Buddhism and the Path Forward…

I’m willing to forego some pleasure, if that means I can forego some pain. And that’s the Buddhist Middle Path in a nutshell, if you like nuts. Because that was the dilemma Siddhartha Gautama was faced with, before he was the Buddha, as a prince of the ksatriya (warrior) caste, most likely, and with all the luxury that life can bring. Until one day, that is, when he ventured outside his harem and realized with a shock that real people, those without harems, also suffer sin, disease and death, not to mention old age, which is possibly the worst of all, or so I hear, haha…

And from that stark realization, of our impermanence and our imperfection, was born the foundation of Buddhism, the Middle Path to avoid suffering. Some people say that Karma, Rebirth, and the resulting past lives are the bedrock of Buddhism. They’re wrong. The later Mahayanists came up with a slightly different Middle Path, translated from different Sanskrit words, that means the path between existence and non-existence, but that came later, by around five hundred years, give or take a century. Indians hated writing things down, for reasons best left to idle conjecture, since if there was a reason to be known, then it likely would have been written.

The way to avoid, mitigate, and hopefully even cease suffering, if not actually cure it, is to first cease craving, of course. Because if this is a world of suffering, then it is also a world of desire, and that is no coincidence, they locked in a dance to the death that largely defines our dimension—of suffering. If that sounds pessimistic, then I would urge you to check your American Express gold card at the door and contemplate your own death for only a second. Because that length of time is enough to show you that you are not the master of the Universe, nor even your own fate. At best you are only the master of your emotions, and that is where Buddhism does its best work. Before Enlightenment save the world. After Enlightenment save the world. It beats chopping wood—sometimes…