What Would Buddha Do, Part 1?

Since 9/11 there has been a pervasive sense of anxiety in the world, and at the same time, a search for spiritual answers. Is violence an aspect of human nature that can be cured, or are we caught in an endless cycle of violence that will never end?

One of the most optimistic answers to that dilemma came from Buddha more than 2,000 years ago. In the light of what he taught, I wanted to post my thoughts about the Buddhist solution and what it means for you and me as we seek to live in a troubling world.

Anyone coming to spirituality from the outside asks the same question: "What can it do for me?" There's no universal key that unlocks the truth. However great the teaching, unless it can be made personal, it is sleeping. There's no cut-and-dried case, especially today. You and I seek spirituality one by one, on our own terms.

We have our own specific suffering that we want to heal. As old traditions no longer bind us together, isolation, ironically enough, has become the new tradition for millions of modern people. Feeling alone, unwanted, unloved, weak, lost, and empty is how the human disease feels today.

At no time in history have there been more stateless people, refugees, overpopulation, and restless migration. Globalism makes the individual feel lost in the world, overwhelmed by its chaos, which always seems to be teetering between madness and catastrophe.

Yet when people came to Buddha, they brought the same complaints. They felt helpless in the face of natural disasters, war, and poverty. They couldn't comprehend a world on the edge of madness. And yet Gautama Buddha, he who would later be called "The Enlightened One," brought unique insights to these existential dilemmas. Watch for the next entry on Buddha, where we'll get deeper into these insights.