VESAK DAY – my thoughts on Buddhism


My first acquaintance with self-improvement literature was the British magazine “Psychology”, a thin volume packed with self-improvement ideas. That was when I was still in school in the 70s, and since then I’ve been an avid reader of self-improvement books.

When I first ventured into Buddhist literature about 10 years ago I was surprised that many of its ideas bore a striking resemblance to self-improvement literature. That means, 2500 years ago Buddha was already well-versed with human nature.

I discovered that Buddha warned his followers not to have blind faith in religious leaders or holy books, not even him, but to test out his teachings in their daily life. This is such a radical departure from other religions.

Buddhism to me is like a huge repository of ideas on psychology.

Among some of its dominant ideas are:

  1. our suffering arises because of our attachment to material things.
  2. material things won’t make you happy
  3. nothing in the world is permanent.
  4. to attain happiness and peace of mind we need to tame our restless mind
  5. we should cultivate compassion for all living things
  6. to be happy we have to live in the present moment
  7. living in the past or future can bring unhappiness
  8. there are no gods in Buddhism
  9. do good deeds and think good thoughts
  10. there is no emphasis on sin, getting God to forgive our sin, and constantly praising God

Of course, there are many other ideas but these are some of the random thoughts that readily come to mind.

As a “disciple” of self-improvement literature, Buddhism strikes a sympathetic chord in me.

But its rituals and customs I am not comfortable with. Buddhism to me is more of a philosophy, a guide to living and psychology than a religion.


4 Responses to “VESAK DAY – my thoughts on Buddhism”

  1. our suffering arises because of our attachment to material things:
    in a similar vein, we should not be hung up on forms and substance. My mother always says, don’t fret if you don’t have the necessary flowers or incense when you pray. Buddha doesn’t want them. It’s only the devotees who want them. Don’t fret if you can’t chant the Pali prayers properly. Then she tells of the story of an old woman who couldn’t chant the whole sequence of chants and instead just got the gist. Yet the old woman passed away at a ripe old age with little sickness: just expired from old age, after eating a decent meal a few hours be4 that!

  2. I agree entirely with your view that we should not be too hung up on forms and substance. Buddha would have disapproved of them as they serve only to distract devotees.

  3. an unspiritual question… is your template a paid wordpress template? I can’t find it among the freebies…

  4. No, it’s in WordPress’s repertoire. Maybe it’s been replaced by others.

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