I have been reading up on Buddhism lately. So far, so good. Based on what I have seen so far I would define the concept of Nirvana as "lasting peace of mind." It is hard to summarise a spiritual path in a single blog post, but Buddhism tells us that: Life Stinks (sometimes), the cause of all suffering is wanting life to be something it's not, and that we can escape suffering by giving up our "ideals" and accepting life as it is.
Some of this I find hard to swallow. If life is less than optimal, why shouldn't we try to create better circumstances for ourselves? Do we "settle" for less and stay where we are? Isn't that the definition of mediocrity, at least by western standards? Like most spiritual paths, Buddhism focuses on spiritual growth as a priority. Better luck in your next life. I feel conflicted about this. I do.
What I did find useful was the Eightfold Path to Nirvana. Things we can do (or not do) everyday to be more centred, happy and relaxed.
This is how I understand the Eighfold Path:
1. See life as it is, not how you want it to be.
2. Don't try to shoehorn life into your idea of what it should be. Same goes for other people.
3. Speak plainly. No drama. No manipulation.
4. Keep life simple :-)
5. Be grateful for your job and do it well. We don't all need to win Nobel Prizes. Spiritual pursuits are important too. Keep the job in perspective.
6. Balance is king! The middle road is sustainable, being a goody two shoes, not so much!
7. Cultivate self-awareness, how do you speak, act and move about. 1st step in mindfulness ...
8. Live in the Now! Meditate
Personally, I thought about the first point and I still want to manoeuver my way around situations that don't feel right. If you don't enjoy your job, find a new one. Don't despair. It won't last forever. Better things are always around the corner. I also think that we have a shared responsibility towards people who have it hard. Maybe the person who was born in abject poverty can't do much to rise above it, but the rest of us could help by rethinking our economic and social systems. War, poverty and inequality are the result of systems we co-created.
Image: Doreen Virtue's Ascended Masters deck.