Enlightenment for lost sons


The man who is without blind faith, who knows the Uncreate, who has severed all links, destroyed all causes (for Karma, good and evil), and thrown out all desires—he truly is the most excellent of men.

The Buddha

Earlier this year I visited Gaya in north India, the place where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. There I came across this young boy, in training to be a monk. The quote above is from the sign he's sitting beside.

At the heart of Buddhism is escape from the world of suffering through extinguishing all desire. That can take many lifetimes to achieve. What happens in this life is the consequence of your former life. There's no escaping until you are detached from all things.

I like to tell the story of the Prodigal son to my Buddhist friends from Thailand, Burma, Nepal, Thailand and China. I don't pull out a bible. I do what Jesus did, I just tell the story.

Then I ask, "If you were the father, would you welcome your son back before he's done anything to repay his debt? Or would you be like his older brother?

They always answer, "If he was my son, I'd want to forgive him."

Then I ask, "Why can't God do the same?"