Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Buddha was a Reformer


The Buddha was a reformer; he went to the source of the Hindu teachings and reformed them into his own time. The name Buddha is a title that means one who is awakened; one who is awakened to the truth. The main difference between Hinduism and Buddhism is that Buddhism does not tell you who you are. In Buddhism there is no concept of God because Buddhism is not interested in concepts. Buddhism suggests that all concepts are wrong.

Every single thing can be seen from an infinite number of different perspectives, every single thing can be taken apart infinitely and every single thing is forever constantly changing and becoming something else. So to have a concept about a thing is, in Buddhism, nonsense. There is only the raw unaltered pure experience of the now.

Take the example of a chair: turn it upside down and it may be a drum, smash it to pieces and it becomes fuel, give it to some termites and it becomes food, hit somebody over the head with it and it becomes a weapon. Try to find the chair and you will only find smaller and smaller parts. Eventually you will find atoms and then quantum particles. Scientists now tell us that the atoms are basically empty space with little fields of energy in them. These atoms never stop moving for a second so that the chair is actually a whirling mass of ever changing energy. To believe then that the chair it is one definite solid ‘real’ thing is to get stuck with a concept and not see the truth of reality.

Buddhism would say that you are clinging on to concepts for security. People might say that they hold onto a spiritual practice or beliefs because it keeps them happy and sane. Buddha would encourage such a person to get real. It is only when you let go of everything, when you do not depend on any idea or belief for your happiness and sanity that you become a true Buddhist.

Buddhism doesn’t believe in anything, not a god, a soul, and it holds no comfort with a life after death, it absolutely faces the transiency of life. It tells you, forces you, to let go of everything; to let go of every concept of yourself and the universe because you cannot hold onto anything anyway. This might seem frightening but if you do this you get something far better than a belief or a sense of security. You get the real thing, the real experience that cannot be explained or put into words. You get Nirvana, which literally means a sigh of relief. If you grasp onto life or grasp onto your breath you lose it, you destroy the flow of life. Breathe out and you get it back, let go and life can flow.

In one respect it would seem that Buddhism is the supreme doctrine of negativity, of emptiness. In Sanskrit Shunyata, the word Emptiness however doesn’t communicate the real meaning of Shunyata. Shunyata is a dynamic emptiness more like the sky, it contains everything but you cannot pin point or hold it down. The clouds depend on the vast empty sky but in no way whatsoever do they disturb or affect it. Shunyata is the sky like nature of everything.

Buddha was saying that you don’t need anything, you don’t need concepts or beliefs or religions. You don’t need religious paraphernalia, beads, robes, gongs, drums and rituals, you don’t need any tricks to become the real you. Once you become the real you it’s ok to play at religion because it might be quite fun. But if it is holding you back or helping you to grasp onto concepts then Buddha or a real spiritual teacher would tell you to stop kidding yourself and let go of such gimmicky concepts. Religion can become the perfect hiding ground for the ego.


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