The Illusion of Potential
This is a sensitive subject, but it’s necessary to address it. We have a true potential, and an imagined potential.
We also have to address the purpose of ritual: is this also an illusion? We might think that because Dharma is all about resting in pure awareness that we don’t need ritual, images, chanting, dancing, mudras, music, ornate clothing etc. This applies to Tibetan Buddhism of course, but other traditions also have their own style of ritual. So what is the point of rituals?
There is a ‘modern’ idea that all we need to say is, “I am that: source,” “We are that which we seek”, or “What is..is,” and we are there 😉
The great problem is…this is true
‘Modern’ gurus say such things, and they are true…to a certain extent. There isn’t anything wrong in what they say, but a moment of saying or thinking, “I am that” does not last. Or we have to keep saying it 🙂 because it’s not the real thing…yet.
We have the potential of enlightenment, but we can get stuck in the illusion of this potential – the concept. And therein lies a great danger.
It is true that, in resting in pure awareness – where essence rests in essence – we need no teacher, no path, no meditation, no rituals but to be honest, we are not in that non-state all the time: we are constantly distracted. We remember now and again, and that is the illusion of our potential. We make a huge assumption that, if we hear and then repeat something, that means we experience it. This is why we are still sentient creatures.
The danger is that these assumptions appear to offer a short cut to heaven, but they are merely deep mud.
We need authentic teachers and inspiration to pull us out of this emotional mud. Something more powerful then our present state is required: something that represents absolute enlightenment. That is the purpose of rituals, and of seeing the teacher as the Buddha. This is for our benefit, not the teacher’s.
Ritual doesn’t have to be elaborate, like the colourful Tibetan way: this is the Tibetan way. Our ritual can be quite simple but meaningful to us, as in chanting the names of past masters of the lineage and supplicating them – this is known as Calling the Guru from Afar. Or just remembering the Lord of Love (whatever that means to you).
Our true potential is perfect enlightenment;
never a moment without perfect vision.
That is our potential.
Until then, it is still an illusion.
All we have to do is be honest with ourselves,
and work within our illusion.
Beautiful Words can Obscure Beautiful Experience