The Best You Can Do: A Lesson From Tantric Buddhism

I want to talk about something that’s definitely going to get some differing opinions of those on the Christianity side, but has been on the forefront of my mind for quite a bit of time, as of recently. What is it?

Tantric Buddhism.

Now, I’m sure I’m going to get some things wrongs, especially if a practitioner of Tantric Buddhism happens to read this, though, nevertheless I’m still going to give my thoughts.

First, let me get this out of the way before I start. I don’t think that Tantric Buddhism is necessarily a religion, so to speak, at least, in the traditional sense. I think, it’s more of a sub-philosophy nested inside some of the teachings of Christianity, although, implicitly taught. With that, I mean, Christianity doesn’t explicitly go off and teach upon the ideas of the Tantric Buddhists, though, in a sense, they do, but you have to read between the lines. Alan Watts, a lecturer, and a man who popularized the Eastern Philosophy, is the one who pointed this out so articulately.

So Tantric Buddhism, in Watts opinion, talks about two things, in particular, that modern day Christians seem to ignore at the peril. First, is sex which I don’t want to get into in this post, but the second is living in the moment. By that, I mean, understanding that, in Tantric Buddhism, Nirvana, and in Christianity, Heaven, is something we are already living in.

Seems hard to grasp that concept, no? Let me explain, at least, insofar as I understand it.

Take this statement: Whatever your past was, it was the best you could do. 

Now, you might object to that, and with good reason, too. You might think, no it wasn’t. I could have done better! And I’ll say, certainly, you could’ve, but you didn’t, so that was the best you could do.

Again, this is really hard to understand, at first, but let me explain some more.

You can’t change the past, and, in theory, you can’t control the future, though, in a sense, you can. But how? The present. You control what you can do at the exact moment, this moment, which, in turn, will shape the future. But if you’re stuck on what you could’ve done (the past), then you’re not living in the moment, and, like I said, you’ve lost control of your future. That’s because, the only way you have some sense of controlling your future, is by taking full responsibility of the present. By living in the moment.

If that’s still too hard to comprehend, then let me explain it a different way. The Buddhists believe that once you’ve reached a state of Nirvana, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need to sleep as much. You don’t need to eat as much. You don’t need to lust as much. You’re there: in Nirvana.

So, they have this saying, your desire is to have no desires. 

Ah, but some of you might see the flaw in that already. You might say, But how can I have no desires if my very desire is to have no desires? Is that not a desire?

And you’d be absolutely correct. It is. That’s when the Buddhist Monk, or whoever, would know you’ve reached a state of Nirvana, or at the very least, have taken a step closer to it. You learn that you’re a being that has desires, though, once you realize that it impossible to rid yourself of those very desires, then, at that point, you are no longer controlled by them, but understand, they are part of being you: a human, an individual.

Let’s take it in a psychological sense, and, in turn, a modern sense.

It’s quite a common phrase today by psychologists and people alike: You should accept yourself. That’s what psychologists work to help their patients understand, they should accept their selves. But that doesn’t make any sense, does it? That’s the very reason they’ve sought out professional help. They realize they are unacceptable. But all of that really stems down to one thing, actually: they’re ashamed of their past. They don’t like the way they’ve been living, and want help in how they could change that for the future. But that’s impossible, in my opinion, without learning this very thing:

They need to learn to accept that they’re unacceptable.

And I think that is a very liberating statement, but a hard one to understand. And that’s what I mean by my first phrase: Whatever your past was, it was the best you could do. You can’t change who you were. That person was a completely different person than who you are today, even if it was just yesterday! You’re a different being now living in a different time.

But if you can’t get over your past in that you can’t accept it as it’s already happened, then you can’t live in the moment. You’ve lost control of your future. And when you’ve lost control of your future, as Frankl puts it in his book A Man’s Search for meaning, you’ve lost the very essence of what it is to live: to have meaning in one’s life.

And that’s been my journey through this, in lack of better words, spiritual development of myself. I’ve learned that the past, my past, it was the best I was able to do. But that wasn’t really me, in a sense, not anymore. That’s because the best I could do yesterday isn’t the best I can do today. And I know, the best I can do today, it’s not the best I can do tomorrow, next week, next month, next year.

Actually, I have no idea what’s the best I can do in the future. That’s a whole different person.

But the only way I can get there is by living in the moment.

thanks for reading,