Buddhism: Do What Works

Recently I’ve been reading (started last year) Professor Robert Buswell’s book on Korean Buddhism: the Zen Monastic Experience. Toward the beginning he talks about how he became a monk, first in Thailand, later Korea. In one encounter in Thailand, the young Buswell meets a famous teacher near the Laotian border named Maha Bua:

I arrived at Maha Boowa’s monastery expecting to be immediately taught his meditation method and exhorted to to get started with my practice. Instead, for the first week he didn’t even notice my presence and it wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that he finally consented to talk to me. 

When I was finally able to meet with him, the first question I asked was, “Please tell me your meditation method and what I should do in order to achieve enlightenment.” His response to me was telling, and proved to be extremely influential to my own vocation; still today, some two decades, I recall it vividly. “I can’t tell you how you can become enlightened,” he told me. “I know what I did for myself, but I can’t tell you what is going to work for you. Each of us is different and unique. Each of us has his own predilections, backgrounds, and interests, and these things can only be understood by you personally. So if you ask my meditation method, all I can tell you is to watch yourself, to watch your own life, try different things out and see what works for you. What works, keep doing; what doesn’t work, discard and go on to something else.” So here I was, an immature, idealistic nineteen-year-old, expecting to be some method, and instead I was being told that the only method is no method. (Page 73)

Just something i wanted to share. 🙂

P.S. For anyone interested in Zen or Korean Seon Buddhism I definitely recommend this book. 


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

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