Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on May 31, 2014

Self-liberation is a term I encounter often in dharma texts. For me this always has a double-meaning, first that (hopefully) I will eventually be liberated from being bound or obscured by my own bad habits and begin to see through the endless distractions of my busy-body-self and it's grasping at attachments. That is my hope.

And second, and more discouraging, I have this growing realization I must liberate myself by my own efforts. No one else is going to do it for me, no matter how long I wait. After all, that is why it is called self-liberation.

Having been raised in the Christian religion, I automatically assumed that some highly realized being could just touch my forehead and zap me into a kind of realization. So far that has never happened. And Buddhists don't even make that claim. In fact, just the reverse, and they offer reasons.

The Buddha himself (or herself, as there are female Buddhas too!) could not just reach out and zap me into enlightenment. Enlightenment, so the Buddhists say is, by definition, something we each must do for ourselves, just as the Buddha (who was an ordinary person as we are) did. I mean: that's the whole point. So, if we are waiting around for the Second Coming or for a Buddha (or someone) to automatically enlighten us, we better make ourselves comfortable. It has been and will continue to be a long time.

And the reason is that nothing is holding me back from realization aside from my own self-imposed impurities and obscurations, the sum-total of my attachments, and what-have-you? Buddha Nature has been within me all the time and, like the sun shining in the firmament, is obscured only by my own habits and attachments. Any time I am ready, I can begin to remove those layers of obscurations and let the sun just shine through. It is all up to me. On days when I am feeling lazy, that thought can be depressing.

And the Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and other realized beings are not there to do it for us. They are there to show us how we can free ourselves. After all, that is what the Dharma is, simply the method Buddha used to enlighten himself. Dharma teachers exist to point out to us 'how' to do it, but it is up to each of us to actually turn the wheel of our own dharma. Only we can turn the crank.

So, the good news is that there is a way to remove whatever is obscuring us. It is called the Dharma, a simple method. The bad news is that each of us has to do it for ourselves and realization will wait for us as long as forever, until we get around to actually doing it.

Just some musings.

[This Iris in my front yard reminds me of our newest granddaughter, Iris Betsy Bernard, who is now three-months old.]