Posted by: madhyama | March 11, 2010

Encountering the Unstaged Reality

The legend of the Buddha’s life is a template for how the middle way evolves and develops.  The event which propels Prince Siddhartha, the future Buddha, to leave his home is his (maybe accidental) crossing of paths with people who are sick, people who are old and feeble, and people who are grieving a death.  Up to this point Siddhartha’s life was, by decree of his father, carefully groomed to be free of any signs of suffering or unpleasantness.  The impact of encountering disease, old age and death was very strong, and the compelling mystery of it moved Siddhartha to take the first step on the Buddhist path, leaving home.  This is the template for a monk’s career, but there is an analogous scenario for the lay meditator, for we deliberately eschew the familiarity of our habit-body and thus offer a venue for even the most timorous of our potentialities to present itself.

We are capable of staging our outlook, our beliefs, our very reality so that we never need recognize the suffering around us or concealed within us.  Spiritual practice begins when this groomed, or staged reality is seen past; this gives us the courage to step outside our comfort zone – to leave home.

This talk was given at Queenswood on June 14, 2009.  It is rather long, some 32 minutes and also includes a fairly good zazen instruction for the benefit of a couple of first timers who were in the audience that day.


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