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Lions Roar : May 2008
50 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 AWAKENING IS THE CENTRAL GOAL of the Buddhist tradition. Buddhadharma is all about awakening, or enlightenment. Buddha means “awake,” and the Buddha is said to be the enlightened one. But what does that mean? What exactly is the goal? And where do we start? The pivotal experience that sets one on the journey of buddhadharma is the experience of suffering, of discontent. After the Buddha attained enlightenment, the first thing he taught was the four noble truths: suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the path. It was his puzzlement about the nature of suffering, and compassion for suffering beings, that set him on his journey of discovery, and it was his proclamation of the truth of suffering that marked the completion of that journey. By holding still and looking directly into the nature of suffering, the Buddha was able to attain liberation. Unlike the Buddha, most of us simply want to avoid the reality of suffering, and we cook up all sorts of strategies to get around it. If we are searching for spirituality, the world of suffering is the last place we want to look. We would rather fantasize about realms of love and light far removed from the raw nature of our experience. But in order to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, instead of feeding further fantasies and speculations, we need to go back to square one. We need to look directly into the nature of our experience, to look within, and by doing so awaken from the illusions that entrap us. Enlightenment JUDITH L. LIEF Watching the mind that suffers, we make a surprising discovery. The discursiveness and dualism that cause us so many problems are not continuous or solid. In the gaps, we notice moments of clarity, wakefulness, and peace. After all our fantasies about what enlightened mind is really like, it turns out to be very ordinary and present. Glimpses of Awakening PHOTOS BY ALAN RABOLD MAY 50-53.indd 50 MAY 50-53.indd 50 3/6/08 11:29:55 AM 3/6/08 11:29:55 AM