There was some interest in an earlier post on the book Buddhism Plain and Simple. This book is the most relevant to me of the many Buddhism books I have read. Because of the interest shown I will submit perhaps two or three more post explaining my take on ‘Buddhism as it was meant to be.’
I call it Naked Buddhism – that is Buddhism without the robes and whistles and gongs and all the trappings you see in formal Buddhist settings.
Here is how I see it:
About two thousand-five hundred years ago the man we call Buddha was a privileged young man. He was of a wealthy family and educated for his time. As he became an adult he realized that all he was privileged to was impermanent, and that his life would inevitably end in sickness, disability and death. Depressed and despondent, he found his life meaningless. In search for peace of mind – for something to believe in - he left home. Over the next six years he joined many different religious groups finally adopting the precepts of ascetics – a group that believed in self-denial as a religious discipline. Eventually, self starvation and exposure brought him to the verge of death. Weakened and emaciated he sat under a tree near a well and determined to meditate unto death.
As he sat, exhausted, a beautiful young girl came to the well for water. Seeing a young man dying under the tree the girl took pity and brought him water. The girl was beautiful and compassionate; the water taste wonderful; the country side appeared glorious – and suddenly the young man became a Buddha – he was awakened – he realized that life and contentment can exist in the moment. The now – this moment is all we have – and is wondrous if we choose to see it.
That’s it. That’s all there is.
Whether this story is true or false it carries an indisputable truth. People who have survived near death situations suddenly step back and realize that all the bullshit we load ourselves with on a daily basis is actually unimportant: they tend to see colors more vibrant, nature more wonderful, and people they care for more important. Unfortunately, because of the stress of our society, this feeling doesn't survive.
Naked Buddhism helps us try to attain that fundamental view that life at this moment is a gift - if we are able to step away from our concerns, and see it.
In my next Naked Buddhism post I will cover the steps (as I see them) the Buddha suggested that can help us bring our life back into balance.