A recent episode of the Colbert Report featured Benjamin Crème, leader of the religious group, Shared International. Crème proclaimed that author Raj Patel was the second coming of the Buddha, calling him a Messiah. This remark reflects a common misconception, not only of the Buddha, but perhaps, spiritual practices in general: spiritual enlightenment is reserved for the chosen, leaving everyone else to follow.
Buddha means “awakened one,” to have awareness to the true nature of life. Shakymuni Buddha, the original Buddha, was a mortal being who became enlightened through spiritual practices. His teachings were recorded in numerous sutras; his highest teaching is the Lotus Sutra.
The Lotus Sutra states: “meditation on the truth that immeasurable meanings derive from the Law” and “The wisdom of the Buddha is infinitely profound and immeasurable.”
Buddhist scholar, and Soka Gakki President, Daisaku Ikeda, writes: “That this Law, from which immeasurable meanings derive is the foundation of all teachings…by believing in and embracing the Mystic Law, we can acquire the Buddha’s infinite wisdom.”
Shakymuni spent most of his life spreading his teachings, trying to teach others what he came to understand himself-that there is a single law of life, from which all of life expresses itself, and that this law also exists within the depths of every person, that there was no distinction between the Law, a Buddha, and an ordinary person, other than that an ordinary person is unaware that he or she possesses this enlightened nature.
Ikeda states that to gain access to this fundamental law of the universe requires faith.
Other Buddhist teachers have written that Buddhism is a vast ocean that can be entered by faith alone. Because the wisdom of the Buddha is infinitely profound, we cannot grasp it with the intellect.
Ikeda writes: “In Buddhism, faith means a pure heart, a flexible spirit, and an open mind. Faith is the function of human life to dispel the dark clouds of doubt, anxiety, and regret, and sincerely open and direct one’s heart toward something great.”
Through strong faith, and full engagement in all aspects of daily life, Buddhist practice allows a person to connect with the infinite wisdom of the Mystic Law, resulting in the creation of value and happiness for one’s self and other. Becoming a Buddha is a birth right for all people. In Buddhism, there are no chosen ones.
The SGI Phoenix Culture Center offers Buddhism 101 meetings, providing visitors with an introduction to Buddhist practice. You can contact them at (602) 861-1313.
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If you have questions or comments about Buddhism, contact me at Chant2win@yahoo.com