Thursday, October 8, 2009
It Ain't Rocket Science
“Upon attaining total and perfect Buddha hood upon the vajra seat our Teacher exclaimed,
‘I have found a Dharma like ambrosia
Deep, simple, uncompounded, radiant.
If I explain it no-one will understand.
So I shall stay here, silent in the forest.’
Accordingly, for seven weeks he did not teach, until Brahma and Indra begged him to turn the wheel of the Dharma.”
Words of my Perfect Teacher, pp 26-7.
Over the past several years, I have met a great many people who were confused by the Dharma and the Buddha’s teachings. Many believe that Buddhists are atheists and do not believe in a god at all, or think that Buddha is our god, or worse, think that Buddhism is some ancient, quaint philosophy based on platitudes and therefore has no real substance. Others feel that Buddhism is too complicated to understand and walk away, shaking their heads.
None of these things are true.
Let me first start off by saying that belief is another form of grasping. What you believe this moment might not be the same thing you believed twenty years ago, or will believe within a few minutes from now. For example, as a child, I believed pots of gold were found at the end of a rainbow. As a grown woman, I no longer believe that.
So let us dispense with belief. Your beliefs, like everything else, is always changing and not strong enough to hang your spiritual hat on.
But, you protest. I’m a Christian and I believe in Jesus. I have a personal relationship with him!
Now. You cannot believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with him. You either believe (which is insubstantial at best) or you have a personal relationship which tells you quite clearly he exists and you speak to him on a regular basis.
Belief is an abstract concept at best. Knowing something right down to your bones is solid and sure and strong enough to hang your spiritual hat upon.
Buddha did not believe in gods. He knew a few of them personally, however. Brahma and Indra, as explained in the passage above, begged him to turn the wheel of dharma, which, thankfully, he did. What Buddha did say was that gods were entrapped in samsara just like everyone else and was unable to be of any help in escaping from cyclic existence. Which is why Brahma and Indra approached him, begging him to teach.
But this is academic and not worth much in the line of discussion. It is more important, I think, to examine closely this passage, and see precisely what so many others have missed.
‘I have found a Dharma like ambrosia
Deep, simple, uncompounded, radiant.’
I’ve met many teachers who love to hear themselves talk. Bless them, they’re good hearted and sincere, but, as we say in East Texas, “if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.” Which is what a lot of them do, and in doing this cause their students to either mimic the teachings not fully understanding what they mean, or causing others to walk away in disgust.
And the last thing I want to do is baffle anyone with bullshit.
And so much of the teachings that goes on these days is just that. Teachers talk endlessly about the Dharma, but what use is it to you if you can’t understand it?
So lets switch some words a round a bit, play with the passage and see what we can come up with.
The dharma is Like ambrosia (a sweet, precious substance, like nectar)
Deep (another word for profound)
Simple (easy to understand)
As we discussed yesterday, Buddha tortured himself with aestheticism for six long years and got nowhere in his practice. Then, when it hit him, like a V8 veggie juice moment. Ah, it’s so easy! So simple, so profound, so uncomplicated, that he almost missed it.
The dharma is profound, yes, but profound in its simplicity. Like agonizing over a math problem until you have that moment of sweet genius, that elated moment when everything clicks into place and you think, “that was so easy, why didn’t I see that before?”
The Dharma is simple. The Dharma isn’t rocket science. When broken down into its simplest components it’s very easy to understand. It’s the jargon that’s hard. And the jargon can be tossed quickly and effectively without changing the teachings one iota.
The Dharma is uncompounded. Jargon. It simply means uncomplicated.
Radiant: It’s mentally illuminating. Like walking into a dark house and switching on the light. Everyone has had that moment, again, of sweet genious, when everything falls into place, and you can’t imagine not seeing it before.
Think on these things. Mull it over. Write me and tell me what you think. Am I dazzling you with brilliance or baffling you with bullshit?
I’ll give you the other part of the quatrain tomorrow.