This is a short story I wrote last week:)
The Enlightenment of The Buddha (A Story, Not History)
After leaving his Palace, Prince Sidhartha spent six years, trying to understand reality, himself, others, suffering, mind, morality and all. He tried many teachers and methods of ascetic mystical practices, but none could provide the answer to the most important question, “why is there suffering?”
After six years Sidhartha’s mystical quest culminated in a realisation, deep in his longest medication, sitting in Lotus under the Bhodi Tree. He discovered the answer to the mystical quest. It shattered his ground. The answer to the mystical question was that there were no mystical questions. Everything is impermanent and empty, there is nothing beyond this life in time or space or possibility.
“There is no soul!” he realised.
The very notion of rebirth that had underpinned his life of thirty five years and his culture for millennia was a root of the problem: it was a delusion. He saw that so long as he still believed that there was more than this moment, he could never find true peace or joy in any moment. This was the start of Prince Sidhartha’s enlightenment, to escape the constantly negative delusion that there is more to life than this. He had escaped the very idea of rebirth.
“All is empty,” he thought.
“There is nothingness. What should I do?”
From a single point of nothingness the prince started to ascend. He saw how all contingent things from the single point upwards must be impermanent. If there was change, it could be no other way. He saw how from the single point to every point there was connectedness. He saw from the most complex down there was emptiness, there were only points, no things in themselves. He saw how all things, out of a finite space of things, inevitably would tend towards less or nothingness.
“There is no more,” Sidhartha saw.
These three truths he apprehended, and he knew that they must be all true in all possible realms, where all connected things change. And he knew why this was true. These three truths were his foundation. He had shattered the illusionary ground before him and he was deep down at the immutable bedrock.
From this Prince Sidhartha saw how the three foundational truths, that he would call Dharma, underpinned and linked reality together. He knew they connected in all ways and at all levels of perspective and focus, across all domains: the physical, the conceptual, the mental, the moral. All is impermanent. Everything is impermanent. All is connected. Together all must end.
He saw causation was embedded in foundation. All causes have many effects. All effects have many causes. All causes are effects, he knew. This vast, intractable many-to-many network of causes spanned all domains. All paths joined at that single point, the experience of the moment. The now.
“Karma,” he thought. Sidhartha saw how Karma was not magic, as the ancients thought, but the complex moral causal paths that weave and pleach through all experiences. Karma was the blood of life and choice.
“But what is it that chooses?” Sidhartha thought. The Prince asked himself, if there are no objects then how can there be a thing that chooses and wants and likes?
He looked inside his mind and saw how the same truths that entailed that there could be no soul, must also entail that there could be no ego, no self, no object of mind in itself.
“I am nothing,” he knew. Yet something was there, thinking these thoughts, being this now. When he looked he saw what there was. He saw what was, unknowingly, the seed for the illusion of ego.
“There is no thinker, only thoughts!” he realised.
Ego, like soul, he knew was an illusion. All of the me and them, and the now and then, this was all illusion. We hammer our egos like banners into the illusionary ground and then grip them so tightly, desperate not to let go. But Sidharta saw that these are not flagpoles we cling to, they are skewers. The ego skewers us to delusion, it can only use us and pain us and could only ever hold us down.
Ego was the key to understanding suffering. It wasn’t just that impermanence made things negative, it was the craving ego illusion that kept creating more negativity as it twists the skewer it thinks is a banner for its existence. “This is me, that is you.” This is a root of suffering that Sidhartha saw. The illusionary ego won’t let go. The deluded ego wants more. More becomes less. Less becomes nothing. The me still wants more.
There can be no release. This was the cycle of negative feedback that could never be slowed or stopped. The only solution was that found by The Buddha: to destroy the foundation of the cycle, the illusions of ego and permanence and more than this. When there was no ignorance there was no illusion. He saw the cause of suffering and he saw the cause of the absence of peace and truth and joy.
“I must float, not drown,” he thought, as he sought the methods to end the inevitable cycle.
The Budhha found that the ego illusion could be extinguished by understanding the nature of the systems he was contained by and composed of. The Tagatha found that the illusion of “more than this” can be eroded by understanding impermanence, knowing why it is that all things must change. The Enlightened One saw how negativity was causally inevitable and to expect otherwise was delusion. The grasping thirst for more than this, more things, more time, more self, more experiences began to vanish alongside the illusions The Buddha was eroding. In their place was the selfless, soulless, egoless moment of experience that contained no real distinction with the experiences of others. There was no object distinction. Compassion, love, peace and truth could only bring the negative closer to the positive.
The Buddha had found the way from the single impermanent empty point to greater peace, truth and happiness. This un-mysterious path, the moral, mental and conceptual path arose together as one spiritual path.
When The Buddha emerged from his meditation he knew and saw for the first time, The Noble Eightfold Path.
And then he walked the middle path from the beneath the Bhodi tree.