A Counsellor/Single Mum and Socially Engaged Buddhist Shares her Spiritual Practice – Part 1

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“My name is Carmen andd I have practiced with Bodhicitta Foundation sangha in Australia for about 4 years. I would say that I am an off and on practitioner depending on how my life is going in general. When things are going relatively well, my Buddhist practice tends to shift in the background and it becomes less of presence in my life, still there but gently humming in the background like an air conditioner on a hot, dry day. When things are not going so well…..well it becomes a fierce presence in my life and feels like a constant fire burning in my belly. I am daily reminded of the teachings that Buddha taught – lessons about change and impermanence, the nature of suffering, 3 poisons, karma and also the general remedies that alleviate suffering – compassion, generosity, kindness, patience and above all else, make life meaningful by remembering other sentient beings suffer too and also need my help. By experiencing personal suffering it makes me feel more connected with and compassionate towards all sentient beings, which if you can turn around, is a gift, and from that place of hurt and pain, love flows freely.water

It was having a baby that really taught me about the heart of bodhicitta. I don’t think I have ever felt a love like it before for another sentient being, well I thought I may have experienced it from time to time when I lived in India volunteering in a slum community. Really I felt so incredibly happy there despite the living conditions being very harsh for a soft westerner used to all the comforts of home. Forgetting about oneself and immersing myself in another world and devoting myself to serving others….. well….it brought me incredible moments of clarity, peace and joy unlike anything else I have tried. It was at that moment I decided that helping others is the key to my own happiness and from that moment on I have tried to pursue those values in my professional life.

Even then I got to close the door and lock the world out when I needed a few hours respite from the crazy heat, noise and chaos of the Indian streets. Not so when you have a baby and life changes so drastically! Uh –oh…I realised this particular suffering I was going to have to face head on!”

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