In this article I shall seek to illumine on the initial stages of the Tathagatas or the Perfectly-Enlightened Ones.
There are stages to everything and this is the basic composition of everything that Is. There is little knowledge in the world concerning the stages that the Masters go through after their ultimate awakening. This applies to all kinds of masters and mystics. The chief difference between a master and a mystic is that Masters purposely make the resolve to teach other beings from their spiritual experience; while the mystics prefer to teach indirectly. A perfect example of a mystic is Mullah Nasrudin who lived in Persia around the 13th century. Mostly mystics go largely unrecognized but their spiritual attainments is in no way inferior to that of the Masters. Bodhidharma is a perfect example of a Master. Normally, any master leads to the awakening of many other individual the same way a single candle light can be used to light other thousand candles without its individual intensity of light being affected in the slightest way.
The other significant difference is that Masters, after their enlightenment, go a second-level awakening. In this stage they encounter the final realization that people, in their ordinary way of life, are just beyond deliverance. Hence they spend time learning how to devise innovative methods that suit the times during which they exist in order to adequately teach the sentient beings whose karma has adequately prepared them for their own nirvana. The Buddhist eschatology provides countless number of such Teachers who toiled day and night to make sure the knowledge we have easy access to today becomes available in the best way possible. This insinuates that Masters are extremely rare occurrences that only happen in a sporadic fashion in the expanse of time and space.
Hence the choice of the title of this article. The Masters are so rare that once our paths cross with theirs we can hardly recognize them. This is so because in our pastimes we usually have expended limitless effort in building fortresses that protect our own consciousness from gaining the slightest ray of hope concerning our own awakening. This is to be found at the root of any system, culture or doctrine. This can be compared to a process I have observed on one native tribe here in Kenya – the maasais. They have a way of hypnotizing their cattle at night because they are nomadic and travel form place to place in search of grazing lands. When the night comes they have designed hypnosis methods to prevent their cattle from being stolen by the notorious cattle rustlers. In this case they make invocations and draw a phantasmagoric circle around their cattle in which the cattle remains until morning safe and secure. This is the exact same way all societies and cultures are designed; they have their merits though because it’s a way of protecting the apparently ignorant from harms they might not be aware of.
When a Buddha makes up his mind to teach those whose time to awaken is nigh, they have to begin learning how to teach. Spiritual experience is in many ways similar to the birth of a new-born. Hence the reason this phenomena is referred to as Rebirth or Second Birth in most doctrines. As a result a Buddha has to learn the hard way because he has discovered something that one way or the other has to be transmitted yet it transcends all language and words. This can explain why enlightenment has nothing to do with any particular race or language. It is not limited to any doctrine or language be it Greek, Pali, Latin or Sanskrit. The experience remains the same and independent of all forms and labels that mankind has invented as devices for communication. This is the single most important explanation as to why only 0.001% knows anything about enlightenment because it’s the only thing has been minimally factored in in the systems and communications among a people.
By Philip Kamau a.k.a Lofi