The Buddha Didn’t Care

William B. Turner
4 min readFeb 6, 2021

About the lifetime he was living when he awakened after he awakened. Why would he? He knew it was his last one, which is what realizing “the deathless” must mean.

He spent the rest of his life after his awakening teaching incessantly out of compassion for the many people — initially, everyone on the planet but him — who had not realized what he had.

This is an interesting situation anyone who has awakened faces. Arhants, fully awakened persons, are fearless because they know the current, material life is as nothing and they will not be back after they die, so they have no reason to fear death. They will do nothing to speed their deaths, but neither does the prospect of it hold any terror for them.

By definition, the arhants we know about from the time of the Buddha joined in the project of teaching anyone who would listen. There may have been some who just sat around without teaching, but no one bothered to say anything about them, so we don’t know who they were.

Teaching about the Buddha and the path he described, which is actually the important part, offers no particular benefit to an awakened person, who has realized the deathless, because such persons know they will have no future rebirths. Teaching as an awakened person is a pure act of compassion for the purpose of helping other people awaken.

Dear reader, I left off last time — my apologies for the hiatus — explaining how I started meditating regularly at the Shambhala center in the city where I went to law school. I feel compelled to restate my, um, ambivalence, at best, about Shambala, given the very ugly stories of sexual abuse and assault by the Sakyong, the spiritual leader of Shambhala that have emerged in the past two years. I took refuge with a senior teacher in Shambhala in 2005, long before any of that information came to light. I no longer much associate with Shambhala.

But taking the first five levels of Shambhala training, then the four graduate levels, did give me a very strong foundation to my meditation practice. I noticed soon after I started how meditation can take over your life if you let it. I noticed that it felt different to be me, which is kind of hard to explain, but I suppose all persons have a basic feeling tone to their awareness that they usually don’t notice because it is such a basic element of your subjectivity. You will notice it if it changes, as mine did.

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