Would The Buddha Survive In The West?

So many of us begin our spiritual quest, a time when we are seeking answers. We want to know the meaning of life and we go to gurus, teachers and take courses. But do we consider that the teachings coming to us from the East may not fit in with our Western lifestyle?

After 15 years of spiritual questing I have been coming to some very different conclusions for myself.

Like many I have meditated, explored many different spiritual arenas from angels to psychic development to chakra balancing to healing. I have followed the teachings of channellers from new age thinking to gurus from the East. Some have taught about being present being the most important thing to experience and be, some have taught visualising skills to create my reality, some have given me confirmation of who I am and why I have been suffering. But now I realise too much questioning, too much navel gazing, too much spiritual delving is not good for my spirit. 

And maybe it’s time not to ask any questions just to live!
While balance is important, I am even coming to the conclusion that learning tools and techniques to expand myself, to sit in my own being is potentially not good for me in my life any more. For now, anyway.
The gurus of the East, the spiritual teachers like the Buddha and Papaji, while brilliant in the East, I feel only offer benefit to those in the West that have lived manic, busy, full lives and came to the conclusion that all the stuff, all the material and physical possessions they may have had no longer brought them satisfaction. It is then that Eastern philosophy can help these type of personalties to slow right down, to be present with what is, and to look for the blessings and tranquillity in the simple aspects of life.
Now, if your like me, you may have not experienced abundance, prosperity or very much of the material world. Following Eastern philosophies of focusing on being present, on not  wanting so much, or releasing desires may not be good for you any more.

A background of me:


Before I went travelling to Australia I read a few self help books, I wanted to know why relationships never worked for me; why I suffered so much. I then went to Australia and life provided me with my synchronicities and a change in my perspective on what life is all about. I was on a soul searching tour of my inner world. I read book after book, immersed myself in many different teachings and was amazed at the grandness of life and how life was and is far bigger than I had ever imagined back then.

Time went on, I followed many teachers, I was a follower, yet nothing seemed to fix me (I did not need fixing but I did not know that back then). Nothing fulfilled me or satisfied this longing in me. So I had to go from teaching to teaching until one day I stopped looking at teachers for answers and looked within myself.
I know what many have experienced and are experiencing right now – that of poverty consciousness. I lived a very lack full state of being. I had many fears and blocks to prosperity and abundance. And no spiritual teaching shifted this within me, no amount of questioning shifted this within me. So I spent nearly 2 years on my own wandering through nature, making peace with what is. I had dropped all feelings of ever being able to have what I wanted in life, I had given up this. It was not a deep let go, but an “I give up” more from an undeserving place.
So I managed to bask in the simple life, living off what many would consider crazy resources. I not only managed, I felt fairly blessed to have a roof over my head, food in my belly and the comfort of one friend.  I embraced aloneness and my own company.  I sat and watched my thoughts and let expansion fill me. I was empty and let myself be empty.
And then one day I felt intense depressive thoughts. Something was missing. I felt this intense desire that there had to be more to life than this. I allowed myself to want again. Somewhere inside me I made the decision that it was okay to want. 
And from that moment on, life provided me with opportunities to experience the material world in all its glory.
Because now I realise the material world is glorious! 

Surrounded By Stuff

We in the West are surrounded by ‘stuff’, things to do, see, have, eat, taste. Everyone around us has ‘stuff’.  And the Eastern teachers I feel would not be able to come here and be so much in their Buddha nature.
If the Buddha turned up in New York City for example, do you think he would be in the presence or peace 24 hours a day? It is easy when sitting under a Bodhi tree for years on your own to find that peace, but bring him to the fast paced living of the West and perhaps he would have to embrace all the ‘trappings’ of the material world and embrace the physical as his own meditative practice. 
In addition to this, many people don’t realise that the Buddha spent years as a young prince, where he had everything he could ever want, so to him a change in his life was to leave the palace and explore the rest of humanity, to experience less and to experience the simple life. He had experienced wealth, abundance and prosperity in the material world prior to the simple life he chose to experience afterwards.
I remember reading some time ago about a Monk that felt he had it all sorted, all together. He felt he had reached enlightenment. He moved back to the city to be with his wife and children and fell into chaos, where nothing held together. Being in a monastery is very different from being among the living, breathing chaotic and exciting world of humanity in the West.
While the slow relaxing techniques of the gurus and masters are beneficial for slowing down, for many in the West, some of us need to speed up not slow down. Yes gain a balance of relaxation and peace followed by activity but not solely relaxation. It is not in our nature. We have been born into the Western world. Even our brains work differently from Eastern cultures. We have physically different types of serotonin.

Depressive Thoughts

People with a proclivity for depressive thoughts that spend a lot of time alone and those with no real experience of the material world due to poverty may need to do less navel gazing, stop questioning and take part more in activity again and in human experiences.

I am writing this blog entry because I have felt myself in this loop over the years where I allow myself to dream and desire and then when it doesn’t instantly come to me I go into depressive thinking and then I go back to the Eastern teachings of being present, meditating and to be honest it has not helped me whatsoever.

And has anyone following the many teachings on offer, on being on the ‘spiritual’ journey ever looked at those around them who are also following similar paths and journeys? Do they look happy to you? Most I see have a worried look, they are constantly introspective, wondering why so and so has happened, what was the deeper meaning to it all. Even those that appear to be enlightened to me don’t look like they are enjoying the fruits of being human, of being part of this world.
If I wanted to ascend to the point where I am sitting, being and letting thoughts flow through me like paper thin clouds, where I am so at peace, I may as well transcend this body and go back into non-physical.  Most of the people who are at ‘peace’ do they party? Do they eat lots of wonderful amazing food? Do they make lots of love? Speed around a racing track in a car? Explore? Or are they teaching, serving, in an Ashram there for followers to teach them how to be and reach enlightenment? 

Teachings like this have only increased my own depressive thoughts. And I don’t mean this in a way that these thoughts needed to come up to be released, no, they were familiar thoughts, thoughts I had thought many times, nothing new was coming up, it was the same old.


Maybe some day in the future I will take time out to simply be, navel gaze again but it will all be part of my naturally unfolding world. Don’t the best moments of peace and tranquillity come when we are not intending them to? We are not sitting cross legged meditating, we may be enjoying a really good cup of coffee.


 What About Enlightenment?

Most people on the spiritual path, as much as they try not to, are still seeking enlightenment. 
Enlightenment cannot be found. We cannot ‘try’ or technique our way into enlightenment. Many of those few enlightened souls on the planet earth had a sudden revelation through a crisis or they were sitting one day reading the newspaper, having something to eat and suddenly the answer appeared. They were not sitting cross legged. It rarely, rarely happens this way.
And for me now I am not sure if I want enlightenment. I want to experience joy, passion and fully fill myself with the fruits of this earth.
We have all this wonderful food, experiences, people, physical things we as humans have created to enjoy. And I want to enjoy it all.
Why question this?


Kelly Martin
Kelly Martin

Kelly Martin, author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ is a dedicated writer and blogger who fearlessly explores life’s deepest questions. Faced with a decade of profound anxiety and grief following the loss of her father and her best friend Michael, Kelly embarked on a transformative journey guided by mindfulness, and she hasn’t looked back since. Through her insightful writing, engaging podcasts, and inspiring You Tube channel Kelly empowers others to unearth the hidden treasures within their pain, embracing the profound truth that they are ‘enough’ exactly as they are.

Find me on: Web | Twitter/X | Instagram | Facebook


  1. June 8, 2012 / 5:37 pm

    Welcome back to Earth Kelly!!! As a person who has had depression over the years I find that introspection can be a bad thing. It is good to look outwardly and connect with others. Since I connected with a group of volunteers at a vineyard I have found peace with myself and a sense of belonging. I hope that you find that sense of belonging too! x

  2. June 8, 2012 / 6:10 pm

    Hi Simone, so good to see your reply, I had not expected a response from anyone for a while LOL! Yes planet earth is cool! I went through a dark few days this week and realised I was going back into my old introspective ways and no more. Time for life, time for living! Big love to you and soo great to hear about your time in the vineyard xxxx

  3. June 9, 2012 / 4:27 pm

    Beautiful, Kelly 🙂

    You know I agree with you on all fronts, which is why I do what I do. I see so many people using these philosophies to stay stuck right where they are. They can so easily lead to major egocentricity.

    They are meant to be part of a balanced way of living; tools to help us evolve and grow. I firmly believe, as you do, that enlightenment is not for the Earth Walk. It will come when we transition, based on all the wisdom we gain from all of the wonderful experiences we should be having.

    We were put here to evolve, but not through intensive meditation and segregation from society as a way of life. We evolve through human interaction and truly taking in and experiencing this wonderful planet we've landed on.

    Thanks again for such a wonderful post ~ You really got me thinking!

    Simply fantastic 🙂

    • June 10, 2012 / 8:29 am

      Hi Marla, totally. Those that are ascended while here (Mother Amma) and other people on the earth are here to trigger people in remembering who they are. I remember when I used to work in Stroud in the UK its a very new agey town (and Glastonbury is the same), lots of people 'processing' 'questioning' gathering together to discuss and the happiest are the dancers, the people who dance as a a spiritual practice, they smile, laugh, connect with people.

      I know many people talk about transcending the ego, talk about stepping back observing our thoughts (which is a good practice) but I believe for me anyway, little of that is good a lot is not good. But I also feel we go through that more intense practice for a purpose, it has made me see things differently, connect with the world in a whole new world and with myself and eventually I come back full circle (or spiral I feel) to a new place.

      If I was born in the East and part of my tradition was to train as a monk, then yes, meditating all day would be natural to me, I would be surrounded by all the Westernised goodies of the material world.

      I know some day things will unfold again where I am simply being, but it will happen naturally.

      Much love xxxx

  4. June 10, 2012 / 8:30 am

    *wouldn't be surrounded I meant

  5. June 12, 2012 / 12:48 am

    Perfect. If you knew just how perfect the timing, you'd understand why that's all I have to say. Thank you 🙂

    • June 13, 2012 / 8:27 am

      Thanks Jenny, glad it was perfect timing for you and big love to you xxx

  6. Anonymous
    June 13, 2012 / 3:03 am

    Wonderful, Kelly! I truly enjoyed your article. You made so many good points. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.
    It's all a process. I remember when I was young, I reached for life with both hands and gobbled all the goodies it had to offer. Right on schedule, I looked around me and realized that what I was getting was not making me happy. I wanted more, but noted that those who already had the things I was reaching for did not seem happy. I was empty, so I began to search. I found peace and healed much pain by going within. Then, like you, I found that I had gotten out of balance, so I began to reach outward again. Now I have reached inward again, but I'm old now, so my needs are different. My mentors all taught balance in life. Interesingly they used East (feminine) and West (masculine) – or right and left brain – blended together as a perfect balance. But perhaps we can't have them both together at the same time. Perhaps in taking turns going within for a while, then reaching outward for a while, as you are doing, is the perfect balance.
    Keep writing. You are doing a fine job.
    Myra Lynn

    • June 13, 2012 / 8:30 am

      Thanks for dropping by Myra (hugs) True, I fluctuate between in and out and for 6 months I have been going out and right now feel I need a bit of both. Its true about the East and West I have forgotten the whole feminine masculine aspect, they can work together well. Sometimes when one has been going inwards for a while its almost like the earth is calling "come enjoy me" and I do. Much love x

  7. July 6, 2012 / 9:08 am

    This is a really good post Kelly.

    I think I can agree with you that Budddha would not survive in the Western world as such. I read Hesse's Siddhartha, which is the extent of my knowledge of Buddha.

    I think that what we can apply to the western world, from these teachings, is to look inside ourselves to find what values we really have. With so much influence from western culture such as advertising, tv, other forms of media and consumerism, we are told that the more money we have the less problems, and more happiness so to say.

    I think by taking some time out (or meditating) to think about the things that matter is what is key. And I think that enlightenment can be attained by doing this and thinking about life in a more worldly way. Ones philosophy is purely subjective though, and can never be truly understood by another mind.

    It's good to hear that you have found some values now! All the best, Jack.

    • December 30, 2012 / 10:16 am

      Sorry for my extremely delayed response, I think I forgot to update my email address on my blog and so did not get any notification about comments.

      Thanks for commenting Jack, I meditate daily now and seem to have found the right balance with introspection. I am slowly discovering what matters for me.

    • April 22, 2013 / 3:23 pm

      Thanks Andy and since first posting this I am now back to slowing down and surrendering… its a strange old world. Mike says life is like a spiral, we may think we are going around the same track again but we are not, each spiral upwards we gain more and expand more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.