Look Into Yourself

Upon attaining enlightenment, Gautama Buddha spent the next forty-five years traveling throughout northern India sharing the teachings. These teachings are the Buddhadharma. Unlike the central figures in other religions, Gautama Buddha was neither a god nor a prophet. He was a person who, through deep reflection and meditation, realized the universal truths that lead to the overcoming of suffering. These truths do not deal with the worship of a deity. Rather, they provide a road map of how to live an enlightened life.

The Buddha taught that the cause of our suffering is ignorance. We base our expectations on what we want. When events do not live up to these expectations, we suffer. Everyday life is full of examples of how our ego and expectations cause us suffering.

“Road rage” is a phrase we have all come to know. Sometimes even the simplest event escalates into a tragic result. How often have you felt road rage? What was the cause? Why did you become so angry? Looked at closely, road rage is simply the attitude of “How dare he do that to ME?” However inadvertent, we become offended. We perceive the actions of another to be an attack on our integrity, an insult. Our ego brings us to a level of anger and hostility that leads to suffering.

What about when someone insults you directly? There is a parable about a student asking the Buddha how he stayed unaffected by the insults directed towards him. The Buddha asked, “If someone offered you filth on a silver platter would you take it?” “Of course not,” replied the student. Questioning further the Buddha asked, “Then who would have it?” “The one who offered it,” was the response. “Correct,” replied the Buddha, “Insults are like filth; that is why I do not receive them.” In his book, The Center Within, Rev. Gyomay Kubose sums up this parable with the following:

“Abuse and criticism are not bad in themselves. You can profit from them if you learn from them by taking a serious look into yourself. If the criticism is true, accept it as fertilizer for growth. If the criticism is false, then it has nothing to do with you. As a matter of fact, great people are often criticized as much as they are praised.”

The key phrase here is “taking a serious look into yourself.” We cannot be insulted if we do not allow ourselves to be insulted. The actions of others can never define us unless we allow them to define us. The Buddha said, “Above the heavens and below the heavens I alone am most noble.” This nobility exists within us all. It is not dependent on external forces. Only when we realize our personal nobility will we be able to overcome our suffering.

For more information about Buddhism and Zen meditation in Kenosha, contact me at BASEWI@aol.com