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Becoming Buddha

An old teacher once said, "We don't sit in order to become Buddhas; we sit because we already are Buddhas." What does this mean? Almost always, if we're honest with ourselves, we do things with some end in mind, some idea of becoming something, becoming something else. Of course there are some activities, like learning to play the piano in which we could say that we practice and practice and by practicing get better and better in our playing. At one level that's obviously true. But this old saying asks us to look at it in another way - that at every stage of our practicing we are already perfectly practicing the nature of that level - perfect beginners, perfect intermediate students and so forth.... Sometimes when we've done something for a long time, we say that doing it has become "second nature" to us. But what's our "first nature?" What does it mean for something to come "naturally" to us? Most of us have had the experience with something in our lives, maybe running or swimming or music where we've been doing it for so long that if someone were to ask us WHY we did it, we really wouldn't have any answer, except it's what I DO - it's become part of who I am to do this. While most of us have had this kind of experience in one sector of our lives, almost always there are large parts of our day that we don't feel that way about at all. Either we feel resistance at doing something, or we can't do it as well as we want, or we just avoid some things entirely because we know in advance we're no good at them. It's as if we each owned a jet airplane and only used it to ride around on the ground, between the airline terminal and the parking lot, never getting off the ground. Maybe we think jet fuel is in short supply and very expensive and we're afraid to use it up, we can't afford to risk flying, or we think it's too dangerous or too difficult, whatever. We end up having no experience of our true nature, of what we're capable of, because we continually restrict what we're willing to experience. In fact we don't have to BECOME jet planes, according to that old teacher, we already are, but don't realize it. ( As a matter of fact, we have been flying all the time, and only dreaming that we're just driving around in the parking lot). But for now, let's just look at what we think our real nature is, and what our motivations are for doing whatever it is that we do.