As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, Buddhism is not a religion, it’s a practice – similar to yoga, though different in that it works mostly with our minds vs. our bodies.
As a Buddhist practitioners, we don’t worship the Buddha (did you know there have been many?), we greatly revere the historic Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama) for having figured out (2,600 years ago) the role of our analytical/conceptual mind (ego), seeing its dominance over our lives, and discovering an antidote & path to freeing ourselves of its influence; thereby, leading to unconditional happiness.
In Buddhist meditation practice, we experience for ourselves firsthand what Siddhartha discovered by looking at our habitual ways of thinking, speaking, and acting to judge whether they’re worth keeping or not, whether they’re serving us and others or not.
We learn we can work WITH the analytical/conceptual mind (ego) for what WE need as opposed to mindlessly acting on every thought as if they’re unquestionable. We learn to discern the difference between egoic thinking and creative insight.
As we have more and more experiences as a result of looking at our minds, we find ourselves no longer needing to identify with our thoughts or thinking process because we have learned there is a new paradigm, a better way of being in the world that leads to prosperity, compassion, and kindness – the caring of all beings and the planet.
We no longer have to FIGHT to get what we want.
We can easily identify when ego has inserted itself into the driver’s seat. IF we are mindful of how we feel, that is. If feelings of possessiveness, anger, worry, fear, retaliation, greed, hatred and the like are arising, you can be sure ego is driving your intention (left brain dominant).
On the other hand, if you are feeling happy, joy, love, empathy, compassionate, hopeful, enthusiasm, optimism and the like, you are in a space of alignment with Basic Goodness / ALOHA / Source Energy (right brain dominant).
We can’t get rid of ego nor should we. Ego carries memories and information from a lifetime’s worth of conditioning that may come in handy to save our lives. The meditation masters say that’s about all we really need ego for, though.
As one progresses along the path of meditation, having taken the Refuge Vow, one SHOULD be actively looking for the teachings in their daily lives. This is what experience is. Just intellectualizing the teachings has a way of only lifting ego. “Look what I know!” Me, me, me. Mine, mine, mine.
When, instead, we recognize the teachings in our daily lives, we are inspired to LIVE the teachings (living according to the dharma) which opens us to experience the unconditional truth of reality and living ALOHA – both of which are beyond the concept of ego.
But our habitual patterns of thinking, speaking, and acting are very powerful and seemingly have an iron-tight hold on us (cocoon). They’re comforting to a degree because, for so long, that’s all we’ve known AND society in general supports that way of living. If we’re in a space of avoiding our feelings, we may find ourselves falling right back into our egoic ways of being (Samsara / Setting Sun) and not even realizing it.
We may even, at that point, still believe we are a Buddhist – maybe because we have a shrine at home or volunteer at a cool Buddhist center. But if we’re not practicing the dharma, according to Thich Nhat Hanh’s definition, we are no longer a Buddhist.
In Buddhism, practice is imperative. Experiencing the teachings in our daily lives is imperative. Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoch said, “There are no days off.” when speaking about practice. It takes courage and support for one to uncover and look deeply at our habitual ways of being but maybe we were never really encouraged to do so to begin with (Level II).
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche also said, “We cannot work with our fixations if we do not acknowledge them and accept their existence. The more we accept them, the more we are able to let go of them.”
Most people have never reviewed their beliefs – their conditioning, their thoughts, words, and actions – to see if they need updating or even discarding. They have probably gone through their closet to discard things they no longer use or need more often than ever questioning what they believe and why.
If this is the case for you, I am personally inviting you to The Path of Meditation that Leads to Living ALOHA. This course is a profound, inner, experiential journey that is simple, challenging, unexpected, wondrous, expanding, unexplainable and, according to our current model of society, complete nonsense.
If you are seeking personal change toward bringing happiness back into your life, gaining confidence in your true self, and reconnecting with the true nature of reality, thereby bringing care and compassion for all sentient beings and the planet, this course is designed just for you.