Friday, December 29, 2006

No Such Thing as a True Story

I received a small book for Christmas, Awakening Loving Kindness, by Pema Chödrön. One chapter in it is entitled “No Such Thing as a True Story.” She begins by recalling that in Taoism there’s the saying, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the true Tao.” And then explains that another way to say this is, “As soon as you begin to believe in something, then you no longer see anything else.”

Well, now, this is interesting to me. I believe in a lot of things. And so I started thinking before I read another word. Pema Chödrön however took the discourse in another direction.

“Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life. That doesn’t mean that beliefs or ideas or thinking is a problem; the stubborn attitude of having to have things a particular way, grasping on to our beliefs and thoughts, all these cause the problems… You want to have something to hold on to, you want to say, ‘Finally I have found it…’ This is a human thing. But in Buddhism there is a teaching… It says, ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill the Buddha.’ This means that if you can find Buddha and say, ‘It’s this way; Buddha is like this,’ then you had better kill that ‘Buddha’…”

So how does one do this? Pema admits that the approach sounds pretty aggressive. But, she describes it as requiring the ultimate of non-aggression. It requires one to “look ones beliefs straight in the face, honestly and clearly, and then step beyond them. That requires a lot of heart and kindness.”

“When you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha, means that when you see that you’re grasping or clinging to anything whether conventionally it’s called good or bad, make friends with it completely and utterly. In that way it will let go of itself.”

She then tells the story of a god who knew that people love to believe things to be true. So, the god to provide a teaching and have a bit of fun created a large hat. It was brilliant blue on one side and flaming red on the other side. He then walked straight down the middle of a road that had many people working in the fields on either side. All the people stopped work and stared in amazement at the god. Afterwards amidst much talk and excitement, “Did you see the god!!” the people compared stories. It was then they discovered that some thought god wore a blue hat while others were equally convinced that god wore a red hat. Walls were built. Arguments, rock throwing, name calling ensued.

“Then the god appeared again. This time he stood in the middle and turned to the left and then he turned around to the right, and everyone started to laugh.”

May we remember this lesson in the year to come. May we remember it as individuals living amongst our family and friends. May we remember it as a nation as we live in a world increasingly violated by those who believe in God.

And may we also remember these words of Adyashanti:

“…the goal of Buddhism is to create Buddhas, not Buddhists, as the goal of Christianity is to Christs, not Christians.”

I also invite you to click on the picture and read about it. I really like it.