BUDDHISM AND REALITY
After reading a Buddhist book entitled “Understanding the Mind”, all sorts of questions began to race through my mind. I now consider myself a Buddhist because my intuition is guiding me towards it, and I agree with the Buddhist books I've read. However I began to think how can I logically adhere to one philosophy if I haven't read all the others? I don't have a desire to spend my life tracking down every philosophical work ever written but my mind was telling me this is the only way to know that I'm following the right way.
-- Watts, UK
Your concept that you must have read and understood all the philosophies in the world before you can wisely choose the best, is both incorrect and unrealistic. It is like saying you must have worked in all jobs before you can choose an occupation that suits you, or you must know all the girls in the world before you can choose your wife.
The correct concept is to choose the best from what is available. You have been exposed to various philosophies of life. Now just choose the one you think is best for you.
Your choise of Buddhism is wise. Actually even in Buddhism there are many different approaches and ideals. It is said that there are 48,000 doors to Buddhism, which is a figurative way of saying there are many different expedient means to suit the different nature, aspirations and developmental stages of different people practicing Buddhism.
But the Buddha himself has made things very simple for us. He says that the essence of Buddhism consists of the following three practices:
- Avoid all evil.
- Do good.
- Cultivate the mind.
Following our Ten Shaolin Laws is an excellent, practical way to avoid evil and do good. Practicing the chi kung exercises you have learnt from me is an excellent way not just to cultivate chi but also to cultivate your mind.
I used to read a lot of philosophy books trying to understand the nature of reality, but it leads me to confusion, anxiety and depression. Sifu since I was in my mid teens I had a strong desire to understand the nature of reality. I don't know where this came from or why. However I do know that unfulfilment of that desire is what causes me a lot of unpleasant feelings. My question is how can I stop this train of thought. I now believe that chi kung, kung fu and Buddhism will help me.
You have read a lot about philosophy and reality, and you have chosen a most noble philosophy and practice, i.e. Buddhism. Now, stop worrying and stop intellectualizing. Just practice. In other words, every day of your life avoid evil, do good and cultivate your mind.
You should not do these three things as three boring obligations, but as joyful aspirations. You should not dull your mind by asking fruitless questions like why should one avoid evil, or is this way of doing good better than that way. Just avoid evil and do good, and enjoy it.
Don't ask questions like why do I cultivate my mind or how should I cultivate my mind. It is not that these questions are unimportant. They are important for other people who have not started their cultivation, and who have not thought deeply enough on these questions. But you have gone passed that. You have thought long enough on these questions, and have come to a very wise solution, that is you have decided to cultivate following the way taught by the Buddha. So just carry on with your noble journey.
You can stop your fruitless train of thoughts simply by stopping it. Let us take another analogy. You are walking towards a particular place, but you have found out that place is not actually where you want to go. How do you stop walking there? Just stop walking there. Don't fuss over your decision and don't ask unnecessary questions. Just stop walking there.
In practical terms, as soon as a fruitless thought arises in your mind, just stop thinking about it — without fuss and without question. It is just like what you do when you keep your mind clear when practicing chi kung.
The Buddha has made it very clear in his teaching that one understands reality not by reading about it or thinking about it, but by experiencing it. As an analogy at a very mundane level, one does not understand the taste of a mango by reading or thinking about it, but by eating a mango to experience its taste.
Our chi kung exercises enable us to experience reality ranging from a very basic level to a very advanced level. At a basic level, we feel peaceful with outselves and with the cosmos. At a very high level, we have a glimpse of our Original Face, or in Western terms, we see God. You can read some of these experiences in our Shaolin Wahnam Discussion Forum.
But you need not be in a hurry to see your Original Face or to meet God. Your Original Face or God is always there available to you when you are ready. In today's world when many people are stressful, just to be peaceful and happy is already a fantastic result of your chi kung practice, which is cultivating your mind.