When many of us think of a rebel we think of someone who challenges the status quo because of a feeling of confinement or discomfort with how society is unfolding. Buddhist master Dzogchen Penlop shows us in his book, Rebel Buddha that we all have a rebel within. It is the seed of awakening in our brain that was planted by our karma, which begins to grow and stretch against the confines of the ego-mind. It is our inherent Buddha nature or awakened essence that is reclaiming our mind bit by bit, which is why it's a process, or a practice.
In most Buddhist schools, we aren't relying upon a savior to pull us out of the muddy waters of samsara, (the world) and into the clear light of wakefulness, which infuses into us the ability to live with discomfort without suffering from it. We are aware that no one can do this for us, and that is why it is why its hard work to practice the Dharma. It's not just a matter of saying some prayers and having faith that you'll be saved from suffering:
If you're interested in "meeting the Buddha" and following the spiritual path he described, then there are a few things you should know before you begin. First, Buddhism is primarily a study of mind and a system of training the mind. It is spiritual in nature, not religious. It's goal is self-knowledge, not salvation; freedom, not heaven. It relies on reason and analysis, contemplation and meditation, to transform knowledge about something into knowledge that surpasses understanding. But without your curiosity and questions, there is no path, no journey to be taken, even if you adapt all the forms of the tradition.James: We know that if we are to free ourselves from our situation that we have to lead the charge of the rebellion ourselves. We already tried putting the fate of our situation into the hands of another only to see it not come to pass, and while there are plenty of people along the route to walk with us and help us for a time; no one can do the final accent but ourselves. And while such an epiphany can be daunting it is refreshing to know that it has been done before; so why not us? We are just as capable of freeing ourselves as anyone else who has gone before us, but only if we have the courage to follow that rebel within.
It is that voice inside our head, which says, "Something is missing in my life. I am no longer satisfied with what the world tells defines as leading a fulfilling life. I am not happy and want to change my circumstances." This is the rebel within that Dzogchen Penlop teaches in this wonderfully timely book because it is going to take rebellion of the spirit to over-come the chaos of modern life:
On the spiritual path, this rebel is the voice of your own awakened mind. It is the sharp, clear, intelligence that resists the status quo of your confusion and suffering. What is this rebel Buddha like? A trouble-maker of heroic proportions. Rebel buddha is the renegade that gets you to switch your allegiance from sleep to the awakened state. This means you have the power to wake up your dreaming self, the impostor that is pretending to be the real you [...] You are the champion of your own freedom. Ultimately, the misson of the rebel buddha is to instigate a revolution of mind.James: The life of the Buddha was one of rebellion. He rebelled against his father and the luxurious life granted him. He suspected there was more to life than the material pleasure that fulfilled his Earthly needs but left him spiritually hollow inside. He rebelled against the Brahman teachers of his day who told him there was nothing left to discover, spiritually. Still, the rebel inside himself told him that he must push forward, into the unknown. It is the rebels who find freedom because they keep trying to escape their prison of suffering regardless of the set-backs. It is the slaves who simply do not try or assume that there is no point to trying. They are frozen in stone.
All it takes to free oneself from the ropes of doubt that plague them is some wiggling. So, if you have the strength yet to break free once and for all from the confines of suffering then do what you can--wiggle. In other words, take baby steps. Read books like this one, take walks in nature and focus on the details around you. Contemplate on how you are interconnected and benefit from all that beauty around you. Ask and discuss questions that bind you down but don't rely upon any one person too much. Keep searching--always. Don't let others do the thinking for you--question everything.
Let go of expectations. listen to your heart and just be in the moment -- let it all soak into your ropes and soon you will have worked the ropes enough to begin unraveling the emotional bondage. But it takes time. This is the wisdom contained in Rebel Buddha -- So, will you answer the call from your inner-rebel buddha, crying to be unleashed?
The good people at Shambhala have graciously given me an opportunity to giveaway one copy of Rebel Buddha. To make this fair I have decided to draw names from a hat. So, if you're interested, just say so in the comments and I'll include your screen name in the hat. It will be open for a week. So, get your names in by this coming Thursday when I will draw the name of the recipient. Thanks, and good luck!!