“Buddha” is something we have to figure out for ourselves. It’s that “???” at the center of our lives. Never let anyone try to pigeon-hole it for you, that just limits your potential. Honestly, giving it a precise meaning kind of stifles Buddhism in general. I honor traditions and traditional understanding to a point, but I value growth and innovation more, even at the expense of turning my back on everything I believed. For me, Buddha is freedom from “bad faith.”

 

By John Lee Pendall

Yes, I write for The Tattooed Booty, and I’m very passionate about it.

It’s actually a requirement that all TTB writers have a Buddha on their left butt cheek. Okay, I’m totally kidding. And it is definitley not called The Tattooed Booty, but I got your attention. That brings me to the real meaning: Buddha. That said, what is Buddha?

If you ask any random person on the street, they’ll probably tell you that the Buddha was a fat Chinese guy who lived a long time ago and taught people about karma and rebirth. They’re not wrong. People who are somewhat into Buddhism will say that it was Siddartha Guatama, a skinny Indian guy who lived a long time ago and taught people about being free of suffering.

Beyond that, we get into various sectarian specialties where everyone disagrees with each other while still trying to be part of a coherent community of earnest practitioners. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and it’s confusing either way.

Oh, and Buddha can also be a slang term for marjiuana.

The “Buddha” in The Tattooed Buddha means a lot of different things. Generally, it stands for wisdom and compassion—the two main avenues to awakening that Siddhartha recommended. We’re not all Buddhists around here, and I will stubbornly resist the urge for us to be a strictly Buddhist publication. In fact, I’m kinda bored with Buddhism and would love to read stuff from different perspectives.

“You’re bored with Buddhism? But you’re a Buddhist!” Yeah, Harvey, but that’s just one part of me. Track stars don’t run all the time. I know I’m an Aspie, but I am capable of having multiple interests, ay know? Haha, jeeze, what a jerk.

The only problem is that I’m not always compassionate nor wise.

I dislike most people and make a lot of dumb decisions. I can never settle for any particular ideology, I will always dive deeply into a view and then completely disavow it when I’ve used it up.

I’m never going to be as compassionate at the sages and Lamas would like me to be, it’s just not in me. I don’t have Buddha-nature, I’m just another confused primate spinning around on this spinning rock trying his best to not get flung off into space.

Since I’m so unstable, I have to give “Buddha” a very open meaning. To me, Buddha means freedom. Freedom from what? I don’t know, what’s binding you? It’s freedom from that, whatever that is. Maybe it’s suffering. Maybe it’s stress, confusion, crappy friends, work, or taxes—I don’t know; I’m not you.

“Buddha” is something we have to figure out for ourselves. It’s that “???” at the center of our lives. Never let anyone try to pigeon-hole it for you, that just limits your potential. Honestly, giving it a precise meaning kind of stifles Buddhism in general. I honor traditions and traditional understanding to a point, but I value growth and innovation more, even at the expense of turning my back on everything I believed.

For me, Buddha is freedom from “bad faith.”

It’s freedom from being a fake person who is overburdened by BS. It’s being real. That’s my interpretation because that’s my equivalent of being free of suffering. All of Siddhartha’s teachings and methods have just helped me stumble on a vision of my own Pure Land, not his. I think that’s the way it should be in practice. People are different, we have different needs and different shackles, so there’s a different Buddha for each of us.

What’s your Buddha? What’s your freedom and your mystery? What binds you to the cycles of suffering? Those aren’t answers that you can get from some corpse—only here and now—from your own life.

The things that bind us together isn’t a shared belief system, but a shared desire to be free of something and to connect with some purpose or meaning that’s greater than ourselves. In that quest, I say that all are welcome. As long as your heart is in the right place, then you’re welcome.

Let us not get so obsessed with the destination that we forget the journey.

 

Photo: Pixabay

Editor: Dana Gornall

 


 

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