Welcome to my blog---an eyes-open, no-holds-barred exploration of Western and Eastern spirituality, mindfulness, philosophy and literature. A member of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, I lectured at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry to mental health workers for 14 years and also lectured for 16 years at the University of Technology, Sydney. My interests include the psychology of religion, transformative ritual, mythology and addiction recovery.
Friday, August 21, 2015
KILL THE BUDDHA---AND LIVE!
have read some great spiritual books, and met some great spiritual teachers, in
my lifetime but I must and will say this---only you can save yourself. Only you
can relieve the misery of your broken life. Only you can wake up and be born anew. No one---not Jesus,
not Buddha, not Muhammad, nor anyone else for that matter---can wake
you up or otherwise effect this radical change in you.
what I’ve just said is rank heresy to many
religious people who think that salvation or enlightenment---call it what you
will---comes from accepting this person or that person into one’s life or from
following a certain prescribed path or set of teachings. Well, I am a heretic, and I’m proud to be one. A
heretic is one who chooses, and who chooses to think differently and be
different. We need more heretics in the world---more people who are prepared to
think and live differently. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that only a
heretic can change our damaged, troubled and threatened world. I go further and
say that only a heretic, who is prepared to surrender and throw out of the
window all their past thinking and conditioning on matters religious and
non-religious, can wake up and change the world for the better. So, get real.
Stop worshipping others. Look within.
The truth is within you.
of the great books of the past 40-odd years is If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!by the American
psychotherapist Sheldon B Kopp [pictured left]. Now, that is a great title for
a book. The idea of killing the Buddha---or Jesus or any other holy person---is
quite horrible, and the idea of the taking of life in Buddhism is especially
revolting (in theory, at least). The point of the book’s title is fairly obvious --- no meaning that
comes from outside of ourselves is real. Any Buddha you meet ‘on the road’,
that is, outside of yourself, is not the real Buddha. It is a counterfeit---an
imposter! The real Buddha (or Christ for that matter) is within you. Got that? Within
understood that point perfectly. That is why he is quoted as having said that
‘the kingdom of God is within you’
(Lk 17:21 [KJV]). He never asked people to worship him or offer him sacrifices.
He said, ‘Follow me’ (Mk 2:14 [KJV]), that is, live the way Jesus do, and ‘Feed
my sheep’ (Jn 21:17 [KJV]), that is, attend to the needs of others, especially
the marginalized and the disadvantaged. He also said, 'I desire mercy, not
sacrifice' (Mt 9:13 [NIV]). And while I’m on the subject---well, sort of---do
you want to know what makes a true
‘Christian nation’? I will tell you. A Christian nation---irrespective of the
religious affiliation(s) (if any) of its many inhabitants---is one which feeds
the poor, houses the homeless, provides universal health care, livable wages
and other benefits to its people, protects, restores and enhances the
environment, and works with other nations for world peace. That is what Jesus
would have wanted. That is what Buddha would have wanted as well. Ditto
to the theme of this post. Others can point the way but each of us must be our
own teacher, master and savior---and disciple. Buddhism is very strong on this.
Listen to these words from what is known as ‘The Buddha’s Farewell Address’:
Therefore, O Ananda, be ye lamps unto yourselves.
Rely on yourselves, and do not rely on external help.
Hold fast to the truth as a lamp.
Seek salvation alone in the truth.
Look not for assistance to any one besides yourselves.
a Zen exchange that I like. It illustrates the futility of seeking truth in the
form of someone else’s conceptual, conditioned teachings. It also illustrates
that each one of us is in exactly the same position as respects both our ignorance
of the real and our innate ability to have direct and immediate access to and
understanding of the real:
A monk asked ‘What is the meaning of the First Patriarch's coming from
Master: ‘Ask the post over there.’
Monk: ‘I do not understand.’
Master: ‘I do not either, any more than you.’
many of our emotional and psychological problems arise from our bondage to
self. We need to be set free from that bondage, but only we---that is, the
person each one of us is---can do that. The so-called ‘higher power’ is to be
found inside each one of us despite the fact that many people see it otherwise.
The power is a power-not-oneself that is capable of freeing us from the bondage
of self and to self. The power is the primal, ontological power of being itself
that expresses itself in us and as us.
don’t get me wrong. I endorse psychiatry. I work with psychiatrists and lecture
at an educational institution---the NSW Institute of Psychiatry---the objects of which, among others, are to assist
and foster research and investigation into the causation, prevention, diagnosis
and treatment of mental illnesses and disorders, to assist and foster
post-graduate education and training in psychiatry, and to prescribe programs
of training in psychiatry and mental health for both medical practitioners and
for other persons including non-medical groups. Psychiatry helped me to
overcome clinical depression and one or two other mental health issues as well.
However, a psychiatrist, psychologist or counsellor can but help to facilitate
recovery. They treat but do not heal. Deep down, all healing is self-healing.
real Buddha or Christ is within you.
It is an innate potentiality. It is both a presence and a power that is waiting
for you to unleash it. I love these words of Dr Norman Vincent Peale: ‘There is
a spiritual giant within us, which is always struggling to burst its way out of
the prison we have made for it.’ This spiritual giant is unleashed when,
firstly, you really want it to be
unleashed and, secondly, when you remove the obstacles to its activation.
Want-power is especially important, and you must surrender, that is, let go.
if you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. (Metaphorically, that is.)
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diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional
medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health
provider because of something you have read on this blog or elsewhere. For
immediate mental health advice or support call (in Australia) Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids
Helpline on 1800 55 1800; in any country call the relevant mental health care
emergency hotline (if there is one) or
simply dial your emergency assistance telephone number and ask for help. For
information, advice and referral on mental illness contact (in Australia) the
SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or go online via sane.org.