I’m probably one of the most “schooled” persons I know. I’m not saying that I’m smarter, I’m just saying I spent more time in a school of one sort or another for longer than anyone I know. I went to school from age 4-28 non-stop. Then from age 29-31, and then from 33-37. So basically 32 out of 38 years. I’ve taken quite a few classes at the university level as one might imagine, and I’ve even taken world religion classes. I find it funny though that with all the classes I’ve taken, I really don’t know a whole hell of a lot. It is only now that I am learning that the path that I have set out for myself, and that which I have stumbled upon through misadventure and serendipity just happens to seemingly coincide with Buddhism. I’m not “converting” to Buddhism, or any other religion for that matter, I just find it odd that Buddhism seems to describe what I’ve been learning on my own.

Basic Beliefs in Buddhism:

The Buddha did not try to explain whether there was an ultimate God or not, or what the proper rituals and sacrifices were to achieve oneness with God. Instead, he taught that we must strive through our own efforts to achieve liberation from anguish and suffering. The Buddha espoused an easily understood philosophy, based on the Four Noble Truths:

  • The first Noble Truth is that all impermanent objects and beings are subject to suffering. (From what I’ve read in other sources, suffering here isn’t a perfect translation, “Disquiet, Absence of Harmony, Lack of Balance, Ill-ease would be more appropriate)
  • The second truth is that the arising of suffering comes from our own ignorance and attachment to impermanence.
  • The third truth is the realization that there is an end to this suffering and anguish, and that end is the knowledge of the ultimate reality.
  • The fourth Noble Truth is that the Eightfold Path is the way to achieving this ultimate reality. The Eightfold Path consists of the following:
  1. Developing Right View or Right Understanding. This means knowing and understanding the Four Noble Truths.
  2. Right Thinking or Right Aim, meaning to strive for Perfect Wisdom, or the understanding of ultimate reality. The goal should be to overcome delusion and achieve freedom of mind.
  3. Adhering to Right Speech, meaning to refrain form lying, slander, perjury, or hurtful speech.
  4. Right Action. To avoid taking the life of or killing any living creature. To abstain from stealing and sensual or sexual misconduct (Here this has been variously understood as anything hurtful- either self or other inflicted). To abstain from all hurtful or vengeful acts.
  5. The fifth part is Right Living, which means to abstain from all evil ways of living; to abstain from all evil methods of livelihood. (If you hurt the earth with poisons, pollute the waters, etc.)
  6. Right Effort, which means to conquer all hurtful, vengeful or evil states of mind they may have already arisen, and to develop and maintain good states of mind. Such states of mind would include loving kindness for all beings, compassion and pity for all creatures, sympathetic joy and equanimity.
  7. Right Mindfulness. This means to cultivate dispassion, detachment, calm, tranquility, and indifference to all that is impermanent and, thus, not of the ultimate reality. To disregard all that is perceived, remaining dispassionate from both the pleasures as well as the pains arising from the creation of senses and sensuality.
  8. The eighth part is Right Concentration, which means to develop one-pointedness of mind through intense meditation and reflection.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I find it somewhat comforting that I have come to these realizations on my own, and then to have them confirmed by so many other people in their own way and along their own paths, is somewhat comforting.