This is a cautionary tale.
Last week I was at a conference where a Buddhist gave a workshop.
All the words were the right ones, and they were in the right place. He listened to people ‘mindfully’ and even took his shoes off.
Many of the participants liked his approach and learned something from what he had to say. He certainly was very convincing.
But for me, something important was missing. That something was authenticity.
Don’t be a Buddha too soon
If you value spiritual development, you’ll probably want to be as spiritually developed as you can be, as soon as you can be it.
This is a worthy aim. The trouble is it can lead you down the wrong path. A long way down the wrong path.
After a few years, you’ve forgotten who you really are. You’re so caught up in this fictional person you’ve created, you probably think it’s you.
There can be strong external supports for this kind of fictitious persona.
Some people think you’re very cool. Others come to you with their problems. And everyone apparently thinks you’re a ‘nice guy’.
You’re not gonna want to rock that boat in a hurry. And so, like Naropa, you find yourself trapped. A prisoner of the charade you don’t even realise you’re acting out.
Precious human life
The Buddhists who subscribe to the concept of rebirth believe that the human rebirth is extremely precious. Because most human lives have just enough pain and just enough pleasure, we are perfectly positioned to make progress along the path.
Too much pain and you just focus on getting out of pain. Too much pleasure and you’re too busy enjoying yourself to bother with anything beyond that.
In short, humans are very lucky.
What a shame to have been born human, then have the extreme good fortune to find the path to liberation, and then squander these incredible gifts on cobbling together and maintaining a false persona that gets you invited to give workshops, but doesn’t help you along the path one bit!
So here’s what I advise.
Keep your feet on the ground
Be who you are. And commit yourself to Buddhist practice.
Don’t try to be a Buddha too soon. Trust that you’ll get there when the time is right. Maybe you’re already there! Who cares?
Stick with the present moment, with humility and with looking out for those who need looking out for.
Try your best and don’t give yourself too hard a time when your best isn’t good enough.
This way, you create the possibility of genuine progress along the path. You’ll get there easily and in good time. Neither hurrying nor tarrying.