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like rain falling.

January 3, 2015

Buddhism.

I studied Buddhism off and on for years. I was mainly focusing on Christianity and Wicca in 2014, and haven’t been thinking all that much about Buddhism. I haven’t written much about it either this past year.

But I’m back to thinking about it now.

I want to be part of a spiritual community made up of nice people with good morals and beliefs that I can at least somewhat share. I need to be part of a kind community. And I need some sort of a spiritual life and practice.

I don’t need to believe in any deities to practice Zen Buddhism. Which, for me, is good. There’s a Zen group out here in Boise, which I might eventually be a part of, maybe.

While going through my blog, consisting of over 500 posts (I’ve been writing this blog since 2009), I couldn’t help but notice that I’ve written A LOT about Buddhism. I felt it good to keep the Buddhist posts here on the blog.

When I think about morality, I think about morality within a mostly Buddhist context. I think of karma, and the Noble 8 Fold Path.. the Buddhist guide for life and right action.

When I think of psychology and non-violence, I tend to think of these things from a Buddhist perspective.

When I think about death, I mostly think that there is no life after death. But, when I think about morality and consequences, I keep finding my mind going back to karma and reincarnation.  Deep down, I do, at least somewhat believe in reincarnation. And my perspective on reincarnation is Buddhist.

Does all this make me Buddhist?

Maybe.

I’ve read, and heard it said, that the Buddha made an interesting statement: “Here are my teachings. Apply those you find useful, and throw the rest away.”

If I believe in and apply some Buddhist teachings, does that make me Buddhist? I suppose so.

But I’ve had much difficulty through the years understanding the Buddhist concepts of non-duality, and self and no self. I understand a little more now than I did, but I feel that to call myself Buddhist now might not be right. I feel that maybe I need to understand more.

For years, I’d been wrestling a great deal with Buddhist concepts and teachings, and causing myself a lot of mental stress in the process.

I think I’ve been going about all this the wrong way.

This afternoon, I went down to the spiritual store I like to go to,  where Susan works. I’ve mentioned Susan in previous blogs. She’s a former Wiccan, but who many years ago became Buddhist. She understands a lot, and explains things well. Some Buddhist concepts and teachings are very hard to understand, and sometimes I don’t even understand what Susan says, but that is not her fault.

I found myself wrestling with Buddhism this afternoon, and decided I’d like to talk with Susan. Also, I love burning incense, and the store has a massive selection of different kinds of incense.. so there were two reasons to head over to the store.

I talked with Susan awhile, and told her I’d been wrestling with Buddhism yet again, dealing with lots of mental conflict, and getting stressed out. I thought for a moment, and said, “Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way… all this struggle.”

I asked Susan if, as she was becoming Buddhist, did she have many difficulties understanding things? She said yes.

Susan told me it is far better if I relax, and let things come to me. I’m not going to understand everything at once, and I shouldn’t struggle to do so.

Susan said understanding Buddhist teaching “is like rain falling, and seeping into the ground. This happens gradually.”

I really like that metaphor. Rain doesn’t struggle, it just falls from the sky. The earth doesn’t struggle to absorb the rain, it just absorbs the rain, and it does so gradually.

How then, do I relax, when my mind is amazingly chaotic, and extremely hyperactive so much of the time?

The simple answer: meditation.

Is meditation simple? In concept, yes, very simple. In practice, it is quite difficult. Meditation, the Zen Buddhist way.. is sitting. Sitting and breathing. Sometimes those who meditate count their breaths 1-10 then start over. Sometimes they just sit and absorb their breathing. They breathe, and do not allow themselves to be stuck on any thoughts.

Simple to understand the concept, but not at all easy to do, especially for beginners. I know. I’ve tried.

If I want to understand Buddhist teachings, I need to prepare the ground for the rain.. prepare my mind for understanding. To do so, I need to meditate. Meditation is Buddhism in action, even though one takes action by sitting still.

If I’m going to think of myself as Buddhist, call myself Buddhist, go to a Buddhist group, and indeed be Buddhist, I need to mediate.

If I meditate, I will gradually absorb and understand Buddhist teachings, as the earth absorbs the rain.

Sun Valley Botanical Garden, pond

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 4, 2015 5:45 AM

    May you be well and happy! Cheers!

    • tomschronicles permalink*
      January 4, 2015 5:17 PM

      Thanks! I just checked out your blog. Beautiful pictures! I’ll go back soon and read what you’ve written.

      May you also be well and happy!

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