|Brahminical/Hindu (Avalokitesvara) influence on Kwan Yin, a Buddhist Bodhisattva (Bouddha aux Mille Bras, Wat Laem Suwannaram, Koh Samui, Thaïlande (Micky75017/flickr)|
|The mythological (comprehensible) versus the metaphysical (ultimate): How we tell the story matters. The divine couple on Earth, the dark-skinned lord Krishna and radiant Radha, like Shiva and Shakti/Parvati, Brahma and Prakriti...|
|Who were the "Hindus"?|
They do not. What the Buddha taught veered away from the Vedas, the ancient Indus Valley Civilization's "Knowledge Books," the sacred texts of modern India. As part of the wandering ascetic (shraman) movement, the Buddha rejected the Brahmins' religion and the temple priests' empty rituals. Why? Prince Siddhartha, who was neither a Hindu* nor a Brahmin. He was a Scythian and categorized by Brahmin caste members as a warrior (kshatriya), but this does not mean he or his clan were part of "India."** Indeed, there was yet no "India" and no "Hinduism" but only feuding states, loosely affiliated kingdoms, and clan-held territories (janapadas), which Emperor Asoka would later unite into something one could call a unified single land. In this ferment, a young Prince Siddhartha went from his cosmopolitan crossroads (rich Bamiyan, Afghanistan on the Silk Route) to the ancient city of Varanasi and the Kingdom of Magadhi, into what is now Bihar (named after the many Buddhist Viharas that later dotted the land after the wandering ascetic Siddhartha became the Buddha in Budh Gaya, the Awakened One in "Awakening Grove," now Bodhgaya.
|Available for 59 days beginning: Sunday, January 18, 2015 8:00-8:30 am (KPFK).|
|Central Asian/Indo-Scythian Buddha, Gandhara|
The Buddha offered nirvana as a remedy to samsara. Mahayana Buddhists like Brahmins (we loosely call Hindus as if they represented the true religion of India) before them said, "Nirvana is samsara."
If this is all a game, a divine drama, a play (lila, like "lilt" Watts comments), then there is nothing to worry about. The goal can be to awaken from the round, samsara, or one could simply go along playing forever because one is eternal.
The atman (self, soul) is Brahman (the Ultimate Reality). This is exactly the way people talk about emptiness and nirvana, as if nirvana were our True Nature, our Buddha Nature, and Bodhicitta something always at hand which we are not realizing. It is all very seductive and leads away from the historical Buddha's message of awakening as quickly as possible, final liberation, realizing that we are not eternal, but that the impersonal and painful process will continue to roll along for as long as we are ignorant. Awaken.
The Truth would set us free...if only we will make efforts to realize it now.