Wednesday, January 31, 2018


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This month my theme was Buddhism. I’m going to have a theme for each month and write a blog post to review what I’ve learned. I had a bunch of notes on Buddhism then my computer crashed and lost most of my notes which is not ideal but I feel like the main points are all we need here. Let me also just note that this was a lot of me finding information, curating and paraphrasing. I do not feel I have a depth of knowledge on this topic or encourage you to become a monk. If I were to summarize the main takeaways it would be that Buddhism teaches that everyone suffers, suffering comes from and is solved in our mind. We create our own suffering. Before we got any further, let’s define some key terms:

Dalai Lama: the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism

Dharma: the teachings of the Buddha

Dukkha: the basic Buddhist insight that suffering is part of the human condition

Five Precepts: the basic moral requirements that are binding for all Buddhists

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Four Noble Truths: the central teachings of Buddhism
Karma: the moral law of cause and effect of actions

Middle Way: a basic Buddhist teaching that rejects both the pleasures of sensual indulgence and the self-denial of asceticism

Nirvana: the ultimate goal of all Buddhists: loss of selflessness and release from samsara

Noble Eightfold Path: the 4th Noble Truth; practices that lead to nirvana

Samsara: the wheel of rebirth or reincarnation

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Buddha:A being who has completely abandoned all delusions and their imprints. In general, ‘Buddha’ means ‘Awakened One’, someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are. A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions. Every living being has the potential to become a Buddha. 
Eight worldly concerns: The objects of the eight worldly concerns are happiness and suffering, wealth and poverty, praise and criticism, and good reputation and bad reputation

Equanimity: A balanced mind free from strong attachment and aversion.

Five delusions:In the context of blessing the inner offering, the five delusions are: self-grasping, attachment, miserliness, jealousy, and confusion. 

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HappinessThere are two types of happiness: mundane and supramundane. Mundane happiness is the limited happiness that can be found within samsara, such as the happiness of human beings and gods. Supramundane happiness is the pure happiness of liberation and enlightenment.

MeditationMeditation is a mind that concentrates on a virtuous object, and is a mental action that is the main cause of mental peace.

SectarianismAt the same time as cherishing our own tradition, we should respect all other traditions and the right of each individual to follow the tradition of their choosing. This approach leads to harmony and tolerance. It is mixing different religious traditions that causes sectarianism. 

TaraA female Buddha who is a manifestation of the ultimate wisdom of all the Buddhas. 

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We see ourselves as permanent but we are constantly changing from week to week, hour to hour and realizing that we are impermanent, that we should not dwell on the past nor live in the future but enjoy our current reality and moments. Living in the now is easier said than done but is a big component of Buddhism. I’m terrible at this and is one of the reasons I meditate to help focus, calm mental chatter and prioritize what is important. Meditation is huge in Buddhism and gaining peace of mind and clarity. Buddhism also stresses the importance of not killing, stealing, lying, misusing sex, or consuming substances that alter the mind. There are many different kinds of Buddhism practices around the world that take some elements more seriously than others while being the number 6 largest ‘religion’ while actually being more of a philosophy way of life than anything else with around 500 million followers.

Interesting fact, the third largest religion is non-religious/agnostic/atheist. Good stuff.

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There is no one Buddhist text or holy book like the Bible or Quran. Famous Buddhist texts include Tipitaka which is a collection of early Buddhist writings: Sutras which are sacred teachings; Book of the Dead which describes the stages of death. There were also 28 other Buddhas not just the one..

Main holiday is Vesak Day that remembers the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death. Vesak Day is officially recognized by the United Nations that is usually celebrated on the full moon in May.

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All beings equal and reciprocity. Treating others fairly and how you would like to be treated as found in other religions.
Honest, mindful, generosity and contentment, determination, morality, energy and patience seem to be key terms that come up when reading or watching videos about Buddhism.

Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, was born into a royal family in present-day Nepal over 2500 years ago. He lived a life of privilege and luxury until one day he left the royal enclosure and encountered for the first time, an old man, a sick man, and a corpse. Disturbed by this he became a monk before adopting the harsh poverty of Indian asceticism. Neither path satisfied him and he decided to pursue the ‘Middle Way’ - a life without luxury but also without poverty.
Buddhists believe that one day, seated beneath the Bodhi tree (the tree of awakening), Siddhartha became deeply absorbed in meditation and reflected on his experience of life until he became enlightened.
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By finding the path to enlightenment, Siddhartha was led from the pain of suffering and rebirth towards the path of enlightenment and became known as the Buddha or 'awakened one'. (

Here is the meaty, juicy part of Buddhism. Everything comes from the Four Noble Truths and The Eight Fold-Path. Buddhism’s bread and butter. Understanding and practicing these elements are the foundation to a life following Buddhism.
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The Four Noble Truths

1. The Noble Truth of Dukkha - stress, unsatisfactoriness, suffering;
2. The Noble Truth of the causal arising of Dukkha, which is grasping, clinging and wanting;
3. The Noble Truth of Nirvana, The ending of Dukkha. Awakening, Enlightenment. "Mind like fire unbound";
4. The Noble Truth of the Path leading to Nirvana or Awakening.

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The Eight Fold-Path
Right, Integral, Complete, Perfected.
1.       Right View, Understanding;
2. Right Attitude, Thought or Emotion;
3. Right Speech;
4. Right Action;
5. Right livelihood;
6. Right Effort, Energy, and Vitality;
7. Right Mindfulness or Awareness;
8. Right Samadhi "concentration", one-pointedness. Integration of, or establishment in, various levels of consciousness.
So we are the cause and solution to our own suffering. We can stop suffering through meditation, being mindful, working hard, right thoughts, actions and attitudes. Basically don’t create evil, cultivate good, don’t crave what you don’t have, help others and live in the present moment. I think we can all do that.

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Fun facts
·         Buddhism is 2, 500 years old.
·         There are currently 376 million followers worldwide
·         Buddhism arose as a result of Siddhartha Gautama's quest for Enlightenment in around the 6th Century BC
·         There is no belief in a personal God. It is not centred on the relationship between humanity and God
·         Buddhists believe that nothing is fixed or permanent - change is always possible
·         The two main Buddhist sects are Theravada  Buddhism and Mahayana  Buddhism, but there are many more
·         Buddhists can worship both at home or at a temple
·         The path to Enlightenment is through the practice and development of morality, meditation and wisdom.

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Three main types of Buddhism with certain texts and interpretations different while others incorporate other religions and philosophies such as Taoism,
·         Theravada Buddhism: Prevalent in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Burma
·         Mahayana Buddhism: Prevalent in China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Vietnam
·         Tibetan Buddhism: Prevalent in Tibet, Nepal, Mongolia, Bhutan, and parts of Russia and northern India

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 How did you like this month's theme? I feel like I still need to learn, read and watch more about Buddhism but I think it was the right choice, can be a practical tool to make our everyday lives more meaningful and would seem to be a safer, less violent way of living compared to other religions. Enjoy your Chinese  New Year because I certainly will enjoy mine.

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'Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective'

Buddhism novels:

Siddhartha by Hesse

Buddha Da by Donovan


Thursday, January 11, 2018


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Welcome to 2018. I was going to write a post to wrap up 2017 but boy was I swamped being on holiday in Hong Kong. Just. couldn’t. find. the. time. 
So let’s briefly look back then full steam ahead!

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2017. Started with high hopes in Colombia, ended three weeks later broke, jobless and not feeling the 2017 vibes. Considered moving home and trying to make something happen. Fast forward 5 days. 
Living in Shanghai.
Teach high school for the first time.
Attempt to play lacrosse.
Hong Kong.
Money with envelopes and dreams of saving money.
Toronto for the summer.
That Mill Street Life.
Nieces and nephews.
Montreal Ottawa.
Back to Shanghai.
More lacrosse.  
Own quaint little apartment in Shanghai.
Dressed up as Santa for school. No big deal.
Ended the year strong, to say the least with Mikey, Jake, Emma and new baby Miles.

WHAT UP 2018?

I’ve made a few resolutions if you can imagine.
1-meditate every day
2-15 minutes of French every day
3-Each month has a theme. This month’s theme is Buddhism. 15 minutes each day.
4-Learn to make one new meal a week. Post all four end of each month to Instagram.
5-Make money in the summer without having to leave my house.
6-Debt free.
7-Drink one water bottle’s worth of water each day. My bottle is obnoxiously big.
How are they going so far? I would give myself a failing grade for week one but I’ve learned from those mistakes and 51 more chances to redeem myself. Just had a 10-day break which was A1 now I’m back to work for a good 3 weeks until I get the entire month off for Bert time. I’m quite pleased. Cambodia with my mom? Yes, please. Thailand? Sure, why not! Toronto for the summer with a possible pit stop in New Orleans to see friends and peruse their local libraries. I have a good feeling about 2018. I was born on the 18th so I think this needs to be my lucky year. Strong signs pointing in that direction. Even years beat odds years and while 2017 was solid, it was just laying the groundwork for 2018 as long as cooler heads prevail, 2018 will be remarkable.

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Not sure what else I have going on on my end. On season 3 of Breaking Bad. Cowboys are terrible and my fantasy football team broke my heart right on cue. Speaking of a cue, I’m terrible at playing pool and darts. I found a sick spot in Hong Kong where you pay for drinks plus beer pong and a lady is the referee and moves all the cups for you. It was a dream I didn’t realize was my dream come true. Hong Kong also stellar in the waterfall department.  Did you know that China only allows a small percentage of movies into the country so big studios put Chinese people in important roles/favourable light to make sure their films are selected?  It’s smart but kinda ruins it knowing that’s the main reason.

I got paid $60 a few months ago to read English newspaper headlines into an iPhone for data collection purposes for a SIRI type voice recognition system. Obviously.

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I hope your 2018 is looking even brighter than mine. If you are looking to be kind to someone today, start with you. It’s corny and blah blah blah but you’re the only one who hears that voice inside your head; make sure you hear kind words.

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“What is coming is better than what is gone”