Taking The Long View

From “Food for Thought” By Ajaan Lee Dhammadharo (Phra Suddhidhammaransi Gambhiramedhacariya) translated from the Thai byThanissaro Bhikkhu

August 4, 1957

Most of us tend to concern ourselves only with short, small, and narrow things. For instance, we think that there isn’t much to human life — we’re born and then we die — so we pay attention only to our stomachs and appetites. There’s hardly anyone who thinks further than that, who thinks out past death. This is why we’re short-sighted and don’t think of developing any goodness or virtues within ourselves, because we don’t see the truth and the extremely important benefits we’ll gain from these things in the future.


Actually, the affairs of each person are really long and drawn out, and not at all short. If they were short, we’d all know where we came from and how we got where we are. The same would hold true for the future: If our affairs were really a short story, we’d know where we’re going and what we’ll be after death.

You can read the rest of Taking the Long View at accesstoinsight.org.


We can decide how we live our lives

In my workshops discussing making life dreams come true, I show a gravestone and refer to the dash that comes between the date of birth and date of death.

Whether it is the grave stone of a child that lived a mere few months or of a person who lived a full life and passed of old age, there is only just a dash there to mark their time on earth.

How we fill that dash while we are alive gives meaning to our life.

Here’s a poem describing the same idea. I am not sure of the source, but I know the writer’s name.

The Dash Poem

by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end

He noted that first came her date of her birth 
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all 

Was the dash between those years

For that dash represents all the time
That she spent alive on earth. 

And now only those who loved her

Know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not how much we own; 

The cars, the house, the cash,

What matters is how we live and love

And how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard.
Are there things you’d like to change?
For you never know how much time is left, 

That can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough 
To consider what’s true and real 
And always try to understand 
The way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger, 

And show appreciation more
And love the people in our lives 
Like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect, 

And more often wear a smile 

Remembering that this special dash 

Might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read
With your life’s actions to rehash 

Would you be proud of the things they say
About how you spent your dash?

Think about it. But, don’t stop with thinking.

What is there that you can do today to fill that dash with more meaning?

Be happy!

How Do You Fare on the HappyPlanetIndex?


Today, I visited the HappyPlanetIndex.org to check it out because my father, creator of www.happicraft.com, asked me to. My country, Sri Lanka has achieved a happy place on the index. That makes us both happy!

According to the website, “the HPI is an innovative measure that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is delivered around the world. It is the first ever index to combine environmental impact with well-being to measure the environmental efficiency with which country by country, people live long and happy lives.”

Now the second compilation of the global HPI (covering countries representing 99% of the global population) was published in July 2009. It shows that that we earth-citizens are still far from achieving sustainable well-being. It also puts forward a vision of what we need to do to get there.

As the report says, the nations that top the Index aren’t the happiest places in the world. But, those that score well on the HPI are proof that it is possible to achieve long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources.

I am committed to sustainable living. So I wanted to sign The Happy Planet Charter. This is what I found at the top of the page, and how true:

The future is not the result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created – created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.
John Scharr

In order to create a happy planet, it is important to have some clear goals to work towards. The Happy Planet Charter provides clear targets for all nations, to help achieve sustainable well-being.

You should sign The Happy Planet Charter if you believe that:

  • A new narrative of progress is required for the twenty-first century.
  • It is possible to have a good life without costing the Earth.
  • Over-consumption in rich countries represents one of the key barriers to sustainable well-being worldwide and that governments should strive to identify economic models that do not rely on constantly growing consumption to achieve stability and prosperity.

And those of us who believe so, should call for:

  • Governments to measure people’s well-being and environmental impact in a consistent and regular way, and to develop a framework of national accounts that considers the interaction between the two so as to guide us towards sustainable well-being.
  • Developed nations to set an HPI target of 89 by 2050 – this means reducing per capita footprint to 1.7 gha (global hectares), increasing mean life satisfaction to eight (on a scale of 0 to 10) and continuing to increase mean life expectancy to reach 87 years.
  • Developed nations and the international community to support developing nations in achieving the same target by 2070.

Please sign up for the Charter here if you believe in achieving sustainable well-being for all of us around the globe.

Karma – Story 01 About Drowning in Mid-ocean

In my last post, I quoted a part from the Dhammapada about how we cannot escape the consequences of our actions; if we try to hide in the skies, in mid ocean or in rock caves. This story is about the ocean.

A group of bhikkus (priests) came to see Buddha, after journeying by ship. The ship stopped in mid ocean. The Captain looked around to see who the unlucky person was that was causing the ship to stop moving. In order to go forward, they held a lottery draw to select who was to be sacrificed. It turned out to be his own wife. She was drowned by tying a pot full of sand to her neck.

The bhikkus asked Buddha why this had to be so.

His reply was that in a past birth, she had drowned a dog that started following her wherever she went, by tying a pot of sand to its back.

So wherever you go, mid ocean even, you cannot avoid the consequences of your past deeds.