Tag Archives: buddhism

Lessons from Buddha by Deepak Chopra

Photo courtesy of http://www.stockfreeimages.com/

Photo courtesy of www.stockfreeimages.com

The fictionalized account of the life of Buddha by Deepak Chopra is an engaging, beautifully written story that inspires and educates. I picked it up because it’s different than anything Chopra has penned, plus I’m a sucker for well-researched accounts of historical characters presented in the format of a novel. This one did not disappoint.

Ultimately, Buddha is the story of a man, Siddhartha, who gave up everything he had–wealth, status, power–and went on a quest to understand the true nature of self and to attain enlightenment. He didn’t know what the answers would be, but he was willing to learn from spiritual masters and go to great lengths to delve deep into himself to connect with the source.

Once he found enlightenment and transformed into the Buddha, he was surprised that he had to use words, or sermons, to communicate. His healing touch and thoughts could bring freedom–from guilt, sorrow, and attachment to worldly pleasure and pain–but they couldn’t bring enlightenment. He found that without a Dharma, or philosophy, earthly beings couldn’t take the next steps away from their current way of life toward the understanding that the self is an illusion and that the end of suffering is possible.

Buddha never talked about God or the gods. He shunned ceremony and “religious practices,” because they distract from the true nature of being one with the source, or superconsciousness. Ultimately, each person’s path to clarity and freedom is unique. That’s what I love about Buddhism. It’s not a religious practice; it’s a personal journey. One can follow any of the paths to enlightenment and move toward peace, tranquility, and connection.

At the end of the book, Chopra wrote an FAQ about Buddhism to help make it more accessible to the lay person. If you’re seeking clarity, or freedom, or enlightenment, I encourage you to read this book. If it calls to you, it’s time.

Meditation Is Practicing Peace

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, speaker, author, and all-around rock star of kindness, turned 76 years old this past Saturday. Happy birthday, Pema!

Well known for her ability to bring Buddhist teachings to the Western world in a widely accessible way, Pema helps us laugh at ourselves while imparting valuable wisdom. Just the sound of her voice radiates peace, and she has had a profound effect on my life. Here’s a brief look at her style, where she explains why the best spiritual teachers are actually the biggest troublemakers in your life:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7qFi52FX1Q

Pema is in a year-long retreat in the mountains of Colorado, but she created a video in celebration of her birthday to give us all some instruction on the way of meditation.

I celebrated with others in community at the Shambhala Meditation Center of Denver on Saturday. We watched Pema’s video, experienced three 20-minute sessions of silent, open-eyed meditation (two sitting, one walking), discussed our experience briefly in small groups, and had one final sitting meditation.

In the small group, I talked about how I had learned to meditate with eyes closed and had some difficulty with the fixed, open-eyed gaze. “What did it bring up for you?” the teacher asked. “I can feel the discomfort of my body more,” I said, laughing because the knot underneath my shoulder blade seemed to bring searing pain with eyes open and was manageable with eyes closed.

“Just as we don’t cover our ears during meditation, neither do we cover our eyes,” he advised. “The challenge is to find that place of peace regardless of the external environment.” He smiled at me kindly, and I quietly integrated the exquisite beauty of that lesson. “Try to work with it,” he said. Thank you, teacher.

Another woman talked about how much anger was coming up for her during her meditation practice that morning. “What Pema would say is to practice unending kindness toward yourself during those moments,” our teacher said, and we all nodded. Even the Buddha felt the emotions, from what I understand. The path to perfection is not judging yourself or the emotions, but rather sitting in harmony with them. That is the practice of peace that comes with meditation.