Friday, April 9, 2010


In yesterday's blog I said that the Buddha "returned to himself" during his meditation toward enlightenment. However, it was pointed out to me by an astute fellow Dharma traveler that one thing the Buddha discovered during his meditation under the Bodhi Tree was that there is no self. If so, then how could he return to himself?

We use terms like "himself" as short hand. It would take a long time to write out "the being who sat beneath the pippala tree." Of course, in all of the things the Buddha found on this journey, the one thing he did not encounter was a permanent self. He would have had the insight that, since there is no self, and all things are made up of interdependently co-arising causes and conditions, then there was no self to abandon, and no one to do the abandoning. No doubt this would have eased his suffering immensely.

So when it is said that he returned to himself, it was a return this original and essential place of being.
Beneath the pippala tree, the hermit Guatama focused all his formidable powers of concentration to look deeply at this body. He saw that each cell of his body was like a drop of water in an endlessly flowing river of birth, existence, and death, and he could not find anything in the body that remained unchanged or that could be said to contain a separate self. Intermingled with the river of his body was the river of feelings in which every feeling was a drop fo water...Some feelings were pleasant, some unpleasant, and some neutral, but all of his feelings were impermanent: they appeared and disappeared just like the cells of his body. (From Old Path, White Clouds:Walking In the Footsteps of the Buddha, by Thich Nhat Hanh, p. 114.)


1 comment:

  1. Ah, like so much in life, it comes down to language trying to capture what can't be captured......