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Main image of Śākyamuni Buddha within the Maha...

Image via Wikipedia

I finished reading the book, Buddhism, Plain & Simple today, and wanted to tell you what I thought about it.

When I was in university, I recall many an occasion where I would be sitting in the Pub during the day involved in conversation, and heated debates about reality, consciousness, and the big questions like eternity and mortality. There were eye-opening times for me as a young man and helped me understand the world better. It helped me question the concept of god, and embrace evolution.

This book reminded me of those times.

Is that good? I don’t quite know. I have an issue with a couple of major components of Buddhism that I may not be able to overcome to ever call myself a Buddha.

The first being the issue of existence vs non-existence. A big aspect of Buddhism seems to be the ability to appreciate the now, and that how you see now will open your eyes to reality. I should say that I understand many of the aspects of the book, but I have a hard time agreeing that my memory of physical items in my world should not be trusted. That it is in my past, and therefore doesn’t exist. Only what I see at this moment exists but even that is hard to grasp. Once I attempt to put it into words, my mind leans…Confusing.

The author spends a great deal of time trying to convince us that we don’t even exist. That because my cells, and everything about me is in flux, my concept of me is flawed. That I should embrace that everything in the universe is completely tied together in one grand Whole, and therefore me isn’t real at all. That I am just part of a big picture and is ever changing and only right now is reality. That we aren’t really born or die.

Yes, most of what he says seems to resonate with me, but not accepting my memory of the world around me, or even acknowledging a picture of me as a kid is actually me, is hard to visualize. I guess that is why people study buddhism to a great extent for decades to grasp the concepts.And though I realize that I change over time as I age, I and all those around me, can recognize me when we see it. Isn’t the collective experience of many people validation enough that I exist?

One thing though, there is a sense of calm around accepting the present moment as truth and reality, and not coming into an interaction with people with pre-conceived notions. I like that we should try to focus on now, versus focus on the past. It is a concept that everyone could try. However, my issue is that this pre-conceived notion may assist you in dealing with people, or things. If you get bit by the same dog every day because you only live in the moment, aren’t you just an idiot?

Let’s use a used car salesman as another example. They seem to have a reputation as being slightly sleazy, and not to be trusted. According to Buddhism as I so basically understand it, my next interaction with a used car salesman should be treated as a case-by-case interaction and I shouldn’t let my false memories effect it. Now, I get that most used car salesmen are probably great people, but the industry creates an almost pre-determined conflict with the poor salesman trying to sell this used car for as much as possible, with disclosing as little as possible about it’s problems in order to convince you to buy it, in order for him to feed his family. If you ignore your ‘memory’ or other people’s gossip around their bad experiences, and live in the now, aren’t you throwing away some key information that may benefit you?

How can you even get into a conversation about buying a car, when you are asking questions like, “does the car even exist?”.Well, to be fair, the answer is no. The car as you SAW it no longer exists. Just don’t blink…

Maybe I’m getting hung up on bigger picture stuff that I consider a bit fluffy, but according to the book, if you can just live in the now, and accept on the immediate moment as truth, and reality, then you will be set free.

If I could only convince the credit card companies that the money I owe them is just a concept and it isn’t rooted in reality…

 

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