Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Why Buddhism, why now?

I sit at my desk day after day, head swirling with thoughts, randomly strewn about like dirty clothes on a child’s room. I have bills to pay when I get home. My coworker is humming again! What am I going to have for lunch? Is tonight my kid’s baseball game? Endlessly, all day, these thoughts invade my mind. How can I or anyone ever find peace!

A Zen master asks us what it is we seek.

Lama Gyurme once said that Buddhism is part Religion, part philosophy and partly a way of life. It is a Religion in the sense that it is important that the original message of the Buddha stays undiluted, a philosophy in the sense that Buddhism is a broad school of philosophical and conceptual thought and a way of life in the sense that it is meant to help right here and right now in each and every one of our lives.

I am not interested so much in the first two but I am very interested in the latter. It does not matter what beliefs you have or what religion you are. This is not about belief or even about God, but rather seeing the world and ourselves with a very honest and keen, almost scientific eye.

But why, what's in it for me?

Well, you can begin to go through life fearless; Fearless in the face of change, in the face of others aggression and yes, fearless in the face of death. We can learn to smile at those that harm us, extend a hand to those that lash out at us and learn to walk this earth with a compassionate heart.


Not by belief in any ideal or teaching, but with an open heart and open mind, begin to see the true nature of our existence. See for yourself life is change and recognize our minds reaction to this change. All suffering arises with in us, all turmoil is based on the inimitable truth that everything changes and nothing can be grasped. With kindness and compassion to yourself, you can learn to become unattached to these material things that will never persist, and simply begin to watch how this ride we call life unfold.

What it is we seek? Perhaps we can find out together.

The Buddha once said, “You are strong, you are young. It is time to arise.” In our modern world, it is rare that one follows the path of the awakened.....but it is no less true today then it was 2,500 years ago. "So....Arise!"

(A thank you to the webmaster of this blog for allowing me to be a contributor!)


  1. Excellent post, Kyle! Indeed, the Buddha also exclaimed, "ehi passiko!" - Come and see (for yourself)!

    Why now? My reason is that life is now, for more people than ever I would guess, much like the Buddha's own when he was a youth in the palace. We (in the West) live in relative decadence and distraction.

    Our way of life needs to be in all of this (unless we run away to the woods - not a bad idea sometimes) but not 'of' all of this...

    Tricky work, daily practice.

    What do I seek? A tough question. Sometimes just relief from the day's tensions - but a glass of wine does that ok. I suppose I practice for relief from tension in general, seeing/knowing what my practice has done for me thus far and trusting that it will continue to unravel the binds of craving and 'self'ishness.

  2. It does not matter what beliefs you have or what religion you are.

    I think it does matter what you beliefs you have, but not in the "you gotta know the Truth to be saved" way. It matters because what if you believe it's okay to eat babies? If you are a Buddhist, certain beliefs are important.

    We can learn to smile at those that harm us, extend a hand to those that lash out at us and learn to walk this earth with a compassionate heart.

    I'm all for the end of suffering, but as the Bad Buddhist says, "It ain't likely." I can assure you I won't be smiling at someone raping my daughter or extending a hand to those punching my wife in the face. One of the things that drew me to this blog... the idea of progressive Buddhism, is the pragmatic approach to life through Buddhism, not the "pie in the sky" syrupy turn-the-other-cheek BS.

  3. Kyle, I really enjoyed your post. It was captivating and educational. I hope you continue to contribute so that those of who are new to understanding the buddhist life style can continue to learn. I especially like how you broke it down into religion, lifestyle, etc. I think that explained it a little more for me.
    Thank you for sharing and hope to hear more from you.

  4. Buddhist_philosopher- Thanks for the kind words! Exactly, Come and see for yourself. We do live in decadence when compared to the rest of the world. Happiness is not relative.

    Cpd314 - Thanks for you comments! I admire you, it takes balls to speak your mind and cut through the shit like that. I bet we have a lot more in common than you probably realize, especially when it comes to progressive Buddhism. Only one question about your comments; Would you feel as much anger at the rape of a strangers daughter as you would feel if your daughter was raped?

    Shalom916 - Thanks for the very kind words!

  5. Thanks for the post Kyle. Learning what you really want is the first step. We fool ourselves with wants. But what we should really want is nothingness in which to calm our minds.

  6. Kyle,

    Great first post! These are fundamental questions. I've been thinking about my motivations a lot recently. The 'classic' motivation is becoming aware of the impermanence of life. For me it was slightly different - I seek growing tranquility and happiness of course - also wisdom and a deepening acceptance that reality cannot be grasped by the mind (due to a sort of existential crisis I went through when I was younger).

    Looking forward to the next post.

    If you are a Buddhist, certain beliefs are important.
    Some beliefs can be harmful, but in the practice I do at least,(Soto Zen) what is most important is seeing beliefs not as 'reality' but as habits of thought and emotional attachments and trying not to be attached to them.

    the pragmatic approach to life through Buddhism, not the "pie in the sky" syrupy turn-the-other-cheek BS.
    Heh. I have a child with a very difficult ex-wife. Being passive or 'always nice' doesn't work. Sometimes youi have to be tough. The important thing from my experience is doing what needs to be done without getting involved in all the bad emotion.

  7. Kyle,
    Thanks, I think the edginess comes not only from being a cop, but from coming out of a fundamentalist Christian setting that was always trying to pass off bullshit as Truth and me getting tired of the incoherent babbling from wanna-bes.

    I'm sure we do have a lot in common and I wasn't coming at you (which I'm glad you weren't taking what I said personal, that gives me some good vibes about you).

    And the answer to your question is yes, yes I would if it was a stranger's daughter, and I don't say that in a theoretical sense. I've worked the past six months in Criminal Investigations Division focusing on sex crimes, child molestations, and child abuse cases. Call me on the carpet about violating whatever Buddhist principles, but I get mighty angry about the stuff I see done to kids, but I channel that anger in a positive direction to go and catch these guys.

    But, honestly, I've only just recently started calling myself a Buddhist, so take it easy in your rebuttals toward this newb. I know I've got a lot yet to learn.

  8. Thanks to all for the warm welcome and nice comments!

    cpd314 - There is no need to worry one bit, I think we are all beginners. I certainly know I would feel as much dismay and anger at the things you see every day. In fact my mind cringes at the thought of having to do what you do every day. I grew up in a strict Catholic family and I have an ex-wife, so let me tell you I know that feeling!

    The beauty of Buddhism, but moreover, being human is we are the final authority. There really are no principles to follow, only your own judgment and reason. Thats why I admire your honesty!

    Justin - Thank you again!

  9. cpd314,

    Here is an excellent audiobook about a US cop's experiences with Buddhism that you might be interested in:

    Let us know what you think.