4 ways I’m going to incorporate Buddhism into my life


photo credit: Roberthuffstutter

If somebody knocked on my door and asked me my religion I would say, without hesitation: none.  I am a secular atheist, or perhaps a humanist.  While I believe people should be able to freely believe whatever they choose (without discriminating against others), I generally believe society is better when it doesn’t embrace organised religion.

That said: there’s something about Buddhism that keeps bringing me back.

It just feels different to the others.  In fact it doesn’t really seem like a religion at all – more a philosophy; an approach to life.  It seems I’m not the only one that feels that way.  A quick search for ‘secular Buddhism’ throws up 5.5 million results, the first one of which is the Secular Buddhism Association.  A contradiction in terms? It would appear not.

So what makes it different? Mainly this quote, supposedly from the Buddha himself:

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

I think this is what appeals to my naturally sceptical nature.  There is not a list of rules, handed out on a tablet, to be obeyed or to risk fire and brimstone.  There are some suggestions to be pondered.

So tonight I took the bit between my teeth and booked myself onto an ‘introducing Buddhism’ course.  I have also been thinking about ways I would like to be a bit more ‘Buddhist’ and thought I would share them with you.  (In between cups of tea and filling up hot water bottles… I’m currently dying of man flu)*.

(*despite not being a man, this is possible.)

So anyway.  It’s not going to be easy – I would make the worst Buddhist EVER, mainly for the following reasons:

– I am grumpy, grumpy, grumpy.  Far from seeing the positive in everyone and showing endless patience like the Dalai Lama (love him), it only takes someone walking slowly in front of me (why? why??) or my other half sniffing too loudly and I’m off in an irritable huff.  Must do better.

– I virtually never live in the moment, which is one of the cornerstones of Buddhism.  I am constantly over-analysing a conversation from yesterday, or worrying about a meeting tomorrow, or ruminating over whether there will be a nuclear war, or whether the economy will tank, or whether my coffee will run out in the morning, or whether I offended one of my colleagues last week…. etc etc etc.

– I try and do everything at once and do none of them very well.

– I am in a constant state of nail-biting angst.

But I’m going to try and do some of the following, over the next few weeks.

1. Be compassionate

Yes, even towards that person walking in front of me at the pace of an arthritic snail.  Yes, even to the wasp that came in through a microscopic gap, but now cannot find a way to exit even though all the windows and doors are wide open.  Yes, even to my long suffering partner despite an insistence on watching Top Gear or humming the same line of song over and over. (Love you really, sweety).

Compassionate.  Yes.

2. Be patient.

I am SO impatient.  I want everything yesterday.  When I call the lift from floor 13, I want it here now.  When I put something in the microwave, I don’t want to wait 45 seconds.

This has to stop.

3. Do one thing at a time and concentrate on it.

This means not checking my phone while I’m eating tea; this means concentrating when I lock the door so I don’t have to check ten times; this means starting a piece of work and seeing it through to completion.

4. Live in the moment.

This will be the hardest of all, but I’m going to try and stop ruminating on the past and the future.  All we have is now.  I’m going to make the most of it.

I will keep you updated, and I’ll also let you know how the course goes.

What do you think? Do you follow a religion? If so feel free to share parts of your religion that help you to live life better, I’d love to hear.

Who do you shower with? A new way to meditate

My gratitude list


16 thoughts on “4 ways I’m going to incorporate Buddhism into my life

  1. I have found Taoism very interesting as well. I was sort of introduced to it by reading the writtings of Bruce Lee and I was blown away. My perception on life has changed dramatically.

    • That’s really interesting – do you mind me asking how your perceptipn has changed? I hear a lot of people say Buddhism does this to them, but I’m still right at the beginning so I’m interested in hearing about other people’s experiences.

  2. I was raised as a Nichiren Buddhist; I now identify as a secular Buddhist, and relate to much of what you’ve written about the challenge of following the Eightfold Path (basically what you described 🙂 ). I look forward to reading about your journey into Buddhism.

  3. The experience piece is significant in Buddhism. You must try it yourself and be extremely mindful of what happens in every part of your life. It isn’t something that you follow during your free time. To maximize the benefits of Buddhism, you need to incorporate the philosophy into every part of life. This includes work. And yes, Buddhism plays a role even when you must engage in psychological warfares with someone.

    • I’m really interested to apply Buddhism to different parts of my life. I’m really naive at the moment and know virtually nothing about it (just bits of reading here and there) but am really keen to learn more. Thanks for stopping by and commenting 🙂

      • When I first learned about Buddhism, it was at the university. Later, I read some of Dalai Lama’s books. His books are good as a starting point because he doesn’t expect the reader to be a Buddhist in order to read his books. He just wants to share the approach to a compassionate way of life. Check out his books. This website http://www.budaedu.org/en/book/II-02main.php3 gives out free Buddha Dharma books. Although the shipping will probably take awhile, but it’s worth a try.

        Here’s a quote for everyone who is interested in Buddhism:

        “Act cautiously. Above all, avoid becoming a Buddhist without reflecting on it first, without knowing anything about the religion but simply acting on a whim, only to find later on that this or that practice does not suit you or seems impossible” – Dalai Lama

  4. Buddhism may be less about being in the moment than you and oh, half a billion people think it is. As someone who teaches meditation (thanks for liking my post yesterday!) I would say if you ruminate go ahead and ruminate, rather than give yourself another rule to follow: ruminate, bad; in the moment, good. But if you do ruminate, especially in meditation, you might let in some air to understand what’s behind the storytelling. It’s a way of respecting your mind rather than treating it like a child that needs disciplining. Do contact me if this sounds counter-intuitive, impossible to follow, just plain nuts or something you’d like to know more about. Or read more on my blog.

    By the way, I do think that Buddhism supports skeptical inquiry. Oddly enough, the quote you give to support that idea has been met with skepticism and found to be wanting. There’s a great website that tracks down the huge number of invented quotes attributed to the Buddha that float around online. http://www.fakebuddhaquotes.com/believe-nothing-no-matter-where-you-read-it/ . Bodhipaksa, not only identifies the fake quotes, he goes into the teachings that relate to what has been posted. It’s a great site for learning about Buddhism, which is your plan, and for training your skeptic’s mind.

    • That’s really fascinating what you say about meditation not being about ‘being in the moment’. This has always struck me as one of the difficult things about meditation (as my mind tends to run all over the place); but it does make sense what you say about respecting your mind rather than trying to ‘train’ it like a puppy. I’ve also had a look at the website on fake Buddha quotes – it is really interesting, although not that surprising, fake quotes are all over the internet (Einstein is another one who has supposedly said all kinds of things he probably never did!)

      I am really interested to learn more about Buddhism from people such as yourself, and will be following your blog with interest. Thanks so much for your helpful and thoughtful comments.

  5. Just curious to know where you’re doing your Buddhism 101 course. If you’re in the UK (and little hints sprinkled about lead me to believe that you are) then you’re probably near a Triratna Buddhist Centre somewhere: http://thebuddhistcentre.com/. Western Buddhism at its best!

    • Hi Gordon – glad to see my Britishness shines through! 🙂 I went to the Buddhism 101 course yesterday and it was a Triratna centre – it was extremely accessible and friendly to a naive westerner such as myself! Thanks for the recommendation 🙂

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