Updated: Nov 10, 2021
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I wanted to share something with you. It was a gift given to me by the Abbot
of the San Francisco Zen Center some 25 or 30 years ago… I’m not sure if you how well you can see it, but it’s a picture of the Buddha, Well, not of the Buddha...
of course, cameras were hard to come by 2500 years ago, but it’s a picture of a statue of the Buddha. Sitting serenely still, quiet, peaceful. And when you look closely, you’ll see there’s something different about this Buddha. There’s something going on with his face, some damage, like pits and pockmarks and craters and such.
And these are, for me, what makes this Buddha so special. You see, the damage to this Buddha’s face was done on August 6, 1945. This Buddha he lives in Hiroshima, Japan and that was the day the first atomic bomb was dropped. Before, during, and after that storm of storms, this Buddha sat.
In stillness. In silence. In peace. Despite all the horror that has gone on around him. I know, there are some who may say that’s all well and good, but let’s face it, this is just a statue. It’s just a block of stone. But those people miss the metaphor, the one that points to possibility: A possibility that we all are capable of finding great depths of peace, even in the midst of the worst the world can throw at us. Others may argue that a Buddha may be able to sit serenely through the turmoil and devastation and heart-break of the world, But I’m no Buddha. And those people, well, they miss the truth: that we are all Buddhas, deep down inside. We all have Buddha Nature. Buddha was not a God, Buddha was just a person. A person like you and me. But a person who was able to connect with the essence of his Beingness.
In some traditions they may call that essence Buddha Nature, others may call it Spirit or Consciousness or Source or even God. But by any name, it is by its very nature. Still, and peaceful, and fulfilled. That’s why, for me, every day as I see this picture of this serene Buddha on the shelf where it sits... It helps me. It reminds me. That there is an alternative to living perpetually on the surface of things, where the storms of life can so easily rob me of my birthright: of my peace. And my joy. And that alternative? It is to go within... To connect with what’s True, with what lives beneath the roiling waves of my sometimes fearful, sometimes agitated, oftentimes judgmental mind, and rest in always serene, always spacious depths of my Being. My hope is that, maybe, it will help you too.