Tuesday, October 15, 2013

If it walks like a duck…


The common coin understanding is that Buddhism is a Godless religion and the reason for this view is that the Buddha didn’t focus on the concept of God but instead focused on understanding and overcoming suffering. It’s worth the time and energy to thoroughly investigate this matter.

First is the notion that God can be understood conceptually. The Buddha’s perspective was that such a thing was not possible and when thoughtfully considered this is of course true. God is transcendent to all considerations and can’t be enclosed within any conceptual framework. To even attach a name such as “God” is to be lost in a delusional pretense.

Sokei-an Shigetsu Sasaki used the name “Great Nature” and “Great Self.” There are many names to point to the nameless creator of heaven and earth but Sokei-an perhaps said it best. He said, “If you really experience ‘IT’ with your positive shining soul, you really find freedom. No one will be able to control you with names or memory of words—Socrates, Christ, Buddha. Those teachers were talking about consciousness. Consciousness is common to everyone. When you find your true consciousness, you will not need the names or words of any teacher.” As a result Gautama addressed only what can be controlled and didn’t participate in fostering further delusion.

So the question is whether or not ‘IT’ can be defined, even marginally. What are the characteristics of ‘IT’ and how does ‘IT’ function? Whatever name is chosen, regardless of religious affiliation  the nature of God is understood to inhabit the entirety of creation. The creator can’t be severed from what is created, which is the point of the Buddhist understanding that all form is the same thing as emptiness. Rather than using the name “God” (in vain) the name “Buddha” is used and “Buddha” means awakened to the true essence of oneself. We might use any name but the essence would not change. An awakened person is said to enjoy the mind of enlightenment. If you read Buddhist literature extensively you’ll find a laundry list of sorts, which speaks to this mind of enlightenment. It includes the following qualities: complete, ubiquitous, full of bliss, independent, transcendent, full of wisdom, never changes, the ground of all being, creative force of everything, devoid of distinctive nature (ineffable) yet all form endowed with this nature.

When we take all of this in and digest it, a duck begins to emerge that walks, talks and looks like a duck. In the final analysis a name is fleeting but the substance remains forever. Here is what Jesus is recorded as having said about where God lives: “If your leaders say, ‘Look, the Kingdom is in the Heavens,’ then the birds will be before you. If they say, ‘It is in the ocean,’ then the fish will be before you. But the Kingdom is inside of you and the Kingdom is outside of you. When you know yourself, then you will know that you are of the flesh of the living Father. But if you know yourself not, then you live in poverty and that poverty is you.”—Gospel of Thomas 3.

In the end we must acknowledge that languages are means of articulating something but the something is never the same as the words we choose. What possible difference does the name make? We have grown excessively protective of our own names of choice and sadly have lost touch with our very own souls.

Quack, quack.
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