The Thought for the Day/Gore Vidal, on Buddha

The Buddha’s sacrifices are not of animals, but of the animal in the self.
Gore Vidal
Creation


We haven’t kept an exact count, but Creation has produced more entries for our quotebook than any other entry. In fact, our last reading a couple of years ago added more entries than the previous three reading combined had produced. Which is one reason you re-read books, so you can see what you are now open to that you weren’t the previous reading. Its influence on us remains profound, and we give this thoughtful and entertaining book our highest possible recommendation.

Gautama Buddha (fl. 6th-5th century BC) is the founder of Buddhism and is one of several historical figures who appear in Creation. He was born in Nepal and his father was a king and he had a sheltered, privileged upbringing. He married, had a son, had a king’s life to look forward to and was still restless. He left home to find answers to his questions and after several years found himself sitting under a fig tree in what is now northwest India where after 49 days he finally found enlightenment.  (The original fig tree died long ago, but a direct descendent lives in its place and draws no small number of pilgrims.). Buddha never presented himself as a god, merely a man who had found the meaning of life and was willing to share it. Like Christ, Buddha’s teachings were oral traditions originally and were not written down until years after his death.

but of the animal in the self.

Mother Nature’s only concern is the continuation of every species on the planet. That is why she made hunger and the sex drive so compelling and difficult to resist: if anyone, anything – you, me, the deer in the field – are not eating and humping like bunnies us humans and our animal friends will die out. It’s why we sense danger, too.

And because Mother Nature gave these three instincts primacy over all others, overcoming ourselves is our biggest challenge. We see this every day. Do we do what needs to be done, or we put it off? Do we follow our hearts and trust our instincts? In some cases, the answer is no because it is not human nature to follow our hearts and trust our instincts. If it were, everyone would do it. It’s human nature to take the road everyone else travels, the literal and figurative path of least resistance.

It’s a battle we must fight every day. Those that win this battle are the ones who are able to sublimate the dictates of Mother Nature and form and execute a plan for their lives. They are ones on their path, who have found their own enlightenment living the life they were meant to live.

Quotes are from Gaylon’s personal quote book, begun in 1988 in a hotel room in Berkeley, California.

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