Here is the late Tantric teacher Osho’s take on Gautama Siddhartha’s awakening.
“Buddha failed absolutely. After six years he was completely frustrated, and when I say completely, then I mean completely. Not even a single fragment of hope remained; he became absolutely hopeless. In that hopelessness he dropped all effort. He had already dropped the world, he had already left his kingdom; all that belongs to this visible world he had left, renounced.
“Now after six years of strenuous effort he also left all that belongs to the other world. He was in a complete vacuum – empty. That night his sleep was of a different quality because there was no ego; a different quality of silence arose because there was no effort; a different quality of being happened to him that night because there was no dreaming.
“That night, when there was nothing to be done – this world was already useless, now the other world was also useless – all motivation to move ceased. There was nowhere to go and there was no one to go anywhere. That night sleep became samadhi, it became satori; it became the ultimate thing that can happen to a man. Buddha flowered that night and in the morning he was enlightened. He opened his eyes, looked at the last star disappearing in the sky, and everything was there. It had always been there, but he had wanted it so much that he couldn’t see it. It had always been there, but he had been moving so much in the future with desire that he could not look at the here and now.
“That night there was no desire, no goal, nowhere to go, and no one to go anywhere – all effort ceased. Suddenly he became aware of himself, suddenly he became aware of reality as it is.”
- Osho When the shoe fits: commentaries on the stories of the Taoist mystic Chuang Tzu London: Watkins Publishing, 2004
I’ve got to say, enlightenment on those terms does not appeal to me in the slightest. I want a practice that allows me to be in love with the world, hopeful, inspired and dreaming – which is probably why I’m a Druid 🙂
For me, there’s the sense that the conventional account of Buddha’s awakening is being challenged here by Osho – that he can be seen as waking out of transcendentalism rather than into it. Tom Swiss of Zen Pagan fame is good on this, especially in his ‘When Buddha Touched the Earth’. Osho’s comments were actually from a book whose main subject was the Taoist sage Chuang Tzu – comparing Buddha’s way of effort (till he came to the point of giving up, and woke up) and Chuang Tzu’s way of being effortless from the beginning. I didn’t want to go too far down this road in my post – so I left the emphasis on Guatama seeing the world as it is, and not being a stereotypical ‘Buddhist’.
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