“To say that we must have but one life here with such possibilities put before us and impossible to develop is to make the universe and life a huge and cruel joke.” – Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda (Buddhist Monk)
I am training for my next life. Of course, someone might object that we have more than one lifetime. But I believe that each soul has had many lives. Furthermore, I understand my mortality, and I have a very short time, in this life, to develop wisdom. I am half way through my lifetime if I live to be in my eighties. The universe is opening my eyes and helping me live with intention and intuition.
I remember my good friend, Jumba. He died of pancreatic cancer a year and a half ago. Jumba taught Tai Chi at Triple Gem of the North (TGN) Mindfulness Center, and I currently teach yoga at the center. I attended his Tai Chi classes, and he attended my yoga classes. I was always impressed with his flexibility as he sat in full lotus pose.
Jumba was a joyful man. He was always happy and energetic. He was married and had four children. His illness appeared quickly, and he lived only four months after his diagnosis. While he was in the hospital, he told Bhante Sathi, the Sri Lankan monk at TGN Mindfulness Center, that he wanted to live in Sri Lanka as a monk in his next life.
Where do I want to live in my next life? Who do I want to be? Can I prepare for my next life while I live my current life? In his book, “What Buddhists Believe,” Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda maintains that, “In the process of self-transformation, a person will no longer aspire for a divine birth as his ultimate goal in life. He will then set his goal much higher, and model himself after the Buddha, who has reached the summit of human perfection and attained the ineffable state we call Enlightenment or Nibbana.”
A few weeks ago, when I was in Sedona, Arizona, I realized that I am not ready to leave this life. I still have a lot of spiritual work to do. This work is crucial, and I must not take my life for granted! I know that I am not ready for Enlightenment or Nibbana, but I am making spiritual progress.
According to Ven. K. Sri Dhammananda, “Man can be enlightened – a Buddha – if he wakes up, from the ‘dream’ that is created by his own ignorant mind, and becomes fully awakened. He must realize that what he is today is the result of an untold number of repetitions in thoughts and actions. He is not ready-made: he is continually in the process of becoming, always changing. And it is in this characteristic of change that his future lies, because it means that it is possible for him to mold his character and destiny through the choice of his actions, speech and thoughts. Indeed, he becomes the thoughts and actions that he chooses to perform. Man is the highest fruit on the tree of evolution. It is for man to realize his position in nature and to understand the true meaning of his life.”
I like the quote: “He must realize that what he is today is the result of untold number of repetitions in thoughts and actions.” We are responsible for what we think and what we do. These thoughts and actions shape who we are as human beings. We are a product of energy; mind and body.
Here are some self-transforming key points that I recommend, by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., “Buddha’s Brain: The practical neuroscience of happiness, love, and wisdom:”
- What happens in your mind changes your brain, both temporarily and in lasting ways; neurons that fire together wire together. And what happens in your brain changes your mind, since the brain and mind are a single, integrated system.
- Therefore, you can use your mind to change your brain to benefit your mind – and everyone else whose life your touch.
- People who have practiced deeply in the contemplative traditions are the “Olympic athletes” of the mind. Learning how they’ve trained their minds (and thus their brains) reveals powerful ways to have more happiness, love, and wisdom.
- The brain evolved to help you survive, but its three primary survival strategies also make you suffer.
- Virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom are the pillars of everyday well-being, personal growth, and spiritual practice; they draw on the three fundamental neural functions of regulation, learning, and selection.
- The path of awakening involves both transforming the mind/brain and uncovering the wonderful true nature that was there all along.
- Small positive actions every day will add up to large changes over time, as you gradually build new neural structures. To keep at it, you need to be on your own side.
- Wholesome changes in the brains of many people could tip the world in a better direction.
Those who really seek the path to Enlightenment
dictate terms to their mind. They then proceed with
strong determination. – Buddha