Found another gem at the library! It’s almost time for it to be returned so I thought I’d take some photographs of the artwork and give a bit of a review. I really liked this one. It’s short, simple, and to the point. The name pretty much summed it up. Questions and Answers for the Curious Beginner. I’m not quite sure if Buddhism is something for me.
But I do use quite a bit of mindfulness so that’s enough for me to read up a bit about Buddhist beliefs. Mindfulness helps us see clearly in the moment of all our actions.
One of the questions the book covers is: Who was Buddha and what did he teach? Buddha was a dreamer and his first teachings came from a succession of five dreams. They say he became a lamp unto himself and was enlightened to what he called the Four Noble Truths of Suffering.
Dukkha means suffering. Physical suffering is called dukkha dukkha, where there is pain or disease in the body. Mental and emotional suffering is called samsara dukkha. (Oh man, that one is very familiar to me!) There’s dissatisfaction or anguish or thirst for pleasure, power, and prosperity. This includes seeing one’s individual existence or having notions of being separate from all things and being. Spiritual suffering is called viparinama dukkha which is resisting change, not understanding that all things are impermanent. OOF. That’s another one that’s familiar to me.
Walking the Eightfold Path is a vow to break through things that have obstructed our liberation such as the constant yearning for pleasure, power, and prosperity. There’s a lot about this, but what hit me was the fact that this path cannot be taught. As it is wisdom that must surface within. I know that so many individuals in the DBT server get upset about how their therapists and Psych doctors’ aren’t helping them enough with DBT. That DBT doesn’t fix their problems.
DBT isn’t something that works like a pill to solve your issues. It’s a single tool in your box that you can turn to for mental health issues. That tool is very versatile and can be used in many ways, but it’s not the sole thing you should rely on. Medication, other forms of therapy, and other such methods should be used with DBT to ease your mental problems. Haha, sorry, I had to go on a tangent as I reflected on Buddhism.
The book compares how the Eight Fold Path is similar to the Ten Commandments of Christianity, which is interesting.
Some parts of Buddhism that are difficult for me. Avoid killing or taking of life; instead, cultivate life. For a lot of Buddhists, this means not eating meat. Not killing insects. Becoming a conscientious objector in the face of war. Avoid stealing or taking what isn’t given; instead, give generously. I don’t steal or anything, but the act of letting go of possessions has always been hard for me. I lost a lot when I was homeless and then again when I got divorced, so I have a harder time letting go of the material. Avoid sexual misconduct; instead, embrace enlightened energy and love. I think I’m pretty good for this one. Avoid lying; instead, speak honestly and lovingly without superiority. This one I think is hard for everyone. You have to make sure you don’t lie to protect yourself and your own image. Even your body language is a part of this. Avoid rolling your eyes, turning away, and glaring. No harmful communication!
Wise speech is difficult without a wise heart. Communication is crucial to sustaining interrelationship between us.
Avoid intoxicants or deliberate loss of awareness; instead, commit to being awake and aware. I haven’t been drinking lately due to the HUGE low it causes afterward, but this really does make sense. But it has been one of the things that always makes me shy away from Buddhism.
This book actually references one of my favorite authors, Thich Nhat Hanh. The four gathas mentioned in the book come from Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen tradition of mindfulness. Gatha is a Sanskrit term for a song or verse. So it’s a poetic meter. There’s a lot about the root of where it’s derived, which means to speak, sing, recite, or extol. Contemporary Buddhist practice has turned it into a verse recited mentally not aloud in rhythm with breath as part of mindfulness practice during meditation.
As I was reading and typing out the gathas, I could really feel the rhythm of the words and it really did put me at least. I feel like the kata from my karate is similar to gatha. You have to control your breathing and movements.
There’s so much more in this book, but I feel like I could go on forever summarizing everything within. Some of the other parts of Buddhism I’m interested in understanding include compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Burning away and arising from ashes. They say that meditation can take away emotions such as anger, jealousy, and sadness, which are all emotions I struggle with right now.
What is this life? What is this death? Are they not one and the same? Oof, that subject is definitely something I struggle with adamantly. Just because I have suicidal ideations does not mean I do not fear death. Or think about it deeply.
Anywho, this book was a good read. I’m still on the fence concerning Buddhism, but it’s something that really does resonate with me so I keep coming back to it. Hope you enjoyed reading about this subject a bit. Anyone here a practicing Buddhist?