The Buddha (PBS) – A Commentary

Caught a great documentary the last 2 nights, actually I PVR’d it, the Buddha on PBS. It was a great story about his whole life and what he taught concerning enlightenment. First time I have actually watched anything on Buddhism and I really enjoyed it.

I guess I liked the fact that spiritual enlightenment is not ‘easy work’ – true insight into the human condition takes time, reasoning, observation, and experience. Any good spiritual insight is received through hard work, nothing falls into your lap (so to speak). I see in the Buddha a person that worked hard to get what he wanted answered – the question of suffering/dis-satisfaction. Reminded me of Jacob wrestling with the angel in Genesis…just had to have an answer. I think most inquiring people can relate – sometimes you just have to ‘know’.

It’s kind of a cool religious system because the Buddha was open to questions and allowed for his teachings to be challenged…this is definitely godly (IMO). The Buddha remained humble through-out his life and was someone that earned the respect of his peers in this day in age. I also see many similarities between Christianity and Buddhism in their teachings and lifestyle…which also intrigued me quite a bit.

I do have my knocks on Buddha, to a certain degree. He did leave his wife and child to seek this ‘enlightenment’…a man does that now to a woman and he is a ‘deadbeat dad’ (that kind of dis-pleased me). The monastery’s he founded were celibate. There is a belief that being celibate is better than being ‘married’…I find this doesn’t adequately represent the persepectives of women of faith. Women can naturally ‘bare children’ – to take that out of the equation is to miss out on an aspect of ‘enlightenment’ for them (IMO). Also the idea of seperation from society bothered me (with these cloisters he developed as monasteries). How can one face real suffering if they are hid away from it all? Sure you may get to know yourself, but if we are talking of a ‘middle path’…the monastery is anything but a ‘middle path’ – it’s an extreme.

Nonetheless, I appreciated the teachings of the Buddha and what he lived and died for. He put his time and work in to get where he got – and I appreciate that. He set a good example of ‘how to seek’…exhaust all efforts until something makes sense. He also spoke a lot of ‘balance’ and the ‘middle way’…I concur this is where enlightenment is to be found. However, one needs to experience the harsh and abundance of life to see through many lenses.

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6 thoughts on “The Buddha (PBS) – A Commentary

  1. Watched it online some time ago and was throughly impressed with the program. I really needed a good overview of Buddhism and this was it. There is a lot to admire.

  2. Same, for the overview – never knew much about the religion. I really liked the documentary and helped me learn what it is Buddhism believes and how they work through their faith. I kind of do the same thing with my faith as Buddhism…oddly enough.

  3. Buddha may have left his wife, but his wife and kid later became his disciples — talk about reconciliation. And Jesus tells people they should hate their mothers and fathers — come on ! But I will agree, religious fanatics are usually very against the social norms.

    Catholic orders were made from people setting apart from the world — at least for some time. As you said, inner work takes time and intense effort — for this, withdrawl can help.

    Finally, it is the practice of Buddhism that is muct more valuable than any teachings. A good overview of Buddhism is not gained until one has tried to meditate for a couple years.

  4. I may have been a bit critical of Buddhism but the truth it is – it’s a great introspective practice. It’s not quantifiable (spirituality and inner change) and these are the same things I see within the practices of Christianity (from my viewpoint)…a point I making continously about ‘faith’.

    I agree, the seperation part is needed with change. I left many friends behind when I went searching for inner peace and contentment – my critques of Buddha were a bit harsh. However, in one sense they were not, if I removed myself from my marriage for enlightenment I can think of hoardes of religious critiquers that would crucify such an action as ‘immoral’ and running from responsibility (even if I did it for sanity reasons).

    I think balance is the key…which Buddha hit on perfectly in his teachings. I am in 100% agreeance with him…the extremes will only help the extremes…a balanced lifestyle will help everyone.

  5. From the PBS show, which touched on a variety of basics and principles, I do wonder what I do know…it was only a 2 hour show that covered the life of Buddha, the holy spots, and his teachings (in basic form).

    What I did get out of it was that the Buddha went on a spiritual journey from his days as a prince to learning under various masters in different paths to enlightenement (ie: ascetisism). He found the systems he tranied under as not answering his question about ‘suffering’ or ‘dis-satisfaction’ in the human experience. His journey then culminated in personal enlightenment.

    The balance I seen in the Buddha was that he had searched life high and low, to the right and to the left, in extreme and wealth, to arrive at a position of happiness. He found a way to enjoy life that was more in balance than was his previous experiences in various modes of spiritual training. The extremes did not work nor did wealth make on happy. Happiness or contentment seemed to come with being able to handle one’s desires (keeping those in check).

    Where I agree with the Buddha is it does take life experience to figure out what works and what doesn’t in the path to enlightnement. Without such hand-ons experiences – it is hard to figure what one will find acceptable and unacceptable.

    For example, I grew up in poverty and without much. I turned to violence as a kid and crime as a youth. I have seen the suffering condition within myself – the search for what makes one content in life. I have also now been on the side that has some wealth (hard earned mind you) as a middle class person with a house, car, wife, and lots of amenities. I can see 2 sides to a coin.

    My definition of happiness has become simple – contentness. I define that as ‘happiness is not getting everything you want nor lacking everything you need’. The material things in life are good, but they are not one’s purpose (I was happy when I was poor – at times – for example). Now I have all I need financially – but even this is not enough.

    The extremes of life help one find meaning in life – but they are not the meaning of life. Christianity helped me fill in the gaps in my path to enlightenment. I lacked a teacher, a guide, a system/paradigm…I had no way to balance the scales in life.

    I guess you would have to have known me as a kid, a teen, and then a young adult to see many of the problems I was experiencing and the lack of worldview I actually did have. I had hate as a child. As a teen I didn’t know how to love someone – and this expressed itself in jealousy/control. I had no self control or discipline in my life. However, I desired to control my life still in a better way.

    In the Buddha, I see a path of enlightenment that seems similar to mine (to be perfectly honest, he reminds of Gandhi though).

    Maybe I am off, I don’t know, but I see in the Buddha the search for the answer to a question that helped him rest his head at night…a balance to the idea of life and death.

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