Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Force of the Buddha

"Alas, how unfortunate it is that we do not feel the pangs of ignorance and a lack of peace within us with the same force that we feel the pangs of physical hunger and thirst."  

At the surface level, these three forces: the Journalist, the Magician and the Common man are vying for power. There is a constant tussle between the Journalist, Magician and the Common Man. We are all sucked into the political, financial and social happenings around us by these three forces interacting.

But there is also, an easy to ignore, fourth force. That is the Force of the Buddha.

The Buddha sits at the bottom of the ocean where all is still. All the waves of conflict between the Journalist, the Magician and the Common Man is at the surface of the ocean. The Buddha sits at the bottom and simply watches the interplay between the Magician, the Journalist and the Common man, undisturbed. The Magician preaches a life of luxury to the Common Man. The Journalist preaches the life of ascetism and sacrifice "for the greater good" to the Common Man. And the Buddha? He preaches the "middle path" between all of them. The middle path can be visualized as the bottom center of the container below.

Visualize the top of the container above in this way, if you are directly above and looking down into the container.

The top of the container is where the Magician, the Journalist and the Common Man are locked  in dynamic interaction with each other. All three are projecting their inner drama into the external world and then reacting to that self-fulfilling prophecy. The Buddha is not reacting to the waves created by any of these three forces. The Buddha is in touch with his own inner center of gravity. He simply smiles and sees the other forces for what they are. He is aware of the changes happening within himself and is in equilibrium within himself. He watches the interaction of forces at the surface level of the world with detachment. The Magician's tricks, the Journalist's social moralizing and the Common Man's malaise do not reach the Buddha. He is too confident of his grasp of a deeper reality to be sucked into the superficial drama between these three forces.

The Buddha recommends rejuvenating yourself at the bottom of the bowl, far away from surface level distractions. And once rejuvenated, to come back up to the surface and play your part in society. That is the middle path. Simply living at the surface level is the Path of Luxury, and leads to burn-out and chaos. And simply living at the bottom of the bowl is the Path of Ascetism, and is physically and practically unsustainable. The Buddha recommends bobbing up and down between the surface and the bottom of the bowl in keeping a healthy dynamic balance.

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