With the book reader app and a new library card, I've been reading again like I used to (as in, when I was incarcerated). One of the books I'm reading is Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse...thanks, Project Gutenberg. It's about the spiritual journey of a guy named Siddhartha, not Buddha. However, he meets Gautama aka Buddha in his travels, but he doesn't follow him, despite how wise he is. Here is why:
"But there is one thing which these so clear, these so venerable teachings do not contain: they do not contain the mystery of what the exalted one has experienced for himself, he alone among hundreds of thousands. This is what I have thought and realized, when I have heard the teachings. This is why I am continuing my travels--not to seek other, better teachings, for I know there are none, but to depart from all teachings and all teachers and to reach my goal by myself or to die. But often, I'll think of this day, oh exalted one, and of this hour, when my eyes beheld a holy man."
The teachings of Buddha, to Siddhartha, did not account for another individual's unique life experiences and situations. He had to find a personal meaning specific to him on his own.
This resonates with me, because I've never been able to follow any religion, philosophy or concept with blind faith. Instead, I take bits and pieces that work for me and mash them into my head...and I move along. At this point in my life, in starting over, I have to follow my own path, and currently that path involves sobriety, meditation, Zen, skateboarding, manual labor, minimalism, writing, some isolation, "Fight Club", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (recent addition to the list) and healthy doses of smart-assery.
One of the guys at the sober house was trying to get me to go to a meeting with him because he had to go to one every day, and I go to one a week. I encouraged him to go as many times as he could, and I avoided telling him that I can't stand meetings after 30 minutes. It's why I go to the one at the Austin Zen Center, because they meditate for 15 minutes, do a reading, people share for like 30 minutes, then we meditate again. Perfect, at least for me.
What's right for me is not right for that guy. Or anyone else, for that matter. I don't recommend getting fired from a cushy job, and losing everything only to find yourself while washing dishes and skateboarding everywhere because you no longer drive (although I'd love to see some of you on a board). It's working for me, and it's the path I'm on. And it may lead me to bad health, no retirement, poverty and obscurity, but goddammit, at least I chose it...and it makes me happy.
"When someone seeks," said Siddhartha, "then it easily happens that his eyes see only the thing that he seeks, and he is able to find nothing, to take in nothing because he always thinks only about the thing he is seeking, because he has one goal, because he is obsessed with his goal. Seeking means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal."
-- Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha