December 09, 2010

What it takes...

December 8th is the day we celebrate the Buddha's Awakening, so some people call it Enlightenment Day, or Bodhi Day.  It has a good feel to it.  It feels high spirited and special the way a birthday feels.  So last night in the Zendo, someone asked an interesting question.  He said if the Buddha had this great enlightenment and became this influential person with a way to overcome suffering, how did he know what to do to get there?

I explained that I felt very strongly that the Buddha didn't know what to do or how to get there.  He had struggled for many years and explored various avenues to try to find an answer to the dilemma of suffering, but his steadfast confidence took him through the difficulties that brought him to the great insight of the Four Noble Truths.  In Buddhism the word "steadfast" really means "faith" so the Buddha had faith in his own Self, faith in the ongoing activity of compassion which propelled him to resolve the problem of suffering.  He had confidence that through effort in the search, he would find an answer.

We have the same ability in our own lives, in our own dilemmas, to find the answer and gain insight into any life problem.  Steadfast confidence in the (big) Self will steer us in the right direction.  Of course, we have to be willing to put immense effort into right focus, right concentration, in order to place ourselves in the yeast that will give rise to insight.  We can't expect that we will just be handed an answer simply because we want one.  Sincere and steadfast effort is called for.  Practicing with steadfast confidence brings us happiness.  Please don't take my word for it.  This is what the Buddhas says.  The Buddha also says, if you want to know about steadfast confidence, please find out for yourself.

In this way, the Buddha was very practical and logical.  All that he learned and experienced is also available to us through our practice.  He clearly taught that we too can experience happiness.