ryantadman
1,000+ Views

What Buddhism Says About Success

One thing I struggled with while I was studied Buddhist philosophy was how to fit this ancient, complex practice into the modern world. How Dharma, our worldly and spiritual responsibilities, can be fulfilled while adhering to Buddha's other teachings. In this piece, Lewis Richmond gives an interesting insight into how Buddhism, with its emphasis on modesty and helping others achieve the same state of enlightenment, can coexist in the world of individual success. His opening paragraph sums up the main idea, that "the first thing Buddhism would say about success is that it is fleeting, like everything in this world. Impermanence was the Buddha's first great insight into the nature of reality. He also understood that as a consequence, loss and its consequent suffering are written into the fabric of human life. Whatever we attain or accomplish in life--whether it be wealth, fame, status or power--is destined to fade and pass away. None of it is worth pinning our deepest hopes on; none of it is the source of lasting happiness." Buddha was once the definition of success. He was a handsome, strong, powerful prince, who didn't know how sad and unintelligent he was until he left his palace and saw the real world. Buddha's teachings, however, do not ask us to give up all forms of success. Earning money in an ethical way in order o support one's family is honorable, as is contributing to the overall wellbeing of the community. In simpler terms, success won't bring you happiness. Success won't end suffering. Buddhists may tell you that the monastic life is infinitely more rewarding than your six-figure salary or fame.
3 Comments
Suggested
Recent
It's fine to want success and to enjoy success, but that shouldn't be the end game or the deciding factor of whether not you're happy--right?
@Nisfit I completely agree. While nothing is permanent, there are somethings that are worth basing your life around more than other things.
I think its important to have other things that make you happy. If your end goal is success, you'll never be satisfied but if you happen to achieve success while doing something you love you wont be suffering!
Cards you may also be interested in
Explaining Buddhist Thought - The Four Noble Truths
The Four Noble Truths contain the essence of Buddha's teachings. These truths are some of the first teachings you will come across in study of Buddhism. I will try to give you a brief summary of these teachings, but remember that some people spend their entire lives studying these four beliefs. The Four Noble Truths 1. The truth of suffering (Dukkha) 2. The truth of the origin of suffering (Samudฤya) 3. The truth of the end of suffering (Nirodha) 4. The truth of the path to the end of suffering (Magga) 1. The Truth of Suffering Dukkha may be better understood as dissatisfaction and the anxiety that comes from these unfulfilled wants, rather than simple as "suffering." Human beings experience dukkha in three ways. a. Suffering of suffering - Life is filled with misfortunes such as illness, death, and old age. There is nothing we can do about this and it is experienced by everyone, even animals. b. Suffering of impermanence - Like suffering of suffering, humans have to experience death of loved ones or even simply losing a prized possession. You can never be comforted by anything in life because at some point in time these things will fade, be lost, or change, c. Suffering of condition - This is a much deeper form of suffering. We are beings that depend on so many other things to exist and as a result we are subjected to the changes and loss that comes with the physical world. There is an infinite amount of things that we cannot control, and thus we are constantly dissatisfied and suffering. 2. The Truth of the Origin of Suffering Rather than explaining suffering as the daily discomforts like thirst, hunger, pain, etc, Buddha names the true root of suffering as desire, or, tanhฤ. Tanhฤ is represented by three evils. a. Greed and want b. Ignorance and delusion c. Hatred and destructive urges 3. The Truth of the End of Suffering Buddha taught that the way to extinguish desire, the root of all suffering, is to free oneself of attachment. This liberation from desire will lead you to the goal of Buddhist practice, Nirvana. Nirvana means "extinguishing." Attaining nirvana, or reaching enlightenment, means extinguishing the three evil mentioned in the second noble truth: greed, delusion and hatred. One can achieve this enlightenment in one lifetime, as proven by Buddha himself. The key is to live a life without attachment or desire - easier said than done. Buddha discouraged practitioners from asking questions about nirvana. He wanted them to concentrate on freeing themselves from the cycle of suffering, rather than worrying about the "reward." 4. The Truth of the Path to the End of Suffering For the final truth, Buddha explains how to finally reach this end of suffering. He prescribes this through the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path is also known as the Middle Way. One ought to live by avoiding both indulgence and severe asceticism, neither of which Buddha considers helpful in the search for enlightenment. Living a life between any extreme is the best way to avoid the suffering found in desire. For example, you shouldn't eat extravagantly, but you shouldn't starve yourself either. Only eat what you need to survive. I will go further into the Eightfold path in my next post. If you have any other questions related to Buddhist teachings, feel free to message me or comment on this card.
I'm Not Religious, But I am a Little Buddhist
In this article, Annie Battles shares her experience of growing up with a Buddhist father. Though she didn't practice Buddhism, she found that her father's faith permeated into her life from an early age. I found this piece helpful in explaining how practicing Buddhism doesn't mean you have to live in a monastery or give up your social life. Ideally, Buddhism will enhance your current life. Daily meditation can organize your thoughts, remind you what you value in life, and teach you how to react to whatever life throws at you. Here is an excerpt that I found particularly valuable. "My father's Zen ways of thinking softly permeated his parenting techniques. He would remind me to breathe deeply and to focus on my breath for ten seconds when I began to get upset. While this answer still infuriates me, understanding the statement through a Buddhist perspective gives it a more tangible meaning. At thirteen years old, shaking with rage after realizing my sister just stole my only pair of stockings for a week long trip, I was in no mood to think about breathing. However, once my father would tell me to breathe, I wasn't allowed to talk again for ten seconds. I always resented this forced silence, but ten seconds was an irritatingly perfect amount of time for me to realize I needed to cool my shit. One of his most common pieces of advice to me growing up was, "they don't make you feel that way, you make you feel that way," and it was true. I would work myself up, and then feel the physical effects of my own anger. Nobody else was experiencing these negative feelings but myself. Slow, deep breathing slowed my heart rate and brought my blood pressure down, alleviating my insatiable rage. In this way, my father just shoved some Zen Buddhist wisdom into my brain before I could see what hit me. Practicing aspects of Zen Buddhism isn't signing your life away to a monastery, and doesn't necessitate any prior knowledge of Zen as a religion. The all-encompassing nature of Zen practice, as well as the variation in practice and intensity, is what attracted my father to Buddhism in the first place, and it is what keeps me interested in the study of Buddhism and the utilization of Zen beliefs and practices in my daily life. After all, don't we all need to remind ourselves to breathe sometimes? Or just stare for an hour or so at things that remind you of people you love and things that make you laugh?"
Explaining Buddhist Thought - The Eightfold Path
The Eightfold Path is another invaluable teaching of Buddhism and explains the way to achieve a state of non-attachment and escape suffering. The path is broken down into eight factors, which are separated into three divisions: I. Wisdom 1. Right view 2. Right intention II. Ethical Conduct 3. Right speech 4. Right action 5. Right livelihood III. Concentration 6. Right effort 7. Right mindfulness 8. Right concentration It's important to understand that the Eightfold Path is not an eight-step program. The eight parts of the path are not steps to be mastered one at a time. They are to be practiced all together, and each part of the path supports every other part of the path. Wisdom: 1. Right view - This is also known as "right understanding" and refers to gaining an understand of how the world truly is and not living with any delusions. The purpose of right view is clearing one's path of the confusion, misunderstanding, and delusion. It is a means to achieve correct understanding of reality. Right view should be held with a flexible, open mind. 2. Right intention - This can be called "right thought" as well. In this step, you should constantly aspire to rid yourself of whatever qualities are wrong and immoral. It means having good will and a commitment to the spiritual path. Ethical Conduct: 3. Right speech - This is related to practitioners using their speech in the best way. It is described as "abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter." 4. Right action - Practitioners should be acting, or conducting themselves, in a moral way. Their actions should come from good will and should not harm others in any way. 5. Right livelihood - This is the factor that deals with fitting Buddhism into daily life. One can be a Buddhist while still being a businessman, teacher, etc Concentration: 6. Right effort - Along with the Ethical Conduct section of the Eightfold Path, Right Effort deals with action. Putting the right amount, and right kind, of effort into living a moral life. One should devote time to cultivating good qualities and ridding yourself of immoral ones. 7. Right mindfulness - Mindfulness is whole awareness of the present. To be mindful is to be not lost in daydreams, desires, or worry. The way we reach enlightenment is through direct experience. It is with mindfulness that we experience directly. 8. Right concentration - Right Concentration is most often associated with meditation. It is focusing all of one's mental power onto one physical or mental object. Controlling the brain is just as important as controlling your daily life and physical body. Please feel free to ask me any questions or suggest my next card!