Okay, so I’m just not a Buddhist…

Buddha in the garden at house sit–when I lived here used to look at this from the deck outside my door.

Happened to note that the PBS documentary on Buddha that I managed to miss at home long ago was being run here so I recorded it. Then I was interested to note that I felt like I was dragging my feet about watching it and once I started for quite some time I felt a little bored and as if I “should” watch it but really didn’t want to; I also felt a bit of intuitive push though my inclination was to ignore it. In the end there were a few insights about Buddhism that really resonated for me both in terms of clarifying some things and also in helping me to see for once and for all that I’m really just not a Buddhist.
I was interested in the segment on Buddha’s years on a path of renunciation. Though he ultimately concluded that renunciation doesn’t work it has always seemed to me that a lot of branches of Buddhism imply a need for some degree of renunciation and that has always been part of the reason Buddhism, in the end, doesn’t resonate for me. Might just be the way I’m (mis)understanding but it created a lot of confusion and uncertainty for me in my spiritual path when I studied Buddhism for a few years.
I also had to note that the experts all agreed that the goal is enlightenment and, as I’ve mentioned before, somehow I can’t get that interested in enlightenment. I feel like I’m here now in this body and the point of this journey for me is to understand the fullness of my being–including my higher self–while in this body and on this planet and to walk my path with all the consciousness I am capable of amassing. I get that that might mean that one day in practice I may achieve enlightenment, I’m just saying I don’t care whether I do or don’t.
I’m also aware that a lot of my discomfort is really just about words and phrases. There are a lot of ways that different traditions express the same stuff. Most Buddhist writers just express themselves with words and in a style that for some reason bugs me, although many writings about the Eightfold Path I find to be the best guide to living a spiritual life around. Everything outside the Eightfold Path I struggle with and even some writers about that path leave me cold.
I completely get why millions of people are attracted to Buddhism, practice Buddhism, derive deep satisfaction from Buddhism. I just have to finally accept that something about it — or my interpretation of it — upsets my journey rather than assists it. Because I so like the eightfold path it has been hard for me to get to that place of accepting the one piece and just saying no to the rest. It’s so nice that I “happened” to land on the listing on PBS for this program and felt moved to record it and that I needed to watch. I even got an inner message as soon as I’d gotten past the crucial point I needed to see that I could stop watching–which I was happy to do.
For me this is one of the hardest areas of the journey: deciding when my struggle with some concept is telling me that there’s something I need to address so that I should just face into the struggle and when that much struggle just means I’m not on a path that’s for me. I come from a long line of ancestors who believe that life is hard and a struggle so it’s easy for me to get hooked on a struggle and feel that I should suck it up and forge through anyway so I want to be careful not to just get caught in a tough place because it comes naturally. I also don’t want to sidestep things that could be in my path because there’s something I need to shift. I can see as I write this that this issue also engages my family history of perfectionism–friends have pointed out before that I tend to approach this journey as if I need to do it perfectly. So many lessons…

See also previous post:  Why are we here…  pondering my philosophy

13 thoughts on “Okay, so I’m just not a Buddhist…

  1. Several thoughts:
    To me renunciation isn’t freeing….it’s like rebellion, which locks us into an opposite extreme without room for discrimination.
    If we are owned by something, we need to get free to take it or leave it. I guess my idea of incarnation lets me see everything as part of God and having the potential to be a source of grace or experience of God. But addiction blocks that potential. Renunciation of something we abuse usually involves switching addictions rather being freed. Smoking may be less destructive than abusing alcohol, overeating much less harmful to others than either,…….but the goal would be ultimately getting free of the underlying cause of addiction itself.

    Second thought: The oneness of everything seems to be at the heart of all religions at their beginnings, but becomes quickly corrupted by our need to be special/better than others.

    If God is in all, perhaps the whole can only be greater than the sum of the parts when the parts act as one.. But even one person letting love make them one with an ‘other’, can be transforming and make a difference.

  2. I have written in the past about my reasons for not actively seeking enlightenment, but you put it so much better. Thank you.

    “I’m here now in this body and the point of this journey for me is to understand the fullness of my being–including my higher self–while in this body and on this planet and to walk my path with all the consciousness I am capable of amassing.”

  3. Pingback: I’m Not Seeking Enlightenment (Revisited) | Writings of a Pagan Witch

  4. This piece really resonated with me. There’s something about meditation and connecting with our Buddha nature that I seem to “get” on an intuitive level. I even took the precepts at a zen monastery, and I get a lot from some of the writings. But, I always find myself hesitating when it comes to identifying myself with any religion. I’m not against renunciation. It seems to help some people, and if that’s their path, I won’t judge it. But I think it should be a personal choice, not a condition.

    • Glad it hit a chord. I think every path works for those who believe it will work and that everyone should choose the one that works for them. I guess in the end I just don’t believe enough in some Buddhist concepts to identify myself that way. But I’ve changed hats more than once on this journey so who knows where I’ll wind up!

  5. Wow. You have given me a lot to ponder in this post.

    I’ve not quite gotten on the Buddhist path, but I’ve been thinking of it.

    Thank you for being so candid. All knowledge helps.

  6. Pingback: Hard mind, soft mind | Cloud and Mountain

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