Friday, October 14, 2011

Study Hall

I have been enjoying Rebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop, which Renee lent me; she is going to be moving up the coast to Seattle to study with him at the end of the year. Here are two sections from early in the book: "When Siddartha left the palace to search for enlightenment, he didn't leave because he had such strong faith in a particular religion, had met a charismatic guru, or had received a calling from God. He didn't leave because he was exchanging one belief system for another, like a Christian who becomes a Hindu, or a Republican who becomes a Democrat. His journey began simply with his desire to know the truth about life's meaning and purpose. He was searching for something without knowing what he was seeking...
The closest thing to a notion of a god in Buddhism is probably the state of enlightenment. But even enlightenment is regarded as a human accomplishment: the development of consciousness to its highest state. The Buddha taught that every human being has the capacity to achieve that level of realization. That's the difference in the approaches of nontheistic and theistic traditions. If I said' 'I want to become God', it would sound crazy or even blasphemous to a theist. It would be considered a very ambitious, very ego-centered thought. But in the Buddhist tradition, we're encouraged to become like Buddha - awakened ones".