1. Truth: Cultivating your curiosity is essential. What reminded me of this just this morning was a short video I saw in which author Elizabeth Gilbert talked about how we should follow our curiosity instead of our passion. She’s right, and yet it’s something that Buddhism was already saying, that freeing ourselves from fixed mind, letting go of our agenda, opening ourselves to whatever might arise with a sense of curiosity is a worthy pursuit, the way out of suffering. Pema Chödrön says,
There is a common misunderstanding among the human beings who have ever been born on earth that the best way to live is to try to avoid pain and just try to get comfortable. You see this even in insects and animals and birds. All of us are the same. A much more interesting, kind and joyful approach to life is to begin to develop our curiosity, not caring whether the object of our curiosity is bitter or sweet. To lead to a life that goes beyond pettiness and prejudice and always wanting to make sure that everything turns out on our own terms, to lead a more passionate, full, and delightful life than that, we must realize that we can endure a lot of pain and pleasure for the sake of finding out who we are and what this world is, how we tick and how our world ticks, how the whole thing just is.
2. Truth: Much of what passes for new wisdom seems to me like repackaged Buddhist philosophy. I’m running into this a lot lately. What I can’t figure out is if the people doing it just don’t realize they’ve discovered something that was already known, like Columbus “discovering” America, or if they really and truly just don’t know that much about Buddhism, or worse yet, they know and it’s all a ruse, a fabrication, a trick, an attempt to gain fame and fortune for themselves without doing the real work. Or better yet, there’s some big, universal truth that can’t be contained by any one philosophy or religion, and we keep coming back to it, approaching it from different angles, like that saying “many paths up the same mountain.”
3. Truth: There is some mysterious but obvious truth that stands on its own, outside and apart from any system of belief. I first encountered this when I took a World Religions class in college. Seeing how there were themes and stories and practices that crossed cultures and time blew my mind. For some people, that might have caused them to lose their religion, and while it did shift my attitude about the religion I’d been raised in, it actually solidified my belief in something bigger, something beyond our tiny little egos, our small little selves. I felt the echo of it rippling through every attempt humans had made at a fixed truth, all their assertions that they were part of the “one true religion” and everyone else had it wrong. I realized that God, however one might define that, was bigger than religion, and the means for knowing that energy, for connecting with that quality were personal and specific.
One wish: That we each find a way, a method, a practice, a path to connect with what is true. That we can find comfort, refuge in it. That our understanding of truth enables us to be wiser and more compassionate humans. That we remember, as Ram Dass says, “we are all just walking each other home.”