I picked up Deepak Chopra's Buddha.
It was more of a fiction - of how Siddharta became Gautama and then Buddha. The story dwelt more on the love and war during Siddharta,Gautama period and dwelt little time on the really interesting part - how Buddha attained enlightenment and the aftermath.
I was more curious and upset that what I wanted to know was covered little - perhaps the book wouldn't have sold if it was all sermons - the enlightenment part would have been boring.
This man attained enlightenment at the age of 40 or so - and lived till 80 years. Daily he gave a sermon to his disciples. He answered any question thrown at him - and these have been captured and compiled as the Buddhist Philosophy.
Taking a step back - my quest on what is God has been running for more than 4 years. Ever since I started reading Paulo Coelho's books I had this nagging feeling - something more is there to this life of ours. Then I picked up Conversations with God - and after some inner turmoils later became completely disillusioned.
Change in Lifestyle
Whatever the religion demands of us - to pray and follow customs - are totally meaningless.
Why should I pray? - for a good comfortable life ( or more money ) and good health?
If I don't work smart and hard - money will not follow - how much ever I pray. I pray in the temple and go out and binge eat - whatever disease has to come will certainly come.
So what is the point of praying if my work-life and lifestyle is not tuned correctly.
During the same time I was reading ( actually listening as an audio book ) Eat and Run by Scott Jurek. He made a case for not eating meat. As it is detrimental to recovery and burning fat during long runs. A doubt had already got planted in my head about the love for all living beings - how I can love all beings if i am still eating the flesh of a defenceless bird? The only reason I was clinging on to eating meat - so I can run better - was now trashed - and I gave up meat.
Religion ( or spirituality ) is not just a matter of praying - it is actually practising the Right Action and Thought. Telling a mantra a million times is not going to give us enlightenment. We have to first tune our life to know and receive the unknown.
The more I try to imbibe Buddhism in my life - the more I find my lifestyle is changing.
Eating plants, being more kind, being gentle, helping those not lucky as I am.
Alexander the Great during his conquests met many Sages. One of the sages refused to meet Alexander, and Alexander went to his cave. The Sage said you are very unhappy and you will be unhappy the day you die. He was right.
The man who conquered the world was extremely unhappy the day he died. To his aides he said when you carry me in the coffin - let both my hands hang out - let the masses see that even the great Alexander when he died - could not take with him even a single fistful of earth he had conquered.
Buddhism looks from the outside as a very depressing religion - they talk about death at all instances. However I find that it orients us to the big picture. If we remind ourselves about death at every decision point - the decision we will take will be more gentle and kind - and not for a short term gain.
Tamilians wear sacred ash daily after taking bath. The sacred ash is to remind them - this is what will happen to you in the end - ash - so take good decisions through this day. Alas - this has been turned a ritual and no one thinks of the deeper meaning in the sacred ash.
To become a Buddha - or a better human being - there are only 3 things or the Path - we should know and follow.
1. Right Thoughts.
2. Right Actions.
Meditation is the glue between Right Thoughts and Right Actions.
No mantra, no praying, no religious holidays and customs to follow - just practice the above 3. Need not even brand myself a Buddhist to become a Buddha.
I will add one more.
And this Ladies and Gentlemen - is my path and hopefully push me to attaining enlightenment - whatever it means.
Finally about the question of God - interestingly Buddha refused to answer this question - Is there a God? There are a set of 16 or so questions which Buddha refused to answer during his lifetime.
It is for us to discover what is God - perhaps knowing really what God is enlightenment. I don't know.