“In the end, it’s not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away” – Shing Xiong

Saturday, June 14, 2014

the Dhamma path

The previous post contains the standard calls to arms of today. But how did the Buddha, the "fully self awakened one," the human being whom scholars suggest may have been the most intelligent human being who has ever lived, and who dedicated his life to finding and sharing a way to achieve a perfect true happiness in this life, how did he suggest we deal with cruelty and injustice, bad luck and despair?

First I will say that the troubles we have today are not that different from the troubles people had in the Buddha's lifetime. They look different, it appears worse, but is it? We have evidence of previous mass extinctions, we know of wars and diseases and disasters occurring throughout historical time.

This person, the Buddha, found out it is possible to be truly happy despite the horrific events of our time, and it is possible for that happiness to be helpful, beneficial, graceful and wonderful. To achieve this happiness a change of perspective is necessary. How do you change perspective, what does that mean? It means looking at the issue from a different place, in physical terms it means moving, in psycho-emotional or spiritual terms it still means moving.

It is easy to see and imagine moving physically, climb a hill to get a better vantage, but spiritually it is difficult to see where to go to get a better vantage, vantage means viewpoint. He taught how to find that better viewpoint. He began by sharing that there is a better viewpoint, that it is possible to get there, and then he taught us how to get there. For around fifty years he taught over and over to all kinds of people the means of finding true happiness, not of creating it because it already exists, but how to find it.

What is that viewpoint? It is a mind free of attachment. Attachment is like a valley full of trees, vines and thorny bushes, that is where we are unable to see the landscape around us, as we leave attachments behind we rise higher and gain space to see farther.

The Buddha gave us a plan, the Noble Eightfold Path, a map, directions, for gradually dropping attachment, how to do so in the best possible way without causing harm to ourselves or other. I am a "Buddhist" because the Dhamma is reasonable, makes sense and works for me. It helps make life an adventure, understandable and tolerable while at the same time amazing and awesome.

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