Am I a Buddhist?

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“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama

On deeper reflection and having had more recent awareness I realized on this journey through life that I didn’t know what to call myself in terms of my spiritual inclination. I have a strong logical mind and had a few times over the years put my spiritual toes in the oceans of western theistic religion. Being broad minded in my journey for the truth I also took on the atheistic mantle for a good while after some insightful study. I found both ends of the spiritual spectrum (and yes atheists can appear to be religious zealots in their field of intellectual passion as well) lacking in their ability to define a metaphysical picture of the meaning of life and my part in it. When it came to the Abrahamic religions I just could not defer all my personal responsibilities to an out of body entity. You see I have a strong sense of responsibility not only to my family but also to the truth. Being told that I was by my very human nature sinful and damaged goods just was not right. I was more than that!

Then I came across Buddhism which has been described variously as a religion for tax purposes and a science of the mind. Monks I know view Buddhism as a religion but to me in essence it’s also more than that. It’s a path in practical wisdom and a real human opportunity to see the world for what it is and that is a mindful construct. All that there is, all the anxieties, the stresses of modern western life, the wants and the, I don’t haves are my minds conditioned reaction to the external sensual world.

Buddhism is the middle way and it would appear, unlike the theistic religions,  it does hold the graceful salvation of humanity and in particular the human mind as its highest endeavour.

I became attracted to Buddhism because of the respect it gave to me as a human being as it put me at the very centre of its nature and teachings. There was no ‘you must have blind faith’ in some illogical and unproven concept of religious doctrine. Wisdom was at its very core and at the end of each verse of its message there was wise justification.

Try the teaching out. Don’t just read the label and expect to be cured as the saying goes. It’s a journey that has to be taken personally in order to derive the benefit. I notice that we spend far too much time these days following other peoples live in the media through reality programmes be they either on TV or YouTube. How very sad is that, that we would rather let someone else take the journey for us rather than feel the pain, suffering and also the joys of life. This deferred life experiencing is a worrying development in human evolution.

For me it was the wisdom that Buddhism presented that first became attractive and the words at the beginning of this blog article typify that sense of wonder and wisdom. I too am at times totally amazed at and surprised at humanity. Indeed as I move through the various stages of life I feel a detachment from the presented reality and more of a pull towards the less conventional realities described by Buddhism.

I’m there in my understanding shoulder to shoulder with the Dalai Lama in that I work hard in a discipline that is by its very nature all about managing change. I receive money in good quantity but I’m stressed and very unfulfilled. Something is wrong, very wrong!

Part of any cure is first recognising that there is a disease or a problem and I have clearly seen the delusions of life. That causes me pain or Dukkha and presents a real feeling of un-satisfactoriness. But then I recognise that I am still at the very start of my journey and through an understanding of the Buddhist first noble true ‘suffering’ has come into clearer focus. I’m starting to see with a bit more clarity and vision just what is causing that pain and suffering.  The words ‘this too will pass’ are at this moment ringing in my ears as I’m aware that there is a journey out of this prevailing unsatisfactory human condition, my condition. Surprisingly it appears it doesn’t come down to the external world but rather to my reaction to my sensual interpretation of the external world. A person once said that in terms of change it’s easier to alter the world than change you. Well that’s the journey that I find myself on, a journey of inward discovery full of intrepid cavernous mindful traverses. I just hope that I’m a match for the continuing journey into my own conditioned mind.

So I will tempt myself away from looking into the future and stop strategizing about how I’m going to navigate around the obstacles in my life and present myself back to the here and now. Well, for my own sanity I’ll try at least.

What then shall I call myself, a practicing human being or a Buddhist? After just two years reading the wisdom that the Buddha presented I still have a lot of dust in my eyes, so let’s say for now I’m a practicing human being on the cusp of great internal insights into my own psyche. But them my nature is otherwise by description very Buddhist indeed. All just words and it’s action that counts I suppose.

So am I a Buddhist?