Like many of us, when I had my first taste of monstrous fear and anxiety, I began to read self help books. I took momentary soothing from these books, and at the time they enabled me to calm the storm of these serious life threatening emotions. But despite numerous searchings, and reading tons of these in vain, my fear still haunted and goaded me. In some ways I liken these books to my spiritual ‘O’ Levels as some of the basics were absorbed and have stayed with me ever since. Probably the best example of this would be in M Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ when Mr. Peck states; “Life is hard”. That teaching is still very much with me on my personal journey.
The ‘self help’ industry is a multi million pound industry, and because the basic nature of ‘us’ wanting a quick fix, this is exactly why it is thriving. These books will not tell you to hold onto pain, they will advise you to skip over it or through it. It makes more sense to invite in what you usually avoid. For me these lessons were never born through books but were arrived at through legitimate suffering as I stayed with my fear and pain whenever I could manage to. Of course fear still grabs me by the throat, but starting with the body, I try to relax into it and know it for what is is, an emotion and a reaction to a conditioned thought of; ‘this may happen to you’! And what, ‘may happen to me’ … ‘The Truth’, thats what will happen. This is the false self or ego’s worst scenario because then it would loose control of ‘itself’.
I had always thought of myself as someone who is kind, flexible and loving but when confronted with this illusion I realised that I am not perfect and if I am not perfect I am continually letting myself down. I constantly invested into an image of myself that I could not live up to. When this was exposed to me, mainly with the help of therapy, I felt as if there was nothing, absolutely nothing, and at times I felt as if I was going to fall off the end of the world. If I didn’t have a story to cling to anymore, then who was I?
Currently I find myself between two schools of thought, one of Psychotherapy and one of Buddhism as they have so much in common. The problem is, as the title of this piece suggests, if ‘I think I’m a Buddhist’ isn’t that too a statement of ‘I’ and one of a fixed thought.. that ‘I’ am somebody. Bomb’s keep continually dropping.
It is possible to live in peace ☮ ~ Mahatma Gandhi
9 responses to “I think I’m a Buddhist”
You have put into words what I have been thinking for a very long time
Thanks for the comment, I am glad that my piece said something to you personally.
It is indeed, Will ~ I believe you are a Buddhist too ~*
Thanks for the comment as always Peter : ))
Hello Will, good to see Peter here! (waving)
There is a paradox in identifying as a Buddhist… but then I suppose it depends on how we use that identity – do we cling to it proudly as part of our ego? or do we allow ourselves to be guided by something bigger than our small selves?
You might be interested in The Amida Trust if you haven’t already come across it. They combine Pureland Buddhism with a Buddhist psychotherapy training. http://www.amidatrust.com.
Hi Fiona, Yes if we cling to identifying as a Buddhist then we are ‘clinging’ to yet another identity. I like your point about being guided by something bigger than ourselves. Once again, I have found myself browsing the Amida Trust site, but this time in more depth. Thanks for your comments and guidance, much appreciated.
Yes very interesting indeed. Emotions and the state of feeling are very much our instincts telling us I think. But they are easily distorted as we journey along through our life. People, society moulds the was we react to our emotions. They are not to be ignored but to be explored and watch how our emotions are motivation. Its just checking out what the next best thing is to o rather than simply react to something unconcscious. Bring emotions to the fore and then choose he next healthy action. 🙂 Easy to say difficult in practice.
Is that clinging? I hope not. What I am attempting to practice is going with the flow and emotions flow. I am a mere novice but at least I am practicing now
Thanks kindly for your comments. Whether you are clinging or not I think the main thing is that you are practising and looking head on at your emotions however hard they may be to digest. I wish you continued discovery and enthusiasm. All the best.
Have you read ‘Thoughts without a thinker – psychotherapy from a buddhist perspective’ by Mark Epstein? It’s a cracking read 🙂