Question: “I’ve recently been extremely interested in the teachings of Buddha. I’ve been doing research on such things and would really like to talk to someone that knows a lot about it. I don’t know what the first step should be. But I have so much pain and suffering in my heart and mind and I just want to live happy. I’ve been teaching myself to meditate but would really like some help because my mind always wanders. Thank you in advance. I don’t exactly know what to ask because I’m so new.”
A lot of people, and I mean a lot of people, misunderstand what Buddhism really is. Externally, it looks like the perfect “peace-centered” religion with all the people being “Buddhists” look and seem like they’re on cloud 9 and happy as can be. Oh the ignorance.
Buddhism is not a happy pill. No religion is a happy pill. The only way we can get happy pills is with a prescription! Every religion (for the most part) preaches love and peace, if we dig pass all the BS it’s been feeding society over hundreds of years. Every religion has their own form of liberation and the means of attaining it. Most religions is about devotion and worship to a god or deity and that is supposed to give you faith and happiness.
In Buddhism, it’s the complete opposite. Buddhism is non-faith-based. Meaning, your faith or worship in Buddha is not going to get you any closer to liberation than your faith or worship in god. Buddhism is a mind-centered, self-help religion. So the only faith and worship we need is in ourselves. We can pray to god for a better life with less suffering all we want, but we have to go out there and do it ourselves!
Buddhism is like a toolbox and our lives is like a house we need to build. Buddhism provides all the tools we need to hammer in nails, measure wood for cutting and paint to give the house that final touch of finished. When we’re done building, we no longer need the tools, so we either put it away or give it to someone else who needs them. Likewise, Buddhism provides us with the tools, the teachings, to help us build our lives to a better, more “finished” outcome, enlightenment.
When we’ve reached enlightenment, or near it, we then use the tools/teachings to help others attain enlightenment as well. Buddhism has many tools (schools/traditions of Buddhism) for us to pick and choose from depending on what we want and how we want to use it.
Regardless, we must always start with the basics. And meditation is not about clearing our mind, otherwise the more you try to force the thoughts from coming, the more they’ll fight back. Instead, we meditate to observe and become aware of our thoughts while not entertaining or feeding the thoughts. Eventually the thoughts will lessen.
Smile and be well!