I am often asked how I feel about modern Buddhism and the adaptation of Buddhist teachings to our new modern world and times. My answer is always the same – Truth and wisdom are only enhanced by time and thus I feel The Buddha himself would address our times with relevance and essential truth to his teachings.
Here are some principles I feel will hold up and be relevant regardless of the clocks and calendars:
There is no Buddhist god. Never has been. Never will be. Its all about you, your perceptions and understanding.
It’s about your basic goodness. Buddhism is not about salvation or original sin. It’s not about becoming somebody different or going somewhere else. Because both you and your world are basically good. With all its ups and downs, this world of ours works. We simply need to understand it as we grow.
The problem is suffering. The answer is waking up. It feels like we’re hopelessly caught in this bad dream of “me and them” we’ve created, but we can wake up from it. This is the third noble truth, the cessation of suffering. We do this by recognizing our ignorance, the falseness of our belief in this “I.”
The primary practice is simple – Work with your mind. Practices of meditation, mindfulness and more are based on understanding that we experience ourselves and our world for what they have been since beginningless time, are right now, and always will be — nothing but enlightenment itself, great perfection in every way. So work with your mind!
Whatever your spiritual choice (or lack of one) there is only one person who can better your life – you!
Yes, there is a spiritual non-material world in Buddhism. Your mind! Where is the boundary of my mind? Is it large or small? Is it inside me looking at the material world outside? Or are my perceptions and my experience of them both mind? (And if so, perhaps it’s the material world we should be questioning the reality of.)
Taking nothing, accept nothing on faith alone. Put it to your test.
Buddhism is open, progressive and not institutionalized. There is no “church” or specifics beyond local groups (No, the Dalai Lama is not the head of world Buddhism. He’s not even the head of all Tibetan Buddhism, just of one sect.). Buddhism is simply people working with their minds and each other to create goodnesses amongst all.
Buddhism works. This is not an attempt to convert anyone to Buddhism. There is no need for that. But those who think of themselves as spiritual but not religious can find a lot in Buddhism to help them on their personal path, however they define it.
When I first encountered Buddhism, what struck me was its absolute integrity. I saw that it was not trying to manipulate me by telling me what I wanted to hear. It always tells the truth. Sometimes that truth is gentle, softening our hearts and bringing tears to our eyes. Sometimes it is tough, forcing us to face our problems and cutting through our comfortable illusions. But always it is skillful. Always it offers us what we need. We are free to take what we wish.
Peace and Love, Jim