2. Buddha the Pointer
THE BUDDHA BLOG
Even a 15 year old with ADHD can understand the teachings of the Buddha when Jizo explains it!
Jizo takes me for a coke after the movie. We’re in the NFT cafeteria. There are lots of old movie posters on the wall and the place is buzzing. Feels good to be out and about, as you used to say. Amazing actually! I ask Jizo to tell me the story of the Buddha and what makes him so important and this is what he tells me, as much as I can remember.
“There are two parts to the story” he says, “but they’re connected.”
The first part is about a prince who lives in India in ancient times. He has everything you can dream of, but he isn’t happy. His heart is not at rest so he leaves his old life behind and travels a long way to find the answers he’s looking for. When he finally reaches his goal, he’s no longer that prince and in no way like his old self. End of Part One.
In Part Two he’s the Buddha, the Awakened One. In other words, he’s not an ordinary man anymore. But he doesn’t want anyone to think of him as a god or even a prophet. Jizo says he doesn’t speak to God or anything like that. There’s no God in Buddhism, at least not the way they teach you in school. He’s just someone who wakes up from a bad dream. For the next 45 years he travels across India, helping people find peace and happiness and teaching them what he’s learned. He finally dies of food poisoning or something, but by then he’s already quite old. In all that time he meets loads of people and he’s awfully convincing because he attracts this humungous following. I guess you could say he starts the Buddhist religion. That’s certainly what happened.
But Jizo says the Buddha didn’t want people to listen to his teaching and believe it just because he was this impressive bloke. He didn’t want people to repeat his teaching like parrots, the way they make you do in school. He wasn’t interested in that at all.
The Buddha calls his teaching the Dharma, which means the law – as in law of the universe – or the way things are. He says you have to discover for yourself the way things really are - not the way you think they ought to be - and then make up your own mind about your life. He doesn’t want people to believe some fairy tale because everybody else seems to believe it. He wants them to see clearly. That’s what he means by being awake. Jizo is very strong on this point.
He asks me:
“Who taught you to skateboard?”
“I don’t know. A few of us hang out together. We give each other pointers from time to time, but mainly it’s just practice. You fall down a lot before you get the hang of it.
Jizo thumps his knee.
“Just so! Buddha said, ‘You have to practice. I can only point the way.’ Buddha fell down a lot too. He was brave enough to fall down many times before he woke up. He’s not a god, not a prophet, not a philosopher. Just a pointer!”
Then Jizo laughs until his eyes close.
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