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Lions Roar : November 2013
There is no Buddhist God. Different schools of Buddhism have different views about who the Buddha was. Some say he was an ordi- nary human being who discovered the path to awakening; oth- ers say he was already enlightened but followed the path to show us how it’s done. But one thing is certain: he was not a God, deity, or divine being. His faculties were purely human, any of us can follow his path, and our enlightenment will be exactly the same as his. Ultimately, we are no different from him, and vice versa. Admittedly, there are lots of Buddhist images that look like gods and deities, all kinds of colorful and exotic beings. The Buddhist cosmos is a vast one, containing infinite beings of dif- ferent minds, bodies, faculties, and realms. Some are more subtle and awakened, and others are grosser and more confused. Yet these are just the endless variations on the reality we experience right now. It may be infinitely vast and profoundly deep, it may be mysterious beyond concept, it may be far different than we think it is, but whatever reality is, this is it. There is nothing and nobody fundamentally different from or outside of it. It’s about your basic goodness. Buddhism is not about salvation or original sin. It’s not about becoming somebody different or going some- where else. Because both you and your world are basically good. With all its ups and downs, this world of ours works. It warms us; it feeds us; it offers us color, sound, and touch. We don’t have to struggle against our world. It is neither for us nor against us. It is a simple, vivid world of direct experience we can investigate, care for, enjoy, make love to. We are basically good as well, confused as we may be. In Bud- dhism, our true nature has many names, such as buddhanature, ordinary mind, sugatagarbha, Vajradhara, or just plain bud- dha—fundamental awakeness. The thing is, we can’t solidify, identify, or conceptualize it in any way. Then it’s just the same old game we’re stuck in now. We do not own this basic goodness. It is not inside of us, it is not outside of us, it is beyond the reach of conventional mind. It is empty of all form, yet everything we experience is its manifestation. It is nothing and the source of everything—how do you wrap your mind around that? All you can do is look directly, relax, and let go. 1 2 SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2013 45