Basic Buddhism (Mahayana) with Robert Thurman
We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from Basic Buddhism with Robert Thurman. From this five lecture title he will focus on each part of Buddhism. Today the topic is Mahayana.
So the mission of the Buddha Bodhisattva who wants to be Buddha and transform the universe is not a sort of materialistic mission, because all things are empty, all things are transformable. After all, other beings have already obtained Buddhahood. This universe is already the Buddha verse of many Buddhas. So it is not like we go to somebody and just say “We’ll take planet Earth and we’ll do that to it, and we’ll do this to the Sun”. It’s not like it’s a matter of everything being empty space. It’s a matter of realizing how it is a Buddha feels in contributing to the Buddha solution and not the non-Buddha problem. In the way the solution is already affected, it’s already hinting at something strange about this motivation. Because the motivation of compassion is to transform the universe so that it is perfect.
But the critical intelligence of wisdom says: But wait, my perception of imperfection itself is part of the problem. So I’m not going to go into a thing of just sort of naïvely accepting the apparent ignorant reality of this Buddha verse and, a supposed beautified, perfected purified reality of some other Buddha verse and think I’m going to push this one from here to there. Because that would be operating only on compassion, and compassion by itself will not succeed. Compassion has to be always connected with wisdom. So we are on a world of shared image of an ignorant and unsatisfactory world. But remember, we share this world with infinite numbers of Buddhas, to whom this is an exquisite, glorious world. Everything is perfect. We are in our perfect situations, each of us, to learn and evolve, and develop and become enlightened and to realize the perfection, and to contribute to helping others realize the perfection.
From a Buddha’s point of view, supposedly, our point of view collides with those points of view. Which is the preferable point of view? Well, unfortunately, since we don’t really know what is a Buddha, we don’t necessarily believe there is any such thing as a Buddha. We do know we are here, and we definitely think we know what’s going on. Unfortunately, we prefer our crappy worlds. We are totally stuck in it. We complain and moan and groan. When we die we’re going to howl, when we’re really sick we howl, when we break something we howl, when someone else dies we howl, and yet, we really stick to this reality. Therefore, we should stick to this reality. Buddhism is not saying we should go into a fantasy world, but we should be aware that this reality is in fact our fantasy. It’s our routinized fantasy in fact.
- Michelle Wesley