Basic perspective required

Basic perspective required

Features of the basic perspective required to best appreciate and pursue the ideas behind independent Buddhism:
A deep and abiding sense that, somehow, despite all the supposed evidence to the contrary, there must be some kind of ultimate purpose to life and existence – there just has to be – and that, with a certain amount of dedicated effort, one could perhaps somehow come to know what that ultimate purpose is.

 Which means that the whole Buddhistic project is – at least to being with – all about turning a vague intuition into something more substantial, and then trying to formulate something you can genuinely hold on to and, as it were, actively pursue. But how can this be done ?

 First of all, you have to have come to a brick wall with regard to all the other solutions and remedies you might find in the religious marketplace. You need to have tried different religions, listened to various teachers, read the books, done the practices, tried the meditations, and still found that nothing even remotely worked. You deluded yourself for a few months, or years, and then you had to admit defeat. So you need to have gone beyond the stage where you think that, perhaps with a bit more effort on your part, one or other of the solutions on offer might actually have delivered. You need to feel that your situation is hopeless. You need to have the sneaking suspicion that you are the only person in the world for whom all religions and all spiritual teachings are a waste of time.

This will mean that you are prepared to put sentiment and adolescent thinking aside, and stare the facts in the face. After all, what have you got to lose ? There will be no going back, and at least now you have a chance to move forward.

 This apparently unhappy starting point will, surprisingly, afford you some enviable capacities which will not only help you find your footing, they will also hasten your insight into the mystery of the human condition, and make it much easier for you to come to terms with what you will discover. It is not that any of these discoveries are in any way unpleasant, but rather that immature people simply can’t entertain certain ideas which conflict with their worldview, and are forced to go through prolonged struggles with themselves.

 You will by now already possess an acute sense of the unfairness of life, and of the utter relativity – not to say sham – of goodness and holiness, and this will serve to keep your ego in check. But beyond that, it is a great help to cultivate a certain outlook, together with a certain general mental perspective. You cannot think clearly and independently if you are always at war with your emotions and inner yearnings. But adopting the right mental outlook will not be difficult, if you have already reached the point where you can abandon the futility of your previous patterns of thought.

Below are some of the key features of the right approach. You cannot hope to cultivate an outlook by reading a checklist, but it does help to focus the mind by putting things starkly into words. The list is only presented here so that it can be improved upon:

A need to see clearly for oneself, by oneself, without the mediation and interference of others;

An outlook that is exigent, demanding, and never satisfied;

An outlook that is independent minded; hostile to arguments by authority, and not afraid to go it alone;

An outlook that is deeply sceptical; disbelieving, and hostile to sentimental reasoning;

An outlook which is endlessly self-critical, and never intellectually complacent;

A desire always to get to the point, and not be diverted by winning the argument;
An appreciation for maximum transparency, and maximum clarity in any explanation;
And – again – more than anything else, a deep desire to resolve the mystery of the human condition, whatever it might take to do so.