A Buddhist in a Non-Buddhist World

Impermanence, shmermanence! And what’s dukkha? It sounds like something you stepped in on a farm! Pali? Isn’t that what you call your Parrot?
And don’t even get me started on no-self. What kind of crazy, new age, wacky thinking is that all about?
What’s that, you say it’s all dharma? You mean like the TV show Dharma & Greg?

I’m sure this Buddhism stuff can seem as foreign as a fly in your nose to most people. And trying to “talk the talk” to those with no exposure or experience in the Buddhist practice can easily get them agitated and put-off when I try to share it with them. I might as well start chanting for them in Pali!
All this has really become a bit of a dilemma for me lately, as I now think so much differently than I used to. My mind is not the same, my perspective on life, or how I handle life and different situations has all changed dramatically because of my practice as a Buddhist. Leaving me to wonder if I need to fake it, and let others remain comfortable in their thinking. Or should I just try my best to say nothing when confronted with questions from someone seeking advice or counsel? Which, when I do that, only leaves the other person thinking that I don’t care or I’m not really listening with genuine compassion. Oh, the conundrum!

Once again I find myself looking at my teacher for the best example. Bhante Sujatha has a magnificent gift of communicating in a way that anyone can understand. Even in his somewhat broken english, others are always left with a feeling of acceptance and understanding. He is totally present, and often says very few words. Never ever telling anyone what to do, or judging what is right or wrong. Yet people always find comfort, and walk away with a bit more clarity and inner peace. He leaves them in a softer and gentler place. But what is his secret?
Not so surprisingly, his secret lies in the teachings. And he has practiced and studied a very long time, and with great determination and diligence. Developing his wisdom, his virtue, and such tremendous mindfulness that is always filled with compassion for others. And if I can find any fault with his character, it is that he often forgets to care for himself first. He is so powerfully driven to bring peace and love to the World that he often puts his own basic needs aside for the benefit of others. His vision, as I perceive it, is that he can help so many people in this lifetime and he does so with gratitude. He sees the love that others have for him as only a source of more love to offer the World.
Does this sound like I am putting him on a pedestal? Well I assure you that I am not. I love him so much, I respect him, and I am so grateful for his presence in my life and the lives of my Family. I’m so very grateful for the wonderful work I get to see him accomplish. Helping people in the community, the rest of the Country, and in other countries as well. I am just so very blessed.

So my work is cut-out for me. To remain determined in my practice, but develop more skill, wisdom and virtue. To be more humble and mindful of my words and more open to hear what others are really saying. To learn that less is more in most cases. Coming to understand, that most people like me, simply want to be heard, loved and accepted. No need to teach the dharma or even offer advice. I only need to be fully present and have an open heart, one without judgement or ego. Just being a genuine human being.
And perhaps that is truly the deeper teaching of the Buddha.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.