Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Whatever works for You: PART 2

As I said in PART 1, Buddhist philosophy resonates with me. Particularly the practice of meditation. Here is how it works for me & my particular circumstances:

  • I've found that it is the best thing to do when I'm hypo/manic to collect my thoughts, calm down and slow down (having said this, it is also the hardest thing to do in this state).
  • It is one of the ONLY things I can do when I'm seriously depressed. And, although it doesn't make the depression disappear, it makes me more accepting of it which diminishes the suffering.
  • You might know or might not that I am a member of MENSA, and therefore was born with a complex, fast and enquiring mind. It may seem like a blessing, but it is not without its own set of problems. It leads to spending most of your life in your thoughts/mind. Intellectuals are definitely more out of touch with their bodies than non-intellectuals. (probably explains why so many intellectuals end up attracted to Buddhism) Meditation, I find, is the perfect anti-dote for this. As I've said before, although most people think meditation is all about the mind, it is actually about connecting the body with the mind. Getting the body & mind into the same place, at the same time.
  • I work in the IT field, more specifically on the Net. This means that I spend more & more time sitting in front of the screen, mind racing around all over the place and, other than my mouse hand, the rest of my body practically "going extinct". So after uploading my awareness onto the Net for hours and hours, I find meditation the best way to download it back into my body.
  • One of the biggest diseases of this millennium is "Rush Sickness". I recently read the book "In Praise of Slowness", and I can honestly say that every person on the planet should read it. Having worked in a corporate target-driven environment for 15 years, I am particularly apt to rushing everything I do. One of the central themes of Meditation and Buddhist philosophy is "Slow Down". Need I say more.
  • I've always been a sort of Philosopher and 2 years ago actually completed the first year of a Masters degree in Philosophy. And that is one of the problems that I had with Christianity. It just did not stand up to logical, deep philosophical enquiry. But the deeper I go into Buddhism, the more I see how resonant it is with the conclusions leading philosophers have arrived at. It is particularly in line with the latest philosophical debates, especially Post-Modernism and Deconstruction. Many of the West's greatest philosophers have recognised the perfect logic of Buddhism, Schopenhauer being one of the best known.
  • In addition to being in accord with philosophy, Buddhist metaphysical truth is increasingly being confirmed as the accurate view by leading science. Speak to any Quantum Physicist. Nothing is permanent, absolute or solid, everything is in a state of constant and relative flux. This Empirical evidence is a great thing because it means that you don't have to take everything on Blind Faith.
  • Perhaps most importantly, as someone who has suffered the blackest of depressions, and deepest of Existential Angst, I gave up the illusion of a perfect world long ago. I've seen life in it's barest bones and have realised that life is imperfect and full of suffering, and always will be. And this, it turns out, is the very Cornerstone of the Buddha's message. The First Noble truth: "All Life is suffering"*

    But maybe I'm just jaded and cycnical. So if your personal world is close to perfect, or if your idealism is totally totally intact - my sincere wishes are with you. May you find what I have not.
As I said in Part 1, Buddhism is not for everybody. I am merely laying out the reasons why it works for me. Other things will work for other people. And neither is Right or Wrong. Like the slogan at the top of this blog says:

"There are no answers. Only choices"

* Suffering can be a confusing concept here, because it has two parts - stimulus and response. What the Buddha showed is that the suffering can be alleviated. But it is NOT alleviated by changing the stimuli (the painful conditions of the world ) which are permanent, but rather in the WAY in which you relate to those conditions.


  1. I especially like the footnote on alleviating suffering. When are you going to post another drawing? Hand-mind-eye correspondence is a form of meditation as well.

  2. Thank you for these two posts. After your retreat I wanted a personal perspective on Buddhism rather than a philosophical digression. These two posts have taught me much.

    I, too, await more drawings. I find that writing poetry and drawing portraits (both my means of food and shelter), I zone out. They're peak experiences, as addictive as morphine.

  3. I visited Thailand with a friend. 3 different individuals from Thailand, a monk, a prostitute and a layman said the same thing, "Slowly Slowly".

    Strange thing is I felt depressed at the time and my mate has been out there on 4 holidays and a 6 month teaching stretch and has never had anyone said that to him once.

    Maybe they saw the manic in me?

  4. Do you know what Buddhist monasteries do with Bipolar monks if they get really psychotic and disrupt the ambience of the monastery for the other monks? Are there Buddhist human resource guidelines?

  5. Buddhist monks in Korea have been known to riot in downtown Seoul over the control of their temples. Couldn't you be super-imposing your own cultural perspective onto Buddhism, whiteydaddy?

  6. & when you no longer suffer, then what?

    ps: boredom is a tougher form of suffering to alleviate after a couple thousand kalpas, they say...


Recent Posts