LESSONS FROM BUDDHA

I’m back! After a brief stint in the U.S., I am back on Spanish soil & ready to begin my second year as an English Teaching Assistant, this time in the beautiful city of Fuengirola. So long my Canarian friends (Te echo de menos). I have headed to the peninsula this time around for another year of sunshine, paella, and fiestas in the South of Spain.

Yesterday, I visited the Stupa of Enlightenment in Benalmádena. In case you don’t know what a Stupa is (like me….I didn’t know), it is basically this structure that houses relics and sacred teachings of Buddhism within its walls. The Stupa in Benalmádena happens to be the tallest in all of Europe.

Tallest Stupa in Europe

Along the inside walls of the Stupa is the story of Buddha told through pictures. Currently, there is a troupe of volunteers hanging out inside the Stupa telling the story of Buddha to onlookers. They are here for another month and a half until they move on to their next endeavor.

I learned a bit about Buddhism in college. One of my favorite classes hosted guest speakers: leaders from an array of religions, one of which was Buddhism. The volunteer in the Stupa reinforced some of what I already knew and provided new insights.

Paintings depicting the story of Buddha

The most memorable lesson and my favorite part of Buddhism is the idea that well…put simply: nothing matters. That sounds pessimistic, but in fact if you look at it a certain way, it is very optimistic.

Buddhism teaches that attachment leads to suffering. Therefore, if we do not attach ourselves to any objects or people, we will not suffer. Obviously, this is easier said than done; hence why not many of us can claim to have reached “enlightenment.” However, the foundational idea that everything comes and goes is quite comforting. There is a kind of peace in accepting that nothing is permanent.

Similarly, Buddhism rejects the “Everything happens for a reason” mentality. In Buddhism, there is no reason. Good and bad things just happen all the time. However, because nothing is permanent, it doesn’t really matter. Do you see how accepting life’s highs and lows as ephemeral can result in less worries?

The volunteer said something that struck me; “Everyone knows they will die, but no one believes it.” When you accept the fact that you, me, and everyone you know will die, you don’t have to be afraid of death. It just is what it is. Even Buddha died. When you recognize and appreciate death as a part of reality, you begin to shift your focus to the present moment. This is what Buddhism is all about; living in the present and living with compassion. Doesn’t sound too bad to me.

View facing out from the Stupa

Anyway, I found this experience interesting and wanted to share my thoughts. It is fun gaining new perspectives and thinking about life differently.

Un abrazo fuerte,

Mags

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