Hindus use the term avatar to designate the incarnation of a deity in human form. In Simple Reality there are no anthropomorphic gods or supernatural beings separate from the rest of Creation. Therefore, it could be said that we are all avatars or embodiments of the creative impulse of the Implicate Order. In that sense, we all possess “Buddha-hood” or “Christ Consciousness.”
There have been many phenomenal people who throughout history have accomplished remarkable things but there are two who stand out whose accomplishments have mesmerized their fellow human beings. By mesmerized we mean that these two individuals had an aura, so distinctive that people asked them, not Who are you? But What are you? These two people were Jesus “the Christ” (from Christos, the Anointed One) and Buddha. Buddha responded “I am awake” and his reply derived from the Sanskrit root budh meaning both to “wake up” and “to know,” hence his title Buddha means the Awakened One or the Enlightened One.
We could also describe these two individuals as charismatic that is to say they had an uncommon energy. As you would expect, we would explain this energy as P-A energy and that these two individuals were simply “present,” that is to say, they had shifted from P-B to P-A. They had stopped the constant reaction that characterizes most of our lives and found themselves in their “natural” state—the Now.
If we look at these two individuals from within the context of P-B they represent an interesting contrast between the Western version of P-B and the Eastern version of the fundamental human narrative. Both were teachers who sought to challenge P-B and both advocated a new story for humanity which they knew would drive a new identity for humanity and a resultant change in behavior. They each had a different approach to achieving their goal which was appropriate for their respective cultures and their contrasting personalities. Following are the some of the principles and the practices that distinguish these two remarkable teachers and also what they had in common.
Buddha-Insight at Bodh Gaya
(False-self energy centers)
It is very important to understand that humanity today for the most part does not understand their profound message. Each of these two men is seen as a founder of two of the world’s great religions and yet both were opposed to that happening. They each knew that if their all important teaching became lost in a cult of personality they would be elevated to the status of divine religious beings. Concerning Buddha, there were attempts during his lifetime to turn him into a god. “He rebuffed all these categorically, insisting that he was human in every respect.” He was candid about his own human failings and about the difficulty of attaining enlightenment. This humanness no doubt made him more accessible and influential among his followers.
When an extraordinary human achievement (a paradigm shift) occurs and that person is elevated beyond the ordinary human experience the exact opposite of what each of these compassionate men had hoped to achieve occurs. They became not the “wonderful example” of what we as human beings can all achieve but the “great exception” which then seems beyond our ability to emulate. The very religions based on their teachings then are less effective in becoming supportive environments in which “heaven on earth” or “nirvana” can be achieved. Their teachings become absorbed in and distorted by P-B and humanity becomes disempowered and confused rather than encouraged by what they demonstrated.
Hiroyuki Itsuki in his book Tariki: Embracing Despair, Discovering Power “describes the historical Buddha as initially the ultimate negative thinker. He abandoned the life of princely luxury at the age of twenty-nine in his spiritual quest and—after attaining enlightenment—taught the four noble truths, asserting that [at] the outset we have no control over our birth, old age, illness or death. He spread his teaching for forty-five years all over northern India and passed away under the twin sala trees with a smile on his face and said, ‘The world is wonderful.’ This Buddha, Itsuki posits, was the ultimate positive thinker. In practical terms the ultimate negative thinker lives without expectations.To have a supple, flexible mind means to affirm both hope and despair, success and failure, feeling the anxiety and the joy of living, all of which are necessary for us to become truly human, to celebrate the strength to live, feel the joy of life, and experience ‘a sense of peace even though one still endures suffering and anxiety.’”
The Buddha shifted to P-A and, thereby being present, was able to choose response over reaction, intuitively understanding the Point of Power Practice. His life had become a meditation on the nature of reality. He demonstrated that enlightenment is experiencing the perfection of the Now.
“Letting the [present] moment take over is the practice of great honesty. To let the moment take over, you have to have great confidence in your true nature; the Buddha within you. When you find the Buddha within, everything is celebration. You will be able to see everything outside of yourself as the expression of the Buddha within. If something appears wrathful, it is understood as the expression of the Buddha within. If something appears peaceful, it is understood as the expression of the Buddha within. After all, everything is the expression of the Buddha within. Therefore, everything is your creation. Your creation is everything.”
Shyalpa Rinpoche has just described our identity in P-A. He is also acknowledging that we create our own reality by projecting that identity onto the world of form. You can then see how important it is to have a wholesome identity, an identity in alignment with reality—in short an identity that is defined by a sustainable narrative—an identity that is first and foremost an expression of compassion.
We can see Buddha as the founder of psychology, the science of the human mind. He understood that the chief barrier to our natural state was the reactivity of the mind, the illusion that we are contained in the P-B narrative. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche says that: “All the teachings of the Buddha exist for the purpose of developing the penetrating knowledge that sees through this illusion and wakes us up. It is important to realize that these teachings do not constitute a religion in the conventional sense. Rather they represent a genuine science of mind, a science of insight that uncovers the pure nature of the mind and world that we experience. They also portray a philosophy of life, a way to live life, which deals with its meaning and helps us understand how we can overcome the suffering of the world.”
We have all heard that the essence of the Buddha’s teaching is the Four Noble Truths. In the contemporary language of Peter Russell, they could be stated thusly:
- We all experience suffering in one way or another—mental, physical, emotional or spiritual.
- We create our own suffering. It is a consequence of our cravings and aversion of our desiring things to be other than they are.
- It need not be this way. We have a choice as to how we perceive the world and live our lives.
- There are systematic ways to go about changing how we think and perceive.
We can also describe the Four Noble Truths in this way:
- As individuals or in collectives we are living in an unsustainable way in P-B. We are self-destructing on this planet.
- The cause of this suffering or the source of this self-destructive energy is the context, narrative, paradigm or worldview (P-B) within which humanity derives its identity. We must change our beliefs, attitudes, values and reduce our emotional reactions.
- The way out of this self-made hell is to shift to a paradigm contained in the context of the present moment (the Now) which also will result in a new identity.
- The way to measure if we have done this is to experience the distinction between feeling and emotions, intuition and intellect, and response and reaction. Compassion, peace, joy, and freedom and in religious terms—heaven—only exist in the Now. The ego, the “I,” suffering, hell, original sin, the shadow, neurosis, and existential fear cannot enter the Now because they do not exist. Only the timeless, the true reality, Simple Reality exists.
The shift from P-B to P-A is difficult only in the sense that we must overcome the enormous inertia of our survival strategy conditioning, the collective unconscious, and other elements of our conscious and unconscious nature. We must come to “feel” the nature of reality and not get trapped by the need of our false self to have everything be “logical” in the P-B sense. The conventional logic of the intellect can be transcended and a much deeper more profound understanding of reality can be achieved.
One of the most radical truths which Buddha taught and which challenged the old and illusional logic is the absence of a separate self, an “I” or “me.” “‘I,’ is impermanent in nature and does not exist inherently; it is empty of any true, solid existence. Therefore, in his first teachings on emptiness, Buddha taught the nonexistence of a personal self or individual ego on the ultimate level. Therefore, without realizing egolessness, there is no way one can achieve any degree of freedom, but all phenomena are empty as well. This means that the totality of our experience—both subjective and objective—is empty of true existence. All living experiences—from our thoughts, emotions, and perceptions to the appearances of external forms and events—have no solid basis in ultimate reality.” Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche has helped us understand that in the context of P-A, there is a wonderful freedom that comes with no longer identifying with the personal ego (including mind, body and emotions) when it is automatically felt and understood. Again, it is not difficult, just very different—very unfamiliar.
When we say that shifting to the present moment is not difficult we know that many of you will not believe us because the P-B story tells us that all worthwhile attainments in P-B require great effort over time and often require much knowledge. Buddha also fell into this trap and had to learn the hard way that P-A is our natural state and when we stop all of the having, doing and knowing—striving for security, sensation and power—we will find ourselves in the Now. “For some years before his enlightenment night, Buddha tried all sorts of extreme practices. He meditated on bliss, peace, and happiness. When this did not produce the lasting change he sought, he meditated on spaciousness, consciousness, nothingness, and on a state called neither-perception-nor-non-perception.
“When none of these profound trances helped, he tried ascetic practices. He stood on one foot in a lake with water up to his neck for days at time. He tried cow practice and dog practice—not speaking or bathing, and eating, sleeping, behaving, and vocalizing as if he were a cow or a dog. Next he tried hardly eating at all, till gradually he got down to one sesame seed a day. When none of these worked, he gave them up too.” Buddha tried the practices described by Zoketsu Norman Fisher and many more over a period of six years. And, of course, when he gave them up he stopped reacting, relaxed, breathed and responded to the reality of the present moment. It is not any more difficult than that.
References and notes are available for this article.
Also find a much more in-depth discussion of Simple Reality
on this blog and in published books by Roy Charles Henry.