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Thread: Thinking you have to be Buddha

  1. #1

    Thinking you have to be Buddha

    I have this thing come up now and then. "I have to be Buddha." Whatever that means. It's a grand idea. Not the kind that's ordinary, but the kind that's Grand. It's scary and also a load of crock. Be yourself would probably be better. We can do all kinds of stuff. Be kind, help out, but we don't have to be "Buddha" with a big B.

    That stuff scares the S*** outta me.

    But that's another stone on the path.


  2. #2

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    Be yourself would probably be better. We can do all kinds of stuff. Be kind, help out, but we don't have to be "Buddha" with a big B.
    Sounds like kind, helping Buddha. Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Hi Will,

    One of my teachers used to say: "just go about your business, live and sit and let Buddha do the job". And as you know better than anybody else, being yourself is exactly it. It is funny to see how all this craving and desiring creeps into my buddhist practice. I just dismiss it.



  4. #4

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken..."
    -Oscar Wilde


  5. #5

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Well i'd guess this mindset stems from not accepting ourselves. Another mind trick, another goal. "I have to be like this, because that's how I feel we should all be."

    I remember hearing in the past month the idea that we are improving everytime we sit zazen. Someone cool said that ( like Jundo,Taigu or Dogen I believe).

    Feelings of inadequacy are just focusing on what we don't have.

    If we are all Buddha ( even if lacking in realization) then is there something to become or act like in the first place?

    I get stuck in this from time to time "I can do more", " I should do more" , " I shouldn't act this way or that way" , "I am not going to get frustrated today." ..all totally normal I believe.

    Lately I just remind myself to take a deep breath and let it all go. Sometimes I'm in the same spot as before the breath sometimes I just find that compassion and kindness or more dilligent work effort just flows when I'm not thinking or resisting or encouraging.

    But that's just me.

    Dave _/_

  6. #6

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    we are improving everytime we sit zazen
    Well, we're definitely sitting Zazen. As far as improving... no need. That can also become another story. So improvement without improving

    I believe that quote is related to gates that we pass through every time we sit Zazen (can't remember exactly). Another is "1 day of sitting is 1 day of Buddha. 30 years of sitting, is 30 years of Buddha.


  7. #7

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    You know, I had a ridiculous thought occur to me recently and it reminded me of this thread.
    I felt it might be cathartic to write it out here. Sometimes articulating our thoughts by jotting them down can help us be more mindful of what's going on in that three-pound lump of meat between our ears!

    So it's popped into my brain that I have this desire to "master" Zen practice before I die.
    Very similar to the "thinking you have to be Buddha" occurrence, I think.
    After all, that's what I'm doing with all the meditating and the studying and the mindfulness, right? Trying to be a "Zen master"?
    (I'm being rhetorical; bear with me...)

    For some reason, I (and thus all sentient beings) get caught up with the need to "get it right" which includes reading every known book on Zen, sewing a kesa from menstrual rags, joining a monastery and learning fluent Japanese. (OK, that's sarcasm but you get my point I hope: I want to be "good at Zen"; whatever the heck that means...)

    Then, REALITY CHECK: I'm a 40 year old orthodontist who's married and has three kids! I'm Caucasian and I speak English.
    I need to be the orthodontist/husband/dad Buddha. The "master" of THAT Zen; not some other fantastical story.
    Running off to a totally different life, be it studying at a Zen center or getting a private detective's credentials is NOT "the way".

    I think it all stems from the same place. We want to be "perfect" and get it all right, which is a fine aspiration but the important thing is to remember that:
    a) You will NEVER be perfect, nor will you know EVERYTHING or "achieve/acquire" enlightenment
    b) You are ALREADY perfect, know everything you need to and are ALREADY enlightened.
    BOTH are true statements.

    One of the Buddha's "fetters" that tie us to suffering is s?labbata-par?m?so or attachment to rites or rituals.
    I think sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of whatever Buddhist practice we decide to pursue and then we begin to confuse the "finger" with the "moon" (you know the old saw).

    But the beautiful thing about Zen is that it's supposed to remove that fetter!

    Nishijima: "You can't recognize your own enlightenment"
    Nan-yueh: "How can you become a Buddha by sitting zazen or make a mirror by polishing an old tile with a rock?"
    Suzuki Roshi: "A Zen master suffers in exactly the same way as his students! If he didn't, I don't think he would be any good..."

    What all these items say to me (in different ways) is that it doesn't matter if you are an orthodontist, a private detective or the abbot of a Zen temple.
    You are perfectly as you are supposed to be and it's only your noodle that tells you any different.
    It is the action of polishing the tile or being the orthodontist or sitting zazen that is "creating the Buddha".
    The orthodontist that becomes the Buddha is the orthodontist who becomes himself.

    Here's what I found in Dogen's "Bendowa" about being a lay practitioner:
    Those who think that worldly affairs hinder the Buddha-Dharma only know that there is no Buddha-Dharma in the world; they do not know that there are no worldly dharmas in the state of Buddha. Recently in great Song [China] there was [a man] called Minister Hy? (Ch. Feng), a high-ranking official who was accomplished in the Patriarch’s truth. In his later years he made a poem in which he expressed himself as follows:
    When official business allows, I like to sit in zazen.
    I have seldom slept with my side touching a bed.
    Though I have now become prime minister,
    My fame as a veteran practitioner has spread across the four seas...
    So you can be a "veteran practitioner" and a prime minister (or private dick or orthodontist or policeman or whatever...)
    Within the Buddha-Dharma, there are no "worldly ways".

    I don't have to run off and be a Zen monk somewhere and become a spiritual ascetic. You don't have to "become Buddha". Someone already did that. His name was Gotama. I can trust that he plumbed the depths of that avenue already and I don't need to re-invent that particular wheel. (Get it? Wheel? HA! Buddhist humor; go figure...)
    This is what it means (to me) to take refuge in the Buddha.

    I can remind myself that being aware of the desire to be perfect or in "full control" is in itself an enlightened activity!
    This is what it means (to me) to take refuge in the Dharma.

    I can also remind myself that we are ALL of us dealing with the same situation in life. We are struggling to find perfection in our imperfection, to seek acceptance without acceptance, to bow to what is instead of what it "should be".
    We can be happy to share this experience with all sentient beings.
    This is what it means (to me) to take refuge in the Sangha.

    Well, that's my take on it anyway! Sorry if it's wordy.

    Mainly I wanted to say "Hey, Will; you're not alone, amigo!"
    Taigu is spot on: just dismiss it. It's another in an endless series of desires.


  8. #8

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Nice post Kliff.


  9. #9

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    nice posts and thoughts all! Thank you.

    Gassho Shohei

  10. #10

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Thank you for answering your own questions, Kliff.

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #11

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Around every corner this practice pops up. Ask me about it and I won't have a clue. I guess it's this. I guess it's that. Don't know. But the crazy thing is: practice and practice and practice and practice and ...


  12. #12

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Beautiful post Kliff.
    nothing to add



  13. #13

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Thanks everyone for such great posts.

    Kliff, I found your description of the refuges to be refreshing and lovely.

    Gassho, Jean

  14. #14

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Great post Kliff,

    More than once I have come here to find someone has just written about what has been on my mind. Here it is again. I have been thinking lately, "I'm not doing this right.", "This isn't like it was before."... but I've been reminded that it couldn't be any other way and it will never be like it was before. Am I doing "it" right? Well, I'm doing the best I can with what I have. What more could I possibly do? And so, I find a deep breath and a setting aside of distractions is often a good distraction from distractions. But I think just the recognition of distractions as distractions is also very helpful; it seems as though they come and go in disguise!


  15. #15
    Member Martin's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Wherever the next mediation is. Every now and then I make it back to Norfolk, England.

    Re: Thinking you have to be Buddha

    Thank you for that post, Kliff.

    Like you, I'm very prone to the voice that says that I should "master" Zen, or at least get "better" at it, and that sees being a Dad, husband and Mediator as things that rather get in the way of that. Whereas, actually, I can just be the Dad, husband, and Mediator. And maybe find time to sit more. And let the "mastering" and the being "better" go.



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