June 22, 2014 § 2 Comments
The Buddha expounded the Dharma to show humanity how to overcome bondage to appearance. He is called the Fully Awakened One because he saw life as a fabric of dream illusions upon which we have become transfixed as if in a hypnotic trance. To Awaken is to break the trance and see the thoughts of waking consciousness as no more real than the images seen in dreams when asleep.
When we awake from sleep we know our dream to have been unreal. No matter how involved we were in its seeming reality, when we wake we do not check the bedroom for the people who were chasing us in our sleep. We put the dream aside to deal with the waking world.
To Awaken is to see that our day’s thoughts are no more real than the ones we had when we slept. It is like waking up from a dream, then waking up from our day thoughts.
To the unawakened, thoughts are not only seen to be true, they are seen to be real and powerful. There is a compulsion to act when a thought arises. There is a belief in the ‘this or that’ which creates irrational fear. There is a belief in the righteousness of political ideology and religious faith. In all of this there is, as the Buddha pointed out, a bondage to appearance as we are ruled by our thoughts instead of ruling them.
The Awakened one sees thought in the same way we see our dreams. There is no urge to act, just an option to act or not act. The ‘this or that’ that formerly created fear is now seen as nothing more than a mental image without substance. Any system of thought is seen as neither more nor less valid than any other. In seeing this, the Awakened one finds no reason to argue, no reason to fight or go to war. Having seen the reality of awareness, the Awakened one is at peace.
To be a Fully Awakened Buddha is to realize all of life is a dream illusion. The first step in this realization is to plant the seed of doubt in the accuracy of your thoughts about reality. The first step is to see how these thoughts, this appearance, holds you in sway. Once planted, the seed of doubt will take root and grow into a tree that will one day bear the fruit of your Awakening.
June 12, 2014 § 2 Comments
A shift of base or emphasis starts when you begin to realize that your true nature is awareness. It’s a subtle shift wherein the objects of consciousness that so deeply preoccupied you in the past now become less important as consciousness itself comes to the fore. It’s as if all your life you’ve only seen the reflections in water and now, for the first time, you see water.
Of course, we never actually see awareness as a thing; just as most of the time we never actually see water. When we look at water we see what it reflects, or the light from things as it bends around and through it. Awareness is much the same in that we usually know it only in relation to objects.
Perhaps you’ve seen pictures of boats floating in water that is so clear that it appears they are floating in mid-air. Without the boats the water’s depth and transparency would be difficult to notice but with them it shines forth. Awareness is like that, always present but difficult to notice. Yet, if in our meditation we hold a subtle object in mind, we can turn our attention to the transparent awareness that surrounds and lays beneath it.
The Greek philosopher Plotinus wrote, “To attain the Good, we must ascend to the highest state, and, fixing our gaze thereon, lay aside the garments we donned when descending here below; just as, in the Mysteries, those who are admitted to penetrate into the inner recesses of the sanctuary, after having purified themselves, lay aside every garment, and advance stark naked.”
To follow Plotinus’ thought, if we lay aside the garments of thought and ego, we can penetrate into the recesses of our inner sanctuary where we may recognize Self without an object. Then, we will know our true nature as bare, transparent awareness.