Lama Jigme Gyatso
Reverse Engineering the Buddha's Teachings
Imagine being told
in the innocence and idealism of your youth
that there was a secret Buddhism
taught not in books
but passed down orally.
A whispered tradition
from mouth to ear
that promised a quicker path to enlightenment
than that which was commonly taught
But the price to receive
such arcane and secret teachings
was obedience, and subservience, and
Imagine that in your innocence and idealism
you paid that price
willingly, and gladly, and enthusiastically.
Imagine that in the fullness of time
after years of asceticism, and study, and practice
you received all your teacher’s instructions
only to learn that they really weren’t so secret
and were readily available in books
(though highly figurative,
as if coded)
and the path they revealed
was no faster than the original,
though seldom practiced,
teachings of the Buddha
but were actually slower
with their own set of pit falls,
and side paths,
and tiger traps.
Imagine following this path
full time, for decades:
begging and scraping,
receiving teachings, and texts,
and applying them in numerous three-year retreats
only to eventually see
which your fundamentalist siblings
have clutched at as literal
were actually metaphoric
and that by reverse engineering them
into their original similes
it was as if old doors,
heavy and dusty with disuse
opened before you
revealing a dimension of the teachings
hitherto unimagined by you,
our your fellows,
or your teachers, or by theirs.
Imagine studying, and contemplating,
and applying these teaching
in even more three-year retreats
as if stretching your heart,
and mind, and perception
Although repetition may be
the mother of skill,
it is also the adversary of novelty;
and in time these revelations,
thoroughly studied, and contemplated and applied
could feel obvious, and commonplace,
and comprise one’s daily experience.
to one’s peers
one could no longer
For one’s world view
could no longer be in alignment
and ones behaviors
albeit more empowered, and insightful, and effective,
could no longer congruent with theirs.
intrigue not your former fellows
so much as it does enrage them
for in the rigid, aggressive, fear
different is rapidly confused
with that which is wrong,
and dangerous, and evil.
More than two and a half millennia ago
the Buddha taught
that the test of the instructions
and the test of their teacher
was neither their beauty, nor wealth,
nor popularity, nor orthodoxy,
nor tradition, nor pedigree,
nor peer approval.
The Buddha taught
that the test of the instructions
and their teacher
was NOT how well they harmonized
with one’s preconceptions
but by how (once they were applied,
at last every morning and every evening)…
how dynamically they evolved
one’s body and feelings, and mind, and circumstances
toward the enlightened ideal
of which the Buddha taught and exemplified.
Although this is obscured
by those blinded by the fundamentalism’s
fear, and aggression, and rigidity
it is painfully obvious
to those who traverse true matriarchy’s path
of peace, permissiveness, flexibility as well as spontaneity:
centered, and patient, and compassionate.
Remember the cold welcome
Saul of Tarsus received from his former peers
in the Christian book of Acts
when they proclaimed,
“Your much study, has driven you mad!”
Or when the monk Gautama,
having realized the middle way
was utterly shunned by his five forest fellows.
In Mahayana Sutras one reads
of ten Bo-dhi-sat-tva Bhu-mi or levels.
With great time and effort,
the teachings of the fundamentalistic path of patriarchy
may lead one to the third Bo-dhi-sat-tva Bhu-mi
but certainly no higher.
The only way to pierce,
no less pass,
this glass ceiling of limitation
is to shift cognitive gears:
from patriarchy to matriarchy
from fundamentalism to liberalism
from rigidity to flexibility,
form fear to acceptance,
from anger ro love,
from control to surrender,
from contrivance to spontaneity, and
from scatteredness to centeredness.
This could be a metamorphosis:
frightening, and painful, and unpopular
but is not the death of the well-fed caterpillar
the birth of the beautiful butterfly?
This was the experience of the monk Gautama
on this journey to become the Buddha
when his first master exclamation
that Gautama has mastered all his teachings
left him disapointed, and unfulfilled,
and let down, and dissatisfied.
Who when he sought out a second teacher
received his instructions, contemplated them,
and mastered them
and was again proclaimed by his second teacher
to have mastered the instructions
and have become his master’s peer;
again was disillusioned, and disappointed, and moved on.
For if a true seeker
is to follow the Buddha’s example
(be the Buddha a man of flesh, blood, and bone
or merely archetypical)
than rank, and acceptance, and prestige
are no substitute
for the actual freedom from the tyranny
of our stresses and their causes.
The Buddha kept searching
and intuiting, and contemplating,
until, in the fullness of time
he found techniques and world views
that produced the results
that he longed for.
This is the path of the spiritual hero,
and while it is not common,
it is not singular.
For truth is not the product
of tradition, or popular opinion,
or political expedience.
Truth, like medicine,
is that which works.
It is that which works
despite the outrage
of the minions of orthodoxy.
It is that which enhances
our peace, and love, and wisdom, and joy.
It is that which helps us
to be of service to others.
It is that
which helps us to be
the person our dog
already thinks we are.
This is the path of the Buddha.
This is the path of the great saints.
This is the path of Treasure-revealers
or Terton, if you prefer Tibetan.
It is the path
I have shambled upon
low these many decades.
It is the path
I offer to you.
Buddha’s teachings and
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with a simple
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