First, this week, I asked you to complete a 5-minute meditation with me. Â So, I would like to hear from you how it went! Â Was it easy or hard? Â Were you able to create spaces between your thoughts when you just focused on your breath? Â What could be some benefits to meditation? Â And how do you think it helps Buddhists achieve greater awareness of the world and eventually enlightenment?
Second, last week you heard the story of Siddhartha Gautama – the prince who lived a life of complete hedonism, then renounced it all to find enlightenment. Â This story is central to Buddhism, but many devout Buddhists say that it’s probably not “true” in a historical sense, and that whether or not the story actually happened doesn’t even matter. Â
For them, the story is important because it teaches an important truth about how to live one’s life – one shouldn’t live completely for pleasure and oneself, but also one shouldn’t deny themselves everything. Â Neither of these paths leads to enlightenment. Â One should follow the example of the Buddha, even if he wasn’t a real historical figure.
Can a myth be important even if it’s not historically true? Â Can you think of any other examples of stories or myths in religion or society that are probably not actually true, but are important nonetheless? Â
This is connected to another central idea of Buddhism, which is the rejection of blind belief. Â The Buddha taught that you shouldn’t believe anything unless it has proven to be true for yourself. Â He told his disciples never to believe his teachings, but to try it out for themselves and see if it helps them find greater calm and clarity in their lives. Â
Is this an appropriate attitude for a religion? Â Or should a religious tradition include some sense of faith or trust in the tradition/teacher that they don’t question EVERYTHING a religious authority figure says?