Life is challenging for everyone, but would you say that yours tends to flow gracefully or that you have to fight your way through obstacles and opposition before accomplishing your goals? Perhaps the story of how Siddhartha found his path to become the Buddha, or the Awakened One, can help you understand how to find your own path as well.
Siddhartha was born in India to a royal family, but even from a young age his highly introverted, introspective disposition kept him close to nature, in contemplation, away from both the demands and material enjoyment of palace life. His mother died soon after his birth, and at that time a sage revealed to King Suddhodana that his son would rule a world with no borders to relieve humanity of suffering.
The king wasn’t pleased, for he expected his offspring to follow his footsteps and inherit the kingdom. He made arrangements to keep him from having any interaction with the outside world and, as soon as it was feasible, also arranged his marriage to the daughter of a nobleman. Siddhartha didn’t opposed his father’s wishes and lived with Yashodhara for several years; they were even blessed with a son. But neither the power of kingship nor the luxuries of royalty nor the commitment to his family could really engage his mind. In spite of the security ordered by his father, he managed to sneak outside the palace, where 3 fateful events stirred him up.
First, he saw an old man who had a hard time walking and needed to lean on a stick to support himself. He understood that youth was a passing phase and no external power could stop physical decay. Then he observed a sick man moaning in pain; he discerned that sickness was inherent to life and everyone was bound to suffer it at some point. Finally, he saw a mourning procession carrying a corpse to the cremation grounds. He realized that no matter how dear life was, it eventually ended in death. These encounters fueled the desire to find the way to a life free of suffering even if old age, disease, and death were aspects of it.
On one occasion he noticed a saffron-clad man strolling down the street with confidence and a light, jovial expression. He was told the man was an ascetic who had renounced the world and all attachment to possessions and desires. Siddhartha decided to find out if this man’s path would lead to the answers he sought, so he left the palace on a horse, reached beyond his father’s kingdom, and after exchanging his opulent clothes with a passing hunter and cutting his hair, set out to find a spiritual teacher.
He found a couple masters and learned some of their yogic practices but then thought neither of them offered what he was seeking. Although he had previously rejected the harsh austere methods of certain spiritual sects in the area, he chose to sit still by a river, in complete silence, limiting his food intake to a leaf or nut per day, to find out whether ascetism was his path or not. This lasted six years. By then he was known as Sakyamuni (a silent renunciate of the Sakya clan).
Following the Path of Least Resistance
He became so depleted that at some point he collapsed while bathing in the river. After this he accepted some rice pudding from a village girl, thus breaking his fast and slowly returning to a more balanced lifestyle, to recover his strength. Between his experience as a prince and his years of austerity, he came to realize that neither indulging in worldly enjoyment, as he had witnessed his relatives do, nor pushing himself to the other extreme to avoid it provided the inner peace and redemption from suffering he had been looking for.
He learned—not from theory but from direct experience—that only complete detachment from thoughts and desires led to the liberation from all suffering. Determined to remain in yogic meditation until he’d reach absolute freedom, he sat by a peepal tree, touched the Earth as his witness, and anchored himself in a transcendental state till he finally attained his goal.
Through the extremes in his life, Buddha discovered a middle path—a path of moderation, tolerance, and temperance—that in my view reflects the integration of both the Feminine (in the form of self-love) and the Masculine (as self-discipline) you must nurture to heal and fulfill your own purpose and discover your personal path. This requires taking spiritual responsibility for everything in your life and developing emotional freedom to reach true spiritual awareness (see 3 Habits To Develop Emotional Freedom).
Resistance arises from fear and guilt (that is, self-judgment). If you embrace that your life is a journey of self-discovery reflecting your own perception, and that nothing in it is really separate from you, neither fear nor guilt have a place, because you are always soul-guided to experience what you need, to keep learning and growing. One of Gautama Buddha’s main teachings was that true learning comes only from experience.
Whether you’re seeking enlightenment or the achievement of your goals, a balanced interplay of self-love and self-discipline helps you shed fixed ideas and judgments as you learn from your life experience and are able to pave your own path to freedom. Like the Buddha, who was an extremely feminine soul, you must be gentle with yourself but also disciplined so as to not let the ego-mind sabotage your intentions.
Isn’t it time to overcome your resistance and invest in yourself, to discover your full potential and the creative power to pave the path leading you to the future you truly want? Then contact me today to learn how to develop emotional freedom and live a soul-guided life with clarity of purpose!
© 2016 Yol Swan. All rights reserved.