I recently did some research on Siddhartha Gautama, often simply called, The Buddha. I’m not very familiar with Buddhism, but a conversation with someone important to me regarding whether the human experience requires significant (maybe continual) suffering. created the desire to learn more.
Gautama was raised in a life of wealth but left opulence behind to pursue true enlightenment. There are Four “Truths.”
The First Truth duhkha:
Awareness that there will be stress and suffering in our human realities.
The Second Truth samudaya:
Suffering is caused because of craving. We don’t truly understand ourselves or reality, which creates sadness, anger, and frustration. We continually seek what we don’t have, thinking that the experience, person, or possession we desire will finally make us happy, but that new, exciting person or car or trip or home only briefly quenches that craving, and we’re back again seeking.
The Third Truth nirodha:
We can free ourselves from the shackles of the perpetual hamster wheel of seeking by understanding the cause. The question is: “What in me is causing this endless pursuing?”
The Fourth Truth marga:
The Noble Eightfold Path, which guides us to live with enlightenment, contentment, and joy instead of suffering
• Right View—seeing reality truthfully
• Right Intention—letting go of malice, harm, and fleeting pleasures
• Right Speech—practicing truthfulness and kindness when sharing
• Right Action—not destroying life, but, instead, doing good
• Right Livelihood—a career that does not harm self or others
• Right Effort—leaning into goodness
• Right Mindfulness—remembering the Dharma
• Right Concentration—focusing on what we want to be mindful of
Enlightenment does not demand us to be perpetually joy-filled. In fact, because we are human, that’s likely improbable! Being “enlightened” is not something we have or don’t have, but rather an acknowledgment of “what is.”
Buddhism is a way of being and living. It’s not a religion but rather a life practice and portal to understanding.
We are connected.
We as energy fields are one and separate simultaneously, perfect in our imperfection, beloved even when we don’t believe that’s possible.
We are more resilient than we know.
We are often more fragile than we want to admit.
For me, life is a journey, but the destination is not the end; it is the beginning of new life. This reality, where our planet—an orb, a fragile, damageable ball spinning through our atmosphere—is not the only “real.”
We are organically malleable, although many of us lose that, believing we’re required to conform to all sorts of circumstances. Maybe, we should be leaning into other ways of living. Perhaps we can learn from some of Gautama’s quotes.
“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” (Beautiful!)
“Don’t respond to rudeness. When people are rude to you, they reveal who they are, not who you are. Don’t take it personally. Be silent.” (Love this!)
“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” (Judging can be so easy, can’t it?)
“Give, even if you only have a little.” (Amen.)
“Pain is certain; suffering is optional.” (God help us remember this when we’re struggling.)
“Radiate boundless love towards the entire world.” (Our world truly needs this.)
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” (Yes, yes, yes.)
You have value, and you do matter despite how dark some days may seem. May God bless your day with love, understanding, and self-acceptance.