As we think, so we become (Buddha).

From time to time I like to step out and look at my life from an omniscient point of view. It can be quite an interesting experience to see how to see how the variables affect the person one becomes. I don’t think most people stop to  make this observation, but I believe it can be a powerful exercise.

When I look back, I understand that I experienced a series of harsh events that fueled me to work my hardest. I also understand that a series of positive experiences also helped me keep a balance, and fueled and directed that drive.

I only like to talk about the good that came out of the harshness, but one has to admit that harsh events do leave a mark on the individual that is not necessarily a positive one. These are bad traits that are hard to spot at times, that must be removed for higher levels of happiness and peacefulness.

Everyone deals with these negatives experiences in different degrees, from heartbreaks to incredible and disastrous things that life can throw you. For example, I once read a story of a family who knew before birth that their newborn was going to experience a severe developmental disability. To make a long story super short, the family wondered if they should have an abortion  or not and their friends and family all had different opinions on a matter no one knew about. The married couple opted to have the baby, which was difficult, and now they do seminars around the country for people in their same situation and teach them how to deal with a difficult situation and turn it into a blessing. In the end, the family now knows they would make the same decision again if they could turn back time.  Now I am not writing this to say whether abortion is good or bad, I have no interest in this argument. I am illustrating a harsh situation a married couple had to deal with and how from it, they learned enough to help others in similar experiences. One must admit that the harsh situation must have changed their perspective on human life, sacrifice, and many other things. One must admit that dealing with such situation must have helped them experience growth.

I really didn’t like the book The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck, except for one message I got from it:  “In order to experience growth one must experience pain or difficulty.” This made a lot of sense to me and has helped me understand why one must go through so many sacrifices. Kind of like the saying: “Youve got to go through hell before you get to heaven.”

So now that we have discussed how growth, desire to prove oneself, and other outcomes can be a positive outcome of negative, traumatic, or harsh experiences one has to understand that there are negative outcomes these experiences leave on individuals. I believe we like to put this negativity in a Pandora’s Box in our minds and try not to touch it as it creates pain and illustrates a side of us that we don’t really like. When I think about this approach I believe for it to be incomplete, as we must really feel the pain of our bad decision making to help keep us from repeating such bad choices, but at the same time we can’t drown ourselves in the box, as life goes on and one has to remember that for many bad decisions we make we also tend to make good ones that affect the lives of many. What I am getting at is that one must not fear looking into the Pandora’s box or the mirror and facing head-on the evils lurk inside and say: “Yes, I did that, but never again.”

Humanity is such an interesting thing from the way we are born to how we grow old.  At the rate in which we accumulate experiences and the capacity of our memories, it all indicates that living a clean healthy life is the best solution. I do believe some lose control in a slippery slope of bad decision making.  I also believe remorse, and despair last longer that feeling of achievement. After one achieves a goal, one tends to forget about it and focus on the next goal. Obviously in this never-ending process, one goal will never be achieved. This is a beautiful trait of humanity, our never-ending thirst for achieving the unachievable as hard as it may be.  But, this trait can also leave more than one person unsatisfied or depressed. Despair or remorse is not forgotten easily and I guess to replace it you have  to make bigger mistakes and obviously no one in their right mind likes that. If success breeds success, then the repetition of bad choices can breed greater amounts of despair and remorse.

Why are there so many signs on the highways? At the basic level one must answer:  “to keep people on the right roads.”  At one time someone realized the need for signs as people were getting lost or not able to follow unclear directions. Isn’t that what life is, a set of unclear directions with many paths, some leading to dead ends, and others to unfinished bridges? Then doesn’t it make sense to build some signs in our minds to help us reach our desired destinations?  I am sure many wise monks, theologians, and other intellectuals have pondered this quest of guidance and I believe it is important that we, as humble students of life, start collecting signs for our road that will keep us on the right path. I humbly share this one, which is easier to read and understand than to apply:

As we think, so we become.

“The thought manifests as the word
The word manifests as the deed
The deed develops into habit
Habit hardens into character
So watch the thought and its ways with care
And let it spring out of love
Born out of concern for all beings
As the shadow follows the body as we think, so we become…”

~Shakyamuni Buddha~

This is a powerful strategy one must understand and use on everyday life. It takes lots of discipline that’s for sure. Try keeping your mind thinking about absolutely nothing for 3 minutes. It is not an easy task. Controlling your mind 365 days a year is a hard task, but at the end of the day we must give it our best shot. In this same manner we must correct every bad trait we identify about ourselves every single time it occurs. Through correction over time I believe we can eliminate them.

In the movie “A Beautiful Mind,” based on a true story  a brilliant schizophrenic genius mathematician teaches himself to ignore his imaginary friends so he can live a healthy life. I believe we have to be able, from an omniscient point of view, control our minds and self correct to live better lives and give better lives to the people who surround us.

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