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The Buddha

Or, do not mistake the finger pointing at the moon for the moon.

Concepts, or thoughts, are the problem. We think they are the solution, but we are wrong.

This apparently is just a human problem, but it is definitely very much a problem in the modern United States. Call it the Puritan hangover. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, according to the perpetually busy Puritans.

This is false.

Sit still. Quit trying.

Some people are in intolerable situations. They should extricate themselves. If you can help them, do so. Don’t think about it. Just do it.

But if you can take the time to read this, you are mostly likely pretty safe and comfortable. Worry about yourself. Don’t worry about what you have no control over.

Apparently, part of awakening for the Buddha was the total cessation of the senses. The problem with sensation for us regular schmoes is that we put an unnecessary layer of concepts onto our basic perceptions. Then we let ourselves get distracted by the concepts and take them as real when they are just concepts.

Some concepts can be useful. A map is just a concept, an abstract thought about a place, and maps can be very useful.

I hope that what I write functions as a useful map of the Buddhist path. But by some accounts, any map at all is just a distraction from immediate awareness of your Buddha nature. I have no desire to distract anyone from their Buddha nature. I want you to find it. I want everyone to find their Buddha nature.

The history of Buddhism is chock full of stories about people suddenly awakening. It is impossible to predict when it might happen. But these people are always not awake before they awaken. They are often monks whom a senior teacher realizes are ripe for awakening.

Your Buddha nature is always immediately available to you. If I knew the magic phrase that would lead us all to awakening, I would have posted it long ago.

This gets to not self. The complete absence of sense perception is a characteristic of a corpse. When you’re dead, your senses do not operate. But I do not want anyone to die. We know we will all die eventually, but Buddhists do not want to hurry the end.

We just want mistaking of concepts for reality to stop. If you could eliminate the word “breath” in all its permutations from your mind, you would not immediately suffocate. “Breathing” continues whether you name it or not. This is the ultimate proof of not self. All of the basic functions of your body — breathing, circulation of blood, digesting, eliminating, sweating, etc. — typically occur just fine without your attention or thought. Your individual identity as a self is irrelevant.

Beyond the human body, this is even more true of the rest of the universe. The laws of nature, which govern the various chemical elements and their interactions that make up our bodies and our physical lives, need human help or thought even less than our bodies do. Your self is just a thought.

Stop thinking.

Keep meditating, but quit trying.

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Written by

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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