By Daniel Scharpenburg
The path of Buddhism is called the Dharma, and it is a method for saving ourselves.
I don’t mean that as a trite platitude. The Dharma will save you, not save your soul from damnation. As Buddhists, we don’t believe in salvation in that sense. The Dharma will save you from yourself. It will save you from your own greed and delusion. It will save you from that feeling that you are hopeless or broken or weak.
The Dharma is direct and precise, leading us to a state of realization that is beyond the delusion in which we spend most of our time. Practicing the Dharma is nothing less than the highest human aspiration. We are trying to attain enlightenment and transcend our egoic self.
We use mind training to work on our poisons—these are the things that hold up back from our potential. Greed, hatred, and delusion are the things that feed our ignorance and keep us mired in suffering.
We also work on transcending our habitual patterns or old ways of thinking that are with us all the time, such as the preconceptions and baggage that we all carry that prevent us from seeing things as they really are. We aim to understand our own minds, and how to accept what’s around us instead of rejecting it.
There is a truth about life that the Buddha realized and we need to realize it too. The truth is that life is painful with occasional moments of pleasure. The Dharma shows us that we can have a healthier relationship to that pain. We can experience it without letting it overcome us.
We can get out of this ocean of suffering.
Enlightenment is like seeing the sun, and it’s something you can do. It’s something we all can do. The most important thing about the Buddha’s life is that he was an ordinary person, just like us. He wasn’t some kind of god or spirit. Because of that we can aspire to do what he did.
You can do it. In fact, no one else can do it for you. It’s up to you to experience reality as it is.
Editor: Dana Gornall