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The Buddha

The Dalai Lama once admitted that, as a child, he thought Buddhism was better than all other religions. He now understands the dangers of such religious chauvinism and went on to write about how compassion is the basis of all religions. In this, he agrees with the Founders of the United States, who were well aware of the ugly history in Europe of Christians killing each other over what flavor of Christian to be and so decided, wisely, to prohibit the establishment of religion in their new republic.

The Dalai Lama is also happy to incorporate quantum physics into his understanding of the world. To say that the Buddha was right is not at all the same as saying that Buddhism is better than other religions. Whether anyone thinks it matters how well their religion corresponds to reality is an open question.

For the Buddha, awakening included an amazing flash of insight that allowed him to see the world in a way that corresponds very well with the discoveries of quantum physics. Living as he did roughly 400 years BCE, he lacked our modern vocabulary to describe what he saw, but he got the point across well enough.

But until you awaken to the level the Buddha did, the ways in which the world operates according to the principles of quantum physics is an abstraction. What the Buddha got right that matters to us still stuck here in samsara is his method for how to awaken. He was very clear that starting with an ethical commitment to the five precepts is essential. Don’t harm anyone. Don’t steal anything. Don’t lie. Don’t engage in irresponsible sexual conduct. And don’t consume intoxicants. Pretty simple.

From there, just keep meditating. A regular practice is important. Better short sessions daily than a long session one day followed by nothing the next day. It’s a gradual process, like walking into the ocean. The water will gradually get deeper — until you fall into the Marianas Trench, which you will be happy to do once it happens.

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Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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