Buddhist Boot Camp


I honor Timber Hawkeye and his book, Buddhist Boot Camp.
I particularly respect the simple way he’s chosen to tell his story; his direct yet gentle teaching style and the exemplary way he puts his non-profit philosophy into action developing an initiative to get his book into U.S. prisons.

I use Buddhist Boot Camp frequently for meditation, quick pick-me-up’s and thoughtful reading. I’ve shared the book with friends, colleagues and persons seeking consultation. I’m especially fond of its simple and straight-forward approach to applying Buddhist principles to daily living without having to become Buddhist to get there.

Many persons I meet along my ministerial path are “unchurched” yet sincerely eager to explore their experiences and beliefs in search of a spiritual dimension outside organized religion. Indeed, nontraditional, nondenominational interfaith ministers frequently collect a handful of tools for their ministerial toolboxes to share, lend or simply give away. This book is such a tool.

A few of his thoughts for you consideration:

Your mind is like a spoiled rich kid!
“You have raised it to think whatever it wants, whenever it wants to, and for however long, with no regard for consequence or gratitude. And now that your mind is all grown, it never listens to you! In fact, sometimes you want to focus on something, but your mind keeps drifting away to whatever It wants to think about. Other times, when you really want to stop thinking about something, your mind “can’t help it.”

“Training the mind means being in charge of your decisions instead of succumbing to cravings and so-called “uncontrollable urges.” Can you think of a better method for training a spoiled rich kid than some serious boot camp?”

“First things first: stop granting yourself everything you crave. Doing so conditions the spoiled kid to know that it can continue having whatever it wants. Please do not mistake this for deprivation, because that’s not what I’m suggesting. You can still have ice cream, for example, but only when you decide to, not when a craving “takes over.” There is a difference.”

“So when a thought arises, just watch it; don’t react to it. “Oh, I really want ice cream”… that’s nice; see what it’s like to want something but not always get it.”

“The first few times that you try to train your mind you will see the little kid in you throw a tantrum, which is actually hilarious. But it’s understandable; you’ve never said “no” to it before. It’s time you start! You will eventually notice that you have more freedom to choose once you’re in control of your choices. It’s tricky; I hope this chapter from Buddhist Boot Camp makes sense.”

Letting Go
“The concept of “letting go” is everywhere in Buddhist lingo. In a nutshell, Buddhism boils down to “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional”. For example, It isn’t old age, sickness and death that cause our suffering, it’s our attachment to youth, health, and to life itself that makes it difficult to accept these natural changes and let go.”

“If we let go of our attachments, we automatically alleviate our potential for suffering once we inevitably go through old age, sickness and death. Makes sense, right? Love life with all the passion in your heart.. celebrate every single minute of it, without attachment.
I know what you’re thinking… “easier said than done”, but it’s certainly easier than living the rest of our lives resisting change. Think about it.”

“Buddhism is often misunderstood. My own dad used to think we worship a statue of “the fat guy” that he saw at Chinese restaurants.”

“Buddha” means “the awakened one”, and there are a lot Buddhas, not just one. Many sages have awakened from the delusion of separateness, which is what we are all capable of doing. That’s why you are a Buddha as well (we’re just asleep and trying to wake up, that’s all).”

“The Indians have their own depiction of the Buddha, as do the Thai, the Japanese, and, of course, the fat Chinese Buddha you often see at restaurants with kids running around him. It is simply a cultural depiction of absolute Happiness the way they understand it, nothing more.”

“What I really like about Buddhism is that the Buddha was a simple man, not “holier than thou” or something we could never be. He is just like you and I. He wasn’t a God (although some sects refer to him as “Lord Buddha”), nor was he special in any way until the light bulb went off. Once he understood how the universe was interconnected, almost everyone thought he was crazy (some still do), but a few people realized he was on to something… something beautiful, and so his teachings started to spread to neighboring countries…”

“Is Buddhism a religion? That depends on how you define “religion”. There is no “God” theory (in the sense of a Creator), and any reference to God is to the divinity within all beings (leaving no sentient beings behind). So if it is a religion, then it’s like no other. I think of it as a philosophy, or a school of thought. You can be Christian or Jewish, for example, and still find the teachings helpful and motivational.”

“In the smallest nutshell I could possibly find, the Buddha taught that we cause our own suffering when we get attached to impermanent things. We cling to people, health and youth, even though we intellectually know that nothing lasts forever. That’s why the concept of “letting go” is so fundamental to Buddhism.”

What you allow is what will continue.
“We are active participants in our lives, not merely victims of circumstance. Take a step back to get a better view of how decisions or indecisions you make are contributing to what’s going on in your life, and if those decisions worked in the past but aren’t working in the present, stop making them. If it hurts every time you pinch yourself, don’t complain about the pain, take medicine for the pain, and live with the side effects of the medicine, just stop pinching yourself!”

“I often find myself in unfamiliar situations, uncomfortable scenarios, and overstimulating places, but even though my mind, body and heart wants to tense up, shut down, reject and resist the unfamiliar, I approach the situation with curiosity instead of fear, which makes all the difference in the world to me because the fear is often based on made-up information that isn’t even accurate. What’s that acronym? F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real. So replace fear of the unknown with curiosity, and take a step forward.”

Buddhist Boot Camp

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