[This week I am reprinting a short article I wrote on the basics of Buddhism. It was quick, short and blunt; without (at least I tried) a large amount of language that would be unfamiliar to readers with no experience in the Dharma. Enjoy and feel free to comment]
Buddhism, especially my personal practice of Zen, is really meant to be experienced and not explained. When explained by someone as unskilled as myself (or even by someone more skilled), words are going to fall far short in giving the actual full depth of teachings as expounded by the Buddha. By practicing, you become a Buddha rather than just learning about Buddhism. So I ask for your patience and understanding as I fumble through this exposition and hope that the readers will take home the point that to truly experience the Dharma, one must first practice the Dharma.
The very essence of Buddhism is that it is centered in the realm of pragmatism. It avoids the conceptual trapping of metaphysical origin myths and provides a practical philosophy that serves to alleviate the suffering of mankind. There is limited theology, lack of a creator-deity and the Buddha was not a God or a messenger from the Gods, although a supernatural and transcendental approach is central to many schools.
However, in every school, Buddhism helps practitioners take a long, honest and sometimes painful look at their own condition and their constant state of suffering. The Buddha took the lessons he learned from his everyday mediations, a youth of indulgence and an adulthood of asceticism; compiled those lessons and then expressed them in a manner that was catered to his particular audience. Buddhism thus attempts to avoid its own dogmatic trappings by providing methods to realization that are as varied as the people on the Path.
Some of us stroll along the Path while others hurry by at a great pace. Some of us aid others along the way while others have a singular goal in mind. The Path is trod by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Pagans, Atheists and Agnostics. Each come in with particular conditions and applies the Buddha’s Dharma in a fashion that provides the most benefit for both themselves and the world around them.