When people think of generosity today, they often relate it to money. When someone donates money to charity or always gives their change to the homeless guy outside the store, we label them as a “generous” person. Which is never a bad thing, however we wanted to define the non-monetary side of generosity.
We found that one of the most effective ways to perform this level of generosity is to remove our egos. When we remove our ego, we are able to put our wants and needs aside and make more time for the wants and needs of others. For example, we can give respect by putting our phones down and actually listening to what the person in front of us is saying. By doing this, we’re giving that person our full attention and crafting a reply because we heard and understand their words, not just for the sake of replying. We can give honesty by being truthful in all situations. We can give patience by suppressing our anger when something is taking too long or someone messed up. We can give appreciation by actually meaning the phrase “How are you doing today?” in any service environment.
These tasks will implement generosity in our daily lives and they don’t include dropping a single penny. Others often notice these practices because they are so much less common. Bonus points, they also make the giver feel good too! We gain happiness through being generous. As college students, we might not have the fullest pockets but we do have the fullest hearts, and we’re trying our best. Sometimes that means we need to take time alone in order to be our best self, and that is just as important. Self love is being generous to yourself. Generosity comes in all forms, so why do we limit it to money?
- Sarah xx
In the practice of Diligence, we explored the relationship between passion and diligence. Can you have one without the other? Can they go hand in hand? How do we maintain diligence with tasks we aren’t passionate about? Does too much diligence exist?
Not all of these questions have a right answer; everyone deals with their own stuff in their own way. However, we found that diligence should include a pace, just like running a race. If we start out too fast, our energy will quickly burn out as the passion and determination slowly fades. But if we go slowly but surely, chipping away a little each day, diligence can become routine. It can become just another natural part of life. Diligence can even pave the way for passion. That might sound odd at first, but a perfect analogy was used to explain:
Think about your childhood sport. I’m taking a wild guess here and saying that mostly everyone complained when it was time for practice. But after years of dedication and a countless number of games, the sport turns into a passion. Playing the sport becomes a pastime instead of a chore. It turns it into something joyful instead of something that is perceived as work. This is not the case for everything, but for me specifically, I thought that it was a beautiful of example of how diligence can manifest into something greater.
We also addressed the importance of being diligent about self-care. Without proper time to heal and rejuvenate, our diligence in other aspects of our lives could suffer greatly.
Just One Decision Cured My College Blues, And It's All Thanks To The Buddha - By Maya Ferchland Parella
Finally found that home away from home.
My first semester at college was a turbulent one.
I didn’t transition from high school as fluidly as I had hoped. More often than not, I found myself feeling out of place and lonely, never entirely sure where I fit in. Sure, I was surrounded by friendly faces but I wasn’t exactly friends with many people. There were no Wednesday night dinners with “the crew,” no circle of people to go out on the weekends with. Besides my brief time rushing, I hardly did anything social.
The problem, I would realize later on, wasn’t that I couldn’t make friends. I just wouldn’t.
I was too afraid to take the initiative to get involved, and that was my downfall. (Sure) if you don’t try new things, you won’t face rejection, but you also won’t have the opportunity for acceptance. With the exception of joining my school newspaper in sophomore year, I let much of high school pass me by. My guiding principle was the idea that if things are meant to be, they’ll just happen. Good people will come to me, or so I hoped.
In reality, no one is a mind reader. Nothing is ever a “yes” if you don’t speak up and ask for it, and I recognized myself falling into the same pattern in college.
After berating myself for letting first semester slip through my fingers, I entered the second semester with one goal in mind: conquer my anxiety and meet new people. I consciously forced myself outside of my comfort zone because I promised myself I would not let college be another era of lost opportunities. And when I actively decided to make a change in my life, something beautiful happened — I found happiness and peace.
My saving grace came in the form of a co-ed Buddhist fraternity on my campus — Delta Beta Tau. I had heard beautiful things about this group before, but something always held me back from attending any of their meditation sessions during the fall.
With my newfound courage, however, I dragged my heavy heart out of the dorms and over to the first Delta Beta Tau meeting of the spring semester. That one action created a domino effect that completely revitalized my energy and hopes about college life.
As I sat in the meeting room, I watched as old friends greeted each other with laughter and smiles that could have melted hearts. I looked in awe as friends spun around in circles, excited to reunite for the first time after the holidays, and I felt this unbelievable rush of warmth.
The meditation itself only lasted five minutes, but there’s something enchanting about a group of strangers coming together to find their own sense of peace in life. Delta Beta Tau reminded me of something I hadn’t realized I missed. It had been a little over two years since I truly showed my vulnerable side to others, and to have them look back at me with nothing but compassion and empathy in their eyes was beautiful.
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All it took for me to change my life for the better was one decision.
Now, five weeks later since I first attended a meeting, I feel as though the burden of loneliness has been lifted from my shoulders. The people that encompass Delta Beta Tau are some of the purest and most thoughtful beings I had ever come across, and their dedication to spreading love and kindness to others continues to astound me each day.
I have cultivated more happiness and friendship with these people in the last few weeks than I had all last semester, and I am ever grateful to have stumbled upon them.
I open my eyes to a room of new and old faces. A room full of silent, reflecting college students continuing the amazing and unique journey that Delta Beta Tau has to offer. I also see a room full of humans deliberately making the effort to calm their minds. Just so they can be kinder, calmer and more patient people to everyone else in their lives. That’s a pretty selfless thing to do for a 20 or so year old. I’m continually amazed at how many people come here to work on their state of mind. It’s not easy admitting that our mind is a mess, it’s even harder to take action about it. But you can’t pour from an empty cup if college taught me anything else.
As an alumni of this organization, I’m ecstatic to see a new group of people committed to work on bettering themselves and our campus. I gained so much from my experience with Delta Beta Tau and knowing that our group continues to make an impact on others is a feeling I could never begin to explain. Transitioning into adult life hasn’t been easy. But with the tools, knowledge and people I gained from this group I have the confidence I’ll get through it. I don’t think I could say that 4 years ago.
As Olivia put so beautifully in the first meeting. If you need to talk to someone, do it. If you need someone to lean on, we’re here for you. I never thought I’d find such a large group of people I’d instantly feel comfortable sharing my deepest worries and scariest thoughts with. But here we were, a Wednesday night, hashing out all of our biggest ups and lowest lows of the summer. Some of us not even knowing the persons' name next to them. All letting down our dams and allowing the overflowing thoughts in our heads to finally come out.
So let's all stop pouring from empty cups. Let us be kind and open and loving because the more we take care of ourselves, the more we can take care of others and the happier we’ll be.
In Buddhism we are asked to take refuge in the Three Jewels: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. This Wednesday we discussed what Sangha ment to us.
Sangha roughly translated means community. We discussed the many different communities that we all take part in. We asked ourselves: What does it mean to be apart of a community? What does it mean to build a community? How do I contribute to my community? How do I destroy or impair my community? And we thought about the importance of each person in our respective communities.
During this discussion I realized I belong to many different communities. I have my family, my friends, my classmates, the members of DBT, fellow students at SDSU, the people of San Diego, and in truth the whole of planet earth. We all identify with our different communities while showing and growing different parts of ourselves in our respective communities.
One thing that really stuck out to me was the idea of asking how you can help your community from a non-egocentric point of view: by asking what does my community need from me instead of of assuming what it is that I can give to my community. In thinking about and asking how I can better help my community I am able to contribute something of value to the people in my life instead of possibly harming or hindering them due to my own ignorance.
In a community it is also very important to understand and respect all of it's members differences, in this way we practice unconditional care and love for our fellow humans and creatures of earth. If we allow ourselves to only identify with one of our communities (typically consisting of people similar to ourselves) we begin to lose the connection we have to all people. This connection to not just one but all of our communities is essential to understanding and peace.
This is why the most important part of being in a community is actually quite simple: You just have to show up and be present.
Morals. We all have them, we all have reasons for them, but they are all completely different. Morals are created through so many varying factors and experiences, that they're distinctly subjective to each person. So how do we speak about morality if we all have our own ideas of what it consists of? How do we label people as “being moral” if there is no set definition? How do we act morally as a society if all of our personal morals are different?
I’m just going to say this now, I don’t know. I also don’t know if there actually is a definitive answer to these questions. But as a group, we explored some of these tough dilemmas.
Our first reaction was to watch our own morals before pointing fingers at someone else’s. The truth isn’t always objective; it’s a hard boat to navigate. Instead of judging others’ beliefs, we should focus on the energy we put out into the world. Gavin gave us a great mantra to practice: persistently perfecting a positive perspective. Imagine if everyone just focused on being their best self instead of criticizing others? What a different world we would live in.
In addition, we came to the conclusion that conflicting morals don’t always have to create negative experiences. They give us room to bend and grow, instead of being stuck knee deep in the sticky swamp we call our ego. When we are open to civil debate and discussion, we can escape this stagnancy and begin to understand each other. We all want to feel like we're heard and understood. Isn’t it better to live in harmony instead of havoc?
We were given this opportunity to pave a completely new and unique path for college students to choose. It's a path full of love, mindfulness and compassion that I was so desperately missing in my life. It's actually comical to look back at my initial worries. Jeff reminded me that these things happen best when they are organic and natural. He seemed so sure and confident that I had no choice but to believe him. Sure enough five people turned into ten people and ten people eventually turned into thirty, right before our eyes. The most amazing part is that I've witnessed social fraternities/sororities struggle to gain new members and grow their presence on campus, but in just one and a half years from it's inception Delta Beta Tau is 30 initiated members strong. The most recent initiation ceremony was magical. We had fits of laughter and tears of love flowing from the back room of that little Buddha shop. It is a night that will forever be a shining beacon of hope in my memory.
My dream is to pass this feeling on to anyone that will have it. When I learned we would be expanding to UCSD, this dream became a reality. Just another milestone we have reached at an amazing rate while everyone continuously manages to blow me away. The dedication behind this group is incredible. My wish for the new year is to maintain the speed of the ball we've been rolling. Momentum is key, we can do this🙏
- Sarah xx
Meditation has led me to some very interesting places and opportunities. It’s allowed me to train my mind in new ways as well as allowing me to be more open to new external situations. This past Friday was one of those situations. The second pledge class of Delta Beta Tau completed our last retreat at Pao Fa Temple in Irvine. We arrived at 7pm and spent the night to join the nuns in their morning/afternoon rituals. Without revealing too much for future participants (where would the fun in that be?) it was a challenge to say the least. Life in a monastery is probably one of the hardest paths you can choose, even harder than life in prison (no kidding, this comparison was actually made). But the difference is life in a monastery is chosen, prison is not. Just keep that in mind.
With that said, it was an amazing experience. In the midst of bowing and chanting, while my knees were aching and my head was spinning from constantly standing up and down, I felt a veil of peace and contentment fall around me. Even though I was exhausted, it felt right. Compare it to the feeling you get at the gym when it “hurts so good.” It was a good kind of pain, the pain that brings about satisfaction. In this huge decorated room, with 3000 Buddha statues consuming every view in sight, I felt small, yet connected. I realized that I was participating in something so much larger than myself. When was the last time I did something for someone other than myself/family/friends? I definitely struggled in thinking of a few examples. But everything I was doing in those moments were purely for the benefit of others, others I haven’t met or probably will never meet. This is constant in monastic life. Every task they do, every film they watch and every practice they participate in is so the world can be a better place. There is no differentiation between humans and their relationship to them. Their simple wish is that every single being on this Earth is happy and free from suffering, period. It’s a really beautiful thing.
The concepts and ideas these people are contemplating every day are so much larger than any problem I have or that I will ever deal with. It made my worries seem so silly that right then, I felt embarrassed to even think about the problems I had waiting for me on the other side of the temple walls. While I’ve resumed my life as a layperson, I hope to carry this connection with me wherever I go. Traditional religion was never a topic that appealed to me, so the fact that I was able to find wisdom while bowing to giant statues in a black robe is quite the turn around. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. :)
- Sarah xx
How are we supposed to foster a society who is patient in a world full of instant gratification?
Our social media feeds are packed with people posting their new awesome job, their expensive exotic vacation or their glamorous new car. It’s a vicious cycle of comparison when we see these people succeeding and comparing our lives with theirs. This leads to shame and low self-esteem. However, we decided that people only post the best part of themselves. Social media doesn’t get to see the struggle. The blood, sweat and tears that go into earning that car or vacation don’t even get mentioned. We just assume these things are handed to these people and we wonder why our life isn’t like that.
This is where patience comes in. Patience requires patience. (Thank you Olivia!) Patience requires discipline. Patience requires letting go of expectations and being okay with the outcome no matter what. Sometimes hard work just doesn’t pay off, and we have to be content with that. Be careful of confusing patience with stagnancy though. Being patient with the result of your work is completely different than putting in no work at all.
In addition, patience and time aren’t necessarily related. Time is man-made construct, patience isn’t. Patience involves managing emotions, specifically anxiety. Recognizing that it’s better to be calm and collected in a stressful situation instead of anxious and frantic is patience. It is accepting the present moment as is.
Northeast of Oceanside, right above Valley Center lies the Metta Forest Monastery; a place where monks live their day to day lives. As I traveled up the mountain with my fellow pledges and a few actives, I was immediately surrounded by lush, beautiful, and breathtaking scenery. It was completely filled with marvelous landscapes that housed vegetation on almost every hill. Not to mention, enough fruit filled trees to make you want to stop and pick some!
At the top of the mountain, we parked and were greeted by humble visitors of the monastery. (You can plan ahead and make a brief day visit and if interested, you may even stay overnight). Afterwards we grabbed the food we brought, which served as an offering, and loaded it on a cart to serve the monks.
While we waited for their arrival, we were given bowls containing a moderate amount of rice. We were told by one of the lay people to portion our rice into eight portions (one scoop of rice per monk). I personally was thrilled to meet the Monks because I’ve never be given the opportunity before; especially not in this traditional setting. The monks slowly and patiently walked down the line wearing orange robes whilst carrying alms bowls, which are primarily used for collecting food. Alms bowls are either made of clay, iron, and stainless steel and are carried with a cloth strip bag.
After the rice was dispersed, it was a short trip up the hill with the rest of the food. At the top, the monks gathered inside a small temple that was adorned by marvelously breathtaking statues. We then delivered the food into the room in an assembly line type fashion. As they enjoyed their single meal of the day, we were invited in for the morning chant. The chant itself was magnificent; to be surrounded by people who dedicate their lives to the teachings of Buddhism and its practices was truly a moment of bliss.
Once the morning ritual was over we ate, cleaned our dishes, and waited for our chance to speak to the monks. Their days are very reserved days so everything was very timely. After all, they are living a life of constant practice. Once we finished our duties, it was time for questions. I was ahead of the group (as I naturally like to wander on my own) but because of this I got the opportunity to speak to the first Monk I saw, Isaac.
I got the chance to speak to Isaac for a good amount of time (no exaggeration; my group was the last to leave because of the amount of time I spent talking). It was incredible to speak to someone like this because I was able to actually hear and see the humble demeanor in his voice and mannerisms. He is currently at year 14 of the monastery, and shows no signs of stopping. We spoke about a large range of topics ranging from his inspiration for this way of life to the origin of his robes! His were handmade, although the dye was synthetic. However, an interesting fact is that there are many monks across the world that dye their robes using tree bark from specific types of trees. We also talked about the most inspirational monks that he looks up to. One being a teacher (hang with me here) of his teacher, of his teacher (a lot of teachers, I know) who actually had a statue of himself right in front of the temple. In addition, I heard some very interesting stories. One in particular struck me hard. In the 70’s, communists wanted to test the Buddhist monks. They killed off about seven for no real reason but to see the reaction of the rest of the monks in their area. Isaac explained how this story never hit the media and was completely overlooked. Then we dove into his past life. We explored his life through college, and his girlfriends (which drove drove him nuts), and his interest in music. His plan was to be a violinist in a string quartet. However, he was stumped because he felt a strong pull to become a monk. These were the questions that haunted him when considering a life as a violinist. Can it bring happiness? Can I support myself? Will I be apart of something big or will I struggle? He realized that being a Monk, even though it isn’t glamorous or flashy, was the path that was most worth it in the end. No longer did I see Isaac as just monk a anymore, but as someone just like myself swinging through the branches of life trying to find what’s best. For Isaac, it was to be a monk. Full respect to you Isaac, full respect to you. After the conversation wrapped up, we took a few pictures inside and Isaac generously gave me a pile of books with Dharma to last a lifetime and we were on our way.
This trip was nothing but amazing. Being able to do it all with the lovely people of DBT was even more incredible. Currently planning my next trip already!
Till next time,
David A. Dorame.