We’ve all heard and read Zen stories about a word or a slap from a teacher bringing a student to instant enlightenment after years of meditation and pondering koans. Those stories are fun, and sometimes make a point, but they remind me of Grade B movies where music suddenly plays and celestial beings appear.
We might put them in the same category as other religious myths — stories that speak to some of us. We each need to choose the stories stories that help us grow.
In a talk to the Buddhist Geeks, Lama Surya Das suggests that we concentrate less on being a Buddhist and focus instead on being a Buddha. When we put our palms together and bow, we’re offering a lotus flower to the Buddha that exists in the other, to the Buddha that exists in each of us. We don’t need sudden revelations, music or celestial beings to find the Buddha in us. We need to relax, to breathe into the Buddha, to give up the struggle, and to awaken our true nature.
If I were you, at this point I’d ask: “If it’s easy, and you know so much about it, are you an enlightened Buddha?”
It’s a good question, and maybe I am — not at every moment, but much of the time. I’ve never heard the trumpets and seen the celestial beings, but increasingly I am able to live…
- In the moment, neither rehashing the past nor worrying the future.
- Without attachment. I’d love to have that luxury car, but my happiness doesn’t depend on it. I’ve lost my parents, my siblings, my uncles and aunts, most of my first cousins, and one of my two sons. I’ve survived those losses; I can survive others.
- With compassion, using the pain I have experienced to help others through their suffering.
- Within the oneness of all things, knowing that we are all just mixtures of the same cosmic dust.
When I feel one or more of those states slipping away, I stop, breathe and invite it back. Usually, that’s enough.
One thing that helps is leading a weekly meditation group. Bringing calm awareness to others does the same for me. I had trouble finding my Buddha Nature for about two months after my son died on June 1, but committing to daily blogging helped, along with my weekly sangha. Again, by spreading the dharma to others, it sticks to me as well.
If you have been reading me regularly, I think you have seen my progress. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting less often. My wife and I leave today on a 10-day driving vacation, visiting friends and relatives away from the Christmas memories in our home.
Then, after a few days at home in Loudoun County, Virginia, I’ll be driving to Putnam County, New York, for the Dzogchen Center Winter Retreat, led my Lama Surya Das. It’s January 2-9 in the beautiful Garrison Institute. I believe there are still openings. Consider joining me there. Together, we’ll awaken the Buddha within.
Copyright 2015 © Mel Harkrader Pine