Get Off the Hamster Wheel

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The Buddha

It really is that easy. Once you realize it, the idea is blindingly obvious. Just get off of the hamster wheel. Just stop trying to become someone else. The three critical problems in human life according to the Buddha are greed, hatred, and delusion. We have to understand “greed” very broadly here, to include the greed to get better all the time, which is an indefinite goad away from who we really are.

Here, Buddhism is very much at odds with the prevailing culture of the United States. We hear incessantly that we need to make ourselves better. The bookstore has an entire section with the name, “self improvement.” The need to become better than you are is almost the civil religion of the United States.

For the Buddha, this is a horrible mistake. You may think that you are not happy with yourself or your life as it is now. This is where Not Self becomes critical. You are not happy with yourself, if you are not, because you fail to recognize that you already are the Buddha. Not the historical Buddha. He died before the life of Christ, over 2,000 years ago.

But the quality that he discovered in himself when he awakened is a quality of all sentient beings, which necessarily includes you if you are reading this. Remember that the constitutive failing of humans is ignorance, and the most important fact most of us are ignorant of is that we all have Buddha nature. Just keep meditating until you silence all of those thoughts that only reaffirm your belief in your own inadequacy and learn to abide in your Buddha nature.

Call this “enlightenment,” “awakening,” “the deathless,” “nirvana,” choose your term. You certainly won’t worry about dying once you realize your deep connection to the universe in the form of Buddha nature.

It really is that simple. Just do it.

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Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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