dharma monkey

embrace the monkey

Shaken faith, part 2


I just walked outside to buy some tea, only to discover that it’s 70 degrees outside. Incredible weather.

As I walked, I thought about my last post and my shaken “faith” (note the irony here because I don’t really believe in faith — I believe in what I can directly see, feel and experience, so in this case, I use “faith” as a label for the spiritual/religious aspects of my life). I need to find the lesson in all of this, I thought to myself. When I got back up to my office, I closed my office door to read for about 20 minutes while I ate my lunch. On my desk was the January 2007 issue of Shambhala Sun magazine.

There, on the bottom corner of the cover, is a tease for an inside story: What makes you a Buddhist? I immediately flashed back to a summary of the story on the contents page, which I scanned this morning before leaving home.

“What makes you a Buddhist? It’s not the clothes you wear, the rules you follow, or the meditation you practice. …What makes you a Buddhist is whether you agree with the four fundamental discoveries the Buddha made under the Bodhi tree.”

That’s it. It’s really that simple!

After Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, he gave his first sermon at a place called Deer Park in India. There, he outlined the Four Noble Truths, which are the basis for the beliefs and nuances of every school of Buddhism in the world. In Buddha’s words, the First Noble Truth says:

Now, monks, this is the noble truth of suffering: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering…

In other words, life itself is suffering. Emaho! It’s so obvious, and yet, I forget it because I want all of the suffering to stop. Indeed, the answer, it seems, is to be found on that cushion at home.

Author: Sean

I am Sean, a writer/PR guy originally from the Rural South who grew up and settled down in Washington, D.C. My interests include local politics, Eastern philosophy, languages and reality television.

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