Sometimes enlightenment and understanding are as simple as paying attention to the little things, keeping your mind aware of the world around you and opening yourself so you can hear how the universe is trying to speak to you.
When I’m traveling about my day, I try and pay attention to the little things. Call them signs, portents or omens if you want. Or call them the human brain looking for patterns and order in a chaotic universe. Either way, I choose to find meaning in them. Sometimes that meaning isn’t immediately known. Sometimes I’m just not devoted enough to figure them out. But the meaning is there, if we keep our senses open.
Today, that led me to this little guy.
“You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself”
As you can tell by the picture, Buddha here is about the size of a sharpie highlighter cap. I came across him today as I was walking across the parking lot on my way into work. In my hands was a water bottle, a plastic bag with my lunch and a briefcase. I had about a minute to get into the building before I was late. the last thing on my mind was Buddhist philosophy.
But then I looked down.
He didn’t look like more than a strangely colored stone. Or a chocolate vanilla swirled Hershey Kiss. (Sorcha will say this is probably why I noticed him and no, I would not pick up an opened Hershey Kiss off the ground and eat it. Though I would think about it.) It was enough to catch my eye and for me to go back and pick him up and carry him with me.
I’ve never considered myself a Buddhist, though I do have a healthy interest in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy and eastern religions in general, particularly from a metaphysical perspective. So I’ve been asking myself all day – what is Buddha trying to tell me?
When I was a teenager I was a Baptist. In Georgia. I never really grew up in the church but after sampling several different denominations of Christianity I did an extended tour as a Baptist (mostly because of a girl). I was never really satisfied though. I had a lot of questions. Questions that made Baptist’s in Georgia really uncomfortable. I wasn’t very popular among the elders of my congregation or my girlfriend’s devout parents.
In college I realized I was searching for something and I wasn’t going to find it where I was. I took religion classes, I went to more churches, I talked with Muslims and Jews and pagans of different stripes and flavors (Some were tastier than others). When I finally came out of the proverbial broom closet to my girlfriend at the time, she didn’t freak out like I expected. She was supportive and curious. She wasn’t going to follow me down the path I was on, but she would support it and let me find my way back, if back was where I was going. To symbolize this, she gave me a jade Buddha figurine – one not much larger the one pictured here.
Over the years it has taken on a symbolism for me of searching, exploring and keeping an open mind. It reminds me that while I’m ‘soul searching’ that the journey is more important than the destination.
This year I’m turning 37. It’s been almost 20 years since I first opened that jade Buddha and all the promise of discovery it represented. I still have Buddha, the girlfriend… not so much. We were on two different paths. Mine has led me to Sorcha and lifetime of searching and discovery. Perhaps, in the end, I’ll circle around from the Ten Commandments, through the Threefold Law, past the Nine Noble Virtues and end up back at the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path.
Until then, Buddha says, “Travel on.”