our world view always includes the knowledge that reality is what we make it. No matter what happens I life, we need only to cling to our knowledge that whatever reality we are facing at the moment it is of our own making.

By the way, the first quote is from Erwin Schrodinger and German physicist, the second is from the Buddha. If you are interested in learning about Buddhism a good first book is The Buddha by Karen Armstrong. http://us.penguingroup.com/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,0_9780143034360,00.html

New Pets

I vowed not to get any pets for a long time. After Bubba died I wanted to be pet free. I could not picture myself loving another dog as I loved Bubba. Cats were out of the question because I am not thrilled with litter boxes and tuna fragrant cat food. That said, yesterday I received two kittens.
My son Alex is missing his dog; he won’t talk about Bubba because it hurts too much. I on the other hand want to honor Bubba with pictures and Bubba chat. I do understand Alex’s feelings. When I was young I had to give up a beloved cat. The pain was horrible! As soon as I was able, I got another cat to take the pain of losing a pet.
Alex keeps talking about wanting a cat. He loves cats. Cat pictures, cat websites cat anything! He has always loved cat. Yesterday he again brought the subject up and I started to think about his feelings.
As we talked I noticed we were close to PetSmart, so on a whim I pulled in. I had no idea they were a place of adoption. I thought I would find a bulletin board filled with ads for free cats. So there I am asking about kittens not knowing there were some cats in the next room. PetSmart teams up with local animal shelters matching pets to responsible people.
One of the cats I saw had me thinking about adopting her but the price stopped me. I really wanted kittens or young cats for Alex and I really wanted two. There was just no way I was paying $100.00 a piece for shelter cats. I told the PetSmart clerk I would think about it. She got my number and promised to call if kittens came in.
Two hours later she called me. Apparently a young lady took two kittens from a friend who was being deployed to Iraq. It turned out her 2 year old son is highly allergic to cats. The young lady was looking for a good home for the young cats. Now normally I do not take pets on a whim, or under pressure but as my son stood their falling in love with these cats, I thought “oh what the hell, I have room in my house and heart for two more pets”. So here I am, once again a pet owner.