Happy Birthday Buddha

May 17th, 2011

I’ve heard it said that while not everyone is a Buddhist, everyone is a Buddha awaiting awakening.

When we embrace our Buddha nature we are free of the imagined self. The imagined self is the self that we think we are. However, the Buddha nature is not male or female, rich or poor, suffering or happy. Our Buddha nature is free of contradiction. As human beings who seek to awaken our Buddha nature, we learn to be in the world but not of the world.

I believe it is true that most of us are running around with our own stories and dramas and largely caught up in our particular brand of suffering. To awaken is to transcend the attachment to our suffering and to liberate ourselves. While most of us understand and maybe even embrace this perspective, it can often feel like a challenging reality to actualize.

A few evenings ago I found myself telling my boys a bedtime story about Siddhartha Gautama. Siddhartha was a wealthy prince who was sheltered by his father the king from seeing any kind of suffering. He was kept away from sickness, poverty, death, and old age. It wasn’t until Siddhartha was a young man that he finally saw life as it really was outside of the palace walls.

“Can you imagine what an unhappy surprise that would have been?” I asked my little boys.

After this terrible shock, Siddhartha set out to overcome suffering for all, but he wasn’t at all sure how to go about it. After living a life of indulgence and privilege he thought maybe a life of deprivation, the life of an ascetic, was the answer. But that didn’t seem to work either; that path left him hungry and weak. Siddhartha then thought maybe the middle way might be the way.

Siddhartha then sat under the Bodhi Tree for 49 days and finally reached enlightenment. In other words, he woke up to the truth. He recognized that through understanding and moving beyond ignorance we might all be free. The understanding he arrived at is called The Four Noble Truths*. Basically, it has to do with not getting so attached to ideas and the ways things should be and trusting.

“Is this why we shouldn’t disturb you so much when you are meditating mommy?” my boys asked.

“Yes” I said. “Mommy is trying to wake up, too.”

Wikipedia The Four Noble Truths:
1) The Truth of Suffering relates to the failure to recognize the eternity of the Buddha;
2) The Truth of the Cause of Suffering concerns the perversion and distortion of the True Dharma (i.e. wrongly insisting that the Buddha and Dharma are impermanent);
3) The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering relates to the correct meditative cultivation of the tathagatagarbha (indwelling Buddha Nature in all beings) and not erroneously viewing it as non-Self and empty; cessation of suffering also arises with the elimination of inner defilements, when one can then enter into the Buddhic Essence within oneself: “When the afflictions have been eradicated, then one will perceive entry into the tathāgata-garbha”;
4) The Truth of the Path to the Cessation of Suffering entails envisioning the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as eternal, unshakable and indestructible. (Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, tr. by Kosho Yamamoto, ed. by Dr. Tony Page, Nirvana Publications, London, 1999-2000)

(c) 2008 Jeanine Austin, Ph.D, C.Ht
Life Coaching and Hypnosis Worldwide


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