Today’s article reflects themes that I explored in Was the Buddha a Social Activist?—almost two years ago. Zen Peacemakers January pilgrimage in the Buddha’s footsteps to India and Bernie's teachings reignited in me reflections on the role of the founder of Buddhism in my Buddhist practice. READ FULL ARTICLE.
The Buddha says, Don’t Cry.
The Buddha’s response to his father’s death as portrayed in Thich Nhat Hanh’s biography of the Buddha, Old Path White Clouds, didn’t quite jive with my understanding of my Buddhist practice with regards to death:
The king smiled weakly, but his eyes radiated peace. He closed his eyes and passed from this life. Queen Gotmai and Yasodhara began to cry. The ministers sobbed in grief. The Buddha folded the king’s hands on his chest and then motioned for everyone to stop crying. He told them to follow their breathing… [At the funeral, the Buddha said] “A person who has attained the Way looks on birth, old age, sickness and death with equanimity.”
It is the role of the Bodhisattva to bear witness. The Buddha can stay in the realm of not-knowing, the ream of blissful non-attachment. The Bodhisattva vows to save the world, and therefore to live in the world of attachment, for that is also the world of empathy, passion, and compassion.
At a workshop at Rowe Camp, a participant once asked Bernie if he cries...