On a recent family visit, I had the opportunity to practice “Everything is the Buddha.” Only my experience of the workshop could better be expressed as, “Everything is the Buddha??”
For me, there are some things/circumstances/events that are much more congruent with my notion of “being the Buddha.” These include things like trees, birds, babies, meditation, laughter, physical exercise, and healthy eating. On the other hand, there are things that are harder to see as “the Buddha.” These include television, steaks, quarrels and bickering, self-righteousness, idleness, racial prejudice, and all forms of idiocy.
After spending several days in a categorizing frame of mind – this is good…this is not good – and the suffering that inevitably follows, I began to practice our well-known Circle of Acceptance exercise. (When we find something unacceptable in ourselves or others, we simply expand our circle of acceptance and include it all in unconditional love.) In this process I recognized, once again, that it is never about the content. It is always about the process. It is never what. It is always how. It’s not that puppies “are the Buddha” and bigots are not. It’s that the phrase “Everything is the Buddha” is pointing to a process that illumines every single atom and molecule in the universe to be “the Buddha.” There is nothing outside of or separate from Life.
It’s one thing to practice that movement to “Everything is the Buddha” in the natural beauty, silence, and solitude of the Monastery. It’s quite another to practice the movement in the land of concrete, traffic, headlines, and ceaseless noise. Both practice settings have their challenges and their payoffs, and I’m so grateful for various content with which to practice that movement. I feel like life is lived in concentric circles of acceptance, expanding ever wider, but instead of seeing myself as the circles – keeping some things in and some things out – I slip into being the expansion itself.