Book Talk: Understanding & Practicing Buddhism to Become Stress and Anxiety Free by Michael Williams

Would it surprise you to know that Buddhism is not a religion, writes Williams. There is no deity to be worshipped. To be a practicing Buddhist, no statue is required nor is worshipping and praying to the Buddha. A true Buddhist merely pays respect to the memory of the Buddha.

a guide by the side rather than a sage on the stage

The Practices of Buddhism–including meditation and yoga–are meant to help you unlearn your preconceived notions of yourself and the world.

3 states of mind
  • Citta: state of mind or one’s mindset–the emotive mind
  • Vijnana: consciousness, reception and perception or discernment of the world using the six sense bases: sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mental objects
  • Manas: intellect or general thinking which follows apperception; involves volition or willed, deliberate thinking; and, having willed, one acts through body, speech and thoughts

Buddhism is a way of life that leads to the discernment of true reality. Its teaching center on developing your ability to be mindful of your thoughts, actions, and surroundings. All these lead to a life that is in tune with nature and your true self.

The world of Buddhism

The name comes from the word “budhi” which translates “to awaken.” In order to be a practicing Buddhist, you must:

  • lead a moral existence
  • develop awareness and practice mindfulness in your everyday thoughts and deeds
  • practice the virtues of wisdom and understanding

And, every step on the way is a moment of awakening and enlightenment. It is a paradox for one to declare that they are going to practice Buddhism in order to reach enlightenment.

The three universal truths
  1. nothing in this universe is ever lost (matter transforms into energy); every living thing is interconnected, equal, the ‘same’; concept of ‘no-self’
  2. everything is subject to change; life is river that goes on and on
  3. everything is influenced by cause and effect; one reaps the fruit of the seed which he had sown; who you are now and who you will be is also the product of your thought, emotions and actions–kindness begets kindness

karma, as action, is dynamic, foreseeable and clear as crystal

A mind unperturbed by vagaries of fortune, from sorrow, freed, from defilements, cleansed, from fear, liberated–this is the greatest blessing.

–The Buddha
The three marks of existence
  • Anicca (impermanence)
  • Dukkha (suffering–the ephemeral nature of things we learn to cling to nothing, enjoy it without clinging to it)
  • Anatta (there is no “I); Williams explains this and the other concepts in such easy to understand ways. The ‘self’ is merely an illusion, and with all illusions, you cannot own or control them.

What the Buddha wishes you to understand is that the absolute absence of control is the only path towards mastery. When you acknowledge the impermanence of things, embrace the fact that the “I” does not exist, and learn to depend on nothing, then it is you who controls your life as opposed to the illusions controlling you. Yes, this is still a complex concept to get our minds around but this explanation shifts us towards greater understandings.

The four noble truths
  • suffering is universal and to reduce suffering, we need to wake up from our habitual denial of this fact
  • we cause our own suffering in the seeking of happiness from worldly pleasures; allowing desire and attachment to control you keeps true peace and contentment away
  • the termination of suffering (Nirvana) is achieved through the extinction of desire, with a lifestyle free of selfishness and greed
  • the Path leading to the end of suffering is the Middle Path–to walk this road, one must life the Noble Eightfold Path

Begin each day with a prayer of intention. Set an appointment with yourself each day, for meditation. Remind yourself of the basic principles of Buddhism throughout the day:

I do not want to harm anyone with my thoughts, words or actions.

Just take it one step of the time and Williams’ book, Buddhism: Understanding & Practicing Buddhism to Become Stress and Anxiety Free  is a great place to start and add to your journey.

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