Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ideas vs. Reality


I have a dear friend who considers himself as rational, intelligent and by his own admission “skeptical.” I’m quite sure some people hold this combination of attributes in high regard while others don’t. Personally I champion the combination and so did Gautama who advised us to not blindly believe what others say even by those who appear as holy.

If we were discussing the Easter Bunny we would have a great laugh if some argued that there really was such a thing and most people would agree and laugh along with us. But some matters are not so laughable when the ideas we hold keep us from enjoying an incalculable treasure we already possess. It would be like starving people sitting on a vast treasure buried beneath their own house. Our ideas can be either our best friend or our worst enemy.

When most people think of the Buddha they conjure up a man who lived a long time ago and can’t imagine what relevance that guy has to them. If this idea were an accurate reflection of the Buddha, their skepticism would have merit. Neither an Easter Bunny nor that old man would matter very much. But suppose I told you that you are the Buddha only you don’t know it. Now that might get your attention but also cause you to begin thinking I’m the Easter Bunny.

Yes a man lived 2,500 years ago and we know that man as Gautama Buddha. But he wasn’t the only Buddha. There have been countless Buddhas beyond Gautama. The term “Buddha” simply means awakened and according to too many Zen masters to count, Buddha is just a name to designate your own mind. Bodhidharma said the Buddha is your mind; there is no other Buddha but your mind, and that understanding equates with what Gautama himself taught.

So if you are Buddha then I am too, and so is everyone else. We all possess the very same incalculable treasure which is buried beneath our conscious awareness and there it lays hidden and of no use. We are all starving and rushing around like hungry lions snapping at each other trying desperately to obtain what we already possess. That’s a great tragedy: to be wealthy beyond measure, yet starving while we try to find what is ours. What fools we are.
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