As I read and explored, the name Siddhartha Gautama, or the Buddha, kept popping up as a man whose wisdom seemingly paralleled that of Jesus’s. Books by the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, Shunryu Suzuki, Jack Kornfield, Lama Surya Das, Noah Levine, and Eckhart Tolle, whose writings are influenced by a variety of spiritual beliefs, invited me to explore an area of my life that had been otherwise undisturbed. I studied the Buddhist principles of the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Middle Way, and the Nature of Existence. Concepts such as suffering and joy, and balance and impermanence are addressed in the Christian faith, but I had apparently overlooked them. I approached Buddhism as a realistic way to view the world and my shared place in it. For me, it answered questions of why, whereas Christianity prompted me to ask, but then it expected me to wait for the answers with hope and faith.
There is nothing wrong with hope and faith; when combined with hard work, they can lead to true success. What concerns me about hope and faith, however, is the waiting that follows, and namely, the idea of waiting for some eternal answer or reward that won’t happen until we are dead, at which point we find out if we got it right or not. This waiting is what has separated and divided so many of us from each other for so many years, and if we’re not careful, it will continue to separate us for years to come. There is so much more we can do today that is right and true, but unfortunately, as some believers wait for their answers, the needs of others pass them by. “Don’t wait,” was Jesus’s message, and the Buddha’s message as well. We need to ask ourselves if we are willing to spend what we have today on today or save it for some future promise tomorrow.
My journey continues.