Relearning A-Z in the school of Life

by | Aug 17, 2021 | Public Speaking | 0 comments


B is for ….

In school we learned “B” for Ball, but in my School of Life, I learned “B” is for “BUDDHA”…

Let me share my perspective on the significance of “BUDDHA” in my life. I would like you to share your perspective too.

I was in the gym the other day and my trainer and I were having a discussion and suddenly out of nowhere he asked me, ‘Praveen, why do people keep Buddha statues in their homes?’. And I answered, there are two reasons why the statue of Buddha is kept in homes.

Buddha is God

To understand the first reason, let us go back in time to when I was around 8–9-year-old kid. We had Buddhist neighbours back then, and my parents then were not in favor of building strong relationships with them. They never stopped me from meeting my neighbours, but they made me hyper aware about it, that it is better to avoid meeting my neighbours. Soon I realised the reason for this behaviour, which was caste discrimination, as we were Hindu and my neighbours were Buddhist. Surprisingly, caste discrimination still exists in our small Indian villages. My mother belonged to one such small village called Taroda in the Vidarbha region, which has less than 500 families but caste discrimination is still deeply rooted over there.

Our behaviour is always related to the conditions in which we grow and live, it is not related to what I or You think. It is a Fact.

One day when I visited my neighbour’s house, I saw that there was a Buddha statue in their home. And they said that Buddha is their God. That time I thought that ‘Yes. It is correct. Like we have Gods in Hinduism, they also have their own God whom they worship’. And this became my belief about Buddha, that Buddha is God. One of the reasons why people keep Buddha statues at their home is because they believe that Buddha is God and they worship Buddha as God.

Buddha statue as a Decoration

To share another reason why people keep Buddha statues at home or offices, let me take you back in time again, only a few years back in my life though. When my new office was ready, the architect had built one wall and decorated it with small square designs. We were then discussing what we should keep over there and suddenly someone suggested keeping the Buddha statue over there. Many times people keep Buddha statues for decorative purposes. Some people might say that they keep Buddha statues because it gives them peace. Are we really expecting peace by keeping a Buddha statue? This is as good as expecting wealth by keeping a statue of Warren Buffet at home or offices. These both are irrational expectations. Even if you go on Google and search for decorative Buddha, you find a plethora of options.

So, these are the two reasons why people keep Buddha statues, one because they feel Buddha is God and second for decorative purposes.

Buddha’s Meditation Technique

But I realised soon that this is not correct. I realised this when I went to learn Vipassana Meditation. This is a type of meditation technique that Gautam Buddha used to teach 2500 years ago. Myanmar was the only country that had preserved this technique of Vipassana Meditation, that too only a few families where it was passed on from one generation to another. And now this technique of Vipassana Meditation has come back to India and there are more than 200 centres of it across the world. One such global centre of Vipassana is close to my home place, where Buddha’s bone relics have been preserved.

When I visited this centre, I thought Vipassana was some religious process because then in my mind Buddha was God. And I slowly started discovering that infact one of the biggest concerns of Buddha was that “People should not consider him God”. Buddha never wanted people should stand in front of his statue and pray because he himself believed in taking actions.

Buddha’s Teachings

When you visit a Vipassana Meditation centre, you will find that there is too much hard work over there. At the centre, you have to wake up at 4:00 am and till 9:00 pm i.e. throughout the day, you have to learn and practice Meditation. For 10 days you have to live a very disciplined life and you cannot even speak a single word. One has to maintain complete silence when meditating at the centre.

If we carefully observe Buddha’s life, he believed in hard work, taking action and not standing in front of a statue and expecting that something good will happen in life. Buddha himself never wanted to be considered as God. And to my surprise, as I took a close look of the centre at Igatpuri, which is one of the first Vipassana centres, I realised that there is not a single statue of Buddha at the centre. If the statue of Buddha is for decoration than why can’t we find any Buddha statue at the Vipassana Centre?

Because what can really decorate our home or offices is not the Buddha statue but the teachings of Buddha. When we learn, practice and implement those learnings in our life, that is what can decorate our inner world, not the outer world.

Learn. Practice. Implement

So, what is the best learning from Buddha that I am trying to learn, practice and implement in my life? And that learning is ‘How to stay Equanimous in Life.’ So, what does this mean?

If you critically observe the process of Vipassana for 10 days, you can observe the reactions on your body. You can easily categorize those reactions in two parts: Good reactions and Bad reactions. For example; if you are sitting for a long time then you get back pain, that is a bad reaction. But sometimes you get a tingling reaction, a good reaction in your body. We are allowed to react to these reactions. We have to just observe the reaction the way it is. Because, the problem in Life as per Buddha is, we have a habit of reacting to things. We react to good things and then we say we need more good things as that makes us feel good. We have a lot of clinging and attachment to those good things. At the same time, we react to bad things and we say, ‘No, we don’t want these’ and we develop an aversion for bad things. The best thing I have learned from Buddha is, “Not to React”, does not matter if it is a good or a bad thing, just stay Equanimous. If you Learn, Practice and Implement this learning in your life, that will decorate your soul.

If you Learn, Practice and Implement these techniques and this learning, it may not decorate your homes or offices but it will surely decorate your Inner Soul.

So, in my School of Life, B stands for “BUDDHA”, in your school of life, B stands for…

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