I can see how Gautama struggled on his path to enlightenment. I often wonder how he was able to achieve full enlightenment with the temptation of his wealthy family and having to abandon his family for that greater inner-peace. The thought of walking away from it all with the lure of complete self-control is very intriguing, but the process compares to Dante navigating his way through Hell; even a monk has to wonder at times if it’s truly worth the hassle of enduring complete emptiness for eventual spiritual wealth. The purity of Buddha is not made to be worshipped, but how can one stray away from such a thought?
A little over a year ago, I borderline obsessed with the idea of surviving in the wild alone with nothing. The idea of being a primitive human in the basic form seemed foreign enough to be educational and provide a small form of self-worth. Its nothing new or interesting. Many people have gone into the wild and survived. The risks are there, but the reward must hold similar weight to enlightenment in Buddhism. At the time, I was very new in my Buddhism knowledge and naive to the full requirements to fulfill that state of Nirvana. Like Siddhartha, I sought to gain the full state of power from a trip into the wild. But unlike the great Gautama, I planned on killing my meals and meditation would most likely have been the furthest thing on my mind with the race against time and energy.
If Buddha were here right now; he would see the technological and material obsession plaguing this country. I’m aware that similar temptations were present in his time since he came from a wealthy family, but not as far technologically and socially advance as today. Would Siddhartha walk away from the wealth if his life was centered in present time? Would he meditate and then Twitter his followers to tell them he’s content? Would the great Buddha have his own Facebook page informing people of the Eightfold Path or the Four Noble Truths? Would Buddhism become as ridiculous as the many corrupt religions today that profit and exploit children and women for sexual gratification?
The Buddha I believe in, a man ignorant to the life outside of his parents control, broke his father’s grasp that clouded his mind. One day he left his mansion and was confronted with the real world and the struggles of common hard-working men and elders. Gautama was foreign to these concepts and began to appreciate everything in life from animals to the sick. He did not perform miracles or declare himself God, but he found a way to come to peace with the world through meditation and a minimal lifestyle. This peace has led him to spread his knowledge to other people. Buddhist,unlike other religions, do not force their views on others, torture, or kill innocent people in the name of their religion. Buddha does not wish for us to worship statues of him or claim him superior to everyone else. The idea of Buddhism being a religion is also a questionable statement to those that practice it. The great Buddha represents wealth and poor at the same time. This is evident in the fat laughing Buddha statue (wealth), and the skinny form of Buddha sitting meditating (poor and peace).
‘To conclude, its tough to follow any religion in today’s society, but even the great Buddha had to overcome these demons to feel complete. The concepts of Buddhism make sense to me and provides me with a path where the only obedience is not to a God, but to myself. The Buddha is not there to sway you politically or financially, but to give you advice that you should only follow if you agree with it. A path that helps you fight greed, corruption, your struggles, and even drug addiction.
My favorite all time quote:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
All that we are is the result of what we have thought. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him.
Everything we experience begins with thought,
Our words and deeds spring from thought,
If we speak or act with evil thoughts,
unpleasant circumstances and experiences inevitably will result,
Wherever we go, we create bad karma because we carry bad thoughts. We cannot shake off this suffering as long as we are tied to our evil thoughts.
This is very much like the wheel of a cart that follows the hooves of an ox,
The animal is bound to this heavy load with ever step it takes