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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Living stress free

Living stress free

The other day I met a friend of mine. He said "I decided to migrate to a better country." I asked why he wanted to migrate. "There are lots of problems in the country. I want to give the best education to my children. I asked "what do you want them to be in the future"? He was not sure. "After all I want to live in peace" was his answer. My friend is not the only person who decided to migrate for peace of mind. There were so many, there will be too.

This conversation provided me some insight as to how some people take serious decisions in their lives in search of peace and 'contentment.

People migrate to greener pastures citing various aim to do so. Some people within the country mostly towards cities. Those who live in cities go to villages to get away from the busy life. People seem to run here and there in search of comfort and happiness. Where is this comfort and happiness they are restlessly looking for? Has migration solved their problems? Is everybody who migrates happy? In which country or place can one live in absolute peace? Is there a country that can give someone complete, contentment? What should you give your children as education? These are unsolved problem to many.

This article describes how one can transform several important problematic life issues into comfortable healthy and stress free ones. Children's education, driving in busy unruly streets are the issues addressed. One method to bring about this transformation is also presented.

Body mind and memories

People dope themselves with various substances, enjoy spa's saunas and a dip in the pool, and spend money on picnics, dances, parties, etcetera to get happiness. They fantasize, keep sweet memories in photographs, some times computers full of such photos of picnics weddings and birthday parties and so on. The attachment to this bank of good memories may make them temporarily happy. They have something in these to talk about They are in search of happiness and comfort revisiting these memories However, all these cause stress and sense of loss after that moment of enjoyment This attachment to physical body and finding happiness in it make them unhappy after each effort. This is not a viable method of being happy.

Children's education

"We going abroad to educate our children better" is the frequent answer given by many to migrate.

What should really be given to children as education?

Children show wide variation in their Preference to different subjects in schools.

They show talents of varying nature and magnitude. If given appropriate opportunity they excel in thew areas and become economically productive adults. However, what ever the position they hold as adults ultimate purpose of many of them is to enjoy life through five sense organs eye, ear, nose, tongue and body. This enjoyment is sought in money, big houses, vehicles are being members of clubs and associations etcetera. Attachment to pleasures of five sense does makes them stressed, dissatisfied and unhappy when they cannot continue the as long as they want.

This degree of attachment to sense pleasure and resultant consequences are not influenced significantly by modern education. They are rather influenced by the conditioning in the consciousness due to previously collected information from five sense doors. Its conditioning is what determines the difference between individuals and is not identical. Some educated professionals such as doctors, engineers, accountants and scientists need more and more qualifications, recognition, new cars and better positions and the politicians power, wealth and supporters etc. Who ever accrue these things is destined to be troubled in protecting and perpetuating these, things and finally becomes worried when they lose those.

Hence educated or not they we were vulnerable to attachment and associated suffering.

Where, ever one is educated and where ever the life is spent these people show signs of stress, dissatisfaction and

The answer is not changing the country of education or residence. It's how much they are able to detach themselves from sensual pleasures. Degree of detachment determines how much health and happiness is generated. So is conflict (or aversion). If one is in mental conflict with some one or some thing, that person is suffering because of it. One has to avoid conflict or get out of it as soon as possible to avoid mental discomfort Freedom form attachment and conflict can create permanent happiness and contentment within oneself.

This paradise within has to be achieved through diligent training. The method of training has been described by Lord Buddha 2500 years ago.. It is called The Noble Eight-Fold. One has to follow the conventional education to earn a living. But one has to get the skill of living with confidence, happiness and health with minimal stress and dissatisfaction. Such skills of permanent health can only be achieved in this method of training. The Noble Eightfold Path is unique in that it de-conditions a person from attachments and conflicts resulting in relief from stress and discontentment gradually. Amount of relief depends on the consistency and the accuracy of the practice. In this Path one should have courage and determination (Suseema sum, Samyutta Nikaya). This method does not involve praying or worshipping. Praying or worshipping is based on a superstition or belief that some one is there to give relief from pain, dissatisfaction and stress.

Hence education should be in line with, what the child is talented in. Accordingly, various children may receive different educations. However, all of them deserve a training to be at peace and healthy by giving them the opportunity of practising the Eight Fold Path, Once on the Path no other person can reverse the skills by the practitioner and hence attains a, secure and permanent (Dhamsak pavathum sutta). This method of practice is not confined to a religion. It can be practiced by people from any religion without losing identity. This is the most transferable method of mind ever to have been discovered.

Life on the road

Driving in unruly highways needs specialist skills. Very often, drivers get angry and disturbed when another vehicle robs them of their lane, when someone crosses the road unexpectedly and in short range, and when another vehicle knocks theirs from behind. These incidents often spoil the day, at least few hours of the day. Whose fault is that when you are disturbed by such an incident?

These things are day to day incidents. Even if we are not there these things happen. Fault is we have a feeling that, as we are obeying road rules, these should not happen to us. This thinking is fair though not realistic. We should develop ourselves so that we are not disturbed by these occurrences, we can take action with emotional disturbances. We are often angered or disturbed as we are attached to a set of values attitudes and expectations, we are conditioned by these superstitions and this conditioning is registered in the consciousness. If we really count, such disturbing incidents are actually few. If we take them in the light that these things are the regular happening out there we can negotiate with them with out much conflict. If one is able to allow lane to an indecent fellow driver, and avoid a mental conflict with unruly pedestrians he is at peace while driving on busy roads. Such a mental condition will not come automatically. This is just one benefit in the Eight Fold Path in modern times.

Stress at work

High level of stress at work is a frequent problem encountered by people. This is partly through fear of losing position or promotion. It can also be as a result of a failure to complete the planned work within the stipulated time. This causes unhappiness, fear -A dissatisfaction as psychological problems. As physical problems of long term stress one can suffer from gastritis, gastric ulcers, diabetes mellitus, heart disease and paralysis to name a few.

If all these problems can be prevented and exceptional amount of work can be accomplished within a unit time without stress, that skill will be very comforting.

Theory in Happiness

Happiness and contentment is strongly linked to ones purpose of life. Some people have never thought of what to accomplish in their lives. Best treasures they have

am their body, material possessions, enjoying, seeing, listening, smelling, tasting, and touching. They treasure the memories of the happy moments of these sense pleasures.

They strive to acquire .similar things perpetuate this happiness. Everything-they do is for this purpose. Is enjoying sense pleasures and revisiting these memories are the only purpose of life? The wise should have an answer to this. Others will not bother.

However, there is no one who could keep their happy moments as long as they want. Some people change the country, car for a new car, spouse, and job. But there are very, few who could keep this happiness for as long as they wanted.

These sense Pleasures may give temporary comfort with regretful consequences particularly when the pleasure ends. In this never ending search of the sense pleasure people get angry, get in to competitions, bother themselves and subsequently become stressed, tired and fed up still refusing to stop the search. This situation is not largely dependant on the place they live. But it depends on how much one is attached to the sense pleasures and how much effort is put into acquire and Happiness, contentment or mental health does not depend on where one lives physically. In the third stanza of Maha Mangala Sutta Lord Budda described where one should live. The true ,%I=" of the stanza "Pathirupa desa vasocha" is living in a world in which an individual is not attached to the physical body inputs from the five sense doors and the consciousness (desa without rupa). This describes the state of Nirodha where one is in complete mental health.

In this, the word desa (meaning land) is a state without attachment, One enjoys this in the practical Eight- fold path, the way of life discovered by the Lord Buddha in 500 BC. One who practices this Path is able to get into a state of total detachment from body, sense pleasures and consciousness. One who achieves this final goal is called an Arahant and he has his mind in Nibbana a state of unconditioned happiness, contentment and permanence. This non attachment is the permanent answer to many social problems faced by people. However to achieve this status one does not need to change the country or the area of residence. Hence "right land to live" is not really in geographical sense, But it is a state of mind.

This happiness is independent of sense pleasures and, when acquired stops a person bothering to search for sense pleasures. This situation is called Nibbana or Nirobha. A person gets in to this situation is called Arahant. He doesn't get angry, he is not bothered to find external happiness, and he won't die (Dying is minds transfer from the previous body to a new one. Mind of an Arahant will not grasp a new body at the end of present life, but remains in Nirodha, hence, is not a death.) He will not get a physical body at parinibbana (passing away of an arahant) hence, he will not be decayed, aged or sick.

This person has no particular place to live; everywhere is the same for him. This is a living reality. It is a realistic target that any one can try to achieve. One who enters the Noble Eight-fold path gradually develops these skills.

Actual practice

The practice described below is not the conventional descriptions in the texts but a true practice that leads to a unique realization. Without sitting down to practice, reading and discussions have no meaning.

The eight components in The Path should be practiced together, the Middle Path. First component is the vision that I should attain the perfection, complete health or the ultimate happiness. This is called the Right Vision, also meaning vision for detachment from defilements. This should become the attitude, driven in to the person and remaining with him or her. This is called Right Attitude or attitude of detachment.

With this vision and attitude the practitioner sits on the ground preferably in the lotus position or semi lotus position. He has to sit for a predetermined time period. He practices the third component of the Eight-Fold path by not using any language 1 primarily I by closing mouth with the two lips. This completes right speech or language of non attachment (Aryathushnimbutha).

The Practitioner does not move his body or part of it, thereby not doing any action, stopping any wrong doing by the physical body, Right Action or action of non attachment Right Speech and right action will automatically lead to Right Livelihood or livelihood of non-attachment

Sitting down in this manner with mouth shut and body still with the Right Vision and attitude will complete five components of the Eight-Fold Path. To sit and to stay in this position it needs an enormous amount of courage and effort without which the completion of journey in the Path is not possible. This effort of non attachment is called Right- Effort. With this the practitioner starts contemplation of the body (kayanupassana), pain (vedananupassana), the behaviour of mind (Cittanupassana) and practices for a state of non-attachment (Dhammanupassana) through wisdom. When contemplation of body and pain is done the other two will follow.

Contemplation of the body (kayanupassana): The practitioner is asked to consider 25 parts of the body, head, forehead, right eye, nose, left eye, right check, left cheek, mouth, chin, neck, upper chest, lower chest, upper abdomen, middle abdomen, lower abdomen, right thigh, right knee, right lower leg, right foot, right toes, left thigh, left knee, left lower leg, left foot and left toes. The practitioner takes his mind to one part at a time and contemplates "may all be well, happy and peaceful" and goes on to the next part and contemplates the same thing. He does this for all twenty five parts from head to the toes of the left leg, and restarts from head. This method trains the mind to give up those body parts with loving kindness.

Contemplation of pain (vedananupassana): When the parts of the body are given up like this with loving kindness without changing the posture, the practitioner starts feeling pain in various parts of the body. To the maximum point of pain the practitioner contemplates "may all be well, happy and peaceful" three times. If he feels pain elsewhere he wishes the same to that pan. The Practitioner goes on like this. Whether the pain subsides, or not he gets back to the contemplation of the body. When this is being practiced, sounds from the environment are heard. They are recognised as sounds and refrained from tying to identify these further (stopping at Vedana Sanna and not going to Sankara).

Thoughts that are generated from the consciousness are also identified only as thoughts and not tried to identify these further thereby preventing a thought process being generated.

The practice of non-attachment is called in Magadha language "Samatha". This is mistakenly by many as tranquilly achieved by fixing mind to a focus of meditation conventional understanding of Buddhism The practice of non-attachment is"Samatha" and the swing the detachment is "Vidharshana" as taught by the Lord Buddha. One who practices this regularly and with vigour will attain the fruitions of the Path and finally the permanent detachment from all defilements, which is Nibbana, Perfection, the complete mental health. During this exercise, the practitioner realizes the four Noble Truths (ill health and dissatisfaction Dukkha, reason for ill health and dim dissatisfaction Samudaya, state of complete health Nirodha and the path to achieve it, Margo). A person who has achieved complete mental health will subsequently achieve complete physical health too once the mind gives up the body That is when he goes into Parinibbana where only the mind remains in a state of happiness associated with non attachment.

Purpose of the life of all, expressed overtly or correctly, is to be happy, stress free and make others near and dear also be so. However, where they -look for this comfort is almost invariably is with the outside rather within. The day they realize that this paradise is within they will look for it there. The day they find Noble Eight Fold Path they discover the most precious thing in their lives. The day they enter the Path will make the beginning of the no- return Journey to permanent health happiness and contentment: The Nibbana - the Paradise within.

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