Updated: Jul 14, 2019
The Buddha's moment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree was the realization that nothing fundamentally needed to change in order to know peace, serenity and freedom. In other words, there is nothing wrong with the way things truly are at its most real/fundamental level, and therefore there is nothing truly/factually/objectively preventing peace, serenity and freedom. Furthermore, the Buddha saw that people are the cause of their own inner suffering or psychic pain, which ultimately results in the hurt we inflict upon one another and destruction we cause in the world.
The four noble truths were laid out by the Buddha as a remedy or solution to this self-caused suffering. This suffering, the Buddha said, is a result of our ignorance of the way things truly are and our attachments and expectations of an impermanent word. The Buddha said that all the greed, violence, injustice, hatred, etc of the world is a byproduct of our ignorance and attachments.
The Buddha spoke of feeling a great compassion for all the suffering of the world. In the Buddhist tradition, Bodhisattvas are those who choose to continue living sentient lives in order to aid the liberation of others. So while the central insight of the Buddha was that nothing at the most fundamental level needed to change, he still held the desire for the liberation of all beings and the elimination of all suffering, and to end the kind of ignorance and attachments that result in the broken relationships we have with each other as human beings and all living things.
Buddha's profound insight was that all is well and whole at the most fundamental level and that his underlying nature/essence was one with that wholeness. The Buddha also observed that on the surface of life there is continuous change and that inner suffering results from our attachments to those temporal realities. We seek a permanent happiness through our attachments to things of impermanence, which leads to suffering. The Buddha taught that one can find deep joy and peace in this life as a byproduct of our intuitive awareness or tacit understanding of the way things really are at the deepest level. He taught that this awareness allows us to walk through life, being fully present each moment with joy, love, compassion, peace, courage and wisdom. This is only possible by neither resisting or clinging to whatever might unfold along your path. You respond to each situation as it requires but no more than that. Of course there is normal human pain both physically, emotionally and mentally in this world, but the Buddha taught that the deep inner anguish and suffering that plagues so many people's lives can be prevented through our awareness of the way things really are and the absence of resistance and attachment.
This does not mean that we accept what we see in the world without action to change it. Many situations and circumstances in life rightfully evoke the desire to bring change. Much of the misery and suffering of this world is the result of the ignorance of the way things really are. Rather than tapping into the deep peace and joy of the fundamental reality of all things which is never disturbed or threatened, we instead attempt to achieve happiness, well-being, and peace through our worldly attachments. We fight and claw to attain and hold onto that which by its very nature is impermanent and fading away. Should you think that you are a failure because you cannot seem to walk through this world with this deep awareness or the absence of resistance and clinging, the Buddha said you must first and foremost learn to have patience and compassion upon yourself, and to take your struggle as a part of your own path of growth.
Jesus would not have disagreed with any of these insights, but expressed them in different ways and focused on different things, namely the lie of separation between God and humankind, which Jesus believed was at the root of the kind of suffering and ignorance that Buddha spoke of.
Jesus never caused anyone to be saved and the Buddha never caused anyone to be enlightened. They both said they had a solution to a problem and the problem was suffering. They both said this suffering stemmed from false perception or spiritual ignorance. In the case of Jesus, he struck down the false notion of separation from God. He insisted, "I am the truth." What truth was that? God and humankind as one. There is a divine source and life and love that permeates all, and we are not separate from it. The Buddha addressed a similar issue, namely the false perception that people are separated from joy, peace and well-being. He taught that these realities could not be reached or achieved in the external world outside ourselves. Both Jesus and the Buddha said that the kingdom of heaven and nirvana are found within. Neither Jesus nor the Buddha taught that this truth makes one indifferent toward the world. In fact, once one connects with true peace, joy and well-being inside and finds that kingdom or nirvana within, they can give themselves fully to the world in love and compassion without resistance or clinging.
Jesus was right - there is no separation between God and humankind. Buddha was right - there is suffering and we can liberate ourselves from it.
Jesus was put to death at a very early age. He was crucified as a criminal. The Buddha in later years became frail and fell ill near a remote village near the border of Nepal, and died. Statements made by Jesus and the Buddha before their deaths indicated that they did not want to leave the world behind - a world they had loved so much. Both Jesus and the Buddha told their followers to use even their deaths as an occasion for awakening. They did not deny or gloss over the sorrow, grief and sadness that was felt. All along both Jesus and the Buddha demonstrated that there was both sorrow and joy on the journey, and that the underlying truth never swayed. Knowing their deaths were near, each reminded their followers of the task at hand to live by the same spirit and to walk in truth.
Jesus wept and the Buddha was brokenhearted by the suffering of the world. This is where we start. We look out and we see it, we feel it deeply. We weep. Our hearts are broken. We care.
I feel a great love for the Buddha. How he entered the suffering of the world and his discoveries about it. When I ponder his moment of enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree I feel a peace in my own heart. I am grateful to have Jesus as a brother. I see his revolutionary spirit and relentless love, and how he demonstrated the human and divine together as one. Oh Buddha, oh Jesus - I carry you both in my heart.
Jesus said, "I am the truth." The Buddha said, "He who sees me sees the teaching and he who sees the teaching sees me.” It is not necessary to build a religion around Jesus or Buddha. Embrace the truth they demonstrated and bore witness to. Do not build a religion around Jesus or the Buddha. Jesus said there will come a time when you will no longer see me. The Buddha said if you meet Buddha on the street, kill him. In other words, there is no Jesus or Buddha except the Jesus and the Buddha that is inside you and that you yourself are. You must walk this journey now yourself. You must say "I am the truth" and "He who sees me sees the teaching." Do you understand? The path is within you. The path is you. You must walk it. You must be that path.