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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Gaze Upon the Buddha Statue and See Your True Self.

A common misconception that people have about Buddhists is that we worship the Buddha because we bow before his statue. Buddha wasn't a god but a human being just like the rest of us who found a way to transcend the suffering of this world. Initially he resisted sharing his path to others because he didn't think anyone would want to face their inner suffering as he had. However, having developed into an infinitely compassionate being he shared it with those who came to him and 2,500 years later we people are still coming to him. We are his heirs.

To be an heir of the Buddha simply means that we have seen the futility of the greed, hatred and delusion of the world and seek to awaken ourselves from the cycle of suffering as he has. So, in this regard when we bow to a Buddha statue or one another we are acknowledging the Buddha nature of ourselves and others. Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen teacher Lama Surya Das explains it this way:

As a longtime meditator and student of Buddhism, when I myself see a Buddha statue, I intuitively sense that I'm looking in a mirror at my highest, deepest, truest, and most authentic best self. It is not merely something to imitate -- in dress, shape, or hairstyle -- but something to emulate in terms of seeking what the Buddha himself sought and found, in order to find it in myself along with recognizing that in others, and then acting accordingly. The Buddha is actually an archetype representing enlightenment, an icon symbolizing inner wisdom, a pointer towards the possibility of a level of spiritual awakening embodying the fullest actualized potential of human beings.
So, we are bowing to the Buddha within us, which emphasizes that yes, we too can awaken to the same freedom that Buddha experienced. It is an act of hope that strengthens intention--intention to free ourselves once and for all from the thrashings of the mind. It reminds us of who we really are and after some time, just gazing upon his image has helped me remember that this identity I cling to isn't my true nature. So, when I'm feeling depressed and self-hatred arises I gaze upon him and contemplate that, "If I have the same potential of Buddha then I must be a good person." It doesn't always help but sometimes it's a nice swift kick to the head that jars loose the grip of my mind.

We also bow to show respect for the path he laid out for us to follow. Buddha's path is like bread crumbs left in a deep, dark, frightening forest to help find our way out and into an open field of awareness that shows us where the stumbling blocks lie. In the dark fog of delusion our mind makes up all sorts of things and we can't see where we are going and before we know it we're deep down in a hole of immense and crippling suffering. Haven't you suffered enough? Wake up and embrace your Buddha nature.

PHOTO CREDIT: From the Public Broad Casting documentary, "The Buddha."

~Peace to all beings~

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11 comments:

Hannah said...

This is fantastic! I put this on my blog (with a link back to here). Thanks so much for posting this.

Adam said...

Nice. I think I'll link back to this when I see the "but you just sit around and worship some fat idol" typical comment.

elbibis said...

I live in Mexico, where most people are Christian. This post is wonderful to enlighten them about buddhism and clear their misconceptions. Thank you.

Bonsai Doug said...

Simply stated, yet so profound. An excellent posting.

Nina Alvarez said...

Just saw that documentary "The Buddha" today. Strange coincidence. But the image...amazing. Who is the artist?

Shawn said...

What a great entry! This is the kind if stuff that makes me love my religion and coming back to your site everyday!!

Shinzen said...

Thank You for this great post! Hands palm to palm...

Grace said...

Well, said. I think I knew this intuitively, but couldn't have put in such simple terms like this that I could explain to others.

They call him James Ure said...

@Hannah - You're welcome and thank-you for the kind words.

@Adamn - I have written about this before but not in as much depth. I think the best way to end misconceptions is education and not arguments.

@Elbibis - You're very welcome. I'm glad this will help. That was my aim.

@Bonsai Doug - I appreciate your kind words. I find the simpler the better sometimes. :)

@Nina Alvarez - Great documentary huh? What did you think of it? I love that image too and I couldn't find the artist's name!! I searched and searched but all I could credit was PBS, which I didn't want to do.

As an artist I want to credit the creator!! Let me know if anyone knows the artist and I'll make the change.

@Shawn - Oh wow. Such nice words for a humble practitioner like myself!! I'm honored by your kindness. I bow to you.

@Shinzen - You're most welcome. Thanks for commenting and reading.

@Grace - It's good to remind myself of these things, which is partly why I write/blog. I'm glad I could put some words to what you've been feeling.

Steve Sampson said...

Gentle and beautiful.

The Buddha's Face www.thebuddhasface.co.uk said...

I find my Buddhism lite approach gives me the confidence of knowing why we are here and how through love and compassion our interactions reach a new dimension in our life's journey.We inspire through our actions deeds and smiles ! Thanks for sharing your thoughts - great blog.

Ian

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