Hello Dhamma Wheel forum.
A little bit about myself below.__________________________________________________________________
Ajahn Chandako and Tan Mettiko,
Thank you very much for sharing your tales of travel.
I think what especially touched my heart was your "Tales of Tudong Pt. 6 - Kingdom Come".
I am of Chinese descent and I work in a restaurant in Nadi, Fiji.
My family migrated from Guangdong in the late 70's and made Fiji their home.
So it was a sight to behold this little skimpy Chinese lad playing barefoot in the dust and heat with his Fijian brothers.
You talked about beliefs and being in a different cultural environment from at home and at school, I had the privilege of being exposed to different beliefs; my parents were non-demoninational traditional sort of Confusionists(pun intended), I attended Catholic school till 8th grade-you can imagine religious classes were my favourite time - I loved arguing with my orthodox-bispectabled nuns.
Middleschool I attended Swami Vivekanda High School- named after the famous reformist Hindu from India, student of Shri Ramakrishna.
I figured there was something amiss and then in University I discovered Buddhism and it was like a relief or refuge of coming into a warm house from the cold pouring rain. But it was actually Mahayana/Varjrayana that I had inadvertently been reading about. And then I came across http://www.accesstoinsight.org and came across an interesting hyperlink that said thai forest traditions and then I knew I was home.
In my understanding, all religions have good qualities, but it doesn't address the 3rd unwholesome root - delusion the same way the Buddha has so precisely elaborated.
All other religions counteract with greed and hatred in certain ways.
But how profound it is when the Buddha said that he taught nothing else but the Dukkha and the Cessation of Dukkha. There is no dogma, nothing to lose, nothing to gain, experience it for yourself and then see if it makes sense.
"Try before you buy!" and if you like the view up here, jump on board!
This is not to discount other factors of the path, but somehow, for myself, the question of saddha/faith and that of hard work and conviction has been always been the challenge.
It is somehow sometimes easier to mediocre and be pessimistic in this day and age.
It is easy because it is the default thing to do. And it doesn't require effort!
Just like your crusader, it is easier to avoid the road less taken.
But working in a restaurant with a bar and having met people from all walks of life who have been successful, it seems that their success can only be attributed to their hard work and perseverance.
But yet their success comes at a price, either they have family issues, morality issues or somehow, they have this gnawing sense of dissatisfaction in terms of what society had made them believe falsely, "Gain money and power and you shall live happily ever after".
For many of them, they have gained money and power but yet they feel that they've been short changed and been sold a lie.
I feel I've been sold a lie. There is no pot of gold at the end of rainbow. Happiness does not exist in the future, nor in the past so where does it exist? In this fleeting moment of the present?
But perhaps it might be a blessing in disguise as the Buddha talked about the benefits of renunciation and dispassion towards the material world.
But yet it seems hard, just as you said the intentions behind beliefs are more important than the belief itself, I had to examine my own views and then I realized that my intentions weren't pure, I was merely just trying to run away from the stress, hassles, and responsibilities of running a business, it wasn't a noble cause of trying to reach enlightenment. It was more push factor than pull.
So I have to suck my stomach in and roll with the punches - its been nearly 3 years now and it definitely has made me a better person.
The sense of dispassion is still there, but I realize that to be able to financially support 20 of my staff must be good merit.
(Apart from the unfortunate live crab and happen to end up on my shopping list!). We do serve alcohol but it isn't really a problem; my clients don't come here to get mindlessly drunk.
It is not easy running a restaurant, but this is my kamma for now, and I have learnt to accept that responsibility with a little bit more equanimity now.
And in the meantime - I try to maintain my 5 precepts and and a little bit of quiet meditation every now and then.
But as I have learnt so far in my 26 years on this planet, nothing in life comes easy and to progress on the practice a lot of hard work needs to be done.
Besides there is no such thing as free lunch. [pun intended ]
Sung Zen Low aka fijiNut
^ yes my real name on my birth certificate!
update with the restaurant - I have put the restaurant under management now, to straighten my sila.