The Buddha didn't turn water into wine
This is not a story about Buddhism or for Buddhists.
After all I am not a Buddhist.
It is a story for everyone.
When the young prince, who became the person we refer to as “The Buddha,” left his sheltered, cossetted life in the palace for the first time, he saw, also for the first time, an elderly person, a sick person and a corpse. Deeply troubled by these sights, his life became a quest to overcome the suffering of old age sickness and death…
…and he succeeded.
Did he attain extraordinary longevity? – No.
Did he heal the sick? – No.
Did he raise the dead? – No.
Did he turn water into wine? – No.
I believe that he offered us a greater miracle.
He discovered how to liberate ourselves from suffering
He did not discover how to overcome old age, sickness and death. He discovered how to liberate ourselves from the suffering of old age, sickness and death.
I write these words not long after my sixtieth birthday feeling a sense of urgency to make a difference in world while I still can. I write these words while the world is in lockdown and fear of the coronavirus pandemic. I write these words having just heard that someone I was very close to for many years has died suddenly of cancer.
The heart of his teachings is acceptance
There are subtleties to what the Buddha discovered that are hard to grasp, even for those who label themselves as Buddhists, but at the heart of his teachings is acceptance… acceptance of what is and acceptance of our feelings.
Things are as they are. Aging, illness and death are necessary and inevitable parts of the dance of life.
The years go by, my beard turns white, I need to wear glasses to read and write, my legs are stiff and achy after a few hours of hard physical work. So be it! Aging also brings a measure of wisdom and slowing down creates space in the mind and the heart.
Diseases come and spread across the community. Plans are overturned, the very infrastructure of our society creaks and cracks. So be it. Perhaps something new can grow in the space between the cracks.
Death comes to us all one day. Its time and means unknown. So be it. But what or who is it really that dies?
We cannot overcome the inevitability of aging, sickness and death, but we can change our relationship to them. We can change the suffering, because the suffering is something we create though our own thoughts and beliefs.
And the first key is acceptance.
Acceptance is built on two foundations. Awareness and serenity. These two foundations are inseparable.
Serenity involves taking a step back and relating to events from a place of calmness, stillness, equanimity and clarity. Serenity is the practice of “sacred pause” – the pause of a moment’s separation between an event and our reaction to it, the longer pause of some form of structured meditation practice. Without such sacred pause we cannot have awareness. We cannot see clearly.
Awareness means to see clearly what is – what is real. Awareness involves being able to distinguish events from our thoughts and feelings about them. Awareness begins with the present moment, with what is touching our sense fields, with the energy flowing in our body and with the movement of the mind stream. Just as awareness arises from serenity, serenity is nourished by awareness.
Does acceptance mean becoming indifferent, becoming cold and unfeeling?
No, not at all. One of the things we must accept unconditionally is our feelings. Our feelings are natural. It is natural to feel fear about the coronavirus, it is natural to feel grief at the death of a friend. Acceptance, however, frees us from the rollercoaster tyranny of our feelings. It free us from the suffering. And, when the practice of serenity and awareness leads to deep acceptance, what arises in the heart, is an outpouring of compassion and tenderness…. Or to use another word - love.
Does acceptance mean passivity, resignation or inactivity?
No, not at all. It is only through the clarity of acceptance, only through the practice of serenity and awareness, that we can see clearly what to do. Through acceptance, our actions become totally appropriate and express the compassion and tenderness of our heart. They become love in action.
This to me is a true miracle.
Join us for "sacred pause" online in these troubled times
In the spirit of such acceptance and the unprecedented situation in our world that affects us all, my partner Kalyani and I have decided to offer our help by offering you to join us virtually in 2 ways:
• Every day in our group on WhatsApp for heart-to-heart sharing to inspire you, perhaps offer you another perspective, and allow you to be heard at the same time as receiving what we are called to share with you
• Every Monday evening at 7pm (London time) for one hour via Zoom, a meditation that deeply anchors you and reconnects you with The Source of all, to help you strengthen your immune defences and your ability to face the challenges that affect you. This time together will also be an opportunity to ask us questions.
Here is the link: join Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/186268234
These sharings are offered free of charge, and we will welcome you with the greatest joy.
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Who Am I?
I am Nicholas Hudis an author and mentor dedicated to the path of self-cultivation. After 25 years as a therapist/coach, I see that the need is not for therapy but for cultivating the skill to live wisely, ethically and purposefully. I am no "sage" but the wisdom of Confucius, the Buddha and the Stoic philosophers guides me on a daily basis. My desire is to share this inspiration, through my writings and personal mentoring, and make a difference to your life too.