Monday, April 12, 2010


This is a post I came across recently. It was sent to Mike by Gwen and it is a fitting follow-on to my previous post...

Thanks to Gwendolyn H. Barry.

Article from

The Buddha wasn't a Buddhist

By Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
Tibetan Buddhist teacher
If we want to be free of the pain we inflict on ourselves and each other -- in other words, if we want to be happy -- then we have to learn to think for ourselves. We need to be responsible for ourselves and examine anything that claims to be the truth. That's what the Buddha did long ago to free himself from his own discontent and persistent doubts about what he heard, day-after-day, from his parents, teachers and the palace priests.
Although he was a prince born into a wealthy and powerful family, the young Siddhartha often just wanted to get away from it all. He wanted the space to think independently about who he was and what the spiritual path was about. Such freethinking was important to the Buddha's search for inner truth and his ultimate realization of enlightenment. These days more and more people in the West are following the teachings and example of the Buddha. But what are these teachings about? What is Buddhism? It looks like a religion, but is it?

There are many definitions of religion. Some are so broad they'd include your neighborhood garden club. Others are narrower: your garden club would need a deity, enthusiasm for that deity, and a set of beliefs and practices. We all have some sense of what religion means to us, but when we start talking about it -- trouble!
If you search "world religions," you'll find "Buddhism" on every list. Does that make Buddhism a religion? Does it mean that because I'm a Buddhist, I'm "religious"? I can argue that Buddhism is a science of mind -- a way of exploring how we think, feel and act that leads us to profound truths about who we are. I can also say that Buddhism is a philosophy of life -- a way to live that maximizes our chances for happiness.
What Buddhism is, at this point, is certainly out of the Buddha's hands. His teachings passed into the hands of his followers thousands of years ago. They passed from wandering beggars to monastic institutions, from the illiterate to the learned, from the esoteric East to the outspoken West. In its travels, Buddhism has been many things to many people. But what did the Buddha intend when he taught?
At the start of his own spiritual quest, Prince Siddhartha left his royal home, along with its many luxuries and privileges. He was determined to find answers to life's most perplexing questions. Are we born into the world just to suffer, grow old, and die? What's going on -- what's the meaning of it all? After years of experimenting with different forms of religious practice, he abandoned his austerities and all his concepts about his spiritual journey -- all the beliefs and doctrines that had led him to where he was. At the end of that journey, with only an open and curious mind, he discovered what he was looking for -- the great mind of enlightenment. He woke up from all confusion. He saw beyond all belief systems to the profound reality of the mind itself -- a state of clear awareness and supreme happiness. Along with that knowledge came an understanding of how to lead a meaningful and compassionate life. For the next 45 years, he taught how to work with the mind: how to look at it, how to free it from misunderstandings, and how to realize the greatness of its potential.
Those teachings today still describe a deeply personal inner journey that's spiritual, yes, but not religious. The Buddha wasn't a god -- he wasn't even a Buddhist. You're not required to have more faith in the Buddha than you do in yourself. His power lies in his teachings, which show us how to work with our minds to realize our full capacity for wakefulness and happiness. These teachings can help us satisfy our search for the truth -- our need to know who and what we really are.
Where do we find this truth? Although we can rely to some degree on the wisdom we find in books and on the advice of respected spiritual authorities, that's only the beginning. The journey to genuine truth begins when you discover a true question -- one that comes from the heart -- from your own life and experience. That question will lead to an answer that will lead to another question, and so on. That's how it goes on the spiritual path.
We start by bringing an open, inquisitive, and skeptical mind to whatever we hear, read, or see that presents itself as the truth. We examine it with reason and we put it to the test in meditation and in our lives. As we gain insight into the workings of the mind, we learn how to recognize and deal with our day-to-day experiences of thoughts and emotions. We uncover inaccurate and unhelpful habits of thinking and begin to correct them. Eventually we're able to overcome the confusion that makes it so hard to see the mind's naturally brilliant awareness. In this sense, the Buddha's teachings are a method of investigation, or a science of mind.
Religion, on the other hand, often provides us with answers to life's big questions from the start. We don't have to think about it too much. We learn what to think and believe and our job is to live up to that, not to question it. If we relate to the Buddha's teachings as final answers that don't need to be examined, then we're practicing Buddhism as a religion.
In any case, we still have to live our lives and face up to how we're going to do it. We can't escape having a "philosophy of life," because we're challenged every day to choose one action over another -- kindness or indifference, generosity or selfishness, patience or blame. When our decisions and actions reflect the knowledge we've gained by working with our minds, that's adopting Buddhism as a way of life.
As the teachings of the Buddha reach us and pass into our Western hands, what determines what they will be for us? It's all in how we use them. As long as they help to clear up our confusion and inspire confidence that we can fulfill our potential, then they're doing the job that the Buddha intended.
We can use all the help we can get, because strange as it seems, we hang onto to our confusion. We cling to it because we think it shields us from something. But like wearing sunglasses day and night, we are only avoiding looking at who we truly are. We prefer to wear our "shades," simply because we're not used to the bright light of our minds. The teachings of the Buddha -- no matter how we label them -- show us how to open our eyes to that brilliance.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is a meditation master in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He is the author of several books including "Rebel Buddha (Shambhala Publications), scheduled to publish in November.

From Teeluck...
The simple truth is you do not need a God, a religion or dogmas, rules and rituals to understand life and our purpose here,
just look within to find the answers.
Goodness is the start of that journey, after starting to apply goodness in our daily lives, the rest becomes revealed in all its simplicity. There is nothing else you need to do but practice goodness...and you would have saved the world...
I would advise that one reads "The Gospel of thomas" from the dead sea scrolls to find the real jesus and what he really taught.

Luke 17:20-21 (King James Version)
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered
them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Gospel of thomas
77. Jesus said, "I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained.
Split a piece of wood; I am there.
Lift up the stone, and you will find me there."

Translation...Jesus, you and I are all part of this Universe in its Spiritual form and its Consciousness. We need neither Churches nor Religion to live or to love. There is no God more than us...there is nothing to fear or worship...just live and love.

It is said...a thousand monks, a thousand religions...the same applies to the 40,000+ denominations of christianity...we don't need any of them...


  1. Excellent entry. I have been meaning to read up on Buddhism since I heard Tiger talk about getting back to his.

  2. Bucko, hi and welcome, even Tiger is still stuck on following a religion instead of just learning the teachings of simple love for life and spirit...and just living it with goodness. Please visit often.

  3. I think that Nietzsche summed it all up pretty well, Teeluck. "I mistrust all systemitizers and I avoid them. The will to a system is a lack of integrity." Me, though, I just gotta stop worshiping all these lesbians.

  4. Will, as long as Rachel Maddow is on MSNBC, I'm hooked...besides I agree with you, having any system to follow is not the way for enlightened "spirits in a material world" the Police song goes. Repuglickers cry for freedom yet they bind themselves to a religious system...go figure

  5. Ah, hah! It never fails: the people who end up following my blog are always the people with whom I share much more than just an agreement on the one post that introduced us. Let's talk Karen Armstrong, Elaine Pagels, Buddhism-the-unreligion, liberal politics, Rachel Maddow, and goodness knows what-all...what on earth made you think your blog might be too "spicy" for me? Was that ageism, honey? Tut-tut.

  6. Ha Ha
    Nance, I am just cautious about exposing my ideas on an unsuspecting public...but I knew we had similar tastes and ideas when I first visited your space...I love meeting people who understand life, it is wonderful and it is truly a pleasure to meet you.

  7. Jesus was an Gnostic.
    There has been chatter that he traveled to India.
    God is in ones self. Not inside of a Cathedral.
    One does not need to be reborn to find God, as many Evangelicals preach.
    God found you, and has been with in you all this time.
    He never left.
    We are the ones that are abandoning him.
    Buddhism, is like Tao.
    It is the way.
    The path to inner self.

  8. Buddhism is like nothing.

    "Nothing" is the key to contentment.

    When there's nothing urgent and unpleasant to be done, when nothing needs to be said, when nothing is desired or needed; that is where to find peace and contentment.

    "Nothing" can be found in simple chores such walking the dog, washing the car, casual gardening or housekeeping and yard work. One of my favorites is watching the sunset while sitting quietly on the back porch.

    Letting go of worries, anxieties, unpleasant memories and concerns for the future really is possible. Not always, and not often, maybe, but the occasions can be found.

    When we find the here and now, we find ourselves. Compassion and love must begin inside, and for our self.

    From there it's easier to find compassion and love for others.

    The world is still full of beauty, and peace can still be attained within our own minds.

    And it costs nothing. – Rev. Dave Dubya