I haven’t started working yet, so as you can probably see, I’ve had some time on my hands to think. At my school, someone had laid out several Buddhist texts on a space on the grass for anyone to pick up. Well, if you know me at all, you know I took one. I don’t steal, but when it comes from taking random stuff people don’t want (but mostly books), I’m basically Creed Bratton from the Office.
After much deliberation, I selected the text that seemed easiest to read. I definitely judged it by its cover. And now I am in possession of Kate Crosby’s Theravada Buddhism: Continuity, Diversity, and Identity. The book starts off with some sentiments on the Buddha, and Buddha worship. Part Two has to do with Buddhist literature, the “Good Buddhist”, and meditation. Part Three talks about Buddhists in society, particularly present-day society. The segment that most stood out to me, however, was the idea of the Good Buddhist. To be a “Good” anything requires talent or practice, and sometimes a combination, but I imagine to be a good Buddhist, practice is more essential. After all, the idea is that anyone with the right components of the Eight Fold Path can become a Buddhist. The three basic components of the eight-fold path to Buddhism are wisdom (panna), moral conduct (sila), and meditation/concentration (samadhi). But the eight, more specific and doable components to the eight-fold path are as follows: 1. right view 2. right intention 3. right speech 4. right action 5. right livelihood 6. right effort 7. right mindfulness and 8. right meditation/concentration. This may seem like a lot to remember at first, but after focusing on each component, I imagine it becomes a lot easier. I have read this text without religious devotion, personally, but with interest. A section that stood out to me, details component 4 of the Eight-fold path: Right action, and component 6: Right effort. It implies agency and intention, and I am interested in how the two can coincide. Most people don’t have a logic behind what they do, myself included, but I’m compelled by the idea of being spiritually self-aware to the point where you know exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. One of the slogans at my school incorporates the phrase “passion and purpose”. I think that’s one way Buddhism has manifested itself in my day to day life, but also in the sense that it’s all around, waiting for me to notice. Whether this is or isn’t true, it’s definitely an idea capable of changing an outlook, and a worldview, or many. I’m no Gandhi, but that’s the kind of change I would wish to see in the world.
I was going to write a post on Living a Healthy Life, but my “background” music left me distracted. OK, maybe that was my own fault. At any rate, the song and video was Elastic Heart by Sia. Sia is an artist who I, along with many others, have a great amount of respect for. She’s not overdone, but her art is so expressive and communicative. She can be provocative to sell a message, but that’s not a bad thing by any definition. In an interview with Billboard magazine, Sia said the following about staying out of the spotlight: “I don’t care about commercial success. I get to do what I love and communicate whatever I want.” And she does. How many other people can take their own self-awareness and shape it into art that is powerful in its vulnerability? The manner in which she plays upon this dichotomy between emotion and reason fascinates me. To segway back into my initial idea, A Healthy Life, I think finding a balance between the rational and emotional self-states, like the two warring characters in Sia’s Elastic Heart video, is *instrumental* to finding peace– and of course, to Living a Healthy Life.
Link to Elastic Heart video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWZGAExj-es
So tonight, I thought I’d watch TV. But instead of watching a full length movie, or flipping through channels endlessly and making fun of commercials, I thought I’d switch it up and watch the best clips of a smattering of movies. The best clips according to YouTube, that is. One that stood out, though, was Ten Things I Hate About You. I decided that sometime in the near future, I will have to watch it the whole way through. Unfortunately though, it is not on Netflix instant and therefore I am rendered powerless. It’s usually not advisable to judge a book by its cover, but even with the clippings I saw from the YouTube video I watched, I could tell that there was something I liked about the protagonist. I like the way she speaks her mind when she has something to say. And I like the way she uses feminism as a tool for self expression, rather than a weapon of mass destruction to end all manhood. If there is one “type” of feminist that I can appreciate, it’s Katarina’s.
Mostly, though, I liked her poem near the end of the film. To put it simply, I liked it because I could relate on so many levels. To put it not-so-simply, I have had many experiences where I have, as they say, “fallen for” guys without really understanding why. Maybe they had certain qualities that I found desirable, but grew to also hate, like Katarina describes in her poem. But I think there’s a flaw in this line of thinking. I’ve come to realize through the stumbles that the kind of love you should hold out for is the kind where you don’t hate the other person. They shouldn’t give you reasons to hate them. I no longer believe that love and hate form a double-edged sword.
From my experience, it’s not really respectful to drop certain people into the box of “Loves That Didn’t Last” in my mind, either. That’s like digging a grave for a piece of your heart, and it feels bad realizing that all of you is underground. I learned that I didn’t need to come up with reasons to bitterly hate and further a case of independence and superiority. I just kept loving. Not in the pining way, but in a thoughtful way. Like when you maybe felt a little seasick at the beach, but smile in bed that night when you think you can feel the waves still crashing. Sometimes fond memories are all it takes to lull you to sleep, allowing new dreams to form.