I feel empowered today.
I watched a documentary about Buddha today. Though there is no concrete evidence of the exact story of his life, what he taught about the pathway to enlightenment and understanding human suffering will be very valuable to me. I plan to read more about him later.
The Buddha himself was born in India to a rich family, and was basically bred to be the next major ruler of the country. His father adorned him with constant riches, women, anything he could ask for... for about twenty years. He said he was treated very "delicately" growing up, and was not exposed to the outside world to witness the pain and suffering witnessed by man in common society. It was not until his first time stepping into the real world that he saw the inevitable fate of all humans-- Disease, Aging and Death. He had witnessed human suffering.
Back then there was not much organized religion outside very ritualistic Indian practices established by ancient gurus that were said to be a hindrance on every day life. As society was changing many people began seeking spiritual guidance on their own by means of self deprivation to gain enlightenment. The Buddha did this himself, joining a group of other anoretic men and led by a guru performing near constant meditation.
The Buddha had starved himself to near death before finally leaving the group to seek his own personal enlightenment. He decided that without food, the body becomes so focused on sustaining life that an individual is unable to think clearly at all so yes, it should be okay to eat and drink.. He hadn't eaten in months when he sat down beneath a tree and meditated.
In this meditation he envisioned monsters, one of which symbolizes human greed. This monster did not want The Buddha to reach enlightenment because he felt it would change the world. He was offered extraordinary temptation-- such as women (I believe in the story it was the monster's daughters, I'm not entirely sure..) and power. He refused them, with the Earth as his witness.
In his enlightenment the Buddha realized that as human beings on this Earth we live in "suffering," but not necessarily "to suffer," but more like... We're never truly satisfied with everything, and even when we feel happiness it's momentary. Even the most beautiful grow old and the most powerful get sick. This is the one life we have and if we just stop and look around we can understand the beauty of the Now.
The "now" is your current circumstances. I look around my room and see my current "now." It might not be home so it might not be the most comfortable place in the world for me at times, but that is no reason to be worried. This is the school I'm attending now, again not perfect but if I learn to see the beauty in the simple things around me as well as try to better understand the human beings living around me I will live a fulfilling, happy life.
The Buddha does not give reference to the afterlife, and at the time he was alive people very much believed in Reincarnation. Though I believe reincarnation is a possibility in the mystery of life, I choose to continue to believe that God, or some creator, exists. I pray to God and my ancestors for guidance, but I have no interest studying what is believed to happen in the afterlife because that's not important.
What is important is to accept that we are given this life and have to make the most of it and fulfill whatever purpose drives us.
When I started having panic attacks I began seeking additional spiritual guidance because life was suddenly looking so grim to me. When you feel like you're going to suffocate from the sheer stress of the transitional period in your life everything around you seems pointless. Today I am as far away from that feeling as possible, I once again embrace my life for every day by working hard, eating well and trying to understand people from all walks of life.
Facebook allows me to meet and "study" all kinds of people so conveniently.
Well I'm expecting company. Just thought I'd share that. I studied a whole bunch today for my accounting final tomorrow, wish me luck.