I'm Listening to a Buddhist Podcast and You Should Too

My religious beliefs have been as up and down as my emotions since the beginning of this school year. At my low points, I find myself soul searching in hopes of finding some meaning in a higher power to guide me through how I’m feeling. While I never had the religious breakthrough I was hoping to have, my friend introduced me to Secular Buddhism, a podcast by Noah Rasheta (side note: he has the most calming voice ever). Here is a brief excerpt from his website:

“Secular Buddhism is a non-dogmatic way of understanding and practicing Buddhism. Buddhism is often referred to as the path of liberation. But liberation from what? From our habitual reactivity and self-inflicted suffering. The aim of Buddhist teachings is to understand the nature of reality, the nature of suffering and to let go of the causes of suffering. The process starts by taking a look at how we see the world. When we understand the way we see things, the way we see things will change. This introspection will give us insight into the nature of our own minds. Rather than trying to change the world (our circumstances), we focus on changing ourselves and in that process the world around us changes. We are the prisoners of our own minds. We are bound by our concepts & ideas. Rather than presenting us with a set of beliefs that we can choose to believe in or not, Buddhist teachings are something we do. These teachings help us to learn to look inward, to discover that nothing is permanent and that everything is constantly changing and that all things are interdependent. With this wisdom, comes the understanding that the things we seek outside ourselves, are actually found within.”

(Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash)

I’ve been struggling the past few months with where I’m at currently in my life and where I want to go from here. It all feels too big, too soon, and too real that I become overwhelmed with the gravity of the whole situation. In these moments are when I wish I could believe my fate lies in a higher power who will take care of it and loves me. But, I don’t. I was not raised in a religious setting so trying to wholeheartedly back a religion is challenging. That’s what I love about this podcast. It showcases Buddhist teachings and understandings of the world in a way that is not at all connected to a god or higher power. It’s all within yourself. These Buddhist concepts can be applied to any religious following and to everyday life.

“Who knows what is good and what is bad?” This teaching has stuck with me the most. It’s based off a Taoist parable where a series of events occurring to a farmer appear good/bad for an instant but lead to the opposite outcome. For instance, when the son’s arm and leg break due to a ‘good’ incident, the son is no longer drafted into the army. The ‘good’ incident had a ‘bad’ outcome, which ended up being ‘good’. The moral of the short story is to take even incident as they come, for we do not know if they are truly good or bad until stepping back to see the entire picture. So often we jump to conclusions and assume our current situation is good or bad. In reality, we have no idea how the situation will play out or what we are learning because of it. Yes, failing a class is may not appear like a good event at the time. But maybe it’s what sparks a change in your major, where you find yourself happier and in the place you need to be because of it. All ‘good’ events have the potential for negative repercussions, and all ‘bad’ events have the potential for positive ones.

This lesson, along with many others, has changed my perspective on the situations I’m going through. It has allowed me to see the power we possess. Perhaps not about the situation, but about how we perceive and act in response to it. Perspective is everything, and secular Buddhism is teaching me how to have a better one. I recommend this podcast to anyone, despite religion and current emotional state, in order to gain a more introspective view of our reality and suffering. Instead of just believing in these teachings, we act them out. They are a way to live life. With the fundamental Buddhist teachings in mind, we can become awakened to our own enlightenment.