Paul: Is there any way for you, Clara, to end your endless cycle of births and deaths and become a TRUE BUDDHA - and ENTIRELY FREE BEING at last - by any practice whatsoever, in any religion at all, including Buddhism?
Clara: No. The way is not for “me”, “Clara”. The way *is*, and “Clara” is an event within it. I am not theorizing. This is a plain statement. The way is not for any “me”. Any “me” belongs to the way. Only the way is. That is to say, the Universal. [Amida.] [You-Name-It.] All taken care. One Power only. Not two.
I have a little background in physics - originally I thought I might want to be a physicist, though I didn’t end up completing that degree.
So - I have at least a lay person’s understanding of the plain and simple physics of Newton - as well as a bit of quatum and atomic physics.
Really, even high schools teach this stuff these days.
So I know, for example, that the experience of everything that we have as solid is really not so. It’s all really mostly empty space. Even an electron doesn’t exist in a particular point in space-time as anything more than a probability.
Truly modern physics confirms, in the most wonderful way, the sublime teaching of the Buddha that form is emptiness, and emptiness is form, that everything interpenetrates everything else, that everything is in a constant flux, that the idea of separateness, of subject and object is really nothing but an illusion - that there is indeed only one power that interpenetrates, and animates and creates and recreates everything.
Modern physicists all talk like mystics - for just this reason.
And, truth be told, I have had, over the past 30 years, many personal experiences of this numinous, shimering reality. Each and every one has been a profound taste of my fundamental nature. Truly, underneath it all I am Buddha - and Buddha is me.
There is only one problem, Clara.
Driving serenely down the highway one warm and sunny day, something happened - and I crashed my car into a telephone pole at 60 miles an hour. Air bag or no air bag, I now lie helpless in the car, my blood and perhaps my brains leaking out my ears, in excruciating pain.
So if you come along to me right now, and begin to expound all this sublime teaching of the Buddha - or the sublime understanding of atomic physics - and tell me with great equanimity and great confidence about the fact that my rib and the steering wheel sticking through it are both empty space - I’m afraid it just won’t work for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’d LIKE it to work for me. I’d like that very much.
But it won’t help me - this path of the sages teaching (dharma) you offer me - or the path of the quantum physicists I just mentioned - to alleviate the terrible suffering I am experiencing.
This is what I mean, Clara, by a practical question - the question that I asked you. Right now, if the suffering in your life is at a certain level, or below, you can use these dharma tools offered to those on the path of the Sages - whether your practice (of meditation or prayer or chanting or whatever it might be), or your study, or even the companionship of those you love, and who love you, on the path.
I know these are good dharma tools. I’ve used them myself.
But at some point, Clara, they failed me utterly. Why? Because in truth, the roots of my own cravings and aversions, my own blind passion, run deeper than I ever thought - and these tools are simply not adequate for the job of digging these roots out in an age of dharma decline - the age we live in.
This is my own personal conclusion, of course. Your mileage may vary, as we say on the internet.
My work here is not to argue, nor debate, nor convince anyone that my conclusions are right.
But for those who are experiencing what I have experienced - their own inability to take the path of the Sages to support their aspiration to end suffering once and for all - I share, to the best of my own ability, another path.
This path, Shinran’s plain teaching for plain people - which I call SHIN UGLY to distinguish it what other people teach and call Shin Buddhism - was offered to me by Shakyamuni Buddha and Shinran his disciple at the point of my total failure - my own personal car crash.
It is a teaching suited for a plain person like me - a teaching that that is sure to produce the outcome I yearn for honestly - the END of suffering at last.
Those teachings of the sages - which you encapsulate beautifully in your comment - simply won’t work in a PRACTICAL way for me - to end my suffering at last, and effect my birth after this life as a Buddha, rather than a non-Buddha, once again.
Best as ever -