Sunday, August 5, 2007

Finding The Path

Teachers are everywhere and will gladly explain every flavor and variety of Buddhism to anyone that asks. Books overflow the shelves and can be purchased, read, reread, and studied countless times. CDs of numerous teachers are for sale everywhere. There are more mp3 files available on the internet than you can listen to in years of trying. The Dharma is everywhere if you look for it.

Yet, none of this is of any more value than looking at a map and reading a guidebook before heading out on vacation. If you never leave home and spend all summer sitting at the kitchen table pouring over guidebooks and maps, you have zero chance of actually experiencing the wonder of having been where you wanted to go. The pictures may be beautiful, the stories amazing, but you can't understand the actual experience of being there without undertaking the trip on your own.

Your first step on the path isn't finding the teacher, book, CD, or mp3. That is simply getting yourself to the front door. The first step on the path is when you open the door, walk out, and close the door behind you. When you commit to making the teachings a part of your everyday life. You are on the path when you come to understand that everything the teachers, books, and cds are telling you only point to what you already have. They provide nothing other than guidance. They aren't teachers as much as mentors. They can tell you what to study and help explain difficult points, but you have to do the work yourself. They can only try to make you open your eyes and see, really, truly see, what is already inside you, what you already have. There is nothing that they can actually give you other than guidance.

The Way isn't something that you learn and know as much as it is something that you learn to be. The Buddha, like a kind old grandfather, told us exactly what we have to do in order to just be. He laid it out in an eight-fold path and said, simply, just do this, and you will wake up. It was his promise to all. And the entrance ramp to that eight-fold path is Right Meditation. Do yourself a favor — find yourself a cushion and spend a part of every day sitting on your butt. It may be the only trip you can go on without leaving the house, but, oh, the beauty you will come to see makes it worth every minute you invest.

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