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