The Buddha was a wellspring of wisdom and clarity. He gave so many wonderful, clear and concise teachings.
Here are my favourite three bits of advice that he ever gave to his disciples…
1.“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Buddha states here, clearly and succinctly, the core teaching of every spiritual tradition in the history of this planet.
He taught that happiness, peace and true well-being can only ever come from within- and guess what, modern science has now caught up with this ancient wisdom and shown it to be true.
Seeking happiness, love and peace in external things is fruitless, frustrating and keeps you distracted from the joy that is already within you.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the world, but just don’t expect to find lasting wholeness in ‘things’ or ‘out there’.
2.“As you walk and eat and travel, be where you are. Otherwise you will miss out on your life.”
In other words, practice mindfulness. This is how you discover that happiness, peace and well-being mentioned above. Another way to say this is “Live your life as if it really mattered”.
Sadly, so many of us live our days as if they were a means to an end. We are often caught up in our wandering minds instead of fully living in the moment. The Buddhas caution here is one worth heeding.
If we’re not fully present in life, we literally miss out on it! We miss out on the miraculous, rich and beautiful unfolding of life in the here and now.
It might be worth pondering my friends, that ‘not being fully present for the little things’ is the most common regret I heard from my elders when I used to work in nursing homes.
3. “Don’t blindly believe what I say. Don’t believe me because others convince you of my words. Don’t believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don’t rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don’t infer or be deceived by appearances. Do not give up your authority and follow blindly the will of others. This way will lead to only delusion. Find out for yourself what is truth, what is real.”
This is good advice indeed. What Buddha was saying is that his teaching (or any spiritual teaching for that matter) is not a matter of faith or authority. It is not something to just believe or disbelieve but rather is something to be tried, tested and discovered directly for each person.
He is inviting us to take a kind of radical responsibility for ourselves and for our lives. He is also reminding us that mindfulness is either known directly or not at all. It’s something each of us must experience first hand in order to know it.