We’ve been running down Melvin McLeod’s 10 reasons why Buddhism can be enriching to the growing number of us who consider ourselves “Spiritual but not Religious.” (Click here to read Melvin’s introduction to this series, and here to check out the other reasons.) Here now, is #8:
Buddhism offers a wealth of skillful means for different people’s needs.
Buddhism is not a one-path-fits-all religion. It’s highly pragmatic, because it’s about whatever helps reduce suffering.
Beings are infinite. So are their problems and states of mind. Buddhism offers a wealth of skillful means to meet their different needs. If people are not ready for the final truth, but a partial truth will help, that’s no problem—as long as it actually helps. The problem is that things that feel helpful—like going along with our usual tricks—can sometimes make things worse.
So the Buddhist teachings are gentle, but they can also be tough. We need to face the ways we cause ourselves and others suffering.
Buddhist meditators have been studying the mind for thousand of years. In that time, they’ve tested and proven many techniques to tame the mind, lessen our suffering, and discover who we are and what is real (and not). There are meditations to calm and focus the mind, contemplations to open the heart, and ways to bring ease and grace to the body. It’s fair to say, as many people have, that Buddhism is the world’s most developed science of mind.
Today, people who want to explore Buddhism have many resources at their disposal. For the first time in history, all the schools and traditions of Buddhism are gathered in one place. There are fine books, excellent teachers (many of them now American), practice centers, communities, and indeed, magazines.
These are all available for you to explore according to your own needs and path. You can practice meditation at home or go to a local center and practice with others. You can read a book, attend classes, or hear a lecture by a Buddhist teacher. Whatever works for you—no pressure.
Melvin McLeod’s “10 Reasons” article is also available in its entirety now as part of a digital booklet, “Buddhism for the Spiritual but not Religious,” free to new subscribers to the Shambhala Sun. Also included are “How it Helps Me,” featuring six non-Buddhists on how Buddhism has benefited their lives; three experts on whether Buddhism is a religion or not; and easy-to-follow instructions for getting started with meditation right now.
Just click here to subscribe and download the digital booklet. You’ll also save between 52% and 62% on your order.