Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Real Happiness.
It was my rough patch this semester that granted me the opportunity to be introduced into this read by professor Su Jung Kim.
She has been my professor here at DePauw since the first semester of my first year. I have taken her class every semester because she has opened my mind to new ways of thinking that positively contributes to my growth as a full time student and real life person with real life issues.
Professor Kim asked that I read this book, not only for extra credit, but for spiritual growth as well. I could not be more grateful for this because it indeed shaped up and sharpened up some things that had to be.
Overall, Robert Thurman’s Inner Revolution was definitely a motivating eye opening journey. It allowed me to come face to face with my internal and day to day obstacles. It allowed me to really take a step back and calibrate the reason of my existence.It allowed me to prioritize important and healthy things first It allowed me to ask myself challenging but real questions. After reading this I began to question every single one of my actions and thoughts. This book is used as a frame work to keep that positivity with me at all times. There were many parts of this book that help me get through the last few days of class and last few troubling family, academic and personal road blocks.
Although I sit here and tell you that the entire book was life changing (which it was) I wanted to go about this blog by posting bit of pieces of the book that I found most triggering and most pushing. These parts listed below are the parts that I found very relate-able to my struggles.
That is the approach this blog is going to take.
“Conceiving the soul of enlightenment, like understanding the emptiness of self , does not happen overnight” (151).
Knowing this, Thurman begins to speak about The Indian Master Asanga and his seven meditation steps for cultivating the mind.
He list them on page 151.
The seven include:
- Recognition of all beings as having been ones mother
- Remembering all their Kindness
- Grateful resolve to repay their kindness
- Great love that wills their happiness
- Great compassion that wills their freedom from suffering
- Universal responsibility that resolves to save them all
- The Resulting soul of enlightenment (Which fuses together the first six in the determination to join the Buddhas in working for the good of all beings.)
For the first one: The value of the mother is emphasized after realizing that some of the relationships you’ve had with some friends were temporary. You begin to think about everything you’ve been through with your mom after you recognize your connection with her. Because other relationships have become impermanent to you after a while Thurman states, “You recognize your connection with her, that you were concieved in, carried in, and born from her womb. While feeling these deep emotions of biological connection, you reflect that every other being has borne you in his or her womb, since we all existed in innumerable former lives” (153). He begins to speak about how we start to look for this mother love in other places, that safety and how that this awareness is something to be cautious of. However, this mother child love is something we should never become oblivious too.
2nd: The second one has a lot to do with recollecting those memories and retrieving those memories that bring you to that tender love and care of your mother. You reflect on her kindness and everything shes done for you, if you like her or not. The key here is that you imagine everyone having shown you the same tender love.
3rd: The third step of this process has a lot to do with transitioning from the sense of unity and deep appreciation to the wish and feeling of repaying all the beings who reminded you of that mother love. Wanting to repay someone for their kindness.
4th: Wishing happiness on every being intensifies this love and that is something the fourth step wants us to take away. The importance in the fourth step is realizing that there will only be a few people or things that will produce that feeling of happiness and these things will only be truly happy if they are free and reach that enlightenment.
5th: I want to pull a quote for this one that makes the 5th step pretty self explanatory. “When you open yourselves to the immense tragedy of ordinary life cycles, you can feel a tearing grief, a rawness of agony, a shudder at the unbearable suffering of this infinite mass of living beings to whom you now know you are intimately connected.” (154).
6th: Once you feel this tragedy, an impulse hits you to take responsibility for doing something about this condition for our mothers and for ourselves.
7th: This is the step in which insight and faith combine. Insight refers to acknowledging the notion that their are many other individuals who have gone and come the way you are going and entering. Who have practiced the path and all the stages that it comes with. This all correlates to ones attainment of buddhahood and what they could do to keep their willpower strong. You now have a certain amount of knowledge and awareness that is only waiting to be surrounded by goodwill.
These seven steps are things I thought about while participating in lay down meditations with a really great of mine. I was able to reflect on my love and where exactly I was manifesting it. These seven steps are now steps I can take with me wherever I go. These are 7 things I should be thinking about when putting myself in new spaces and when I interact with new individuals.
“The Self has to be given the free space to turn around in its habitual tracks and observe itself in a new way” (99).
This was the quote that made me wish I could leave my body to observe myself for a day. However, because that thought automatically popped up in my head while reading that line, it wasn’t so hard to look in the mirror and think about the habitual tracks that are apart of my life.I thought about my everyday activities and how exactly I could make those healthier. I had to sit in my room and ask myself questions like “Does this actually contribute to my well being and my health overall?” After several hours and emotionally challenging realizations, I realize some of the things I do on a daily base aren’t good for me. I wasn’t happy analyzing myself, so I don’t want anyone reading this thinking this was all easy. It was hard to point out the negative or the things that arent good for me. However, that was apart of my test. It was up to me to face the reality and now question how I could change some of the things in my life up.
“What was it that Buddha discovered? What did he start?” (53).
Although Thurman had his own approach on this question, I wanted to answer this using how those who aren’t Buddhist could answer this. I want to talk about how Siddhartha uncovered the four sights. That is what he discovered, he discovered that there was more to the world than what we knew.. And i think that, that’s the case with us. It took Siddhartha to see death, old age, an ascetic, and a sick man to realize that he was living way better than anyone else. Once he came face to face with this suffering he realized that he had to do something for himself. That is exactly what he started. He started a belief system that allowed many to find their middle path, but for those who aren’t buddhist he started a moment of realization. One doesn’t need to be a buddhist to be inspired by his story. He taught me that I need to take a look at the things I have been blessed with and given and need to learn how to get rid of my own suffering. This quote made me think of my middle way and made me question the balance in my life. After careful questioning, balance is something I need to work on.
“The Dalai Lama’s third source of hope is the shift away from the view that materialistic science and technology bring ultimate power to shape life and destiny” (275).
This is our generations problem. I could not agree more. We are letting technology and materialism make us. A lot of individuals today depend on their phones for things like an alarm and for things like social media. I find this a problem now because I think in society today, this becomes a dependency. People depend on this to feel secure, to feel good about their social standing, to feel accepted. This is when we start to lose ourselves. We forgot to lose what it means to live for the necessary things. We are oblivious to the true beauty of things. Our nature becomes unimportant to us. The real things that matter become unimportant. Once we get away from these things that trap us we will able to realize that there are other things that can help shape our lives and destiny in a more helpful and healthy matter.
“In 1900, people placed their hope in social systems.” (273).
To make a full come around, I think this is where my problem is rooted. I have trouble with the way our social systems are built. I have a huge problem with our society and how things are placed on the front with us. Everything has been constructed for us and I think a big reason our society is messed up is because of its preconceived notions and beliefs. Social influence is real and people have a lot of trouble letting that go due to what everyone else beliefs. This is why it is so hard for people to reach their own nirvana and to really reach that point of enlightenment because they are so caught up and worried about things that shouldn’t matter.Although this quote says 1900, it is something that is definitely prevalent today and its eating us alive.
Overall. This Inner Revolution was needed. Su Jung helped me realize that there is going to be a lot thrown at us at once in life but we just need to find that middle way that keeps us grounded, that keeps us happy, healthy and strong. This assignment is one I will always be grateful for because not only is it helping me out academically, but I took something more out of it. My spirituality has learned so much and I have been able to put things aside that don’t matter and focus on things that are going to help me reach my nirvana. My goal is to be at peace, learn how to balance, and let go of all of the negativity in my life.
This book brought me one step closer…