Buddhism – What I’ve learned so far

I mentioned yesterday that I picked up an interesting book my wife had in her stack of readings. It is called, Buddhism, Plain & Simple – by Steve Hagen.

I’m about half way through it, and wanted to bring up something I find to be a theme from many people I’ve talked to over my life. I have heard many times before to appreciate what I have. To not dwell on the past, but appreciate the NOW. To appreciate the things and people around you. To forgive yourself.

My wife’s step-father Malcolm lived his life much like that of a buddhist. He seemed to relish every day he was alive. He did his own thing, but seemed to be there when you needed him. He never seemed to feel the need to apologize for just being him, however quirky he was. In the last conversation I had with him before he died from cancer, he told me he wasn’t afraid to die. He was just sad for everyone else.

We all have times where we say or do things that make us regret our behaviour. What the book seems to allude to is that we need to live in the present. Looking back into the past doesn’t help us. It makes us feel bad. Why apologize for being ourselves? Can we look at now and focus on it instead of bringing up bad feelings? And why speculate on the future that is uncertain and not pre-determined?

I am not very good at self ananlysis, but a lot of what Steve Hagen makes sense. I looked up to Malcolm and his ability to enjoy the moment.

Have any of you read a book that made you challenge how you perceive how or why you act a certain way?

One thing I really like about buddhism is that it tells you to question everything, and believe nothing, but just see reality around you.

I really like the following quote:

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

I can live with that…


3 Replies to “Buddhism – What I’ve learned so far”

  1. I’ve always appreciated that Buddhism is more of a way to live than a ‘religion.’ Life has brought me into contact with several Buddhist monks and I’ve been to dozens of temples in Japan. I always feel at peace when I enter them, and always leave with a sigh. I would classify my spirituality largely along the same lines you classified your views in your previous post.

    By the way, I always carry Buddhist prayer beads with me and also some omamori (Japanese protective charms). I don’t know if they bring me luck or protection, but I feel comforted they are there – they remind me of the utter peace and relaxation I experience when visiting the temples – and that is enough for me!

    1. I like that, a way to live rather than a religion.

      Some of the concepts in the book seem a little hard to grasp, like what a buddhist describes as ‘I”. It reminds me a bit of my physics class. It’s like change and constant motion means that our thoughts and experiences are just inside our heads, and the present is only right now. What we know of ourselves is only a memory…

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