Thinking Aloud with Ed & Deb Shapiro

What The Buddha Might Say To Oprah

Thursday, January 10, 2013 by

Saints get headaches. The Buddha had an upset stomach. Oprah has bad hair days. Each one of us, whether a spiritual teacher, film star or homemaker, is simply a human being. As the Dalai Lama said as he stopped us bowing when we greeted him: “We are all equal here.” The search for meaning and real happiness is the same for all of us, although in Oprah’s case she gets to walk the path in public while most of us do it in our living rooms.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. The Buddha

When Oprah originally aired on television author of A New Earth Eckhart Tolle’s course on spirituality and awareness it was revolutionary. By mixing the spiritual journey and modern media she exposed millions of people to the teachings. Since she began her latest TV series, Soul Sunday, where she gets to explore the journey with different luminaries such as Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Jean Houston and Wayne Dyer, that search has become louder and more personal. No one of her magnitude has offered such guidelines to awakening wisdom and compassion on the television.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. The Buddha

The teachers that Oprah interviews can only point the way, no one can do it for us, but in doing so they highlight how many of us crave spiritual guidance of a non-secular nature, often without knowing where to find it. The search for a deeper meaning in life is universal and religion has done it’s best to provide a roadmap. But, as evidenced by Oprah’s success, religious doctrine isn’t enough for many of those who watch her show. They seek universal spiritual answers, without wanting to follow a specific set of ideas.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. The Buddha

However, as the Buddha’s quote says so clearly, we have to be careful of blindly believing everything we are told unless we find it be of real import in our own lives. Being skeptical is of value. We wouldn’t marry someone as soon as we meet them, we would take time to know them better. There are egotistical teachers who say they can enlighten us but actually are self-serving. So it’s good to first ensure a teacher is loving, compassionate and wise. The teacher on the outside is there to turn us on to our own inner teacher. Each of us is on a journey and what works for one may not work for another. We need the courage to trust our own insights and awakenings. Oprah is on the cutting edge of this media revolution and she shares every step of her search, but her answers may not always be applicable for all of us.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. The Buddha

One of Oprah’s personal advantages is she has what our Tibetan teacher calls Ding. This means a deep inner unshakeable confidence where we are comfortable in our own skin, just as we are. We can see this clearly in her willingness to be herself. She publicly shares and reveals her dark edges, her confusion and search, as much as her generosity and desire to help others, and invites us all to do the same. She shows that within us all is a reservoir of basic goodness: as in her, so it is also in us. This is seen in our desire to be better than we are, to be kinder, more loving, and more compassionate; it is the impetus to begin seeking answers, to aspire beyond our limitations, to climb our own particular mountain.

A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. The Buddha

Maitri is a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional friendship. When we were alone with the Dalai Lama, who wrote the foreword to our book, Be The Change, at his residence in India, he held our hands as we sat and talked with him. He emanated maitri by making us feel he was our very best friend, as he was so present and caring with us, paying attention to whatever we said. Through Oprah’s informality and willingness to share, she becomes such a friend. She reassures us we are not alone on the journey, not the only one struggling to find answers, and not woo woo to be searching in the first place. It is as good as being in the room with her.

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity. The Buddha

We walk, slide, skip, and dance along the path, picking ourselves up each time we fall. We are in this great mystery together, discovering that giving is getting, kindness is awesome, and life is a precious gift. However, as much as we applaud the journey, it is just as important to acknowledge ourselves as finders. Our lives do change for the better, we do become nicer, warmer, kinder, and less fearful. These are important shifts and we deserve every blessed congratulation there is!

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See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: http://www.edanddebshapiro.com