In my childhood, I was often haunted by visions of shadowy creatures at night. My parents would tell me that these were simply a figment of my imagination, but the creatures felt so real that I was always scared of sleeping at night. I was also often sick, and had to be hospitalized several times. Although my physical illnesses became less severe as I grew into an adult, I continued to have disturbing dreams.
Some of the worst years of my life were in my early 30’s, when nearly every single night I would dream of a monster suffocating me, and I would wake up gasping for my breath. My fear led me to keeping the lights on at night, but these terrifying visions continued unabated. I knew that I had to seek help, and one day I ventured into a Buddhist temple to ask for advice.
At the temple, I was introduced to a sutra called The Original Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra. This Sutra is a Mahayana Buddhist teaching on the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, who vowed not to attain final enlightenment until after the hell realm is emptied. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is well-known in China. A big and sacred Buddhist site – Mount Jiuhua is dedicated to Ksitigarbha (Chinese Pinyin: Dizang), a bodhisattva and protector of beings in hell realms according to Mahayana Buddhist tradition. Many temples have Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva hall, people could worship and praise him.
The sutra illuminated how Ksitigarbha became a bodhisattva with his great vows for the well-being of all sentient beings. When I chant the sutra, I was really touched by those great vows of the bodhisattva.
In the charter six of the sutra, there is one paragraph says: “Moreover, Universally Expansive (name of a bodhisattva), when dreaming or dozing, living beings in the future may see ghosts, spirits and other forms that are either sad, weeping, or worried, fearful, or terrified. These are all past fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, and relatives from one, ten, a hundred, or a thousand lives, who have not yet been able to leave the Evil Paths. They have no place from which to hope for the power of blessings to rescue them, and so they plead with their flesh-and-bone descendants to establish expedient devices for them so that they might leave the Evil Paths. Universally Expansive, using your spiritual power, you should cause all these descendants to recite this sutra with sincerity before the images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or to request others to recite it, either three or seven times. When the sutra has been sounded the proper number of times, relatives in the Evil Paths will obtain liberation and never again be seen by those who dream or doze.”
After I chanted the sutra, things got much better. The suffocating nightmare experiences I had been dealing with began to diminish in frequency. Once in a while I would still dream of some bloody or skull-exposed face. But afterward I would chant the sutra and dedicate the merits to these scary visions, and then I would not dream of them again.
At the end of the sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha said: “If there are good men and women in the future who see Earth Store’s image, or who hear this sutra or read or recite it; who use incense, flowers, food and drink, clothing, or gems as offerings; or if they praise, behold, and worship him, they shall attain twenty-eight kinds of advantages:
1. They will be remembered and protected by gods and dragons. 2. Their good roots will increase daily. 3. They will accululate superior causes of wisdom. 4. They will not retreat from Bodhi. 5. Their food and drink will be abundant. 6. Epidemics will not touch them. 7. They will not encounter disasters of fire and water. 8. They will not be troubled by thieves. 9. They will be respected by all who see them. 10. They will be aided by ghosts and spirits. 11. Women will be reborn as men. 12. If born as women they will be daughters of kings and ministers. 13. They will have upright and proper appearances. 14. They will often be born in the heavens. 15. They may be emperors or kings. 16. They will know their past lives. 17. They will attain whatever they seek. 18. Their families will be happy. 19. All disasters will be eradicated. 20. They will eternally be apart from the paths of karma. 21. They will always arrive at their destination. 22. At night their dreams will be peaceful and happy. 23. Their deceased relatives will leave suffering behind. 24. They will receive the blessings from their past lives. 25. They will be praised by the sages. 26. They will be intelligent and their roots will be keen. 27. They will have magnanimous, kind, and sympathetic hearts. 28. They will ultimately attain Buddhahood. “
If you have similar experience as I had before, you can try to chant the sutra. Hope you a happy and auspicious life.
Meriam-Webster Dictionary defines Self-Awareness as “An awareness of one’s own personality or individuality.”
Becoming self-aware is not an easy task. Many of us probably feel like we know ourselves – strengths, weaknesses, areas needing improvement, etc. Heck, our lifecycle is one big experiment in assessment and evaluation.
Yet in the new age of social media, information bombards us from every angle. External messaging tells us where to shop, who to vote for, the newest hot spot for families, where to spend your hard earned money, etc.
Sound familiar? This unending stimulus challenges even the most resolute among us to be present and attentive in our engagements with colleagues, family and friends. This seismic change in daily information flow if fundamentally changing how we live our lives, and often not for the best.
People take various approaches to “figuring out” who they are; self-help courses, career counseling, traveling, continuing education, and new challenges like completing a Tough Mudder. These experiences are ways to explore deeper motivations that may shed light on the fact that many of us need external validation – hence the beauty of the internet, providing immediate satisfaction via the dopamine cycle that the internet provides.
Here’s some excerpts from the post:
First, perform a skills inventory that help identify your passion. What are your talents and how do you apply them to “pay the bills”.
Second, perform a self-awareness audit: You may be familiar with the traditional concept of an audit. However, this audit is different. The intent is to evaluate your strengths and areas needing improvement. The best way to do this is by requesting feedback from colleagues, friends and family. Asking those that who know you best to provide feedback. This “self-audit” is valuable because people do not self-assess enough, and when they do, the focus is often on the negatives, not their strengths. Once you finish your self-audit, what’s next?
Boost your self-awareness with these tips:
Celebrate Your Wins
Boundaries and Priorities
Shiny object syndrome
Design your Environment
How do set create a positive environment to be successful:
Put your phone away
Learn to do nothing
Journal non-productive thoughts
Brain Dump when your brain is racing
Take specific action steps to better relationships by:
Ask More Questions: Listen 2 x as much as speaking
Put Others First
Don’t Procrastinate – do it now
Engage in Self-Improvement – do one thing every day
Self-awareness is more than an experiment with personal exploration. It’s a broader pursuit of living outside of your own immediate needs and being present, genuine and appreciative of the many gifts in our life – people, health, livelihood, etc.
In a world that revolves around the next ‘like’, having perspective on your strengths and how to apply them, can lead to a more fulfilling life experience for you and those that you care for.
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta had a very wise adviser who understood the speech of animals. He understood what they said, and he could speak to them in their languages.
One day the adviser was wandering along the riverbank with his followers. They came upon some fishermen who had cast a big net into the river. While peering into the water, they noticed a big, handsome fish following his pretty wife.
Her shining scales reflected the morning sunlight in all the colors of the rainbow. Her feather-like fins fluttered like the delicate wings of a fairy, as they sent her gliding through the water. It was clear that her husband was so entranced by the way she looked and the way she moved, that he was not paying attention to anything else!
As they came near the net, the wife fish smelled it. Then she saw it and alertly avoided it at the very last moment. But her husband was so blinded by his desire for her, that he could not turn away fast enough. Instead, he swam right into the net and was trapped!
The fishermen pulled in their net and threw the big fish onto the shore. They built a fire and carved a spit to roast him on.
Lying on the ground, the fish was flopping around and groaning in agony. Since the wise adviser understood fish talk, he translated for the others. He said, “This poor fish is madly repeating over and over again:
“My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!
‘My wife! My wife! I must be with my wife! I care for her much more than for my life!”
The adviser thought, “Truly this fish has gone crazy. He is in this terrible state because he became a slave to his own desire. And it is clear that he has learned nothing from the results of his actions. If he dies keeping such agony, and the desire that caused it, in his mind, he will surely continue to suffer by being reborn in some hell world. Therefore, I must save him!”
So this kind man went over to the fishermen and said, “Oh my friends, loyal subjects of our king, you have never given me and my followers a fish for our curry. Won’t you give us one today?”
They replied, “Oh royal minister, please accept from us any fish you wish!” “This big one on the riverbank looks delicious,” said the adviser. “Please take him, sir,” they said.
Then he sat down on the bank. He took the fish, who was still groaning, into his hands. He spoke to him in the language only fish can understand, saying, “You foolish fish! If I had not seen you today, you would have gotten yourself killed. Your blind desire was leading you to continued suffering. From now on, do not let yourself be trapped by your own desires!”
Then the fish realized how fortunate he was to have found such a friend. He thanked him for his wise advice. The minister released the lucky fish back into the river and went on his way.
The moral is: Fools are trapped by their own desires.
In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important then ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.
Here are 10 tips to help you develop effective listening skills.
Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.
Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent? Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.
In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. That doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on a conversation from across the room, or from another room, but if the conversation continues for any length of time, you (or the other person) will get up and move. The desire for better communication pulls you together.
Do your conversational partners the courtesy of turning to face them. Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at them, even if they don’t look at you. Shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, along with cultural taboos, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances. Excuse the other guy, but stay focused yourself.
Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.
Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. The dictionary says that to “attend” another person means to:
apply or direct yourself
remain ready to serve
Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or biases.
Step 3: Keep an open mind.
Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don’t say to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener.
Listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.
Don’t be a sentence-grabber. Occasionally my partner can’t slow his mental pace enough to listen effectively, so he tries to speed up mine by interrupting and finishing my sentences. This usually lands him way off base, because he is following his own train of thought and doesn’t learn where my thoughts are headed. After a couple of rounds of this, I usually ask, “Do you want to have this conversation by yourself, or do you want to hear what I have to say?” I wouldn’t do that with everyone, but it works with him.
Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.
Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture, or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, key words and phrases.
When it’s your turn to listen, don’t spend the time planning what to say next. You can’t rehearse and listen at the same time. Think only about what the other person is saying.
Finally, concentrate on what is being said, even if it bores you. If your thoughts start to wander, immediately force yourself to refocus.
Step 5: Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”
Children used to be taught that it’s rude to interrupt. I’m not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned, if not encouraged.
Interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says:
“I’m more important than you are.”
“What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
“I don’t really care what you think.”
“I don’t have time for your opinion.”
“This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”
We all think and speak at different rates. If you are a quick thinker and an agile talker, the burden is onyouto relax your pace for the slower, more thoughtful communicator—or for the guy who has trouble expressing himself.
When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions. Most of us don’t want your advice anyway. If we do, we’ll ask for it. Most of us prefer to figure out our own solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get the speaker’s permission. Ask, “Would you like to hear my ideas?”
Step 6: Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.
When you don’t understand something, of course you should ask the speaker to explain it to you. But rather than interrupt, wait until the speaker pauses. Then say something like, “Back up a second. I didn’t understand what you just said about…”
Step 7: Ask questions only to ensure understanding.
At lunch, a colleague is excitedly telling you about her trip to Vermont and all the wonderful things she did and saw. In the course of this chronicle, she mentions that she spent some time with a mutual friend. You jump in with, “Oh, I haven’t heard from Alice in ages. How is she?” and, just like that, discussion shifts to Alice and her divorce, and the poor kids, which leads to a comparison of custody laws, and before you know it an hour is gone and Vermont is a distant memory.
This particular conversational affront happens all the time. Our questions lead people in directions that have nothing to do with where they thought they were going. Sometimes we work our way back to the original topic, but very often we don’t.
When you notice that your question has led the speaker astray, take responsibility for getting the conversation back on track by saying something like, “It was great to hear about Alice, but tell me more about your adventure in Vermont.”
Step 8: Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.
If you feel sad when the person with whom you are talking expresses sadness, joyful when she expresses joy, fearful when she describes her fears—and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is assured. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening.
To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be her at that moment. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy and concentration. But it is a generous and helpful thing to do, and it facilitates communication like nothing else does.
Step 9: Give the speaker regular feedback.
Show that you understand where the speaker is coming from by reflecting the speaker’s feelings. “You must be thrilled!” “What a terrible ordeal for you.” “I can see that you are confused.” If the speaker’s feelings are hidden or unclear, then occasionally paraphrase the content of the message. Or just nod and show your understanding through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hmmm” or “uh huh.”
The idea is to give the speaker some proof that you are listening, and that you are following her train of thought—not off indulging in your own fantasies while she talks to the ether.
In task situations, regardless of whether at work or home, always restate instructions and messages to be sure you understand correctly.
Step 10: Pay attention to whatisn’tsaid—to nonverbal cues.
If you exclude email, the majority of direct communication is probably nonverbal. We glean a great deal of information about each other without saying a word. Even over the telephone, you can learn almost as much about a person from the tone and cadence of her voice than from anything she says. When I talk to my best friend, it doesn’t matter what we chat about, if I hear a lilt and laughter in her voice, I feel reassured that she’s doing well.
Face to face with a person, you can detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation very quickly in the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you can’t ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.
For at least one week, at the end of every conversation in which information is exchanged, conclude with a summary statement. In conversations that result in agreements about future obligations or activities, summarizing will not only ensure accurate follow-through, it will feel perfectly natural. In conversations that do not include agreements, if summarizing feels awkward just explain that you are doing it as an exercise.
The lucky door in life is always inadvertently opened. Maybe it’s the blessings from the Buddha and Boddhisatva.
I remember that day, a critical turning pointin my life.I was exercising in the community that day, a surnamed Meng dharma sister asked me to worship the Buddha in the Buddhist Hall nearby. I agreed with her as soon as I heard the invitation. The dharma brothers and sisters made me feel at home. It’s totally different from the people I met in my life, most of whom treated me courteously but without sincerity. So I decided to chant sutras and listen to the recorded discourses expounded by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III with dharma brothers and sisters. I felt like it’s the place that I should come. Then I couldn’t help crying when chanting sutras, and I would repent. Every time after listening the recorded Buddha dharma discourses, I was filled with endless power.
To my shame, I never settle down to study, but hurry to come and leave the Buddhist Hall owing to busy work. With my diligence for listening the dharma discourses, I make progress and schedule time for study in the Buddhist Hall. Undoubtedly, we want to lead a good life, but learning Buddhism is more important, we can and we have to plan enough time for study.
On the National Day in 2016, I gave up travelling with my family but took part in the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Great Compassion Empowerment Dharma Assembly, from which, I truly knew the great Buddha Dharma is true and real. The next day I converted to Buddhism. I was earnest and pious in studying Buddhism after conversion.
The Buddha taught us to conduct cultivation and introspection, to conduct three introspections in the course of a day. I found myself did many things that I should not do in the past, including killing other living beings. When I realized the retribution of killing, I decided not to kill, while turned to vegan at dinner, and on the first day and the fifteenth day of the lunar calendar.
I’ve been doing prostrations since the dharma assembly. Now I have a fit body and my wine tummy is gone. My blood pressure used to be a little bit high, but now it’s stable. I don’t feel panic or worried if travelling by plane or driving. I sleep well all night after chanting H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
Some people think that it takes time to learn Buddhism and it will affect the business and work. However, my business is more prosperous since I’ve taken Buddhism. Numerous long-term orders come for me. Several days ago, the municipal government called me for delivery. I was surprised, because I didn’t have the resource superiority. I focused on social engagement and seldom stayed at home in the past. Now I cherish and care about my family. My son usually asks me to spend time with him. Taking Buddhism makes me healthier and my family relationships more harmonious.
I truly know that Buddhism brings me happiness, so I am determined to do my best to make offerings to Buddha Halls. With the help from dharma brothers and sisters, I set up a Buddha Hall at home. My family also join me to study Buddhism.
All above is my own experience. I hope everyone has the karmic affinity to study the true Dharma of Tathagata. We all eager for a happy life, but making money is only a part of it. The health and happiness we have on this side is temporary, while attaining the accomplishment and liberation on the other side is the truth.
My husband and I have a son and a daughter. My daughter was employed in a bank and my son ran a chemical business in the bonded area. Although the competition was fierce, my son was smart and flexible, he made his career. Soon the children grew to the age for marriage, we bought a car and a big suite at the lake scenic area. Then we had a daughter-in-law, married our daughter. We became grandparents the second year. My husband and I learned Buddhism and cultivation while taking care of our grandchildren. We lived a full life and enjoyed the happiness of our family. After two years’happy life, my son wanted to switch to project contraction because of the hard competition and low profit in the chemistry business. No matter how we discouraged him, he didn’t change his mind. Finally, we urged him not to gamble or turn to high-risk lenders, he should think twice and keep wits on dealing matters. My son flew to different cities to struggle for business. The assets could reach to ten million at most. At the peak of his career, he undertook hundreds of millions of decoration projects and led hundreds of workers. We often asked him about the business, he always understated the situation and told us not to worry, he said what we need to do was learning Buddhism and taking good care of the grandchild. Later, my son came back home more and more frequently, and he avoided answering phones in front of us. We became nervous. It was after different people came for millions of debts that we knew what was a bolt from the blue. I used to hear that Jack was bankrupt, Tom was cheated and John had an accident, but I didn’t expect that it was our turn. It turned out that my son put a lot of money into the project, and he also borrowed millions of money for emergency. The first party has to pay some money after the project passed the acceptance checks, but it withheld the money and didn’t fulfill the contract. My son sued the first party after he failed to get the money back in several months. However, the creditors were demanding to be paid every day. It is compulsory to pay what you owe. We deeply knew that we couldn’t err on the causality, so we tried our best to help our son to settle debts, but the money we had was still far from enough. We borrowed money from all people we knew without caring about losing faces. However, people usually busily embroidering more flowers on the brocade rather than sending charcoal to the needy on a snowy winter day. In this situation, we sold the house and car to repay most of the debts.
During the process, I remembered what H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III taught us: everyone knows to cultivate themselves in prosperity, the problem is how to deal with it in adversity? When you rise with money and power, or when you’re down and out with pain, can you remain the inner peace no matter how the circumstances change? This is a litmus test for me and my family. Taking Buddhism makes me realize that the process of impermanence is the truth. Our body will go bad, the wealth we have will dwindle, so are the house and car, now they’re just gone in advance. It’s all about causality. As long as we can make ends meet, nothing weighs more than life and death. No matter how rough life is, you must move forward, to make choices between the gain and loss and be strong in the experience. We will experience all kinds of hardships in the way of practice. Only if you want to extricate yourself from suffering do you truly cultivate yourself. To establish a mind determined to leave the cycle of reincarnation helps us leave suffering and obtain happiness in the end.
Though we are difficult in material condition, we have a rich spiritual life. We are lucky to have H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III imparting Buddha dharma in this world, we happily took refuge to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and we listen and learn from the recorded Buddha dharma discourses with great joy. These can’t be bought with gold and silver. Anyway the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me. With the light of Buddhism, my family and I will walk down the path firmly. My son becomes mature after this setback. I believe the lesson is a supporting condition for his life. If we don’t study Buddhism and believe in causality, this disaster may push my family into a doomed vortex. Crying our eyes out, holding grudges, be in a violent rage, collapsed after the straits and trying to commit suicide? No, we don’t behave like that. We settle our debts in causality, and demand unpaid money from the first party through legal methods. Buddhism gives us wisdom and power to deal with everything reasonably and calmly. All negative karmic conditions and sufferings make me and my family to cherish Buddhism and the chance for incarnating as a human being, guiding us to the path of bodhi. I believe every struggle after the hardship is the chance to change fate.
In the famous words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Put simply, gratitude is the intentional practice of noticing the good in your life. It relates to anything that makes you feel grateful, fortunate, or blessed.
It can be easy to get swept away in the fast lane and forget to stop and show your appreciation for what you do have. A life well lived is one of gratitude and thankfulness. Gratitude is the intentional practice of noticing the good in your life. It relates to anything that makes you feel grateful, fortunate, blessed. At this Thanksgiving holidays, we should think more and more about the things we are most grateful for in life.
To help you on your gratitude journey, here are 8 ways to have more gratitude in your daily life not just on Thanksgiving.
1. Don’t be picky: appreciate everything
Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for the “big” things in life. The habit of being grateful starts with appreciating every good thing in life and recognizing that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.
Even if it is as simple as appreciating the clear weather or how quickly your mailman delivered your mail last Friday, don’t leave anything out when practicing your gratitude.
2. Find gratitude in your challenges
Gratitude is not only about being thankful for positive experiences. In fact, sometimes thinking about negative or difficult situations can help to really nail down what you have to be thankful for.
Western Buddhist master Jack Kornfield remembers an exercise he did with a man who was caring for his grandson while his son and daughter-in-law battled a drug addiction. Despite all that he had been through, the man was still able to find gratitude for the amount of compassion he had learned to show and the impact he was able to have on other people.
Dig a little deeper into some of your own past experiences and try to figure out how they have helped shape you into the person you are today.
3. Practice mindfulness
Sit down daily and think through five to ten things you are grateful for. The trick is that you need to picture it in your mind and sit with that feeling of gratitude in your body. Doing this every day will rewire your brain to be naturally more grateful, and you’ll start feeling happier after every session.
It only takes eight weeks of gratitude practice for people to start showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness.
Your brain is a powerful tool, and training it towards gratitude is all part of ensuring that the gratitude comes more easily as you practice, so what are you waiting for?
4. Keep a gratitude journal
After your mindfulness session, write down your positive thoughts! Keeping a journal of all of the things you are thankful for can help you keep track of and refer back to the positives in your life.
Write down your positive thoughts to further focus your attention on the subject. While you are putting the pen to paper, you have no choice but to consciously think about the words you are writing without other distracting, ungrateful thoughts.
You can journal every day after your gratitude practice, or you can come back to the journal on a regular schedule weekly or monthly.
For many people, the key to having more gratitude is to give back to others in their local community. Not only will it make you more grateful for the things that you may take for granted, but studies have shown that volunteering for the purpose of helping others increases our own well-being, and thus our ability to have more gratitude.
University of Pennsylvania professor, Martin Seligman, supports this theory with his research in Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being. After testing all kinds of variables that help improve our well-being, he found that volunteering is the single most reliable way to momentarily increase your well-being.
In other words: helping others helps you!
6. Express yourself
Sometimes it’s not enough to simply keep your gratitude to yourself. You can increase your feelings of gratitude by expressing that same gratitude to the people you care about.
Soul Pancake, a group that works to discover the “science of happiness,” ran an experiment where they encouraged people to write a letter to a person they were grateful for. By itself, this exercise increased their levels of happiness from 2 to 4%. However, when the same people made a phone call to the person they were thankful for to express their gratitude directly, happiness levels jumped from 4% to 19%.
Not only does expressing your gratitude for someone make their day a little brighter, but it can do wonders for increasing your own levels of gratitude and happiness in the long run
7. Spend time with loved ones
If you’re struggling with feeling the gratitude in the moment, go spend time with your friends and family. Of course it will help you grow closer to them and strengthen your relationship, but it will also give you a chance to practice your acts of gratitude on people that you care about.
Start small if they’re having trouble finding ways to support your friends and family. For instance, why don’t you make sure you’re listening intently the next time someone shares a story with you instead of waiting for your own chance to speak? Or start a conversation with a difficult member of the family by complimenting their new shoes or hair-cut.
8. Improve your happiness in other areas of your life
Being grateful can make you happy, but being happy can also make you grateful. There are plenty of other ways to get your mood up, including exercising or participating in a hobby you enjoy.
Once you are feeling the endorphins flow, showing gratitude will become even easier and you’ll start to be able to make list after list of all of the things in your life you’re thankful for.
It has been nearly three years since the COVID-19 pandemic broke throughout the world. Statistics tell us at least 201 countries and regions across the globe reported confirmed cases, accumulating to more than 620 million cases, over 6 million of which resulted in death. The coronavirus pandemic created chaos in the world order, directly affecting the health of hundreds of millions of people and resulting in fumbled responses early on from some of the world’s best-equipped countries.
Strict lockdown measures were implemented to stem the spread of the disease, and the resulting interruption to human travel, financial systems, and logistics of all areas resulted in broad and serious consequences to the economy, culture, travel, education, medical systems, mental health, social habits, and overall wellbeing. As the world stepped up to fight the pandemic, resources and people were mobilized in countries of every size to find solutions—large and small—that solve the many pandemic-related concerns we now face.
National medical systems treated the sick as private-sector pharma rushed to develop vaccines, treatments, medications and medical equipment. Governments issued emergency relief funds while churches and non-profits turned their attention to addressing the need for medical supplies. The goal was a unified one—to stop the virus from spreading and ending life.
The Buddhist community responded in kind as COVID-19 began to ravage communities in every country. The Pope of World Buddhism, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, took the lead to donate protective and pandemic-fighting supplies to public service organizations and hospitals. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said to people, “The emergence of the pandemic is due to cause and effect. There have been many pandemics of different types and forms in the history of human society. Covid-19 is a contagious pandemic, which means it is infectious. It can morph into different variations due to changes in human body and the weather conditions and cause new infections to people. That, however, will result in the generation of anti-bodies in humans. Although this disease cannot be fully exterminated, vaccines can be quite effective in protecting humans. Therefore, don’t stress out, and don’t worry. Do what the government asks you to do. Follow the government’s regulations. Get vaccinated so that you can protect yourself and your family. Do know that humans will not be stopped by the pandemic. At the end, everything will be reopened, because the nation will not be stopped, and the world will not be stopped.”
As foretold by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, humans have gradually developed anti-bodies and vaccines and treatments have arrived. Global pandemic prevention policies continue to evolve, and the pandemic started to ease in 2021. In September of 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that, “although we are not there yet, the end of the COVID-19 pandemic is in sight.”
The World Buddhism Association Headquarters is a non-profit religious organization in the United States which has many branch Buddhist organizations, associations, Buddhism-learning academies, temples, Dharma centers, and Dharma-listening locations in the world. The purpose of the association is to spread the pure and supreme Buddha’s teachings and Dharma voices of Namo H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and Namo Shakyamuni Buddha to Buddhists, promoting that people abide by these teachings to do good deeds, give, practice compassion, abstain from bad deeds, and commit to all good conduct. By altruistically contributing and dedicating oneself to the nation and society, the world can be filled with auspiciousness.
With Buddhist Dharma assemblies on specific Buddhist occasions, attendees chant Buddhist Sutras, prostrate themselves and pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to grant blessings and protections to all. The holy birthday of Medicine Guru Buddha—known by many names and the Lord of the Pure Lapis Lazuli World of the East—lands on the 29th day of the 9th month in the lunar calendar. The Medicine Buddha made twelve great vows and vowed to cure diseases and pain for living beings of the worlds in ten directions in their current lifetime, to let living beings obtain happiness and peace of mind, to increase living beings’ fortune and longevity, and to guide living beings to liberation. All Buddhists respect and admire Medicine Guru Buddha for His vows and their effect on current beings.
In accordance, the World Buddhism Association Headquarters held two Dharma events on October 29 and October 30 to honor Namo Medicine Buddha’s holy birthday. On October 29th, a Dharma Assembly was held in the inner bay of Marian Del Ray, California to release captured lives in observance of the Buddha-Stipulated Day of Releasing Lives. October 30th, the Dharma Assembly convene to respectfully celebrate the birthday of Namo Medicine Buddha at the Holy Miracles Temple in Pasadena, California. Several hundred Buddhists from across the world attended, including holy gurus, eminent monastics, rinpoches, acaryas, Dharma-listening masters, and householders.
The Holy Miracles Temple is owned by the World Buddhism Association Headquarters. It is a temple where authentic Buddha Dharma is practiced and where many real Buddha Dharma’s holy feats have been manifested and shown to the world.
Within the temple, the Grand Hall of Shakyamuni Buddha is presently the only Inner-Tantric Mandala in the world—a place where Two Great Dharma Requirements have been met. Within the hall, the Pope of World Buddhism Namo H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has presided over many significant holy Dharma Assemblies which manifested the powers of Buddha Dharma, transmitted unparalleled Buddha Dharmas to disciples, and imparted the universal truth. His Holiness illuminates the grand path to liberation that encompasses both the practices of cultivation and Dharma.
Among the temple’s other wonders is the Hall of Buddha Dipankara and the Holy Hall of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. On March 7, 2014, the Holy Blessing Dharma Assembly was held in the place that is now the Hall of Buddha Dipankara to celebrate the First Issue of Imparting the Absolute Truth Through Heart Sutra, a Buddhist Sutra imparted by Namo H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. There, onlookers witnessed a number of Buddhas bestow holy amritas of three different colors, shining down through the roof, passed through a crystal bowl cover into the empty Dharma Bowl.
Today, the Hall of Buddha Dipankara is a sanctuary for Buddhists to light lamps in offering and increase their merits. Great Holy Gurus, Holy Gurus, and Dharma masters chant mantras, read out Buddhist Sutras, and practice Dharmas to pray for and bless lamp lighters. It is said, when one lights the bright lamp of blessing in front of Buddha Dipankara in the holy hall where amritas were once bestowed, the blessings power outshines that of any brought by lamps lit in common-place halls.
In the Holy Hall of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the holy statue of Namo Great Compassionate Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is placed for people to worship. In this hall, the body of Shengzun Yinhai, a noted disciple of Namo H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, was placed after his passing. During the month his body resided in the hall in the Holy Miracles Temple, a series of divine transformations and holy feats took place. His body transformed as, from the tenth day of his passing, the wrinkles on his visage began to disappear and his bones and muscles began grew fuller. His complexion was rosy once more and his hair and fingernails continued to grow. Shengzun Yinhai transformed and realized a non-decaying vajra body—a state never before witnessed in Buddhist history. This transformation marked a new holy chapter in the history of Buddhist accomplishments after passing, and the western media was quick to report on the media.
The Dharma Assembly to Respectfully Celebrate the Buddha’s Birthday of Namo Medicine Buddha was held in the Grand Hall of Shakyamuni Buddha of the Holy Miracles Temple on October 30. The Vice Chairperson of the World Buddhism Association Headquarters and also the Honorable Chairperson of the International Buddhism Sangha Association, Jiaozun Zhengda, who is a holy guru of Gold Button Level II, together with the Abbot of the Hua Zang Si Temple, Ruzun Ruohui, a holy guru of Gold Button Level I, as well as the Abbot of the Sanger Mission Bodhi Monastery, Dharma Master Juehui presided over the Dharma ceremony. Notable holy gurus, eminent monks and nuns, and monastics led the Buddhist chanting. The attendees chanted the Bhaisajya Guru Vaidurya Prabha Raja Sutra—The Medicine Guru Vaidurya Prabha Tathagata’s Fundamental Vows Merit Sutra—in synchronicity.
With praises to the Buddha and offerings made to the Buddha, the two Dharma events included chanting the sutra and the mantras as well as releasing lives. The assembly returned the merits to and prayed for the living beings in the world, praying to Namo Medicine Buddha and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions to give blessings and to protect living beings so that the pandemic is eradicated from the world, peace and friendship persist internationally, the world rids itself of calamity and all enjoy good fortune, health, and longevity.
Among Caucasian female Rinpoches, Respected Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche is one of outstanding cultivation. She has realized the power to telekinetically awaken a vajra pill. In order to seek the highest dharma, in her early years she learned under Japanese, Korean, and American Buddhist masters. Still, she did not obtain the true Buddha-dharma. She went through all kinds of hardships in her search for the supreme Buddha-dharma master. Finally, she was accepted by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as a disciple, deeply penetrated the Buddha-dharma, and fulfilled her wish. The rinpoche is very conversant in English material on the various dharma lineages and their history.
Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche personally witnessed many of the holy states associated with His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III. She was present, for example, when the magnolia tree under which His Holiness was sitting began to rain nectar and continued raining nectar for three days and nights. She was also present when this happened a few years later on her Buddha Master’s birthday. She saw the various miracles that occurred at the Bathing of the Buddha Dharma Assembly including seeing her roommate and another fellow disciple lift a pool of water that weighed over two tons. She has seen the countless Buddha Lights that accompany His Holiness and appear at the Holy Vajrasana Temple and other places associated with the true Buddha-dharma. She heard the holy vajra pill chant mantras and watched it turn into colored light and fly away. It was at that time that she saw her Buddha Master turn into a luminous blue manifestation.
Since she has began following her most magnificent Buddha Master, she has received many, many inner tantra dharma initiations.
The Mud Pill Holy Dharma is a Highest Form of Inner-Tantric State-Practice Initiation contained in The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. It is one way to prove that someone actually has the true Buddha-dharma and can help liberate other living beings. The process for becoming a saint in Catholicism is quite similar. A person has to have exhibited a pure, moral, and kind life and demonstrate some sort of miracle. The opening of the crown in the skull without any visible means on the surface of the skull is such a miracle! But scientific tests show that there indeed is such an opening!
The Mud Pill dharma from The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation is unique in that such dharma can be practiced by the practitioner of any religion. Although one needs to be a good person with deep roots of kindness, one does not need become a Buddhist to practice it. However, one must be careful in applying this dharma. It can be used to have the consciousness leave and return to the body, and it can be useful at the time of leaving this earth. But if your crown has been so opened, you must strictly abide by the Mud Pill Path Fruit Precepts. If you violate any of those precepts, you must repent that same day. If you repent a day later, your crown will close and you will not attain liberation. But if you abide by the precepts, you will be able to go immediately to the heaven or paradise of your choice after death. You do not need to pass through the bardo. A Christian’s soul would go the Christian Heaven to be with Jesus, while a Hindu would have his consciousness merge with Universal Consciousness (Supreme Cosmic Spirit) in the formless realms or go to the Brahman Heavens of the Form Realm, and so on. In an oral discourse on the dharma, the Buddha Master expounded that our crowns must be opened for us to go to any of the higher realms. What we call consciousness and others refer to as the soul or “spirit” exits the body at the time of death. The means by which it exits determines the next life. The Buddhist sutras also state that if the exit is through the souls of the feet or Yong-Quan gate, one goes to the hell realms; the lower orifices, one becomes an animal; or the navel, one becomes a hungry ghost. The part of the body that determines where the consciousness/soul/spirit of the person goes will remain warm after the rest of the body becomes cold. If one’s heart is warm and the rest of the body is cold, one is reborn to the human realm to be a human. If the throat or the throat gate is hot and the rest of the body is cold, one becomes an Asura. If one’s body is cold and the Mud Pill gate, or fontanelle, is hot, one becomes a deva or a heavenly being. When one is liberated and/or is reborn into a Buddha land, the exit place will be at the Da-Le gate, i.e. the top gate right in the middle of the skull. I remember Dr. Mitchell Levy at Zion, Illinois reporting that after the Sixteenth Karmapa departed this world, to his and the rest of the hospital staff’s amazement, the area around his heart remained warm for a very long time, which would imply that he would be reborn as a human.
The “Mud Pill” dharma does not enable one to become a Bodhisattva. It only enables one to become an immortal and go to the heavenly realms. It can demonstrate that one’s physical body has the qualities of a holy being. However, there are many kinds of holy beings. It does not mean that as long as you have your crown opened it can be said that you are a great holy being. This is true no matter what type of crown opening you receive—either from the Ni-wan Dharma or the Vajra Substitute Body Meditation Dharma. These crown openings belong to the initial stage of a holy being. They are not great holy beings who truly attain the level of perfect liberation. His Holiness has made it very clear that even for the dharma of Vajra Substitute Body Meditation, the opening of the crown should reveal a hole as big as an egg. Moreover, there should be a deep hole in the brain. It does not count if one just has an opening of the scalp or scull bone. His Holiness taught us that using scientific exams alone is not enough to determine the success of a crown opening. In front of the watchful eyes of many people, testing and verification of the crown opening must take place based on Buddha-dharma rules. There is 100% proof that the crown opening was successful when three peacock feathers hanging over the crown of the person tested move about as a result of his consciousness leaving his body or his energy leaving his crown.
Here is what Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche experienced when she received Mud Pill Holy Dharma Initiation.
My own experience in receiving and practicing the Mud Pill Dharma of The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation was incredible. I find it difficult to describe in any way that can explain what happened in a believable way. Fortunately, I have the MRI photos that can show the success or fruit of my efforts. I truly believe that these pictures are “worth a thousand words” as far as demonstrating the results, but let me try and tell as much as I can about how they came about. As I have mentioned elsewhere, one does not usually talk about the empowerments and holy inner-tantric initiations one has received. In fact, we are prohibited from doing so according to the dharma. This is an inviolable rule especially with respect to State Practice Initiations. However, I will describe what I am permitted to describe in order to provide non-Chinese speaking people with more specific information about the magnificence of the true Buddha-dharma.
First, it was a beautiful, balmy day. The sun was shining brightly with a slight breeze, providing ideal weather. I sat under a large orange tree next to a calm pool. My assistant sat behind me and was some distance away from me. She faced the opposite direction since she could not witness the ceremony. Of course, I cannot give the particulars of the ceremony itself, but what I can tell you is that my magnificent Master was not in any way near me. His Holiness never touched me or my head before, during or after the ceremony. In fact, my Master was on one side of the yard and I on the other during the ceremony. His Holiness used His mind to accomplish this transmission of the Buddha-dharma to me. His Holiness continued to pray for me while I practiced the dharma. His Holiness prayed that I be a most kindhearted person, that I always benefit all living beings, that I always wish my country and its people be at peace, that I always wish all living beings be free from disasters and hardships, and that I always wish all sentient beings be eternally happy. After I received this dharma, I sat and chanted a certain mantra silently. When I experienced a bright, distinct holy state, I began chanting the same mantra loudly to thank the Emperor of Heaven—also known as the Jade Emperor— for receiving me. My place in the celestial realms as an immortal had been insured. Right then and there my practice of the dharma caused the Emperor of Heaven to descend and open the crown of my head. The wondrous state that appeared before me was extremely clear. There was no doubt that something supernatural had happened!
After the ceremony my Master still did not touch my crown, including the entire time from when I received the dharma until year of 2010 at a medical center where I went to have a MRI image made of my head. Even if the Buddha Master had opened the “Gate of Heaven” on my crown by touching my head, such a power would have exceeded that of all of the Buddhist patriarchs throughout the generations. Even without touching my head, the Buddha Master enabled me to experience the supernatural state through mind transmission alone. I still wondered, “Could this just be an illusion?” It was, after all, an incredible accomplishment. I knew that in ancient times many great sages had devoted their entire lives and resources to achieving this to no avail. Why was I able to realize it?
As soon as I returned from the MRI center, I put the CD of the procedure on a computer. I knew from personally witnessing the beautiful holy state that the ceremony had been a success, but what would the MRI scans show? Would modern medical science be able to see this crown opening? Would the photos record that which is not visible to the naked eye? We were not disappointed. The results were phenomenal! The MRI image showed exactly what should appear according to a discourse given by my Master on this subject—that the Emperor of Heaven connected with me and opened my crown with a hole that was at least an inch wide. The bone around the opening even curved downward to allow for the opening. It was as if the bone had been transformed to a soft wax that could easily be shaped into a different form. Some of the images showed the opening from different angles. It was amazing! Who could believe it? Yet when I looked in the mirror, there was no sign of any change on my crown. No scars, no marks, nothing was visible to the ordinary eye. However, the sophisticated scientific instruments at the MRI center clearly showed a large opening in my crown. It went all the way through the bone into the soft tissue of my brain. It was so amazing. To the average person, this was a miracle! To a holy being, this was supernormal! I now had the body of a holy being and could prove it!
After the image was recorded, I deeply understood that my powers were not yet mature enough. Therefore, I decided to temporarily close my crown to prevent my consciousness from leaving my body and not returning or riding the clouds to heaven before my time has come. That way, I can remain in this world for a while longer. If I abide by the Mud Pill Dharma precepts, I will be received by the Emperor of Heaven and the other celestial beings and be able to continue my study and practice of the Buddha-dharma in paradise. If I become accomplished in the Buddha-dharma in this lifetime, my Da-Le gate will automatically open and I will be able to go to the Buddha-lands. Should I be able to go to the Buddha-lands, the celestial beings will come to escort me there. My Buddha Master is magnificent. I sincerely pray that all living beings have the opportunity to receive this blessed dharma. My gratitude to my Buddha Master is without limits.
How would you define a “spiritual entrepreneur?” Would you cite yoga teachers or therapists as examples? Well, spiritual entrepreneurs are not any different from other entrepreneurs in terms of the services they provide. What makes a regular entrepreneur a spiritual one is their sense of purpose. These are the business people driven by their desire to help, not by a love for money.
How does one maximize business success as a spiritual entrepreneur?
Law of Attraction and Divine Transmission expert Divina Caballo introduces a new way of spiritual entrepreneurship – where profits meet the purpose. Wanting both financial gains and spiritual entrepreneurship might seem counterintuitive, but they are not. Caballo lists three ways by which every spiritual entrepreneur can enjoy a wealth of both – profits and purpose.
Clearly Define Your Measures of Success
Business success means different things to different people. So what does it mean to you? Before you begin working on ways to maximize something, Caballo recommends spending some time defining the metrics of measurement.
She says, “Running blindly, goalless like a headless chicken, will not do you any good. Sit down. Take a minute. Think. And note down the end goal.”
From the number of clients you need to the brand image you have in mind, make a note of all the vital cornerstones of your business. Making concrete financial plans, along with cementing other actionable goals, goes a long way.
Be A ‘Work in Progress’
The shift to a spiritual entrepreneur begins with a mindset change. Every day will be a new learning experience, but as long as your mind remains closed off to them, no experience could succeed in teaching you something new.
Divina Caballo advises, “Before you commence your journey of being of service to others, make a commitment to yourself to embrace learning for a lifetime. Discovering self-expression is where it all begins, and you build from there on.”
This might seem not very clear at first. You might be wondering what your innermost self has got anything to do with helping other people. And according to Caballo, you do not need to look too far for the answer. “There are many different types of spiritual entrepreneurs, and each type differs greatly from the next. But there is one thing that they all have in common: they are all working towards a goal that lies closest to their hearts.”
Find People Who Click with You
Business is all about community, and that rings truer than ever when it comes to spiritual business. So find your community and build your audience.
“Realistically speaking, one can use social media as a reliable medium to gather like-minded individuals united by a shared cause greater than any one of them that binds them together in service for eternity,” says Caballo.
Not unlike most other businesses today, social media also proves to be an excellent channel to promote one’s business. As an entrepreneur, you can not only attract potential clients there, but you can also find inspiration and ideas from other people.