My world religions class has moved into Buddhism, and I’m feeling a little less befuddled than I did in the midst of Hinduism. Did I mention that we saw a movie called “33 million gods” on Hinduism? By contrast, Buddhism is not a theistic religion. It is focused on becoming Awakened, like the Buddha did, by eliminating suffering and achieving liberation. The professor called Buddhism a “calm, cool, collected” religion; it’s not fiery and passionate and intense. Consider the serene expression on the faces of those Buddha statues. It’s hard not to look at them and think, I want some of that. No drama.
A friend questioned me on my post about Hinduism, where I wondered about being disrespectful to this religion by, for example, wearing a Ganesh or OM t-shirt. What’s wrong with “sampling” Hinduism via commercial means, especially if it gives someone a taste of serenity…? Nothing at all. But I’ve realized another reason why I am taking this class – I want to know what some of this means, rather than wearing my Ganesh tee in blissful ignorance. Now I know more about what’s behind that peaceful look on the Buddhas’ face.
In Buddhism, liberation from the cycle of suffering is called nirvana. This is a fairly easy concept to grasp; nobody wants to suffer. It’s also easy to see why Buddhism has become so attractive in the West – as my textbook puts it, The techniques for becoming conscious of the workings of the mind and for bringing it under control have become highly appealing to contemporary citizens of industrial societies who are seeking peace of mind.
Interestingly, earlier this week the Chicago Tribune mentioned Big Sky Yoga Retreats in an article called ‘The Path to Nirvana’. How’s that for timing?
Photo of me taken at the Garden of 1,000 Buddhas in Montana, by Larry Stanley.