When I first started reading this book I felt it was silly; talking about beings on Venus before Earth for example, however I kept going and I actually I am glad that I read it. It overall is a very uplifting and inspirational read.
The exact thoughts of Gautama Siddhartha had at the time of his great awakening:
“For many years, I barely ate or drank. I have practiced asceticism, believing that I could attain a great spiritual awakening by mortifying my flesh to its limit. Six years have passed since I left my wife, Yashodhara, and my son, Rahula, and fled from Kapilavastu Palace, rejecting the pleas of my father, King Suddhodana, that I succeed him to the throne. When I lived in that palace, I was strong and vigorous, adept at both military and literary arts. But look at me now. I am just skin and bone. If our purpose in life were to excoriate and torment our bodies, then what would be the point of dwelling in physical bodies at all? If the Eternal Buddha wished for human beings to deny the flesh, wouldn’t that imply that those who commit suicide are the most enlightened ones?
“But what is the benefit of suicide? According to the universal law of cause and effect, if we create seeds of suffering by committing suicide, then suffering is what we’ll reap. The state of enlightenment is a state of tranquility, but how can we possible attain such peace of mind through the torments of asceticism? Torturing my physical body this way is none other than a way to kill myself, and this is not a way to enlightenment. The only result I have achieved through this practice is an attitude of severity. My eyes are passing harsh judgments and show no love or mercy. How can I truly be kind and compassionate if I can’t find peace of mind or fill my own heart with happiness?
“What exactly is the happiness that I can find within myself? When I lived as a prince in Kapilavastu Palace, I had all the money, women, and luxuries that I could ask for. But was my heart filled with happiness? No, my monotonous life was filled with languor. My heart was empty and my mind was racked with conflicts, inflamed by other people’s desires and intentions. Had I inherited the throne, it would have been my duty to lead my people to war against neighboring countries, causing terrible bloodshed and death.
“A life lived in pursuit of wordy status and fame can only bring hollowness. My life in Kapilavastu Palace was not a life of true happiness. I felt spiritually unfulfilled, and I lived in constant anxiety and frustration. We find true happiness not in stagnation and laziness but in daily spiritual progress. Happiness is found not in worldly success, but in the improvement of our souls and the refinement of our divine nature. We children of the Eternal Buddha experience true happiness when we improve ourselves according to His Will.
“As children of the Eternal Buddha, we can find the path to enlightenment and true happiness neither in the extravagant life of royalty nor in the structures of ascetic training; we can find peace of mind neither in hedonistic excess nor the harshest privation. The right way of living for human beings is to abandon both extremes and to seek the Truths in the Middle Way. Only when we live a balanced life can we find the Middle Way.
“What we truly seek as human beings is a life of perfect harmony. We can create a world of perfect harmony, a kingdom of Heaven, within our mind when we abandon the extremes of pain and pleasure, enter the Middle Way, and practice the Eightfold Path of Right View, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. When all of us do this, the kingdom of Heaven will appear on Earth.
“Thus, true happiness is to be found in experiencing joy and making spiritual progress in our daily lives. We can increase this spiritual joy by understanding and mastering the Eightfold Path.”
I could certainly learn a lot from following the Eightfold path. It seems like a great guideline to living a fulfilling life…