– What is that?
beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years.
One day a stranger walked by, “Spare some change?” mumbled
the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap.
“I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger.
Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?”
“Nothing,” replied the beggar.
“Just an old box. I
have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.”
“Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar.
“What’s the point? There
is nothing in there.” “Have
a look inside,” insisted the stranger.
The beggar managed to open the lid.
With astonishment, disbelief and elation, he saw that the box was
filled with gold.
I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling
you to look inside. Not
inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer; inside
“But I am not a beggar,” I can hear you say that.
Those who have not found their true wealth, which is the radiant
joy of Being and the deep, unshakable peace that come with it, are
beggars, even if they have great material wealth.
They are looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment,
while they have a treasure within that not only includes all those
things but is infinitely greater than anything the world can offer.
The word “Enlightenment” conjures up the idea of some
super-human accomplishment, but it is simply your natural state of felt
oneness with Being. It is a
state of connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible,
something that, almost paradoxically, is essentially you and yet is much
greater than you. It is
finding your true nature beyond name and form.
The inability to feel this connectedness gives rise to the
illusion of separation, from yourself and from the world around you.
You then perceive yourself, consciously or unconsciously, as an
isolated fragment. Fear
arises, and conflict within and without becomes the norm.
I love the Buddha’s simple definition of enlightenment as “
the end of suffering.” There
is nothing superhuman in that, is there?
Of course, as a definition, it is incomplete.
It only tells you what enlightenment is not:
no suffering. But
what’s left when there is no more suffering?
The Buddha is silent on that, and his silence implies that you
will have to find out for yourself.
He uses a negative definition so that the mind cannot make it
into something to believe in or into a superhuman accomplishment, a goal
that is impossible for you to attain.
Despite this precaution, the majority of Buddhists still believe
that enlightenment is for the Buddha, not for them, at least not in this