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Essential Elements of Buddhism — 1 Comment

  1. Here’s my take on Buddhism. It’s basically a non-mystical perspective. I believe that Siddhartha Gautama did exist even though there is no archaeological evidence. I won’t go into why, but I also believe, like some of the suttas state, he was just a man, not a god. In my opinion, his entire story, that is, his teachings and life were highly embellished. In other words, he wasn’t a prince or the son of a great king, etc. The best that can be ascertained is that he was the son of the elected leader of a province that belonged to a kingdom that was ruled by a warlord type of king. Further, he was from the farmer class that took up arms when required. He was not from the warrior class.-source Spirit of the Buddha by Martine Batchelor.

    Now, I believe Siddhartha was fairly observant and basically said, “there’s a lot of ‘dukkha’ in life”. He never really said suffering as ‘dukkha’ is translated by Sanskrit and Pali scholars as ‘unease’. But it, apparently, can mean several similar ideas such as fear, anxiety, disease, dislike, nervousness, panic, etc. and of course, suffering.

    With that, I believe he figured out that if he released himself psychologically from these things that caused suffering or he didn’t cling and grasp to them (2nd noble truth) he could highly foreshorten or eliminate his suffering. For example, instead of suffering or living in a state of fear, denial or what have you over the fact that someone you love, like a parent, spouse, child etc. is going to die, may get sick, hurt or other, accept that fact that these things are inevitable, that they are a part of life, and do your best to enjoy your loved ones while they’re around and healthy. Also, accept the fact that the same is going to happen to yourself and try to enjoy life while you can. No point fretting over the fact you are going to die one day. (The greatest fear next to public speaking suffered by human individuals.)

    I believe that people over-do this whole enlightenment/awakening thing. I thing that Siddhartha awakened when he realized certain truths like the four noble truths, the truth of impermanence, and the truth of interdependent origination which, I think, is just integration. I also think his awakening had a lot to do with realizing that there were no Gods or God, and if there was, God has no affect or involvement on anyone’s life. He was probably an atheist but saw no point in even discussing it. I don’t believe that Siddhartha believed in devas or any other god-like entities but he may have ‘humored’ people by talking to them in a way that they would understand what he was getting at. Basically, his awakening was realizing that the current way people thought about things (2500 yrs ago) wasn’t truth and wasn’t very realistic.

    One of his big realizations was that being ascetic got you nowhere, and in fact, could seriously harm you. From this he realized that the ‘middle’ way was an extremely good approach to life, but not the only approach. That is, too much of something doesn’t always work as does too little of something doesn’t always work. For example too much work makes you stressed, and too little work can make you lazy.

    I believe that most Buddhism has been added to by cultural beliefs (as well as self-centered individuals but much of it is cultural). For example, Tibetan Buddhism is heavily influenced by the pre-Buddhist Bon religion. And, Tibetan Buddhism is so popular today because of the unfortunate circumstances regarding what happened in and around 1959 to Tibet.

    Basically, to me, Siddhartha Gautama’s teachings and realizations were a lot simpler then what they’ve grown into, or that they have been highly embellished, and made to be highly mystical. One should take into consideration the beliefs at the time and that Siddhartha had to explain things to people who held these beliefs. It would be like talking to a born-again Christian about, say, how the bible is full of errors and that it is actually biblical scholars that have mostly been the determinants of this fact, and not a bunch of heathen satanists sitting around looking for a way to discredit the beliefs of the born-again Christians.

    Now, if one removes the ‘mysticism’ and sticks to the ‘core’ beliefs it’s a pretty good philosophy to live life by.

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