A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

No carrot but no stick either

The Buddha taught us to abstain from doing evil, do good works, and gain wisdom. There was no message of come, have faith, follow or suffer. Rather he taught that no matter what we do, or believe, that we will encounter suffering. He then taught us how to reduce the suffering, then to minimize it’s effects on us, finally how to rise above suffering, or become enlightened. There is no carrot of follow this and have life in a paradise forever. Nor is there an everlasting hell awaiting those who do not heed these teachings. Whatever heaven or hell awaits us, is the creation of our own mind. We do not pay for what our ancestor did two thousand years ago. Each of us earns our own karma, good, bad or neutral. Buddhism has never had to be revised, to contradict what it previously taught. There hasn’t been a change from divine creation in a form identical to God, that when faced with scientific advancement, switched its opposition of evolution, to one of intelligent design. Even if you do not believe in his teachings, you may be impacted by them. Modern psychology has adopted many of his teachings as the basis for treatments of mental issues. The environmental movement, now states a message similar to the one he espoused 2600 years ago. That every creature has a right to live, and that l live is part of an interconnected world. Inclusiveness is a cornerstone of its beliefs. Heaven, nirvana, is not just for one religion, rather it is available to all who lead a noble existence. Compassion, loving kindness, tolerance, patience, sympathy, understanding and wisdom are some of the qualities held in the highest regard. These are to be practised not just to our families, or those of our community or nation, not even to just our fellow humans, but extended to every living being in the universe. Also to realms we don’t even know of, these principles are to be applied to. Our future reward is not a gift, for believing in a deity, nor for making a specified offering. Rather it is determined by our self efforts in controlling our thoughts, our speech and our actions towards other beings. To improve our lives we need to improve the world around us, through love, truth, service and charity.

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