First of all, I hope I am not disappointing anyone (well, actually, I do, if someone landed on this page with some particular expectations), but there won’t be any militaristic rhetoric in Buddhist clothing on this blog, or Buddhist justifications of violence, or anything of the sort.
On the other hand, the reason I have chosen this title—(Un)peaceful Buddhist—is that peacefulness, as an attribute and goal of Buddhist life and practice, gets way too much mileage, in my humble opinion, in the popular Buddhist literature—often tied to a fairly simplistic level of understanding of that word and at the expense of much more important concepts, such as, for example, insight.
Two prominent consequences of this are: reduction of Buddhism to a therapeutic technique and a misperception of the Buddhist ideal as being in some kind of permanent blissed-out state, where “everything is awesome!” and everyone is basically good, and all is forgiven, and the best solution to any conflict is to instruct both sides, in an avuncular and non-judgmental fashion, that they should be nice to each other.
True peace, whether between countries, or in a person’s household, or within oneself (this is the root, the foundation of the others) is, of course, supremely important and valuable—not only in Buddhism, but in and of itself.
But it doesn’t come as simply as that—and, who knows whether it comes at all or whether we would know this is what it was if it did show up.
What I am quite certain of is that approaching Buddhism as a tool to “become more peaceful,” chasing after a preconceived mental construct of peacefulness, is a waste both of one’s time and the potential of Buddhist practice to truly transform one’s life.
But on what authority do I speak?
Purely on that of my personal experience. Sometimes I get a boost from encountering passages in various authors that seem to resonate with my understanding.
I guess, a couple of words about myself are in order at this point.
I have considered myself a Buddhist for almost thirty years. About twenty years ago I took formal layman vows in a Chinese Zen/Ch’an temple. My main practice during all this time has been simple sitting meditation (Zen’s shikantaza). My path as a Buddhist practitioner has not been straight and simple. There were many detours, months and years with hardly any meditation at all, and forays into different religions (well, only one really serious one, but that one was quite serious).
Yet two things have remained constant: my intellectual interest in Buddhism and a deep-seated feeling that the general Buddhist narrative as encapsulated in the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Three Treasures, the later Zen insights, and the practice of shikantaza (“just sitting”) was the best way to make sense of and find my way in this world.
Recently my practice has been much more constant and consistent—and that particular picture of a Buddhist practitioner I mentioned at the beginning, as someone with a beatific semi-smile at all times and “peace in his heart” more and more dubious. So, I have decided to venture into the wild wide virtual world with, to paraphrase my tag line, musing, thoughts, reviews, opinions, and questions on Buddhist themes—or any themes, for that matter, approached from the Buddhist perspective—in the hopes of giving some semblance of order to my thoughts and sharing them with someone who might find in them, perhaps, an echo of their own.
I want to make it absolutely clear that, aside from my formal vows, taken many years ago, I am not affiliated with any Buddhist school or organization. I do not represent anyone but myself.
I am planning to post at least once a week.
To anyone who has read this far: thank you, welcome, I hope you will stop by again!
Until the next time,