Idolize That!

Disclaimer: the following is the author’s opinion (©) and no one else’s!

What is William Blake’s term poetic genius referring to? My definition is: An individual, whose manifestation possesses the ability to exaggerate the deep, layered, subconscious through a communicative medium of time-space expression. In other words, a true artist. Art is a wondrous thing, isn’t it? It is the ability of one individual to give others a vibrant taste of their experience of the cosmic fabric.

In Buddhism, there are two kinds of Buddhas, or awakened beings. Now, I’ve always wondered what the difference is. I’ve seen it written in various places that a Paccateka Buddha does not or cannot teach others; they are self-realized beings — “silent ones”. On the other hand, a Sammasamyaka Buddha is a fully realized being who can teach others the way to enlightenment.

But that still doesn’t explain much. Or it leaves so much out that it’s almost a ridiculous manner of defining these subjects. Lots of folks in Mahayana Buddhism (North Indian-Tibetan-Chinese-Korean-Japanese branches) take things called “Bodhisattva vows” where they vow to be reborn until they achieve total perfect enlightenment (Sammasamyaka Buddhas). This apparently takes years beyond comprehension (it is even described that way). And these perfect Buddhas are the ones who create Buddhism on other planets/world systems/universes etc. So, Shakyamuni Buddha was a full Buddha and was supposedly the only one in our world system.

I understand that (paraphrased) textbook explanation. But the end result is that the full Buddha becomes something that is untouchable and beyond this life; we can’t become Buddha in this life, we’re fallen from grace, blah blah blah. It also paints a tearful, valiant, romantic picture of existence — things having a specific purpose, there being a specific goal to it all, and so forth. When really, enlightenment is totally boring (or so I’ve heard).

Thus I have my own (probably heretical) interpretation of this whole “perfect Buddha” system. Bear in mind I’m going out on a limb here. I don’t wanna get you kicked out of your peace-club or whatever because you quoted my stupid ass at your weekly sesshin.

Creative genius is very rare, right? And so are Buddhas. I tend to have my own belief, that a fully realized Buddha is an enlightened person whom also possesses the creative genius. In other words, they are a creatively gifted individual whom has also attained so-called “enlightenment.” Because, a creative genius can potently share — transmit — their intimate perceptions of the world with others. Maybe a perfect Buddha does this with enlightenment itself.

I bring this up because surely there are enlightened people with no creative talent. I mean, it seems foolish to assume that only people with creative genius are enlightened, doesn’t it? And I am not saying that every creative genius is enlightened. Far from it! But the point is: a fully enlightened Buddha (in my opinion) is one that has attained enlightenment and possesses a poetic genius!

‘Course, from a religious perspective, there are flaws in my, uh… “logic”. The first thing is: a fully realized Buddha only appears once per world-system according to Buddhist cosmology. So… Shakyamuni Buddha, the historical Prince Siddhartha, is the only fully realized Buddha in our world-system. Everyone else, Buddhas may they be, are inferior in their accumulation of wisdom or merit or whatever else. And there are technical terms for these accumulations (It’s funny how the whole system of “full enlightenment” can only be undertaken by people who partake of the Buddhist agenda).

But that’s a little religio-centric for me. That sounds a lot like having Christ as our sole savior. I wish it were so easy. Because that’s one of the hard things for me to accept: that one person has the goods and I can just tag along with them and figure it all out. You know, just relax, hit the cruise button and put the ship on auto-pilot. But the people who incubate themselves in their teacher’s shadow their whole lives do not become completely self-realized. No way. Think you can be like Hatsumi by following Hatsumi? I wonder.

Do our teachers love us with pity — as children? Who knows. But they probably respect peers more. And I doubt those of us who pray to icons can be respected mutually. I mean, duh. This is, I think, one of the true criticisms of idolatry. I don’t know if this is an actual criticism from the Old Testament — it’s been a while since I looked through that one — but believing in an idol, idolizing, makes one pitiful.

Anyway, funny how the Christians and Buddhists and Muslims and god-only-knows-who-else believe in reincarnation on some level. That either their soul or their savior will be reborn at some point (although Buddhism acknowledges that it is not the same actual person). But if anyone comes back, they would be rejected immediately. I mean, what a threat to the established power structure of the religion!

Which doesn’t mean I hate iconography or statues or Buddhas or Christs or kami or trickster ravens. It just means, in the words of Musashi, “I do not rely on gods or buddhas, but I respect them”. Isn’t that how a person of true creative integrity is? They don’t worship their influences, but respect and acknowledge their influence and importance.

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