When the Buddha reached enlightenment, or as I like to see it “awakened”, I understand that he was not going to attempt to teach others what he had learned. But from his great compassion (mahakaruna), he decided to spend the rest of his days sharing what he had discovered, and teaching in the best way he could by using words to explain to others.
I am just now beginning to see why words are such feeble tools for teaching about our own liberation.
And I am also starting to think that awakening may happen incrementally, with small epiphanies which accumulate over time.
One prime example of a small awakening, is the clear comprehension and acceptance of impermanence (anicca). And I find that so many people are put off by this important and valuable topic. Impermanence means you cannot cling to anything, you have no guarantees or security, and it means your own imminent decay and death. Powerful stuff right?
Yet for me personally, this has been a gift to understand. A small awakening and realization that now offers me more freedom and peace. In addition, I find that I am encouraged and more determined in my practice because I see the benefits of this path more clearly. So yes, I actually smile because of the impermanent nature of this life. Not because it is good or bad, but because I have an understanding and acceptance of it.
With deeper awareness and comprehension comes additional responsibility. At least if I am to live in this society and have a community with other beings. And a large part of that is in the development and cultivation of my own compassion. Compassion toward the self and toward all other beings. Increasingly becoming aware of the suffering of others, I find the need to develop more wisdom and skilfulness.
Seeing that you suffer, seeing that so many animals suffer, so many families and small children around the Word have such great suffering. What does one do to show compassion and be of benefit to all other beings? Because without mindful and skillful compassion, I could only become overwhelmed and distraught with sorrow and anguish. Frustrated, saddened and hopeless, I can offer no benefit to anyone. And certainly this is not loving friendliness toward myself.
All this leads to me the original point about Buddha first deciding not to teach what he had discovered. Words can only convey so much, but the real understanding is only through our own direct experience and effort.
I can love you and want the very best health and happiness for each of you. But it has no benefit for me to suffer with you. I will help all who are in need if I am able, so long as it will not cause harm to myself. And I am learning that my most powerful words are those which are not spoken. Living with wholesome intentions and as an example to others, each of us can make a difference to all those around us. As our roots grow deeper in the practice, so too will our branches bear the fruit of loving friendliness and generosity toward the World.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.