Buddhism Made Easy: Kindness, Compassion, and all that Meditation…

Meditation every day keeps the doctor away, and a little kindness helps, too. That pretty much wraps up the gist of Buddhism, without all the doctrines and the calls to action, when inaction is often much preferred. Because Christianity may indeed have been a better paradigm for development of a world raw and wild, but Buddhism is the better paradigm for sustainability. And that is much the reason why I am here. The sentiment is easily extrapolated or interpolated for the life of an ordinary human being, also, such that Christianity might indeed be the better model for growing up and developing, but Buddhism is the better model for settling in and settling down, for the long haul…

The Four Noble (Aryan) Truths and the primacy of suffering form the cornerstone of Buddhism’s overt doctrine, but meditation is the cornerstone of covert discipline. And so we tame the body and mind as we tame the world, and suddenly things become clearer. The natural animosity of the state of Nature is nothing of the sort when two typically argumentative species—say dogs and cats—are raised together as pups and kittens from the earliest days, keeping each other warm when nights are cold, and heaters are just fantasies from the north country. Is there any better example of Bodhicitta, i.e. Buddha nature?

Bodhicitta itself is therefore a state of nature, and subject to further development along those lines. This is the Christian goal of the lion that lies down with the lamb and the meek that will (eventually) inherit the earth, of course. We can only hope that there is something left to inherit by that time. But there surely will be, and it is only our human arrogance that might indicate otherwise. Because even at our inhumane worst, atomic bombs and biological weapons, we will still have nuclear families and DNA bloodlines to sustain us. Thus everything carries its opposite curled up within like the dark side shielding light implicit, something to be tamed and put to better use as an afterthought, if not forethought.

I feel sorry for those whose only Buddhism is karma, rebirth, and past lives, because this misses the best part of Buddhism, which is its humanity. The fact that the Buddha was a bloke with the same problems as me, more or less, is a point of endearment, and ensures ultimate success with the more difficult doctrines that beg to be traversed eventually, like wide rivers in narrow valleys, but all of which can be safely ignored, if need be. Perhaps the Dalai Lama himself summed it up best when he said simply, “My religion is kindness.” And the same goes for the closely related concept of compassion. That is the only form of love in Buddhism.

In fact the twin concepts, metta and karuna in Pali—and Thai—are so intertwined that modern Thai tends to combine the two into one word, something like ‘pretty please,’ haha, even though karuna is perfectly normal as a standalone ‘please’ and metta gets transformed into all kinds of friendship, friendliness, and just ‘friend,’ which is what the word originally meant before the term ‘loving-kindness’ was retro-fit for better Western acceptance. And that Judeo-Christian term is fine as long as you understand that no passion is required, unless that is the original passion as suffering. Buddhism is all about suffering and the remission of such, bliss optional. That’s Hinduism.

The simple act of meditation, then, embodies the practice of Buddhism, even if it largely ignores the doctrines of the Middle Path, Emptiness, and Non-self, even though it can be seen as encompassing them all within its purview, indirectly if not directly. And that is very Buddha-like, because the Western virtue of in-yo-face-ness, or aggression, for lack of a better word, holds little sway in the Buddhist worldview. Think of it like the passive voice in English grammar, largely verboten in the homeland, but still held in great esteem overseas, both in academic work and way of life, in which things simply are, without an all-powerful actor to do the deed. That is the way of Nature. There is no call to action. You can meditate your entire life, and that is fine. But if you do something, then do good.