How do you find the truth? Forget everything you’re about to read.
When you’re as easily teased by online discussions as I am, you can see certain arguments repeated among those who like to debate Buddhism. Among the refrains I keep hearing are the ones I call “The Biggest Lies in Buddhism.” Believing them keeps you in a world of trouble. See if you catch yourself in these common self-deceptions.
I’m not a Buddha. How many times do you demean yourself by your own misunderstanding? You most certainly are a buddha; you may not yet realize it. “Buddha” does not equate to a celestial being or deity but to an awakened one. The word “buddha” means “awake.” When human beings live in their natural awakened state, undisturbed by delusive thoughts and emotions, they live as buddhas. Of course, we don’t live like that very often, but when we do, we find that we are all natural-born buddhas. Buddhahood is your birthright. You claim it every time you wake up to the present moment. Instead, we’re likely to degrade and dismiss our true nature with the excuse, “I’m only human,” revealing that we have an entirely erroneous idea of what a human being really is. That leads me to:
My ideas are as good as yours. That’s true, however, no one’s ideas are any good at all. The practice of Buddhism is not intended to validate personal views, as in “Oh, you think that way? That’s OK. I think this way? That’s OK too.” Buddhism is not a feel-good club that aims to equalize the worth of everyone’s self-centeredness. We practice Buddhism so we will no longer be blinded by what we think, confused by what others think, or stuck in our own opinions. We practice Buddhism to wake up to how things are, and take care of what needs to be done. How things are is never how we think they are. And by the way, how many times have you said this:
No one is perfect. No one thinks they are perfect, but everyone and everything is perfect as it is. And by that I mean complete, with nothing lacking. Imperfection lies solely in our judging mind, the mind that picks what we like and calls it best or right, and labels what we don’t like as worse or wrong. The mind between your ears is the source of all discord and confusion, and even then, it is functioning perfectly. Seeing how narrowly we think, we must unleash ourselves from the mess in our heads. Only then can we hope to repair the mess we have on our hands.
How do you do that? You can start by forgetting everything you just read.
Karen Maezen Miller is a Zen Buddhist priest and teacher at the Hazy Moon Zen Center in Los Angeles. She is the author of two books on spirituality in everyday life: Hand Wash Cold and Momma Zen. Karen also blogs regularly on KarenMaezenMiller.com Want to follow her on twitter? Click here.
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