Perhaps the greatest conception of Reality ever devised by Man began in India thousands of years ago. While religion took root in the Middle East, it was in India that a course was blazed to know the true nature of the infinite Reality/Spirit and the process by which the universe emerged from a divine Source.
In the earliest years, the Indians of the ancient Vedic period worshipped natural forces as a means of communing with the one Infinite consciousness. In essence, they perceived the ultimate Reality through the instrument of material forces and Gods. Sophisticated thinking and refined emotions had not yet developed, and so their relationship with Spirit was predominantly physical. Many years passed, and Mind began to develop, allowing for a profounder conception of the Reality beyond this world. This is the era of the spiritual explorations of the Indian mystics known as the Rishis. Through their higher mental and spiritual power, they were able to conceive of and commune with an ultimate Being and Consciousness, losing themselves in the pleasure of their transcendent experiences. They collectively communed with and realized an Ultimate Existence as no group had done before.
And yet despite these vast spiritual successes, humanity was not yet satisfied with these experiences, for it still had still not grappled with the greatest of human dilemmas: the cause of strife and suffering in the world. And so around 2600 years ago, Buddha’s great mission began when he set out to discover and resolve the reason for pain and death. Which brings me to a startling experience I had the other day.
On New Years, I went for a little drive to relax and air myself out. For some reason, I ended up on the 30-mile long busy thoroughfare known as the ‘El Camino Real,’ which traverses two dozen towns on the San Francisco peninsula. It is a street of commerce and business that seems to go on forever.
At one point, as I “floated” down the endless wide boulevard in my car, a rather existential feeling came over me. I thought about the difficulties, stresses, and failures of life, as well as the reality and finality of physical death. I then thought about how important Buddha was in addressing these issues. Then one by one, I thought through the essence of His teachings. I recalled that after being raised in a sheltered existence as a prince, he discovered that there was suffering outside his palace. He then came to understand the impermanence of things; that not only was life itself ephemeral because it comes to an end, but all apparently good things that come to us are easily taken away -- whether wealth, material objects, our mate, our children, family, friends, and so forth. He then realized that it was our attachment to these transitory phenomena that was the cause of our suffering. Our attachment to that which is temporary and ephemeral was the root of all pain and strife in the world.
Continuing these intense thoughts and feelings, I then recalled that Buddha devised a way out of the dilemma. That if we could still our thoughts, feelings, and passions, we would come to a state of serenity, release our attachment, and thereby free ourselves from the pain of impermanence. In fact, we would move to its opposite; to an intense pleasure and bliss that is beyond anything in this world. Gautama Buddha called this state “Nirvana,” and realized it full in his being.
As each of these thoughts came to mind, I felt it with great intensity. They reached a crescendo when I realized that Buddha had worked out a way to loosen the knot of the world. Then finally, after five minutes, the experience stopped. I then once more became conscious of life around me, as I continued to drive/float down the long and winding commercial boulevard.
When I then focused my gaze ahead, I immediately noticed a banner hanging down from a light pole that I was just passing under. When I craned my neck to look a little closer, I saw that it was advertisement for an upcoming art event, and in the center of it was a large picture of the head of a great golden Buddha with a beatific smile. I was thunderstruck. I then beamed in amazement that this object had appeared above me at the very instant I commenced my intense inner experience of His way out of suffering.
The response pierced my being, and I cried out in wonder. The intensity of my thoughts and feelings on this subject had attracted an emanation of one individual who dared to address humanity’s most compelling issue. There above me was the visage of the man who discovered a Stillness and Being within, forging a new path out of the Darkness.
--Roy Posner 19:00, 4 January 2009 (UTC)
See also other Case Studies on Life Response
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