During my first few days in India, my favourite line used to be: “Everything is so annoying here!”
Many things that were bound to go smoothly in Japan would require taking lot of efforts in India. Furthermore, once you hit a wall it gets even more difficult and complicated. Especially in the beginning, I could not speak English well and became a butt of all jokes by Indians and Arabs.
I would also get caught by traffic police while driving just because I was a foreigner and had to pay bribe.
I would get cheated for money, things bought in India would break easily, and power outages were common…
It took a lot of efforts to get accustomed to these things.
But, finally there came a day when I no longer became annoyed so often. No matter what happened I would not be perturbed. But why did this happen?
The answer was simple.
I lowered my expectations. Lowering expectations is not a bad thing. In short, it means that it is better to get rid of stereotypes.
We get irritated in the first place when we see things conventionally.
To expect things to happen at a certain time, people to be in a certain way or oneself to be in a certain manner- these stereotypes are the roots of distress and depression.
When I started thinking about these things I realized that these are the teachings of Buddhism.
Although I am non-religious, I remember having read books during childhood about religion, out of curiosity, after seeing my parents read the heart sutras at my grandparents’ alter.
When I had read them I understood, but never really comprehended them. But living in India made me recall them, which were still at the back of my mind. Generally, religions have numerous teachings and are somewhat complicated, but the fundamental teachings of Buddhism are quite easy to understand.
To put the teachings of Buddhism in simple words,
“Do not cling to things. There is no such thing as ‘the other world’, so it is fine to keep doing what you can, as long as you do not forget love and peace. ”
The ‘things’ mentioned in “Do not cling to things.” refer to almost everything, for example our pride, honour, monetary assets, lover, business, food…etc.
To cling to these things apparently means to have greed.
We ‘want’ to be in a better position than others, to have a pretty girlfriend, to be praised by others, and not realising these ‘wants’ makes us suffer pain or get frustrated.
The teachings of Buddhism have been explained lucidly in the ‘heart sutras’.
Buddhism itself does not mean just praying to God, but it tells us which feelings we should have now to be happy.
May be this is why the phrases, “To become Buddha after dying” and “Buddha will help you”, differ from the teachings of Gautama Buddha, the apostle of Buddhism.
The famous Steve Jobs is also a follower of Buddhism and apparently lived with the principles of the heart sutras.
It is said he underwent ascetic practice for 7 months in India, before founding Apple.
Also, John Lennon is said to have sung about the world view of Buddhism in ‘IMAGINE’.
I too consider these ways of thinking as ‘heart stabilizers ‘. Perhaps, this makes me a Buddhist too.
“Simple can be harder than complex.”
This is a quote by Steve Jobs, isn’t it? Similarly, the essence of Buddhism is also easy, but difficult to comprehend.
I somehow comprehended this while living in India. India, after all IS the birthplace of Buddhism.