This weekend I finally finished reading this book: "Living Fully". I highly recommend everyone to read this book. It was written by a prominent Buddhist teacher, Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, who had been trained as Lama since age of four. The language written was simple and very easily understood. For those who don't really love reading, do not be afraid as each chapter was written in short. No technical or excessive theory part on it. It was very brief, however, very meaningful. Click here for reading some of his writing at my previous blog post.
When you read each sentence, it made you think, reflect, and contemplate, asking yourself and wondering if you had been doing what you ought to do. I spent quite some time reading it. There were afterword part at the end of the book, which were questions asked to Rinpoche regarding love, work, and life.
"When we are born, we have obtained the beautiful and priceless gift of life. As we get older, we face sickness, old age, and death. Human beings cannot live forever, but we try to live as well and as happily as possible. However, human beings are controlled by the disturbing emotions of desire, greed, anger, jealousy, pride, ignorance, and discontentment. In general, lacking awareness of their true essence, people look for happiness in all the wrong places and suffer from their ignorance."
Q: Many people seem to work very hard, earn a lot of money, and still feel dissatisfied with their lives. How do we find a way to pursue a spiritual life while living in a material world?
"Why do we work? In the beginning, we work in order to feed ourselves, have shelter, and meet our basic needs. Over time, we become spoiled and take these things for granted. We gradually forget why we are working and expect much more from our jobs. We want to acquire status, wealth, and respect. Neglecting our spiritual development, we pursue material success and forget about our precious breath. We should value and enjoy our work, but our work should not totally consume us. When we become attached and addicted to our jobs, we forget how precious our life is.
We come to this world for a purpose, and we need to discover the meaning of our existence. Isn't the purpose of life to find true freedom and discover your true self? Freedom does not mean sleeping until noon and not having to work; freedom is the ability to channel your creativity through your work. To live a spiritual life is to remain unattached and truly free, while functioning in the material world."
Q: What advice do you have for people who are deeply entrenched in the material world?
"Life is a priceless gift to be celebrated. When people feel angry and upset, I ask them to imagine that they have only two or three breaths before death. Then, I ask them to think about what is most important to them. The most important thing is our breath, our life. Make the most out of your life and live as if there is no tomorrow. Be kind to your neighbors; you do not know if you will see them again. Share your wealth; you do not know if you will have another chance. Live as if this is your last moment. Try to celebrate with whomever you are with and take joy in whatever you are doing. Don't take things too seriously. Everything in life is truly ephemeral and dreamlike. If you have material wealth, it is good to give to charity. If you hoard your wealth, you will be spiritually poor and incapable of celebrating wealth."
Q: What is happiness to you? Helping others makes one happy, and partying makes one happy. What is the relationship between happiness and spirituality?
"For me, real happiness is complete freedom. The only thing that can cause me to lose my freedom is the workings of my habituated mind. So I have to learn how to relate to my mind skillfully. If we want to be happy, we should start by remembering that everyone wants to be happy. We have to be concerned about everyone's happiness, not just our own. There are over seven billion people on this earth, as well as countless other creatures. If you try to exist in your own small world of happiness, you cannot truly be happy. To pursue happiness only for yourself is very shortsighted. If you want to be happy, think about how to make others happy, and act on that.
Q: What is "living in the moment"?
"Living in the moment is freedom from the past, present, and future. It is freedom from time, concepts, and conditions. It is freedom from any expectation of reward. Living in the moment is fully embracing this moment, and this moment is completely perfect as it is. Living in the moment is everything.
The above were some of the questions asked and the answers given. I put it here as I found it good and wanted to share Rinpoche's answers to all of you, which might benefit you as guides into your daily life on how to live your life fully.
After reading it, I am telling myself that I too, want to be free, free from the past, present and future. I want to forget the past, live in the moment, and move on with my life, live it fully. I want to remain grateful for everything I've been through, to everyone whom I've met with, and treat everyone as my teacher. Because I realize that everyone is my guru. I learn from all of you many things that make me who I am today, now. I also want to continue learning the spiritual path while balancing my life in many aspects in this material kind of world. Continue to be generous and help others who in need.
I asked my hubby to read the later part of the book as well. And I think, in some ways, he had learnt few things too. He realized that all this while, he had taken his life too seriously. He had been thinking too much on the future that he forgot to live his life at the present. He had been working hard and always saved money for the future. He was always afraid and worry that something might happen in the future so that he always saved and scrimped his earning, therefore didn't spend much.
All this while, I traveled mostly alone, with my family members and/ or with friends. Every time I asked him to go with me, he gave an excuse that he didn't like to travel, but I knew that he actually didn't have a heart to spend his hard earned money on traveling, as like what I mentioned above, that he was worrying that he might need the money for a raining day.
But after reading it plus some Dhamma discussion that we both often had recently, especially about life, he then decided that he too, deserved to be happy and to love himself more. And today, he booked two tickets, two trips to different countries where both my sisters live, each for two weeks duration. He chose both places as he could save on the accommodation and have someone to ask to. He thought of spending time himself to experience, live life in different countries, to learn something new, to contemplate, to pray, to relax, and most importantly, to be happy. It's something that he had never done before in his life. I fully support his decision since he hasn't started his job yet and considering that live is short and we never know what will happen tomorrow. If he didn't do it now, he might not have a chance in the future.
Like what Rinpoche said above, "The most important thing is our breath, our life. Make the most out of your life and live as if there is no tomorrow. Live as if this is your last moment. Try to celebrate with whomever you are with and take joy in whatever you are doing. Don't take things too seriously. Everything in life is truly ephemeral and dreamlike. If you have material wealth, it is good to give to charity. If you hoard your wealth, you will be spiritually poor and incapable of celebrating wealth."