Consider the suggestion--the Noble Eightfold Path--of someone who had schizoaffective disorder 2,500 years ago. But if you follow it, learn to adapt and to assimilate this suggestion into your existing culture and environment.
Finally, we reach the last guideline. But before you are introduced to it, you should know a little about its author first.
About five hundred years before Jesus was born, a man named Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini, Nepal. He came from a royal family and experienced its affluence. He mingled with the partygoers, and dined in tables with all the food you could ever imagine. The sexiest and the most beautiful women were laid before him
But there was a problem. The clergymen of his time talked about strange concepts such as "Dharma" and "Karma." They taught that life was like going to school, where you had to learn from your errors or bugs in order to advance to the next level
And the life that you lived had consequences. For every effect or consequence, there was a cause. And this cause-and-effect relationship was called "karma."
Then when your physical body or your hardware dies, its software or mind-spirit is recycled from the Bin and is revived and uploaded into another piece of hardware, or into another physical body on earth. And the next "life form" that your software assimilates into depended on your previous life's "karma." This, they called reincarnation.
Moreover, some clergymen taught that for every life that you lived, you had a "dharma" or "life purpose." And in order for you to advance to a higher level, you had to accomplish your mission in life. This was your path, calling, or your true vocation.
But most of the clergymen used the idea of "karma" and "dharma" as a way of discrimination and prejudice. They introduced an earthly system that rated and ranked individuals, and the priests appointed themselves as the supreme beings. This was called the caste system.
So the clergy used religion as a way to inflict suffering upon the masses. Some people, for instance, were thought of as rubbish, being called "the untouchables." And many peasants tried to do extremely weird and ghastly rituals, thinking that by performing it, their "karma" would yield positive results, allowing them to move to a better level in the next life. Others would try to "accelerate" their "grade level" by trying to live extreme, ascetic, austere and "holy" impoverished lives. They would dream of jumping from a "kindergarten" life to perhaps a "2nd grade" life.
But some people thought that this entire idea (now called Hinduism) was complete rubbish. It was completely illogical for them, so they lived hedonistic lifestyles---practicing the Kama Sutra with hundreds of women in the palace.
Somehow, Siddhartha could not reconcile his royal lifestyle with the peasant’s life outside the palace. The excessive pleasures of the “palace” made him miserable. And when he looked around in the countryside, there was death, decay, illness and suffering. His mind was split. He became confused and disoriented. Somehow, he had to debug it.
But he saw the serenity of some ascetic “holy” men, and he thought of practicing their ways to relieve his mental agony. So it was then that he started practicing a schizophrenic lifestyle. He left his family, including his wife, and joined the ascetics. He became very fanatical and weird, practicing severe fasting. He would be tormented by deathly “visions,” including “apparitions” of the “demon” named Mara. The “visions” and “voices” would torture him, and finally he concluded that an ascetic “holy” life was just as bad as a luxurious royal life.
From there, he developed the Four Noble Truths, including the “Middle Way”—which is subdivided into the Noble Eightfold Path. He concluded that by following a moderate lifestyle, you could extinguish your suffering.
Siddhartha developed a general diagnosis, cause, and solution to his mental agony. And this he called the Four Noble Truths. But in the end, it became a general prescription for humanity.
(8.1) I. Suffering Exists in Life
By default, you will experience suffering in life. It is an inevitable part of your existence. Birth, illness, aging, death, the loss or separation of loved ones, and so forth, leads to suffering. Moreover, happiness or pleasant feelings are impermanent. It doesn't last, so when your pleasant moments end, it produces suffering.
(8.2) II. The Attachment to Desire Causes Suffering
The mind, which creates feelings and thoughts, causes suffering. You crave for pleasant experiences through food, sex, music, relationships, material goods, and so forth. You desire to be a "somebody." And you attempt to avoid unpleasant feelings such as jealousy, humiliation, fear, grief, or anger.
(8.3) III. Suffering Ceases by Extinguishing Desire
This doesn't mean the suppression of desire. Suppression itself will cause suffering. By understanding the impermanent nature of all things, you will be able to harness and control your mind. And that allows you to extinguish suffering.
You can be living in a hut by the beach in a third-world country and be completely fulfilled. Or you can be living in an elegant mansion in a first-world country and be completely miserable. Happiness is a state of mind.
(8.4) IV. To Extinguish Desire, Follow the Middle Way or the Noble Eightfold Path
By following a moderate, balanced lifestyle, you will live a better life. By staying in a state of equilibrium and flexing yourself toward one extreme or another only when necessary, your life becomes more satisfying. And by following the Middle Way, your mind is harnessed and controlled.
The Noble Eightfold Path
(8.4.1) Step I. Right Understanding
If you understand the Four Noble Truths, you accept the fact that you have a problem. If you say that you’re not nuts, and that there is no cause to make you nuts, and that you don't need help, then you don't have "Right Understanding."
Moreover, to attain this, you should stop asking yourself "Unprofitable Questions," such as "Is there a God or gods? Is there life after death? What happens to you if life after death really exists? What Am I? Who Am I? Does the Ego exist?" Or any of the weird, impractical questions that philosophers ask.
You should also avoid perpetual evaluations or continuous thought weighing, such as: "Is this good for me? Is this bad for me? What will happen to me in the future? What really happened to me in the past? "
These questions will only drive you bananas. It is useless to ask these because you'll never really know the true answer anyway. Just live a decent, moderate life and you'll be okay, whatever the answers to these questions. Keep it simple. In that way, you will be able to extinguish your mental agony.
Moreover, if you think that your "Ego" which causes delusions is not inextinguishable during your lifetime because it is genetically part of your material body, then you will suffer. If you really wanted to, you could tame your "Ego."
So Siddhartha says that the Noble One only deals with practical matters. In this case, you win regardless of the answers to all your questions.
(8.4.3) Step III. Right Speech
Next, establish integrity and reliability. Avoid foul language, but at the same time don't make yourself look so pure and lofty that you appear arrogant. Learn to distinguish fantasy from reality and fact from fiction. Make yourself a reliable witness of what is true. Avoid gossip, but be friendly and sociable. Avoid debates, but if you are someone who is successful in his or her field, and if others want to know your secret, then you may passively educate.
(8.4.4) Step IV. Right Action
Fourthly, follow the laws of your state or country. If you think that there is something wrong with it, follow the proper procedure to escalate any flaws. You may write to your favorite senator, congressman, or MP. Or if you wish, you may write publicly through books, the Internet, magazines or newspaper reader-opinion sections. If you think it's really necessary, you may also join lawful organizations that may parade or voice their opinions through marches on the streets. But remember; always do everything within the confines of the law. Follow proper escalation and grievance procedures. And of course, listen to the universal laws of all countries, which are against murder, theft, and unlawful sexual practices.
(8.4.5) Step V. Right Living
Then, be in the right job or in the right business. Of course, you should avoid illegal occupations or businesses. So if you are unhappy with what you are doing at the moment, you need to find a better source of income. Learn and know more about yourself--your likes and dislikes, your strengths and weaknesses, your potential and your limitations. Then assimilate this knowledge with the conditions of your environment. You will then figure out the best path for you. And when you start practicing "Right Living," you will be a great benefit to yourself and to society.
(8.4.6) Step VI. Right Effort
Meanwhile, while you are following the previous steps, be careful about where your thoughts lead you. Put a harness on it to guide it properly. Think about the consequences of what your thoughts might lead to. Otherwise you might end up back in square one. To do this, you may need some time for yourself and be in solitude for a while. You need to maintain your momentum. Otherwise, you won't make it.
(8.4.7) Step VII. Right Attentiveness
Then, be conscious of your feelings. When you sense that harmful feelings are on the rise, do meditative techniques to extinguish and not suppress these feelings. Feelings of paranoia, anger, mania, or depression can be extinguished through proper meditation and visualization. Meditation also allows you to increase your focus and concentration so that you are not distracted by your "voices" or your manic thoughts. This is where the art of Zen--a school of meditation--is famous for.
(8.4.8) Step VIII. Right Concentration
The last step is the development of meditative techniques to absolutely minimize--if not completely eliminate--delusions, "voices," "visions," manic, or depressive thoughts, and so forth.
There are also many other types of meditation, such as the martial arts--meditation in motion--that was developed by Buddhist monks. Meditative "sports" such as kyudo, or even golf are forms of meditation if you don't make it competitive. And even a hobby can be a form of meditation since you are focused on the task at hand and distracting thoughts are set aside. Lastly, there are also legendary meditation techniques, which supposedly develops your Enlightenment "Energy" or Qi. But going into this direction is too much already. This is the warning light of where you should stop.
So, what now? Should you run off to the nearest Buddhist monastery and shave your head? Remember, that's essentially what Siddhartha initially did. Many monks nowadays practice asceticism--living extremely strict, austere lives, which is the very practice that Siddhartha eventually avoided and warned about. As usual, "clergymen" generally don't practice what the original teacher said. But if you think that your path to happiness is headed towards that direction, then go for it. Otherwise, avoid it altogether.
However, before doing anything, consult a licensed physician who is knowledgeable in both Eastern and Western medicine. Be certain to get references from his or her patients--people who will testify for the doctor's effectiveness on a long-term basis. Take note of the word long-term. Many physicians use drug therapy as a quick fix, and sometimes it appears to be magical. But that's all it is--a magic trick. It only appears to work because the patient is in a coma-like, zombie state. So, be careful. Its long-term effects will make the patient a useless "vegetable."
Then, after consulting a competent physician, you can adapt and assimilate the guidelines that I mentioned into your own culture, religion, and country. Siddhartha's path is secular. So if you live in a secular state, then you should not have any problems. But what if your family is Jewish and you live in a Jewish community? Then simply assimilate and adapt Siddhartha's secular path into your traditions, customs, ceremonies, and so forth. Nobody will ever notice, unless, of course, if you have an obsessive-compulsive Rabbi who watches your every move. So have "fun" on the eight days of Hanukah! And you can do the same thing if you are Christian, Muslim, or if you belong to any other religion.
This is actually what the Buddhist missionaries did when they spread Siddhartha's teachings throughout Asia. That's why, in Japan, Buddhism is mixed with Japan's native religion--Shinto. And in the Chinese communities, Buddhism is mixed with Confucianism, Daoism, and ancestor worship--China's native religion. This is also how the Gnostics (Western Buddhists) managed to spread their gospels throughout Europe.
They assimilated the life of the Jewish schizophrenic teacher Yoshua (later “nicknamed” IESOUS by the Greek Gnostics so that his name can have a numeric value of 888, but he is now popularly known as Jesus) with the stories of traditional European deities. The people of Europe and Asia had gods that were born of virgins, visited by three shepherds or "wise men," converted water into wine, initiated "Holy Communion" (e.g. the Bacchanalian Orgy of Bacchus), died on a cross or a tree after being arrested by authorities, and resurrected after three days.
This typical storyline existed hundreds of years before Jesus was ever born, and it was already firmly established in the minds of the Europeans. So, in order for the ideas of Jesus to become more acceptable, the Gnostics assimilated his story with the traditional storylines of other "gods" (or schizophrenics). That's why almost all of the "Christian" festivities--such as Christmas and Easter--celebrated today are non-Christian in origin. And that means that if you "undress" Christianity and take off all of its trendy, stylish, and fashionable clothing and accessories, the naked truth will reveal nothing else but Buddhism.
However, as I said earlier, you should always assimilate and adapt to your environment, to remove the trauma from your family members. You don't want to give them any type of religious shock. Anyway, all religions are related in some way or another, just like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. If most clergymen did not manipulate it to their liking, it would be so easy to understand.
In conclusion, to produce a potent drug, you need to distill the active ingredients of the medicinal substance. Then you concentrate it into a pill or tablet. In the same way, Buddhism in general is the raw medicinal substance and the practical teachings of Buddhism is the potent drug. But just like any other drug, beware of overdosing yourself. Eventually, as your mental health improves with time, think less and less about Buddhism and more and more about the true joys of life!
I wish you all the best!
Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There's a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
Spends His Time in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ($23.1 billion)
The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal god and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.
One of the Greatest Scientists of All Time
Most of the things I've come away with from Buddhism have been human, understanding feelings, impermanence, and trying to understand other people and where they're coming from.
The fundamental teachings of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all disputes the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligence the world has ever known. Buddhism is the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind.
I was in my early 20s and life wasn't making sense. I had experimented with a lot of philosophical and spiritual systems, and I felt a great affinity for the Buddhist approach. I think mainly because it left responsibility totally on me for the state of my mind, and the state of my experience of myself and the world, and a very systematic approach to changing all of that--changing my mind, my heart, changing, therefore, the outside world as well.
I know that some will have hard thoughts of me, when they hear their Christ named beside my Buddha. Yet I am sure that I am willing they should love their Christ more than my Buddha, for love is the main thing.
I support Tibet publicly. I just don't make it a public issue. I have introduced the Dalai Lama on a couple of occasions, and I have privately supported and am involved in other efforts to redress the inequity of the situation, but I don't actively look for opportunities to advance these issues.
Zen Buddhism helps man to find an answer to the question of his existence, an answer which is essentially the same as that given in the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and yet which does not contradict the rationality, realism, and independence which are modern man's precious achievements. Paradoxically, Eastern religious thought turns out to be more congenial to Western rational thought than does Western religious thought itself.
And then the message came... that it (Buddhism) could change your life. And I had to teach myself, because I didn't have the freedom to actually go to meetings, or for people to come to me. So I remember working really hard. And I am happy that I did it that way, because it was on my own that I really struggled for it, and it changed my life"
I have no hesitation in declaring that I owe a great deal to the inspiration that I have derived from the life of the Enlightenment One. Asia has a message for the whole world, if only it would live up to it. There is the imprint of Buddhistic influence on the whole of Asia, which includes India, China, Japan, Burma, Ceylon, and the Malay States. For Asia to be not for Asia but for the whole world, it has to re-learn the message of the Buddha and deliver it to the whole world. His love, his boundless love went out as much to the lower animal, to the lowest life as to human beings. And he insisted upon purity of life.
Many in Hollywood are becoming Buddhists. The first American commandment 'get rich and famous' does not bring happiness.
Films include Ocean's Eleven, Meet Joe Black,
Seven Years in Tibet, and Many Others
Zen is a particular way of looking at life. It's the moment or, you know, being in the present, you know. Buddhism is compassionate, a compassionate Buddha. Christianity is based on love. So those two things I think coordinate very well together."
National Basketball Association
Guided the Bulls to 6 Championships in 9 years
Author of Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior
As a student of comparative religions, I believe that Buddhism is the most perfect one the world has even seen. The philosophy of the theory of evolution and the law of karma were far superior to any other creed. It was neither the history of religion nor the study of philosophy that first drew me to the world of Buddhist thought but my professional interest as a doctor. My task was to treat psychic suffering and it was this that impelled me to become acquainted with the views and methods of that great teacher of humanity, whose principal theme was the chain of suffering, old age, sickness and death.
I remember when I was 10 years old, I asked my mother, 'If there's only one God, why are there so many religions?' I've been pondering that question ever since, and the conclusion I've come to is that all the religions are true.
Buddhism has been a major role in my life. It has given me an inner peace and calmness that I think I wouldn't have achieved at such an early age. I owe that to my mom. I don't practice Buddhism on a day-to-day basis, just when I feel like it. When I'm feeling weak, that's usually when I practice it.
Top American Golfer
I just decided to use a little bit of the Zen Buddhism and relax, instead of being frustrated, just smile and let it flow, just channel my thoughts, my frustration in a whole different form .
One of the Greatest Basketball Players of All Time
Starred in Space Jam with the Looney-Tune Characters
The nature of reality is suffering, and reality is a pretty big place, so there is a lot that can be said and done about suffering. If you have a broad view of suffering, in its internal and external varieties, it creates a pretty big field of opportunity for action. I like the idea of engaged Buddhism, the notion that one builds one's life around a commitment to relieving suffering wherever and whenever possible
I'm religious. Probably, to a lot of people's thought, I'm extremely religious. My practice is Buddhism, but I believe in God...I've never had a conflict when I'm on a set. I've really given up my life to God and I know that's why I'm OK and at peace. I don't believe in Buddha as my God...I believe in the practical ways of Buddhism as a way to live.
I left India and returned to Colombo, where I was the guest of a Singhalese student I knew in Perth. They were Buddhists, their house was in the grounds of a temple, and the atmosphere of the household was very peaceful and unbelievably gentle. I talked a lot about Buddhism with them, and they took me up to a temple in the hills, in Kandy, where I met the monks and talked to a very old abbot, who explained more about Buddhism to me. I found Buddhism fascinating. Their concept that you progress towards the Ineffable through a number of existences seemed to me much more intellectually satisfying than the Christian belief that you come just once and are cast into circumstances maybe of great wealth or of great moment, but that you come to God or don't come to God on the basis of that one life. The logical attraction of Buddhism after the devastating experience of India was a further part of my breaking down. I was never on the point of embracing Buddhism but I found, and still find, it infinitely more satisfying than the Judeo-Christian philosophy.
Robert J. Hawke
Prime Minister of Australia (1983–1991)
We’re not trying to turn anybody into Buddhists, that’s not our agenda. I can’t imagine a worse idea for making a movie! We were just trying to make a good movie, but I have been told by audience members that it sort of demands that you examine your own life. So that’s pretty nice!
When a modern western psychologist reads the Pali Nikayas, he again finds passages which he recognizes as belonging to his field and are concerned with typical psychological problems. Perception, imagination and thinking are described and the idea of psychological causality is developed, although in very vague terms. Behaviour and consciousness are explained as dynamic processes, governed by needs. There are the rudiments of an understanding of unconscious processes. We find interesting descriptions of different personality types. And the literature is full of advice on how to change the conscious processes evidently based on careful observation and experimentation.
Dr Rure C. A. Johnson
Swedish Research Psychologist
Swedish National Defense
Buddhists can laugh. I've met many Buddhists; they laugh. Good faiths can always laugh at themselves.