I read my short story at a book signing. I’m scheduled to read again at the same bookstore when my new book, Living in Blue Sky Mind, comes out. The reading of the short story required no context. I imagine reading the next book, subtitled “Basic Buddhist Teachings for a Happy Life,” will prove more complex.
I assume that the people attending my next reading will have some interest in, and little experience with, Buddhist teachings. Before I read a selection from my book, I will explain that Buddhism formed around the teachings of a man who lived nearly three thousand years ago in today’s Nepal. A normal mortal man, like you and me, he realized some basic truths about human existence. He began teaching the people close to him on his spiritual journey. They recognized that he was an awakened one. They called him, Buddha, which means exactly that.
In his first teaching, Buddha presented a perspective on our Earthly experience. His description became known as the Four Noble Truths. He realized that we can live happily and fulfilled, but because we delude ourselves, we feel dissatisfied and disconnected. He also offered a way, a path, toward clarity and bliss. This approach became known as the Eightfold Path. Buddha prescribed specific wholesome, loving, and wise ways that we can think, speak, and act to rid our world of confusion and distress.
I practice Zen Buddhism. Zen means meditation. I meditate, and I navigate Buddha’s eight avenues of practice. I am not required to believe anything, or have faith in anyone besides myself. In fact, a tenet of Buddhist practice suggests that we question before we commit. We keep the practice our practice. No one tells us what to think, say, and do. If even Buddha gets in the way of us realizing who we truly are, we erase him from the equation. No strings. It is all free.
The realization of compassion and wisdom through awareness, and the wish that every being live happily and safely guides our practice. I come from there.
“Now, I would like to read you a selection from my new book, Living in Blue Sky Mind, Basic Buddhist Teachings for a Happy Life.