As I traveled the strongly Buddhist land of Myanmar, non-judgment — an important facet of Buddhism — rang loudly through my thoughts. In moments I was able to depart from my judgmental inner voices, my filters of perception dissolved; I was able to understand that things simply were what they were. Bright sun. Traffic. Argument. Laughter. Not right or wrong, not good or bad, not exciting or scary or shameful — all things existed as entities that I was able to experience without baggage. Judgment is, after all, most often based on what we think we know about things, based on what we have learned and felt and experienced in past similar situations.
Today, I invite you to see your life as objectively as possible. Can running late, for instance, be something other than “Panic! Terror! Shame! I AM BAD!”? Conversely (and perhaps even more challengingly), can making all the green lights be something other than “Woohoo! I win! Cause for glee and frenetic celebration and drinking a big ‘ole beer to reward myself!”? Can you free your present moments from the burden of your past? Can you see without filter? Can you respond differently?
- Arriving in Bagan, and feeling the astounding contrast with Yangon! We reveled in our first stretch of drive: so peaceful and sparsely populated, with quiet roads and mostly motorbikes rather than cars.
- Our guide Maung’s affinity toward telling stories, folk tales, and Buddhist teachings — and his stories never failed to have morals! One of my favorites was the tale of the Buddha monkey and the crocodile (the moral here being “be craft, learn to outsmart, and always stay one step ahead of others). Maung explained to us the Myanmar style of Buddhism, centered around the adage of “helping yourself” rather than waiting from Buddha to come and take you to enlightenment.
- Wandering the small local village: seeing the homes of farmers and their families, plums and sesame seeds splayed out to dry, wild millet grown for the animals, the cows with humps and sweet goats.
- Our wonder and gratitude upon discovering our beautiful hotel room, and taking the afternoon to rest in the sun and swim in the pool!
- A sweet crew of waiters at the deserted Teak House Restaurant we visited for dinner: there were a throng of people there to answer our questions, make recommendations, giggle and smile delightedly whenever we had an exchange.
- Listening to the “Buddha song” (which seemed to simply be religious chanting) broadcasted via loudspeaker — brash enough for the whole city to hear! — while walking to and from dinner on the dark streets.