Evening With Siddharthaby Gerald Lee Jordan
10 May 2020 14:43 (NZT)
It was my first night alone in the 6+ weeks since lock-down started in Aotearoa New Zealand back in March. I won't deny a certain amount of trepidation, as I thought of being home without my son. We are close. I might be coding. He might be working on his art, his guitar or school work, but we always take a moment or two to express ourselves. It is a wonderful relationship and also very comforting.
So, my first night alone as he goes to his mum's! I began to imagine all of the things I could do. There is cleaning to be done, my Cannondale is a bit dusty and could use a trip around the coast, there is always website work to do . . . I then realised that what I really needed was time with my own mind.
I am in no way religious. When I first began meditating before my Jack was born, one of the things I wanted to avoid was Buddhism. Over the years, I began to see Siddhartha as someone who observed pain around him and wanted to understand and help. This one to whom we generally refer as the "Buddha" - "Enlightened One" - wanted to help others suffering and (like many in his world) believed the solution was somewhere within his grasp. Some imagined they could torture the body to make it give up its secrets. Siddhartha tried this, but realised it was a dead-end. After years of struggle, he sat under a tree and decided not to move until he had the solution. He focused on his breath. When he believed he had the answer, he refused initially to share it. It is all too easy. No one will believe me, he thought.
He found the answer was within him and within all of us. We could minimise suffering by an attentive life, what came to be known as The Eightfold Path. When others asked for supernatural explanations, Siddhartha brushed away their questions. Some have argued, such as the former Buddhist monk, Stephen Batchelor, for a Secular Buddhism. Deities are not required for Buddhism. Reincarnation is not required. Actually, the historical existence of the Buddha, although rarely seriously debated, is not even required, as long as the conclusions are "true" (contrast this with Western theologies). The message is that there is suffering and there are ways to help. Some, like me, consider the Buddha to be a proto-psychologist (to give a Western context) whose words were later used to create power structures we often refer to as "religion".
So, I sat and focused on my breath last night with another seeker.
May you find peace.
Gerald Lee Jordan, MBA, MEd, MCouns