Master of Buddhism
by Val Frederick
Course: Master of Buddhism, written by Tricia Stirling
Topic: What did I learn, like & what this course meant to me.
This course has given me the opportunity to learn the intricacies of Buddhism, the various versions of Buddhism and how this way of life changes lives. I have taken this course now for twenty weeks and from that I don't see it so much as a World religion as much as I see it as a way of life. For the most part what I have learned from these twenty weeks is how I see the world around me is different from others.
I've claimed to be a Buddhist for sometime now, but that is the easy explanation. In reality I've tried to live by the spiritual reality I call Valism. Yes that is the spiritual way of seeing the world, living amongst others and the desire to be treated as you treat others according to my own spiritual perceptions and objectives. I've studied various spiritual ways for as long as I can remember. Not happy any of the mainstream organized religions and how they want you to be a good person because of the threats from their higher power. I don't believe an all good higher power wants us to be good or if we are not answer to his or her wrath. This so called fire and brimstone should not force their followers to be good but the desire to be good should come from within.
I believe there is good in us all. However it's our environment that has given each of us a different way to see our world and then we put up walls that prevent us from seeing the path of righteousness. This leads many to see the world through different colored glass and that's when we loose sight of the good within.
I've taken a lot of what I believe in from the readings of Mother Theresa, Mary Baker Eddy, Deepak Chopra, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Ravi Shankar and certainly the Dalai Lama. From them I've taken what made sense to me and left the rest. As the original pragmatist, Buddha once said, "Don't believe what I say out of blind devotion but follow me because it makes sense to you."
I believe and hold true to what the Dalai Lama said, "Don't try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a better Buddhist; use it to be a better Whatever-you-already-are." Now combine that with the last words of Buddha, "Strive on untiringly" and you have Valism, my spiritual way of being.
I like the way this course was written. It's presented in a down to earth way and it was easy to put myself in the readings week after week. I learned Siddhartha was on a quest to enlightenment. I learned life is about balancing; it is the middle way to enlightenment and not the extreme of poverty or the extreme of wealth. Think of the music made by a sitar. The music only continues if the strings are tightened just so. If they are tightened too much, they break and the music dies. If they are too loose there is no sound at all. It takes being in the middle way and the strings being just so to hear the music. It is the middle way to reaching enlightenment. Siddhartha's search of enlightenment starts with the question of suffering and the solution to this suffering but honestly translated suffering is simply dissatisfaction. There is suffering (dukkha). There is a cause of suffering (craving). There is the cessation of suffering (nirvana). There is the eightfold path leading to the cessation of suffering.
Buddha wanted his believers to question his words and find their own way. There was a story of a man finding Buddha sitting in meditation beneath a fig tree. The man asked, "Who are you?" The simple answer Buddha uttered was, "Remember me as, the one who woke up!"
The pinnacle of my learning was when I realized there are three fires or poisons; greed, anger and ignorance. To put these fires out we can only do so by turning these poisons around and that is with their opposites; generosity, compassion and wisdom.
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