In most religions, there are a set of rules and guidelines that usually involve faith in the unseen and unknown. But in the Buddhist tradition, there are no rules as such, and no faith as one would typically think of as faith. So how do Buddhists find their way, their path?
Buddhism is simply the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. Yes, Siddhartha Gautama was his name, and Buddha simply means “one who is awake”. And each of us has the choice to awaken, the same as Siddhartha.
Gratitude and self-liberation, this is what the Buddha taught us.
We can create a lot of stories and difficulties for ourselves, but this is all a product of our own doing and no one else is to blame. And although many of us may think of gratitude as being thankful for what we receive, the dhamma has shown me that is in giving that I have the deepest gratitude.
Giving without expectation, generous intention, and from the heart, not only liberate the self but offer true benefit to the recipient. No need to be known for your gift, or receive thanks, only to give lovingly and generously of yourself. This gratitude is one of sympathetic joy (mudita), and releases the self from attachment and ego. Your heart, your nature, can only grow and develop in compassion and wisdom with each Noble act of kindness that is shared with others. Again demonstrating that our self-liberation is in fact attained by selfless words, thoughts and actions.
So where do any of us find these teachings and direction? We find them in the Buddha, the dhamma and the sangha. We find them in the written translations of the original Pali texts, reliable books that have been written by Monks, in dhamma talks given at our Temple, and we find them in each conversation and interaction with all living beings and things.
And as Bhante Sujatha has often said, “it’s all dhamma”. But ultimately, this relies on self-determination, discipline, virtue, and the development of wisdom. Always done with loving-kindness, and always beginning with the self.
Bhante has often reminded me that there is no struggle in Buddhism. This is because struggle is only created in our own minds. If your feelings are hurt, it is your mind that created this thinking. If you are angry or disturbed, again it is your own mind that has created a story of dissatisfaction based on ego, desire and self.
Moment by moment we can be mindful to observe these things, accepting the nature of this life, giving fully and compassionately of ourselves, and holding no expectation. Being grateful for this experience, this life, and for the opportunity to liberate the self from suffering.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.