Awaken. . .
We have all heard of Siddhartha Gautama at this point and time Ian our practice and journey. We have heard the stories of his journey, his various attempts at wisdom and his resulting enlightenment. Today I wish to share the story a bit differently.
When Gautama came, it was post Patanjali, but still there were many things. He went from school to school and he pursued eight different forms of samadhi. He saw all of them were wonderful experiences, but it still did not liberate him. In this condition, he started walking as a samana, which is a certain system where their fundamental practice is that they will never ask for food. They do not go in pursuit of food because they want to beat the fundamental instinct of survival.
Samanas used to just walk, never asking for food. But the culture was sensitive. If they saw a spiritual person walking, people would cook at home and run behind him and serve him wherever he was because they knew that he will not ask for food. If you become a samana today, you will walk yourself to death! Those days, people were sensitive to his sadhana and responded, so there were thousands of samanas walking the country. Gautama became a samana. Even if you are not asking for food, you may walk near a town so that food will come. But Gautama took it too seriously and just walked. He became just bones and a bag of skin.
Then he came to a place where there was a river called Niranjana. It was just about eighteen to twenty inches of water and he stepped into it. Halfway down into the river, he did not have the energy to cross. There was a dead branch and he just held onto it. He did not have the strength to take the next step but he is not the kind of man to let go. He held on. We do not know for how long. Maybe it was two minutes. When you are feeling so weak, those two minutes might have looked like many years. Then, as he hung on, he just realized, “What is it that I am striving for? What is it I am wandering the entire country for? Going from school to school, learning this, learning that, what is it that I am looking for?” Then he realized, “There is really nothing. This life is on. All I have to do is just take away the barriers which are not allowing me to experience this.”
When he realized that everything is within him and there is nowhere to search, he suddenly had the energy to take the next step and the next step. He crossed the river and sat down under that now very famous Bodhi tree. It was a full moon night. He sat there with this determination, “Either I must see the ultimate nature of my existence now, or I will sit here and die. I will not open my eyes till I know this.”
Once he made that resolve, to know what is within you, can happen in a moment. When he saw that you do not have to do anything in particular for realization, he was fully enlightened. And the moon was shining. He had not eaten properly for many years. He was a samana for four years and he had gathered five disciples.
These guys thought, “He is real. Because he does not eat, he is really rigid,” and now they saw that he is in some exuberant state and they could see the light on his face. Then they were waiting for him to open his eyes and give the teaching. He opened his eyes, looked at them, smiled and said, “Cook something, let’s eat.” They were totally disappointed. They thought, “He has lost it.” They walked with him for four years when he had nothing but torture, but when he got enlightened, they left him because they wanted to hear something severe. But he said, “Cook something, let’s eat. We have been wasting our time.”
In many ways this story mirrors our own lives, views and perceptions. Maybe, just maybe we need to step back, sit down and enjoy this amazing meal – feeding our hearts, minds and existence.
Peace and Love, Jim