When one says they are a “Buddhist” what is it that they are really saying?
Well, when we really look at the term ‘Buddhist’ we understand this is a term coined by the British around 1600 to describe the Theravada, those yellow robe-wearing monks, who they encountered during the colonial period of the British empire in Southern Asia.
So, in the Imperial British view, the Buddhist is one who studies the sayings and life of Buddhas to attain Buddhahood. This is a simplistic view, but workable for our needs.
The next logical question then: What is a Buddha?
A Buddha is simply any being who has awakened to the Ultimate Reality of the nature of existence. The path of the Buddhist then is simple: To awaken their mind and become Buddha.
So you may ask: Why would one want to do this?
The answer becomes interesting, for to awaken one’s mind to the Ultimate Reality of existence is the way out of the ‘suffering’ that the un-awakened mind (ordinary people) goes through in this Phenomenal Existence. When one becomes Buddha, one is then to be immortal because they have freed their Soul from the chains of Karma and Rebirth.
OK, you may say this sounds good, but then you may ask: How does one awaken their mind?
The answer is rather perplexing, however, I’ll explain. You are already an enlightened Awaken Buddha, it’s just your habituated mind that clings to the Cause and Effects of past events (known as Karma) that you cling to, that warps and distorts your understanding and knowledge of Ultimate Reality (known as Dharma) that creates the Dream-like state you currently are in, thus YOU are asleep in a dream! All you have to do is WAKE-UP.
Awakening the mind is like waking up any normal sleeper, you have to shake them, call their name, tell them to wake up…and they hear that in the dream and wake up! That is what Buddhism is about, a means to Wake-Up from the dream you are currently in – you become Buddha.
Sound good, right, so you may ask: If I become Buddha, then what?
This is going to sound rather fun; it’s like in the movie ‘The Matrix’, in where The Wachowskis who made the movie inspired from the core Buddhist teachings, in where Neo the hero and his team return back to the Dream (Matrix) to wake up others and help them escape The Matrix. In Buddhism, such a being is known as the ‘Bodhi-sattva’ (Bodhi = awakening, sattva = existence) and vows to awaken ALL SENTIENT BEINGS and end suffering.
So you may ask, what happens then when all sentient beings are awakened?
It’s the end of the dream, the end of phenomenal-existence, the end of suffering, pure liberation, and immortal bliss, thus is rejoining with the cosmic Buddha, the un-formed, un-born, and non-conceptualized Buddha that is known as the Great Dharmakaya.
So, let me ask you: Are you wanting to wake up now?