I was always that person who kind of thought Buddhism was just a trendy thing that people are ‘doing’ right now because it’s another tick in the box of life. Or perhaps because Madonna is now doing it ever since the Scientology train got a little creepy.
I never really intended to try out what it’s really like, but recently I’ve been doing a mindfulness course and much of the practice of this ‘way of being in the world’ has its roots in Buddhism. So I thought I’d have a go a at trying on the Buddhist mentality and way of thinking for a week.
Here’s what I can honestly conclude.
If you want an easy, painless but rather detached life then this is totally the religion for you.
And they got a couple of things seriously right.
That being the attitude of living in the moment, only attaching to helpful thoughts or feelings and cultivating a spirit of gratitude – these all lead to a greater sense of happiness and contentment.
Never have I had such a profound sense of peace, contentment or ‘roll with the punches’ attitude as what I’ve had with Buddhism. And the best part was that I did nothing except change a few thoughts.
However on around day 6 of my “enlightenment” an after a few too many Byron Katie techniques a thought suddenly hit me – I had become my own God. Not only that – I had created my own truth.
And by asking myself the fundamental question of all Buddhists “do I really need love from other people?” And correctly answering “NO”, I was essentially invincible.
It was the most enlightened I had ever felt, the most powerful I had ever felt and yet the most isolated. I mean when you worship the self instead of God, create your own truth and don’t need anything from other human beings, you’re a force to be reckoned with.
Is this similar though to being a robot in some senses?
Christianity teaches that we are designed to receive love from God and others and we’re in fact wired that way (science has proved this too), so when you try and rewire your brain to not think this way it is a tad isolating – and feels a little unnatural.
However, never in my time as a Christian had I ever felt so powerful and at ease with the world.
So I’m here to say I totally get it, I see the appeal. It makes perfect sense.
As someone who loves meditation,acroyoga and ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle –
Buddhist methodology has a beautiful component to it. But Christianity equally does – the difference being we’re encouraged to engage fully with others and God in relationships no matter how messy they may be.
Christianity may say things such as ‘God will never let you down’ or ‘he always provides’ but try telling that to the starving family in South Auckland or the person who looses a family member or whose house gets destroyed by a freak storm.
A Buddhist would then say to these events that it was a ‘lesson from the universe’ which in some sense encourages personal responsibility for how you respond. Having a loving God though who could be behind it all can invite the human response of blame against him and anger. Which is better?
The point I’m trying to make is that although I am Christian, I can see the appeal in Buddhism more than ever.
However, while detachment from people and things is an easy route to take there’s something I felt quite unfulfilling about it.
So if you’re a practicing Buddhist or maybe a half-praticing Buddhist or just interested in it then I look forward to an enlightening chat the next time we meet. Until then though, I think 7 days was enough for me.