Buddhism is Simple Love and Awareness

What do you tell a person who wants to know about Buddhism?

What books do you recommend? What authors?

Should she look into mindfulness first, or jump right into a form of Zen Buddhism or the Tibetan Buddhism of the Dalai Lama?

Belva, my new Internet “pen pal” and former sister-in-law, asked me about it. I suggested any books by Thich Nhat Hahn or by His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama. Don’t buy a book new. Get one used or from the library, I said being a frugal veteran on a fixed income.

But now I wonder if I should have mentioned Jon Kabat-Zinn and any of his books on meditation. I figured one can’t really understand Buddhism unless one tries to meditate. Meditation is the foundation of most of the Buddhism I have studied. You must work on the preliminaries before moving on to the more complex forms of this philosophy which can also be a religion.

I just read a book on faith by a meditation teacher Sharon Salzburg which introduced me to another aspect of Buddhism. I learned of “fixated hope” and the different versions of faith. Fixated hope is when you hope for a specific outcome, rather than hope and trust for an outcome that would be in the best interest of someone or some situation.

“Bright faith” is a state of “love-filled delight in possibilities.” And then there is “verifying faith” where you don’t accept anything merely because it was passed down by tradition or written in some holy book. “Put it into practice. See for yourself if it is true,” the Buddha advised his followers some 2,600 years ago.

Beliefs come from outside of yourself, Ms. Salzburg said. Faith comes from within. Beliefs cling, while faith lets go.

Lastly, there is “abiding faith,” one that is “bone-deep” and a “lived understanding” of our ideals and how to put those ideals into an action that we know is true. We intend our faith and action to stem from what is called our “Buddha Nature” or what Christians call the “Christ Consciousness.” We try to live each moment of that nature with the two wings of love and awareness, of compassion and wisdom.

Eventually, I can tell Belva, that awareness and unconditional love are both based on non-attachment to everything, every thought and every feeling. Not in a negative, nihilistic way, but without the intrusion of any prejudice or bias, without holding onto an experience or pushing it away. She would soon learn that nothing is permanent, things are constantly changing and in flux, and that nothing exists in and of itself, but is dependent on some other thing, some other phenomena.

But what else should I say? What other advice should a practitioner offer to a novice on this journey?

What would you say? What would you offer? How did you start working out your own salvation along this path? Please leave a message to share with all of us with beginners’ minds. Thank you!

7 comments on “Buddhism is Simple Love and Awareness

  1. Michael,
    This is a great piece of advice. Following any part of it takes a whole lifetime…or many 🙂
    I should know. After more than 35 years of practice, this was good advice for me. I was experiencing “fixated hope”. In reading your post I was able to move into the “bone deep” faith that comes from trusting the truth of my infinite Buddha nature. On the what else to advice part? Tell Belva to be patient and to practice bringing forth her Buddha nature by cultivating deep self compassion and love, and above all, patience.


  2. I like the one by Pema Chodron that tells you to “Start Right Where You Are!”

    We’re studying the book at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia . . .


  3. Chico says:

    Pema Chodron. And a basic meditation class.


    • contoveros says:

      *Any special book by Pema Codron? *

      *Or any book by the this wonderful Tibetan Buddhist nun?*

      On Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 2:36 PM, Contoveros wrote:



      • I like the one by Pema Chodron that tells you to “Start Right Where You Are!”

        We’re studying the book at the Chenrezig Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia . . .


        • “Life is glorious, but life is also wretched. It is both. Appreciating the gloriousness inspires us, encourages us, cheers us up, gives us a bigger perspective, energizes us. We feel connected. But if that’s all that’s happening, we get arrogant and start to look down on others, and there is a sense of making ourselves a big deal and being really serious about it, wanting it to be like that forever. The gloriousness becomes tinged by craving and addiction. On the other hand, wretchedness–life’s painful aspect–softens us up considerably. Knowing pain is a very important ingredient of being there for another person. When you are feeling a lot of grief, you can look right into somebody’s eyes because you feel you haven’t got anything to lose–you’re just there. The wretchedness humbles us and softens us, but if we were only wretched, we would all just go down the tubes. We’d be so depressed, discouraged, and hopeless that we wouldn’t have enough energy to eat an apple. Gloriousness and wretchedness need each other. One inspires us, the other softens us. They go together.”

          ― Pema Chödrön, Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living


      • Chico says:

        Especially “When Things Fall Apart”


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