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“The greatest degree of inner tranquillity comes from the development of love and compassion. The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being.” – Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama
In the 6th century, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius was imprisoned, to be sentenced to death by torture. Such rulings were not uncommon during this period. However, Boethius was a well-educated son of an aristocratic family from the late Roman Empire. He was a scholar, a highly regarded statesman, and popular figure in Roman society. As politics go, there were scandals and back room deals. Boethius no longer fit the bill under the new regime and had to go. It was during his time on what we would now call “death row” that Boethius produced a great work which went on to influence people for hundreds of years, the “Consolation of Philosophy.” He took a long, hard look at what he thought to be the foundations of happiness and came to the realization that all he had ever had – status, wealth, power – was a false grasping for happiness.
The following excerpt gives some insight into Boethius’ thoughts: “Contemplate the extent and stability of the heavens, and then at last cease to admire worthless things.” Not only did Boethius realize that worldly possessions did not equate to true internal happiness, he recognized that there was some kind of inexplicable oneness with the universe.
He saw through his own life and fate how free will and God played an important part in the lives of individuals. He recognized the correlation between seeing oneself as separate and having a divine and closer relationship to God as paradoxical. Boethius understood that self-realization, or understanding of our true identity, and our relationship with God were far more important to our happiness than anything else. He wrote, “Lack of self-knowledge is natural in other living creatures, but in humans is a moral blemish.”
Boethius had to learn the hard way, which is why he came to his ultimate realization. We don’t have to be on death row in the middle ages waiting to be tortured to come to an understanding of what it means to be truly happy and free. We can learn from what others have experienced and are trying to tell us through their writings. Boethius saw that external “things” are not conducive to true happiness and that greater meaning can be found internally and through spiritual awakening.
Ten Reminders Which Can Help Us All Live Life More Compassionately and Freely
1. Let go of the need to be right.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We are all only acting according to the information and knowledge we have available to us at the time.
2. Everything we feel emotionally is a result of our internal thought process.
We must realize this before we can move in the direction of true happiness. Sustained happiness will always elude us until we take responsibility for our feelings.
3. Let go of any negative feelings and thoughts you are holding on to.
This may be easier said than done for some. Holding on to negative and harmful emotions and thoughts is wasted energy. We are the ones who end up suffering.
4. Stop seeking happiness.
The pursuit of happiness may be the very thing which stops us from attaining it. Live in the moment and happiness will come naturally.
5. Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
It is only after you understand what another is feeling and thinking that you can show true empathy and compassion.
6. Accept that everything changes and everything will come to pass.
Holding on to baggage will only make your arm weak and sore, so let go of it. Cherish those happy memories and release harmful thought processes.
7. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
Often we place pressure and deadlines on ourselves and our lives. This ends up stifling creativity and fun. We end up spending our lives seeking and achieving, as opposed to being and seeing. We start living in the future, spending our waking moments directed towards the attainment of goals.
8. Stop attaching to things.
We cling to material possessions, people, and relationships, and hope these will make us fulfilled and happy. Attachment actually brings us to a place of wanting, which in turn causes pain and suffering.
9. Forget the Self and think more about helping others.
Studies have shown that people who look out for others and put others first tend to be happier, healthier, and live more fulfilling and compassionate lives. All the great masters are experts at this…
10. Live without regrets.
Everyone has their own set of circumstances and abilities. Live YOUR life, not someone else’s. Make the most of what you have and be grateful for what you have been given.
excerpts from One ~ A Survival Guide for the Future…
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