The Buddha is a light in our lives. Each must walk his own path, but that path is illumined by the light shed by the example of all the Buddhas. The merit which they bestow upon us brings courage and light-heartedness such that walking the path is in no way a burden, but rather the experience of the most complete joy and ease that can be found in this and all possible worlds.
Life is full of challenges and difficulties and there are innumerable books of wisdom that can come to our aid, not to mention living teachers. However, we also derive a great blessing by considering the life of the Great Sage. To walk in the same spirit cannot be faulty. Therefore, we can learn things of immense value by considering, at each step, what would Buddha think? how would he respond to this situation? And, indeed, how is he viewing it and holding it?
Although we ourselves may be incapable of imitating the unconditional love, compassion and wisdom of the Sage, still we can learn a great deal both by his example and also by our awareness of his great acceptance. Reflecting in this way one will gradually put one’s life under that benevolent guidance. It will exercise a subtle gravitational pull and one will find, almost without knowing it, that the habit of repeated reflection upon Buddha, has worked a mysterious influence, diminishing greed, hatred and delusion and injecting peace, clarity and compassion.
Reciting sutras is highly beneficial as is studying them. However, there are many people who have read a great many books on the subject who have still not managed to really enter into the spirit of the Middle Way. They may have become highly learned, even, but command of concepts is not the same thing as actualisation of the Path itself. It is an easy thing to mistake the possession of the labels for things for possession of the things themselves. However the actualisation of the Path is not a function of intelligence; it is open to all.
In fact, the actualisation of the Way does not even depend upon being Buddhist at all. A person who is filled with wisdom and compassion is in the stream whether they learnt to be so from our school of thought or not. There are many Buddhas and not all of them are Buddhists in the conventional sense of the term. The truths of the Dharma are universal and eternal and are not limited to one culture or religion. Nonetheless, for those who have the good fortune to be karmically associated with the Buddhist religion, the life of the Great Sage can provide all that one needs and one should take refuge there as soon as possible.