Namo! To the Dharmakaya Wisdom Mother, Awareness and Emptiness,
Primordially perfected, I take refuge.
The sentient beings of the six realms are actually Buddhas;
In order to awaken this true nature, I generate bodhichitta.
--Refuge preliminary from a terma of Kunzang Dechen Lingpa
Above, is a photograph of Buddha.
This may come as a shock to those of us who are accustomed to visualizing Buddha as an idealized, serenely smiling, one dimensional image in a painting. Most of us see Buddha the way we have been taught to see Buddha by such paintings, or even sculpture, and the carefully diagrammed visualizations in the sadhana texts.
But, when we see an actual image of Buddha, most of us do not recognize what we are seeing.
We think we see a starving native, in Africa: too weak to stand, crawling on the ground. A wretched, disease infested human, dragging himself away to die.
All sorts of useless ideas and emotions suddenly arise. For example: we may think in terms of food, or medical attention. We may think of some humanitarian movement, or political change. We may become saddened to the point of tears -- we call that "feeling compassion" -- or we may become angry at the causes and conditions attendant on this poor, crawling human's obvious circumstance.
If one million of us look at this photograph of Buddha, maybe 999,999 of us will saturate our brushes from that palette of ideations.
But, one of us -- or, at least, hopefully one of us -- will actually see.
Upon actually seeing, perhaps we can form the very firm intention to proceed in the best possible way; to proceed in a way that does not involve temporal solutions, tears, angers, causes, separations into "them" and "us," or all the rest of the delusions that produced this delusion in the first place.
You cannot save the world by saving the world. This is 2010, and there are all sorts of resources available for the Buddha in the photograph above. There are hundreds of international organizations, bundles of money, air drops of supplies, aid without borders, mothers with continually bleeding hearts, courageous workers, courteous diplomats, noble statesmen, brave generals, willing soldiers, generous donors --- these have been around for decades, they are around now, but somewhere in this world, somewhere at this very moment, Buddha is still crawling on the ground.
This Buddha has not heard the elegant dharma talks we have heard. This Buddha has not smelled the exquisite fragrances of the costly incense that we burn. This Buddha will never experience the opportunities we have experienced -- and really, if he did, it wouldn't make very much difference at all.
Spend much time practicing today?
Maybe tomorrow, eh?