I am Not Buddhist

I am terrible at being a Buddhist.I keep a paper in my wallet that lists The Eightfold Path to enlightenment because I have trouble remembering all eight things to practice. Sometimes I can’t remember the entire list, and then I look in my wallet and I can’t find that little paper. Like I said, I am a terrible Buddhist.

 

By Louis De Lauro

 

I want to help you, but I am not a Buddhist.

I am a fraud; I was brought up Catholic in New Jersey. I know all of the Bible stories and I know the Lord’s Prayer. I celebrate Christmas and I really like Christmas. I celebrate Easter too, without really meaning to celebrate it. What do I mean? Well, I eat a lot of jelly beans this time of year—way too many jelly beans (I like Peeps too). And I know the Easter story better than I know any stories about Buddha.

I don’t meditate often. Maybe for one week, I will meditate every day, but it becomes a chore. Then the next week, I will skip six or maybe seven days.

I am terrible at being a Buddhist.

I keep a paper in my wallet that lists The Eightfold Path to enlightenment because I have trouble remembering all eight things to practice. Sometimes I can’t remember the entire list, and then I look in my wallet and I can’t find that little paper. Like I said, I am a terrible Buddhist.

Okay, I found the paper. The Eightfold Path consists of eight practices:

Right view

Right resolve

Right speech

Right conduct

Right livelihood

Right effort

Right mindfulness

Right samadhi

Hmm, what’s samadhi? Let me think for a second; I have trouble concentrating. Hmm? That’s right, samadhi is right concentration.

So on most days I feel like a fraud. I am not a real Buddhist, I think. But then I catch myself embracing the day, staring at the clouds—fluffy white clouds or dark scary clouds, it doesn’t matter—and appreciating the moment. Or I catch myself shutting my mouth and listening to a friend speak—really listening. Focused on her words or his pain.

I am present.

And I maybe I am the one person in the room who says something kind. Like, I might say, “I am here for you,” or “I know what you mean,” or “I want to help you.”

And the truth is I really do want to help.

So today, I worked hard. Today I maintained my cool. Today, I meditated. It was the first time I meditated all week, but I meditated today.  And damn it, I will meditate tomorrow, unless I forget. If I forget I will meditate the next day or the day after that.

And today, I suffered, I felt pain and I accepted every bit of the suffering and pain as part of my life experience. That’s a Buddhist thing to do.

And today, I wrote this article for The Tattooed Buddha. Maybe today, I am a Buddhist.

Just for a few minutes, let me pretend I am a Buddhist!

Maybe tomorrow, I will be a Catholic again. That’s not such a bad thing. Catholics, other Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Atheists can all be great people. I know so many great people who are not Buddhists.

Or maybe tomorrow, I will give up on the idea that I will ever be a Buddhist, and I will just accept that I am just a kind man trying his best to practice Buddhism. And Buddhism might just be impossible to practice.

Finally, maybe being kind is more important than being Buddhist.

And I am kind. And so are you.

I hope this article helps you.


 

Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

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Louis De Lauro

Featured Writer at The Tattooed Buddha
Louis De Lauro has taught elementary and middle school students for 27 years in NJ and PA. He is also a loving husband, dad, son, and friend. In April of 2017, his short story about his wife and daughter “Right from the Start” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Best Mom Ever.” Back in 2007, Louis was featured in the award-winning documentary “Juggling Life” about the charity he founded, Juggling Life Inc. The charity recruits and trains volunteers to teach juggling and chess at camps for children with cancer. In 2008, he was featured in a Star Ledger Series called “I Am New Jersey.” In 2011, Louis had four submissions published in the Pearson textbook, “Child and Adolescent Development” by Woolfolk and Perry. Louis enjoys writing about teaching, family, friendship, and Buddhism.
Louis De Lauro

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