What’s up with you and Buddhism?
Blog :The Incredible Adventures of Nocturne Noire in the Massively Populated Blog World
Date: 8/15/2012 3:08:15 PM
I have a friend who keeps asking me this question, so I have been thinking.
I am one who is the least bit inclined to dive into religious texts in search of The Answer; I’d much rather read psychology or philosophy. There was a time when I was clueless and alone and struggling, and I discovered certain Buddhist principles almost by accident while I was trying to help myself. I still am clueless and alone and I still struggle, but with a crucial difference – the way I look at the world has changed drastically, and therefore I am perpetually happy, even when I am sad.
While I totally reject all forms of isms that promise an easy (or difficult) way out of the absurdity of the human condition, I am somehow able to relate to many concepts and ideologies of Buddhism. As long as I am in complete possession of all my mental faculties, it will be a cold day in Hell before I sell my soul to any single ism, but the Buddhist way of thought – which respects you before it demands respect and couldn’t care less if you don’t respect it – is something that resonates closest to my own world view.
Buddhism has a lot of references to suffering and compassion and ego and attachment and desires and detachment. These concepts are not exclusive to Buddhism, or to any religion for that matter. We all suffer. But what do we do with it? Must we feel that we are flawed and therefore we deserve to suffer in order to make peace with it? Do we flail our arms about and try to fight it? Do we numb ourselves or embrace denial? Do we follow (the)/(a) Book to the T? What do you do?
Honestly, there is nothing to do. You just allow your life experiences to shape you to become the best you personally can be.
Your deep suffering can get you in touch with the rest of humanity. This does not mean that whoever has suffered, or is suffering, automatically becomes an overflowing well of compassion. There are many who reject this inevitability of human condition and refuse to accept it with humility; and they invariably turn cruel, harsh and unforgiving.
Remember the story about the stick that breaks but the grass that bends wisely only to spring back when the opposing force is removed? For a long time, I foolishly thought that it was about conflict-avoidance, and being meek almost to the point of being bovine. The stick and grass story has more to do with accepting distress and suffering, instead of fighting it.
I use the term “suffering” almost flippantly. Depending on your indoctrinations, conditionings and religious beliefs, you will ascribe different meanings to it. You may even exalt it through masochistic rituals.
Dukkha (suffering), which literally translates into sadness, has complex layers of meaning which are revealed as you live your life, moment by moment. Suffering is not something that you go through once, and then forget about. Life itself is suffering, which is not to say that it is always sad. Dissatisfaction is the nature of life and impermanence is the rule.
If you have ever fought sadness, you will know that the more you fight it the stronger it gets. You can build strong barriers around your heart, immerse yourself in worthless endeavors that occupy your mind, earnestly practice apathy, or even transform your grief into anger, but you will never get rid of it. Most of us are like jugglers who are constantly juggling our fiery sadnesses. If we let them sit on our hands, we burn. So our entire lives are wasted in the attempt to feel as little pain as possible – as we juggle, we deal with a particular sadness only when it comes in contact with us for the briefest moment possible. That’s the way we like it and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
But the way to enjoy life, counter-intuitively, is to open your heart and let yourself feel your grief. It may be the most terrifying thing you have ever done in your life, but once you are able to accept the cycle of happiness and sorrow as the natural order of things, you will be able to lead a much happier life. You then begin to enjoy happy moments as they occur and stop chasing the promise of happiness which is out there, but you can’t quite reach.
You cannot wait for life to start because it has already started.
(I know nothing. There is no formula to life. This is just the way I look at it. You are better off ignoring all that you read here.)
Filed under: Observations and Opinions