Before I get started, I have to say that I missed a few days! I knew that I had some work deadlines looming, but I really wanted to do this challenge. I had hoped to prepare some in advance, but work was kicking my butt, so I did not get much accomplished ahead of time. The clincher was when I sat down to write a post real quickly, and I could not remember my password to log on to WordPress!! It is not such a huge deal to re-set it, but I was just so tired that I gave up.
I completed the work tasks, so I am going to give this another go!
This is sort of putting the cart before the horse, but this is one of the things that really hooked me about Buddhism, so I really want to talk about it sooner rather than later. This will be a very simplistic synopsis of the basics. Books upon books have been written about Buddhism, I would not begin to touch their depth in 31 days, so I figure I might as well just jump into one of the biggest things that I love!
Buddhists believe that we are all reborn into this life many times. (And not always as a human!) As a matter of fact, they believe that we have been through so many cycles that they have a concept that we have all been each other’s mother. The idea is that since the beginningless beginning of time we had moved through the cycle of birth and death leading a countless number of lives. If our previous lives are numberless, so too are the mothers who have given us birth. Nagarjuna said, “If we divided this earth into pieces the size of juniper berries, the number of these would not be as great as the number of times that each sentient being has been our mother.” (Source)
This cycle of rebirth and death is called Samsara, and the purpose of the practice of Buddhism is to become enlightened so that you can break out of this cycle and enter Nirvana. A Bodhisattva is a person who has attained enlightenment, but does not leave Samsara, but rather continues to return again and again to this world, so that he or she can assist other beings to attain Nirvana. The Bodhisattva will continue to do this until all other sentient beings attain enlightenment.
This just seems so amazing and wonderful to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect, I am as flawed as the next person. But I really do enjoy helping people. Being a Bodhisattva seems to me to be the epitome of helping others, through lifetimes. There are so many layers to this, so much depth to it that I have a lot more to say about it. But this is the basic thing that I love the most about Buddhism. To me it is not about large flamboyant gestures. It is about the day to day reality of helping others, where you are, with what you have. I truly believe in my heart of hearts that this is the way that each of us can make the world a better place. It will look different for everyone. We do not all have the same resources, the same passions. But we have something that we can share with others, something that they need.