Thich Nhat Hanh said something interesting about Maitreya Buddha being not an individual, but a collective being.
**this is a poem.
I know life in America. Nah… I know life in America to a degree. I know life in my skin to a degree. I know life through the various sense perception-objects and their associated minds to a degree. Just qualifying my ignorance…
But, its like this: we Americans have created a system that rewards Greed, Hatred, and Delusion. We do not make a way for the artists and wizards and wanderers, our system actively discourages these types of lifestyle. It is to our own detriment that these kinds of people are not valued. Life here in America is difficult for these kinds of people. Our collective psyche suffers because the sramanas are hated.
Regardless of being loved or hated, praised or blamed, we must strive on with diligent mindfulness.
Gno yourselves and you shall be gnown. And you shall recognize that you are children of the living one abiding in the kingdom, right here and now — this mundane daily routine is the Pure Land and Amitabha is your ultimate nature. There is endless bliss here, in this, the realest of GnoTruths.
Here in America, we are all children of Kings and Queens. Our parents seek to keep us from dissatisfaction by constant stimulation and immediate gratification. They would have that we were blind to sorrow. Blind to illness. Blind to old-age and death. And, the sense pleasures are glorified. And, an ideal of physical and psychical perfection is held before us, and we meet and make obsolete all previous supremacy. We are ‘winner in all places’. And, therefore, we are empty. Without core. Without foundation. Having filled the belly, we have emptied the heart. Having activated the brain, we have ignored the mind.
Seek to be empty so that you may be filled! Yet, we Americans seek to fill ourselves and are therefore emptied.
Such a state is similar to that state described in legend of the Bodhisattva as he was raised within the palace grounds of his loving and protective father. Our collective state is similar to the conditions experienced within the context of Sakyamuni Buddha’s upbringing. See?
What happens next? A massive, necessary, yet ultimately unskillful rejection happens next.
The Bodhisattva took to the forest and punished his body. A time of great hardship ensued. Having left but a thread connecting consciousness and the matter-pattern, the Bodhisattva experienced awakening– recognizing a previous, natural, intuitive self-realization he had experienced as a child, our Buddha woke up, realizing the middle path, he saw a musician teaching his student. “If the string is too tight, it will snap. If it is too loose, it won’t play”.
That is my hope for Americans. I hope that we fall hard into the depths of delusion, become disillusioned, recognize that we can be ‘as children’ (thanks, Bodhisattva Jesus) and walk the infinitely beautiful middle path between extreme gratification and austerity.
There is this archetypal fractal self-similarity kinda thing happening here. “As above, so below”. All notions born of Ego Delusion, notions like “I am me, they are them” fall apart with a little analysis. It may be that collectives also experience a ‘sense of self’. Collectives such as the earth, a corporation, a religion, a nation, *DO* seem to display certain characteristics of self-interested sentient beings. 😉 Chew on that for a while!
In the past, a Vietnamese Buddhist friend (meditating with him was very intense!), told me something like:
Being born American is a display of your good karma.
I said something like,
It may appear that we Americans experience much pleasure, but we are the most unhappy people on earth. We are slaves to greed, hatred and a strange variety of delusion. My being born American is a display of my bad karma.
Now, looking back, I see that all this is most definitely totally beyond good and evil!
We all have different things to learn. It is this wild collective mind story. We are a blanket, universal, yet composed of infinitely unique threads, we are consciousness experiencing itself through differentiation, individuation, love, hate, anger, joy, etc., etc., etc., for all of beginningless eternity.
After recognizing the radiant complexity, we just sit back and chuckle.
GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA