Let’s face it--Buddhism has a rather gloomy reputation. Sure, the words “kindness” and “compassion” sometimes come to mind when someone hears the “B” word, but all too often, what most people think of when they hear “Buddhism” is:
"LIFE SUCKS, THEN YOU DIE!"
Who can blame them when the first thing folks usually hear about when exploring this Buddhist stuff is the First Noble Truth which says that “Life is suffering” (well, dukkha actually...but don’t get me started on that).
The point of this teaching was not to suggest that humanity is doomed to suffer indefinitely. The Buddha was simply acknowledging our universal condition of dissatisfaction with the way things are, and he provided us with a means to end that persistent, underlying dissatisfaction so that we can be happy. A doctor does the same thing when she recognizes the symptoms of a medical condition. By doing so, she can appropriately diagnose and then treat the problem in order to restore her patient back to place of well-being.
I propose that we come up with a revolutionary new public relations strategy for promoting Buddhism in the West. Let’s change the narrative and infiltrate every social networking site, blog, and media channel we can with a more accurate message that clarifies what this practice is really about:
BUDDHISM IS ABOUT HAPPINESS!
Honestly now, if you heard about a spiritual practice that appears to emphasize pain and suffering as opposed to one that provides REMEDIES to that pain and suffering so you can be HAPPY, which one would you be more inclined to check out?
Buddhism is kind of radical when you think about it. Many people will settle for not being quite so anxious or worried or depressed anymore. Attaining a degree of happiness isn’t even on the menu for most people these days. It’s as if realizing true happiness in this life feels so beyond the realm of possibility that many of us don’t even dare to dream of such a thing, even though the desire to be happy is the one thing we all have in common.
But this Buddhism business is all about how to END suffering, not about how to be a good masochist.
So the revolution begins right here and right now. Spread the word far and wide. I can’t think of a better slogan than this one:
BUDDHISM IS ABOUT HAPPINESS!(Directions: Copy, paste, repeat)