Awakening to the Buddha within



Like the Buddha, we all get our call to wake up. It often comes when life isn’t working and we may have to go a little crazy. Here’s how Buddhist teacher Spring Washam answered her call.


 

My birth was not a celebrated and magical event. My parents’ relationship had always been rocky and, sadly, it completely unraveled during my mother’s pregnancy with me.

We lived in Bellflower, California, a low-income neighbourhood between Long Beach and Compton, in a large concrete apartment building surrounded by chaos. Gangs were commonplace and I became used to the sounds of gunshots, sirens, and police helicopters.

 

 

Even as a small child I felt a lot of love and compassion for my parents, and I recognised early on that they were themselves survivors. My father left soon after I was born and my mother worked as much as she could for us. With state aid and food stamps, we just got by.

If we really listen, we can hear that life is trying to get our attention as well and wake us up. This call to wake up happens when our lives are no longer satisfying, when we have lost interest in all the things that once made us so happy.

I wasn’t allowed to play outside very often, so my earliest memories are of my sister and me jumping up and down on an old green sofa in our tiny living room. I can remember thinking at an early age, “Wow, this is going to be a very difficult life.” I understood even as a child that I was going to have to bloom in very muddy waters.

What the Prince witnessed:

About 2,600 years ago, an Indian prince named Siddhartha was born amid many favourable signs. His father, the king, was determined to protect him against the reality of suffering, and the prince grew up within the walls of the palace with every luxury one can imagine.

Around the age of twenty-nine, Siddhartha began to feel dissatisfied with his princely life and deep feelings of unhappiness began to grow. He longed to explore the world and convinced his reluctant father to let him leave the palace on an outing. This gave the gods and spirits the opportunity to arrange a series of signs that would help Siddhartha wake up and see the truth of life. These signs have become known as the four heavenly messengers, and they changed the course of his life.

The first messenger that he encountered was a very old man, covered in wrinkles, bent over, and barely able to walk down the road. His father had only allowed young and beautiful servants in the palace, so this was an unfamiliar sight. Siddhartha now realised that his youth would someday end and he too would grow old.

The second heavenly messenger the prince encountered was a very sick man. He was covered in bloody sores, lying in pain on the floor of a mud hut. Because his father had forbidden sick people from entering the palace, the prince had no experience of illness and disease. Now he realised that he and all others would eventually become sick, and his heart was filled with compassion.

The third heavenly messenger was a large funeral procession. A corpse, wrapped in cloth, was being carried to the charnel grounds to be cremated. Siddhartha stayed at the charnel grounds for hours watching the body slowly burn and disappear, and he realized that death awaits us all.p>

As Siddhartha continued travelling along the road, he saw the final messenger: a radiant monk dressed in very simple robes, carrying a small bag and a bowl. The sight of this peaceful monk awakened the deepest yearning Siddhartha had ever known. Following the call to awaken of these four heavenly messengers, he rode his horse to edge of a beautiful forest and, on the banks of a river, ordained himself.

If we really listen, we can hear that life is trying to get our attention as well and wake us up. This call to wake up happens when our lives are no longer satisfying, when we have lost interest in all the things that once made us so happy.

The call speaks to us in questions: Who am I? What is my purpose? What am I doing with my life? This internal dialogue can be frightening, even overwhelming. As we look for answers, we are forced to question the very foundation of everything that we hold on to-our relationships, religious views, politics, career choices, and even our social status.

When we say yes to the call to wake up, the people, situations, and opportunities we need to move forward present themselves naturally and at the perfect moment.

You can read more of this article here.

 

 

 

 

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