In these trying times, I am quickly realizing that a positive attitude is essential to survival. Both personal events, the downward shift of the world economy, continued warfare under the guise of race, religion, ethnicity, "property rights," geographic borders, natural resources, etc., has convinced me of the power of positive thinking and the necessity of hope (as newly elected US President Barack Obama often posits).
So par for the course, when I have a new epiphany (well, lets be honest, my above-referenced epiphany is not all that new), I promptly jump to action. I ask myself, WHO is the expert on positivity and training the mind, and WHERE do I go to find him or her? **BUDDHA**
Again, I know, this is not earth-shattering news. Nevertheless, I decide to learn more about Buddhism as a means to navigate a new path and to become a more positive person. My path looks a little bit like this:
Step 1 - buy lots of books on Buddhism
Step 2 - promptly build a shrine, complete with incense, a Buddha statue, a lotus flower candle and an over-priced meditation pillow
Step 3 - go to Thailand (home to LOTS of Buddhists)
So I completed steps 1 and 2 with the sincere intention of learning more about Buddhism and specifically, how to calm my mind. But confession - my trip to Thailand pursuant to step 3 was happenstance. My father had invited me to take a brief reprieve from the blustering cold of New York City with a 2 week scuba trip to Thailand. Sure, sun, boats, tropical waters, cheap Thai massages, fabu Thai food – why not? It was not until I arrived at the Bangkok International Airport that I realized that I landed in, shall we say, "Buddhism Central."
There were Buddhists and Buddhist temples everywhere.
[Read] - THIS IS A SIGN - I am supposed to learn more about Buddhism!!! Beyond my chanting in an occasional yoga class, my impromptu attempts at mediation, my affinity for Chai tea, and my love for travel throughout Asia - I think I am supposed to learn more about Buddha (including my inner-Buddha).
While I remain in awe of all world religions, its time that I give Buddhism a little love. If there is a chance that I may become more calm, positive and forward thinking - sign me up. While I am culturally Christian and I am loyal to my roots, there is something to be said for expanding my mind and experience. “Buddhism light” shall we say?