Timeless Spirit Logo

A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine. January Theme: "Within" Volume 1 Issue 2 ISSN# 1708-3265

Current Issue Advertising Donations Free Subscription Feedback Come Shopping Meet Our Staff




Buddhism: Peace in Every Breath
By Susan Lynn Reynolds

Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion, and philosophy is all about examining the nature of reality. At the heart of Buddhism is the enlightenment, which transformed Gautama into the Buddha: his realizations about the nature of suffering.

Buddhism states life is difficult, flawed and imperfect. There are parts of life we would all change if we could. From something as minor as an argument with my partner, finding the cream for my coffee has gone sour, or the traffic light has turned red as I'm rushing to get to my destination; to something as major as a life-threatening illness; every day I am confronted with parts of life I wish were other than they are. But it is not those imperfect pieces of every day, which make life difficult. It is the craving for them to be other than imperfect, which makes them so unbearable; which thrusts me into a state of agitation and misery. Because I crave satisfaction, I end up spending much of my time dissatisfied.

Self-centred craving creates all pain in life, and only through the release of those desires can inner peace be achieved. Anguish comes from wishing things were other than they are. If I'm in a state of joy, anguish arises from worry about keeping things suspended in this happy state of stasis. But of course, the only constant in life is change. No matter how wonderful things are, they will change. Worrying about changes, shoring up my life against change, does nothing but keep me in a state of anguish; it does nothing to stop change from happening.

Buddhism teaches liberation from this dissatisfaction, this pain, this anguish, is possible for everyone. This liberation is the state of Nirvana; inconceivable inner peace, the cessation of craving and clinging.

In Buddhism the answers all lie 'within'. Difficulties lie without, in the belief what will fill you, satisfy you, and make you happy, lies in the complicated world outside of yourself. When I am confronted with a situation in which I feel distress, sadness, anger, or pain, my instinct now is to seek refuge 'within', through meditation.

Through the discipline of meditation I am able to create a gap between the thinker and the thoughts, between the feeler and the emotions felt. I can remember I am not my thoughts, and not my emotions. Those are evanescent states, which come and go in response to external stimuli. I am able to quiet my mind, to stop spinning like a hamster on a wheel, going nowhere but exhausting myself mentally and emotionally. I am able to remember who I am - the inner unchanging permanent me.

The discipline of meditation is essential to Buddhism; for it is only through meditation we can quiet the noisy mind. But, more completely, Buddhism teaches liberation and enlightenment can only be realized by leading a compassionate life of virtue and wisdom, as well as meditation.

Most people in the twenty-first century have at least a nodding acquaintance with the concept of karma: the idea of 'what we sow, we reap,' and 'what goes around comes around'. We are creating new karma for ourselves all the time. When I act out of an intention of kindness, of virtue, good karma is created. When I act from a negative motivation, negative karma is generated. Through practicing wisdom, I am able to discern the virtuous path, the one which will not create more negative karma for myself, will not cloud the waters, or agitate the mind further.

If I act out of mean-spirited intention, the energy generated confuses the mind. When I later look back on a particular event the muddiness of guilt and discomfort rise up and make detachment difficult. When I act from a spirit of loving kindness, from a place of truth, however, no matter what the outcome, it is easier to release the events which follow. 'I did the best I could,' I can say with a clear conscience and a light heart.

In Buddhism energy is always directed towards simplification, toward release from striving and struggle, toward attaining inner balance and peace. The answers all lie within; peace is just a breath away.

Susan Lynn Reynolds is a novelist, freelance writer and teacher of creative writing in Durham Region, just east of Toronto. She leads writing practice retreats and facilitates regular writing workshops - one breath at a time. Sue can be contacted via email.

Copyright (c) 2003 by Timeless Spirit Magazine. All articles are the copyright of the particular writers and cannot be reprinted without their expressed permission. All rights reserved. International copyright laws prohibit reproduction of or distribution of this page by any means whatsoever, electronic or otherwise, without first obtaining the written permission of the copyright holder. We retain legal counsel to protect our copyrights.

Any advice given is for informational purposes only.