Authors: Timber Hawkeye
BUDDHIST BOOT CAMP
by Timber Hawkeye
The intention is to awaken, enlighten, enrich and inspire
This book is dedicated to you.
Buddhism is all about training the mind, and boot camp is an ideal training method for this generation’s short attention span. The chapters in this small book can be read in any order, and are simple and easy to understand. Each story, inspirational quote, and teaching offers mindfulness-enhancing techniques that anyone can relate to. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to find the Buddha’s teachings motivational. As the Dalai Lama says, “Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.”
So whether it’s Mother Teresa’s acts of charity, Gandhi’s perseverance, or your aunt Betty’s calm demeanor, as long as you’re motivated to be better today than you were yesterday, it doesn’t matter who inspires you. Regardless of religion, geographical region, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, flexibility, or vulnerability, if you do good you feel good, and if you do bad you feel bad.
Buddhism isn’t just about meditating. It’s about rolling up your sleeves to relieve some of the suffering in the world. If you are ready to be a soldier of peace in the army of love, welcome to Buddhist Boot Camp!
I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on, I go into another room and read a good book. —Groucho Marx
To make a long story short . . .
I sat there in front of the Tibetan Lama, wearing my maroon robes after years of studying Buddhism. “With all due respect,” I said, “I don’t believe the Buddha ever intended for his teachings to get THIS complicated!”
My teacher looked around at all the statues of deities with multiple arms and chuckled, “The Buddha didn’t do this! The Tibetan culture did; this is their way. Why don’t you try Zen? I think you’d like it!”
So I bowed out of the temple, took off my robes, and moved into a Zen monastery far from home. Zen was simpler; that much was true (the walls were blank and I loved it), but the teachings were still filled with all the dogma that sent me running from religion in the first place.
There are many incredible books out there that cover all aspects of religion, philosophy, psychology and physics, but I was looking for something less “academic,” so to speak. I was looking for something inspirational that people today would not only have the attention span to read all the way through, but actually understand and also implement in their daily lives. I pictured a simple guide to being happy, and in it just two words: “Be Grateful.”
Gratitude has a way of turning what we have into enough, and that is the basic idea behind
Buddhist Boot Camp
The short chapters convey everything I have learned over the years in a way that is easy to understand, without you needing to know anything about Buddhism ahead of time. In fact, this book is not about being a Buddhist; it’s about being a Buddha.
It is very possible (and perfectly okay) for someone who is Catholic, Muslim, Atheist or Jewish, for example, to still find the Buddha’s teachings inspirational. You can love Jesus, repeat a Hindu mantra, and still go to temple after morning meditation. Buddhism is not a threat to any religion, it actually strengthens your existing faith by expanding your love to include all beings.
“Boot Camp” is a training method, and Buddhism is all about training the mind. Many people claim they don’t have time to meditate every morning, but still want spiritual guidance without any dogma or rituals attached. That is exactly what
Buddhist Boot Camp
provides in this quick and easy-to-digest format.
You are now a soldier of peace in the army of love; welcome to
Buddhist Boot Camp
Just as we habitually hoard old birthday cards and souvenirs, bank statements and receipts, clothes, broken appliances and old magazines, we also hang on to pride, anger, outdated opinions and fears.
If we’re so attached to tangible things, imagine how difficult letting go of opinions must be (let alone opening our minds to new ideas, perspectives, possibilities and futures). Our beliefs inevitably solidify to be the only truth and reality that we know, which puts a greater distance between us and anyone whose beliefs are different. This distance not only segregates us, it feeds our pride.
All of this grasping, by the way, stems from fear.
Why are we so terrified of change, strangers, the new or the unknown? Has the world not continually shown us beauty, sincerity and love through every generation? Are we so focused on the darkness that we no longer see or even remember the light? This is like
The NeverEnding Story,
if you remember it, wherein the minute people stop believing in a reality, it ceases to exist.
Love is real, people! And it’s all around us. It vibrates beneath every act of kindness, service, art and family.
Fear is also very real; it permeates every doubt, despair, hesitation, hatred, jealousy, anger, pride and deceit.
Habitually contemplate whether your thoughts stem from love or from fear. If your thoughts originate in love, then follow them. But if they originate from a place of fear, then dig deep to find the root of your fear. Only then will you be able to finally let go of it so that fear no longer limits your possibilities.
There’s nothing to complain about, no reason to be afraid, and everything is possible if we live FOR each other.
As far as I’m concerned, anything not meant to benefit others is simply not worth undertaking.
All the happiness in the world stems from wanting others to be happy, and all the suffering in the world stems from wanting the self to be happy. —Shantideva
Your mind is like a spoiled rich kid! You have raised it to think whatever it wants, whenever it wants to and for however long, with no regard for consequence or gratitude. And now that your mind is all grown, it never listens to you! In fact, sometimes you want to focus on something, but your mind keeps drifting away to whatever IT wants to think about. Other times, when you really want to stop thinking about something, your mind “can’t help it.”
Training the mind means being in charge of your decisions instead of succumbing to cravings and so-called “uncontrollable urges.” Can you think of a better method for training a spoiled rich kid than some serious boot camp?
First things first: stop granting yourself everything you crave. Doing so simply conditions the spoiled kid to know that it can continue having whatever it wants.
Please do not mistake this for deprivation, because that’s not what I’m suggesting. You can still have ice cream, for example, but only when you decide to, not when a craving “takes over.” There is a difference.
So when a thought arises, just watch it; don’t react to it. “Oh, I really want ice cream” . . . that’s nice; see what it’s like to want something but not always get it.
The first few times that you try to train your mind you will see the little kid in you throw a tantrum, which is actually hilarious. But it’s understandable; you’ve never said “no” to it before. It’s time you start!
You will eventually notice that you actually have more freedom to choose once you’re in control of your choices. It’s tricky; I just hope this chapter makes sense.
Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out. —Art Linkletter
We are urgently rushing toward some goal or dream, or an ever-elusive “finish line” of some sort. Under the pretense of pursuing happiness (and the heavy weight of questions like “Where do you see yourself five years from now?”), we imagine a different version of ourselves existing in the distant future somewhere—often richer, calmer, stable and wise.
As a result, we spend very little time appreciating where we are today. By being so focused on how things “could be,” we are under-appreciating how great things already are.
Unfortunately, this mindset affects how we approach almost everything else in life: instead of being grateful for what we already have, we exhaust ourselves with cravings and longings for what we haven’t yet achieved; and rather than seeing the beauty and blessing of the friendships and relationships in our lives (and how fortunate we are to have them in the first place), we regard them as inferior to the imaginary versions we’ve created of them in our minds.
If we give ourselves very little credit for how far we’ve already come, we tend to give others little to no credit for their own efforts in life. When we’re impatient with ourselves, how can we possibly be forgiving of others? And as long as we continue judging ourselves when we look in the mirror, we’ll be doing the same to everyone around us.
Wouldn’t it be great to stop, if only for a minute on a regular basis, and reflect on how wonderful everything is?
Pause for a moment and honor the progress you’ve already made in your life, acknowledge the gifts you do have, and appreciate life itself for a few breaths.
We are continually evolving, growing, learning and expanding. And let’s face it, we will never be “done.”
Take a step back and notice how the small details we fret about seem to disappear when we look at the big picture.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. —Douglas Adams