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Lions Roar : May 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2007 55 by the inevitable rise of the Feminine, brought for- ward so brilliantly by women’s insistence in our own time. And of course by our own African American struggle for dignity and freedom, which has inspired the world. In addition, many of us have discovered in the teachings of the Buddha wise, true, beautiful guidance on the treacherous path life and history set us upon. HAVING SAID THIS, let me emphasize that I did not come to the study and practice of Buddhism to become a Buddhist. In fact, I am not a Buddhist. And the Buddha would not have minded this in the least. He would have been happy to hear it. He was not, himself, a Buddhist. He was the thing Itself: an enlightened being. Just as Jesus Christ was not a Christian, but a Christ, an enlightened being. The challenge for me is not to be a follower of Something but to embody it; I am willing to try for that. This is how I understand the meaning of both the Christ and the Buddha. When the Buddha, dy- ing, entreated his followers to “be a lamp unto your self,” I understood he was willing to free his follow- ers even from his own teachings. He had done all he could do, taught them everything he had learned. Now, their own enlightenment was up to them. He was also warning them not to claim him as the sole route to their salvation, thereby robbing themselves of responsibility for their own choices, behavior, and lives. I came to meditation after a particularly painful divorce. Painful because I never ceased to care for the man I divorced. I married him because he was one of the best people I’d ever encountered. However, life had other plans for us both. I left my home, as the Buddha left his two thousand and five hundred years ago, to see if I could discover how I at least could be happy. If I could be happy in a land where torture of my kind was commonplace, then perhaps there was a general happiness to be found. The person who taught me Transcendental Meditation was teaching out of the Hindu tradition and never mentioned the Buddha, the Four Noble Truths (about the fact of human suf- fering, its causes, and the necessity to engage, endure, and trans- form it) or the Eightfold Path, which provides a guide to moral, conscious living. What she did teach me was the deeper value of sitting quietly. Doing nothing. Breathing. This took me back to The challenge for me is not to be a follower of Something but to embody it. This is how I understand the meaning of both the Christ and the Buddha. Dream 2: King and the Sisterhood childhood days when I did this without thinking. Days when I was aware I was not separate from the cosmos. Days when I was happy. This was actually a place where poets, time out of mind, have frequently lived. No wonder I felt at home there. And so I laughed. The laughter bubbled up, irrepressible. I saw the path to happiness and to liberation at a glance. It was inside myself.