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Why Mormons Should Be More Like Buddhists

You’ll either leave reading this post feeling a sense of aspiration or hostility. Whatever it is, I hope you can read it with an open mind.

To become, not achieve…

 

In the LDS church — or in any Christian church  they speak of Eternal Life, or the common adage, heaven. The Hindus speak of Moksha and the Buddhists speak of Nirvana… what is that?

To define Nirvana or Moksha it in one sentence, it’s:

The state of being someone reaches when they surpass the physical desires of the flesh.

The Hindus say that in this life we have “Maya”, or in other words, the natural self or the desires of the flesh. More specifically, Maya is defined as how the mind looks at unity and sees diversity. Because of its selfish desires and temporal vision, it can only see life as this stale, spiritless, and stagnant world that owes him something.

Because of its competitive nature, the mind sees objects, events, and most importantly, people, as separated things working against each other, not as one whole spiritual unit working in unity and love.

The goal, in Hinduism and Buddhism, is to go beyond the Maya. To train the mind to rise above its temporal view of the world and see everything as one great spiritual unit. And to do so, one must rise above the desires of the flesh and become pure and selfless. To see the world as spiritual instead of temporal.

Let me break it down in a more “tangible” way.

As humans, we are constantly desiring something. The desires of the flesh consume us as we move about our lives — always looking for that next thing, to improve our quality of life, or to advance our social or financial status.

Always wanting…

always wanting…

This is the Maya. Competitive, dissatisfied, temporal, selfish; neglecting love, peace, service, and harmony.

The goal (for nearly every Christian religion) is to rise above this.

Yet, so many miss it.

Too easily, we get caught up on who’s more righteous than who and following the commandments to a tee so we can maintain our “righteous” status but neglecting why we’re doing it and overlooking the greatest commandment of all: Love.

Without realizing it, “righteousness” soon becomes selfishness. Is that what God wants?

Here’s the secret…

Buddhists and Hindus realize that Nirvana or Moksha are not places you win a ticket of entry to because you followed the rules. They are a state of BEING.

And I believe it to be the same for Eternal Life or heaven.

Think about that word. Being. How you are right now. If you’re like me, you’ll assess your current state of being and realize how spiritually amateur you feel. And that’s normal. That’s why we need to work on improving our state of being. On improving who we are, i.e. what our desires are.

For are we not our desires which inevitably turn into action?

This is the purpose of seeking Nirvana. It is the state of rising above our selfish desires. For very rarely do our selfish desires bring nothing but sin.

A more “mormon-familiar” term for Nirvana could be Eternal Progression. Eternally working on improving our state of being. Working to become like God.

But for many of us Mormons (and Christians), we believe that to be something “out there”. Something in the future that we will achieve by following a set of rules or commandments. And because of this, I fear we are straying from the essence of life: love, service, and charity.

That’s why the Hindus and Buddhists believe so much in meditation, selfless service, and detachment. Things which condition the mind to look past selfish desires and sin and yearn for those things which bring true peace, joy, and love.

Many of you may have seen this symbol at your trendy yoga studios or possibly as a tattoo:

This is the symbol of Om or Aum. It’s known as “The sacred sound” and is a mantra (another word for chant) in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism.

There are many definitions and explanations of what Om really means for these religions, but from what I’ve studied, here’s my take…

The Om is often referred to Atman (or the soul) and it’s connection to Brahman, which means the ultimate reality, the entirety of the universe, truth, and divinity.

It’s a mantra they chant during meditations or before reciting spiritual texts. And I believe it’s all tied to what I’ve been saying.

I like to view it as a “spiritual reminder” to remember that the Maya—the temporal self—is just that, temporal. And that the Atman (or the soul) constantly needs to rise above it and see the spiritual side of this world.

What’s so cool about it (for me) is that they view it as this eternal flow of love, peace, and divinity that surrounds us every day and is always there, but we never see it or feel it unless we take the time to seek it. It’s not some place or destination they’re trying to get to, it’s something they’re constantly trying to become.

Hence, chanting “om” is their way of tapping into this flow.

You’ll also be familiar with some Buddhists forgoing all selfish desires and dedicating their lives to live without money, marriage, or any desires of the flesh—commonly known as monks. But I don’t believe such measures are necessary to obtain peace and joy in this life and the life to come.

Thomas Monson once said, “Be in the world but not of the world.”

And that is what we must constantly strive to do, that is what we must strive to become.

Now I’m not saying the commandments are null in comparison to love, service, and detachment. But I am saying the commandments are void WITHOUT love, service, and detachment…

If so, his faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart; and if a man be meek and lowly in heart, and confesses by the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, he must needs have charity; for if he have not charity he is nothing; wherefore he must needs have charity.

And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail…”

When you can look beyond your desires, when you can stop your mind from its attachment to the petty things of life, you can take a step back, chant some Om’s 😉, and see and remember what really matters…

Improving your state of being, overcoming the natural self and working towards the state of Nirvana, Moksha, and Eternal Life. It’s not something out there in the future you’re trying to “win”.

It’s here, right now, today.

If you want to learn more about this stuff, I’d suggest this book (click on the picture to buy from Amazon.com):

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