Steve Hagen: Buddhism Plain and Simple

January 21, 2023

     I have recently become interested in the intersections between Buddhist beliefs and practices, and those of Quakers, and had been on the lookout for something introductory to read; after a couple of false starts, this recommendation from a former working colleague finally hit the spot, in terms of its focus on the teachings without the centuries of intervening superpositions and arcana, let alone 2500 years of history. In that sense it resembled the wish of the original Quakers to return to the basics of original Christianity

The language is accessible, with specifically Buddhist terms clearly explained and used sparingly.

The message is that we have to be fully awake and do whatever it is we do for ourselves; knowledge is what we see. Again, as a Quaker I’m familiar with this idea though it’s worded differently; my spiritual journey is my own, and I cannot be told by anyone else how to manage it.

On the other hand, to look at things from a Buddhist perspective does seem, to me at least, to require quite a radical shift in perspective, and a good deal of thinking (?) in terms of how to re-orient my way of looking at the world. One minute I feel miles away from understanding what he’s saying, the next, it’s a clear as daylight. In the sense of going beyond a ‘search for meaning’, which I feel I’ve been engaged in for years, I’m wondering if there is in fact no spiritual journey as such, that I’ve been wrestling with impossible contradictions for years and it’s time to move on…

I know I’m not supposed to be ‘thinking’ about it all, but there is much to engage with here, and I shall be pursuing this way of looking at things.


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