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Praying to the Buddha

“The cause of suffering is desire.” This is one of the most perfectly profound statements ever made about the human condition. It was spoken by Siddhartha Gautama, the Sakyamuni Buddha.

Like Jesus Christ, little is factually known about The Buddha. His history and teachings were recorded by those who lived after his worldly presence, which is believed to have ended in approximately 483 BCE. Though he was not the one who recorded or wrote his teachings, the words that are attributed to him are quite profound.

Though much of the world is going back into a mode of lockdown due to a sharp rise in the cases of COVID-19, here is California, as vaccinations are being performed and cases are diminishing, some of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown protocols are being lifted. Some establishments are being allowed to open on a limited basis. Among them are churches and temples.

There is this very expansive Buddhist temple situated here in Southern California. It is very reminiscent of those located in Asia. It has been closed to the public over the past year.

As things are opening up, I thought I would check to see if I would be able to revisit the temple. Yes, they are now open but due to the fact that things are opening slowly, and there are still restrictions as to how many people may enter an establishment, one must make an appointment to go there.

The interesting thing I found about all of this is that on their website they state that people may make an appointment to go there but they may only enter for a short period of time to pray. Now, at least to me, this is very interesting. And, it is something that truly provides a look into the mindset of humanity.

The entire premise of The Buddha’s teaching is about emancipation. It is about spiritual liberation. It is about the loss of desire in order to meet Nirvana. The Buddha did not want followers, as say did Jesus. In fact, he did not accept them. “Are you are god? No, I’m just a man. “Are you are guru? No, I’m just a man.” Yet, throughout the evolution of Buddhism there have been those who have prayed to his idealized image. But, as in the case with Christianity, isn’t that simply idol worship? Yes, of course, people claim that they are only praying to that construct as a focal point, but why pray to an image at all? And, moreover, if you are praying to The Buddha, aren’t you missing the entire essence of true Buddhism?

What this tells us about people and humanity is that most need to believe in that something bigger than themselves. They need that god. They need to believe that someone/something Out There will be there to help them in their time of need. But, what is need? Isn’t need simply something that you want? Thus, it is desire but desire goes against the entire core teaching of Buddhism.

Is you don’t want anything… Is you want nothing to be different… Then, there is no need to pray. What would you be praying for?

It’s important to remember, that even praying for the betterment of someone or something else is simply your desire for things to be different. If you hope for things/anything to be different than you are locked into a space of desire. Thus, you miss the entire a point of what The Buddha actually taught. “The cause of suffering is desire.”