#28 - Feed The Buddha Within Us
Updated: Aug 29
by KC Johnson
The Buddha Was Just Seeking The Answers We All Are Searching For
So what is the difference between the Buddha and our everyday youthful awakening to the meaning of life? Buddha consciously asked the question and pursued answers! Our Western beliefs do not put value on seeking the great answers about life. Our youth are rarely ever challenged with deep thoughts about life, about how the universal energies affect us, about loving and sharing with others. It’s as though the adults are blind and resistant to seeking these great answers.
In my personal quests it was always difficult finding others willing to explore inner healing on a level that I was ready to pursue. We could discuss daily trials and only briefly touch on ideas of greater personal depth. Books written by ‘gurus and seekers’ became my only real resource exposing me to these universal ideas. As valuable as they were I began to realize that they were just describing their own journeys and I felt my circumstances and perspectives led me down a different path than the they were following.
Perhaps that was the lesson of my early efforts. I had to understand my own value and life-course before I could make the next stage of inner discoveries. Whether I was exploring the paths of gurus or developing my own beliefs, my pursuits always had a similar outcome. There was always a lingering image others had of me, that I was weird, that I held weird ideas, and as a result, we had little in common for serious talks.
Part of this adult reluctance had more to do with busy lifestyles or dependence on religions that emasculated their inner strength for self-discovery. But I’m sure the adults had not been exposed to these ideas in their youth, thus, not having a frame of reference nor comfort discussing weird ideas.
My weird mind in my mid-twenties and thirties began believing that there were outer forces promoting methods for controlling citizens whose inner awarenesses and personal powers had to be neutralized. It became apparent that by these ‘dark forces’ interfering with a person’s resistance to being manipulated, these outer forces could increase their financial and political controls. Cynical to say the least, but so often true. A wise and dedicated populous who have discovered their personal inner powers cannot be easily manipulated.
As Buddha discovered, developing one’s true self is challenging work that brings few easy answers, no blueprint to follow, nor an easy-to-reach end point. Life quests don’t work that way, they are meant to be challenging so that we can learn from what we find. The intent of this article is to better understand how we have evolved away from these life quests, or has it always been for the majority of people, with only a few dedicated souls among us ready to take on this journey?
In The Buddha’s Journey by Andrew Olendzki from The Lion’s Roar: Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time it shows how the voice for all ages committed to a lifetime quest to make these profound life discoveries. The deeper legacy of The Buddha’s life illustrates his illumination of the inner landscape of experience and of the empowerment that accompanies self-knowledge. The tradition for self-discovery wound its way through southeast and central Asia, and then across Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. He didn’t have easy access to libraries representing hundreds of writers before him as I had available to me. It is why his teachings continue to have such a profound effect on the modern world and the emerging global civilization…he had to live the experiences firsthand bringing him even greater wisdom, understanding, and peace.
The Buddha showed that whatever is out there in the world and whatever happens to us externally, what really matters, in terms of our own health and well-being, is our internal response to it. When we react unskillfully, triggered by primitive reflexes of craving and ignorance, we harm ourselves and others. But we are also capable of acting with equanimity and wisdom, thereby accessing the more evolved qualities of generosity, kindness, and understanding.
And perhaps during his time most people were not ready to take on this commitment as they struggled with day-to-day challenges of raising a family, making a living, and dealing with their own powerful leaders, not unlike the experiences we are dealing with today.
Maybe only a few among us can totally commit to pursuing the great life questions, or else the society would collapse because there would be too few people to do the work. My guess is that any of us can maintain the mental presence for inner self-discovery while still tending to daily living needs. We don’t don’t have to make The Buddha’s total commitment in order to tap into the universal mind that he learned to listen to. Being intentional about our quest to learn more about our life purpose will find ways to blend this search into our daily moments, quiet times, and heart-felt discussions with others focusing on their own journeys. It’s not only okay to go at our own pace, it is the way we will make the most progress by making our learning moments our own.
What are the forces discouraging our quest for self-discoveries and our universal connection?
Trying to find discussions through Google about forces discouraging our search for personal growth seems to be entirely about our inner battles for starting the process. But there are many more forces discouraging us, despite what shows up on the search engines.
It may be naïve to believe that there are no outside forces, institutions, organizations, individuals, and even family/friends who don’t want us to seek inner enlightenment. When we become more aware of our true powers we interfere with how others interact with us. Those wanting to control us for economic gain or an ideology lose that power over us, whether it be a boss, or a church doctrine, or an organization focused on a cause. As we change our thinking and life views our immediate friends and associates discover that the relationships based on previous perspectives are no longer as they were before, often causing distress with a feeling of having lost that friendship. People simply don’t like change if they are comfortable maintaining rigid standards. This creates distance that others may not be able to accept, and conversely, that we no longer feel comfortable with maintaining relationships that no longer connect with our basic values.
In my mind these are legitimate and real external challenges impeding our process towards inner change. But these outside forces are often the catalyst triggering us to embark on our need for inner growth. We change when we become uncomfortable with the conditions placed on our beliefs and living conditions. If we are not ready to embark on our inner-change journey, then we will not recognize these outside forces as impediments to our happiness and balance, and we will have no reason to seek change.
The Buddha did not start his journey until his late twenties when he left his royal family and experienced the hardships everyday people had to encounter while he was a prince. Perhaps he was becoming ‘ready’ for a change while in his royal life, but once he was immersed in the disparities between himself and others, he was able to make rapid progress in embarking on his enlightenment journey. This may be the pattern many of us follow, not coming out of royalty, but by being uncomfortable about some part of our life. The more deeply the discomfort, the more certain will be our desire to seek change.
Which ‘guru’ will you follow?
So, can following a ‘guru’ or reading a book or having a difficult living situation trigger starting our journey? The answer is perhaps. But we can only hear what we are ready to hear. We wouldn’t follow a ‘guru’ if we weren’t already seeking change. A life event can trigger examining what we need to do with ourselves, especially with physical health issues, a divorce, or losing a life-partner. And for many, having a first child born into our household will definitely cause us to re-assess what is important.
To even begin seeking a ‘guru’ with all of the answers means we are ready for the journey. This can be the critical moment when we turn inward for enlightenment or look elsewhere. Not trusting our inner guru can relegate us to a much longer quest for answers because we are following someone else’s path. This results in dis-empowering our true inner self that holds the questions only we can seek solely for our unique self. Learning to ask the key questions about our needs can best come from within our inner self.
I had spent much of my life searching for something but had only been making half-hearted efforts to unwind my inner confusion. Not until a virus temporarily caused me to become quadriplegic and being slowed by continuing partial paralysis did I have the time to make a greater commitment to seeking ‘my’ answers. Nearly twelve years later I am still seeking. . . . but at least I am seeking, making new discoveries, and changing every day in wonderful ways.
The ultimate force we have to face, though, is our impatience for finding answers. I was constantly asking the universe for a sign, for a teacher, for the right situation, for things to happen faster. It was agonizing as I awaited the sign, feeling disappointed with my progress, and not being sure why no one was listening to my pleas. Likely, everyone has to go through these stages. How many invaluable lessons, insightful people and internal messages did I overlook during this painful period?
What each of us may need most is to appreciate the arrangement we have with our soul. Since each of us has to follow a path unlike anyone else’s we have different lessons to learn. Certainly, patience has to be one of the lessons near the top of the list. Discovering that we are supposed to use our lifetime to make breakthroughs will hopefully remove the need for impatience and expecting quick answers.
My soul presents me with a myriad of experiences every day that seemingly didn’t fit into ‘my intended plans’ at that time. It took me a bunch of decades to finally realize my true purpose was to just learn from these experiences, not judge them. Once that realization began setting in, I wondered, what then is the purpose for my life? If none of my plans were working out decade after decade, then there must still be something I was missing. In my mind everything had to make sense and follow a plan.
Being blind to the greater mysteries of the universe I was like the blind man touching an elephant for the first time and being amazed at all of the new sensations. After walking around the amazing elephantine creature--the universal of energetic forces, I over-confidently expected to understand elephants, how they behaved, and my importance for having simply touched it in the first place. I was quite ignorant of how little I understood about my life’s plan in relation to these energies. My arrogance assumed that I was in sync with Mother Nature since I sensed a connection with all of the forces around me. And so it was with my expectation that I understood my place in the universe, or that just because I made some baby-steps, I was ready for the big questions to be answered.
A re-occurring message threaded through my entire life, it had to do with love ..… but what about love?
I grew up in my early years never figuring out the mysteries of love, how to flirt, how to approach a love interest, I was a nerd! As strong as my desire to connect with others was, my ability to keep people at arm’s length prevailed. In hindsight I discovered that my life quest was to simply learn how to love, but that required learning how to shed my need to judge others as well as myself.
This need to stop judging turned out to be one of The Universal Truths. We live an inner world that is our Inner Child, sense of self, our soul and is connected to the universal consciousness. This paradigm is a world without judgement and without fear. It is the world where peace resides, where our greatest powers flow from, and where the answers we seek are bubbling up around us all the time.
We also live in the outer world paradigm filled with emotions, fears, judgment, our pain, our confusion, and all of those uncomfortable, and pleasurable reactions we have to our experiences. This is a messy, demanding world anchored in our held thoughts from our past. As long as we hang on to these judgment-based thoughts we will not reach this peaceful world. But I did learn that it is possible to inhabit both paradigms at the same time just by retaining an understanding that they exist and are vital parts of my ability to navigate through my inner and outer worlds at the same time.
I began to see how everyone lives on these two levels. When others are reacting with judgment and fear they are in their outer paradigm. When they are able to be loving, unconditional, and fearlessly accepting life as it happens around them, then they are in their inner universal mind. Their true essence is always present and they are lovable beings. The outer judgmental behaviors are just examples of the lessons they have to learn from, and their lessons do not have to be my lessons, even as I feel compassion for the struggles they are experiencing.
Little by little I began releasing my need to judge others at first, then myself, and then I began seeing it was possible to love every moment without fear, without judgment. This was my life’s greatest purpose! That is the key to it all, at least for me, and perhaps for everyone else.
Anything written by the ancient gurus tells that their basic tenet is to love, love oneself, love others, love the world around us, and always without judgment, fear, and self-doubt. Actually, it’s not too complicated. All of the confusing fluff and experiences poured into our heads when we were too young to fend off the fears and judgments coming from everyone else, who were burdened with their own dysfunctional life concepts, was intended by our soul to teach us to love, every moment -- To learn to reclaim our true powers to connect with the universal energies defining our lives.
John Lennon and the Beatles said it so simply and clearly:
Love, love, love
Love, love, love
Love, love, love
There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
All you need is love, all you need is love
All you need is love, love, love is all you need