Ten Thousand Days

The Buddha in the Road

June 7, 2022

Photo: Indra Dewa

Day 2842 – Day 2852

I get very distinct impressions in my meditations sometimes. Sometimes, in my meditation I see my spiritual teacher and I am told to do something and sometimes it makes no logical sense.

I got a clear instruction from him once, and I didn’t follow it.  Disaster ensued.

Now, I’m much more inclined to make a leap of faith, and find a way to take on the task, if I get a directive in meditation.  In a meditation at least a year ago, I was told to write to a man that has appeared in my dreams and I was given the directive to write to him a particular phrase that, to my taste, was yuck.   Even during the meditation I resisted this and I was told again, firmly, to do it.

I found a way to include the phrase in a social media comment rather than in a letter.  I’m not sure that he ever saw it.  At the time, I felt that I had fulfilled the directive and the comment is still there for posterity. I can remove all other comments, if I wish, but that one must always remain, no matter how weird.  I did what I was told to do, if not in the exact way it was pictured in my meditation.

This week, during a meditation, I got completely absorbed and again the phrase returned. And I saw an image of me handwriting the phrase, again.  Presumably, this is in a letter.  It would be an understatement to say that I’m even more resistant now.  He’s also a married man.  Writing him in a letter, after all this time, could easily be misconstrued.

I wish him well.  I just don’t want to be expending energy on him.

I want to keep my focus on myself and my own journey.

Maybe I’m just prideful and stubborn in my resistance.  Or, perhaps there is a part of me that clings to the story of him for drama and distraction, and so my ego makes it appear that this is a directive from my teacher.

After this week’s gathering, someone in my Sangha started talking about a situation in their life that highlights the fact that we are not to encourage anyone to join our path. We can offer spiritual companionship, suggest writings by our teacher, or direct people to the whole website of resources, but we are not to invite people to our particular path.  They need to choose it – if it is the path for them – on their own.

The phrase I have been given could be an invitation.

Why do I not just reveal the phrase, if I’m going to bother talking about it, here? Like a mantra, it feels like it is intended to be kept secret.  If it is a gift from my teacher, it contains spiritual energy.  At least in this, I can be faithful, and keep it sacred.

In keeping with our Sangha’s conversation, I have also lately been thinking about the way that I have, in the past, actually attracted men or been attracted to men who are a little spiritually lost.

In the time I have known this fellow, he’s claimed to be in a spiritual wasteland.  The idea that he felt spiritually alone touched me and I offered him Sangha but he didn’t take up the offer.  That is a clear boundary.  While my door is always be open for spiritual companionship, he’s the one who has to choose to walk through it, if he wishes.

Other men in my past were attracted to the spiritual in me.  They put me on a pedestal that I could not possibly stay atop, and then they were bitterly disappointed with me when they realized that I was just a fellow seeker and not some kind of guru.

Maybe this “directive” is my ego’s way of inviting this pattern to repeat.  Maybe my ego secretly wants that pedestal.  Maybe there’s some ego payoff in that drama.

At the same time, maybe their disappointment offered them an opportunity for a kind of spiritual maturity.

The more lost one is, the more one looks to the teacher to take that responsibility.  It reminds me of the Buddhist saying that became an old bestselling spiritual book by Sheldon Kopp If You Meet The Buddha in the Road, Kill Him.

Eventually, spiritual wayfarers must stop projecting their own divinity and spiritual responsibility onto another person or teacher (even the Buddha).

We are called to embark upon the hard work of an inner-directed spiritual life.  We can, and we should keep company with other seekers, but we must listen to the direction that comes from within ourselves. On the spiritual path we must release attachment to everything: our desires for money, for love, for companionship, and even for enlightenment. Eventually we must let them all go.  Even our dependence on the mantra, the spiritual practices, the Sangha and the teacher must die.

I am not so spiritually evolved that I’m ready to let the practices, the Sangha or the teacher go.  Real change is not easy. It’s easy to think you’ve got it all sorted, only to backslide, again.

The more inner-directed one is, the more foolish one’s actions may appear.  That doesn’t mean that just because something appears foolish, it comes from a true “inner knowing.”

Faith makes fools of us all.  Yet so does the mind, by manipulating us. The closer we get to absorption in meditation, bypassing the ego-mind, the harder the mind will work to keep its hold on us, with trickery.  The mind will play you for a fool if you believe every thought you have – even those that arise in meditation.

Discernment is an important companion on the road to spiritual maturity. I will wait upon discernment to see the truth in this situation.  And even then, if I think I have the answer, that will be the time to start asking even deeper questions.

If one meets the Buddha in the road, eventually one must kill him.

For what are you most grateful today?

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