My approach to learning from all world religions has been to take what I feel I can use from each of them, but I continue to learn the most from Buddhism. It seems to fit better into our world today, then when Buddha walked the earth.
How? Because so many of us today actually believe that egotism and ignorance is bliss. Got a problem? Go buy more, and surround yourself with your own illusion of control.
Sooner or later most of us wise up and see how little we control in this world, and how buying more things isn’t the answer to either the human condition, or fundamental human suffering.
Buddha began from the premise that we all share suffering at times in our life. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, we will all suffer through difficult changes, illness, and the death of ourselves and those we love.
How best to learn to live with this fact?
Buddha wanted to solve this mystery for himself, and so he first followed a couple of different gurus and found no satisfaction. Then he followed the path of severe austerity for six years, living with a group of ascetics and almost starving himself to death. This was also not the way for him.
When he was very near death, a maiden offered him food. That simple act saved his life, and also showed him the way of compassion. He thought, we truly are all in this together and the best way to live is with compassion for both self and others. Look within and trust your own inner wisdom. Tame the mind and the passions. This moment seen directly is all we need to see right now.
I attended a Buddhist-based counseling program, Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. There I learned even more about the peace to be found is sitting silently with yourself and your thoughts. But I feel I never truly learned the full lesson until my own life fell apart at age 49.
How have we spent this life? What have we to show for it? And we realize that, to paraphrase Thoreau, when it comes time to die, we do not want to discover that we have not lived.
Getting down to the basics and staring this moment directly in the face, is the only way to begin to change your life in positive ways. It is truly the only way to find your very specific reason to be here.
I wish you luck in this final quest.