We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being almost completely. We are terrified to look inward, because our culture has given us no idea of what we will find. We may even think that if we do, we will be in danger of madness. This is one of the last and most resourceful ploys of ego to prevent us from discovering our real nature. So we make our lives so hectic that we eliminate the slightest risk of looking into ourselves. Even the idea of meditation can scare people. When they hear the words egoless or emptiness, they think that experiencing those states will be like being thrown out the door of a spaceship to float forever in a dark, chilling void. Nothing could be further from the truth. But in a world dedicated to distraction, silence and stillness terrify us; we protect ourselves from them with noise and frantic busyness. Looking into the nature of our mind is the last thing we would dare to do.
It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No one really feels self-confident deep down because it’s an artificial idea. Really, people aren’t that worried about what you’re doing or what you’re saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously: you must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you.
I don’t much about the rituals surrounding Buddhism, but the philosophies presented in the teachings of Siddhartha I found a beautiful presentation of the challenges of the human condition. While I would never call myself a Buddhist, I happily tell people that the Buddhist philosophy helped me to personally shed much of the anger that ruled my life which allowed me to re-evaluate my perspectives on life and humanity. I have recommended reading the teachings of Siddhartha to many friends, and they have reported similar results; yet none of them would count themselves as buddhists. I never really understood how a ritualistic religion was formed around teachings which encourage you to look within yourself and find your own path.