Monday, August 15, 2011

scare-you-to-death invitation

One of the most tantalizing and delicious aspects of Buddhism, a practice I like, is the invitation to "find out for yourself." Especially for those seeking peace that is not dependent on some lay-down-the-law institution or hierarchy, "find out for yourself" is just so refreshing and rebellious and, well, gimme some of that!

And yet what is the first thing that any freshly-minted Buddhist might do when entering the fold? The very first thing is to seek out a set of guideposts that can create a hierarchical institution in the mind. "Buddha said this" or "texts say that" and it's off to the higher-authority racetrack again. I imagine I would like to "find out for myself," but I would like someone else to hold my hand. It's human and to a certain extent sensible... if you want to get to Chicago, it's a good idea to consult a map.

What Buddhism offers that breaks the habit of dependency -- the holy ones, the boss, the spouse, the philosophy, the religion, the whatever -- is a program designed to put individuals on the two feet they already own. To "find out for yourself" may beckon, but the fact of the matter is that finding out for yourself is pretty spooky. If no one told me, what would I know? Ooooooeeeeeeoooo!

Meditation is one tool within the Buddhist program. Nothing happens overnight, but the determined and constant practice of meditation leads to the discovery that what was spooky is just ordinary. The two feet anyone was already standing on are the very feet that allow them to find out for themselves. They aren't Buddhist feet or holy feet or wowsers feet ... they're just feet. Could there ever be any doubt about it?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, that was well said.

    My “find out for myself” experience is that creating “hierarchical institutions in the mind” is not only for “freshly-minted Buddhists”, but includes me, a not-so-freshly minted Buddhist. It seems creating hierarchical institutions is what minds do sometimes. And as you said, “It's human and to a certain extent sensible… ”

    Feets, so your stuff!