An ocean and a raft
Buddhadharma is a raft of practises that ferry the unenlightened across the Ocean of Suffering to the other shore. To enlightenment.
This raft comprises many different practises that individuals have found helpful down the millennia to the present day. Practises such as meditation, mindfulness, chanting, recitation of sutras, visualisation, discussion, devotion and much more.
The buddha himself is quoted as saying that anything that is conducive to enlightenment is Buddhadharma. This gives a very broad and rich cornucopia for beings to utilise, encompassing the spectrum of individual personalities.
So what is this Ocean of Suffering, what do the respective shores represent, metaphorically speaking.
The Ocean of suffering is anything that arises from the belief in a fixed and separate self. The near shore is the perspective of the individual, separate and apart, a self, the ego. The far shore is a tiny shift in perception, a shift brought about through seeing through the illusory nature of the self, the ego. A recognition that there isn’t some thing separate and apart that acts as a watcher, a controller. It is a recognition that ‘life’ is just happening by itself. Life just life-ing.
Recognition of the impersonal nature of all phenomena liberates us from the Oceans of Suffering that arise from the erroneous belief in a separate self and all the actions that go to support that belief. In letting go of the story of me, mine and I we enter into harmony with all of life, life as an infinite process. An infinite, impersonal, process.
Although a tiny shift in perspective, this ‘tiny shift’ has huge ramifications. Maybe we resist the truth, maybe we cannot imagine how to be without a view of self to stand upon, without a point of reference from which to make sense of experience.
Joseph Campbell is quoted as saying “we must first give up the life we want, to live the life we have”.
Only in surrendering our likes and dislikes can we come into actual experience. Letting go of the fantasies and thoughts about the past and future and being with what is real in the here and now, moment by moment.
Does one need to practise ethics to realise this shift in perspective? Possibly not, but it will definitely help. Does one need to formally meditate to realise this shift in perspective? No! But one needs a meditative mind. Does one need to hear the truth in order to realise this shift in perspective? Almost always!
Does one need the raft of Buddhadharma? Absolutely
Principal Buddhadharma doesn’t concern itself with the existence or non existence of God. Nor does it try to explain the origins of life, the universe and everything. It is simply a path and a raft, leading to and a support for, the journey towards the release from suffering.