The Varieties of Enlightened Energy: What Does a Buddhist Saint Embody

Dr. Steven Goodman
Co-director of Asian and Comparative Studies
Philosophy and Religion Department
California Institute of Integral Studies
Religious Affiliation: Buddhism

This lecture provides a basic introduction to Buddhism. The lecturer explains Buddhism through the spiritual biography of the person who became known as the Buddha. A detailed, poignant description is given of the Buddha’s early life as a member of the sheltered upper class and his discovery of the tragic paradoxes of human existence. He discovers illness, old age, and death, but also meets a holy man who seems to live his life in a serene way despite these built-in tragedies of life. This leads to his spiritual quest, and eventually to his awakening to enlightenment, to the way of breaking the pattern of dissatisfaction with which most people live their lives. The “Four Noble Truths”, the basis of this way, are explained. It is clear that this process of enlightenment is something that can happen to every person. We are helped to reach that goal by the sangha, the community of saintly individuals. Saintliness in Buddhism is found in human beings who are the conduit, the embodied presence of the energy of the Buddha to the extent that the living presence in the human encounter with them resembles those characteristics of the enlightened state. Thus, saintliness is concretely manifest in actual intimate human encounters. “It is a deep mystery that the seeming tangible presence of other living beings is sometimes felt to be the living tangible presence of the intangible.”