Saturday, 10 July 2010
You might as well burst out laughing!
What would you say, if someone offered you for free, a bottle containing a liquid, and which, they claim will cleanse you of all of your worries, pain and sufferings? After much initial scepticism, many questions and evaluations of its the potency, especially if it were harmful to ingest, you would probably drink the liquid with cautious gratitude.
Yet, there is such an elixir, available free to anyone who wants to drink of it. An elixir, that doesn’t come with strings attached, isn’t dogmatic and doesn’t draw or hypnotise you, into any religious sect or cult. And what’s more, it is free! If you try it, and don’t like it, just drop into the nearest bottle bank! This is an elixir that is available to examine, probe and test at your leisure. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it. Yet such an elixir does exist and anyone can pick a bottle. What I’m talking about is a method available to all, one that doesn’t involve learning a set of rules, or blindly following some spurious faith or other, promising salvation in an after life. Salvation in this case is perfectly possible right here and now!
Yet such an offer would generally, be rejected out of hand. Most people nowadays are intelligent and sophisticated beings, they can spot a scam when one is presented to them, and they have little time for organised religions, having seen through the myths and dogmas of such structured regimes, long ago. Regimes, which preach upon an invisible god, that no one has ever seen, a god who is set up as an arbiter of good and evil. But here’s the rub, in our certainties that all religions are hogswash, whose only purpose are to keep their followers trapped in blindness, we have turned away from true spiritual paths that offer genuine ways to deal with the sufferings that besets humanity.
I call myself a Buddhist because I accept the basic premise of Buddhism, that we all suffer from the pains of existence, and that there is a way out of this suffering. Yet Buddhism isn’t a religion, in the usual sense of the word, as Tashi Thundrop remarked, “atheists can find many Buddhist paths to suit their needs.” And, the method on offer is simply a tool to fix the problem.
Buddhists call this tool, the 'Dharma,' a word that means a view of life, a clear realisation, unencumbered by the usual collection of distractive thoughts, that fill our minds. I haven’t the space here, to go into minute details, but I will point out that the simplicity of this method is literally mind blowing! All we need to do is to ‘let go,’ and relax. There is nothing to else to do or achieve. Buddhists don’t or shouldn’t take themselves too seriously, for we realise that it is ‘nothing special,’ that methods to achieve liberation are not unique to Buddhism. In every religion, there are those who understand well the power of genuine awareness. These ‘mystics,’ though, are usually to be found on the fringes, unaccepted and frowned upon by the hierarchy.
The only method that works is the method of ‘doing nothing,’ of forgetting all about our self, but just being aware of the suffering that the world is awash with. We open up our natural state, a state that is fuelled by compassion, in its deepest sense, a compassion that doesn’t rely on a ‘me,’ that is being compassionate. We just open up to other’s suffering. The strange thing is, that by forgetting all about our own desires, self-liberation then occurs naturally.
Or as Longcenpa puts it, “ You might as well burst out laughing!”