Sunday, April 5, 2009

Booklet 4: The Great Buddha

Some of you may think that the Buddha is an almighty immortal with all kinds of powers, who can come and go without a trace. If you think this is the Buddha I am going to share with you, you will be disappointed. You may think that the Buddha is full of loving-kindness, and will grant you whatever you ask for in your prayers. This is not the case, either. I believe most people prefer the Buddha that sits cross-legged on the altar — serene, peaceful, quiet, and still. If the Buddha spoke and instructed us now, “Don’t do this,” or “That’s not the case,” we might not like the Buddha as much. Perhaps because the Buddha is not critical of us, does not reproach us or argue with us, we are drawn to him. We willingly pay respect and prostrate to him.

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Alex said...
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Alex said...

It amazes me that a person 2,500 years ago without access to higher education, libraries, or the Internet, had the amazing life that the Buddha did. At the moment I am moving house and this booklet makes me reflect on what I have been filling my life up with and what I am leaving behind. During his life the Buddha did not amass wealth but he left behind an incredible legacy. The most important things that he left behind were his teachings (the Dharma) and the community of people that he was connected with (the Sangha).

The same thing is true in our lives as well. The most important things that we leave behind are the ideas that we stand for and the connections to the community of people that we interact with, our friends and workmates. As I prepare my move away from the United States, which has been my home for the last 17 or so years, to my new home in China what remains that matters is the way that I interacted with people not things that I have collected. All those things that I have collected over the years have to either be shipped or given away. It matters greatly that you have interacted with people positively over the years. It is a shame when you mess up and treat others badly and it becomes something that can really never be full repaired. The people that we live and work with may not understand us, our thoughts, and our work, but the most things that matter to them are whether we treated them with kindness or meanly. Workmates remember whether we worked positively as a member of a team or only for our own benefit. Did we stop to help workmates or customers or only work busily to meet our own deadlines? did we help people without expecting anything in return or did we only help someone else if it was in our own personal interest.

If we follow the example of the Buddha then we will always leave behind a positive legacy wherever we go. The Buddha's own personal life was filled with positive connections with all the people he interacted with and he left behind a legacy of millions of people over 2,500 years that have benefited immeasurably from his teachings and example.

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