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Lions Roar : May 2008
51 SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2008 Having attained enlightenment, the Buddha is said to have been at a loss as to how to convey the essential experience of awakening—if it even could be called an experience—to others. So how is it possible for any of us to speculate about what it really means? Old maps described uncharted areas of the world that were rumored to exist but had not yet been explored as terra incognita, “unknown earth.” Fabulous tales were told of the mythical crea- tures living there—strange hairy beings, giants, monsters with mouths in their bellies, beasts of outlandish shapes and sizes. These unknown regions were supposed to be filled with the most horrible and terrifying discoveries, but at the same time there was something alluring about them. People thought there might be magnificent treasures there or outrageous sensual delights. Similarly, modern people talk about alien civilizations ex- isting somewhere in outer space. Some people fantasize that superior and wise beings will be discovered who will rescue humans from our mistakes and folly; others speculate that technologically advanced and powerful alien beings will en- trap and enslave us earthlings, destroying the world as we know it. We have both a fascination with undiscovered worlds and a fear of unknown places. When we don’t know anything about a place, no problem: we just make things up. In the realm of spiritual mapping, the notion of enlightenment can MAY 50-53.indd 51 MAY 50-53.indd 51 3/6/08 11:29:58 AM 3/6/08 11:29:58 AM