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Using Buddhism in Todays Modern World - Essay Example

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Many people associate Buddhism with all sorts of things, i.e. incense, bald monks, temples, the figure of Buddha sitting with a benign smile on his face, chanting, vegetarianism, etc…
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Using Buddhism in Todays Modern World
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Download file to see previous pages Many people associate Buddhism with all sorts of things, i.e. incense, bald monks, temples, the figure of Buddha sitting with a benign smile on his face, chanting, vegetarianism, etc. I know this to be the case because these are words and images I get whenever I ask people to free-associate on the word Buddhism. One person even associated Buddhism with liquor because he had just gone the night before to a place called Buddha bar! What all these shows are instances of an average person on the street having all sorts of preconceptions about Buddhism. Even those who have read little about it have all sorts of misconceptions about it, thinking that Buddhism is pessimistic for emphasizing on suffering, or that Buddhism is a religion that regards the Buddha as a god. What I want to do in this paper is to go beyond the rituals and external trappings of Buddhism in order to touch the deeper core of the teachings. This will help me understand how Buddhism could help us cope with life’s struggles in today’s modern world. At the heart of Buddhism is The Four Noble Truths (Hanh 9). This is the very foundation of Buddhist teachings, which differentiate it from other religions. These teachings say that (1) human existence is characterized by suffering, (2) that there is a cause for suffering, (3) that there is a way out of suffering through the elimination of its cause, and (4) that there is a path leading to the cessation of suffering (Hanh 9-11). In most Buddhist texts, it is said that the cause of suffering is trishna or craving (Bercholz and Kohn 64). We suffer because we have too many wants and needs. We own a cell phone but soon grow dissatisfied with it as soon as a new model comes along; we own a car but soon get dissatisfied with it because we desire a better, faster or more luxurious model; we have a perfectly good relationship with someone but then look for someone else because we want something new and more exciting. All these desires inevitably lead to suffering because we cannot possibly fulfill them all. In the end, we get utterly frustrated. Actually, if we think about it hard enough, there are many causes of suffering, since there are many types of suffering. The suffering that results from viral infection that makes you sick is not due to desire but to the presence of a virus that has infected you. Some other forms of suffering that do not have desire as their root cause would be a headache, a toothache, a broken limb, and various other physical pains. These forms of suffering, which are all physical, are to be distinguished from other forms of suffering which are mental. Examples of mental suffering would be depression, worry, jealousy, regret, anxiety, etc. Between the two general forms of suffering, it is the mental type of suffering that the Buddhism tries to address because they believe that this is the more serious type of suffering. When you are sick with a fever, you can make yourself feel better by changing your attitude about your sickness to a rather positive light. However, if you are suffering from some sort of mental anguish, it does not quite help if you work on the body. In fact, people do not commit suicide because of a toothache, but there are those who would commit suicide because of a heartache. The Role of The Mind What we need to understand at this point is that the mind plays a very big role in human suffering. We need to understand this very clearly if we want to get a glimpse of the heart of Buddhist teachings. Here, we emphasize on the importance of one’s attitude or state of mind with regards to the experience of happiness and suffering (Smith 245). If we think about it close enough, we should also come to the conclusion that our state of mind also affects other people’s happiness or suffering. Here is an example to illustrate this point. Suppose you have just received word that the backpack which you lost in school was finally found with everything intact. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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