One of the first questions that comes my way whenever someone hears about the Bunny Buddhism book is, “Why Buddhism?” Of the many reasons I could give, one jumps out at me more than the others. Quite simply, Buddhism appeals to me because it acknowledges that suffering exists.
When I first decided to learn about Buddhism, I did what many people do nowadays when they want to learn about something: I googled it and landed on Wikipedia. Before long, I came to the section on the Four Noble Truths. As soon I read that the first of the Four Noble Truths is the truth of suffering, I felt a great sense of relief.
For many, many years, I had been trying to beat depression, anxiety, and chronic myofascial pain into submission with just about every solution I could imagine. When the last wave of depression crashed down on me, I realized my methods had completely failed and I needed to try something new. I was finally ready to give meditation an honest try. And very soon, my entire world changed. At last, I could see how I was contributing to my own despair and I could begin to avoid my more destructive habits.
The other Noble Truths were much more challenging for me to embrace. I did not believe there was a way to end suffering. To be honest, I’m still not sure I do. But I am coming to understand that this “end” of suffering is not so much a promise that I will one day find lasting happiness so much as it is a guide to some practical ways to reduce unnecessary suffering, a way to let go of all those thoughts that do nothing but add to what is already quite painful.
So, why Buddhism? It’s because I suffer. It’s because we all suffer, and we can all make changes in our lives to reduce that suffering. Buddhism may be part of that process. But let’s not forget that religion isn’t for everyone. One of my all-time favorite quotes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama is, “Don’t try to use what you learn from Buddhism to be a Buddhist; use it to be a better whatever-you-already-are.”
In the end, it doesn’t matter whether someone identifies with Buddhism. Everyone can identify with pain and loss. Everyone can understand resistance to change and irrational fear and bad habits we can’t seem to break. And so, in deference to the fact that not everyone wants to embrace an entirely new religion, I chose to share some aspects of Buddhism with others using a bunny as my mouthpiece. The truth of the message is the same, just softer…and a bit more cuddly.