What Buddhism Says About Success

One thing I struggled with while I was studied Buddhist philosophy was how to fit this ancient, complex practice into the modern world. How Dharma, our worldly and spiritual responsibilities, can be fulfilled while adhering to Buddha's other teachings. In this piece, Lewis Richmond gives an interesting insight into how Buddhism, with its emphasis on modesty and helping others achieve the same state of enlightenment, can coexist in the world of individual success. His opening paragraph sums up the main idea, that "the first thing Buddhism would say about success is that it is fleeting, like everything in this world. Impermanence was the Buddha's first great insight into the nature of reality. He also understood that as a consequence, loss and its consequent suffering are written into the fabric of human life. Whatever we attain or accomplish in life--whether it be wealth, fame, status or power--is destined to fade and pass away. None of it is worth pinning our deepest hopes on; none of it is the source of lasting happiness." Buddha was once the definition of success. He was a handsome, strong, powerful prince, who didn't know how sad and unintelligent he was until he left his palace and saw the real world. Buddha's teachings, however, do not ask us to give up all forms of success. Earning money in an ethical way in order o support one's family is honorable, as is contributing to the overall wellbeing of the community. In simpler terms, success won't bring you happiness. Success won't end suffering. Buddhists may tell you that the monastic life is infinitely more rewarding than your six-figure salary or fame.

“In heaven, all the interesting people are missing.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
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