What is life exactly? Religious teachers and philosophers of both the past and present have offered diverse explanations about life. What is the Buddhist perspective of life?
1. Life is suffering. From birth to death, isn’t all that we experience ultimately of the nature of suffering, in the final analysis? It is only with self-awareness that “life is suffering” that we can have right, penetrating understanding of life.
2. Life is impermanent. From birth to death, we undergo constant changes every instant along with the metabolic processes in the body, thus advancing steadily towards the end of death. It is only with self-awareness that “life is impermanent” that we will be constantly vigilant, treasure this precious human life and live earnestly.
3. Life is illusory. When we probe in-depth into life, we discover that life is causally arisen, without any substantiality of its own,. It is only with self-awareness that “life is illusory” that we could live fearlessly without misgivings, as we sacrifice self-interests for the benefit of others.
This human form is rare and hard to come by. One must not live this human life in vain or let it degenerate. Moreover, one must make life sublime, by following the flawless life-outlook of the Middle Path and purifying this imperfect life that is rooted in craving, so as to accomplish the perfect, enlightened life that is based upon right wisdom. Only then can one imbue this human life with great, noble value.
I love Alan Watts. I have read most of his books and watched hours of his videos and learned a lot in the process. There is no doubt that Professor Watts, a philosopher, knew a great deal of the teachings of the Buddha. Yet, he died an early death of acute alcoholism. People who knew him described him as an intensely lonely and sad man.
How can this be?
You see for Watts the dharma was just an academic study. He did not follow the precepts. He did not meditate. His is a valuable lesson for us. Knowing and doing are not the same thing. I can read all about fitness and health but if I don’t exercise and eat well all that knowledge is useless. Knowledge, if it is to be anything other than mental gymnastics, must be put into practice.
Don’t think for a moment that you are going to read yourself into inner peace.
In fact, often students spend their time trying to understand instead of doing the things they are taught. This is why I cringe when people speak of Buddhism as a “philosophy”. There is a great deal of philosophy in the Buddhist tradition but you could know it all and not be an inch closer to accomplishing what the Buddha was trying to convey.
The goal, if you can call it that, of Buddhist practice, is to eliminate the fear which we human beings are heir for the simple reason that our intellect allows us to see that we will age, sicken and die. We are afraid of losing that which we cherish all the while knowing that it will happen. Not might happen WILL happen.
So far as we “know” we have just this one life. Most people are still just animals concerned with food, shelter, sex and security, They are born asleep, live asleep and die asleep. All the while they live they are haunted by fear. This fear causes them to hate others, covet what they have and to take what they want. Their spirits never rise above the desires of the body.
Then as they begin to stir awake they are plagued by doubt and ask “is this all there is?” Asking this is the very first step on the path.
I listened to a great Buddhist sermon on TV just now:
once upon a time, there was a father whose son was always getting angry at the smallest things. he just couldn’t control his anger.
one day, the father said to his son, “every time you get angry, hammer a nail into the wall.”
the son was confused, but did as he had been told. several times a day, whenever he got angry, he took a hammer and hit a nail into the wall. soon, his arms were aching and he had gotten thoroughly tired of hammering all those nails.
he saw how ugly the wall had become with all those random nails, and painstakingly removed them all.
his father came and watched him, then pointed out all the holes in the wall that needed to be fixed.
he said something along the lines of, “son, it took you only a few minutes to hammer those nails into the wall, didn’t it? but look how long it is taking you to remove them. and even if you patch up all these holes now, the wall will never look the same.”
i think you all realise what the moral of the story is: anger harms only the one who gets angry…and the damage of angry words, once spoken, can never be undone.
Few people realise the suffering they can cause someone when they bully, physically harm, emotionally or psychologically abuse someone, or generally mistreat others with harmful words and attitudes. Yet the consequences for these actions are much much more severe than what we are taught.
Spiritual bondage As a spiritual healer I have found people completely held down by what I call “spiritual bondage”, where they have been so mistreated their whole lives that they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically bound to and by their suffering. And it wont always be huge traumatic experiences. Often times, it is simply someone yelling at them which has bound them to their suffering, or something they brought on themselves by mistreating others. But from my experience as a healer, I have found people with energy shackles, essentially negative energy so heavy and so accumulated that their body suffers as if bound in shackles. I’ve had people come to me with backs hunched over and unable to walk without crying in pain, and yet when the negative energy is removed they can walk again like normal. This is spiritual bondage. And this is the result of mistreating others. If left untreated, it can carry on into the next life.
When we hurt someone, we direct negative energies to them. These negative energies sometimes can be so hateful, so angry and so resentful that they become a curse on that persons body. We curse others without even realising, and today more and more people are mistreating each other without realising the true spiritual nature of what they are doing to someone. It is not a small thing to curse someone with spiritual bondage. Spiritual bondage lasts for years, decades, or even someones entire life. This type of suffering is emotionally, physically and mentally draining and cursing with spiritual bondage essentially prevents someone from accessing the divine blessings and protection that they need in order to flourish. You are cutting them off from the spiritual nourishment that all of us need and are deserving of. Yet it is so easy to do. How often have we yelled at shop assistants trying to do their jobs? How many of us yell at our parents, at our friends or partners? How many of us have suffered abuse and mistreatment? How many of us send hateful messages to others? How many of us manipulate and take advantage of others? How many of us discriminate or harm others because they are different? Every word, every action you take matters, and has real spiritual consequences, not only on others, but on your own body.
Ancestral spiritual bondage Spiritual bondage can and usually is also an ancestral inheritance. Not only do we take on spiritual bondage from past lives, but we can inherit it from our ancestors. One of the most common ways that this can be inherited through our ancestors is through abuse or mistreatment from a parent to their child in which the cycle of abuse continues with their children’s children and so on. In my own family, a the of abuse and mistreatment of my grandfather as a child resulted in neglect of my mother whom in turn became manipulative and controlling as a result of her suffering under my grandfather. When she has raised myself and my siblings, we have all grown up cursed with the negative spiritual energy of my grandfather’s abuse. When I had broken free and gone to heal the others in my family, the level of spiritual bondage upon each person has been so damaging and so heavy. Mindfulness: The fundamental teaching of the Buddha One of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha was the concept of mindfulness. He begins this teaching by asking us to focus simply on the breath. With regular practice of mindful breathing, we can begin to apply the concept of mindfulness in our everyday lives in more complex situations than just breathing. But this is such an important teaching. Why? Because being mindful of our words and actions allows us to think before we speak and act, which is extremely important when we want to minimise harm to others. While it is normal to feel anger, rage, sadness, desires and overwhelming emotions of any kind, we need to take care in how we express these emotions. We can always choose our actions, and we can always choose our thoughts. But we cannot know the true suffering of others, and we cannot take back the harm we cause to others. So it is vitally important to treat others with love and respect regardless of how angry they make you, because you do not know what curses your hate may place over them.
We live in a world full of war, disease, starvation, hatred and suffering. The best thing we can do to fight is to love others from our heart. This is the best form of rebellion, the only way to bring light into the world if only for a brief moment. Love is a magic that can overcome pain, and we need more of it in this world. So love others, be mindful of the consequences of mistreating others. Love comes first.
Understanding and love are the two most important teachings of the Buddha. If we do not make the effort to be open, to understand the suffering of other people, we will not be able to love them and to live in harmony with them. We should also try to understand and protect the lives of animals, plants, and minerals and live in harmony with them. If we cannot understand, we cannot love.
‘Life is difficult, the Buddha taught, for everyone. Suffering he said, is the demand that experience be different from what it is. Of course we do what we can to address the pain. Sometimes illnesses are cured. Sometimes relationships are mended. Sometimes losses are recouped. Sometimes, though, nothing can be done. The Buddhas teaching of liberation was that peace of mind is possible, no matter what the circumstances.’
- Sylvia Boorstein, In the Face of Fear, Buddhist Wisdom for Challenging Times.
In the YouTube video by J. Krishnamurti
about Enlightenment, he explains that enlightement to wake up to
something.”To wake up to what? To be enlightened about what?” He then
explains how enlightement means to wake up to the truth about the
psychological structure that has accepted time.
explains how Enlightenment is something we already are every present
moment. It is not something you can add. It is the ego-less state. Which
means to realize that there is no-self and to understand the nature of
your present reality very very well. Studying reality will give you the
direct experience of realizing that you are IT. Give up the search, he
says, it is not something you can reach in the future.
Enlightenment has been used many times in both religion and spiritual
cults. The new age movement loves to throw this word around in an
attempt to compete. It has been explained as reaching a godlike and
divine state, beyond our simple human understanding. Which is a very
vague explanation that only creates illusion and expectations.
I used to be
desperately seeking for “Enlightenment”, wanting to reach this
superhuman state. My reasons where quite simple; 1. i disliked myself as
i was , 2. i disliked the world. It was my way of feeling like i could
escape it somehow.
After my LSD
experience a whole new world opened up for me. And months after i still
reap the benefits of it, having insights after insights. The most recent
one is was about how we are never fully in touch with reality as it is.
We dream our way through life thinking, fantasizing. We live on
auto-pilot, totally unaware of the present moment.
I also started
to have more and more moment where my focus went to the present moment
for a short while. I found so much peace in these moments, that i
decided to pick up meditation again and mindfulness practice.
discovered that it’s not so much about doing something. But more about
learning how to just be. In this state of just being…i got a tiny
glimpse of what it’s like to have no self without using any
psychedelics. Who you truly are…is raw experience…and we are all that.
Nothing is separate. Having experienced this first hand, changed my
world upside down.
To be honest,
after this it only feels like i just started on my journey. It feels
very different this time. Like i am not chasing some fantasy. I am
merely letting go. I used to think i was so close to the end of my
journey, but now i realize how ignorant this was. I opened myself up to
the fact that i know nothing, and i am gonna study the present moment as
best as i can.
words, there is no search for Enlightenment. Nobody else can teach you
to realize it. It is an insight you get by looking deeply into the
present moment. Which is why is why a better word for it would be “woken
up” to truth.
Fun Fact: Danny Rubin, who wrote the script for the beloved Bill Murray movie “Groundhog Day” chose that day so the movie would become a holiday classic. It worked. He gets royalties every time it plays so this was a good business decision for him.
Bonus Fact #1: One of the most frequent questions the director the late Harold Ramis was asked over and over again was how many actual years passed during the movie. Ramis finally answered “at least 10,000 years”,
Bonus Fact #2: The main reason that director Harold Ramis, a Jewish-Buddhist, picked the script was because it was an allegory of the teachings of the Buddha. Bill Murray’s character only broke out of the cycle of “rebirth” after he learned compassion and abandoned “self”.
To be angry at people means that one considers their acts to be important. It is imperative to cease to feel that way. The acts of men cannot be important enough to offset our only viable alternative: our unchangeable encounter with infinity.
Buddha compared his teaching to a raft used to cross a river. Once it has served its purpose, once the river has been crossed, it’s best to leave the raft behind or it will become an unnecessary burden.
‘The Buddha compares his teaching to the rainfall that descends without discrimination on the earth. That this rain causes some seeds to grow into flowers and some into great trees implies no difference in the rain but rather is due to the capacities of the seeds that it nurtures. Thus, the teaching of the Buddha is of a single flavor but benefits beings in a variety of ways according to their capacity.’