The Buddha did not find liberation
by staying safe inside his palace.
It was only when he stepped outside
the palace walls
with no one to take care of him
to bring him his tea sweetened just right
to open the curtains in his room
turn up the air conditioner
polish his shoes
only when he stepped out
onto the hard rocky road
the soles of his feet
torn and bloody
when ants crawled
across his chest as he slept
and rats shared his food
only when he could hold each
tiny newly hatched sparrow
in his fierce embrace
only then did his heart,
impaled on lifetimes of sorrow,
melt into an ocean the size of the universe.
There have always been wars
There will always be death
There is no escaping sorrow
it is the ocean we are sailing in
the fire that burns in our belly.
The Buddha did not find freedom
by hiding the mess behind the door
and wrapping his tortured body in silk.
He stepped out into the blazing sun
and walked barefoot down
the same path followed
by Jesus of Nazareth and
countless mystics and
saints and visionaries.
None of them found freedom
by following the rules.
No one finds liberation
by playing it safe.