Buddha

[Living Buddhism] Just for Today

Just for today,
    I will eat properly.

Just for Today,
   I will refrain from backbiting.

I found it worked really well when I started my day with a few affirmations the other week, so I thought I'd try it again. I find that it helps focus my mind on the "now" without the mis-steps of the past and worries about the future looming over me. It keeps me focused on the one or two things that I'm going to do and puts them into a very specific context: Today. Since "now" is the only moment that we really have any power over, I think that this works really well. 

I wonder if repeating the affirmations with my mala would be helpful. It might help me get the thoughts into my psyche and help reinforce the habits and behaviours that I want to cultivate.  I find it interesting how quickly I "give up" on my "vows" and commitments in order to gain a moment of satisfaction. What is even more interesting to me is that I do it knowing full well that I will either regret it later or actually feel physically worse from doing it. This is especially apparent when I deal with my food issues. I wonder what it is in my mind that causes me to find that temporary moment of satisfaction so much stronger than the pursuit of personal betterment. I suppose it has to do with the fact that the momentary satisfaction is real and tangible right away, whereas the happiness that would come from personal betterment is only a fuzzy idea that may manifest "some day" in the future.

I'm finding myself curious about the Lotus Sutra. It's a text that many of the Buddhist traditions were founded on this Sutra. It is available to read on several sites online but I might try and pick up a hardcopy (probably online), since I find it easier to read from a book. So far I've read through chapter one online though and think that it might not be too bad reading it off a site (and it's free that way too). 

On Tuesday, I had a very strange thing happen that made me feel like I may have come one step closer to the idea of loving kindness or compassion. I was leaving work and thinking to myself that I'd like to see how long I could go without spending any more money (being somewhat of an obsessive-compulsive spender, this would be one heck of a challenge). However, the universe had something else in store for me. As I walked to the corner of my building, I was confronted with a beggar on the street. She was asking for change. Without thinking, I dug into my pocket to see what I had... a nickel and a few pennies, hardly worth offering. Before I knew it, I was pulling the five dollar bill from my pocket and handing it to her. I didn't hesitate and I didn't even really think about it. It just seemed "right". Now, I have to say that I usually don't give money to people who are just begging on the street. I will, on occasion, give money to street performers though, so I don't know what possessed me to give this woman money, let alone "so much". When I saw the busker down in the subway station, I even felt a little bit badly that I'd given money to the begging woman and not to him, since he was trying to earn his money, but today, I actually see it a little differently. Today, I think that there must be a lot of people like me out there. There must be a lot of people that refuse to give money to the street beggars but will give money to buskers. Today I feel like I gave my money to the person who probably needed it the most. Sure they might use it to buy drugs or liquor but I can't make that judgement. The street beggar was the less fortunate and I'm glad that some part of me felt the compassion to empy my pocket for her. I know that I won't miss the money.

Now the story doesn't quite end there. You see, when I got home I was opening my mail and discovered that my friend LJ had sent me the $100 for my bike that I'd sold to her when I left the Arctic! It was totally unexpected but I was really glad to get it. I thought that it was really interesting how specifically my act of "giving" was juxtaposed with my "gain".  The fact that I hadn't expected any "gain" was even more special. The act of giving had been completely selfless and I have a feeling that if I'd done it with the intention of getting something in return, things may just have manifested a little differently. You just never know.
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That's quite a day. I like the 'giving and gaining' theme you had going on. :)

Strangely, unless I actually have stopped to enjoy their perfomance, I rarely give money to buskers.
Beggers on the other hand, do get change from me. For a complicated variety of reasons many of them don't 'have it together' enough to do much else. Given that many folks pretend that the homeless are invisible, I try to give a little offering of change, real eye-contact, and a few words.
The disposessed always remind me of the Cailleach, so it feels sort of like an offering to her.

Good luck with your affirmations.
Thanks for the luck. So far so good!

I think I really understood what you meant by the "invisible homeless". I really looked at the begging lady when I was digging in my pocket. I looked her right in the eye and I spoke to her. There was something really beautiful and simple in it. I really like the way you explained why you give to homeless and not buskers and the Cailleach connection. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Thanks for sharing.