Please help me to finish it as good as possible. Every comment is welcome and needed. It is written to help to reduce the suffering focusing on Cambodia. Please let me know if there is any mistake or something wrong. As it is not easy to find somebody here we are still trying to transate it into khmer language. The idea is to produce little booklets and share them to traffic participator, patients in Hospitals and so on.
Thanks for you patient and your help!
- A Buddhist view on our daily problems
When you look at the circle you can see people making their rounds on it. There are people in cars, on bikes, on carts, on motorbikes, in aeroplanes and also on feet. What do you think, who is the fastest? Who is the best? Who will win on the circle of traffic? Will it be the man in the car or maybe the man in the aeroplane? What do you think? Are you still sure who is faster?
Select one and turn the circle a little, then prove it again. If you try it several times you may see that in a circle everyone is the first, everyone is right in between and also the last. It only depends on the view and on the perspective of looking at it.
There is no final in a circle - like the circle of life. No beginning and also no end. We are all turning in the circle of life, the circle of birth, aging, sickness and death. As we can understand now death is not the end of the circle; it is just a point on the way, like birth is not the start of a race.
Let us look at the circle again. When we focus on the man in the car we might think that he is faster than the walker, but if we look further it is obvious that he has still a long way to reach the back of the walker. He may turn more rounds on the circle in a certain time span but he will never be faster, better or the winner. He is still on a circle of no start and no end.
As birth, death and all the other happenings in our lives are only points on the circle, there is no need to hurry! We will never be the first or the last, and there is also no need to be faster. The one who is moving fast soon will be behind again. The old one dying today will soon be another youngster after rebirth. No need to waste our energy on rushing! But do prove for yourself if the told is true or not!
We often make the mistake to think only in small distances, only as far as we can see. Like living on a round planet we still believe that the land is plain even and forget that we are on big ball. It is because we can not see the whole, only as far as our horizon is. We often think only from here to there, creating fictive ends or aims that we are after. As soon as we have created one aim there is nothing more important for us than to reach this point. Finally getting there over time we realize that we haven’t accomplished anything. Sometimes it is a place or a material item as a status quo that we cling to. Having stilled the yearning for something special to us it turns out not to function as an actual goal anymore.
How many times do we feel that we are moving too slow and try to accelerate the speed? Remember the circle! Being faster causes only more loops on the circle but still does not let us reach any aim. On a circle there is nothing to call an aim, a start or an end. As soon as we reach a point – we can call it a fictive aim – we suddenly start to search for a new one and when we get to any point boredom and unsatisfaction inevitably set in after a short while. Let’s take the thought of needing to eat out in a restaurant. To get there easily, in a comfortable way and to be there in no time, above all – this all comes to mind within a second. Rushing to find nice clothes we hurry into a comfortable vehicle to bring us to the place where food is served. Once there we are impatiently waiting for the food we have ordered. After the meal uneasiness comes up after having called the waiter several times to pay. In fact boredom has struck in again and thoughts of what to do next at home have come up while waiting for the bill. And so we rush home. In fact, nothing has happened, nothing has changed. The nice food does not give us any pleasant feelings anymore and after a while we will be hungry again. We are still unsatisfied and searching for another aim in the hope it is for real.
What are we searching for? Why are all the uncountable beings keep rushing around in search for something, and what makes them fighting and trying to be better, all of the time? What do we need to find and what is the reason for all the searching?
Happiness! Every being in our world is at one point the same may he be intelligent or primitive, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, small as an ant or big as an elephant, we all want to be happy.
The gecko eats the insect, because he likes to be happy. The woman beats her children because she likes to be happy. The thief steals the car because he likes to be happy. The gangster is selling drugs because he likes to be happy.
One rides a bike, dreaming of a motorbike, thinking he will be happy if he owns one. If we ask a motorbike driver: “Are you happy as it is?” He answers that a car would make him really happy. Asking a rich man in a big car if he is happy will probably leave us unanswered. Too busy to get somewhere else fast to find happiness he won’t even have the time to listen to our question.
How can we find happiness? Can it be found in the circle of life? How can we escape from the circle of life?
First we need to understand what keeps us in the circle and what makes the circle turn around so that we can not escape from it and are not able to find happiness in peace.
In Buddhism the reason what keeps us on the circle like the gravity keeps us on the ground, is called karma. Many understand karma as something mysterious. It is, in fact, a very simple natural rule. Karma is nothing more than your acting. How ever you act, think or speak, will lead to consequences. Karma is caused in the moment you are acting. We can understand karma as a seed created by our actions. If the seed has the right conditions it will ripe and grow. Some acting will cause seeds that will bring us sweet fruits and other will cause bitter fruits. Sometimes the seed grows very quick after the cause and sometimes lifetimes later. Whatever we do the seed will sooner or later ripe and follow us like our shadow. Karma is what we carry with us and what makes us so heavy to be not able to escape from the circle. Maybe we can see it as a big bag of rice that we need to carry. It is so heavy that we are not able to jump high, sometimes it is so heavy that we hardly can carry it. In our hurry sometimes the seeds can not slowly ripe. As the bag grows heavier and we are still trying to be faster we will fall and lot of seeds will ripe fast. So when we are running in a rush we may not see them ripe or may not give them time to ripe for a while. If we move slowly, one by one will ripe and we can start to look at them and we can start to understand karma - the seeds of our acting.
So what keeps us turning and mostly trying to get faster on the circle? The Buddha had explained about the three destructive mindsets: Hate, greed and delusion are the three poisons which are forcing us to turn on the wheel. Hate, greed and delusion are hindering us to let the seeds ripe step by step. Moreover, the poisons of our mind are forcing us to produce more and more karma. Look for yourself if it is true!
Sometimes we are infected by greed and think we must have this or that. We organize a fast vehicle to get it fast, and in that way we are joining the race every day. On the many streets that we once built to reach someplace as fast as possible to get all thought-of-necessarities it is obvious that hate also grows very fast. Not only once do we push the horn because somebody is between us and our aim. We are maybe thinking: “Hey, get lost stupid! I must drive there. Can’t you see?” Anger and hate is growing steadily and we let it out by pushing the gas. Hate and anger let us think that we are strong and fully right and we believe that whatever we do is important. We are strong, fast, better and in the right.
The strong belief in something to be right that turns out to be wrong - or a short distance’s view ignoring the fact that the perspective seen is only a part cut out of a circle - this state of mind is called delusion.
Out of hate, greed and delusion we do so many things wrong forcing more and more hate, greed and delusion, and endless seeds of bitter fruits are born again. Every day we can see the results of the produced karma. Hundreds of people are daily involved into accidents in our capital. The hospitals of our country are full of victims of their own falls. Probably more people are dying in the traffic than in that what we call “war”. In fact, street traffic is our modern kind of war. A war bigger than any war before, had not only involved nearly every country in the world it also makes our nature and environment a suffering part of it.
Sometimes we are not thinking of everything. However, it is a fact that we are all suffering under the causes of the street traffic like dust and noise. Countless diseases like cancer, lung problems, asthma, skin diseases are effected if not caused by it. We already know that the climate is severely changing and many natural catastrophes are caused by this change. Millions of beings like dogs, snakes, frogs, insects and so forth, are constantly dying daily under our wheels.
The money for the vehicles is coming from the forests we still continue to cut. The forest that has been enabling lives over thousands of years. The forest which provides us the air we need to breath and keeps our climate in balance.
To escape from the wheel of suffering is only possible when we reduce the speed that makes a wheel and get more and more slowly. Step on the breaks! Slowly and continuously speeding down.
One of the most important teachings of the Buddha was not to simply believe. Do not simply believe because it was taught by your teacher, do not simply do it, because everybody does it or your ancestors did. Accept only what you had seen with your own eyes. Prove it! Take your time and sit down on the sidewalk, watch the traffic which is reflecting our lives, watch the passing faces. There is nothing to believe in Buddhism.
As we know the dust we are breathing is in fact caused by ourselves and as an accident is only the riping of our karma, we may start to think about how to step on the break, how to protect us from producing more and more karma.
We do not need to be worried about karma, it is only what we had done before. It is more useful to focus on not producing more unpleasant karma than to worry about the causes for our old actions.
Step by step! The Buddha was walking all his lifetime until his death and never took a ride. Step by step we are able to look at what we are doing, what we are causing and where we put our feet on. Our horizon starts to get bigger and we are starting to be able to see more than only one fictive point. When we are able to see also to the sides, up and down we may start to understand the world and our life. Buddha taught to be mindful, to be aware. Mindfulness is the way to find the reality, and at the same time mindfulness is our protector. In being aware it is possible to make a step to the side. Starting to be aware we are able to move more safely in the traffic. If we focus only straight ahead we do not see what comes from the side. If we are talking with somebody or thinking on something we may not be very attentive in the traffic and are easily involved into an accident.
Open your eyes and train yourself to have a broad view. The more you are aware the easier and safer you will move. Out of awareness slowly grows compassion and wisdom as to understand that the one in front of us is not really different from us. He also has a focus on a fictitious aim. He is suffering like we all do. Right now he may be also infected by one of the three poisons, remind yourself. We understand that even if he is between us and our aim he is, for a fact, not a bad person and has not the motivation to hinder us. So out of this realization it is not hard to let him go first. Our self already knows that there is no need to hurry. Don’t worry about him, he will know too, one day. Sooner or later he will see a compassionate smile and will start to ask himself: “How can he smile and be happy although I am faster than him? Why I am still suffering although I have the biggest car?”
Wisdom will also grow. One day you will start to think why you need the money you have worked so hard for. You will find out that it is cheaper to move slow and understand that in the daily fifteen minutes in which you try to be faster won’t pay your motorbike and the gasoline. You will find out that your body feels much healthier after a good walk and that it is cheaper than a fitness center which steels a lot more time than supposed.
As wisdom and compassion grows our ignorance disappears likewise. You will meet much more people than before. You will start to look around you, experience the world, the trees, the birds and playing children. You already had experienced it in your lifetime before. Remember your childhood! You had less than today and you had enjoyed every minute of your time: Riding bike with your friends to school, walking over the rice fields and exploring the wonderful nature, picking up fruits and resting under a tree.
Buddha taught us to look at us first. When we are not healthy we are not able to help others. This seemingly simple truth is easily misunderstood. Being ignorant we may think that having a big car makes one wealthy, happy and the ability to help others.
Yet we know even a big car does not make happy and the one who owns it is not freed from greed, hate and delusion. The money and the big car cause a lot of suffering, the gasoline destroys our climate and a lot of beings are dying under the big wheels. A thought like this is a delusion. This kind of thinking does not improve a situation but is born out of greed and will cause more and more karma and keeps us suffering. We need to start to be really selfish in a smart way, start focusing on real benefiting, in precise to make our rice bag gradually lighter. By really taking care of ourselves it is inevitable to hurt other beings and helping others is a natural process from within. Can you see the benefit for all when you start to be really selfish?
If you move mindfully, step by step, you are no more in the danger to miss the exit from the circle of life. Be always aware of greed, anger and delusion. Do not make the mistake to accuse others for your suffering. Remember the dust you produce when you realize getting angry about a young guy thrusting up a dust cloud by driving by fast. Remember that many on the streets are driving just for the wants of others and also yours. The truck is carrying sand for a wanted house; the motorbike driver brings candies that you prefer. All our problems are caused always by ourselves! If there are less wants, we will have fewer problems. Focus on your real needs and reduce your wants. Can you already see how to speed down the wheel of suffering?
Turn it down, step by step. Remember when spinning around in circles as a child, when it made you laugh aloud and you had a pleasant feeling. Turning round and round to finally slowing down due of out of breath or tiredness. While some would fall down and hurt themselves, some would get unwell and some just enjoyed.
It may be funny to turn in circles, faster and faster, but as you get out of power sooner or later the fun will end in unpleasant feelings.
If you have realized that the spinning around will not end in happiness you need to slow down gradually. Some are doing it till the end and are falling at least. Some are stopping very fast and feel sick. There are also some which will do it again short after the fall. It is up to you how to care about your life. It is only a question of time that we understand the teaching of Buddha that pleasant feelings are always ending in unpleasant feelings - so both of them are causing suffering.
We can start to practice this knowledge it in the traffic and stepping on the brake slowly well knowing where we need to stop. If we get into the mood of “let’s go faster” we remember that we easily could get hurt ourselves or others.
Be mindful, ask yourself all the time: “Why is it like this? How could it happen? Where is that from? …” Do not follow blindly. If everyone would understand and practice this knowledge rightly there would be no suffering - and no need to follow.
Our streets are the battlefields of our days. As in a war, you can not stop hate with hate, you can not fight greed with greed, and one delusion (selfish opinion) will cause another delusion.
You are not able to fight the suffering of the traffic with a bigger, faster and more comfortable car. Helmets and masks will help a little but they can not protect you at all. A bigger weapon will bring a bigger weapon against you. Also shields and gasmasks will not protect you.
We need to start looking what makes us fighting and start searching in ourselves. We may find out soon, that our only enemy is our own mind. Out of suffering grows compassion. Step by step we are able to slow down the circle of war.
Some may ask: How can we practically start to slow down as we are deeply involved?
• Is it needed to go there?
The best is always to start from the root. Our will is forcing us to make ride to a place, so it is good if we always ask ourselves: “Do I need to go there? Do I need to be there as quick as I think?” Many times we will find out that in fact there is no need. Many times we find ourself rushing because of having forgotten something. So another ride has to be done. On this way we are able to reduce a big part of your daily ways and also save a lot of money.
• Which is the best way to make our ways?
Many times we are just lazy and take the motorbike to ride 100m. To walk one kilometer we will properly need 15 minutes. When we are exact we will see that most of our daily ways are less than a kilometer far from us. Even a walk of two kilometers will be honored with a better health from our body. Walking keeps us healthy and also all other beings around us. One more time we are saving money and we are meeting people.
• What kind of transport will not be so harmful?
Some people are not in the condition to walk very far. Also some people are already so much involved in the daily rushing that they will not quick find a way to escape from it. Step by step is important. One opinion of transportation would be an E-bike. It is maybe not that fast as a motorbike but in the city traffic you may not be able to drive faster as a bike. To ride an E-bike costs about 500 riel for electricity for 50km. That is far cheaper than a motorbike could ever be. You will also enjoy that it makes no noise.
• If we need something to transport, what kind of vehicle would be the best?
As we like to support others as well it is easy to decide. If we pay a motorbike driver an amount of money, 50% of the money will be used for gasoline. So 50% of our money goes directly out of our country and in the end only dirt air is left behind. Another 25% the driver needs to fix his bike continually. Also this money is neither a benefit for the driver nor for us. If you spend the same money for a cyclo your money will nearly 100% benefit the driver and your country. Moreover, you are also protecting your environment. In fact, we should honor people like cyclo drivers every day, because they give us a possibility to make a good deed for us and all others.
• How should we behave in the traffic?
Like a Buddhist, or we could say like a Cambodian! Patient, helpful and mindful, we only need to see the other participant as our family members or our guests. We already know very well how a Cambodian is different to many other countries. So why not be a Cambodian in traffic issues? The same people, the same country - do not change your mind in the moment you step on a vehicle. Don’t forget that mindfulness is the way to the exit and also your protector all the time. If you see somebody in hurry let him go first, but do not drive too narrow to the side. Take the space that you need and do not jump when you hear a horn in your back. If you are making yourself too small and give others the belief that they are strong, you will be rolled over one time. Be kind and helpful but do not give up yourself.
Always look at the not strong people first. The old people and the children are dependent on your kind behaviour. Let people on feet be always the first. Maybe you will give somebody else also a ride.
• On holydays are the most accidents, how can we act in a better way?
Especially on holydays we can see how contrary your life is to the meaning of Buddhism is. Isn’t it crazy that Buddhist festivals are causing so much suffering? Everybody is in hurry to meet his family, go to this celebration and to that celebration. Mostly we are eating all the time and one party follows the other. After some days we are tired and also out of money. Remember that pleasant feelings are causing unpleasant ones soon. Less is mostly more! It is good to decide some events of all of them and enjoy the few really. First you will have real time for the people you do not meet so often and also your health and budget will honor it. If you like to meet some loved people during the holidays, plan it for a longer time. You can go some days sooner or also one day later than all others do.
Don’t drink and drive. Sometimes we enjoy it to sit down with friends and talking about old times, we also like to drink some beer or wine. As we are able to spend a lot of money for the celebration, we should not be greedy to spend a little more to hire a taxi to bring us home safely.
• In our culture we use to make good karma actions. What about the driving?
As we know, we are causing a lot of karma if we want to get somewhere fast and comfortable. The most acts of good karma will are causing in fact more bad than good. If you decide to go to the pagoda or take part on a Buddhist festival, do not use a car or a motorbike. Listen and learn from the Buddha and honor his teachings in the way you learn from him. To make a good deed, means to make it mindful. The misunderstanding of the Dharma in our rushing times is big. The Dharma is timeless, the time of comfort and vehicle will have an end. If you like to do something good, you need to do it yourself. Walking is the way to make it peacefully.
Always remember the Buddha! Every being is able to reach enlightenment in its present life. Start to be mindful and you will be one winner out of the circle of life. Slowly! Step by Step!
May all beings free of suffering, may all beings find happiness.
May the benefit of this little book be greater than the suffering its producing had probably caused.