From the workbook for the upcoming
"Meditation for Busy People" Workshop Saturday 30 August 1-4pm. For more information, click here...
What if Buddha never left home? Could he have become the Buddha?
Can we become our true selves in the midst of our wonderfully messy, sometimes crazy, responsibility and relationship filled lives?
Do you know the Buddha's story? The Buddha is often credited – accurately or not - as the first person to use seated meditation as the path to enlightenment.
The Buddha, so the story goes, was a nobleman's son and was raised not only in the lap of luxury, but his dad went one better: he didn't want his son's vision of the world to include old age, suffering and death – the unavoidable consequences of living. Siddhartha Gautama (SG, for short), we are given to believe, grew up in a sanitized version of the world his parents (and everyone else) inhabited.
One day one of his advisors took him outside the palace walls where he first saw an old person, a suffering person and a corpse. This shook him to his core. He knew he was to replace his father as the ruler and now he had a whole set of problems he'd never considered.
By this time, he had married and had a child. But the realization of suffering in the world shook him so deeply he left it all behind, seeking the solution.
<cue scratching record sound!>
So you're telling me this guy makes it to adulthood without ever encountering suffering, as unlikely as that is, and when he discovers it, he doesn't go home and wrap his family in his arms, he leaves!
Yep. His responsibility included the entire kingdom, so he concluded that he must go abroad to seek a solution to suffering for everyone. At least that's the most charitable read on the situation I can come up with.
This set up has always troubled me for a number of reasons. The reason that's most important here is the implication for modern day, regular folk like you and me - “householders,” in the jargon of spirituality. Are we out of luck? Do you have to leave home, become a monk or give up work and family life to find peace and the resolution of suffering?
What if the Buddha never left home?
Would he have become the Buddha? ...