Before I start telling you how I benefited from Buddhism and attending meditation classes here, I need to paint a picture of myself before I was a true Buddhist. A Buddhist that follows every word of wisdom that Buddha have left us.
I grew up in a family of ten and I am the youngest child. I would consider myself a spoiled brat and I get to have everything that I wanted as a child. My biggest problem was I had a very competitive nature in me. Probably I constantly wanted to prove to my brothers and sisters to be accepted, or it could be I was just plain competitive in nature in my last life. I was trapped in a constant mindset of competing with friends, relatives, classmates. When I was a student, I wanted to excel in school in all classes, in the sports arena, I wanted to run the fastest, jump the highest and leap the furthest. When I was young, I enjoy competition and it propelled me and gave me energy. Let me give you a few examples, just 2 or 3 years ago, I wanted to race with my best friend’s son, who was 7 or 8 years old in a 100 meters lap pool. In fact, back in 2005, I wanted to race with my son’s best friend, who is in school swimming team to see who can hold his breath the longest under water. When he refused, I said, how about if you win, you would get $5 and if I win, I would get 50 cents. Naturally, I lost. But you can see how I enjoy “healthy” competition.
This goes for many years, high school, college and when I started working, I didn’t see anything wrong with myself. As a young professional, I was eager to prove myself and I worked very hard. I could not stand criticism at work and I used to get worry sick and woke up in the middle of the night. I used to remember getting up at 3 or 4 am in the morning and could not go to sleep and drove downtown to work. I used to be the first that arrived at the office and my coworker saw me and usually they would say, “Insomnia again? “ This went on several years and it has mentally and physically taken a toll on me. I had at least 3 accidents related to sleeping on the road. As a parent, I had to transport my son to after school activities. I had to buy a coke and drink to stay awake while driving home. Then when the caffeine wore down, I would be so tired and sleepy late in the evening. While transporting my son, at red lights, I would ask my son to wake me up whenever it turned green. I just want to take a few minutes of beauty nap.
Deep inside me, I knew all these had to stop. But it went on for years and there is nothing I could do to change it. I was introduced to Buddhism many years ago when I was a young kid, but I have never had any systematic curriculum to Buddhism.
In 2009, fortunately for me, I was introduced to Dharma Jewel Monastery and by the time I learned that Shifu taught us how to meditate. I registered immediately, and I think I was the first few batch of students. I think I am far from being a perfect Buddhist, and I have a long way to go, but I would like to report to you on some of my noticeable improvements.
1. Physically : I am able to sleep throughout the night. Even though occasionally I would get up at 4am in the morning but I would immediately chant sutra or just meditate so that I am calm and rested for the challenges in the morning. I only drink one coffee in the morning and I drink green tea in the afternoon. Sometimes, I do get agitated with work or with the presentation I have to make, but I was able to meditate and find peace after 15 – 30 minutes of meditation.
2. Spiritually : the classes we took, Shifu would explain them in clear and layman terms. In fact, many times I don’t understand, but the more you listen, and slowly it gets comprehensible. Shifu would give us examples and provoked our thinking process so that we could apply Buddhist teachings into our daily lives. I would not say I am a perfect student, I was able to understand and start using them in my daily lives. Shifu often encourages us to examine our thoughts. And ask ourselves whether we are thinking and acting according to Buddha’s wishes. Right now, I am at peace with myself, I am not as competitive as before. I am often able to find harmony in people that surrounds me. Relationship with my wife and son are better.
Finally, I would like to ask that those who has not joined the meditation class to give it a try. It is well worth your time. You will find that signing up for this class will be the most important decision you have ever made in your life. It will help you physically, spiritually, your health and financially. For parents, please sign up for your children. They will become smarter, more focus and polite and will be more accomplished in life. Buddhism is like a gold mine, the more you dig, the more gold you will find. You can never find another place on earth that would give you such systematic training in meditation and Buddhist teachings.