Can your Buddha change tires?

This post, thanx to commenter David, gives a Buddhist example of  the “Puffy Poet” fallacy. In his book “Crazy Wisdom” (pg 125), the famous Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Chögyam Trungpa, says:

This view that the enlightened being is a learned person, a great scholar, is a misunderstanding, another extreme. Enlightenment is not purely a matter of collecting information. If a buddha didn’t know how to change his snow tires, for example, a person with this view might begin to have doubts about him. After all, he is supposed to be omniscient one; how could he be a buddha if he doesn’t know how to do that?  The perfect buddha would be able to surprise you with his knowledge in every area. He would be a good cook, a good mechanic, a good scientist, a good poet, a good musician–he would be good at everything. That is a diluted and diffused  [“puffy”] idea of buddha, to say the least. He is not that kind of universal expert nor a superprofessor.

The point is that even Trungpa was fighting this common “puffy” misperception in his own tradition. I’m sure he saw it among many of the starry-eyed hippies that would come to his teachings expecting far more from him than he even imagined.

Trungpa mentions “omniscent” which is Tibetan is “kunkhyen” (kun = all, mKhyen = know).  According to David, it’s often taken as equivalent to “enlightened” and applied to important lamas (living and dead). And though most lamas don’t buy into the view Trungpa is criticizing,  ordinary tibetans do commonly attribute “global enlightenment” to lamas.

Question to Readers: Let me know other quotes from other traditions where this common puffy illusion is combated.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

4 responses to “Can your Buddha change tires?

  1. Buddha means ‘awake’. Perhaps ‘aware’ is even more precise. Enlightenment, to our perhaps vast disappointment, means nothing more and nothings less than that.

    Have you ever lost your keys?

    I bet you have. So what do you do? You look for them where you always put them (conditioning or karma), and they’re not there. You stare at that place, and you can’t believe they are not there, but unless your eyes deceive you, that’s thin air you’re looking at. So you try another next likely place, and the same story repeats. It’s been long enough now since you checked the first place, you start to think that maybe you didn’t look hard enough in that place they simply had to be, so you look again, and again, they aren’t there.

    This continues until you usually start trying places almost at random until – flash of lightning – *there* they are. In an instant, the story returns, what you were doing, how it made sense then to put them there for just one minute, how you walked away, how you forgot.

    So where are the lost keys, they are – *where they are* . . .

    It’s funny about the lost and found experience, when you remember where the keys are and how they got there, it is *impossible* to return to that mental state where they are ‘lost’.

    If you enjoyed this, it was a pointing instruction I received from a teacher. It’s interesting because it actually crops up in ordinary life, no need to go meditate on a mountain for a year, you can watch your mind in something as ordinary and common as this, and who knows what you might find out about the nature of mind . . .

  2. @ Sengchen
    So I guess you are agreeing with the post. Have you seen people doing what the post is addressing?

  3. Yes, I’ve seen Tibetans subscribe to what you call “puffy” views of enlightenment, and western wanna-be’s shortly behind them. I’m sorry I changed the topic off of these puffy views, and intruded with this view that was shared with me about enlightenment. It’s ok with me if you want to delete it.

  4. Nah, no reason to delete! Your story was an interesting version of “enlightenment” — far better than the magical, all-knowing, pervasively wise, all-skillful myths out there! Thanx for sharing

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