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I am reposting this from my Facebook, because I should, and I miss Live Journal

A friend gave me a remarkable gift. He asked me to help explain who Buddha was to his daughter. Big task. I have been thinking a lot on the Dharma as I lead a Buddhist themed service at my Unitarian Universalist Church recently. This is the best I got. Thank you to Jason, and his dear daughter for the question, and letting me answer. Thank you to Buddha for the Dharma.

May this simple message be help to finding a lamp unto yourselves.

What follows is in my own words, from my own experience and understanding, as humble student of the Dharma. I considered at first just sending him on to links on the subject, etc. Instead, I decided try to practice my own perceptions of the teachings.

Buddha was prince. His name was Siddhārtha Gautama. He lived a long time ago. His parents wanted him to always be happy, and not know about sickness, or death, or pain. So they kept him in the palace and tried to make everything around him perfect. But we all known that everything can't be perfect.

One day he got out of the palace and he saw people who were sick and in pain, and dead. He realize that suffering existed, and gave up being a prince to go live in the wilderness and try to understand this.

He realized that money and nice things wouldn't bring him happiness. Nor would living in a monastery or away in the wilderness somewhere. The only thing that would bring him happiness was his own mind. That sooner or later, everybody gets sick. Everybody dies. Everything changes.

A favorite saying of mine is that it is OK to have a favorite coffee cup as long as you know it's already broken. That means that sooner or later you may break the coffee cup, or the toy, or the anything else. All things may break, and will. So, if we come to understand that, than we realize that the main thing that makes people unhappy is wishing that this wasn't true. That always wanting more things, and hoping they wouldn't break actually makes you more unhappy. Also that people and emotions are kinda of like things. That you can have more love and more friends, and more of anything, and your mind is still where that source of happiness and contentment lies. So if you want to be happy, and able to live life without always worrying and suffering about things, then you have to change your mind. You must strive and work to do this. It is possible, but it takes lots of practice, and like most things, it won't happen over night, and you will not always get it right.

So when Buddha realized this, he wanted to share it with the world. It seemed so important. So he came up with a set up steps that would help someone realize the same things. He had a lot of people who came to study with him and wanted easy answers, but they weren't easy things to understand. He had spent years thinking about them. But he tried, and some of them listened, and wrote down things that he taught them. They came to call him Buddha, which sort of means "One who is awake to the world".

One day, the Buddha, was very old, and got very sick. Everyone was worried, and he reminded them that he, who was their favorite teacher was just like a coffee cup, and was going to break. They could be sad that he was gone, but shouldn't suffer inside because of it.

The last thing Buddha told them, was to be a light unto themselves. Be like a lantern to light your own way. Trust yourself and don't take anything he has taught them on fact, but to practice it and study it, and maybe they would realize they were already as happy as they could be. Then he died.

The people who were his students went on to spread his message about this, and the skills he taught them to understand their own thinking. Buddhism is the Practice of Studying and Applying the skills that Buddha taught them. Together, all the things that Buddha taught are called The Dharma, which means The Truth. He believed that the things he taught could work for everyone, if they understood them to be skills, like learning to play a musical instrument. If they learned them, they would realize they were true for everyone, and that their minds were like a musical instrument. If they paid attention, it could make beautiful music.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 2nd, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
This was very well written. While I am not Buddhist by faith, the teachings are applicable and quite powerful for anyone regardless of their chosen faith or life path.

Thank you for sharing :)
Mar. 2nd, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC)
Wonderful explanation. I really like the coffee cup analogy.
Mar. 2nd, 2011 06:37 pm (UTC)
Neat post! It's good to see you on LJ. :D
Mar. 3rd, 2011 01:54 am (UTC)
Really enjoyed reading this, thanks! :)

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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