No need to make you suffer. Let’s jump right in!
Me: Okay. Now, then you sat under a tree, and you vowed to sit under it until you found The Truth. And after 39 days of mediation at the age of 35 you said that you were enlightened and declared that there are Four Noble Truths. Do you still believe those truths are valid?
Buddha: Yes, they still work for the human today in this modern world and culture.
Me: Okay. Given your perspective now, what is “enlightenment”?
Buddha: Enlightenment is when the mind is free from suffering.
Me: Release from suffering—that is the road to enlightenment according to your teachings, but doesn’t that trivialize the importance of suffering? After all, there are beautiful lessons in every scar: mental scars, spiritual scars, emotional scars and physical scars.
Jamie (grinning from ear to ear): He’s smiling! When you asked the question, he just grinned!
Me: Aw! But there are lessons in suffering, so why should we release ourselves from it?
Buddha: Suffering is not how the human body was made. It is a respectable quality to find the lesson and to see the scar as being beautiful within the suffering or to be able to read into the newfound answers through suffering, but in the truest form of being human, there was never a design for suffering. We created it. You created it yourself. To—
Jamie (giggling like a school girl): I like him so much!
She then bursts out laughing.
Jamie (brushing her hair back, trying to compose herself): He’s just like a really good real person and centered and grounded and, I don’t know, humble. I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s very different from some of the other spirits that we’ve talked to.
Me: Don’t mention any names!
(We don’t want Jesus and Moses to get jealous!)
Jamie (to Buddha): I got laughing and forgot where we were. Tell me what we were just talking about.
Jamie and I giggle. I imagine Buddha is getting a pretty good laugh too.
Buddha: To remove suffering from a human being is not to rob them of any experience. You can learn still through joy all of the answers you would gain through suffering.
(Geez, I wish I’d gotten that memo.)
Buddha: It is an experience that is not required.
Jamie: Then he kind of smiles and jokes, like he just has a real good quality of humor. He says, “So many people are interested in enlightenment, and here you are defending the right to suffer.” He thought that was funny!
Me: Well, gosh, I’d like to get rid of some suffering myself!
Buddha: Well then you should go deep within your mind and ask why you find it valuable.
Me (joking back): Okay. Well, I’ll sell it on eBay. How’s that? See if there are any takers. Or maybe Craigslist. That’s probably “The Way.” I’ll call that “The Way.” Is that okay with you, Buddha?
Buddha: It is a very good joke.
Maybe I’ll keep my day job.
Me: Okay, in The Four Noble Truths, one of the truths states that suffering is caused by desires, but don’t earthly desires lead to enlightenment?
Buddha: Earthly desires can lead to pleasure, and pleasure is a physical fulfillment.
(Long pause as Jamie looks upwards, obviously taking in what Buddha is saying)
Buddha: Mostly humans seek pleasure in an insatiable way. They seek to collect and gather it in their cup, yet it never fills up, because as the pleasure comes and goes it turns into a memory which is often not strong enough to build a house.
Jamie: The image was the memory wasn’t solid like a brick would be—a more tangible experience to build a lifestyle on.
(Pause while Jamie listens, then Jamie laughs and turns bright red)
Jamie: Uh, we’re going to talk about sex with Buddha!
Me: Oh, no! Jamie, you’re blushing!
Jamie: Why do we always end up on this topic? He uses climax and orgasm as an example, and he’s very even-keeled when he talks about it. You know, he doesn’t blush or respond the way that I do.
I giggle for her. I feel her embarrassment. It’s so thick I could cut it with a knife.
Buddha: When one achieves a climax, it’s held as pleasurable and valuable, that intimacy for that moment, but then as the moments stack upon themselves, they turn into a memory or a history, and therefore the person longs or desires to replace it with a new experience, a new climax, a new moment.
Me: Mm hm.
Buddha: Therefore, it puts you in a vicious cycle of want or desire to have it rather than the experience of pure joy, which is not based on a desire. It is a—
Jamie (placing her hand on her chest and looking at Buddha with an apologetic expression on her face): I don’t know that word. I’m sorry.
Jamie (to me): That’s an Indian word.
Jamie (to Buddha): Oh, I’m so sorry. Sanskrit word.
Me: Ah oh.
Jamie: I’m trying to learn what he’s saying. He’s trying to explain that when the mind can understand how to discipline itself and protect itself from—
Jamie shakes her hands in frustration.
Jamie: Sumara? (Cupping her hands over her mouth and nose in embarrassment) Sum-sam—samsara—
Me: I don’t know. We’ll look it up later.
Jamie (to Buddha): I’m so sorry. It sounds like that. So sorry.
Buddha: This continuous flow: when the brain can understand and discipline and protect itself from the continuous flow of life—not from it, but to allow the mind to be involved with the continuous of life but not be absorbed into the want or desire. If it can see what judgment is and remove the judgment and constriction and the—
Buddha: —and the binding, the boundness of good or bad, then the mind can live free and comprehend that what is external of it is accepting no matter how as a human you would want to define it.
Jamie (throwing her hands up): Sh—I have no idea what I just said!
Jamie (to Buddha): Can you say it again but, um, just shorten—
Me: Yeah, how about “Buddhism for Dummies.”
Jamie: “Buddhism for Dummies”!
Me: Kindergarten it down, please!
Jamie grins and points to her dimples and says, “He just smiles so big!”
Buddha: It is important to discipline the mind. It is the mind that is the greatest enemy to the human being. It is the mind that is the greatest enemy to the individual as it will create desires and wants and focus you to live in the external world instead of focusing on the internal direction of the human body. When you’re able to focus on internal, all of these negativities or desires or these wants or these goals or these concepts that are in the external world no longer have a hold upon you. You can live your life in eternal joy and happiness, which for me is the pure definition of enlightenment. Struggle, pain and suffering are not needed to discover these higher elements and lessons and integrities that are actually holding joy within the brain not just within the heart. It is allowing the two strongest elements of the human body to communicate to a degree where there is no misunderstanding.
Me: Mm hm.
Buddha (putting his index finger up): That’s for dummies.