Friday, January 06, 2006

Circle Opens



In the Heart Sutra (Skrt: Prajñāpāramitā Hridaya Sūtra) , Avalokiteshvara tells us that Form is Emptiness and Emptiness is Form. We know that Buddhanature (Skrt: Buddha-dhatu) is not Buddhanature, but only a word, a way to point to something outside the continuum of conceptual thought. The Buddha did not find Buddhanature nor did he create Buddhism. This state is not a monopoly of the Buddhist follower, keeping itself at arms distance until one takes a set of vows. If this nature is within anyone, it is possible that any tradition could tap this source.
I have witnessed amusing faces of shock when others discover that I, a Buddhist, study works such as the Bhagavad Gita. Aren't these two religions against each other; one believing in atman, the other in anatman? It must be remembered that Siddhartha studied the Vedic traditions in the beginning of his journey to enlightenment. These traditions provided mental concentration and inner wisdom which enabled him to reach the awareness of anatman, which the Vedic tradition, in his view, had no grasp of. That is where the two religions branch greatly. Until we reach this final stage, the debate over atman or anatman is of little consequence. We all pull our heavy carts, bearing heavy loads in our daily lives as we seek to uncover our inner nature.
At one time I worked with a man who had at one time, been a heavy drug user. In his mind, the Lord (Yahweh, GOD) provided the strength to rescue him from his addiction and put him on a straight path.
The sad element of this story is that he did not cure himself of addiction, but instead substituted one for another. Faith and religious practice became his new addiction. Religion requires us to trascend this base, fundamental, and crude way of thinking and go further inward. Every step of the path is beset with tricks and dead ends. Attachment to spiritual traditions is one of these. "I am a Chan Buddhist so I don't understand these Tibetan guys," I once heard. This idea of difference, of greater or lesser, brings us in the wrong direction and bears the wrong fruit within our minds. The major difference of our traditions are superficial in the early, mundane stages. As I said before, the major differences only occur at a point very far ahead, when we will have already trascended this unskillful idea of labeling our path.
For convienience I call this a "Buddhist blog" to identify the major path that I take. However, I will always turn a warm ear to the words of a noble son or daughter of any faith or religion. In the final stages of our journey, there are no Buddhists, Hindus, or Christians.
I will see you somewhere on the mountain.

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