Is this the right path?
This morning it occurred to me more clearly than usual, that there is a lot of upside to being on the Christian path. Actually, not just Christians, but probably any religion who believes in a deity and afterlife or great reward.
You see, as a Buddhist I have none of that. There is no one to save me or forgive me, no one to take my troubles away, and there is certainly no hope for a heavenly kingdom to reside in after I die. In fact, there is even a possibility that I will have to do this existence again and again until I awaken from my current delusions and ignorance.
What this clearly shows me, is that my path is perhaps the most challenging one that I could choose. And often times I get frustrated and disheartened because I have become aware that it’s entirely up to me to attain liberation and enlightenment. There is no “savior” so to speak, that can or will make everything better for me or remove my obstacles. And having come from being a Christian, I can clearly see how that belief can certainly ease ones burden. At least temporarily. And if a person admits that they are a sinner, ask Gods forgiveness, then heaven awaits them and it’s game over right? This seems to be so much easier than the constant observation and awareness that comes with seeing this life clearly, the impermanence, suffering, attachment, clinging, and aversion that all come along with having a life. And I think it’s only natural to want out of it sometimes.
Unfortunately, wanting to be “out of it” or free of suffering is the actual root of our suffering. Hence, Buddha’s First Noble Truth in that “there is suffering”. It doesn’t need to be explained in any greater detail, only for us to understand that suffering exists… period. And if we truly understand that truth, the rest is almost all down hill from there. Yes, we still need to understand the cause of suffering, cessation of it, and the end of suffering. But we can do this without a desire to achieve it if we really can grasp the first truth.
And for my friends who believe in any God or Gods, I do not mean to infer in any way that you are mislead or on the wrong path. Not at all! I have no way to know what may or may not exist beyond my very limited scope of this realm and existence. But I would encourage each of you, regardless of beliefs, to take more ownership of your thoughts, words and actions. There is no need to wait for yourself to be saved from anything, as we are ultimately each our own saviors. Having the great opportunity each day to be kind, compassionate, accepting and loving toward ourselves and all other beings. That’s the gift of the present, and that is my path.