Siddhartha Gautama was said to have lived approximately 500 years B.C. The fine details seem to vary depending on the source, but there seems to be agreement that he was born into a wealthy family. As the story goes, he renounced his life of material wealth and escaped to the wild to become an ascetic. His journey includes both wealth and poverty, pain and pleasure and subjective and objective consciousness. Through direct experience on both sides of dualistic living he fails to find contentment. Eventually he discovered “The Middle Way,” which alchemically brought together both sides of all dualities, and Siddhartha Gautama became the “Awakened One.” You might know him better as the Buddha.
The path of Buddha was a Hero’s Journey. Wikipedia describes the sequence of his life as “birth, maturity, renunciation, search, awakening and liberation, teaching and death.” Interestingly, Buddha is not generally considered to be divine although he is credited as the founder of Buddhism. He followed a path in search of answers and eventually found a boon that was most unexpected. His story was the inspiration for the world religion but the written stories and teachings all came much later after his death.
I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like the path of Buddha is the same sequence we all go through. Have you experienced “seasons” in your life? Any ups and downs? Joseph Campbell’s book is called The Hero with a Thousand Faces because the same story seems to repeat itself across time and culture. Could he have called it The Hero with Eight Billion Faces? Have you ever considered that perhaps there is a Buddha inside you waiting to be awakened? Could it be there are eight billion Buddhas ready to awaken?
Over the last few days, we’ve discussed a few of the blocks that are likely to cause some doubts about this possibility. On the side of humility, we think we are not worthy of becoming a Buddha. On the side of narcissism, we wouldn’t want others to judge us as having an inflated ego. But in discovering “The Middle Way,” Buddha was able to move past these fears of judgment and he followed the light inside of him that was calling. What would happen if you let go of your fears and attachment to your own ego? If you were to sit in stillness and quiet for a few minutes, can you hear the Buddha inside of you calling?
P.S. I’ve mentioned one of my favorite mind-bending movies, The Matrix, several times in this blog. In that movie, Keanu Reeve’s character, Neo, hears his Buddha and he answers the call by joining forces with Morpheus, Trinity and the rest of the gang. But did know that Keanu Reeves also starred in another movie where his answer to the call is even more obvious? Check out the trailer for the 1993 movie, Little Buddha, starring Keanu Reeves as Siddhartha! I’ll be watching this one again this weekend.