Self-discovery through Neo-Buddhismby Prakashatma
Stories say that Siddhartha, a young prince from India was provided with everything he wanted. Always living a luxurious life inside his palace, he did not know that all people age, grow old and die one day. When meeting an old man, a sick man and after seeing the corpse of a dead man, he realized that material wealth cannot end human suffering. Instead of pursuing wealth further, he left the palace, and turned into an ascetic to find the meaning of life. I am presenting here certain concepts of Buddhism in a nonreligious manner which I hope would help seekers in their quests for self-discovery and realization.
What the normal people think to be happiness is suffering for the wise.
A society is formed when a group of people interconnect and when their beliefs combine to show distinct cultural patterns. Not only the society creates its own rules based on the decision of the majority but it also tries to build a person according to its ideology. Ironically it is the society that forms a person and plays even a stronger role compared to genetics.
Today’s society is based on consumerism where people believe that happiness can be owned by possessing and consuming products. The purchases require having money, so one has to earn as much money as possible and buy as many products as possible to show off “happiness” to others. When one sees another having certain products that he doesn’t have, he feels depressed and experiences a lower self-esteem. The same thing happens to a child who is expected to compete with others but fails to get good grades at school. In a society, the demands for success and conformance are near endless.
One who remains trapped inside a society becomes its prey by losing his “true” self.
Isolating oneself from the society either physically or mentally is perhaps the first step needed for self-discovery.
One’s own body and the body of another are the same.
The relative good
The terms “good” and “bad” that we use, and the so called “goodness” are not objective but subjective. What one feels “good” could be considered as “bad” by others, and vice versa. In some societies, it is “good” to cut the throat of a camel slowly and to watch it suffer in agony which some like me may believe, is very cruel. Similarly, I don’t like to eat meat because I think it is cruel to kill animals but some like to.
It is not possible to determine what is “really” good or bad, but I would say, as long as one doesn’t hurt or cause pain and suffering to another living creature, it is alright and not bad.
Instead of looking at the world with colored glasses, or imitating another from the society, one should be oneself, find what is really good and follow it as dharma.
Because of desires and fear, people go to sacred mountains, trees and shrines.
God and Religion
Religion is one of the evils of the society. The men who claimed to be prophets exploited the gullibility of their followers through deception. If one blasphemes or does not follow the rules of a religion, it is not god who punishes him but it is the people in the religion who act like “God” because their god is being insulted.
Interestingly “God” exists only because people believe in him. If nobody believes in “God”, he is no longer god. Whoever believes in god becomes enslaved by him. He no longer remains a free person capable of self-discovery. God like religion, society and its relative goodness adds a layer of complexity to simplicity.
There is no suffering, no beginning, no end and no path. There is no cognition, no attainment and no non-attainment.
When one is aware only of the present and doesn’t think of either the past or what would happen in the future, one breaks the illusion of time and thus silently observes the flow of impermanence arising and passing away. This also leads to the diminishing of desires and also the ego because desires are created only if we relate an event to either the past or the future. When we silently observe the present moment, we no longer have any desire or fear. We see impermanence in everything and hence find that suffering, dukkha is also vanishing.
One who is free from suffering is the true self which is eternal, blissful, and pure
What is real?
The mind creates the senses, the senses create the thirst, the thirst creates the desires, and the desires create suffering through “birth and death”. Nothing in the observed world is real except death because death causes the cessation of the observed external world. We are like a character in a fantasy game-world. Both the game-world and the character are impermanent. But the gamer who is playing the game is the “true self”. We have simply lost our “true self” like we lose ourselves when playing computer games.
Admirable friendship and companionship make the whole of the sacred life.
One can stay with a group of people, having similar interests who accompany and assist each other.
A person in such a family not only receives compassion from others but learns to be compassionate towards others and helps them in their journey to self-realization.
Un-conditional love and compassion destroy ego and make us realize that there is no “I” and “you” but we are all one.
The true self is discovered when one gets rid of the ego.
When one is withdrawn from the society, his feeling of compassion increases for those who are not waking up to discover themselves and who are living a life of suffering full of ignorance, greed and hatred in their relatively short lifespans.
The compassion for people gradually extends to all living creatures in general and the ego dissolves completely. The enlightened one lives in a state of purity and bliss, has kindness, maitri towards all living creatures and finds nirvana within samsara. 1
1. Dhammapada 58,59