The Greatest Yogin of All Times
Impermanence is inherent in all things.
Buddha has been part of my life for well over twenty years now. For me, that's a long time to be "in" to anything. I have had past fixations with one kind of philosophical idea or another, but nothing has ever come close to holding my attention for as long as the Compassionate Prince has.
I believe it was his medatative pose that first hooked me back in the 70s. The idea that someone could just sit there in a trance-like state and achieve lasting peace of mind against the constant roar of the modern world was very appealing to me. Since then, I have tried to venerate Buddha in my own way, but I must admit that I have not become a celibate monk in a semi-exclusive retreat obediently delving into the tragic nature of human suffering.
My closest friends have been quite polite in their unwavering acceptance of my ongoing preoccupation with Buddhism. Perhaps they accept my blatant rejection of Christian dogma because they themselves are seeking a more meaningful explanation of human existence, but then again perhaps not. I try not to think too hard about why they are so loyal to an aspiring dharma bum such as myself, and instead make a valiant effort to reciprocate the same level of tolerance towards their religious and philosophical points of view. There are many paths up the mountain, and Buddhism is but one of them. For me, it is the right path, and I have been modestly plodding my way. When I encounter others of like mind, I share my thoughts and inspirations, as they most often do with me. Everybody has a hungry heart, and the wise observations and ethical teachings of Buddha are definitely food for thought.
The greatest thing I have learned from Buddha, is that there is a way to miraculously lessen the negative effects of personal suffering in one's lifetime. It's a highly philosophical, almost stoical way of existence of course, but then man at his best is a philosophical beast tirelessly pursuing practical working solutions to all the fundamental problems confounding human existence. All the world's great religions and philosophies address human suffering in one context or another, but in the end, each and every one of us has to decide which path to take on the way to total enlightenment and soul salvation. Humble introspection and quiet contemplation of the outer realms have their places in an enquiring mind, as long as that enquiring mind is fully prepared to handle the whole truth and nothing but the truth. All seekers of divine knowledge must be prepared to find what they are searching for. Myself, I have been searching for peace of mind, and I am happy to report that sometimes I think I am getting closer to my home. Whether I totally achieve such a state of grace in this lifetime, is a monumentous question to be humbly answered. And as to whether I will ever pass this way again, may I state for the record that I am a constant lover of the earth; so yes, I will undoubtedly be reborn not too far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife, hopefully somewhere in a garden of earthly delights, and perhaps under a kohlrabi leaf? Could it be that I have become a bodhisattva for this brave new millennium? Though time be the great destroyer of all things, we ourselves destroy time by being born again. Yes, into this world we all shall many times tumble with half-remembered names of forgotten places we can no longer pronounce behind them. Into this world of endless pleasures whose perpetual forecast calls for pain ...
Look within, thou art Buddha: How paradoxical a notion, but then how gracious the telling. We all can rediscover the divinity of self in this lifetime. The well spring of human knowledge is ubiquitous and eternal. The generations come and go, but the fundamental truths about human existence remain the same: We are born craving, we grow afraid of sickness and dying, yet love comes along to save us. It could be the love of family or friendship, or perhaps the love of a sexually intimate relationship, but as Saint John Lennon intimated, all you really need is love of one kind or another. And when love is done, the philosophical mind steps in to shoulder the weight of our late great expectations. In my heart of hearts I know this to be true. It helps me to live, and it helps me to prepare for dying, for the final sleep and the blessed forgetting. Now I lay me down to sleep. Now I awaken with thoughts so deep. I pray the world the truth to seek!
Yes, I am definitely a product of my times, a child of the sixties who never really grew up, a philosophical Peter Pan, and believe me, that took some doing. I was always in a hurry, and now I often wonder what exactly I was in a hurry for. It took a modest plaster-of-Paris meditating Buddha to remind me that one has to slow down and get a grip, that one has to sit and lovingly contemplate the meaning of singular existence, that one has to turn inwards before fully understanding and effectively dealing with the tumultuous world outside. I have looked within, and I have discovered my true buddhanature. I have sat beneath a tree and contemplated the very essence of being me. And all I really have to say, is a truth: You are the way in your youth. But the years go by and inflict their pain, and you never quite feel the same. Laugh or cry, it's all part of a sacred game. You empty yourself of your life, and your life remains. Oh to die, and to be born again, to kiss the fingers of the rain, and catch the freshened, fragrant breeze from drenched and dripping apple trees. Oh, we have all been here before, and will again, and evermore. Nirvana was never meant for me, and Heaven's just a memory. Back there in winter, in the incense glow, I gave my heart to save my soul; and Buddha loves me, this I know, for the Dharma tells me so! The greatest yogin of all times must have a place for silly rhymes. Perhaps his mother sat him on her knee, and told him what the white elephant was dreaming: Once I was an ascetic in the wood, shared my supper, spoke some good. I seek the truth, I sell no lies. This side of paradise, there's a great deal of solace, if not absolute pleasure, in the elegant sayings of the wise! Oh, are we not immortal for as long as we choose to be? Song of myself keep on singing ...
Striking a pose beneath