At some point of time in life, we enter the gates of ‘existential crises’. I am unsure how many of us experience this state in what way, when or how. An existential crisis is a cognitive stage in which we become inquisitive about our own existence, or to put it simply, it is a saturating stage of our psyche when we dismiss the values, meanings and definitions of our life. There is no specific age/professional qualification when this happens. I will not certify this observation, within the spectrum of ‘positivity’ or ‘negativity’, because I consider it to be a vital parameter in our ‘wholesome’ experience. It is a deep and a brooding exercise, especially valuable in today’s epoch, when most of us are not driven by our thoughts but by the narratives emitted by the socio-political manipulators and their irrational or apathetic design. After opening this door, you stand on the heavenly stage of realization, awareness or may be just nihilism.
Taking this forward, while introspecting the origin and journey of our choices, mindset and other socializing features by standing on this stage, little do we realize how much unconscious have we been. Most of us often experience ‘better’ and ‘bitter’ dramas in our respective lives. Some move on, some carry on and some of us are not even conscious of what just happened. In this process on a personal level, unfortunately, most of us become the master or else the victims of violence, hatred, jealousy, politics, depression and suicide. One may seek therapy from a professional counsellor who may use fancy/western designs or models and their conspicuous ‘psychological’ diagrams, but does it actually debunk the anchored issues from our mind? I don’t think so.
It was the year 2012, after losing my best friend in a car accident that I declared science and atheism as a panacea to all cognitive, social and anthropological issues. It was not a hasty generalization from my end. My regards for science and atheism still stands true with the same respect and inflationary value. Since 2009, thanks to Wi-Fi and other technological accessories, I started developing a personal interest in learning about religions and spirituality without any interference from my Hindu family/friends.
Once upon a time, I used to be very religious and almost deist in my relationship with spirituality. From rigorous fasting to conventional religiosity, I have observed almost every genre of orthodoxy, customs and religious idiocy in my journey. But, I still failed to go inward and meditational within myself despite adequate undertakings. I do not think there is any universal, objective, uniformed or integrated tool to quantify the success or the spirit of blessings, for qualifying my argument in going inward till I learned about a process, a way and a philosophy called Buddhism.
Buddhism varies from different people to different continents. Its intrinsic beauty is its strength, thus making it more aesthetic than being a way of life. My learning of Buddhism posits that it is a way of being, which is better than being a way of life. It is a way of being, in the sense, that it does not let you organize your faith, belief and mindset in a particular pattern of religiosity and spiritualship. It has no God, no messenger and no compulsive formalities. It has many schools of thought, without any caste, in which Navayana (since 1956) is the latest one. It is as flexible as one can imagine, without any limits, without any conventions and without any edicts. It makes one go inward, is depersonalizing, agnostic, sceptic and nihilistic in nature which are essential nutrients for the environment of mind and cognitive personality, compared to my learning of other religions.
On exploring Buddhism, coincidentally I discovered myself. It was not an invention but rather an act of reinvention. It was a moment of tranquillity and a management of change. My journey on this road commenced after a few brutal experiences in my personal life, social life and other activities. My study of Buddhism came to my rescue and helped me to build my mind by stitching together the disparate pieces and experiences. Buddhism, to me is a medicine to the mind, a panacea to heal oneself with the addition of self compassion and social empathy.
I adopted it, last year (2018), to overcome my ego, selfishness and lecherousness, with intent to proliferate the teachings of Buddha, the lessons of Buddhism and the significance of meditation. The cacophony of the world is unnecessarily loud that leads to a materialist lifestyle, political conflicts and unprincipled living, because it is cheaper within and costlier outside. Buddhism healed me to an extent of unlearning what I know and re-learning what I did not know.
On declaration of my decision i.e. proselytization of my mindset into the faith of Buddhism, in the last week of December 2018, I did receive repercussions, brawls and judgements from my closed colleagues (mainly, upper-caste Hindus) and a few family members. I did not retaliate like I used to, because Buddhism has reformed me and it did not facilitate me to revolt against their illicit attitude. If I revolted, there would be no end to the story; the vicious cycle of ego, disappointment, jealousy and hatred would continue.
‘Attachment is the root cause of suffering’ so I did not ‘expect’ a warm welcome either. In fact, I shall never expect anything from anyone because attachment is a dangerous matrix. I am no more stunned, hurt or surprised in this regard because my mind does not control me like it used to. If it were not for Buddhism in my life, I would have become the slave of my mind and feelings. Though I transferred my accumulated ‘merit of compassion’ for the well-being of my haters, they continued to circumvent me for gratifying their ego and it does not unduly worry me. Buddha himself had experienced resistance from others – in his epoch, when his influence was seen as a threat to the practitioners and propagators of casteism, untouchability, misogyny, materialism and idolatry. He is the source of my inspiration.
I do not wish to entangle in the discourse on other Buddhist topics or its interpretation of self, karma and soul, but one thing is definite – every human being has a ‘Buddha nature’ and one can attain this nature through compassion, meditation and friendliness, without attaching ourselves to the game of expectations and believing in the roots of permanence. The rest I leave it up to you.
Buddha’s last words were, “Everything is temporary. Work hard for your salvation” and this summarizes the context of this blog/article. When you read about the cases (stories) he faced, you will realize how little you know about yourself.