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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Taking Refuge I: The Buddha

Many traditionalists among "Buddhists" take refuge and declare devotion to the historical Buddha and practice recollection of his name and qualities:

"accomplished, fully enlightened, endowed with clear vision, with virtuous conduct, sublime, the knower of worlds (heaven, hell and earth), an incomparable leader, and a teacher of gods and human beings."

Others have broken away from this historical perception of the Buddha outside ourselves, and point to the Buddha within. Of course, strictly speaking, the Buddha lies neither within nor without. Awakening is being one with the nature of things. In this respect, the Buddha is not of time, belonging neither to the past, present nor future.

To take refuge in awakening, we do not even need to believe in the existence of the historical Buddha, or that the Buddha lies within us. In fact, we may or may not have doubts about our potential for awakening, but the great pity would be if we identified with these doubts to the extent that we allowed them to override our aspiration to awaken.

Awakening to freedom and the vision that emerges from freedom shows the greatest respect for life. To take refuge in awakening means making it the first priority of life. It is putting awakening at the center of one's "mandala." It means reducing the significance of gaining and possessing and unconscious consuming. It means that self-centeredness will not hold us under its spell. It even means that pleasure and privilege are less important in our life. It is remembering that no conditioned phenomena are eternal and therefore none are ultimately satisfying. It is just about the most counter-cultural act of 'resistance,' a true radical stance, especially in today's cultural climate.

Some believe that awakening is far away and others believe that it is near at hand. If we think about awakening in terms of near and far, we are engaging in measurement. We are in the absurd situation of the self measuring not-self!

Awakening is neither affirmation nor rejection of the world. Life is seen as neither substantial nor insubstantial. To exaggerate or diminish our life is to fail to see it as it is. To be caught in the view of affirmation is to overlook impermanence and the ending of each moment. To be caught in rejection overlooks the arising and presence of each moment. Awakening transcends all such standpoints or views. There is no gap between liberation and here-and-now.

Inquiry (for discussion and contemplation)

1. Are you committed to awakening?
2. What do you need to cultivate in order to awaken?
3. What needs to change to support your awakening?
4. What needs to be accepted to support your awakening?
5. What risks are you prepared to take to support your awakening?
6 Is awakening something that is done once, and done with, or is it a continuing process?

.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 2:22 PM


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