Your Own Personal Buddha
(Adapted from a previous essay I wrote on 5/8/02)
Although I align myself -- in general -- with the Buddhist tradition, by no means does this exclude me from all other spiritual alignments. (In particular, I also align myself with the Unitarian Universalists, though I've never joined a local UU group.) Plus, I find that my experience of Buddhism is very personal, individual, and not linked to any specific school of thought, ordained teacher, or organization.
It was important to me to figure out the most essential teachings attributed to the Buddha, but once I did that, I realized that most of the rest of what passed for Buddhism is junk (like those junk memes I wrote about yesterday). There is a lot of "sacred" Buddhist ritual and meaningless Buddhist blather out there that I'd call junk.
A lot of that junk arises out of a desire to elaborate, a desire to attract a following, a desire to institutionalize, a desire to organize ...
For some people it is difficult to accept that the essential teachings of Buddhism could be explained simply on one web page. They either want to believe that the teachings are complicated and functionally endless ... or they want to portray them that way.
It reminds me of government bureaucracy, endlessly churning out new rules ... we have a spiritual industry, endlessly churning out new teachings ... as bright and industrious individuals attempt to make a comfortable living by providing spiritual comfort to others ...
When I look at the accepted historical biographies of both Buddha and Jesus, I find two gentleman who had no personal interest in building an organization, no interest in committing their words to paper ... these were two fellas who received timeless spiritual insights, and attempted to communicate those insights to their neighbors.
It was only after they died that their followers tried to institutionalize their teachings ... that their followers tried to attribute their teachings to some sort of magical or superhuman insight ... along with weekly services and scheduled festivals ... and a special cadre of priests or monks ... in support of the hierarchy of the nation-state ...
None of that is what the teachers would have wanted.
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