The historical Buddha said :“Your own self is your master; who else could be? With yourself well controlled, you gain a master very hard to find.”
Just before his death the Buddha said “Why should I leave instructions? Be a refuge unto yourselves, Ananda. Be a lamp into yourselves. Rely on yourselves and nothing else.”
The last words of the Buddha were simple “Then I exhort you, brothers: remember, all things that come into being must pass away. Strive earnestly!”
As an old timer myself this statement tells me that since we all “pass away”, ultimately to “Be of Service” is the only worthwhile activity in life!
The Buddha speaks only of “Nirvana”, not “Enlightenment” in the Dhammapada. Nirvana is defined as “The extinction of selfish desire and selfish conditioning.” Serving others is the obvious tool to realize this.
The Buddha quotes above and the definition of Nirvana are from the Dhammapada as translated by Eknath Easwaran. He is a profound translator and interpreter.
The Dhammapada is regarded as a text of minor importance by many guru based sects of Buddhism, meant only for the “commoner”. I think the reason the Dhammapada is undervalued is that it made everyone responsible for their own spiritual development. It was a simple text based on the maturing of the heart rather than the head. This is why I am a great admirer of the historical Buddha but am not a Buddhist. I do not believe in Enlightenment. It’s too absolute of a concept. It’s a construction of the mind.
Nirvana on the other hand is simply the opening of the 💓. Jesus and the Historical Buddha really offered the same simple message.
I love the post below by Jeff Brown. The “Enlightened Being” concept is a power structure that “gurus” build their political power upon. The key part for me of Jeff’s post is …
“The models we need will then invite us back into our bodies, back into our hearts, and back into relatedness with each other (no more ‘enlightened’ masters sitting in caves while the women of the village bring them food.”)
Jeff is brutally honest about the way of traditional Buddhism vs the way of the historical Buddha …
*** Jeff Brown posted the following ***
Patriarchal Spirituality- Those ungrounded and inhumane ‘spiritual’ models that have been fostered by emotionally armored, self-avoidant men. These models share some or all of the following beliefs: the ego is the enemy of a spiritual life, the ‘monkey mind’ is the cause of suffering, your feelings are an illusion, your personal identifications and stories are necessarily false, witnessing your pain transforms it, your body is a spiritually bankrupt toxic quagmire, the only real consciousness is an ‘absolute’ and ‘transcendent’ one, stillness and silence are THE path, isolation is the best way to access ‘higher states’, there is no “self”, meditation is THE royal road to enlightenment, enlightenment actually exists, formlessness over form, the ultimate path is upward and vertical, real spirituality exists independent of our humanness etc.
In fact, most of it is a blatant lie.
A healthy ego is beautifully essential to healthy functioning; The monkey mind is fed by the monkey heart (the unresolved emotional body); Many of our idents and stories are true and fundamental to who we are, where we have been, why we are here; Healing your pain transforms it- watching it is only a preliminary step; Our bodies are our spiritual temple; The only ‘real’ consciousness is one that integrates all that we are and all that this is; Stillness and silence are only one path- many prefer movement and sound; There is no ‘higher’ state (we aren’t birds), but connection may be the best way to access deepened states; There is a magnificent self- the work is to align it with your sacred purpose, not to deny it altogether; Meditation is not THE royal road- it’s one road, and it is not necessarily more effective than embodied movement and emotional release as a clarification and transformation tool; A fixed state of enlightenment does not exist. And it’s a relative experience, changing form as we and this changes form; We are form, and we are here to in-form our humanness; If there is an ‘ultimate path’, its downward (rooted) and horizontal (we’re not birds); There is no distinction between our spirituality and our humanness.
The wool has been pulled over our eyes. Men who were too unhealthily egoic to admit that they couldn’t deal with their humanness, their feelings, their trauma, had to find a system that smokescreened their avoidance. They found it- it’s called ‘Enlightenment’. It’s also called ‘Spiritual Mastery’. And it usually involves leaving the world, in one form or another. This way, they can convince themselves and others that they have mastered the one true path. In fact, Enlightenment is just a construct that is intended to avoid the multi-aspected and relative nature of reality. In fact, they are mastering nothing. They are merely fleeing their fragmentation, their confusion, and the fact that they don’t know how to find their center in the heart of the world. Don’t be fooled. They know less about reality than day to day people. They know less about reality than those who live from their hearts.
What we need now are models that lead us back into our hearts, into relatedness, into a deep and reverential regard for the self. Those models may invite us to detach in an effort to see ourselves through a different lens, but they will not leave us out there, floating into the eternal emptiness and calling that a life. Detachment is a tool- it’s NOT a life. The models we need will then invite us back into our bodies, back into our hearts, and back into relatedness with each other (no more ‘enlightened’ masters sitting in caves while the women of the village bring them food. If you can’t find your transformation in the village, you haven’t found shit). They will invite us to integrate what we find ‘out there’ with who we are ‘in here’. They will invite us to embody the now, rather than to pretend we have found it in the heart of our dissociation. That’s not awakening- that’s avoidance. It’s time to co-create spiritual models that begin, and end, within our wondrous humanness. It’s not ‘out there’, dear friends. It’s right here, inside these aging body temples. (~a perspective at the heart of ‘Grounded Spirituality’)
(The picture shown is the Tibetan Medicine Buddha, a symbol of healing and service.)