I’m not a Buddhist, but . . .
I have explored that Teaching enough to be deeply impressed. and my interest was first sparked when I found that the root meaning of the word Buddha is from the Sanskrit word meaning WAKE UP. And I needed that one.
So, so, so. ‘They’ say that Buddhists maintain that God gave us lives of suffering, but that’s not what I understand. What I think they say, is:
First: Life, is ever-changing and so we find it unsatisfactory, and it is that lack of constancy in our lives, that we allow ourselves to suffer. The Sanskrit word is Dukkha.
Happy or sad, sooner or later, everything changes. We try to insure ourselves against change, but it comes. Our health, job, children, age, our cherished possessions. The wealthy person’s business crashes. Children grow up. Drugs enter lives of those we love. Or even ours. The marvelous evening is over. The ballerina gets arthritis, the artist goes blind, the musician deaf. Wise people get Alzheimer’s. The baby grows up. Good, loved ones have Strokes. People get old, wrinkled, and die. Fire, earthquakes, floods. There is nothing that doesn’t change, and in our futile fight to stop that change, we feel anger, fear, bitterness, and suffer.
Second: Suffering is of our own making, and not punishment ordained by heaven, or someone else’s, sins. We all want life to remain the same if it’s a happy life, and quickly change if it’s sad. We find it terribly difficult to let go of the past and cling to whatever we have lost that we loved. We mourn, feel anger and are bitter, feeling life is unjust, and we suffer. We want life to remain happy, mourn if it’s sad and feel we’re being punished.
Third: Buddhists say there is a way to change that suffering. That there is a cause for our suffering, and that cause can be found, ‘used’, and we can be ‘cured’. Like a doctor who tells us we have a terrible disease, but there is a Cause of the disease and if we work to rid ourselves of the cause, the suffering will be healed. It won’t be easy, but if we get rid of that cause, the suffering will go..
Fourth: That Way, that ‘Cure’, is called, The Eight-Fold Path. and the steps of That Path are:
- Right Understanding, knowing that our suffering is of our own making and not doomed by Heaven, we then can blame no other one for our pain.
- Right Intention, always want and intend to walk the Path. And ‘Oops, I forgot,” doesn’t help or is it an excuse, either.
- Right Speech: be friendly and not lie, insult, or hurt any person in any way by your words or manner.
- Right Action: try to do everything as well and right as you possibly can.
- Right Means of Livelihood: to earn your living in a right, decent and lawful manner. And we find that the word about being ‘lawful’ reaches far, even to the lives of your high management people. It trickles down to the least employee.
- Right Effort: to continue producing the Energy needed to continue on the Path. Meaning the right food, exercise, attitude, etc.
- Right Awareness: to recognize and know the situation in which you happen to be, so that you can control your reaction to the situation. And maintaining ‘I didn’t know about that’ won’t work. You define the moment, or the moment will define you.
- Right Meditation; And how you do your praying or meditating, doesn’t matter, for, with not a word spoken, both you and God know when we’re cheating and where our hearts are.
These eight have been put in a list, and the above list is in the wrong order. but only because there simply is no right sequence, for at a certain moment one step is vital and the very next moment it is one of the others that’s needed.
In fact, we need them all. And all at the same time, too, every moment of our day, for they intertwine, with one step supporting the others. They are all part of the whole and belong together like the threads of a piece of fabric, where one, two, three or more threads dropped upon a table, don’t make a piece of fabric. They must be woven together. All of the time.
No, I’m not a Buddhist, but dang it, those Eight Steps cover a lot of territory, and in my own blundering way, they’ve helped me over a lot of ‘changes’ that I’ve had and needed. And I finally remember that there is no place in any of God’s teachings (that I’ve found) where He ever said Life would be easy. As it’s said: WAKE UP.