That reminded me of my life in the silky land of China...
Once again I was born in India and into a royal family. Now, that was no achievement - nothing to boast about. I thought it was a test, a test for my soul. I thought I had to choose between the wordly kingdom and kinship with the world. And to me then, kinship with the world meant a life of the wandering monk. I made my choice,
and that was a life of wandering monk free of all worldly attachments. I did not realize then that a monk could still have attachments and a king could also be detached.
I remembered receiving invitation from the Emperor of China. He wanted me to instruct both the laymen and monks in what the called "The inner teachings of Buddha". Was there any outer teaching then? Was there any teaching in the first place? I did not know what to make of the invitation. I kept it pending for several months, and the Emperor sent me another invitation, a reminder. I took that as a sign that my river was changing its course from India to China. I packed my "self" , I carried my "soul" and flowed on with the river of my "life".
China was a great country, a country of silk and silk worms. There were warlords who never got tired of war. There were traders and merchants who had no time for anything else beside their trading and their merchandise. And there were monks who lived on charity from both the warlords and the traders, the merchants. They claimed to have a direct link with the King of Heaven, Thian as they called The Supreme Being in their language. They played the role of intermediary between man and God. Requests were made and answers received though them. They also said prayers on behalf of anyone who could pay for such services.
I was speechless... how could they do that in the name of Buddha? In the name of one who came to free humankind from those very superstitions?
In China, Buddha-Awareness was reduced to a mere "religion", just another "Ism". True, Siddharta Gautama, The Awakened One,The Buddha was born in India but Buddha-"ism" was born in China.
During his lifetime, The Awakened One founded no religion. He did not talk of God. He gave no importance of rituals and dogmas and doctrines. He talked about awareness and about ways of becoming aware. Awareness was his definition of God. To him, living consciously meant living in God-Consciousness.
The Emperor, on whose invitation I was in China, boasted about the number of monasteries in his kingdom. He also mentioned the number of monks and places of worship. It was numbers and numbers and numbers. He gave so much importance to numbers, to quantity. He looked to me for approval. Approval of what? What could I say? I made it clear to him that all that outer forms of worship would lead him and his people nowhere.
"Then, what is worship? What is religion? How to attain Buddhahood?" The Emperor had dozens of questions.
"Worship of what, for what? What is Buddha's religion? Does He have one? And what Buddhahood are you talking about, Emperor? Is there anything like Buddhahood? Is it attainable?"
"But, Reverend Monk, you are here to preach the Dharma of Buddha... The Eternal Law of Peace and Harmony thought by the Awakened One." I could feel that the Emperor doubted my sanity. "What Dharma, What Law? What is there to preach anyway?"
"Then what is 'there'" The Emperor was a sweet person, I loved him. And therefore I continued talking to him through a translator.
"Nothing, There is nothing, Emperor. That nothingness is there. And nothingness is not something to be attained. You don't have to work for it. Anything you work for would cease to be nothing any longer."
"What must I do then?"
He was beginning to see my point. Nothingness was not to be attained. It was to be realized. The number of temples and pagodas built by him or the number of monks and learned people in his kingdom could not possibly help him in realizing nothingness. Indeed, all those buildings should have been born of such realization.
"If everything is reduced to nothing, then what is wrong in building temples of worship?" asked the Emperor.
"And what is wrong in not building them? That is not the point, Your majesty. The point is whether those buildings are products of nothingness or not?" I asked him in return.
"How do I know that, Revered Monk?"
"By observing yourself; by paying attention to your mind, and by realizing nothingness of such observation and attention. Emperor, you introduced China as a land of temples, pagodas and monks... can you also introduce it as a land of awareness? Are those temples and pagodas built by you witness to your awareness of nothingness? Think and go beyond thinking, realize, Emperor!"
I could see a doubt rising in his mind. And it was no ordinary doubt, it was "the great doubt" that must arise prior to awareness. I left him with that, for such doubt could only do well. Such doubt worked like a hammer upon the mind. And the Emperor's mind certainly got hammered. One day he came to me, to the place where I was staying, and he said: "Master, my mind wavers. It would not stay long with nothingness."
"That is easy, Emperor... Give me your mind and I shall hammer it. Let us break it. No mind, no wavering, what remains is pure nothingness."
That was enough. His mind was destroyed there and then. He realized that mind could not be produced. Mind was a myth. I had no substance. And that it was "awareness" of mind that made it substantial, gave color, quality, weight and form to it.
I realized that many of the terms used by Buddha had no Chinese equivalent. Anata, Anaatmaa or no mind, no self, "no state of nothingness" was often translated as "mindfulness". And the monks in China were therefore busy sharpening their minds. Funny, for the nothingness that Buddha spoke about transcended mind. It was not another state of mind.
Soul Quest, Journey from Death to Immortality, Anand Krishna, Page 118-123
Just watch. A thought arises and a thought disappears. It arises from nowhere. Before it arises there is absolute silence, and then it disappears into silence again, into nothingness. In the beginning is nothingness, in the end is nothingness... and this nothingness is your pure consciousness.
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