My Thailand trip helped me further refine my thinking, understand myself a better bit and gave me exposure to other people with great energies. A few unique insights I had during the trip where:
- You cannot arrive at a new place without leaving the old one. While this is easy to comprehend on a physical level, it is hard to do it with our past and our own frame of looking at the world. Usually it is hard for us to radically change our views, habits and behaviors and ‘switch’ or ‘jump to’ new ways of thinking. The point here is that hard decisions must be made if they make sense and the past should not be allowed to drag us down.
- Meditation is not easy, but is the only way out of suffering: I asked the teacher, “why is buddhism so focused on suffering and not on fully engaging in the enjoyment if life”. His answer was, “because suffering is the only thing we can control”. Both good and bad things just happen to us, but it is up to our mind to interpret them. Mindfullness training gives us an ability to get better understand the mechanics of our mind, so we can be less sad and more happy.
- There are three different buckets of my thinking process. First, thoughts that are just useless- mostly worry, excitement, anger, passion –which really have no relevance to the current moment. Second are thoughts that are important ‘to do tasks’. This includes worrying about your job, life, mostly of the future. What you will do, want to do, what you will say to who and why. This would be mostly interspersed with different flavors of emotions. The third process is the one that observes the present moment as it is. This process, which is the only real thing, lasts for 1% of the total time I meditate. It’s only 1% of the time I am able to keep my mind focused on the present. Now, thats a breakthrough realization- but an expected breakdown. I have a loooong way to go in trying to live in the present.
- I found out this time that I am an extreme ‘worry-wort’. I don’t know anyone (including myself) who would put me in the ‘worry-type’ personality. Unfortunately, it is true. I had 60 hours of continuous worry and it occupied my mind so much for 8 days that I broke down and had to leave the 10 day camp earlier that I had planned. But I left with a deep understand on the mechanics of my worries.
- When you are having a bad time, examine that experience, observe it mindfully, study the phenomenon and learn its mechanics. The way out of a trap is to study the trap itself, and learn how it is built. You do this by taking the thing apart, piece by piece. The trap can’t trap you if it has been taken to pieces. The result is freedom. – from Bhante Gunaratna
- Travel sets the spirit free: Let me tell you this. I did not meet a single backpacker who was not in a good mood. There is nothing wrong with taking time off, enjoying life, learning new things. In fact, one becomes a robot if they don’t do it. Without travel, life is mostly boring and monotonous. Some people make an argument that they prefer certainty and regularity to travel, but they really- deep down–don’t really buy that themselves 🙂
- Less continues to be More & the Paradox of choice: Observed in many cases is the paradox that more choices may lead to a poorer decision or a failure to make a decision at all. It is sometimes theorized to be caused by analysis paralysis, real or perceived, or perhaps from rational ignorance. This applies to career options we have, products & services we consume and the amount of things we take on everyday. Less is more and certainly leads to greater fulfillment
- Buddhist monks are the smartest people in the world: Most of us might think they are living a life of not having much and how they have to leave the ‘pleasures’ of life and stay in monasteries. The truth is that they have acquired wisdom that is beyond our materialistic senses. They know exactly how to live longer (cause they do everything in moderation), have the brightest of skins, healthy bodies, clear consciences, they know how to think wisely (to reduce anger, do well for themselves and others) and most importantly- how to fully immerse the moment, enjoy as it happens and live it to the fullest.
- Buy this book and read it cover to cover. It will be the best investment on your life, I promise. If you feel more energized after reading the first, you would love to read this one, which is straight from the Tipitika and Pali Canon- the 2500 year old scriptures. When I read the second book, I could not sleep for 48 hours. I was just blown away by the clarity and profoundness of the wisdom that was presented in it. Ofcourse, even if Tiger Woods read 10,000 books on Golf, but did not practice his strokes- he would not be a tiger. The practice here is regular meditation. The time investment is more than worth it because it will really really change your life for the better. Having control over one’s own mind if the most powerful thing in the world.