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Lord Buddha – The Enlightened

Lord BuddhaBuddha is one who has perceived just for himself the reality which is not dependent on ideology, which is not conditioned by memory and tradition, which is not inspired by desire for continuance. But, he is also one who has been able to awaken in others that flame of intelligence which lies dormant and forgotten in everything that is. He does not create a fire of desire, not even a desire to become more, better or perfect. But in kindling the intelligence to perceive what is without distortion, he has opened up the way which leads to nowhere. For, the goal is not in the distant future. And thus, although he is compared to a charioteer and a tamer of the human heart who can guide and steer to final victory, it is clear that the Buddha only gives direction without grace, so that each one for himself has to discover when the day’s work has been done and the burden can be laid down.

Supreme as a guide he does not enforce one way or the other. He is truly a Buddha, that is an enlightened one, a shining light for everyone to see, yet not to follow or adore. Thus, his teaching has come our way and can enlighten our lives, if we care to see, to perceive, to understand. In that sense he is not a teacher on whom the pupil depends; for, there is no salvation through him, no vicarious redemption, no following in blind faith. But in understanding with intelligence which is not conditioned by traditional and repetitional sayings, there follows action which is not aimed at a purpose of achievement- Such action which is not reaction is free and unconditioned. And in that freedom there is deliverance. In that perception there is enlightenment. In that enlightenment there is Buddhahood, where each one for himself can discover the truth as the essence of every moment of living without clinging to the past or craving for the future, where there is no conflict and no “self.”

A Buddhist is one who accepts the doctrine of the Buddha. But it is not so easy to define that doctrine, for there are so many aspects involved, such as the doctrine of karma and rebirth which the Buddha evolved from the existing theory of re-incarnation by giving it a very special character; such as the doctrine of dependent origination which brought enlightenment and Buddhahood to prince Siddhattha as a bodhisatta; such as the ethical doctrine of wholesomeness the doctrine of the middle path, eschewing both extremes of self-indulgence and self-mortification.

But above all there are the three marks, the three marks of distinction: impermanence, conflict, soul-lessness, which are inherent and essential in all, and which are so closely intertwined that they can only be understood together. That things are impermanent is so obvious that we do not need a Buddha to tell us so. But to realise that the conflict within us (dukkha) is due to the non-acceptance of impermanence (anicca) when applied to our own individuality, that is found only in the Buddha’s doctrine that all things are without substance (anatta). It is the realisation of the void of conflict (dukkhe-anatta), which gives impermanence also to conflict, whereby one is set free to be a Buddhist in the perfect sense.

But one cannot become a Buddhist when it is understood that Buddhism is a doctrine of no-more-becoming, of cessation, of freedom and deliverance. As long as there is striving, there is desire; and as long as there is desire, there is ‘self. Only when there is the cessation of becoming (bhava-nirodha) is there the realization of no-self, which is Nibbana

And so Buddhism is not an organized religion which leads people in the practice of worship and faith. It is not a religious organization either, for everything depends on each individual for himself. Instead of salvation through grace, there must be understanding and insight as the basis of action. And in understanding without fear or hope there will be immediate and perfect action which is not a reaction to dogma or tradition, but which is the effect of an intelligence which is fully awake and aware, which is living in the present.

© Copyright 2005 Maithri Publications. This article was donated by Maithri Publications – http://www.maithri.com You may republish this article in any form by crediting the author and source. Please include the web address.

About the Author
Henri Van Zeyst was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1905. Educated throughout in Catholic schools and colleges, he spent his final years of studies in philosophy and theology. An intensive course of comparative religion brought him in contact with Buddhism. Within a year of his coming to Sri Lanka he was ordained a Buddhist monk in 1938 under the name of Bhikkhu Dhammapala.

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