Learning from the Wisdom of Buddhism

Daniella Cressman

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For a long time, I was Buddhist.

It was a beautiful world in which good and evil were met with an equal amount of respect, and there’s something to be said for that, yet somehow I felt less protection when approaching darkness with such an open mind, so that is why I switched to Christianity, but both religions have their merits.

All religions do.

1. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IS ESSENTIAL

In Christianity, there is a huge emphasis on relying on almighty God and entrusting him with your problems.

I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen a Christian in a movie kneeling down and begging for forgiveness or going to confession.

I’ve been racked with shame so many times and performed these actions myself when following this religion.

Buddhism taught me to focus on personal responsibility: You don’t have to apologize so much if you take this approach!

It also taught me to live in the present and forgive myself for my actions when I do screw up: Now I focus on improving instead of dwelling on my poor choices — I’m a much happier person as a result and, although I still acknowledge my mistakes and hold a good deal of guilt at times — the shame has dissipated.

2. BEING IN THE MOMENT IMPROVES YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Ruminating about the past leads to depression. Worrying about the future leads to anxiety. Being in the moment leads to contentment.

3. BEING QUIET, SITTING STILL, AND OBSERVING ONE’S THOUGHTS IS ONE OF THE MOST CHALLENGING ACTIVITIES ON THIS PLANET, YET IT’S ALSO ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES.

Meditation is the hardest thing for to do: It’s much more difficult for me to sit still and observe my thoughts than it is for me to do literally anything else that doesn’t involve such stillness and self-examination — It’s honestly extremely uncomfortable at times, but it always helps every area of my life whenever I make the time to do.

It’s important.

4. DETACHMENT DECREASES SUFFERING

From what I garnered, Buddhism states that we suffer because we have desire so, naturally, we suffer less when we can detach ourselves from our yearnings, whether they are material or emotional.

It works.

5. KARMA IS REAL

Every religion mentions some form of karma: If you’re cruel to others, someone will be cruel to you in this life or the next one, or the next several, depending on which belief system you follow.

Buddhism also states that one must engage in kind acts solely because they want something in return: They should perform these actions from the kindness of their heart.

6. THE WAY YOU BEHAVE EVERY DAY MATTERS MORE THAN YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS

This is what I love about Buddhism: It’s less about what you belief or don’t belief, and more about how you behave in your everyday life.

To be honest, I think every religion should take this approach: The point of following any belief system is to be a better person, after all, and actions speak louder than words.

7. EVIL STEMS FROM PAIN

This is perhaps the most intense lesson I learned from Buddhism: Evil isn’t solely malicious for no reason at all: Hurt beings hurt other beings.

Throughout history, I have very rarely seen someone become a villain for no reason at all.

It’s almost always a matter of a human being suffering from trials and tribulations for an extended period of time.

Eventually, they are pushed to their limits until they want to inflict pain onto someone else so that they feel slightly less alone: Misery loves company, as they say.

I learned to see evil in a different way: It was born from pain, and I was supposed to meet it with empathy.

This is a wonderful approach, to a point, except that evil will remain sadistic no matter what you do or say, and evil takes advantage of those who are kindhearted.

Still though, it helped me condemn less, forgive more, and understand how easy it can be to do the wrong thing while also realizing that anyone can change if they truly decide to.

When someone wronged me, I used to think they were malicious. Now, I realize they were in a lot of pain.

When I wrong someone else, I experience the same feelings: I realize just how much pain I was in and go about trying to fix that so I can behave in a more empathetic manner in the future.

Even Lucifer is a fallen angel who felt as though he didn’t receive enough recognition for his contribution to The Kingdom and as ostracized as a result of his perceived pride, so he got angry and became the devil.

8. IF YOU ARE PRESENT, EVERY ACTION BECOMES MORE PLEASANT

Buddhism has a different approach to sex than Christianity, at least in the case of Zen Buddhism: You can have sex with whoever you want, whenever you want, as long as you do it mindfully.

It’s even viewed as acceptable to have physical relations with multiple people, as long you are mindful about communicating with everyone and you are honest.

This approach proved to be very painful to me, but it taught me a lot about the role control plays in Western relationship ideas. I can’t say I’ve overcome that issue, but I will tell you that I’ve become acutely aware of the problem.

9. YOUR LIFE ON EARTH MATTERS MORE THAN YOUR LIFE AFTER DEATH

I am not certain what happens after we die: Maybe we come back, maybe we go to Heaven or Hell, maybe there are multiple versions of each.

What I do know for certain is that we can create our own Paradise or own Hell here on earth.

Buddhism taught me that having faith is more about striving to be a good person and practice mindfulness than worrying about what might happen long after my soul has left this body.

10. GOD HAS MANY NAMES

Buddhism has a very different view of God: They believe in The Dharma or The Wheel — The cycle of life and death.

I personally believe that God and The Dharma are one and the same.

Buddhism taught me that God has many names, and that the Divine is both feminine and masculine.

I still believe this to be true.

Some say Buddhism is a religion and some it is a philosophy.

I guess that depends on how you view God: It can be either one I suppose — If you believe The Dharma (or the cycle of The Universe) is holy, then it’s a religion; if you don’t, it’s a philosophy.

11. DARK ENERGY WILL DESTROY YOU IF YOU LET IT

Personally, I struggled greatly between Buddhism and Christianity.

There were days when I felt as though it was driving me insane, because it was difficult to make such a powerful decision.

I may change my mind in the future, but I don’t think I will. I’m not saying Buddhism is better or worse than Christianity, but I will tell you that I feel more protected by that religion, even though I still see evil in a slightly different way than I used to.

12. PROFOUND RESPECT IS POWERFUL

Buddhists do not worship The Buddha, but they do have a profound level of respect for him.

There was something incredibly freeing about that, not to mention immensely beautiful.

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