Monday, February 22, 2010

What To Believe

A well-known golfer has reported that he needs to return to the Buddhist teachings that he learned as a child.  This return, he believes, will assist him in his efforts to restore his standing with his family and the society in which he lives.  If only it were that simple.
It might be more useful to explore why and how he left those Buddhist principles.  The problem may not be what to believe, but how.
There is no lack of systems or programs for people to follow in order to stay on the correct moral path.  We have the teachings of the classics, the fables of Aesop, the parables of Jesus, the Ten Commandments. 
We even have the 10 Cowboy Commandments, by Gene Autry.  A good cowboy:
1.  must not take unfair advantage of an enemy.
2.  must never go back on his word.
3.  must always tell the truth.
4.  must be gentle with children, elderly people and animals.
5.  must not possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas.
6.  must help people in distress.
7.  must be a good worker.
8.  must respect women, parents and his nation's laws.
9.  must neither drink nor smoke.
10.  must be a patriot.

That's a worthy set of instructions for holding to the social covenant.
No, the real problem for this golfer, for each of us, is not what to believe, but how. 
Henry David Thoreau wrote "It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil." 
That's a start.  Somehow, in the mashing messiness of daily life fueled by steroidal thought and tremendous economic pressures, each of us must stay attuned to the inner voice which calls from the past and says "Hold on.  This is not what you promised to do or be."
I am no student of Buddhist teachings.  I have read a little on the subject and the most apparent quality of it seems to be the concept of not craving things or attachments outside one's self.  That is a difficult task.  There are so many wonderful and exciting things that are desirable.
I believe this golfer's road to the future was split into two paths from the start.  Believe the Buddha and be the greatest golfer in the world.  Those two objectives seem incompatible.  A good place to begin his quest.

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