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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Photo credit: davepatten (Creative Commons)

In response to a blog post by Warrioress

Dear Warrioress, I enjoyed reading your recent post The Great Divide very much. I agree that focusing on what unites us, rather than what divides us, is what we all need to practice. Over the years, I studied and practiced many different spiritual teachings; I studied the Bible and preached with Baptist missionaries; I prayed in Russian Orthodox churches, where during service women stand on the left side and men on the right, and they are not allowed to cross the line between them (speaking of divides); I studied the Sutras and chanted with Buddhists; I learned some Hindu mantras; I studied works of the mystics Osho and Gurdjieff… Although I do not align myself with any organized religion, I am a believer. I believe in Love, Compassion, and our Lord Jesus Christ, even though I don’t remember when was the last time I read from the Bible. I also practice mindfulness and compassion; a painting of the Buddha that I can view from my desk is a constant reminder of these virtues, as well as the noble truths of impermanence and emptiness. It is also a reminder that Nirvana and Samsara are a matter of perspective; and although there is suffering, I believe we  live in a wonderful world, and it’s not broken — never was, never will be. What needs fixing is our individual and collective models of reality that we assemble and re-assemble in our minds every moment of our lives. The only thing that divides us is ignorance. In my mind, there is really no “great divide.” In a sense, we are all within God and we are all one, no matter what our faith and  beliefs. And as long as there is Love in our hearts, we are saved.

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If you are reading this blog, chances are you are not a monk or a nun living in a monastery, or a hermit in a cave practicing austerities. Every day you face challenges — traffic jams, a demanding job (or lack thereof), an overbearing boss, disturbing news in the media, just to name a few. Small wonder many of us feel stressed and anxious most of the time. But what can we do? We can’t control the environment, the boss, or the economy. How do we handle these pressures? If you are looking for an answer to this question, Joyful Wisdom by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is the book for you. In it, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche talks about the foundations of Buddhism; explains and clarifies some Buddhist terms, whose nuances might have been lost in translation; and provides detailed and clear instructions on meditation practice. Using examples from his own experience and that of his students, he shows how to deal with disturbing emotions, such as anger, fear, anxiety. He suggests that instead of resisting or trying to get rid of them, we should welcome them as focus for our meditation that will help us get acquainted with the nature of the mind and its infinite power.

Throughout the book, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche tells stories of the Buddhist tradition. My favourite one is about a group of hermits who lived in seclusion in the mountains. They spent most of their time in meditation. But because their existence was so peaceful and offered little by way of difficulties or challenges, every once in a while they would go to the nearest village and acted as if they were crazy. Such silly behaviour provoked the villagers, who expressed their displeasure, sometimes in physical terms. But the hermits welcomed these experiences as supports for their practice. Lucky for us, our lives are replete with such supports — no need to agitate the good villagers. 🙂

I especially enjoyed the parts of the book where Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche talks about his childhood experiences: how he was overwhelmed by anxiety and struggled with the practice, and about the fears that he had to overcome to achieve his present state of calm and relaxed mind and the ability to help others. This was like a revelation to me, because I always pictured Buddhist teachers and masters as perfect, born into this world with inherent knowledge and wisdom of the masters that came before, and, therefore, superior and distant, like stars. I don’t question inherent knowledge and wisdom, but at least now the distance between them and me seems a bit shorter.

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I should have called my post “If you want to cry, read Kelly Cutrone.” The book is about a tough life of a publicist/warrioress in New York, thriving in the field of fashion public relations.

While reading the book, I had to suppress the urge to erase it entirely from my Kobo. Not because it made me angry or frustrated (rather a bit itchy and scratchy), it just seemed so irrelevant and outlandish, it might have been written by an alien from a faraway galaxy. My curiosity, however, always gets the upper hand. So, I kept plugging along motivated by the thought that sometimes it behooves us to get a different perspective on things, even if it seems totally foreign.

A different perspective wasn’t the only thing I struggled with. The writing style and tone of the book are rough and uneven. It’s partly a memoir, partly ramblings about spirituality and a woman’s role in the society, partly a manual on how to get and keep a job in fashion PR industry, and, finally, partly specific requirements that you need to meet if you want to work for Kelly Cutrone. The tone of the book ranges from encouraging and supportive to patronizing and condescending. Therefore, I am dubious as to author’s genuine respect and appreciation for her audience. Obviously, I am not a part of the target segment, which I would define as “aspiring female publicists or fashion PR wannabes, young and ambitious.” Conversely, I am a 40-something woman, who moved to Canada from Russia 14 years back, on my own, husbandless at the time, with my nine-year old son in tow. Unlike Cutrone, I never used drugs and can’t boast to have had any addictions that I’ve successfully overcome, which would pave my path to spirituality. Speaking of which, I do not belong to any organized religion, but am a strong believer in the law of attraction and, though inconsistent, tend to gravitate to Buddhism. (This is just to give you my perspective on things, for objectivity’s sake.)

But this is not about me, after all. Based on the book (as a single source of info about the author in my neck of the woods) I do get that she is an exceptionally talented entrepreneur, a publicist extraordinaire, who has a lot of respect for herself and takes pride in her own accomplishments. I totally understand and sympathize, because I can’t even imagine how big my head would grow, if I had to go through all that personal drama and end up a top female alpha wolf in that cutthroat fashion jungle. It makes for a good story though, and I appreciate that. But no matter how extraordinary the author, it can’t make up for the book’s obvious flaws. And by the way, if you can’t stand seeing the “F word” in print repeatedly, consider yourself warned.

It’s my rule not to write about the books I didn’t like. This book, however, is an exception, although I can’t say I hated it or something. In spite of its flaws, the book can not be denied some  redeemable qualities, like authenticity and candor. I also share Cutrone’s idea of empowering women, and no matter how much I disagree with some of her other views, I totally support that following one’s heart with 100 per cent commitment eventually leads to success. I only hope that young women don’t make a conclusion, based on the book, that the only way to accomplish anything in this world is by being a “bitch” clad in black every day of the year. 🙂 Also, it’s only fair to add that I admire Cutrone’s courage, vision and focus and her seemingly infinite capacity to remain true to herself and speak her mind without fear of consequences.

If you’ve read the book and have an opinion, don’t be shy to share it. Did you love the book or did you hate it? I suspect there are a lot of people who love it, as well as those who totally hate it. That’s  publicity at its finest.

Related posts:

Thought Provoker: Kelly Cutrone – If You Have to Cry, Go Outside (instantaffection.blogspot.com)

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