A Buddhist final exam

We can peer into the farthest reaches of space and identify objects and forces of such massive proportion that they’re virtually inconceivable. In the other direction, we can dive into the quantum world, an unfathomable, infinitesimal realm that contains the very building blocks of matter. Science has identified our present place in the universe: right smack in the middle.

We appear to exist simultaneously in multiple, overlapping and non-obstructing realms, quantum, analog, animal, human and imaginary, to list just a few. And as if this were not enough to keep track of, the entire universe is happening in real time.

A life-threatening pandemic is alarming, but this moment can be placed under the category of a Buddhist final exam, which is to say, have we simply heard, intellectually absorbed or fully realized the teachings? It’s not like the truth of our situation has been hidden from us; the Heart Sutra (The Sutra of the Heart of Transcendent Knowledge) spells it out loud and clear:

            “There is no birth and no cessation. There is no purity and no impurity. There is no increase or decrease….No suffering, no origin of suffering, no cessation of suffering, no  path, no wisdom, no attainment and no non-attainment.”

In other words, “Relax. It’s what it is, baby!” “It” being what Buddhists call “suchness,” or what we might call the ineffable, has caused a great deal of confusion and anguish for human beings, we electro-magnetic-biological information detection, storage and retrieval systems bound together individually and collectively by a powerful emotional matrix.

In contemplating the ineffable, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike have conceived of Heaven, Hell and Gods of various manifestations to allay human anxiety about death and “annihilation.” Zen Buddhists take such contemplations one step farther by koanically declaring that “there is no heaven and you’re already there.”

The Tibetan Buddhist pantheon of dieties includes wrathful ones like Mahakala, a fearsome black-bodied, six-armed monster with three eyes, sharp claws and saber-like teeth surrounded by flames. On Mahakala’s head sits a crown studded with human skulls. Mahakala is the protector of the Dharma, or Buddhist truth, reminding mortals of the reality of their true situation and warning against distraction. In his own way, Donald Trump is the Mahakala of our times – terrible, fearsome and unmasking the terrifying truth of ignorance. Trumpakala?

Each of us are non-eddies in a non-ocean of non-existence, so say Buddhists, who love the paradox of self-negation. But science tells us much the same; A-Bomb inventor Robert Oppenheimer famously saw Shiva, the Hindu god of death, while observing his first nuclear explosion. Theoretical physicists now accept that everything is nothing, and they have the math to prove it! The truth is all around us.

This brings me back to those multiple realms we inhabit, not the least of which is as somewhat persistent wave forms within a universal fabric of overlapping wave forms simultaneously interacting all at once. Jupiter, and I don’t mean the Roman God but the actual planet, is tugging at your heart strings, as are all the other celestial bodies, seen and unseen. Underlying all our doubts and fears is perfect unity.

My defibrillator went off last year and for a second or so I was dead. After that shock, I can report the good news that dead’s ok, very quiet and undisturbed. Try not to worry so much.

2 thoughts on “A Buddhist final exam

  1. We are in the middle like you say. Space and time at very large and very small scales is different than for medium sizers like us. We are encased in mystery.

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