Personal development or Buddhist path: to each his own!

- through Henry Oudin

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“Learning to be tolerant is a discipline. It involves voluntarily choosing not to harm, not to be violent, not to judge, etc., when it would be possible to act otherwise. " Dalai Lama

For more than forty years, the historical Buddha taught without dogmatism by adapting to his audience. Equanimous, benevolent, he welcomed his disciples as they were, unconditionally. A tolerance that is sometimes terribly lacking in us.

Personal development or the practice of Buddhism: should we choose? Since mindfulness meditation has invaded the media, businesses and the personal sphere, many people call themselves “Buddhists” and think that this method and Buddhism are first cousins. This is not the case. These two areas correspond to different necessities, needs, objectives and methods. It is neither better nor worse. There is no need to judge, but to be clear about what they offer, to choose in conscience, what is best for everyone, at the moment. Without being exhaustive, which would require a complete book on the subject, and without comparing what does not have to be, here are some principles of Buddhism which help to understand why the way of advancing on these two paths, and their purpose, might seem common: no longer undergoing the suffering inherent in being alive does not imply the same approach.

Buddhism does not propose the attainment of lasting ordinary happiness.

Buddhism is a "science and knowledge of the mind" which is based on a philosophy and millenary practices intended to allow practitioners to achieve enlightenment and free themselves from any identification with the causes of suffering. Its goal, all schools combined, is not to help them to be happy in the usual sense of the term, but to promote an experience that makes them switch to the real world. Very briefly, to be awake is to have finished with the “I” and the game of illusions, and to remain in the real. Buddhism therefore does not teach that there is a lasting solution to habitual suffering and is not a therapy, but encourages reflection on the laws of causality, impermanence, conditioned production to lead the practitioner to renounce , among other things, to any identification with the causes of suffering. Thus, as pointed out Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche “The Buddhist way, demanding, does not aim to calm us down, to help us feel better and to lead a quiet life, but on the contrary to turn our life upside down”. Consequently, the practitioner does not seek to achieve personal, lasting happiness, but to plunge without a net into the heart of his sufferings, his fears and his deep feeling of insecurity, to transform them into their opposites. He thus educates himself to see, to accept, to understand, as Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche says, “there is no solution to the evils of samsara, because samsara cannot be fixed”. It is his learning of reality.

"The demanding Buddhist path is not intended to calm us down, help us feel better and lead a quiet life, but on the contrary to turn our lives upside down". Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

This benevolent, although uncompromising confrontation with the reality of what is, sometimes involves the disciple having to face great psychic pain, anxieties and doubts. It is only thanks to an incessant and progressive work on his conflicting emotions, and by humbly highlighting his faults that he manages to reduce his attachment to the ego, to flush out and neutralize his beliefs and habits. On this path, stripping oneself of one's old mental rags requires time, courage, vigilance and great determination. It is often only after years, that one day, the disciple notices that the inner and outer circumstances disturb less and less the stability and the serenity of his spirit, and that it is possible for him to say a " yes” unconditional to what is. To all that is. Bliss and waking up to reality come at a price: confronting the burns and limits caused by vulnerability, fears, thoughts, emotions and beliefs.

Personal development and immediate happiness

The methods of personal development, intended to obtain a form of well-being in the immediate future, do not imply, as for them, to free oneself from the fundamental illusion described by the Buddha nor to tame the mind for years. through various exercises and study. Nevertheless, when they are supervised by serious professionals, they offer patients the opportunity to learn to develop a certain form of wisdom, greater benevolence towards themselves and to better understand the world created by their painful emotions for less suffering. More and more people are showing the need. The practices around the meditation of the Mindfulness (MBSR, MBCT) attest to this. The company can only benefit from these contributions.

Respecting differences, the choices of others, is essential on a planet where more than 7,7 billion people live side by side. The modernity of Buddhism, by proposing a way whose outcome is to confront reality by being free from the fears, needs, illusions and sufferings generated by the mind and its conditioned vision of the world, implies rethinking our relationships to our roots. philosophical and religious: that is, the place from which we speak. It is not a question of denying our identity, but of freeing ourselves from the habits of thought and behavior dictated by our culture and our upbringing in order to be able to open up without fear to what the other proposes and find the middle way that corresponds to us, here and now. Other paths, traditions, philosophical and artistic systems allow it otherwise. It's up to everyone to follow the one that suits them

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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