October 29th, 2010

cat in boat

Thoughts about Buddhism

[personal profile] trixtah discusses Buddhism, and I made a comment, reproduced here (edited slightly).
I consider myself a Buddhist in the same tradition as Sri Lankan Buddhism, although my studies are all with Western teachers, who probably have a different understanding of it than native Sri Lankans.

My studies lead me to believe that "desire causes suffering" is a simplistic view of the first tenet of Buddhism. The way my teachers describe it, it's not desire per se that causes suffering but clinging to expectations that things should be or will always be the way you want. There's nothing wrong with desire or fulfillment.

My take on "The world is illusion": It is less a statement about physical reality and more about the fact that we experience the world entirely through our senses and minds, so everything we end up perceiving is filtered through our beliefs, experience, emotions, biology, etc. The result is that some of what a person perceives is the same as what other people perceive (because we share certain sense organs and biological tendencies) and some of what a person perceives is very different from what other people perceive, because of their different vantage point, different past experience, different biology, etc.

My understanding of the Buddhist tenet that NooAge translates into "we create our own reality" is: our state of mind influences our experience and we can change our state of mind (not instantaneously, not by simply "deciding," but through practice), hence, we can influence our experience.

I've experienced the above in my own studies and practice. But nirvana, I haven't experienced. Nirvana is not a goal for me. I keep practicing and studying because I've had benefits from doing so, and I figure I might as well continue. (I don't know if this take on the whole thing "counts" as Buddhist or not. I like to think it does.)

What I find fascinating about "nirvana" is all the different ways people talk and write about it and about the various states of mind they experience between here and there.


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