American Buddha: Past Becomes Present
This is a past page
becoming present. Keep visiting it, and someday all the links will
So many people in this world look to America
Many people hate this country
Many people love this country
Many people would give their eyeteeth to live here
Many are ashamed to live here.
The world is a grinding globe of poverty
America is the beginning of all that is wrong with this world,
From K-Mart to WalMart,
From Ford to General Motors,
From IBM to Dupont,
From LA to New York
From black to white
From asian to latin
That's all right,
But it's not what I'm thinking about when I say American.
When I say American,
I mean the original vision of freedom of expression.
I don't mean all the excuses for stifling it that 200 years of political rule have elaborated.
I mean the love for freedom that people live for
Not the excuse for war that so many have made it.
I mean the America that each one would make for themselves and the ones they love,
Not the watered-down version that they would sell to others.
So many people know the name of Buddha.
Many people claim to own his teachings.
They have said that Buddha established followers.
They have made rules that they say others must follow.
Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan,
Korean, Burmese, Thai, so many Buddhists.
That's all right,
But it's not what I mean when I say Buddha.
When I say Buddha,
I mean the Buddha who sat on the dirt
Like the rest of the people,
Who ate leftovers
and made his bed where night found him.
I mean the Buddha who built no churches,
who taught in a park
and spoke to ease the suffering
that he found in his own heart
and to teach others to do the same.
That's the One.
So these are two good things to put together.
Original good impulses, plucked at their prime,
bringing together something that neither one had
For Buddha was raised a king
In a land where freedom and leisure
were the benefits of wealth,
and the ideas of free political speech and thought
had simply not arisen,
where tradition had more influence than science,
and knowledge was what the authorities had,
not what the inquisitive sought.
Thus Buddha's teaching became enshrined in traditions
like mummies, dry husks supposedly containing
the perfect wisdom of Buddha's mind,
But inside there is dust and decrepitude,
Small nourishment for those in real need.
And America is a promise that has never been fulfilled,
an ideal that has never been achieved,
A vital ideal that stimulates the flow of life in all people,
A place where everyone would live if they could.
So by proclaiming the path of the American Buddha,
We mean to join the American ideals of freedom of thought and speech,
grounded in mutual respect among equal human beings,
With the Buddha's insight that individual human beings
Are the deserving recipients
of respect, consideration, protection and concern,
And that the peace we hope for ourselves
Will be ours when our first effort
Is to establish it for others.
For those who seek to quarrel with American government policy,
there is room here to discuss these things,
because our nation's failure to strive to reach
the ideals established by the nation's founders
For those who wish to analyze
what is of value in the old traditions,
there is room here to discuss these things,
because the failure of these religions called Buddhist
to deliver the pure, energizing flow of Buddha's insight
Is what makes this proclamation necessary.
Yet most important is the search, today,
for the vital way, for the elixir that strengthens humankind
and is freely given,
For the light that illuminates and is never shuttered,
And this search,
Made without presumptions or restraints
That limit what may be found
to what has already been approved,
Must be conducted in an American spirit
of free inquiry,
So that our faculties will be open to perceive
what many believe the Buddha found
by his own free examination
of this same world that is ours.
American Buddha is an Oregon non-profit religious organization dedicated to spreading the word that the American tradition, and our Western cultural roots, provide abundant resources for spiritual inspiration, ethical guidance, and the expansion of human understanding. The materials used in building this website have been drawn from hundreds of sources, and credit has been given wherever possible. All of these literary, scientific and artistic works are offered here to give visitors as much access to these exciting resources as possible. Any concerns about intellectual property issues, fair use policies, or appropriate attribution of artistic or authorial credit should be addressed to the webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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