It’s also true that whatever motivates us when we look to religion to find out if it can answer the deepest questions in our heart, is essentially the same search the Buddha undertook when he left his father’s palace, and adopted the life of a homeless seeker of truth. He didn’t, like many of us have, an assumption or concept of what enlightenment was, he was just desperate to find some comfort for the anguish he had experienced when he saw the suffering of old age, disease and death which all beings are subject to. Realizing the inevitability of death – his own and that of all beings – as well as the inescapable pain and sorrow which all beings encounter, shook him to the core of his being, and he had to try and do something about it.
In some ways that’s a more advantageous position to start from. He didn’t know what he was looking for, but he felt there had to be something. We usually learn that there is something to seek, and read or hear descriptions of it which colour our understanding of what we’re aiming for, and which usually don’t match that well with what we find, for ultimately no words can really encapsulate it. Having something to look for means we’re not really making a journey into the unknown, not really letting go and giving up everything. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be successful of course – the opposite is in fact true. Just that the fulfilment of the bodhicitta generally doesn’t progress in quite the way we anticipate.
Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting Rev. Roland’s words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.