Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Some Things I Learned from a Buddhist Monk

To All Who May Be Concerned:
At long last the drought has ended and I'm writing another blogpost. I suppose some of you might be disappointed at this point, but oh well. You can skim read, if you so choose :)
The past few weeks have been great and grand. We just had transfers this past week, and there have been some new faces here in Kuching, as well as some old ones leaving. Change has never been my strong suit, but it's really great to have a new burst of missionary excitement here. It certainly helps keep the work moving forward :)
So last Thursday night (or maybe it was Friday night? Time kind of blurs these days :) ), we were at an Indian restaurant. (Fun fact/Sidenote: My mission has helped me develop a great love for most types of Indian food. I'm a big roti fan myself, and you can never go wrong with some good ole murtabak ayam :) ). As we were finishing up in there, a large party of Buddhists entered the room. In their midst were two legit monks--dressed up in authentic garb, fresh from Nepal/Tibet. I had the chance to talk to one of them. He taught me a couple of things about MEDITATION.
It's something that I've never really thought about before, but since he shared what he did with me, it's been on my mind a lot lately. Essentially (if I understood him correctly), meditation is focusing on one object and letting go of all external cares and worries. It's about finding inner peace and happiness despite the surroundings beyond you. He also stated something quite profound, "Meditation is acting with awareness." 
Acting with awareness; focusing on one object and letting go of all other worries and cares; finding inner peace and happiness--all of this sounds something similar to the Gospel quest we've all commenced at baptism. Although I do not agree with every single teaching the monk proposed, I believe that he has found a pearl of great price, and I hope to be able to use what light he has to increase my own testimony and connection with the Savior. Using our agency righteously (aka acting with awareness), we are able to focus our desires and our lives on one object (aka Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement), finding the inner peace and happiness we need.
This past week I've had a chance to see what happens when people are acting with such awareness, when they are doing all they can to build their testimonies and their connections with heaven. I've also been able to see what happens when people act without thinking at all. It is tragic, but it can be learned from as well. The Lord would have us grow from our sorrows. The Lord would have us learn from those lessons in life that aren't always the happiest or the brightest. The Lord would not leave us alone in them, either--if we aren't afraid to keep holding onto Him, even and especially when He's all we've got to hold onto, then He certainly won't be afraid to hold on even tighter.
I dunno if this makes any sense, but I do have a burning testimony that the Lord loves each and every one of us. The adversary of agency, even the fallen son of the morning, is a very real being, and his power is great, but every time I'm reminded of him and all the rotten things he has caused in this world, I'm reminded of an example my dad gave to me when I was younger and still struggling to find my own personal testimony: "Light and darkness cannot coexist. If you turn on a lightswitch, the darkness in the room must flee. It can't stay. They can't coexist. You just have to turn on the light."
I sure do love Buddhist monks, and if I wasn't already converted to the fulness of the Gospel, I might consider studying in greater depth all of their teachings. For now, though, I'm going to focus on becoming better at meditating--at acting with awareness, focusing on things that matter most, and finding that inner peace and happiness that God would have all of us possess (see 2 Nephi 2:25).
I love you all, and hope you have a marvelous day and week! Keep on keepin' on! :)
Mai Zhanglao

Service project with a machete

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