Wednesday, October 12, 2005


or......"From Fountain Pen to Impoverished Prince"

Dr. Graham Howe, one of Britain's top ranking Psychiatrists said; " To read a little of Buddhism is to realize that the Buddhists knew, two thousand five hundred years ago, far more about our modern problems of psychology than they have been given credit for. They studied these problems long ago and found the answers also. We are now discovering the Ancient Wisdom of the East."

The Buddha was the first to throw intelligent light on the mind process. The important thing for us to remember is that the mind controls the speech and body action, so that the nature of the mind determines what we say and do.

Because the Buddha taught his followers, that they themselves make or mar their own happiness, it becomes necessary for us to rely on our own efforts and not seek salvation from a deity or supernatural being. Now if a man must rely on himself, it is weakness to seek aid and favours by praying. Instead of prayer, He taught his students to meditate and develop the mind so that we would be able to to face the difficulties of life, and overcome them.

Neither suffering nor happiness is permanent. It only requires a little patience and fortitude to wait for things to change. This was a very difficult process for me to achieve. Since I was a small child I grew up with the belief that God would either protect or punish me. If I did good, he would protect me, if not I would pay the ulitmate retribution. In the Jewish belief system, there is one day when we must atone for all our sins of the year, and that is indeed the holiest of days, Yom Kippur.

On this day, we are told to admit to all our sins, and we will be forgiven by God, and he will write us into the book of life for another year. If not, dire consequences will befall us. Until a Jewish boy has his Bar Mitzvah, his parents are responsible for all of his sins, but when he reaches the age of thirteen, he is considered entering manhood and therefore becomes totally accountable. The mind bogles with all the things we got away with as kids. But can you imagine the rude awakening after your Bar Mitzvah speech, that you are now being judged for everything you do....I immediately went home and hid my Playboys. Because of an over-reactionary Mother, all things physical became catastrophic. So Mother and I would engage in ongoing prayer sessions with every minor cold and scratch.

Another inherited trait with European Jews is "superstition". I was never allowed to say I was well or happy, because to do so would cause an "anhora"..meaning an evil spell of some sort. If somebody asked me how I was and I said I was doing great, my Mother would immediately invoke a protective clause by uttering the words "canahora..poo poo poo."...roughly speaking..spitting three times. Hence the reason, why the majority of Jewish men are in therapy or psychiatrists themselves. And you think your path to buddhahood is challenging, welcome to my world.

The Buddhist is at a great advantage with this knowledge, because he does not lose sight of reality during the happy moments and he does not give away to despair in the face of misfortune. The Buddhist knows that existence is controlled by balanced natural laws and prayer can only be to express a desire that these shall change for one's individual benefit, or that we wish for something we have not earned or are entitled to. If natural laws could be upset in this way we would be obtaining things at the expense of someone else.

In practically every one of the great religions of the world, "faith" is required of the followers, because many of the teachings and doctrines are incompatable with reason. Buddhism strikes a great contrast in this respect. the Buddha asked only for confidence, based on understanding and reason. Blind acceptance is of no use to an individual because it does not require the depth of knowledge which makes it of value or serve as a guide on the Path. This broad outlook is probably one of the reasons why it is now finding so many ready converts in the West.

So is this the true story of the Jew who became a Buddhist? Not really, I'm just a fellow traveller on the journey seeking the same things you are. This then, is my ongoing invitation to join me.

Buddha says, " If one find a friend with whom to fare, rapt in the well-abiding rapt, surmounting dangers one and all with joy fare with him mindfully."

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