When Buddha learnt meditation, he had been suffering for years. Ever since birth, he had been expected to be his fathers son–The future king. Imagine the pressure, but also the sense of total control from the father, whose expectations he had to live up to, in order to have his love. He was expected to be a Prince and do all the things that a future king must do. Defend his lands. Kill people as necessary to protect his own wealth. Value or devalue people because of their power alone. This was to Buddha a life of servitude.
Buddhas real nature was not like that. His self realization or understanding of who he truly was led him to follow his heart. His heart knew that this world is temporary and that our power is temporary. There are three basic emotions that underpin our psychology–no matter who we are and what we do. One is grief, the second is fear and the third is anger. Because certainty is an illusion, sooner or later things change and we experience either or all of the three basic emotions. Fear, grief or anger. Fear makes us cling to things that comfort us. Grief makes us turn away from people. Anger makes us want to dominate and control. Yet, all that life is asking from us is to change. How different our lives could be if instead of shutting down, we dared to continue blooming, regardless of the mud in which we are stuck. The metaphor of the lotus can carry us from pain to calm.
Buddha knew this. But he also knew about the quality of the mind that observes all things. The observer is that part of the mind that can watch everything with impartiality. Whether it is fear, grief or anger about life.
But why is the observer so important–and why should we care to get in touch with the observer is because all phenomena other than the observer is temporary. If we allow ourselves to get caught up in the drama of life, then we simply repeat all the negative things in our life over and over again. To stop being sad, afraid or angry, we need to find a way out of the illusion that the drama is permanent or important.
So, if you can develop the endurance and patience to simply watch yourself, rather than react to each and every thought about yourself or other people that you have, than you can free yourself from a lot of suffering.
The mind will chatter because that is what a mind will do. But if you can realize that you are in fact living in a house of mirrors and that the world around you is an illusion–it reflects your own thoughts back to you, then you will achieve a level of mastery over yourself and lose the cage that traps you. To be freed from illusion is so amazing.
Doing this is not easy, because it means at some level renunciation or lack of interest in the pleasures that come with the drama. But, if you are tired of the ups and downs in life, the cycles of good and bad, happy and sad, and you want to just stay in the middle of life, the self mastery is very appealing.
So, here is Prince Siddhartha, who lived for years being waited on hand and foot, who somehow learns to survive in the jungle. He had food, clothing, opportunities of all kind, a wife and an identity, yet, he had this need to understand who he was and realize his truth. He realizes his truth, then spends the rest of his life teaching his way out of suffering. He knew his purpose was not to be a king, but to heal the heart of humanity. Instead of gaining power as a way to protect himself from the harshness of reality, Buddha embraced the harshness and turned it into wisdom. His way inspired me and filled me with hope that there is something beautiful that we are part of, that is beyond the need for survival.
I continue to learn from this great teacher. In my darkest, most alienated and lonely moments, I meditate and tune in to what Buddha would have said or done. Sometimes asking that question makes me cry. Because Buddhas compassion is so deep and vast that running from the truth is not an option. There are many spiritual teachings out there, and I know that there is an array of options…..but the truth has a way of enduring change and time….so Buddha is my friend when I am stuck in darkness and I see no way out of my suffering. Somehow he smiles, and I see the way. Here is his gentle voice as it plays in my mind:-
- All things change, even you.
- If you want to be happy, stay in the now–meditate
- Fear, anger and grief can be overcome, but first you have to feel it, instead of denying it
- Stop trying, act
- Stay in the present
- Life is very simple
- Stop expecting others to be like you, focus on what you can give them
- Stay humble, so you can keep learning
- Doing is different from thinking about doing. You have to do, to know what to do next. Dont overthink.
- You never have anything. It is a stream of consciousness that passes through you that you witness.
- Take refuge in compassion as often as you need.
May all beings be happy