Chained

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”    Dalai Lama

“When you practice gratefulness, there is a sense of respect toward others.”    Dalai Lama

“When you are discontent, you always want more, more, more. Your desire can never be satisfied. But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh yes – I already have everything that I really need.”    Dalai Lama

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”    Dalai Lama

We are so controlled by our thoughts that they might as well  be chains. I am inclined to believe that our bad habits are due to our inability to stop, alter or even think about them. We can’t stop or won’t because as long as we keep our summary of what is within our ability to change, it allows us to keep repeating and doing whatever is a bad habit or action becasue it isn’t in our power to stop it. It gives us the green light to do as we want because we can’t help it so  we profess.  Somehow it requires some special force to alter situations.In a way we are chained by these reasonings because we make no attempt to switch things up. I look at it as an unending get our of jail free card like we play in the game monopoly. No responsibility is needed and no reflection of what we say or do is attempted and no guilt is dispersed. It definitely makes life easier but then again I am not sure about that.

If we remain convinced we are powerless to replace anything then no attempt to modify things will ever be made. So why do we convince ourselves we can’t transform thought. I would guess  perhaps it has to do with our secret desire to keep things the way they are. We don’t have to expend any effort nor thinking on the subject. We are also exempt from blame and continue down the same path performing or judging in the same manner. Technically we are not disturbed nor troubled about any wrongs that are occurring.

I remember in a college study there was an experiment on accountability and the distance a person will go to, as long as they believe they are not going to be blamed. People in the study were to press a button and render a shock to a person in another room upon the request of the one in charge. The one pressing the button could hear the  scream of the individual receiving the shock. Their were over one hundred people tested yet only two stopped pressing the button on their own. The rest kept giving the shocks as directed knowing that each time the shcok was a bit stronger and at one point considered lethal. In their minds they were absolved from any guilt  because someone else told them to do it.

We are kidding ourselves  because we can all think and reflect on what it is we are doing. We should be thinking about what we are doing before we do it. Maybe we are absolving ourselves so much that we have given ourselves a blank check to say and do as we please. Life becomes simple without accountability. In the process we become chained to our  fears, wants, desires, thoughts and habits. If we believe they can’t be helped then we continue onward making no attempt at a transformation.

I see this as locking ourselves in with the key in our pocket, but as long as we don’t make the attempt to unlock the door we will stay contained. If a person enjoys eating, smoking, drugs, shopping, socializing or anything else that is carried to excess,  it can be hard to change especially when it is comforting to do. We perhaps trick ourselves into believing it is not in our power to modify the situation. Only by shifting our thinking can we vary the results. Making the attempt is vital otherwise we remain chained as we  coast through our lives. That is not living.

When we feel trapped in a marriage, habit or any other situation it weighs on our minds to the point of running  away or deviating from the path. Probably we aren’t even aware of our honest feelings but we might try to become drawn to things that are a worthier choice. The grass is guaranteed not to be greener. As tremendously knowledgeable as our minds are we trick them into believing we couldn’t help ourselves. Guilt is washed away blame is absent but problems and hurt bubble up to the surface of our lives. As much as we attempt to  defend our situations we succumb to the truth in the end because the truth sets us free from the chains.

We are never as stuck as we think, nor are we as innocent as we profess. I do think we are unsure of ourselves and life throws in many monkey wrenches. I guess we have to stop trusting in ‘they say’ and start hearing our conscience. Once we do that we begin taking account of our choices. It is like waking up to the knowledge that we are living our own lives. We shouldn’t  dream, pretend or lie to ourselves and others. It is at that point we unlock those chains keeping us bound.

I am aware that profound understanding does not happen overnight but taking the first step to enlightenment is like opening the book of that knowledge. It is the grown up stage of development when you can’t blame other people  for your mistakes. Maybe we are in an arrested development when we choose to believe we are unable to alter bad habits thoughts actions or situations and when we place the fault on others.

The fact that we are taking responsibility for what we do and say fosters spiritual maturity. By ignoring veracity we never own up to our mistakes. Although admitting our faults may be difficult and painful, I think it makes us whole instead of a shadowy figure. We become tangible and pliable and capable of understanding and learning. We actually see the entire forest and we lose the tunnel vision. I believe we become part of the whole and observe the connection we have.

You can look at every situation as if it were one that keeps you chained or one that requires your effort to overcome. See it in the light rather than in the darkness. Don’t think about the nighttime, rejoice in your daytime in all areas of your life. Babies and or marriage are work but the comfort and love received can’t be matched. Choose the way you want to perceive this. Recall that you always have freedom and a huge amount of worth. There is no competition except what we foster in our own minds. There is no race for the finish line. There is only a learning process that allows us to become whole. We know we are making progress when we become more serene within our own lives.

By supporting others along the way we actually promote our own soul growth. As with baking, all of the ingredients are important and not one is more so than another. To prove this all we need to do is leave one small ingredient out and the result is terrible. All of us are necessary to the making of the whole, while one loss results in casting a shadow over us all. Unlock your chains and strive to make the necessary changes in your life. Together we produce everlasting light .

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
Atisha

Correct thought: avoiding covetousness, the wish to harm others and wrong views (like thinking: actions have no consequences, I never have any problems, there are no ways to end suffering etc.)

Correct speech: avoid lying, divisive and harsh speech and idle gossip.

Correct actions: avoid killing, stealing and sexual misconduct

Correct livelihood: try to make a living with the above attitude of thought, speech and actions.

Correct understanding: developing genuine wisdom.
(The last three aspects refer mainly to the practice of meditation)

Correct effort: after the first real step we need joyful perseverance to continue.

Correct mindfulness: try to be aware of the “here and now”, instead of dreaming in the “there and then”.

Correct concentration: to keep a steady, calm and attentive state of mind.    Buddha

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