At the age of fourteen I began studying traditional Korean martial arts. Through the martial arts I became exposed to various Buddhist traditions, philosophies, and practices. The common thread that holds these threads together are The Four Nobel Truths. Within The Four Nobel Truths you find the most quoted facet of Buddhism: Suffering arises from attachment or desires (or expectations).
Over the years I have been exposed to a lot of groups and people that love to quote this idea when things are going wrong and they are feeling down. The Four Nobel Truths even mention that the cessation of suffering happens when attachments, desires, and expectations cease. For many years I believed that in order to truly find peace, I must get to a place where I do not have any attachments, desires, or expectations. You may disagree with me, and so may many other Buddhists, but I do not really believe that was the point the Buddha was trying to get across.
The idea of being a Buddha means one who is Awake or one who Understands. I believe knowing from where our suffering comes from allows us to understand the nature of our suffering and ourself. Once we understand the suffering, then we can begin to deal with ourself and that is how we are relieved of the suffering. Suffering is relieved by Awakening and Understanding not by avoidance. As we begin to Know ourself more, we can then begin to see which attachments are healthy and which are not. Avoidance is never the answer; balance and understanding are. Buddhism teaches that we are already a Buddha. It is not something that we are trying to obtain. It is something that we must simply accept to receive it.
I have had many radical life changes in the past year. My attitudes, expectations, relationships, and nearly everything else in my life has changed or is changing. One of the ideas that I have begun studying in the last year is The Law of Attraction. I was introduced to the idea by someone on a forum based website pertaining to personal development. While the idea of positive thinking and proper attitude was not a new concept to me, I had never really devoted myself to the idea of actively using it in my life.
For those not familiar with the concept, the Law of Attraction, in its most basic form, states: Like Attracts Like. Many teachers of the Law of Attraction use the metaphor that we are magnets and that we get out of life what we think about with strong desire. The basic idea is that everything in your life is there because you aligned yourself with the idea that it would happen. If you earnestly believe you will have amazing relationships, health, happiness, and wealth, that is what you get. If you believe that everything you do turns to crap or that you can not escape, that is what you get. If you believe those in your life will not understand or accept you, that is what you will get. If you believe that it is possible for a person to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then it is probable that at some point you will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. No one but you is responsible for where you are at in your life. If you have financial troubles, you can fix it. If you need to lose weight or correct another health problem, you can fix it. If you need to change a relationship, you can fix it. If you are depressed or feel defeated, you can fix it. You first need to love yourself and decide you deserve a great life. Then you must begin to change your thought patterns and believe. The Law of Attraction is simply a law within the universe like gravity. And just like gravity, it doesn’t matter if you’re a good person or a bad person or even if you feel that you deserve what you are getting. You are getting what you expect and think about, and that is the result of improper attachments and desires. (I just summed up hundreds if not thousands of pages written about the Law of Attraction… cool, huh?)
I can honestly say it works. At first, I only began passively studying and learning about the Law of Attraction. However, as the events of the passed year unfolded, I began consciously seeking one thing: understanding of myself and of Life. As I began seeking, I kept being drawn to the idea of the Law of Attraction. I began to read books like Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret and The Power. I read blogs, read magazine articles, and watched DVD’s. I have not perfected it yet, but I have absolute faith in it. In fact I have begun to use the Law of Attraction to create within me a desire to change my thoughts so that I can then change the circumstances of my life. I am both the artist and the artwork that is my life. I have realized that instead of being hard on myself, that where I am at now in life is the result of what I have been taught through my experiences, culture, and upbringing. But, I can change everything.
Now, before I begin sounding like a commercial for the modern Law of Attraction movement, I want to bring out a common thread that I do not find attractive from many of its followers. Materialism. Most of the information out there about the Law of Attraction focuses on you getting more money and more things. It is presented in a way that material gain is the ultimate goal in life. I do not think money or things are bad. They are amoral tools, just like a hammer. It is what you do with them that matters. This brings us back to the beginning of this post: attachment and expectation.
Instead of being spoon fed what to want out of life, decide for yourself. Get to know yourself. Become Awake and truly see yourself where you are at and where you want to be. For example, I certainly do not judge those who want a nice car or an expensive house, but living simply suits me more. For me, happiness is not found in things. It is found in relationships and experiences. I do want money (and I feel gratitude that money circulates through me constantly… more and more each day). But I want money not for personal gain. Sure, I may take some trips or buy a few items (I don’t want much, but I do want the few things that I have to be high quality). The primary reason I want money is so that I can give my time and resources to others. If you have children there’s nothing wrong with you wanting a nice car and a nice house to live in. There is nothing wrong with you wanting those things even if you are single. Just take the time to figure out which desires are in tune with your heart. Meditation is a great tool for calming the mind and learning about yourself. Become Awake and seek Understanding.
I believe we all deserve a great life. We deserve peace, happiness, safety, financial security, great friends, health, confidence, and an extraordinary love life. We deserve to Awaken the Buddha within. It is all within our grasp if we will change our thought pattern, as daunting as that may seem. No one knows what you want but you, and while others may be willing to assist you through kindness and love, it is never going to happen until you make up your mind that it will happen. Love yourself. It is only then that you will be able to truly love others. Without love this entire thing we call life is pointless.