Those who dabbled in spiritual matters know this expression only too well: ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him’. I’ve seen various interpretations, but most zoom in on the fact that people encounter something or someone, learn a life lesson from that and move on, further and beyond.
However, the true reality of ‘the Buddha on the road’ goes as follows: if you meet the Buddha – you will never recognise him or her. Jed McKenna emphasised this point in his well-known scene of meeting his sister “No man is a prophet in his own country”. It is true that for people in the physical life, especially family and friends – the so called ‘enlightened’ humans remain ordinary and nothing to write home about. As someone once said to me “My family couldn’t give a shit whether I’m enlightened or not”.
Just as Jed was nothing more than a little brat of a brother to his sister – the ‘enlightened’ will most likely be nothing to you. You could be sitting next to one on a train, standing next to one in a queue – and will never know. The ‘Buddha’ could give you a solid piece of advice, could share some wisdom, but you will never see those words in that special ‘spiritual’ light. You will see someone perhaps reasonable, even wise, but not someone ‘enlightened’.
I am sure that each person knows at least one human being whom they consider really wise, but they would not call them ‘enlightened. What, then, colours human perception, skews it in such a way that suddenly humans begin to see a prophet where there is none? What makes your ‘Buddha’ – the Buddha for you?
Wise words alone are not enough. What creates that special label is the distance between someone ‘in seeking’ and someone ‘in the know’. And there are many ways of building this distance.
Books and Magazines
Words, when in print, have the power to make the one who wrote them seem different to mere mortals. More knowledgeable, more advanced, more.. more, more, more. Simply more than you. People subconsciously (and unconsciously) assign a special status to a book author providing, of course, the book is somewhat intelligent. Through the power of words people begin to forget the fact that the writer is another human being in a human body, with all the normal human needs, desires, wants and deeds. Enlightened? Not in the way you perceive ‘enlightenment’, but the words surely make it sound damn special, and by extension, the author becomes so very special too.
Set yourself up as a teacher and the students will appear. There is always someone out there who will believe the teacher has something they don’t have, just by the mere fact the person has claimed the status of a teacher. Relationships of this kind create a gap necessary for the power play, whether one consciously acknowledges this or not. The student-teacher paradigm is perfect for maintaining the status quo of ‘I know, you don’t’. The problem is two-fold, however. Firstly, most teachers come from the half-cooked stock whereby they grasped something, but not all of it, and rushed to offer their ‘gifts’ to the world. Secondly, wisdom and clarity are not ‘taught’. They are acquired individually, through living the life as is.
The so called ‘enlightened’ beings often display this quality. Having faced their true Self, having realised that what they are – cannot be changed, self realised humans have made peace with themselves. Sod it, life is too short to worry about bullshit, and no one realises this as clearly as the self-realised. As a side effect, they largely stop emoting, and if I remember correctly Jed also mentioned this somewhere. In contrast, most humans are hopelessly engaged in their emotional states, invest heavily in their human relationships and derive a constant stream of hormone induced drama from them. Meeting someone who lacks that same emotionality can have a powerful effect AND creates that same powerful distance.
These are just three out of many ways of gaining power through distance. One or more of the above will place just enough mileage between you, the ‘seeker’, and your chosen ‘wise man’. The distance keeps people enthralled and wanting more. This is plain human psychology: humans always want what they cannot have, and what they have – they do not want.
What, then, is the distinction between the quiet Buddha on that train whom you will never recognise as such, and the guy who covertly or overtly harvests hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of ‘followers’? Both are aware of the same things, see the same Reality, recognise the same Truth. What IS the difference?
Something worth contemplating.