Buddha Was an Experientialist

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Judy and I went to a one-day retreat at the Puget Sound Mindfulness Center last month. As a Shin Buddhist, I find it informative and stimulating to learn about different views of Buddhism, and hear different dharma voices. At this event we heard a motivating dharma message from Dr. Larry Ward, a senior Zen teacher in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition.

“Shakyamuni was not a cloistered monk. The Sutras teach us he was an outreach kind of guy.”

He talked about Buddhist activism; he talked
about getting more involved in the broader
community and making an impact. He
described Buddha as an “experientialist”. Shakyamuni was not a cloistered monk. The

Sutras teach us he was an outreach kind of guy. In order to spread his teachings he was immersed among non- Buddhists. He taught through everyday experiences and reached out to everyday people.

I strive to understand how Buddhism integrates into all aspects of my life: how to apply Buddhist values to a growing business, playing sports, being a better partner, parent and neighbor, travel around the world. I can’t claim to have perfected any of it, but for me this is where the “rubber meets the road.” In Dr. Ward’s words “once a week is not enough”. “Don’t disconnect, go deeper”. “Wake up and engage”.

For me, Buddhism is experientialism. It’s about the lens we look through everyday, the way we lead our lives and the impact we make.

Ricky Schlesinger

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