A week in a Buddhist center

October 08, 2017
Wish everyone happiness and to be free of suffering
What is it that we are searching for meaning in life? Today more than ever? Something about making our life meaningful maybe. Or contributing to the world, to the planet.

What is said in Buddhism is that every living being simply wish to be happy and free of suffering. Everything we do, decisions we make comes down to that profound need.

But we, as humans, are lucky enough to have that human experience. The spirits experiencing other living beings such as animals, plants, micro cells and so on, are trapped in a body without all the tools that our human brain gives us that enable us to go on a spiritual path to happiness or even make our lives better.

So according to that belief we are lucky spirits to be experiencing the human life because we have that freedom and intelligence to make it whatever we want.

Buddhism is about creating a meaningful life not by doing incredible things like skydiving or hiking a mountain but creating meaning even in the smallest tasks you execute in you day to day life.

Like taking out your trash. With that mentality everything you do can get whatever meaning you associate it with. Because we usually don't see things in that perspective we can sometimes lack of presence and gratefulness in what we do.

During the first day of volunteering in the center, we had to clear the pond that was there. It took us all morning to take out all the bad grass that was growing everywhere. We had to take them out but also be gentle preventing it to spread everywhere.

I remember waking up that day with some bad thoughts. Often it happens because of a change of setting or just because a bad thought comes up and I just let myself circle into it.

Rachel who was a Buddhist and working volunteer too told us that for it to be more meaningful and enjoyable for us, (as we were going to get into that nasty pond with our feet) that as we took all that bad weed out of the pond, to think about it as if we were taking all our bad thoughts off our minds. To feel peaceful again.

Even though it made us cringe a bit, because we gave that meaning to that task it really felt enjoyable. We laughed a lot and it felt really good to put that intention.

 Compassion and kindness

According to Buddhism, the foundation of a more peaceful world is compassion. Too often (whether we are a good person or not doesn't matter) we lack of empathy and compassion. On one hand sometimes being kind and thoughtful can seem to be a weakness. 

From that perspective we may feel people will take advantage of us. On the other hand we live in an egocentric world where everything is here to feed our ego. 

Which means we only perceive the world through our perspective and rarely from others perspective. Because everything is about our own little person. From shopping to social recognition. 

We put ourselves first not because not because we want to take care of ourselves but because we feel we are more important than others. As one of the teachers at the Buddhist center said beautifully: Buddhism is about climbing down the mountain of self to climb up the mountain of others.

But compassion is not only good for others. It is good for each and one of us. We actually often suffer because we focus too much on ourselves and our problems. 

From the moment you start believing that your problems are as important as others problems, your life as important as others life, your success as important as others success, you concentrate less on yourself and start seeing a bigger picture of the world. It is not all about you anymore and you are not alone.


All action you take and thought you think has a repercussion in the future. More bad actions and thoughts you create and put out there more suffering you create for yourself. More good actions (I'm talking about sincere ones not faking it) and thoughts you have more beauty you create in your life and the life of others. 

That's where offerings and prayers are coming from. Creating great karma. As human we have the chance to change our reality and perspective. 

Of course some teachings get deeper and deeper on the path to enlightenment. According to Buddhism some teachings cannot be understood depending on the level you are on, on the path of enlightenment.

Nobody needs to agree and I still don't agree myself on everything that is taught in Buddhism but still it's important to keep it neutral and respectful. Besides like every teaching or believes everything depends on people's interpretations of it.

Meditation and love

Meditation in Buddhism is not just about focusing on your breathing and trying to make you feel better by all kinds of images. It's about growing empathy, compassion and gratitude. 

Putting an intention of healing and growing it. And trying to grow your love for people you know, your family and friends but ultimately being able to love every living being, animals and growing a deep rooted feeling of compassion for them. 

Wishing them happiness and freedom of suffering. Even those who hurt us. Who actually created really bad karma for themselves and are looking at many years of suffering. They are the ones who need the most compassion.

Learn more about Mediation : How does meditation work ?

The suffering of others 

The approach in Buddhism of suffering is slightly different and needs to be understood in more depth. But being able to acknowledge the suffering of all beings is the first step to be able to empathize. 

What we may find hard is to go beyond that fear we have of being contaminated by others suffering. It all depends on the approach itself. It is possible to empathize in a positive and constructive way. It's possible to bring joy and happiness in that acknowledgement of the suffering. 

Again understanding that in a deep way makes the difference. Some people can be really toxic and use their problems to create pain which is different. 

You can have compassion for them but be able to protect yourself from their tendency to be hurtful to others. But when it comes to the world’s pain, living being suffering. 

It is important to be able to take a moment to empathize and give out positive energy to those living being who suffer.

Being surrounded by such inspiring humans for a week made me think a lot about my perspective and why today we suffer so much from that disconnectedness from each other. Not only we need to heal ourselves, we need to heal our hearts. 

And it's not easy. It's takes time to change our way of thinking and unlearn some mechanisms to learn new ones. But at least there's hope for a better world we're we feel equal with one another. We have more good in ourselves than we think.

A peaceful and foggy morning

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