Kill the Buddha and Recognize Your Own Buddha Nature
Recently Buddhists all over the world celebrated Vesak Day (May 29th this year), the birth of the Buddha.
It is indeed great to celebrate greatness.
However, often when we celebrate such greats of humanity, such as the Buddha, we make them into a god. We make them into something that is beyond human and beyond human potential. We worship them instead of honoring them.
The Buddha was once asked if he was an angel or some other holy being, and he said he wasn’t. He said he was awakened.
Many times people try to scare us into believing one religion over another. I have my beliefs that Buddhism offers humanity a spiritual and humane way for humanity to deal with the technology and science of the future.
But what is ultimately important is not the name of the religion or spirituality, but the understanding that we gain from it.
Jack Kornfield is credited with being one of the key people to help establish Buddhism in the US. But he says that being a Buddhist is not that important.
“More and more, we’re teaching meditation not as a religious activity but as a support for living a wise and healthy and compassionate inner life,” Kornfield said recently. “A number of the people I teach don’t consider themselves Buddhists, which is absolutely fine with me. It’s much better to become a Buddha than a Buddhist.” (source: latimes)
It has been said that we are all ‘Buddhas in training.’ I fully agree with that.
We live in varying degrees of consciousness, or beingness, which is determined by our level of compassion and understanding. This compassion and understanding arises from our level of awareness or mindfulness. If we allow ourselves to be conditioned into certain patterns of dangerous mental and physical activity then we suffer a great deal. If we are awakening to the true state of our being and our place in the universe then we suffer much less. In fact, this awakening moves us to help alleviate suffering for others.
The Buddha taught that we should examine what others say and not believe claims on mere authority.
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” (source: famouse quotes)
The Buddha wanted us to use reason as well as develop our compassion. He taught an approach that united both the heart and the mind. In order for a human being to awaken they had to think for themselves and examine every aspect of their lives and their society.
But human beings also need to practice the spiritual disciplines of mindfulness and meditation, according to the Buddha. An approach that would develop their hearts and minds and move them past the conditioning, the tunnel vision, and mental constraints that enslave humanity into a certain pattern of constricted being.
A Zen Koan says, “you meet the Buddha in the road, kill him.”
This Koan is a rather startling way to try to wake our minds up. To get adherents to think beyond authority and worship. A way to try to get the spiritual aspirant to recognize their own Buddha-Nature or Awakened-Nature.
The Buddha tried to get people to recognize and then honor their own Buddha Nature.
If a celebration, a religion, or any activity or practice helps us to recognize this eternal Buddha or Awakened heart/mind that is the foundation of our being, then it is a supremely sublime and blessed activity or practice indeed.