What’s the secret to inner peace and contentment?
The answer to that question is very difficult to find.
So what do Buddhist monks do, since they have a reputation for these highly sought after states of being?
Do they know something we don’t?
Actually, yes they do.
For more than two thousand years, Buddhist philosophy has dedicated great energy on how to reduce human suffering and keep quiet the mind while focusing on the present moment.
In this article, we’re going to go explore Buddhism’s most important principles and practices that we can all adopt into our daily lives and routines.
Although they may seem difficult at first, if you stay focused and just keep at it, they will benefit you for an entire lifetime.
HABIT 1 – SIMPLIFICATION
Did you know that the Buddha was born a prince? Yup, he could have lived a life of materialistic abundance, but he found this was distracting him from a deeper calling he felt within.
As a result, he abandoned everything that he felt was preventing him from knowing true inner peace. He left his palace, and went on a journey into the world, and more so, into himself.
2,300 years later, Buddhist monks continue to do the same. They have little to absolutely no concern for material possessions and live with the basic necessities while focusing the bulk of their energy and efforts into spiritual enlightenment.
They completely simplify their lives.
HABIT 2 – INNER DECLUTTERING
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
In advanced Buddhist circles, monks are taught to do things not for themselves, but for the whole world. They are taught that what they do in this world matters.
When they meditate, it’s for the sake of world peace and empowerment. They understand that their goal to attain personal enlightenment is a goal that is of benefit to the entire world.
When you can cultivate this altruistic attitude, you focus much less on your petty problems and become less concerned with the trivialities of life. As a result, you become much more calm and at peace with yourself.
This is what’s called inner decluttering: making room for society’s collective well being, and discarding small frivolous troubles in your personal life.
HABIT 3 – MEDITATING HABITUALLY
“Meditation is a way for nourishing and blossoming the divinity within you.” – Amit Ray.
Most monks, who are truly serious about their chosen path, wake up early and meditate for 1 to 3 hours and do then do the same at night. This kind of practice literally changes the brain and it’s been proven scientifically, over and over, that meditation is one of the most effective ways in dealing with stress and cultivating peace.
You don’t have to adopt this time consuming schedule, but what if you replaced 30 minutes of TV, or internet surfing, with meditation? Anyone can do it, and making this a part of your daily routine can change your life forever.
HABIT 4 – FOLLOWING THE WISE
“Develop a Passion for Learning. if You do, You Will Never Cease to Grow.” – Anthony D’Angelo.
In our western consumer society, we have a very toxic outlook about old age. But for Buddhist monks, they see the elderly as people having wisdom who have has amassed a life time of experience that we can learn from. They seek elder spiritual guides and gurus that can help them on their path.
Everyone we meet in life knows something we do not. They have experienced something we have not and they can teach us something we don’t know. Keep an open mind, be hungry to learn more, and humble enough to admit you don’t know everything and life is not a competition.
HABIT 5 – LISTEN CONSCIOUSLY AND WITHOUT JUDGMENT
“When you talk, you are only repeating what already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new. – Dalai Lama.
Our brains naturally judge. We seek to understand, and so we label things. Plants, places, people, and everything else we encounter in life. But this makes us fall into lazy distorted ways of thinking, because no human being can be summed up through our narrow perception of them.
Buddhists believe that we should not criticize and judge others, but rather seek to simply understand them through conscious mindfulness.
As the saying goes, most of us listen to respond, rather than listen to learn. If we quiet our minds, and pay attention better, we cultivate healthier relationships of mutual respect, understanding and communication.
HABIT 6 – CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT IN THE UNIVERSE
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
According to Buddhist master Sazuki, one of the primary principles in life we must learn to accept, is that change is constant.
“Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transiency, we suffer.”
Everything changes in life, my friends, it is the only certainty in this world. Yet, most of us resist it with every fiber of our being, and this gives rise to suffering.
So realize that life is constantly changing and evolving. Our minds are changing, the cells in our bodies are changing, the world is changing, and so we must learn to welcome change as a part of our natural human and spiritual evolution.
HABIT 7 – LIVING IN THE MOMENT
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” – Buddha
n our current world it can be very difficult to be present in the moment. Our cell phones are always going off, we have to be at work by a certain time, we get paid on a certain day, and so many other time sensitive matters dominate our society. But mindfulness of the present moment encourages us to refocus, quiet the mind and be in the now.
This, of course, does not happen over night. It takes practice and with time we can learn to quiet our minds and be rooted in this present moment, which is all that truly exists — everything else exists solely in the mind.
So be mindful and pay attention to your thoughts, and bring yourself back into the moment accordingly.