As I started writing this, I tried collecting some firsthand experiences and speaking to people about Buddhism and its importance. Surprisingly, all the people I spoke to are in their early or mid-twenties. This goes to prove that Buddhism is extremely popular and acceptable among millennials.
They call it a philosophy–a way of life, not necessarily a religion. In fact, some say that Buddhism is for those who don’t believe in religion. In the words of Shrimi Choudhary, 23-year-old BPO worker, “I go for chanting sessions, and I’m a changed person since I have got associated with Buddhism. They don’t ask me to sacrifice any food items or to refrain from entertainment. I am myself when I’m there, a better person and a purified soul.”
On Buddha Day today, we delve into Gautama Buddha’s preachings that we can all use at some point in life. Here’s what Buddhism teaches you:
1. Be good no matter what life throws your way
Buddhism talks about inner goodness, the natural one. It lists down different natured people as Buddha nature, ordinary mind, sugatgrabha, vajradhara etc but no matter what your nature is, there’s goodness within. With this thought, Buddhism asks you not to change your nature and carry on with just being good. Basically, be yourself!
2. Let go of the word ‘I’
Caught in ego problem? Try reading some Buddha scripts and it will get you rid of the dilemma of ‘I’ and ‘them’. Today’s millennials go through a lot of ego issues whether it’s at work place, or in their relationships. Buddhism helps you understand the vagueness of your ego and simply tells you to let go if you want to be at peace.
3. The cure is meditation
When I was talking to few people who follow Buddhism, I was told that the best part about following this belief is chanting. They claimed to have travelled to another world during chant sessions and returned to a healthier, clutter-free mind. Give yourself a break from all the noise around and spend some time meditating.
4. You are your only saviour
Buddha doesn’t say I’ll protect you, but asks you to help yourself. Yes, you have to do it all by yourself and the good thing is that you can! Buddhism asks its followers to see, analyse and validate things themselves. In his words, “Be a lamp unto yourself.”
5. Mind over god
Buddhism asks you to not leave it to any god, but letting your mind be the driving force for you. It asserts very scientifically that there exists a reality beyond materialism and it’s your mind that can detect it. For this, Buddhism tends to rationalise things by taking the course of theory of evolution, quantum theory and cosmology. The ‘Kalma Stuta’ itself asks to assert anything on the basis of evidence. It tells you to judge everything rationally, thus making the believer take the onus of doing things practically and not blindly.
All this doesn’t sound like religion, at least not to me. Buddhism is about spirituality and awakening. You will not be given a set of readymade rules here, you will be given space to discover things yourself. As Dr Meeta Sharma, a psychologist and holistic healer (BPS & IBAM) observes, “The main practitioners of Buddhism have been the likes of Gautama Buddha (its founder) and leaders like Dalai Lama, Guru Rinponche, Thich Nhat Hạnh. They followed and advocated the philosophy in a practical way; they all propagated peace.”
On millennial interest in Buddhism, she says, “Another aspect that is relatable for millennials is the middle path Buddhism advises, it is to balance and promote harmony both within and outside. We live in Kal Yug, at the pinnacle of extremity; and this realistic and practical outlook for achieving overall peace is what today’s generation identifies with.”
Buddhism will not manipulate the reality but will ask you to establish the truth, be it harsh or generous. We see a number of millennials around the world taking to Buddhism. That’s because Buddhism is a belief, a life lesson that anyone can take up, will you?
Image Credit: Nikhil Mudaliar