Here’s a bit of wisdom from Venerable Lama Losang Samten’s new book Ancient Teachings in Modern Times: Buddhism in the 21st Century (which recently had a launch party at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg):
Even though our reality is changing moment by moment, our human habits, thoughts and desires feel so real and lasting. But the idea that anything is permanent is just an illusion. Although things may feel permanent, if we look at the example of the universe, we can see that everything changes. One of the four seals presented by the Buddha states: “All assembled phenomena are impermanent.” Anything that has a beginning has an end; and the end is a result of the beginning. We are all living in samsara, which means ‘cyclic existence.’ As human beings, we all journey through the stages of birth, aging, illness, and death. And our life journey is like riding the waves. I would also like to mention that it is important to accept reality. For example, when our life is going well it feels like we have more friends and people offering to help. Unfortunately, when the wave starts to crash, many of these friends may disappear and the offers of help may be more difficult to find. Interestingly, when things are going well we tend to forget about spirituality. Then when the wave crashes, we suddenly begin to search for meaning and guidance, and we look again to spirituality. For example, one of my friends, was making a lot of money in the stock market and it looked like he had forgotten about spirituality. I would call him, and he would not answer. Then he lost a lot of money in the stock market, and he begun to call every day asking spiritual questions about impermanence and meditation. Although this is a common experience, spiritual practice is something that should be done daily, regardless of whether the waves are rising or falling.
While reading Ancient Teachings in Modern Times I’ve been charmed by Venerable Lama Losang Samten’s sincerity and use of personal stories to explicate his understanding of Buddhist teachings. He comes from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective but the book is geared towards everybody with spiritual inclinations. Samten’s writing is gentle, genuine, and accessible—however, the book’s simplicity shouldn’t detract from the depth of its message. If you’re interested in picking up a copy you can visit his website here.
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