Even before my father’s death I have been rethinking a lot of things. I still consider myself a Christian but have found comfort with Buddhism. So many people question God and ask “Why me?” – which is understandable if you have Parkinsons and you know it will kill you eventually. However, I do believe that because Dad was never cured, and I know how bitter he was towards the end, perhaps he would have coped better with a bit of Buddhism.
One of the first points of Buddhism is that suffering is a natural part of life. It’s not something that we can get away from. For example, the story goes that there was a woman who had a baby but the baby died. She goes to the Buddha and says “You’ve got to help me. I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t know what to do next. I’m so depressed!” (Aside: I just love the fact that even all those centuries ago people wanted a quick fix to their problems!) The Buddha said “I can help you but you need to do something for me first. I need a mustard seed from the house in the village where no one has suffered.” So the grateful woman trots back to her village and proceeds to interrogate everyone there. She quickly discovers that every home had experienced suffering. She even discovered that some people had suffered more than she did. She never obtained a mustard seed but she did gain comfort…
Buddhists do not believe in a deity. Without a deity you are liberated from the question “Why me?” You are liberated from the notion that you are being punished for some sin that you may or may not have committed. Instead you are forced to try to make good your life as it is today. As with my dad having Parkinsons, sometimes there is no good reason for what happens to people. There may not be a deity out there judging every move you make and meting out punishments according to each wrongdoing.
I find this thought comforting with bearing the burdens of my illnesses as well as bearing the burden of my father’s short and troubled life. I try to make today matter. I try to live my life in a way that I can justify. I try to make the world a better place for everyone I meet – from the strangers I smile at on the street to my family who I try to protect. I hope that by doing good things, that good things will come to those I love. Karma: what goes around comes around. Of course that’s not what happens to some people but, for the most part, it’s been my experience. I’ve had a few hard years but now I’m having a few easier years. All things considered, I consider myself lucky when I have enough of a support system to help me carry my woes.
I hope that when I go back to Christianity, I am accepted back with open arms. You know what I mean, I mean that tingling feeling I get when I pray for forgiveness of the things I have done and the forgiveness of the things I’ve left undone. For the moment, I’m looking into new ideas and applying that which I feel is right to my life. Perhaps a new view of suffering is just what I needed?