The Sleeper Must Awaken

People who’ve seen the 1984 movie, Dune, might remember this famous scene:

The Duke says:

I’ll miss the sea, but a person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing it to grow. Without change, something sleeps inside us and seldom awakens.

I always liked this scene a lot. I think the Buddhist teachings also kind of have this effect on people. For example, esoteric Buddhism, or mikkyō (密教) in Japanese, teaches something similar to this. Even though the mantras and rituals seem strange on the surface, the idea is that they “jar” something inside us. One does not become a saint right away, but it leaves a positive impression on that person that never goes away, and helps steer one in a different direction.

But I think this is not limited to esoteric Buddhism only. People who meditate or recollect the Buddha (nembutsu 念仏) also have this same experience.

You don’t feel different, but somehow the “sleeper” awakens:

I think this is why the Buddha made many predictions in the Lotus Sutra about different disciples becoming Buddhas in the far future. That monk or nun looks like a normal person, but something has awakened in them, and instead of wandering aimlessly lifetime after lifetime, they slowly, gradually move toward Awakening. As it says in Chapter Two of the Lotus Sutra (trans. Watson):

If persons with confused and distracted minds
should enter a memorial tower
and once exclaim, “Hail to the Buddha!”
Then all have attained the Buddha way.

It’s like rivers flowing into the ocean, or planets orbiting the sun:

STS-130 Endeavour flyaround 5

So, even if you just meditate occasionally, or just recollect the Buddha a few times, don’t think it doesn’t have an effect on you. 🙂


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

One thought on “The Sleeper Must Awaken”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s