By Both Long, Spanish Faculty
I Am a Spirit on a Human Journey
“There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path”–Buddha
As a kid, I was raised under the Buddhist way of life by my mom and grandma. I was taught the principles of Buddhism through lessons and teaching; I lived the Buddhist way of life by following my family. I walked this life and always identified as a practicing Buddhist, but I never really studied what that actually meant. I never consciously thought of what it means to be someone with Buddhist values. I am a Buddhist. I am here to learn the teachings of the Buddhist way through my own experience in this human form.
I took some time a few summers ago to read up on mindfulness, cosmic science and the universe, and Buddhism. Since beginning this endeavor of reconnecting with my soul, I have been structuring and molding this conscious way of life into my own daily adventures. The following is a quick peek into where I am in the process of adopting this familiar yet new philosophy.
Buddhism is everywhere I am because I am everywhere. That is to say that I carry within me my own temple; I am my own god. My core values of honesty and empathy, the way I treat people, and appreciation of all that is natural–all of this is present as I approach each challenge and task of daily life. I do not look for salvation or forgiveness from anyone but the present moment. Enlightenment is embedded in the current moment.
I consider my soul to be my spirit and to be separate from my body. My body is but a vessel for this human experience. I am not a human on a spiritual journey. I am a spirit on a human journey. I am here in this earthly plane, in this human existence, to learn and nourish my soul. I do not know how old my soul is, or what the collage of the many lives I’ve lived looks like, but I know that I am meant to be here (my current life as is). This world, my life in this world, is the classroom for my soul. And if my life is the classroom, then everyone I meet and everything I do is a book to nourish my soul. My conversations with friends and strangers teach me. The funny jokes and the sad tears teach me. A plate of good food and a tough workout teach me. Everything I do has a teaching within it. Everyone I meet has a teaching I can learn from. Everything I see has a teaching. I am always learning.
What a lot of people try to do to many teachings—be it Christianity, Buddhism, soccer practice, a recipe for how to make roast chicken, or how to get from your house to the nearest mall—is to try to condense all of the teachings into a step by step process/recipe for success. This is a very Western way of thinking–“I do this, and this happens/I followed directions and I should arrive”. Many believe that you can follow the eight fold path and four Noble truths in sequential order towards happiness and enlightenment. The moment you put the teachings of Buddhism, and ultimately the growth of your spiritual being, on a linear timeline (“Step 1, step 2, step 3 etc.”) is the moment you’ve turned Buddhism into a means to an end. By setting your sights on enlightenment, you’ve missed the point of Buddhism. Yes, enlightenment is the true home of our souls, but the only way to enlightenment is through super-conscious awareness of Self, of the current moment. My goal each day is to enjoy what I have and love those around me. I do not strive for enlightenment because I love the person I will become as much as I love the person that I currently am. I strive to savor the world. I strive to savor the current moment.
I know the four Noble Truths, I know the eight fold path because I was raised under these Buddhist beliefs and teachings, but my job is not to recite these to anyone. There is no test to regurgitate these down onto paper. There is no Judgement at the finish line. The only test is your own life. My job is to appreciate the joy of Being. All I ask myself to do each day is to be who I am and know who I am as a part of this universe.
I carry these values with me and definitely take care of pressing matters when they need to be taken care of, but I never go and take on any worldly issue without love, fulfillment, peace, and life in my soul.