Reminder: YWP Gathering on April 9th

10:30am – 12:30pm @ Sakyamuni Buddhist Meditation Center, Riverside, CA

(Please meet at the side house)

Friendship and communication are essential parts of our lives, yet it can be challenging for many of us to build and maintain good friendships and communicate effectively with the people in our lives. The Young Wisdom Project (YWP) invites you to spend a fun day learning about friendship and communication from the perspective of the Buddhist teachings! All are welcome, especially young people ages 15-30. Food and drinks will be provided. Hope to see you there!

 

Mo’ Metta Mo’ Betta

Metta, or loving-kindness, is a pure, unconditional, and selfless love for yourself and others. According to the Buddhist Teachings, metta is defined as the strong wish for the happiness and well-being of yourself and others, and words and actions that flow from this wish. Loving-kindness and wisdom go hand in hand.

Metta is radically different from our conventional and sensationalized Hollywood understanding of romantic love, which is typically based on desire, attraction, possessiveness, and self-interest. Metta is a form of love that is boundless and doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t based on your relationships, identity, preferences, or any other conditions, including what the other person has done for you lately!

You don’t share metta with this person but not that person. You don’t just share it only with people you like of a particular gender, race, personality, or status; you share it with other living beings without exception. And unlike “respect”, which is so conditional and relative, metta is both unconditional and constant. It can be described as a universal and unattached love since it seeks the happiness of literally all living beings, without limit and without seeking anything in return. In other words, metta is a “true love” that doesn’t revolve around “me”, “mine”, and “I.”

Just ask yourself when was the last time you even considered the happiness and well-being of not just your family, friends, partner, but ALL living beings? Metta isn’t just a nice pleasant thought or wishful thinking; it is a way of life and an attitude, a state of mind and being, and a skill that you can develop and improve with practice. By practicing it, we are literally training our minds and expanding its capacity to be kind and loving, positive and caring. We are also learning how to love in a wise way that doesn’t create suffering for ourselves and others.

And the good news is that everyone is capable of this kind of love. In the words of one wise monk, “It is a miracle that such a love exists, and that every single human being has the ability to develop it.” To start cultivating loving-kindness, you have to start with yourself first and foremost. The sincere aspiration for your own happiness and well-being is the very foundation of your happiness and all positive actions you do for yourself and the world. The Buddha once said that we can search the entire world and not find someone more deserving of loving-kindness than OURSELVES.

It’s not hard to spot people who have strong metta; in fact sometimes you can feel the energy of metta when they enter a room. And then there are those great beings who have made a profound impact on human history by embodying loving-kindness. Take a moment to think about just how powerful of an act this can be – to do our best to express and radiate kindness through our thoughts, words, and actions, at all times and at all places. Metta truly is a “love revolution”, a revolution that starts in the heart and ripples out into the world.

~Guest post by ST

Inspirational Quotes

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
-Oscar Wilde

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
-Thomas Alva Edison

“Never tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.”
-Author Unknown

“Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.”
-Frank Outlaw

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.”
-Vince Lombardi

“One who walks in another’s tracks leaves no footprints.”
-Proverb

~Hubert

How Are You Doing?

A common answer to a common question. However, is “fine” the real answer to this simple question?

There were many days when “fine” was my answer, but I was just putting on a mask in order to protect myself from feeling vulnerable or to protect my friends from worrying. I’ve learned that if there was enough pressure that was placed upon this mask it would break and the world would come crashing down.

So how can I to keep the mask from breaking…no better yet how can I toss that mask away, get rid of the suffering and to say fine truthfully? The first step, I believe, is to catch the sneaky defilement causing my troubles, whether it is greed, aversion, ignorance, or even a mixture of all three. If it is caught early then it can be dealt with before the suffering starts.

For example, I’m full from a feast but there is a delicious-looking chocolate chip cookie on the table that is calling out,”you know you want to eat me :]” At this point I need to realize that it is not the cookie that is calling out to me but greed. If I go with greed I would have a minute of happiness, but hours of weariness and chances of a stomach ache. Hmm, should I listen to it?

~ Pasadyne

 

What You’re Missing By Not Giving

There is a French saying that goes something like this:

“One who does not give does not know what she or he is losing.”

It took me a while to agree with this. The more you give the more you receive. How is that possible ? What can you give ? Well, the truth is that if you expect something in return it is never going to work. When you give it has to be selfless. Your actions should express your desire to be there for others, not yourself. Eventually you will see the good in your actions. Obviously we like to give and share with the people we love, our family and our friends. But how about giving to someone you dislike, someone who was mean to you or even a stranger ? Loving-kindness has no boundaries. This is what the Young Wisdom Project is trying to promote through its kindness missions. Giving a flower, a smile and a little bit of your time to people you don’t know is a different yet very rewarding experience.

You should give it a try. You have nothing to lose🙂.

~by Chris

Twenty Four

Everything started for me in 2007, the year I turned 24. It was the year of the boar, two cycles after my birth: the year that the first woman was voted in as Speaker of the House, the Virginia Tech massacre happened, the tomb of Herod the Great was discovered, the last Harry Potter book was released, and the Saffron Revolution began in Myanmar. But it was also the year that I felt the most happiness, threw caution to the wind, ran away from my actions, and left behind everything that was safe and familiar to me. I had no idea what would follow, but I only knew that I couldn’t go on living the life I was living.

Kahala Beach, Hawaii; November 2007

I was away from home for a month and half , surrounded by ocean waves and stillness, before I saw what was covered by the dust that had settled from the course of that year. After all the nights I stayed out too late because I wanted to have fun and didn’t want to come home to tension with my parents, all the missed calls that I never returned because I didn’t want to talk about troubling issues, and all the worries that I didn’t share with those I cared about because I was scared; I found myself hidden beneath the fear, hurt, doubt, irresponsibility, and resentment. I was waiting to be found and I was waiting to live.

I returned home at the end of that December and though I had only been gone for four months, everything was different. Or more accurately, I was significantly different. It felt like everything had come to an end and I felt sad. But not long after, I understood that this ending was only the end of the chapter, not of the entire book. In other words, the collapse of the life I had known gave me the chance to rebuild.

And how I rebuilt!

The focus of the following year was overall health: how could I continue to take care of myself? My yoga practice began at this point coupled with my first attempts at meditation: these activities helped me to recenter. I also began to read some books on self-improvement and spirituality: my mind began to expand. My heart needed to heal and I gave myself more chances to do this.

In 2009, I reached a peak: with my body healthy, I switched gears towards my mental health. I had a plan: 1) strengthen and develop my existing relationships, 2) study, 3) do yoga, 4) meditate, and 5) find creative outlets. Nothing too loud and flashy, just fundamentals that I needed. I began to truly repair the relationships that I cared so dearly about but had neglected. I continued reading and absorbing all that I could. A new friend and I started a meditation group. This was also when I gave up poultry, beef, and pork (inspired by my brother who would soon be leaving to Thailand).

Near Sandy Beach, Hawaii; December 2009.

It was a tremendous year, and it was enhanced by kalyanamittas (good spiritual friends), self-care, opportunities for growth, and subsequently, the well-being to give more.

2010 was about coming out my shell and stepping outside of my bubble: I opened myself up to new people, new adventures, and new places (YWP, quitting my unsatisfying job, and visiting Japan to name a few). I stepped outside of my comfort zones and grew in more ways than I ever imagined I would! It was a little difficult balancing adventures with health but by the time 2011 came around, there was consistency.

Matsushima, Japan; November 2010

It was this year, the year I would turn 28, when I began to see some fruits of my labor. When my dear kalyanamitta Emi told me that she had been offered an internship in New York with a pastry chef, I was nervous that my partner-in-good, date for national holidays, and sister would be miles and miles away. But for the first time in my life, I wasn’t worried or insecure that our friendship would fall apart. When it came time to part, I was filled with joy for her new chapter in life . There were no tears either when I saw her last, just a quiet hug and warm smile. In fact, I felt like the sun beaming on my kalyanamitta who was ready to keep growing and reaching towards the sky.

Another example comes from my recent employment. I am excited to have the opportunity to work for a great organization and with great people. But I remind myself constantly of the impermanence: it is a temporary position and funding may be eliminated with budget cuts. And I accept it all. But I am still filled with joy to go work each day, helping people to develop skills and working with a team I respect.

Of course, there are still plenty of areas that could use improvement: cravings for safety, aversion to discomfort, ignorance of my own intentions. I’m definitely a ways away from enlightenment. But I know that there is only enough light for the next step so I don’t feel worried; there is no need to see much farther ahead.

In case any of you are interested, here is a list of books that significantly affected by journey.

  • Don’t Look Down on the Defilements: They Will Laugh at You: This book gave an in-depth description of how to do insight meditation. Because of these instructions and tips, I felt motivated to commit to my meditation practice. While I did insight meditation, I felt that I had many “aha!” moments. I refer to it as my “bible” for meditation.
  • Fully Present: What I enjoyed about this book was that it provided two perspectives on meditation: 1) scientific research to explain to my brain what the benefits of meditating are and 2) practice suggestions so that I could learn how to do it. My favorite part of the book was the description on how to do several different kinds of meditations, such as walking meditation and pain meditation.

May your own journey be filled with courage to grow, loving-kindness for yourself and those you encounter, and the wisdom to understand.

Sending you metta,

Uyen/Nina/Jack

Live Now

“Don’t let a Monday ruin your Sunday.”

I’ve been seeing this quote float around on the web for quite sometime now. Unfortunately, I do not know who the author is, but whoever he/she is, has provided us with an interesting way of saying, “carpe diem” (seize the day). To paraphrase the quote; do not let the thought of the future ruin the present moment. If we linger on thoughts of the future, good or bad, we cannot truly experience the present. This is one of the key teachings in Buddhism. The teachings describe the importance of the present moment. The only forces affecting one, are forces that exist now. The awareness of that, is key to true happiness. We must understand that the past is already decided, and the future is always uncertain. The only thing we have control of is our present actions. Without this, we cannot truly live.

-Binh

Battling Absurdity

Everyone at some point in their lives will encounter moments of absurdity. In those moments of absurdity, people often feel angry, sad, confused, disappointed, and generally unhappy.

What is absurdity? The answer varies depending on the person you ask. Albert Camus defines absurdity as the confrontation between man’s expectation and the world. Due to my Buddhist beliefs, I respectfully deviate from Camus’ definition and would like to add to his definition. Absurdity is the moment when you let your attachments (or expectations) get in the way of happiness. Perhaps starting off with a definition is a bit too abstract and the concept seems too unclear. Instead, I will begin with a list of absurd moments in my life (ranked in order of increasing absurdity):

  1. I spent my free Sunday driving to Los Angeles to eat at my favorite restaurant. Upon my arrival, I am disappointed to find that the restaurant is closed on Sunday.
  2. During my freshman year of college, I studied all week for a math midterm. It seemed that the more I studied, the less I understood. I cried in my room the night before the exam, certain that I would fail. On the morning of the exam, I found that the exam was postponed due to a chemical explosion in the building. A week later, I took the exam and passed with a decent grade.
  3. In high school, I couldn’t wait to leave my hometown. Even more so, I was so excited to leave behind the cliques and drama of high school. Unfortunately, I found that the social life of college reflected that of high school and its drama was elevated by ten fold. Moreover, I remain nostalgic for the times I spent in my hometown.
  4. When I was very young, my parents divorced each other. This moment changed my concept of “family” forever.
  5. On more than one occasion, I have had loved ones die unexpectedly.

Think about your life and your moments of absurdity. How did you feel? How did you deal with it?

In all of these events, I have asked, “Why me?!” and perhaps even shouted, “This is CRAZY!” These phrases are the trademark of absurdity. Yet the questions remain, where does absurdity originate and how can we eliminate it? Absurdity is the product of our attachments. Let’s look at scenario #1. Because I was so attached to eating at a particular restaurant, I became disappointed, even angry, to find that they were closed. If I would have “gone with the flow”, I would have taken advantage of the multitude of restaurants LA has to offer and I would have had a great time. Instead my anger of not having my attachments met, poisoned what could have been a very happy day.

My point is, letting go of your attachments will make you a happier person. Instead of desiring something and getting disappointed when you don’t get it, try to appreciate what is in the moment. Although absurdity has its way of creeping into to all of our lives, just know that we are not powerless against it. Let go of your attachments and enjoy the present.

Let go…

Let go…

Let go…

Happy yet?!


-Jen / Nita

My Personal Experience with the YWP

It was a Sunday morning, and my parents decided that they wanted me to come along with them to a monastery. When we arrived, my mom was telling me about how there was a group that I should join. I’m always open to new experiences, but I just wasn’t sure she was talking about. So in my mind, I was thinking, “Ohh dear… what is my mom getting me into this time?”

There I met Su T., a monk who always has the happiest smile on his face. We had a meaningful conversation where he briefly discussed some of the teachings of Buddhism and told me about the Young Wisdom Project. As I was listening, I was also thinking, “This kind of seems like something I want to do.”

My first core meeting was the following Saturday. I was feeling a little nervous, just because I was going to be meeting some new people. My first goal was to remember everyone’s names. It seemed like an easy job at first, but it really wasn’t! They all had such different and interesting names, “Pasa-who?” “Sun-whaa?” “Delph…something?”. But by the end of the day, not only did I learn all their names; I got a glimpse of their amazing personalities. I had fun getting to know everybody during the ice breakers. And it was a very productive day as well, we held discussions on certain topics and came up with mission statements. By the time I’m in the car on my way home, my thoughts were, “This was a really good day, I’ll try to make it to the next gathering.”

Our next event was a kindness mission at UCLA, my very first kindness mission too! It was the YWP with the University Buddhist Association at UCLA teaming up to spread love and kindness. We had hundreds of flowers and each was attached with an inspiring quote. We all went around passing out the flowers to students, and offered them coffee/hot chocolate packets as well. Our main goal was to relieve college students of their stress before taking their intense finals. It made me want to smile just to see how we could make someone’s day by such a small gesture. I thought, “Who knew spreading kindness could be so much fun, I’m glad I came!”

The day was slowly coming to an end and we were all gathered at the house just hanging out, even our parents were bonding. Although that was only my second day with everybody, I honestly felt like they were all part of my extended family that I never knew about. It’s definitely strange thinking just a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea who any of these people were. It is wonderful to have a group of young people, such as the YWP, so willing to be kind and spread metta around the world. On my way home this time, I thought, “This is most definitely something that I want to keep pursuing, and I will for sure be at the next event.”

~by Diane

Apologies Accepted

An apology, whether sincere or insincere, is only the first step towards the repair process.

http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/02/how-powerful-is-an-apology.php

To summarize the article, an apology is always highly expected for any type of wrong-doing and as its expectancy rate increases, its value decreases.

Saying sorry isn’t completely worthless, but following up that apology with an act of kindness wouldn’t hurt either now would it?

The next time you apologize for something, whether you were accountable for it or not, try writing them a friendly and good hearted note, or even just giving them a smile every time you cross paths. This in turn will spread like wild fire and sooner or later, the whole entire world will be filled with billions of acts of kindness, creating a never ending happiness for humanity.

~by Sunbrye aka Jayanta

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