For the dharma to become firsthand knowledge--to feel the "ouch" of it--you have to live intimately with it, hold it up to scrutiny, and let it hold you up to scrutiny. In the end, the ball is always thrown back to you: "Be a lamp unto yourself," say the Buddha. I other words, you must ultimately find the way on your own, by putting your ideas of the truth to the test. Your questions light the way.
from The Right to Ask Questions, by Larry Rosenberg
Sometimes I ask myself, "What does the Playbook look like?"
I ask the sangha the same question.
Someone asked last week if he was doing it right--the practice of meditation, of being a Buddhist, of living in the dharma. I heard his sincerety, and beneath that, the question we all ask: Am I living the way a compassionate, wise, engaged, awakened human being should live in this world? Am I good enough? Am I doing this right?
We discussed the Buddha's 8 Fold Path, and the ethical teachings that came from the 8 Fold Path, and this seemed like a fine place to begin, but ultimately, what needed to be said was this: Buddhism is about radical acceptance of self and others, and in the process of acceptance, of equanimity, one finds a path to relieving suffering everywhere.
One finds the Way of the Bodhisattva.
Avalokiteshvara had a Playbook and followed it to the letter like a good fledgling Bodhisattva, but after he had saved all sentient beings, the Buddha Amitabha said, "But Avalokiteshvara, look behind you."
There, as he turned, he saw suffering beings in all directions, even though he had saved millions already with his teachings.
Realizing he had done nothing more than stoke his own ego, and utterly dismayed by his failure, Avalokiteshvara exploded into a million pieces.
Amitabha, taking pity, rebuilt the Bodhisattva: a thousand heads full of wisdom, a thousands eyes to gaze compassionately, a thousand arms to readily embrace all suffering.
In effect, Avalokiteshvara threw away the Playbook and responded from the True Self, where every action is pure compassion.
And along the way, he became a Buddha of Boundless Light and Compassion. Not bad!
What does your Playbook look like? Does it consist of self-recrimination, of must-dos and must-haves?
Does it look like a Superbowl Playbook, with offensive and defensive moves tightly diagrammed? And who exactly is that calling the plays? Does it sound like an angry coach screaming from the sidelines? Or a sacrine-sweet lullaby keeping us sleepy eyed and delusional?
What if we bow lovingly to the Playbook and then throw it out the window? What are we left with? What does enlightened action look like when the dharma flows like an inhalation and an exhalation?
In awakening, the Playbook is written and destroyed with each breath. Terrifyingly simple.
Truly, "Be a lamp unto yourself."