Zen Awakened: Buddha’s Last Words
An almost tremendous disservice has come about from the human need to lift the Buddha up and place him on a pedestal of perfect purity.
We miss out on the richness of the complete story of Buddha.
This is why Shunryu Suzuki said, “Kill the Buddha if the Buddha exists somewhere else. Kill the Buddha, because you should resume your own Buddha nature.”
The Buddha was a renunciate. Renunciation as to the letting go of clinging to things that are not the true essence of what “you” are. When the Buddha rediscovered that truth then he truly came alive.
And for forty-five years he took on the role of the Buddha and preached the Dharma for the benefit of all beings.
All of this hooplah we call the Buddha and the Buddha’s life and you have no issues? No thoughts about it?
In Zen this is good. This place of no-thought or non-thought.
Not like a dull state like a power-saving mode where all of life is gone.
A beautiful wide open wonderment that is alive and ever responding compassionately to whatever appears.
Buddha is a thought in the thoughtless state of the fundamental nature of mind.
This mind is like the wide open sky or the boundlessness and groundlessness of space.
In it all Buddha’s are birthed. All worlds appear.
When it’s not recognized we call it a sentient being and those ones get into all kinds of mischief.
When it is recognized we call it a Buddha and those ones get into all kinds of mischief.
What kind of trouble do you want to get up to?
Nirvana – Paranirvana – so many words to tie up our brains so that we trade in our Buddha Nature for a confused wanderer.
Look at Bodhicitta.
What is the heartfelt wish that you’re cherishing with this life?
In the Bodhicitta is everything.
When the Buddha died he got to put down the Buddha. He had been carrying the Buddha for 45 years. And finally Ananda let him put the Buddha down.
The Buddha asked Ananda three times if he wanted the Buddha to stay. And three times Ananda’s tender heart could not bear the burden of becoming.
But after the Buddha was gone Ananda attained awakening under the guidance of the crusty old Mahakasyapa.
Why did the Buddha show up?
Where did the Buddha go?
While there was “here” for the Buddha what was he doing?
Was there really a here and there for the Buddha?
Was there coming and going in the Buddha mind?
Look and tell me what you find…
For the benefit of all beings.
Beings appear and the Buddha is there.
He took on the Buddha and then had to take on Buddha rules.
Then after 45 years he was free of all those rules we put on him.
The Buddha’s final words supposedly were, “Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!”
It’s very interesting if you look at it:
- Behold! – Like a magician or conjurer. Ta dah!!! What am I beholding? What do you want me to see Buddha?
- Now! Atha – it’s in no other place than now. Right here. Right now.
- Bhikkhus: Bhikkhu literally means “beggar” or “one who lives by alms” They did not see the conjurer. Could not see now so they were poor and destitute. Wandering about not knowing where home was.
- I – who’s this I? What’s this I? Buddha nature? Sunyata? Or greed, hatred and delusion? What is this I? Look! Who is this “I” for?
- Exhort: “to exhort, encourage,” from Old French exhorer (13c.) and directly from Latin exhortari “to exhort, encourage, stimulate,” from ex- “thoroughly” (see ex-) + hortari “encourage, urge” (from PIE root *gher- (2) “to like, want”). Related: Exhorted; exhorting. – so the great urge the great motivating factor is what? “I” or “Buddha Nature”? Why was the Buddha so desperate to make this point? Why was he practically begging them to see. This Buddha “I” was pretty worked up in that moment. Why?
- You: what is this you? If you is ever changing and only Buddha nature is the truest of true then you is I and I is you and you and I arise from some place that knows you and I. Is that where the Buddha spoke from? In that place does all things preach the dharma? Is that Buddha nature?
So is Buddha the alpha and omega?
Is Buddha Nature the beginningless beginning of all beingness?
Or is it beingness itself?
And where do we find the Buddha? Mind of course. This is why Zen points directly to mind.
And then does the Buddha – after he has opened up their minds with the above statement, “Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you!” give the summation of impermanence and the fundamental requirement for realization in the zeal to realize it? “All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!”
Is Buddha nature compounded?
Can it be created?
Do the practices conjure it?
If it’s not compounded and is ever present then is it subject to vanish?
If it’s ever present and not subject to vanish how do we realize it?
Is it in the Bodhicitta?
In that heartfelt wish?
In the zeal to discover it?
If Buddha Nature is here right now what do I need to strive for?
Did the Buddha want us to finally see so we too could enter into his abode with him? A place that we already abide in naturally?
Was that Buddha’s final wish?
Is the Buddha really Bodhicitta then?
Are we wishfulfilling jewels?
So if all thoughts vanish – if all thoughts and constructs of Buddha vanish – what’s left?
This is why Mahakyasapa is still smiling to this day after the Buddha held up a flower to the assembly.
At the heart of every universe is the Buddha turning the wheel of dharma. All are saved.
This is why he said upon awakening, “How interesting that I and all beings are awakened simultaneously.”
So when we practice we practice all beings.
You awaken all beings with your awakening.
We must heed the Buddha’s words that he spoke in the Diamond sutra…
The Buddha told Subhuti, “all Bodhisattvas, Mahàsattvas, should thus subdue their hearts with the vow, “I must cause all living beings — those born from eggs, born from wombs, born from moisture, born by transformation; those with form, those without form, those with thought, those without thought, those not totally with thought, and those not totally without thought — to enter nirvàna without residue and be taken across to extinction. Yet of the immeasurable, boundless numbers of living beings thus taken across to extinction, there is actually no living being taken across to extinction. And why? Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva has a mark of self, a mark of others, a mark of living beings, or a mark of a life, he is not a Bodhisattva.”
It’s enough to drive you mad all this being and non-being, self-notself, emptiness is form and form is emptiness mumbo jumbo.
It’s a great bunch of dust and dirt we toss about to discover the truth.
It’s like we stare at a golden ornament in our house while all the while we’re complaining about how poor we are.
But here in this one sentence that the Buddha whispered at his death is the whole teaching no?
“Behold now, bhikkhus, I exhort you: All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!”
This is why the Buddha was the Buddha and is still the Buddha and will forever be the Buddha.
Resting upon the seat of perfect purity.
Buddhaful beyond measure
And so are you…
So just rest upon the seat of perfect purity now.
1 thought on “Zen Awakened: Buddha’s Last Words”
“All compounded things are subject to vanish. Strive with earnestness!” As said in this blog, it is the last words of the Buddha. Thank you 🙏