The Messiah Complex

Hasn’t it caused a lot of problems in the world?

Messiah: The anointed saviour who is said to bring the dead back to life, reuniting them with their souls.

We know that this means different things to different people. Is it a literal or transcendental statement? If it is a spiritual question, shouldn’t the answer be spiritual as well? Do people live, believe and die not knowing what is true? Who anointed that saviour? Is this a passing on, a received transmission? What do ‘bring the dead back to life’ and ‘reunited with their souls’ mean?

As a Buddhist, this may be interpreted another way. Maybe … just maybe … ‘reunited’ is meant in a spiritual way, in the sense of our inner consciousness of pure awareness or spirit: that is what we are. We are awakening from the dream of preconceived ideas, bringing consciousness back to the essence of life itself.

To put it bluntly, we are all potential messiahs. For example, in the Dzogchen tradition, we receive the pointing out instruction into the nature of mind, and the word Kabbala means ‘to receive’. Is that ‘receiving’ a transmission, an anointing, whereby, instead of living a dream, we now awaken to our true reality. To be ‘reunited with our souls’ (even though in Buddhism a soul is not recognised) means we awaken to the unity of a false self that is recognised by pure consciousness.

A messiah complex is a state of mind in which an individual holds a belief that they are destined to become a saviour and are responsible for saving or assisting others; in common usage, it is an accusation of delusion. However, it could be said that Bodhisattvas have a messiah complex! It’s what true compassion is all about! A messiah complex is the result of inner joy and outer sadness at the mental state of sentient beings.

A Bodhisattva works for the benefit of others. This vow is not to be taken lightly, and one’s life will never be the same again. The word ‘Buddha’ means awake and pure. There are nine levels of Bodhisattvas, up to enlightenment.

Bodhisattva Vow

Just as the earth and the other three elements, together with space,
eternally nourish and sustain all beings.

So may I become that source of nourishment and sustenance which
maintains all beings situated throughout space, as long as all have
not attained to peace.

When the Sugatas of former times committed themselves to the Bodhicitta, they gradually established themselves in the practice of a Bodhisattva.

So I too commit myself to the Bodhicitta for the welfare of beings
and will gradually establish myself in the practice of a Bodhisattva.

Today my birth has become fruitful; my birth as a human is justified.

Today I an born in the Buddha family; I am now a child of the Buddha.
Now I am determined to perform those acts appropriate to my family;
I will not violate the purity of this faultless noble family.

Just as a blind man wandering about comes upon a jewel in a heap of refuse so, apparently by chance, the Bodhicitta is born in me.

That supreme amrita destroying death.
The inexhaustible hidden treasure relieving the universal poverty.
The supreme cure for calming the universal ill.

The tree which shelters beings weary of wandering the paths of samsara.
The vehicle for all travellers passing over distress.
The moon of mind which cools the heat of desire.

The great sun dispelling the obscurity of ignorance.
The great happiness for those travellers wandering the path of samara, searching for object of enjoyment.

In the presence of all the Buddhas, I have invited all the Tathagatas
and all beings as my guests. Devas and Asuras rejoice.

It is said that taking the Bodhisattva vow is an expression of making ourselves at home in this world. We expose ourselves confidently for the benefit of sentient beings. We give up our ambition to attain enlightenment in favour of relieving the suffering and difficulties of sentient beings. Nevertheless, we attain enlightenment anyway.

Bodhisattvas and great Tathagatas of the past have taken this step, and we too can do this. It is simply a matter of accepting either this expansive approach to life, or settling for a self-centred, poverty-stricken mentality.

There are no limits to caring.

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