Be Buddha, An Introduction
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” — Thoreau.
Having lived a life of luxury secluded from the pains of poverty and disease, In 500 BCE, a young prince came to grips with the harsh reality. It changed his perception of what the world looked like, and he spent the rest of his life finding answers to the truth of life and teaching that to his disciples. His name was Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha or the enlightened one.
The Perils Of Modern Day Life
Modern life is filled with a fast-paced, get wealthy quick, fifteen-second fame mindset. We value transactions over relationships, likes over love, and collections over-contribution. A human’s value is measured in either his network or net worth. What he reaps is of much higher value than what he sows. This environment optimizes shallow conversations, ideas, and quick execution with short feedback loops. Our minds tend to be high on a constant need for a dopamine rush, running on the hedonic treadmill where it gets hard to satisfy the ever-growing thirst for the successive big win. Decades pass, and we start to realize the purpose of all of this? What did we achieve when living a materially driven, pleasure-filled life? And it starts to become hard to find answers to these questions. Our existence starts to crumble under the angst of finding who we are, what we are supposed to do, and where we should be headed.
In the summer of 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit us out of nowhere, I was going through an existential crisis and wanted to figure out answers to what I should define as my purpose in life. To rewind, I had been a good student, straight A’s, went to the premier institutes in India and the US; pursued computer science; joined a successful startup in California; made a good amount of money; married my childhood love, and lived the perfect life anyone can imagine. Yet, it was clear that building a guiding principle — an accurate directional framework — was necessary for me to live a life of peace and happiness. We decided to move back from California to our home country of India. It was the start of a journey of self-discovery for me — a journey that helped me figure out what is a worthy goal to pursue, why I should pursue the goal, and how I can start to pursue the goals.
In this book, I have tried to distill the lessons and ideas that have percolated through my mind through the thirty years. I will try and answer the following questions:
How is it that we can find our purpose in life?
What should our Hero’s Journey look like?
What frameworks and mental models can help achieve that life?
Before I go any further, I have derived several lessons from the works of Bill Campbell on The Hero's Journey. To simplify the ideas, I divide the journey into four stages: Disillusionment, Abandonment, Discovery, and Return.
Fig I. depicts the four stages of the Hero’s Journey. The first stage considers the disillusionment we go through in life have realized that finding true happiness in material possessions in life is hard. The second stage considers breaking away from the tribe and spending time finding our answers. The third stage considers the truth-finding stage — when we put in the hard work and transform ourselves into what we truly want to become. The last stage is that of returning to the world where we help others find their truth and help others lead a happy and peaceful life.
The book is accordingly divided into four different sections. In each of the sections, I go into the details of each of the stages and describe the core elements of the mindset required to succeed through each stage.
How The Book Can Help You
If you find yourself pondering over some of the existential questions in life; if you find it hard to find an answer that can satisfy you; or if you are going through the journey, having found an answer, and have run into troubles, you can use this book as a guide or a friend to refer to. Human history is filled with wisdom, intellect, courage, and hardships stories. I have tried to provide meaningful and relatable anecdotes in each chapter that can help you, the reader, remember the lessons and apply them easily in your life.
I hope this book remains helpful to you throughout your life’s journey and helps you through the struggles of daily life.