Friday, December 7, 2012

Buddhism, simply put, in western terms.

When people find out I am Buddhist they are generally surprised. They then wait a week or two and come back to me with questions, which I am happy to answer. I live in the American south, and a lot of the population is Christian - of some form or another - and they are generally amazed that I don't believe in a deity. Many think that Buddha is considered a god.

Recently I found a description of the basics of Buddhism on Reddit. It was so wonderful and in such simple western terms, I had to steal it. So thanks to Redditor Phillydrew, here is a simple, westernized view of Buddhism, for those of you interested. Pardon the harsh language. 

There was this guy named Buddha. He realized that people can be really selfish and sometimes really stupid. They get upset because their lives are really sucky and all they did was blame other people for their problems. He felt bad and tried to figure it out. Aside from the inevitables like, birth, growth, illness, and death, he figured out there was a way to not be so affected by the situations that life presented. He presented four absolute (noble) truths and 8 ways to realize them.
4 noble truths:
  1. life can suck.
  2. it sucks because we get attached to the stuff that we imagine makes our selves "unique" and "special."
  3. There is a way to not be affected by the suckness.
  4. If we open our eyes and follow eight simple methods, we can be freed from letting the suckness affect us.
8 fold path:
  1. No one is absolute nor omnipotent. We're all pretty ignorant.
  2. If you don't learn to stop and say, "hey, i don't know" you're not going to change yourself in a way that's going to free you from the suckness.
  3. Don't open your mouth without considering wtf it's going to sound like to the person on the receiving end.
  4. You're not the center of the universe. Your actions not only affect everything around you, they can affect everything around the people around you. Don't do stupid shit that's going to hurt other people or yourself.
  5. Don't take action that's going to make life suck for other people at your benefit.
  6. If something pisses you off, figure out if you need to fix yourself first. Otherwise,
  7. Know the consequences of your actions, you dumb fuck. Moreover, everyone has their own reality and their own right to their own level of dumbfuckery. When you make a mistake (you will), don't be proud, admit it, and be open to remedy yourself and the situation. And when in a group take care to not act unless it benefits the group in someway.
  8. If you don't pay attention to the task at hand you're going to have a bad time. (Stop texting and pay attention to the wheel, you dumb fuck)


  1. I'm not an expert on Buddhism, but this is very nicely put!

    But I wonder if that is really what it is about, then it seems you could be another religion and a Buddhist too. Or does Buddhism preclude other religions like most of them do?

  2. That is a very interesting question. Many people feel that Buddhism isn't really a religion, but a philosophy. I don't have an immediate answer as to how to classify it. I guess the real question is what makes something a religion. As far as I know, Buddhism doesn't preclude much of anything.


  3. Thanks for sharing PO. Not only did I learn how to kayak from you but I also have begun an understanding of what Buddhism is and what the philosophy can be in my life. Karma is a wonderful thing.


  4. I am flattered Mark! Thrilled to have had even a small impact.


  5. Frank and honest description, PO. :) My own faith tradition can learn much from what you share. I am, admittedly a "liberal" (and well "left" of centre) and I have a sense that the Buddha and Jesus would have enjoyed many marvellous conversations together and I believe they would have deeply respected each another. They would also have rolled their eyes at the way a lot of us have interpreted their thoughtful guidance. I have been in parish ministry, in a major Protestant tradition, for thirty-six years - just three years less than in the kayak cockpit - and I don't think of myself as "religious" but, rather, as a seeker of spiritual nurture and growth. The door to learning and discovery in life, therefore, opens much wider. As for me, I can't imagine why some would want it any other way. Here's to open minds and open hearts - in every way possible. Thank you and bless you for all that you share. Duncan.