Saturday, September 07, 2013
How much did Buddha charge?
Recently, I saw an ad for a meetup here in my area, which promised to give you a method for instant enlightenment. In order to receive this practice, you were required to
"take refuge" in a certain rimpoche of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. In order to take
this "refuge" you must pay a fee of $20.00. This assessment led me to wonder, "How much did Buddha (or Jesus) charge for their services?" And, if spiritual teachers demand monetary compensation for their wisdom and "transmissions," what are the latter really worth? Are these authentic teachings, or merely another commercial ploy?
As for instant enlightenment, I do not personally know anyone who would claim enlightenment as a permanent state. I agree with what a friend of mine said the other day,"You may experience a brief enlightenment state, but it doesn't last. You come back and discover that you are the same old flawed being (nerd) you were before."
The practice that was promoted on the announcement was called "Phowa"--this may be a very powerful technique, but somehow I doubt that this or any technique can produce "instant enlightenment."
The road to "enlightenment" is rough and rocky. It contains many shocks and setbacks, many steps forward followed by many reverses. This mountain is not for the shallow aspirant or the faint of heart. Much of it you must climb on your hands and knees. To claim otherwise is, in my view, "false advertising." My advice is hang onto your $20 (or whatever fee is demanded) and continue your progress in a humble, serious way.
Graces will come, but perhaps in small increments--and even if you should experience the "lightening stroke of awakening," do not imagine that you have reached a permanent condition. You may have been granted a glimpse of the ultimate, and that glimpse may include the bliss of Kundalini as well as the profound awareness of how little, after all, our "ego selves" matter in this world, even though, for the moment, you are granted the rapture of knowing that your spirit and the divine are one. Be grateful for what has been given, but do not swell with pride on what may, after all, be ephemeral, not permanent.
AND EVEN THEN
And if, say, one day
you reach the summit of the holy mount
and are there shattered utterly by light,
you must go on
not like a saint spiraling upward,
delicate feet barely tracing
invisible arcs of air,
but back once more
at the granite foot,
the rubbled start of it all
where you join again the struggling band,
pilgrims climbing together
on hands and knees.
from A Cloth of Fine Gold, Poems of the Inner Journey